Today was the last English/Language Arts section of the PARCC Performance-Based Assessment. (The PBA is designed with an expectation that students have been exposed to approximately 75% of the curriculum at this point and is intended to assess their level of performance at this point. The End-of-Year assessment will be in May and will have a format and questions that are more like what we currently think of as annual high-stakes standardised testing.)
The third ELA unit focused on narrative writing. This is a skill that we have spent a lot of time on in my room, including an intensive writers’ workshop unit designed by Lucy Calkins that Mrs. DeHart helped introduce. Because of this, I wasn’t too worried about how my students would do with writing narratives. However, I did remind them, before we started testing, that they should always go back and read their stories again to see if they make sense and to check for any additional details that could be added.
While they were testing, I was doing what I’ve been doing for three days now: walking around the computer lab, monitoring individual students and ensuring that nobody was talking or otherwise disrupting the testing environment. (Even though I repeatedly tell my students that PARCC is not the end-all, be-all of their educational careers, I still want them to take it seriously and avoid distractions.) I decided to use a pedometer while circulating the lab today, so that I could see how many steps I actually took. I reset my pedometer, and started circulating. After about 20 minutes I decided to check it.
It would appear my pedometer is broken. It didn’t record a single step! I was disappointed, but I am going to try to find a new one tomorrow so I can see how many steps I take. I don’t know if I will cross 10.000, but I am hoping to at least exceed 5,000 steps!
Happy Wednesday! We are officially more than halfway through our testing week!
Today I was a Family & Consumer Sciences teacher at Mahomet-Seymour High School. I have been very fortunate to have teaching assignments nearly every single working day for the past two months. In fact, so far I have had only one working day without an assignment. My schedule for this week is almost completely filled–I just have to find something for Wednesday. Why have I been so lucky? I’m not sure, really. It may be because the districts actually put a halt to hiring new subs for the year. (Interesting aside: one of my districts employs 200 substitute teachers, even though they only use, on average, 60 subs a day. Not sure why they have so many extras, unless it is just really that hard to find a sub some days.) But I think it may also be because I am willing to accept just about anything.
Which is why I accepted the aforementioned Family & Consumer Sciences assignment despite the very obvious fact that I had no clue what that entailed. I mentioned it at dinner last night, and learned that Family & Consumer Sciences is the modern name for what used to be known as Home Economics, or just Home-Ec.
Little known fact about myself (well, little known to those who don’t know me incredibly well): I never took any vocational education courses in high school. Even the one state-required course that falls under that category, Consumer Economics, was not taken, because I managed to test out of it my Freshman year. (I think that business classes are part of vocational education… Please correct me if I am wrong!) I had friends who took courses through the vocational ed program. I have a former classmate who is now teaching vocational ed at our high school. But I was very much the hard-core band/choir/drama geek who loaded his schedule each semester with math, science, language, social studies, and band/choir/drama. If I’d had an extra hour or two to the day, maybe I would have dipped my toes into the vocational pool, but probably not. It just wasn’t my area of interest.
So, armed with my complete lack of knowledge of this field, I went off to Mahomet-Seymour High School today wondering what on earth I’d be doing. The first class of the day was Food and Nutrition. I walked them through an introduction to a unit on eggs–Hey, I can handle that! I was an eggs-to-order cook for a few years while at the University of Illinois!–and that was that. The next class was Cooking & Culinary Arts. We watched a video clip of Good Eats starring Alton Brown. So far, so good.
Then we got to the Life Skills class. Um, okay… I think. We went to the computer lab and they spent the period finding articles online about positive peer pressure, negative peer pressure, and filling out a worksheet to compare/contrast the two. Oh, and they had to print out the articles. Except that the printer ran out of paper and instead of waiting for it to get refilled, they just kept hitting print. So several articles got printed about a dozen times. Oh, and someone tried to print an article but instead of highlighting the relevant portion, he or she just hit print and printed off a 34-page document, 32 pages of which were a list of the blog articles that had been published. Whoops.
And then we got to the area that left me completely baffled: Early Childhood Practicum. With two class periods at our disposal, we went into the bizarre basement computer lab so they could have a “work” day. (This is the computer lab that has film projectors and other antiquities lying around.) One boy seemed to be working on something that may or may not have been a relevant project. The only other boy in the class spent the two periods on funnyjunk.com (he didn’t click on anything inappropriate, though). The girls all seemed to be shopping for prom dresses and checking out hairstyles that can do, despite the fact that prom is in five days.
It turns out that the girls were working on their projects, though. One of them is doing a wedding planning project, and, after browsing dresses, turned to cakes. Aha! I know about cakes! I suggested she check out the Sunday Sweets segment of Cake Wrecks. Victory!
Now if only I could figure out what the rest of them were supposed to be doing all day…