Monday, 11 November 2013

Reports are DONE! Time to celebrate!

I am very happy to inform you that, as of 10:45 p.m. last night, I submitted my last class of report card comments for term 1. They were due at midnight so I had 1 hour and 15 minutes to spare!
Every year I promise myself that I will get them done ahead of time, but somehow they always seem to sneak up on me.

Reports are definitely time consuming and we have had the format of ours switched on us twice in the last few years. So it seems every year, something a little different is expected of us. Gone are the days of clicking on the pre-made comments, "so and so does satisfactory work" and poof, you were done. We are now required to write individual comments, highlighting each student's struggles, challenges, and goals, which I am all for, as it actually makes the comments meaningful and worth reading (at least I hope they get read, seeing that I spent the better part of my weekend writing them).

Even though I am in total agreement about writing individual comments, sometimes my attitude isn't so positive at around 10:00 at night, when I find myself staring at my computer screen, with those last few students left that you just can't seem to put two words together for to save your life.  I am sure more than a few of you know what I'm talking about.

So, this term, I was determined to make things a little easier on myself. I spoke to a teacher across the hall, who always seems to have her reports done a month in advance, and she told she gets the students to write the comments. Now let's think about this for a minute, I don't trust my own grammar and spelling at the best of times, how am I going trust my grade 8's to write their comments? Of course, she didn't mean literally allow them to write their comments in my grade book, but why not have them tell me, what they feel they struggled with, what they felt was a challenge, and what they hope to achieve next term. I feel that I know my students fairly well by the end of term 1, but I don't necessarily know how each of them feels about their growth over the term, and I am all about reflecting and journaling in math class, so this is what I came up with.

After I handed them out, I started by explaining the grading scale. I wanted to make sure to come up with kid friendly language that they would all understand. Second, we brainstormed about what concepts we have learned this term and filled in the top chart. Third, we also thought back and made a list of specific assignments they could reference in their answers on the back page.

Now that I have a good idea of how they feel they did this term, I am always interested to see how it compares with how I feel they did. Far too often, I find kids do not give themselves enough credit. Most of the ratings were pretty close, if not identical to what I had assigned them. But the part I was most interested in was the answers on the back. I find these answers to be a life-saver when writing comments. When I got stuck on a particular student, I would read their answers, it would jog my memory, and in the end it made for a much more personal comment that I know the students will connect with when they read it.

I will admit that once they hand them in, I immediately flip to the last question on the back to see the responses. My main goal every year is to get my students, all my students, to become more confident in their math abilities, and actually enjoy math. This answer let's me know if I am succeeding.

Here's a few that stood out. I hope you can see through the terrible penmanship and  grammar...

...and since in reality, teaching isn't all rainbows and lollipops...

Now, it may not seem that I am making much of an impact on this particular student (and trust me I am trying) but I did happen to catch her explaining an assignment to another student who had been absent, and I hadn't even asked her to. Plus she was explaining it correctly! So progress is being made, slowly but surely.

If you think you could use this reflection in your own math classroom, you can download your copy here.

So here we are at the end of the term, it feels like a little celebration is in order.
I want to take this time to tell you about a little (it's actually quite big) giveaway that I am taking part in this week.

My blogging buddy Meg, over at "The Teacher Studio" is celebrating her brand new blog design with an amazing giveaway. Some amazing teacher authors have donated $10 shopping sprees in their stores. Each day is a different grade range so head over to her blog to check out the details. I am being featured on Thursday in the grade 5/6 package, so I will have some more info for you then. You don't want to miss out on this one.

Good luck!


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