The Assessment-Grading App That Changed My Classroom

For years, I have been using data to drive my instruction.  Tests (summative assessments) were entered into a program (Eduphoria) that aggregated the data for me and I used it religiously to make adjustments in my teaching and lesson planning.  This is how I discovered the concepts that my students were understanding, not understanding, and what teaching strategies and methods were most effective.  If a particular lab or activity really seemed to drive the point across and the test data supported it, then I definitely made note of that and was sure to continue it in the following years (with minor tweaks, of course!).  But most of the time, I was ready to move onto the next unit and the data I collected was only used for developing my lessons for the following year.  I was missing out on the data that was probably most important in the moment - the quizzes.

Formative assessments are really where you have the chance to catch misconceptions and make interventions before it's too late.  But for some reason, until last year, I never put as much emphasis or attention on my quiz data.  If you aren't looking at assessment data, you are missing a HUGE component of what can make a difference in the success of your students and you as an educator.  Data should drive the instructional decisions you make.  We don't have the luxury of tons of extra time, so why waste your precious minutes on assumptions about what you think your students are struggling with and what they have mastered.  

3 Smart Ways to Improve Parent-Teacher and Student-Teacher Communication This School Year

As secondary educators, our list of responsibilities seems to grow exponentially every year.  More paperwork, more tasks, more meetings...

Why do we view communication as such a daunting task?  I believe it has a lot to do with the amount of time it can take.  On several occasions, I've contacted a parent at the beginning of my conference period, only to have the BELL end the conversation!  There went my entire conference period and I got none of the work completed that I really needed to.  UGH!  But what if there were quick and simple tools at our fingertips that made communication quick and simple?  Well, guess what?!?! Those tools exist!  Now you just have the difficult task of choosing which one is right for you.  :)

I present you with Celly, Class Messenger, and Parent Contact Cards...

Task Card Storage & Organizational System (plus a FREEBIE)

The days of organizing my task cards in these little plastic file folders from the Target Dollar Spot (or was it Dollar Tree?...I can't remember) are over!  Bottom line... they cost a dollar and I'm so glad I didn't spend much more than that.  Whew! 

They got so bulky and I was constantly having to go through them all to find the cards I was looking for.

Now they are so organized!  I love the rainbow colors that coordinate with everything in my classroom and for the first time, I can quickly glance at the boxes and find the set of cards I am looking for...heaven for this organizational freak!

For those of you who own my task cards, I have decided to share the Task Card Storage box labels with you as a FREEBIE!  And each time I add a task card set to my TpT store, I'll update the signs so that you will have everything you need to complete the job.

Items you will need:

Directions for assembling your task card storage & organizational system box:
1.) Print out the FREEBIE in my TpT store on card stock and laminate (optional).
2.) Cut out and place signs inside of each box, using double-sided tape or hot glue to attach to plastic.
3.) DONE!

Survival Tips for the Last Weeks of School

As most teachers around the country head down the final stretch, this is the time when you are tempted to "check it in, "let things slide," or "just sit back and relax."  But now, more than ever, I encourage you NOT to do that.  Just like the end of a race, this is the time that you must dig deep and work hard until the end.

Yes, you are worn out.
For some of you the state assessments are complete.
The kids are ready to quit.
But who said that this job was easy?
Who said the end-goal was some state assessment?
And since when do lazy students drive what we do in the classroom?

We are educators and our job is to educate.  From the first day of school to the very last.

A wise pastor once said, "If you're not dead, you're not done."  We got into this profession because we love kids, we want to and can make a difference, and we have knowledge that we want to share.  And until we take our last breath, we won't be done with our life's mission.

There is still so much to do, but who says you have to do it the way it's always been done?

So, here are some tips to help you make it to the finish line:

8th grade Science STAAR Review

FREEBIE!! 2015 Released STAAR Test- Student Analysis Page & Goal Setting

February Fun- Nerdy Science Pick-up Lines

Are you a total science nerd like me? Do you love totally cheesy pick up lines? Then you've got to check out my Instagram account and join in on the February Fun!