OK- thinking about how I assess my students and even more seriously, I’m thinking about RETHINKING THIS!

Summative assessment: this will tell me whether or not the student has LEARNED the information. If they haven’t learned it, this should be something that they can redo until they show they HAVE learned it. There should only be 5-10 of these per semester, depending on what they are. Tests, projects, major lab reports.

Formative assessment: this is feedback that the student will receive about their performance along the way to tell them where they stand in terms of learning the information. This might be a polleverywhere.com, quiz, short lab, homework assignment, etc., but it will force me to give assignments that are actually assessing the knowledge in class.

Teaching tools: not all assignments will be assessments. Some of them are still helping the kids learn the information (homework, worksheet practice) for example. While it can help them learn, it can also be corrected so the kids know whether or not they are meeting the goals.

Standards: I have to have an idea of what I expect each student to be able to do, and how I define “be able to”- does that mean an “80”? Passing? An “A”? I need to have essential questions that each unit responds to AND a way of assessing whether or not they have “reached” that level of understanding. Also, my assessments will have to evaluate that specifically.


Strategy for 11-12: (this is going to be crazy).

Each “Unit” will have essential questions, made known to the students ahead of time so they know what they will be expected to learn.

Teaching: I will present the answers/information needed to answer these essential questions through: Notes, Labs, Homework, Worksheets, experiences in class.

Formative Assessments: Students will be evaluated on a daily basis to see where they fall.

Summative Assessment: When students are ready, I will test to see whether or not they actually learned the information I wanted them to learn. If they did, they will have scored a 75 or higher, for ex. If below a 75, they have not learned. All students would have the option to “retake” this assessment. **Do I assess in a different way then? Give them the same one?**

At 4.5 weeks, if we have not had a “summative assessment”, I will send comments home to parents to give them an update on progress in class. This update will be a comment from their student approved by me. I will also send home a summary report of formative assessment, saying which level they are on in science at that moment. It may not represent a numerical grade.


First of all, I definitely want to make my “tutorial” time more effective. Does that mean I plan “lessons” and just give in? Make myself available as usual? Requires students to come?

Second, I want to work with students in some sort of a bible study. For starters, that will be with Clara, Rebecca, and Rachael. Anyone else? Do we want to make it more of a bible study? Just alternate breakfasts? Should we meet somewhere for breakfast? (Not Chick-Fil-A).

Third- an 8th grade girls small group- Ellie Fallon? Anyone who wants to come? With US girls or not?

Fourth: 10th grade boys small group

Fifth: Catherine Chanaberry, etc. Who do they meet with? Would they want a teacher to meet with them?



I really want to use this year to make our meetings more effective and useful. I want to come up with a list of topics that we can discuss during our meetings in the afternoon, and I will use a webpage to update teachers about upcoming important dates, websites to use, and other general information. We can also hold morning meetings instead of afternoon meetings this year.

1. Observing other teachers: observe the teacher(s) above and below in order to have a better understanding of how they are preparing students for your class or using the information you taught them in their class. How can we better streamline this approach?

2. Topics to discuss:



How do we assign grades?

Effective group work


Twitter to update one another on what we are doing in classes?

3. Learning Opportunities: take a day to visit another school, use a half day to float through upper school classes and lower school classes, upcoming conferences on PBL/tech/making science more fun!?

As usual, I have had a LOT of ideas this summer. Time to get them organized and in one place so I can easily access and apply them throughout the school year. Really want to take advantage of this “fresh start”.

I’m just going to make a list right now….

1. polleverywhere.com

2. Todaysmeet.com

3. Post-it notes (extra-large?)

4. Using timers

5. 20 minute “halves” in class

6. Seat arrangements

7. Using flip camera during labs and creating “movie trailers”

8. 1st Day of School: “Think Different” video, writing one nice thing about each classmate.

9. How to conduct Group work effectively.

10. Lab partners for each quarter?

11. Using tutorial time wisely

12. Collect 1 Hw/week instead of daily

13. Daily assessment on webpage.

14. Square, triangle, circle activity (What squares with your beliefs? What are 3 most important points? What is still circling in your head?”

15. Fishbowl discussion: inner circle – discussion and outer circle observes discussion behavior.

16. How to write an email to me/use email effectively.

17. Ted Talks daily or for warm-up/extra time/tutorial

18. Cold Calling- explain the point of the exercise.

19. Look at grading categories- do these accurately reflect what I want students learning?

20. Update webpage.

21. What am I doing with my blog for school?

22. How do I use department meetings.

In a workshop today learning about formative assessments. It is interesting because I realize that I use formative assessments quite a bit in my classroom; however, a few important questions have to come to mind today which I would like to reflect on.

How do I know my students are learning? A couple things I might use are daily “quizzes” or “check-ups” using google docs, a “Do Now” warm up, a brief review, asking students to recap from the day before, and just general questions/show of hands. I would like to use more concrete examples of formative assessments so that I may actually evaluate where everyone is, revisit that information, and look at how to move forward from there.

Quizzes and tests definitely provide me with the most information, but those are not necessarily considered formative assessments. An end of the day “check up” or start of the day “check up” might be a better way to do that in the future. And I should administer these so that I may collect data quickly rather than having stacks of paper on my desk to grade. I could also stagger when I assess the classes. I think that students also learn where they are from the “Do Now” activities, or check ups, and they have offered positive feedback to me as well, stating that they would like to go further.

Have I really adjusted my teaching schedule after receiving these assessments? No. Maybe in tutorial each day, I can offer a topic or a more structured way of delivering information to the kids. I can submit topics to the students so they know whether or not they want to attend. I can offer additional work to the kids who are not grasping material, and if it is the majority of the kids, I clearly need to take another day and reteach it or review it.

Keeping up with the assessments scares me the most, as does understanding where the responsibility lies. For example, I assess the day after notes to see who was listening/taking good notes. What scares me is how do I know if it is the way I taught it OR how much the students paid attention? Perhaps they are related? And of course, that also evaluates how assessments may NOT be effective, because it they are assessing effort levels only, are they assessing the true learning? Perhaps I need to offer these at the end of the class instead of the beginning of the next day. Or both!?

I work in a LEED certified building. That means we built the building using recycled materials, we conserve energy, water, and we are generally more environmentally conscious, right? Well, that would be great if it were true, but I don’t know that students have put more thought into their “footprint” and frankly, I can’t say that the building has changed my ways all that much either. So this year, I want to work on that. I plan to incorporate more “green” lessons into the normal curriculum while still learning the same skills and content as years past.

I’m thinking:trash a thon. Starting the year off (as in, FIRST DAY) by having students begin a collection of their trash. Obvious guidelines will have to be set in place, for example, no used toilet paper, no rotting meat products, no bandaids, etc. But besides that, I think it will be an interesting exercise to help students have an idea of how much trash they create. I would then like to bring the trash all together, categorize, and look at what types of trash accumulate. I think it will be interesting to see what we gather, how can we can reduce, and how we make choices in general. Also, I plan to have students incorporate the scientific method into solving this trash dilemma.

That brings us to energy: in our next unit, I want students to not only learn about types of energy and energy exchange, but also, how trash can be converted into ENERGY! It’s true- I researched it already. Europe is all over it, the U.S….here and there it is popping up, but landfills are still so cheap, so that tends to be more convenient I suppose.

Enter: alternative energy sources and fuels, and CARS.

Learning about how cars move (Newton’s Laws, speed, velocity, acceleration), Designing a Car (momentum and safety).

END GOAL: Choose an appliance that uses energy and change or alter the design of this appliance in some way that will make it more energy efficient. Is it the design of the appliance? The type of energy it uses? Can the goal of the appliance be accomplished differently?


A Blank Slate

Wow- lots of pressure here. My first reflection on my blog- like the first page of a new notebook- what can you write that is worthy of the *first* blank page?

Well first- I suppose I should answer the question: why a blog and why now? I am about to enter my 8th school year as a teacher, which is just wild to me. Already, this year seems like an appropriate transition year for a number of reasons. First, I will be teaching a new curriculum, Physical Science, which I have taught in the past, but it will have been a few years now. Second, I have a new teaching partner. Third, I will have the same students, thus removing the variable of “getting to¬† know your students”- I already know who I am dealing with for next year. And finally, it seems like an appropriate point in my career to make some changes and “refresh” my style. I have enough experience now that I would no longer consider myself a “beginner teacher” by any means, not so much experience that I am sick of teaching, and that middle amount of experience which to me, represents the need to change it up and do something different.

So, how is my approach to teaching going to change in 11-12?

1. I want to make a mental shift in my “role” in the classroom. I want to think of myself as a facilitator more than as a “teacher”. I want my students to be part of my “team” and together, we discover, create, uncover, design, experiment. I don’t want as much responsibility for handing out information and making sure they absorb it. I want to help show them ways to find the information on their own and understand its significance in relation to their lives. And I want them to LOVE it, and to really feel inspired! How many of our students just show up to our class and “check the box”? Are we training them to meet a list of criteria and move on? That is not good enough for me, and I am not satisfied if that is the experience students are having in my class. When they leave my class, I want them to feel empowered and inspired, not filled to the rim with information. I want them equipped with the tools to go out and CHANGE this world, making it better.

2. I want to be professionally connected. It is so easy to isolate oneself in the classroom, and recently, it just feels plain stifling. My creativity is inspired by colleagues, other professionals, and reflection. Through social networks such as twitter and through this blog, I hope to really set foot inside the educator community and get caught in the currents of ideas and new ways of helping our students learn. My questions is, how do people have time for this? I’ll keep you posted on how that works out for me…

3. I want to be a leader in this movement. I hope that by taking these risks and making some changes, I inspire other colleagues to do the same. If we embark on this journey together, we can learn so much from one another, and I hope they are willing to take that step as well.