Story Outlines and Teachers Pay Teachers

by lclarcq on November 28th, 2016

filed under Curriculum and Planning

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Hearts-For-Teaching

Hello my friends. It’s a long time since I have posted on here….but I am back. I’ve accepted a new position and you can read more about how that is going, I promise.

This post is to let you know that I have started to post materials for teachers on the Teachers Pay Teachers site. I’m trying to offer a balance of free materials and materials for purchase.

The first set of items is a series of Story Outlines. What is a Story Outline? Simply, it is a skeleton of a story!! One of the things that teachers often share is that they struggle to get started creating a story. I am hoping that these will be of help.

They are actually the format I have used to help students become better (or beginning) writers. It has been very successful and I hope that you may find it helpful for you as you plan for your students.

Here is an example of a Story Outline of a very familiar story!:

storyoutlinecinderella

ideasforusingstoryoutlines

I have posted a free document that includes Ideas for Story Outlines on Teachers Pay Teachers, but I am going to upload it for you here as well. Feel free to look it over and ask me any questions that you might have!

with much love,
from my new home,
Laurie

Incredibly, Uniquely Beautiful

by lclarcq on February 5th, 2015

filed under Archived Posts 2015, Encouragment, Engagement, Grading/Evaluation/Assessment, Musings, Pacing, Relationships

Midterms are over. But I worry that the mindset isn’t.

Even those of us who don’t enjoy assessment, tracking data and recording grades can get caught up in the tidal pull of measurement and the undertow of evaluation.

Well….that might be a little too metaphoric, but we ARE teachers. Since the age of 5 we’ve been playing with tests and trying to win. That is hard to let go of. Many of us were test champions and grade royalty.

(The following is my own opinion and might be considered heretic in this day and age)

I realize that we must assign grades and that students require passing grades in order to move to the next level. We have all worked hard to create systems that allow the progress our students make to be accurately reflected in the grades. Our jobs depend on it. But…in the great scope of life…

THE GRADES DO NOT MATTER. They are artificially “scores” that someone/something determined would measure value in schools. They are part of the system, BUT THEY DO NOT ACCURATELY REFLECT ANYTHING.

They certainly do not reflect value. No human being can be given a numerical value. It’s ridiculous to even think of it (although sadly, it is commonly done throughout American culture, not just in schools.)

Every moment that we see our students in terms of a number, we have lost an opportunity to see them as people.

The system, and most of the people in it, will try to change your mind about that. They will also try to convince you that YOUR value will also be determined by numbers: your students’ numbers. They will tell you that not only are students are numbers, but that we should compare students using these values. Actually, they would like us to line them up according to these numbers. They want us to believe that the students should all on the same place on a line of measurement at the same time. Finally, they tell us that the students should be moving along that measuring line at the same pace. On a day to day basis.

They are also trying to convince us that it is our job to make that happen. If we don’t, we are failures. (Yes, they use THAT word….a word we have secretly been afraid of since we entered a school at age 5)

My dear friends, that is a crock of horsepucky. All of it. Including the idea that we are special because we “earned” good grades when we were students. Grades do not make anyone special.

EVERYONE IS SPECIAL.

Its really difficult to see that. Our job doesn’t always let us remember that, even though that is an elemental part of our profession.

Please remember it.

Everyone is special and everyone is unique.

Our students are not supposed to be alike. They all enter our classes at different ages. They enter with different backgrounds and experiences. They did not learn to walk, learn to talk, learn to read their first language, learn to ride a bike, learn anything at the same rate. Why? Because while we may all be wired in the same way, we are all unique and incredibly miraculous human beings.

Have you ever seen a group of one year olds together? They are all at very different places in height, weight, ability to walk/talk etc. If they are paying attention, if they are in the classroom approximately the same number of days, they are all getting the same amount and quality of input. AND THEY WILL STILL NOT BE IN THE SAME PLACE.

Some students show growth in slow, steady increments. Others will grow in “hops”, showing improvement every two to three months….but very little in between. Others are icebergs. Everything grows beneath the surface and we see nothing…then all of a sudden BOOM! After six to eight months (or more) of nothing….amazing things are happening.

No one is really “ahead” or “behind”, despite what society might want us to believe. If the student is there, and involved, if we are providing a rich environment and comprehensible instruction, then the student is where the student is supposed to be. Period. They will move when they are ready, at the pace that is best for them. We can pay attention, and we can respond, but there is truly little we can do to change that.

And it is no reflection on us.

Hard as that is to remember.

We need to enjoy each student where he or she is….or we will lose sight of the beauty of the human brain, the human mind and the human spirit. How each and every human is unique and heart-stoppingly beautiful.

Nothing else really matters.

with love,
Laurie

Rant About Assessment Archived Post 8.6.12

by lclarcq on December 6th, 2014

filed under Archived Posts 2012, Grading/Evaluation/Assessment, Musings

(Originally posted 8/6/12)
I tried to stay silent, but this morning’s coffee (Costa Rica..Pura Vida!) put me over the edge.

Assessment is one thing. Grading is another. There is no validity in grading. At least not in the assessment that districts want us to impose on our children.

a. Students have been trained for years to respond to assessment in ways that make a natural assessment impossible.

b. We don’t have time to create nor utilize the results of useful assessment…no matter how proud we are of our lovely exams.

c. Grading is simply a way to do many things that have little to do with honest teaching goals….create an unnecessarily competitive environment, motivate via an invalid rewards system, create a false sense of superiority (in students, teachers, parents and the school itself), etc. etc.

I could go on and on, but I’ll go back to enjoying my coffee!! I applaud Scott and others for attempting to make sense of a senseless, but required, system. Truth is, nothing will be accurate, nothing will be fair, and nothing will make everyone who wants to be happy, happy.

Limit the time you agonize over it. Pick something that seems adequate.

Then devote your time to getting to know your students and providing them comprehensible and compelling language. Develop an honest and loving relationship towards them. Encourage their curiosity. Reward their tenacity, sense of humor, humanity and individuality. Provide them with frequent moments of success in the form of interesting and comprehensible language. Make eye contact and send the message that each student matters. Smile from the heart. Show compassion. Encourage excellence. Eschew perfection. Model humility. Enjoy every moment possible.

with love,
Laurie

All content of this website © Hearts For Teaching 2009-present and/or original authors. Unauthorized use or distribution of materials without express and written consent of the owners/authors is strictly prohibited. Examples and links may be used as long as clear and direct reference to the site and original authors is clearly established.

Grading Notebooks Yes or No? Archived Post 8,5.11

by lclarcq on December 6th, 2014

filed under Archived Posts 2011, Curriculum and Planning, Grading/Evaluation/Assessment, Homework, Musings, Starting The Year, Teacher Training

(Originally posted 8/5/11)
Ay….the debate over notebooks and binders is about as long-winded as the debate over grading participation!!

In the last (almost) 30 years, I have tried it all..from detailed checks, grades and checklists, to nothing. My observation is this:

1. Think of your instruction first. What do students need to have their hands on IN CLASS and how do they get access to it?

Truth is…in most TPRS classrooms, there is very little need to refer to a notebook for most of the class.

2. Think of homework next. What do students need to have their hands on in order to do the homework and how do they get access to it?

That will depend on how you approach homework.

Other than those two questions, the binder has nothing to do with language acquisition.

Now….if you believe that is a teacher’s responsibility to help them with organization etc…then you have the professional freedom to incorporate that into your program!

What I am learning is this: It’s easy to be out of touch with how kids organize these days if you are not of the techie generation. (You are!! I’m not!!) Students keep track of things on Iphones and Blackberries, not the little books schools have been handing out for decades. Students and parents are always checking online to find out what assignments are and looking for papers that the kids didn’t bring home.

It might be a better use of teacher time (depending on your students) to post papers and assignments on line than to check and grade binders.

Truth be told…very little is kept in a “hard copy” anywhere these days so it’s possible that the keeping and grading of binders will soon be (if it isn’t already) ridiculously obsolete.

As teachers (and former star students) we LOVE binders and notebooks and collecting lists and stories and keeping them for years and years. Because we love that, we mistakenly believe that that helped us to be language learners.

So in my long-winded way….here is my suggestion:

Before school really kicks off, ask yourself how important is it FOR ACQUISITION for your students to keep a beautiful (or not) binder? And follow that answer to it’s logical conclusion.

If you believe that it is important, but the kids rarely seem to pull it off…then maybe some out-of-the-box solutions are required:

*smaller composition books for “Do Nows”, Vocab, Freewrites etc. kept in plastic dishpans from the dollar store in the back of the room.

*a shelf set aside for binder storage for students who would be better off with a copy at home and at school.

* Buddy binders where students share. (I have kids every year who ask someone else to carry the important things for them)

Whew…ok…that got long but there it is! Enjoy the days you have left and I wish you a great beginning of the year!!!

with love,
Laurie

All content of this website © Hearts For Teaching 2009-present and/or original authors. Unauthorized use or distribution of materials without express and written consent of the owners/authors is strictly prohibited. Examples and links may be used as long as clear and direct reference to the site and original authors is clearly established.

Flipping the Switch 2 Archived Post 4.22.13

by lclarcq on December 6th, 2014

filed under Archived Posts 2013, Curriculum and Planning, Engagement, Good Days, Grading/Evaluation/Assessment, Musings, Output, Participation

(Originally posted 4/22/13)

The second time I saw the light bulb go on was with my juniors. Let me give you a littlebackground. We teach with TPRS, an approach that focuses heavily on providing large amounts of Comprehensible Input in the target language. From this input comes interaction, verbal and written….but production is the result, not the goal.

It is a leap of faith in many ways to take this approach, but the results have been undeniable! Our program has expanded to include so many more students and students of all academic “ability” levels are able to communicate clearly in the language. As a result of the changes in the program and several changes in staff, we have not had this group in a formal speaking test situation…..ever.

It’s not the first year that this has happened. This year’s seniors had not ever had a formal speaking performance assessment either. BUT, when I gave them the assessment last year, using the NYS Regents Speaking Assessment format, they did a fantastic job. What is the difference? That group had been my students for three straight years….and I administered and scored the assessment.

This year NYS Dep’t of Ed. has issued a series of conflicting statements about who will/can administer these assessments and how they will be graded. (I will not be allowed to.) So this year’s group needs to be confident. I need them to know two things:

1. They already have all of the language and skills that they need in order to do this, and do it well.

2. They need to know the rules of the game so they can get the scores that they deserve.

The challenge was, I thought, that they have never been forced to speak in unnaturally long sentences, which is what a high score requires. Well, apparently that is not a challenge in their minds. I explained that the answer to Where do you live ? could be a one word answer: Rushville.

But that wouldn’t be worth much. The more they could say in addition to that the higher their scores would be. I asked for a volunteer. Where do you live? “I live in the little town of Rushville in the state of New York.” Ka-ching!! “With my family and my dog, so the house is too small.” Another student pipes up before I can ask for another volunteer. “So I want to buy a bigger house” student # 3 “but I prefer one in the country because I like having a lot of space for my animals.” and student #4.

Okaaaayyyyy. I guess they get it. Over the last two days I’ve spoken to each student as part of a greeting at the door, a class activity/game etc. and each one can easily perform the task. I even gave them situations where I knew that they hadn’t had the vocabulary. It really didn’t matter.

They can circumlocute like nobody’s business.

Dang……all those years spending all of that energy to get kids to learn how to “perform” well on a speaking assessment and this group acts as if it is as easy as pie. They think it sounds weird to speak in full sentences when one or two words will do, but they are happy to do it and it is easy for them.One class even thought it was hysterically funny and highly entertaining to try to top each others’ sentences.

Here’s the difference: These kids already had acquired all of the language they needed to speak in longer, more complex, high-scoring (although stilted and unnatural) phrases. All I had to do was model how to use them to get the higher grade. Before TPRS I was teaching phrases AND teaching strategy AND teaching topical vocabulary AND grammatical concepts and it never, ever came together much less click for the long term…even for my most gifted students.

Will they all get high scores on the speaking assessment? Probably not. Some will get nervous, some will overthink it and some will pick those really weird questions that no student can ever do well on. But they CAN do it….I know that and they do too. That knowledge lit up our faces and our
hearts.

with love,
Laurie

All content of this website © Hearts For Teaching 2009-present and/or original authors. Unauthorized use or distribution of materials without express and written consent of the owners/authors is strictly prohibited. Examples and links may be used as long as clear and direct reference to the site and original authors is clearly established.

Grading Questions Archived Post 8.14.11

by lclarcq on November 30th, 2014

filed under Archived Posts 2011, Curriculum and Planning, Grading/Evaluation/Assessment

(Originally posted 8/14/11)

The questions:
We live in the reality of having to produce a grade. How do you grade your students?What does your grade represent?

My answer:
First, grading has to fulfill the district, building and departmental requirements…especially in larger
districts.

In my program, we have a few requirements that are outside of my control ie how much each marking period is weighed, whether or not to give midterms and finals and how those exams are weighed. I worry about what I do have control over.

1. I give a quiz every Thursday. I do NOT tell students what is on the quiz. The purpose of the
quiz is for me to evaluate where students are so that I can plan for the following week. IF 80 % of the students achieve an 80 % or higher, I put the grades in the gradebook. If not, I don’t. The quiz may take 10 minutes or 40, depending on how much information I require. (they usually average 15…I hate to give up interaction time!)

This gives me between 6-10 quiz grades per marking period. I vary the quizzes so that at least three skills: Reading, Writing and Listening are evaluated at least once per marking period. Speaking evals are included in Levels 3 and 4.

2. I collect at least two assignments per week…FROM WORK WE HAVE DONE IN CLASS. This could be adding details to a story, a written translation, a picture drawn from a reading, a poem written from lines of a song or any number of different activities.

3. I usually have 1 homework assignment per week that I collect and mark as a 0, 50, 75 or 100.

4. Once each marking period, especially in the upper levels, students have a short “project” to complete: The requirements are broker down into steps and credit is given for each step completed. It may have an output component but always involved some form of input as well. (I’ll try to post some of these later ….)

This actually gives me at least 20 “grades” in the book for each student per marking period. I have tried all kinds of weighting systems only to find that none of them really makes a difference. I simply total them all (they are out of 100) and divide by the number of grades. If a “project” was really involved I will simply put it in twice. j

I put as little emphasis on grades as possible. I don’t go over tests/quizzes/homework in class.

Ever.

I will discuss things with students after school. My quizzes often involve choice: Here are 15 sentences,…illustrate or translate any 10. If I have planned well, conducted classes well, written quizzes well and designed projects well…it all leads to acquisition.

It does take some students (and parents) time to adjust to not knowing their own personal “point value” at every given moment. If it is extremely stressful for an individual, I will encourage him/her to meet with me after school and we go to Quia or another online format that fills that need for evaluation and quantitative feedback By the end of the first marking period however, they see that their grades are high and that they have really acquired a great deal of language and success.

It works for me. Keep asking questions about what is not clear…

with love,
Laurie

All content of this website © Hearts For Teaching and/or original authors. Unauthorized use or distribution of materials without express and written consent of the owners/authors is strictly prohibited. Examples and links may be used as long as clear and direct reference to the site and original authors is clearly established.