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Vacation? What Vacation?

February 23, 2010

The end of February vacation is almost here and my blissful week of catching up on sleep, schoolwork and kitty time is drawing to a close.  This break came just in time, as I needed some extra hours to grade book reports and tests as well as reading A Raisin In The Sun, the next book in the curriculum.  Also, since Northeastern’s schedule doesn’t correspond with the Boston Public School’s, I had a ton of work to do for graduate school.  Believe it or not, I just finished up and sent out an ENTIRE year of curriculum AND a five page paper.  I know that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, but it doesn’t make me any less grumpy while gaining that well-earned strength.  I’d be willing to bet that my students were with their families on sandy beaches, catching rays and sipping (non-alcoholic) pina colada’s.  However, who am I to complain?  I got to spend almost the entire week hanging out with my kitty, Luna.  After this week, he’s forgiven me for all my recent neglect and decided we can be friends again.  Next week? That’s another story…

Despite, or maybe because of, all the work I’ve had to do over vacation, I’m actually looking forward to seeing my students on Monday.  I really miss them!  Is that weird?  Hopefully they won’t be too mad about the homework I assigned them and will be glad to see me, too.  This makes me realize that when my student teaching is over, I’m definitely going to miss it.  Mental note: enjoy it while it lasts!

I’m a little worried about the final projects I assigned for Great Expectations.  I’ve had a lot of success differentiating instruction, but haven’t differentiated assessment yet.  For instance, I have drawn a character web for the class on the board to present information visually and spatially.  I have broken the class into groups for peer discussions, drawing upon interpersonal and communication skills.  I have asked students to get up and stretch before a test and had them act out a scene from a play, engaging kinesthetic learners.  The most fun thing I did was to play Louis Armstrong songs while they read the lyrics aloud and ask them to relate the themes to their lives, therefore engaging musical, linguistic, visual and intrapersonal learners. 

It’s pretty clear that I “get” the differentiated instruction thing.  In fact, I really think it’s valuable.  I think it’s so valuable that I want to differentiate assessment, too.  That’s why I gave my students free reign to do something creative and “out-of-the-box” for their final project. One student wanted to create her own character web and discuss its similarities to the one we created in class.  Another wanted to do a comic strip of a chapter.  Another wanted to draw a Venn diagram of the women in the book and explore their similarities and differences.  I’m really excited to see the final products, but I just realized that I have to grade them.

Umm….

I definitely should have thought of this before sending my kids off to do their own thing.  How can I do my job and be a fair assessor if they’ve done all these different things?  How does one create a rubric for a differentiated assessment?  Why didn’t I think of this before??  Honestly, part of my reasoning for doing this was my selfish desire to never have to grade 75 of the same essays again.  Now, I’m not sure what’s worse…knowing exactly what to expect or having NO idea what to expect.  I’m planning on waiting until I see the projects to freak out completely, and I’ll definitely do a follow-up entry on how I solved this issue.

Speaking of following up, I decided what to do about those tests from my last post.  I went through them and decided to take one extra answer for one of the multiple choice questions (it just made sense) and give everyone credit for a question that wasn’t very fair.  The most anyone gained from this was 6 points, so the difference wasn’t that great.  In addition, I’m going to give students the option to earn 5 points of extra credit if they write 5 multiple choice questions on our next text, A Raisin In The Sun.  This way, students can save their grades and I’m not giving in or admitting that I don’t know what I’m doing.  I’m pretty satisfied with this decision.  We’ll see how the kids take it…

I’ve got one and a half more precious days of vacation to enjoy, so I’m going to end this and enjoy away.  My brother Ben is coming for a visit from New York, so he’ll definitely help me make the best of the rest of my time.  Best of all, the completion of this blog means I can cross one more thing off my 16-item to-do list!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Ginnette permalink
    February 23, 2010 10:08 pm

    What a coincidence NU bloggers with cats named Luna! My kitty is a female though please post a pic!

  2. Jolene permalink
    March 4, 2010 10:48 pm

    Vacation time is very precious to teachers. If you think the students look forward to a vacation they should be in a teacher’s shoes and they would realize that teachers need a break too. Teachers count down the days to the summer vacation before the students are even thinking about it. It was nice to hear that you were missing your students during the vacation and even though you were busy with paper grading and graduate studies it sounds as though you were ready to go back to your teaching responsibilities after the vacation. I’m sure that your students were missing you too and hopefully you shared your feelings of missing your students with them when you got back from vacation.

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