Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Sweats Day!

Sweats day was the best EVER!! Day 2 of testing done, and tomorrow is crazy socks day. I didn't get my pic today of my sweats because I went straight from rehearsal to the gym to mass. Phew!

I laminated my "Oh What a Week" sheets today, so I'll take pics tomorrow of what I'm doing with them, I'm pretty excited!

Also, I'm getting ready for our second round of Writer's Workshop so I'll take process pics tomorrow as I'm setting everything up! :)

I gave myself a curfew for technology of 9pm during Lent this year, so that I could "unplug" and connect with Tony more, and work less. I find myself typing incredibly fast right now so I can get this in before my deadline, lol! The difficult part is that my students are often up asking me for help sometimes past ten, so I let them know that I'm unplugging for a bit, but left out the "lent" part for obvious reasons. Have a great evening everyone, hopefully this will give me more time to sleep!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

ISAT Fashion Week!

Day 1 of ISAT testing (Illinois State Standardized Testing)
Today's theme: LEAN GREEN TEST TAKING MACHINE

After less than four hours of sleep, I went to bed at 8 o'clock last night, and woke up with energy! Shocking how that works. To kick off testing week, I put on my green sparkle eyeliner, sparkle headband, and some other choice green clothing. Here's what I put together :)



I left early for a doc appointment with a specialist, and I'm really hoping that things will be looking up soon in terms of future parenthood, please keep your fingers crossed for us :) I will have to take more time off from work than I would like (half days here and there), but I know/hope/pray it will be worth it in the end. I also have to remember that my family (and future family) come first.

When I got home, our Erin Condren order had come early! A few co-workers and I ordered this weekly pad to use in the classroom. We are splitting it three ways and are going to laminate it. I plan to use mine to display what we did in class that week for students who are absent!


Tomorrow is my fave day of the year......wear your sweats day!! Are you doing testing this week? How do you keep a positive attitude/atmosphere?

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Tackling the Home Office

A few years ago I redid one of our extra bedrooms, creating the ultimate "Woman Cave". Unfortunately, during the school year it tends to become a catch all. It got really bad after Christmas this year, as it became the dumping ground for receipts, wrapping paper, boxes, and pretty much anything that needed to be moved upstairs.

Yep- I'm pretty much the most disorganized organized person I know. 

Oh look, there's a TON of paper and school stuff that needs to be sorted. 



Oh---you wanted to use your desk? Too bad you piled tons of junk on it!

Well- the lightbulb went out, so I guess everything in there is invisible...


I started by sorting all of my school books. I still had textbooks from as far back as 2001. Things were quite outdated.

I managed to get a huge pile to put up on half.com!

About halfway through the organization. It doesn't look like much, but the piles made it go much faster!

I may have too many crafting supplies...

My nice desk area "before"

Put a new lightbulb in, thanks hubster!


Inside of my IKEA desk drawers....

All my paints and glitter!


Stationary and stamping materials

The craft drawer!

Labels and Stickers

Pens, Silhouette Materials, and I apparently hoard scotch tape. 

Found a new home for my washi tape! :)

Ahh... Finally all clean

My favorite colors all together


Love this desk, so glad it's cleaned off!


I have a slight obsession

Bella had to get in the picture

My other books, including some chick lit. religion books, and autobiographies!



Repurposed TV stand for scrapbook storage, and an area for my silhouette

Pegboard wrapping paper station

V.I.P. Teaching Books: Missing- My argument writing book, and my other Kelly Gallagher books (at school)

Writing Books

Reading Books and Specialty Books from classes

Miscellaneous teaching materials

My "college shelf": I never threw away or sold back any books from college, and this is where most of them are, my favorite shelf in my office :)

Don't forget to enter my giveaway, it ends Monday evening!

Cleaning Out My Office Giveaway!

I've been cleaning out my office since yesterday, and found some materials for my personalized water bottles and thought, I should do a giveaway!
Do you want to win one of these?




The winner will get this pink water bottle monogrammed for free! :)



Not only is it personalized, it has a carry strap, two openings so you can get ice in easily, and is DISHWASHER safe! :)

The giveaway ends Monday night, so enter now! a Rafflecopter giveaway    

Saturday, March 1, 2014

March Currently!

I'm linking up with Farley for the March Currently!


Can you guess the category of my last answer? 

Happy March! Just think, only 90 days until June!!! :)

Friday, February 28, 2014

Differentiation in Grading

Every year we have a "county wide institute day", where teachers get to go and learn about something (of their choosing, usually) at various places in the district. This year, I decided to go see Rick Wormeli, and not just go to the one that was 1/4 mile from my house, and I'm so glad I did!

I decided to go because my best friend was also going, and we wanted an excuse to spend the day together :) In seven years we have never gone to the same institute day together, and I don't know why, it was so much fun!!

On to the presentation. If you haven't seen Rick Wormeli I highly recommend you go and see him if you get the chance! I had heard about differentiated grading practices at a few conferences in the past, specifically the PLC conference, Effective Grading Conference, and the Gifted Education Conference, but he explained it differently and very well. Bonus, he is incredibly funny and entertaining!

I did not bring my laptop today, so I had my colored pens and my teacher planner, and I finally made use of my notes section! I'm sure the two guys behind me thought I was a total dork, but I don't care! Thank goodness I know Jess wouldn't judge me for my ridiculous obsession with color coding things :)


Nothing can replace actually going and listening to him, but I figured I'd cover some of the key points from today for you:

  1. Basically, grades should not be like a financial transaction i.e. You give me this, and I give you this. 
  2. Grading should show what the students know and I firmly believe this! 
  3. Their grade should not reflect their ability to turn things in on time, keep things neat, etc...
  4. It takes 2-3 years to effectively unwrap standards. 
    • *This was an eye opener, as we were asked to determine which standards are "priority" for our next inservice. This made me realize that maybe we need to come up with a formula or plan as to how we will determine what is "priority" CCSS. 
    • If we don't, I worry the meeting could become, "Well, we have always taught X in X grade, so I think X standard is a "priority" in that grade level."
  5. I LOVED the idea that we should determine the following when developing a CFA:
    1. What do we need to see?
    2. How can they demonstrate it?
      1. CFA's do not have to be the same in order to be common.
        1. This was AWESOME! I'm not sure if it's a utopian idea, but I love it :)
  6. We have to not think of tests and assessments as being negative, Rick discussed it as tests being autopsies vs. health reports (Great analogy!)



This was some great information on different types of assessments, and I felt affirmed that we do our grading the same way! I also really enjoyed the idea of using pre-assessments to "prime the brain" and put information in their head. It reminds me of when I learn a new idea or word, and then I feel like I start seeing/hearing it everywhere. In reality, I probably was seeing it the same amount of time, but I wasn't picking up on it because it wasn't "on my radar"!

My favorite idea of the day came from here: The Here's What, So What, Now What for effective feedback, and the Point and Describe method.

*This was also a reminder for me that I can point out and acknowledge what each student says during a class discussion verbally using the point and describe method, and then they are acknowledged and affirmed.

I added in there (in magenta in the middle) that I always feel compelled to have multiple grades in my grade book, but not because I think they are valuable. I worry that parents will wonder, "what are they doing in there?" if there aren't multitudes of grades.

Here are my grade book assignments just for assessments for my 8th grade Language Arts ET class through the quarters so far:


Quarter 1: WWTW, Learning Strategy Assessments, Shared Inquiry

 Quarter 2: Shared Inquiry, CFA's, Narrative Writing Assessment, Close Reading Assessment, Writer's Workshop

Quarter 3: CFA's, Close Reading, WWTW, Shared Inquiry. Notice how I've gotten more and more specific with my descriptions?



I should leave it at this, but because I want a record for my effort grades, I also put in assignments that fall into the zero weight "Notes" category. Here's an example with BOTH from my 7th grade class:


I think I need to stop this, and let my classroom calendar on eChalk speak for itself :)




Here is a pic of the grading handout I give to parents at the beginning of the year:



 The self-assessment was right up my alley, especially since I am gearing up for our second Writer's Workshop *this time with poetry in a few weeks!
I also love his reasoning and rationale for re-do's:
If it's worth assigning, it's worth getting done
If you don't let them do it, you are saying it's not important

He talked about putting a NTY (Not There Yet), which reminded me of my "P" in the gradebook and Resubmit stamp.

I completely agree with him that at first students will complain, but ultimately they will understand that you have their best interests in mind. The first year I learned about "resubmitting" at the effective grading conference, I came back and began immediately with my 8th grade ET students, in 4th quarter. They were SO mad that I was expecting them to do something AGAIN and do it BETTER, they were almost high schoolers, who did I think I was??

I will never forget the day I overheard a kid saying, I can't believe she *BLEEPING* wants me to do this again, what a *BEEP*.

Although at first what he had said really stung, I realized I needed to get over my feelings and talk to him about it. When I took him in the hallway he knew what he had said was inappropriate, and then said, "I know you just want me to do well." I couldn't even be mad at him for swearing, he knew I wasn't doing it to be mean, but he was frustrated, he now had homework when he thought he was just finished. The best part is, I leave it in the grade book as a "P" for pass until they have 100%, so it couldn't just sit there not done. To paraphrase Dr. Tae, failure is not fun, but success is!

This mindset also leads to more self-directed learning, because students take control of their learning, and their growth!


Finally, he has a great list of procedures and policies for students wanting to retake an assessment. I use a "Request to Retest" that a colleague of mine made, and I think I'll make a few tweaks to it to use next year. This ended up being a page with some great "Top 10" lists for Gradebooks and things to avoid. He also discussed how to set up a standard based gradebook, but I'm still processing in my brain with that one :)

My Goal: Take this professional development, reflect on it, and actually IMPLEMENT it into my classroom. 

I hope you enjoyed my recap! I had an excellent day, and I will definitely be using these ideas in the future. Have you gone to a professional development through your district recently and have some ideas to share? Do you want to guest blog on here? Send me a message or an e-mail if you are interested in the contact me button on the sidebar. 

Enjoy the weekend, everyone! We are looking at more snow here unfortunately, but I'm looking forward to the Oscars on Sunday! We plan to watch Gravity tonight, as we've only seen American Hustle (and LOVED it). Who are you rooting for?