Range Finding Reflection

Although I missed our class dearly, I have to admit that I had a great time in Olympia. I’ve talked a lot about “range finding,” and the best way to describe it is this:

We looked at the rubrics for the short answer questions on the math WASL. We looked to make sure the rubrics were fair and reasonable for 3rd-5th grade students.

It was a good experience because I think sometimes we teachers spend a lot of time blaming “the people in Olympia,” but everyone I encountered here had students’ success at the forefront of every decision they made.

Here are some photos from my trip — they’re not terribly exciting because most of what I did was a) confidential, b) eating, c) doing Pilates, or d) sleeping. 🙂

Olympia is Washington's capitol

Olympia is home to Washington's capitol building

Now, although the domed building is called the capitol, the city of Olympia is called the state’s capital.

This is Capital Footwear, because it is located in the state's capital, Olympia. It is on Capitol Street, because the capitol building is at the end of the street.

This is Capital Footwear, because it is located in the state's capital, Olympia. It is on Capitol Street, because the capitol building is at the end of the street.

I stayed further down the street, in the Phoenix Inn. The employees took very good care of me there.

This was my home for the last three days!

This was my home for the last three days!

Here's where I wrote my blog posts to you all!

Here's where I wrote my blog posts to you all!

Waving from the giant bed

Waving from the giant bed

Keep your fingers crossed that I did a good job and that I’m invited back in the future!

Oh, finally, before we left, I had to determine the total time we spent range finding. Seriously — I was the official time keeper. If I kept time incorrectly, we wouldn’t get paid for the full amount of time we spent working! Remember the discussion we had about real-life problem solving in class last week, ladies and gentlemen? That’s what I was doing! I thought you might enjoy seeing the elapsed time problem I had to solve (I got it wrong the first time, but I fixed it!).

Show your work using words, numbers or pictures

Show your work using words, numbers or pictures

(Note: I rounded a bit at the end at the request of our facilitator.)

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Range Finding, Day 3

Hi there!

I hope Ms. Helm told you I called this afternoon. I was surprised at how quiet the class sounded in the background. I hope you had fun with Menu Math — I can’t wait to see your menus!

Thanks again for your flexibility with the guest teacher craziness yesterday! I must say, I was more disappointed to hear of people spreading completely false gossip today than I was about anything I heard about with the sub yesterday.

I’m excited to share some exciting news with you tomorrow about our listening library! And don’t forget that tomorrow’s the first day of our Book Store!

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Range Finding, Day 2

Hello, ladies and gentlemen!

I miss you all dearly and will see you on Thursday. Remember, that will be the first day of our Wildwood Book Store!

I wanted to thank you for your flexibility today. I spoke with Ms. Brown and she said you did an excellent job of working with Ms. Campbell and Mr. Garrison today. I can’t wait to hear how well you do tomorrow, because Ms. Helm will be back!

I have been very busy, and it has been fun spending time with people who love math as much as I do. I also found out that some of my WASL questions made it as pilot questions on this year’s test, which was quite a surprise!

I’m off to read before I go to bed! I love and miss you!

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Range Finding, Day 1

Good evening from Olympia! OSPI is taking good care of me out here. I can’t really talk about what I’ve been doing, but there’s been good discussion, I’ve met some neat (if nerdy) people, and I defended ELL and SPED students this afternoon.

I hope to receive good substitute reports from you all, ladies and gentlemen! See you soon! Off to bed!

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Our Class Web site…

Is… in a bit of flux, shall we say. I’m attempting to get the video content and photos re-uploaded somehow, but as of right now, I can’t post any photos or classwork related to my classroom or students unless it’s on the district server. I’m posting this because I will be out of the classroom until Thursday and I want families to know what’s been going on lately. My intent is not to be a rabble-rouser or any such thing.

So posting to the district server would not be a big deal if I were able to post image-and-video-heavy content in a manner that required a reasonable amount of time and effort. I would switch over to the district’s uploading service immediately. However, my understanding is that there is currently no way to use a platform similar to WordPress, Blogger, or Typepad.

Instead, posting video or photo content on the district server requires that I post items in a text-heavy forum style, which is certainly not an accessible tool for my third graders at this point. It’s also only accessible by password, which adds an extra hurdle for my students, as well as obviously quashing any interaction between our class and other classes who come across our site. Plus, there’d be an increased amount of time or effort in making this platform usable by my students, which I don’t believe I have.

It’s a bit of a catch-22 to say the least, and I’m trying to figure out how to handle things in a diplomatic manner not just for myself, but for other tech-savvy teachers in Federal Way.

I mean, I certainly can’t be the only district staff member to upload student-related content to an appropriate forum, as I was under the impression that our district Internet release form applied to teacher postings even if they weren’t on the district server. I say “appropriate forum” because I’ve been completely open with my site — I’m not making shady, opinionated comments about my students on a MySpace page or anything similar.

Every action I have ever taken on this blog has been done while taking into consideration every possible safety-related issue. I use only first names. I had my students fill out district-mandated Internet AND media release forms.

What if, for example, my students were featured in a KING5 TV story? And this story was posted to the KING5 Web site. Would I be able to link to this story on this Web site? Would there be a difference between if I linked to the video story and if I embedded the story on my Web site? What if I posted my video content to TeacherTube instead of YouTube? What if one of my students uploaded a picture to their family’s blog and I linked to that personal blog? Would there be a difference in that situation? What about The Sisters, who use student work and photos from a Federal Way school on their personal Web site? Is it different because theirs is a professional Web site? Is anyone thinking about this?

I’m very interested in other districts’ media / student work policies, so feel free to link me to them in the comments.

…………

We had our championship track meet yesterday, but since I can’t show you any of the great pictures I took of our hardworking athletes, here is a photo of my sunburn.

First sunburn of the year: Track Sunburn

First sunburn of the year: Track Sunburn

The one person in this whole mess who deserves mad props is Hannah Pena, one of the district’s main technology point people. She’s not the one who designed the school board’s policies, and she has been nothing but kind and helpful in guiding me through the teeth-gnashing amounts of red tape. Our principal, Jenna Brown, has been great as well. She could have totally flipped out on me about having a Web site that was OUT OF COMPLIANCE, but she calmly worked with me so we could get everything taken care of.

I feel like I need to point out that I don’t want this to seem like I’m making a mountain out of a molehill fighting for my tiny Web site that has about 36 viewers on a great day. I am very worried that this has the potential to turn into a larger problem as more and more teachers utilize technology more intimately in their classrooms. I really don’t want Federal Way caught with egg on its face for well-meaning, protective policies like it has in the past.

I also don’t want to slam our superintendent, Tom Murphy. He helped ensure that Federal Way is in a MUCH better place than most of the districts in the Puget Sound, and I don’t want to seem ungrateful for the extraordinary lengths he has gone to for our elementary educators (and AmeriCorps members).

Finally, I received this package in the mail the day I found out I was OUT OF COMPLIANCE:

Business cards, featuring a disappointing reminder of our district's Internet policy

Business cards, featuring a disappointing reminder of our district's Internet policy

Sad. I am grateful I can keep this site up, but I’m terribly disappointed I won’t be able to dialogue with other teachers and students about the high-quality, standards-based work we’re doing.

I’m interested in your thoughts, but I am NOT interested in angry, unproductive comments. Those will be deleted as I ALWAYS moderate any comments uploaded to my page. I’m looking for a way to help the district modify its outlook on Web content so that students can utilize the great opportunities available to them, yet still be fully protected from the few creepy people who do exist. I value your opinions.

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The Sisters!

My homeroom students and SFA students are flexible and patient. We have been using pieces from The Sisters’ Daily Five since March, and their reading habits have shown tremendous growth.

On Wednesday, I was walking to Pilates when I saw a sign in the window at Barnes & Noble. I did a double take, then a triple take, when I realized that The Sisters would be HERE THIS SATURDAY!

Today, Ms. Nietering and I had the chance to hear Gail Boushey and Joan Moser speak. These are two incredible women — Gail is an instructional coach in Kent and Joan teaches in my district at Green Gables Elementary! They talked with us about the CAFE menu for reading instruction, which is used along with the organizational format laid out in The Daily Five.

Gail, Ms. Nietering, Me, Joan

Gail, Ms. Nietering, Me, Joan

Wow. They also spoke with us at length after their presentation. So many consultants and people who write teaching books have lost touch with the classroom, but these women know exactly what we’re going through. I emerged from the event inspired and re-energized.

I’m finishing up a few fantastic books by Debbie Diller, but I know what I’m reading next…

My signed copy of The CAFE Book!

My signed copy of The CAFE Book!

Olive, one of my cats, was also re-energized this weekend. However, I think it was the sun that rejuvenated her, not research about literacy instruction.

Olive in the kitchen

Olive in the kitchen

Oh, wait. Maybe she wasn’t as re-energized as I thought…

Olive yawning

Olive yawning

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Organizing my nonfiction books

I’ve been trying to figure out how to organize my nonfiction books. I have most of my fiction books organized by book series or by topic, and they’re numbered in the order I created them.

I have a separate section for my nonfiction books, though, and I didn’t know where to start my numbering for this section.

So I decided to go with the classic method, the Dewey Decimal System. For example, all my space books are in the bucket numbered “520.” I’ll let you know how this works out!

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