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Arithmetic of Reading and Writing

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To begin an entry, I make a template by retyping directly from the bible the sections and the questions listed under “Composing My Written Commentary.” Gluttons for minutiae may see one below (if you’re certifying in EA/ELA consider it my gift to you for being a loyal reader).

I’m nervous that the template alone for Entry One runs to 3 pages. The entry itself, when completed, should be no more than 13, which doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room given that I have to write about 4 assignments for two students each (when I was a newbie at this game, I thought 11 pages was a lot to work with).

Attached to the finished piece, please find up to 20 pages of student work samples, assignments, prompts and rubrics to go along with it. Per kid. (Each item gets its own official cover page, too, which will give this entry the approximate heft, if not the readability, of an issue of The New Yorker.)

You’ll recall there are four entries in total, three of which I’ve more or less completed by now. “Analysis of Student Growth in Reading and Writing” is the official title of this entry, and for those obsessive-compulsive readers who may still be keeping score, it covers these eight standards: I. Knowledge of Students; II. Knowledge of the Field; VI. Instructional Resources; VII. Instructional Decision Making; VIII. Reading; IX. Writing; XIII. Assessment; and, XIV. Self-Reflection.

The entry requires analysis of the work of two students. Selecting appropriate assignments is more difficult than a bar puzzle. I’ll try to explain. Remember, multiply the following by two, since I’ll be collecting work from student A and student B. (There will be a quiz.)

“Reading” is construed rather broadly: one of the assignments should be in response to reading a book, and the other to “reading” a non-print source, like a movie. The output by the student, in other words the responses themselves, must also vary: one should be in writing, and the other should be “non-print” itself, like a collage or a speech.

Moving to “writing,” things get a little easier. Pick two things the kid has written and talk about ‘em. This is another thing I’m nervous about: there’s got to be a wrinkle I’m missing. Such as, one writing must be done in Sanskrit, the other in the student’s native language.

All four entries have to be boxed and postmarked by March 31st, by the way, a once abstract date which suddenly looms ominously close on the horizon. That means I have a little more than 49 days, 8 hours, and 22 minutes to get this thing done. But who’s counting.


1. Instructional context (1 pg)
The work in this entry is drawn from two students. Student A is ...
Student B is ...

There are several relevant characteristics of each class that influenced my instructional strategies for the lessons reflected in the selected work samples... ethnic, cultural, and linguistic diversity; range of abilities of the students; personality of the class... instructional challenges unique to teaching this population...

Relevant characteristics of the students with exceptional needs and abilities that influenced my planning for this sequence of instruction (ex, range of abilities and cognitive, social/behavioral, attentional, sensory, and/or physical challenges of my students). Help the assessor “see” this class...

Relevant features of my teaching context that influence the selection of this instruction... resources etc.

2. Analysis of Student Work (10 pp; 5 per student)
Student A as Reader (repeat for Student B as Reader)
Experiences, skills, interests, etc about the student that provide insight into his work samples and my analysis of them...

My instructional goals to promote growth for this student as a reader and interpreter of text were... I used these texts, assignments, and strategies to accomplish these...

These characteristics of the selected work samples demonstrated the students ability to understand and interpret the text...

My assessment and feedback to this student promoted his growth as a reader and interpreter of text by...

Given this student’s responses, as a teacher I will do this to build on what they have already accomplished as a reader/interpreter of text...

Student A as Writer (repeat for Student B as Writer)
Experiences, skills, interests, etc about the student that provide insight into his writing samples and my analysis of them...

My instructional goals to promote growth for this student as a writer were... I used these assignments and strategies to accomplish these...

These characteristics of the selected writing samples demonstrate the students’ ability to understand and interpret the text...

My assessment and feedback to this student promoted his growth as a writer by...

Given this student’s responses, as a teacher I will do this to build on what they have already accomplished as a writer...

3. Reflection (2 pp)
I achieved the goals I set to the following extent...

Taken in total, these students responses say the following about me as a teacher of reading and writing...

5 Comments

Hi, Emmett!

I have been a loyal reader throughout these last few months. I too am going through the process in the same area, and we have both stayed at about the same pace.

I had to laugh tonight as I read what you wrote about entry 1! I am sitting on my floor right now planning out my pieces to this final puzzle. This entry was always the most complex to me, but the good news is that we are almost done.

Good luck to you! From what I have read, you sound like an excellent educator, and I am sure this process will confirm that.

Jennie

Hmmm-- the instructions must have changed since last year. We had to get the portfolio into their hands by March 31st --not postmarked by that day (hence, several hundred certifiables drove all day to hand deliver their portfolios on time!)

Hi Emmett:
I certainly can identify with coming to the last turn toward Mar. 31! I finally got the brilliant notion yesterday to go to the bible and print out about 60 pages of cover forms, attestations, etc. along with paper clips to get myself organized. I have 8 different artifacts for the two students, have the DVDs neatly encased, and plan to put this puppy to bed by March 17th, the end of spring break here in AZ. I've really enjoyed reading your Certifiable column.

Who makes this stuff up? Does it really help you to do what you do? I've spent my entire career in private education and have never been subjected to this kind of bureaucracy. Should I need to switch to public education, is this what I have to look forward to?

Who makes this stuff up? Does it really help you to do what you do? I've spent my entire career in private education and have never been subjected to this kind of bureaucracy. Should I need to switch to public education, is this what I have to look forward to?

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