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Making Okay Choices


I’m frustrated with myself over the choice of student work for Entry 1 but because I’ve already started the write ups (and also because it’s such a hassle to collect the stuff) I’m hesitant to change now. Neither the ticking clock nor these hoop burns are helping.

I like both students fine, but in seeking to use certain assignments that I know show a lot of growth, I’ve painted myself into a corner in regards to using others. For example, I need a response to a non-print text from the ninth grader in written form, and the piece I thought I’d use, an observation writing from his field notebook, he... umm... didn’t do. Yeah, that I wasn’t aware of this before now is not a good sign. I knew it was the weakest link of the eight when I was working the bar puzzle. It just fit. Except now it doesn’t.

Also, I’m starting to realize that I selected the sophomore not because we have a strong connection but because I really liked what she did on one particular assignment, and she is such a steady and reliable kid I knew whatever I asked for she’d be able to produce. Now it turns out that the assignment of hers I especially liked I can’t use, because it doesn’t fit the bar puzzle. (Another one over here, pal. Make it a double.)

So, what to do? This weekend, due to impending interims, I think I’ll ignore the problem while I wade through a six-inch stack of papers I haven’t been grading lately. See-- National Boards is already influencing my impact on student achievement.

After the paint has dried, I’ll get back to you on this. Hopefully, some good advice from blog readers will be forthcoming in the meantime. Speaking of which, let me share or reply to a few recent comments.

Faye wrote on Feb 15 to remind us that the portfolio is due IN THE HANDS of NBPTS on March 31st, not “postmarked by” as I wrote in “Arithmetic of Reading and Writing.” A small detail that may have prevented me or others from putting bullets in our heads.

Jennifer points out that I should not “recycle” work amongst Entries 1-3. While these entries are likely to be read by different readers, so I’m not sure how enforceable that restriction is, Jennifer is right. Thanks for citing chapter and verse.

Hillary asked after reading last post, “Are you answering ALL the questions about Student A, and then ALL the questions about Student B, or for each question dealing with first one student, and then the second?” For what it’s worth, I’m using the order of forms in the bible as my guide, unless someone offers a compelling reason to do it in another way. Check out the “Entry 1 Assembly Final Inventory” for a schematic drawing complete with information including where to place the paper clips.

A last random question I posed to my support class instructor, Lisa: When including rubrics should they be the ones I actually used with students or “clean copies”? She wrote back, “It is better to send the rubrics that were actually used, with comments. That way, the assessors can see the feedback you provided and that you actually used it! If you did not use a rubric for the assignment, just clearly write up how the students were assessed and why you chose that method.”


Hi, Emmet! My mentor just wrote to tell me that I had four weeks and three days left to get this together - whew! I am ready to have my life back!

I, too, did not work on Entry 1 this weekend. I am still waiting on some student work I wish to use.

As for your student selection, I would worry more about the students and your connection to them rather than the assignment. My reason for this advice is based off of advice to me from other successful National Board teachers. I am working with five throughout my state right now, and none of them believe the assignments were the key to completing this entry successfully. They all believe it is your feedback and ability to analyze where they started, where they are, and where you plan to take them. One of the people I am getting this advice from scored almost perfectly on this entry!

With this in mind, I keep switching back and forth between what students I will use. I have chosen to focus on two different students in the same class to keep it more simple for me. The rule I cited earlier makes it very difficult for me to use the pieces to the "puzzle" from the other two courses I teach.

Good luck! I really love your blog. It is one more resource to help with this process!


As far as the due date goes. I spoke to someone at National Board who told me that this year by mistake they put a flyer in our blue box that said it needed to be POSTMARKED by March 31st, and since it was their mistake, they were going to honor that date for THIS YEAR ONLY. Please please please, don't take my word for this. Call them. I don't want to be responsible for anyone not having their portfolio accepted. I'm still planning on getting it to them early - I don't want to worry about it.

Jennifer's suggestion is reassuring - I'm not real thrilled with some of the assignments I picked, but I do feel I know my 2 students pretty well.

Hi Emmet! I would agree with Jennifer. Your assignments are not the focus, although your assignments sound like great choices to use. Focus on giving the feedback that you know you are capable of giving. Mark on the rubrics. The assessors do need to read your feedback, or you could write on the students' papers. What counts in this entry is a) your assignments are related to your goals (NB says that this is the most common error in this entry) and b) you can assess student work in a thoughtful way that promotes student learning. I will say that this was the hardest entry for me. I put it off until the end. I even left the Instructional Context page off of this entry and STILL certified my first year! My score was decent on this entry even with the omission. Remember, this entry is where you can show the skills that you use every week in assessing student work. Don't forget to include the personal info on each student (A and B). It REALLY helps the assessor "see" your students and how you relate to them. Good luck to all!! Only a short time left and then you can study for the Assessment Test (or not)!!

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Recent Comments

  • Brenda: Hi Emmet! I would agree with Jennifer. Your assignments are read more
  • Hillary: As far as the due date goes. I spoke to read more
  • Jennifer: Hi, Emmet! My mentor just wrote to tell me that read more




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