As I have mentioned before, my boyfriend is a 5th grade language arts/social studies teacher. We live about 25 minutes apart and if we are lucky, we see each other twice a week.
We’ve been very busy the last few weeks with four kids (three in fall sports), back-to-school business, our anniversary, a Jason Mraz concert, and my 20th High School Class Reunion.
Last night was supposed to be another event…the Cleveland Indians game and a trip to the new casino with my brother and some other friends. By yesterday morning, everyone had backed out and we had a night with no kids and no plans.
We decided to skip the game. Instead, I brought two dinners from a chicken BBQ near my house and we went out to Target and Kohl’s and then stopped at Yogurt Vi.
We then came home and on a Saturday night…sat at the kitchen table and did school work while we listened to music and had some refreshments. The irony of this? We said earlier in the day that we’d talk about school for 10 minutes max. We are such nerds.
We each did our own work, shared some ideas, and just talked.
I showed him WorksheetWorks.
I try not to use too many worksheets. However, this site generates worksheets on all subjects for free. The worksheets are customizable in terms of types of question and layout. They are neat and clean and just what I was looking for.
Each time you hit “Create Worksheet” you get different questions. They must have a very large question bank because I did not see repeats. I enlarged the worksheets to 150% and used the capture tool to put 4-5 questions on a SMARTBoard page. I quickly built a SMART file for the whole week.
I am going to use these pages with the dry erase boards some days. Other days I will just call students to the board. The hard copies will be used for assessments.
He showed me The New Differentiator.
This tool is an awesome way to get you thinking about how to differentiate your lessons to meet the needs of students. You easily create objectives by choosing from a menu for five categories: Thinking Skill, Content, Resources, Products, and Groups.
While I was checking this out, I explored a little more on Byrdseed. This blog looks like a great resource for TAG students or higher-level learners.
The other thing we discussed for awhile was the whole “teaching to the test.” We were talking about putting the Common Core Standards in our lesson plans and he made a comment about how he likes having the standards as a guide because he likes teaching to the test and he likes knowing exactly what he needs to cover.
“Teaching to the test??” I stopped him right there. I asked him to explain what he meant again and I had this weird Aha! moment.
I have heard teachers say, “We have to teach to the test.”
“We are limited on what we can do because we have to teach to the test.”
“The test stifles my creativity.”
“There’s so many things we can’t cover because we have to teach to the test.”
At the risk of offending anyone, I think these statements could be excuses or cop-outs….a way to just plow through material with minimal prep work. Is it these teachers who are bored and frustrated with their job?
What if teachers viewed the standards like he does? As a guide and not as limits?
Yes, he has to cover certain things. He still words his assessments with test-like lingo. He assigns 2-pt. and 4-pt. questions for daily journal writing.
How he chooses to teach the standards on a daily basis is completely up to him. His creativity is not stifled.
He is one of the most creative people I know.