Saturday, July 21, 2012

A New Adventure...Take Two

Okay, I walked away from a very difficult teaching assignment in February and have not been able to find consistent full-time employment since.  When everyone said the economy was bad, I arrogantly thought it wouldn't affect me.  So here I am knee-deep in craziness with constant bill collectors using up my cell minutes.  What's a girl to do?

Move to the Middle East.  Crazy?  Absolutely.  Nuts?  100%  A cool adventure?  That too.

I interviewed through a company called Teach Away and in just 2 weeks I will be flying away from the States to live in the UAE.  Hopefully in Abu Dhabi.  Some of the details are not set in concrete yet.  Which I keep trying to convince myself is part of the allure and the fun of the adventure and not the stress producing events that lead me to wondering "What the heck do you pack when you don't know what city you'll be in or grade you'll be teaching?"  Hmmm...

Did I mention I am also packing up to leave my house and visit my parents this Monday?  As in two days from now Monday.  Looking around my house there is still so much to do.  Not to mention the mail forwarding, address changing, going to be gone two years kind of things to do.

Part of my to do list looks like:
  • Create new account of cheaper incoming overseas transfer (to still allow me to pay US bills in US currency)
  • Order enough contacts for a year (and, gulp, receive them in time)
  • Weed through my important paper documents
  • List out my potential tax things for next April, seeing how I will be trying to do them from the UAE
  • Get a VPN on my computer -- I need to Skype!
  • Make duplicate house and mailbox keys, just in case
  • Buy a car cover
  • Sign up all my bills for paperless statements and auto payments (after setting up a new bank account)
  • Sort through my clothes for appropriateness (my personal version of What Not to Wear)
  • Order a new UAE friendly powersupply cord for my computer
And on, and on, and on.  Until my head spins.  Because of course I have a million TPT things I want to do and post before I go for Back to School usefulness.

Next on my list would be getting ready to go see some of my girlfriends for one last outing.  Then home to tackle a few more things off the list!

Finding Time to Test

This could be the question of the century.  How do I find time to test my students on a weekly basis on their sight words?  Well, I snatch time wherever I can find it.  Sounds simple enough but it isn't.  And yes, even I might sometimes not get to all the students I want.  But to have your students be successful the most important thing you can do is...MAKE TIME.  Nothing is worse than having a student so close to wanting to pass the list they are on only to be put off because you don't have time for assessment.  Eventually that little guy is going to throw in the towel.  If you don't care, why should he?  It may not be true but for a 6 year-old, it's all about perception.

So, back to the topic of this post.

One year I was super fortunate to have an "extra" computer time in the non-teaching computer lab.  What this meant is that I would start the kiddos on an educational website and once they were going, I could pull kids back to a table and test away.  Voila.  A built-in time for weekly assessing.

Of course things in education change quite quickly.  And then revert back just as quickly (but that's another blog post).  So when I lost being able to have this extra lab time I was faced with finding time in each day.  Literacy stations are a wonderful time for assessment.  I pull students for reading groups during my stations.  Once a week, or sometimes every other week depending on how much time I have for groups, I would test the students sitting with me for group before we got down to other business.  After you've had a few assessments under your belt you might only need 5 minutes or less per student.

My favorite way to find assessment time is to enlist volunteers.  Occasionally I have been fortunate to have student interns that could pull and assess students for me.  I dislike using parents for these jobs.  Especially if the parent likes to see where their student compares to the class.

But mostly I just do my best to pull students throughout the day.  Did they finish snack early?  Grab them to test.  During report card time I can be found with my assessment materials outside the classroom just in case I can snag sometime to test.  Heck, I've even done testing on class restroom breaks!  First one in can be tested while we wait on the rest of the class.

I am a true believer that the quicker a student learns sight words, the easier reading will be for them.  Then we can concentrate on the fun stuff like comprehension techniques and making connections.  Just remember that sight word testing should not take over as your only strategy for reading practice.  Kill and drill will not go very far in building avid readers.

Word Wall Wallet Assessment Binder

Sorry for the delay!  My wonderful Word Wall Wallets also come complete with everything you need to put together an assessment binder to make your principal proud.

Individual Student Record
Binder Cover

Class Overview - At a Glance

For the Class Overview page, just simply write in which list your students are currently practicing.  This will allow you to easily create partners that are on the same list.

Keeping track of an individual student is as simple as following the Student Testing Page.  I like to place a copy of all the lists (pre-primer, primer, etc) under the tab for each student.  By labeling the tabs by student number, I don't have to rename the tabs everytime a student moves away.
Please forgive the blurry pic, my phone doesn't take the best pictures!  My pretend student, Susana, was tested on Aug. 17th.  I have written this date off on the margin.  Then for each word she got correct within the 3 second rule, I gave her a checkmark.  For this example I stopped after the first row since Susana did not know most of the words.  These are the words I will assign her for practice during the week to be retested on Friday (or whatever day I have set aside for testing). 

In the past I have also tested all the words.  It really depends on the time you have available and your students.  If they are overwhelmed by the mounting pile of unknown words as you test, you might want to stop after a row or two.  Just test until you have at least a few words for them to practice.

Not shown here but included with the binder pages are a label for the binder spine and a testing schedule worksheet to help keep you on top of assessing.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...