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Welcome to my blog! I use my blog as a way to reflect, share, organize, and re-conceptualize my views as an educator. Enjoy and feel free to comment, post, disagree, and share your opinion. The more perspectives, the better!

Monday, August 13, 2012


1 real week down and I am still loving my 3rd graders. Things are settling down and I am about finished with teaching routines and procedures. I am excited to get to teaching actual content, but I am also admittedly terrified. One of the biggest changes I have observed from switching grade levels is that the achievement gap is so much bigger.

I thought the gap was big with my first graders. I really did. 3rd grade is a whole new ball game. The reality is that some of my 3rd graders are below the level of my first graders from last year. I can compare my first graders from student teaching in a high-performing school to my 3rd graders, and the middle-low of my first grade class would outperform all, but a handful of my 3rd graders. It is scary.

We did a lot of diagnostic testing this week and I have identified our two biggest obstacles for this upcoming year...writing and math. I identified these target areas earlier this week, but I did not grade the diagnostic tests until today. The actual scores made the challenge we have ahead of us so much more real.

The chart below is a crop of my writing and math tracker. The top bold score is where TFA expects my students to be at this point in the year. This benchmark assumes that my students will need to make 1.6 years of growth to be on grade level. The second row is my class average.

I know writing does not look that much lower, but students are expected to average a 5 out of 6 points by the end of the year. As I was grading their diagnostic tests, I did not have a student get a score of more than 4 in ANY of the 7 rubric categories. Many of my students cannot form a complete sentence. 

The math diagnostic speaks for itself. The math diagnostic we give is based on the second grade standards. Our kids are going to have to make extraordinary gains to be on grade level. Our pacing guide has us teaching pretty much all of the 2nd grade prerequisite skills in the next 2 weeks. My roommate/ partner teacher (convenient, right?) has similar data in her classroom and we are working together to decide if we should extend our first unit to ensure mastery or move on so we have a chance of teaching the big 3rd grade skills to mastery. It is quite the balancing act.

Right now I am intimidated by my data. Not discouraged, but intimidated. Right now my most pressing challenge is how to present this data to my students and families in a way that will inspire hard work and best effort. The gap, of course, is the reason I joined TFA. I wanted to understand it. I wanted to be a part of the solution. I guess you get what you wish for. 

And finally, in an effort to "lighten the mood" I got a friend request from one of my summer school students this week. I am sure you would be shocked when I tell you that I politely declined her request with, "I would be happy to be your FB friend when you graduate from high school."

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