Thursday, December 17, 2015

ESEA Reauthorization- What will it mean?

There was a time in my life- before I had children of my own- that I followed education politics closely. I was always ready with an opinion and was quick to weigh in. My 25 year old self was waiting breathlessly for the ESEA re-authorization that passed last week. But my current self? Not so much. The last few years I haven't spent much time following the ins and outs of the education debates and forming my own opinions. The time I spent analyzing education policy is now swept up in re-reading Elephant and Piggy books and plotting how to get two young children to bed without completely going grey.

So it feels strange to read about the new education law passed and to have barely thought about its impact. I've read a few blogs and some helpful graphs, but that's it. Perhaps this is because it does not seem like much has changed. From my role as a teacher within the schools, I don't foresee big changes coming down to us. Particularly for those of us in Virginia, who never adopted the Common Core and seemed to maintain a fairly staunch stand in its determination to maintain state control. But maybe I've adapted this view point simply because I now work in a school that does not feel overly impacted by the changing laws. I'm interested to hear what teachers in turn-around schools think about the changes, and if they predict a big difference in what happens within their school walls next year.

I'm a bit worried that we are going to start giving standardized tests to measure grit and this article from the Washington Post greatly concerned me.

This info graphic from Ed Reform Now is fairly helpful.

ESEA Reauthorization,Dec10

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

That moment in guided reading...

I quickly flashed an index card with the word 'some' printed on it to one of the fifth graders I work with in the intellectual disabilities class. "Three somes?" the boy exclaimed. "Three somes?"

We start every guided reading group with a quick word game to review our high frequency words (words a reader can expect to see all the time like and, because, some, come, etc.) The game changes occasionally but we always use the same stack of index cards. As we go through a new book I'll add new words to our stack depending on what words they have difficulty with. We've been adding to this stack for two years now so it is getting fairly thick. I have not done much in the way of editing the cards for repeats and there are numerous words that sneak into the stack multiple times. This usually works out in my favor because if the students have trouble with the word and it is already in the stack then it certainly doesn't hurt anything to repeat it.

Yet there now happen to be three some cards. Three. Somes. Say it fast.

The friend I showed the third 'some' card to was obviously keeping track of the number of times he'd been asked to read the word some. He's also a friend who finds one phrase to repeat over and over again. Some days he asks me if I'm wearing boots the entire 45 minutes we work together. Other times it's announcing he's not coming to school on Saturday. Yesterday it was the number of somes in our deck.

Mrs. Lipstick, why we have to do three somes? Why you make us do three somes? 


Over and over again. 

I've never been so happy that no one happened to walk by the classroom at that exact moment. I shamelessly drew his attention away from the three some cards and to our shoes. I won't get fired over a 45 minute line repetition over shoes. The three somes would be harder to explain.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Fifth Grade Conversations

I came out of a meeting and ran smack into a fifth grade girl with a concerned look on her face.

"Mrs. Lipstick?"


"What's better, Puma or Nike?"

"Um, I don't know, I have never thought about it."

"Well, which do you own more of?"

"I don't know if right now I own anything by either one."

Silence and look of shock.


"I don't think I own either brand."

She shook her head and walked into the group bathroom, where I could hear her exclaim to her friends, "She doesn't own either brand!!"

This is my first year in fifth grade as a teacher. I obviously have a lot to learn.