Express Yourself

Be who you are and say how you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.
--Dr. Seuss

Sunday, May 22, 2016

End of Year Reflections

There are less than 10 days of school left. I don't quite know how I feel about that. This year has gone exceptionally well, but I am not ready for any type of closure yet. During the  next two weeks, I will get back to what I was doing  before testing season reared its ugly head.

My first semester went very well. I laid the foundation of reading and writing with purpose and intention. (Words taken from Alana Morris) My students loved to read, write, and talk about text. We used many Abydos, Gretchen Bernabei, Maureen Ucles, Alana Morris, and Jeff Anderson type research. We wrote, shared with each other while analyzing and enjoying different types of text. Things were going rather smoothly...until testing season. Testing season put a wrench into the flow of my classroom. All of January seemed devoted to testing, testing, testing. I felt robbed of my peace, flow and serenity. Such is life.

 February flew by. We flowed into a writing groove and things were finally feeling kind of normal. Grammar and compositions were flying off the walls, into the notebooks, and being shared aloud. I felt a very positive and confident momentum. I used Gretchen Bernabei's Grammar Keepers and expository kernel essays, along with studying STAAR 8s. We also studied the structure of text and brought back the Analysis Pyramid. We used noticing and naming technique by Jeff Anderson in his work in Mechanically Inclined and Everyday Editing. We studied the structure of different types of sentences (simple, compound, and complex) and studied writer's craft. We noticed different craft  in STAAR 8s including pitchforks, analogies (metaphors and similies,  and info shots), renaming, using examples and illustrations, as well as crafting the belief statement in the introduction. These questions were often heard: What is your promise to the reader? Did you keep your promise? Did the examples and details that you used in the body explain your belief statement? How did you write that? Did you do this with purpose and intention? How can you make your writing clearer to the reader?

In March, we were refining writing. We had a few days of benchmarking and then it was back to the grind. I didn't want to slow down. My class didn't miss a beat while we moved forward. Some days I felt things were going fine and dandy. Other days, I found my plan needed more tweaking. It was a roller coaster ride. I was moving from English to Spanish and Spanish to English as I moved and grooved with the different groups. Each group needed different things. Some days we worked on their compositions. Other days we worked on the genre of the test in the editing and revision portions. The studying of structure, grammar, spelling rules, and revision techniques flowed so well with the multiple choice portion of the test and the composition. Slowly and surely, my students nailed it! I felt extremely proud of their progress. The light bulbs were turning on in droves.Keep movin' Maureen. Keep moving!  I  kept saying to myself.  Then my students took the writing test. Phew! They were the most prepared class that I have ever taught. They knew so much and were showing it daily!  I gave me great pleasure to see this unfold! More than half of my class took the writing test in English and the other Spanish. There was a lot of shuffling going on daily. It was like playing ping pong or pin ball.

April went by like a bleep on a radar. I rag tagged and got the kids ready for the genre of the Reading test. It went very smoothly because of the all the work we had previously done. The reading informed the writing and the writing informed the reading. Structures are structures. I loved how this all worked out. April was a blurr to me. I worked fast and furiously, and students were up to the challenge.

Now May is flying by too. The first part of May, I prepped and prepped and the Reading and Math came and went. Currently we are ending the year, and I do not want to see any more tests. I want to enjoy the rest of the year the way I did the first semester. Everything comes full circle. I am enjoying seeing the maturity and love of reading, writing, and learning in full bloom. Do I want the year to end? To be honest...I really don't want it to! I will miss this class tremendously. Every year it is always difficult to say goodbye to my classes.  I always find it hard to say goodbye because I know that my time with them will have come to and end. I want to cherish the moments and reflect on the year in its entireity. I have had an impact on my students's lives, but they have left an even greater impression on my life. It has been an honor to teach them all year.

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