OK.  We did our first day of county-mandated standardized testing today with my 2nd graders.  My poor little 7 and barely 8 year olds who did not know they were taking this test until Monday, when we tracked back in after our 3 week vacation.  (It was just told to us in the past month that we were doing this test!)  Who had very little experience bubbling test items on a Scantron sheet with a number 2 pencil, being sure to erase any stray marks and not redraw a circle if they accidentally erase a circle because the redrawn circle may be scored as your answer.  We practiced bubbling for 3 days.

Ick.  Double ick.  Super double-dog ick.  Years ago, I used to teach 3rd grade.  I loved teaching 3rd grade.  The curriculum was interesting, the kids had a wonderful sense of humor, and I worked with fabulous teachers. The issue was the testing.  I gave 8 standardized tests during a year, testing everything from their writing skills to  their likelihood for entering the Gifted program.  It stressed me out.  It's not developmentally appropriate to expect them to sit and stay focused for spans over 2 hours, and then use the scores to decide if they should be promoted, gifted, goat farmers, whatever...  I'll let you use your inferring skills to decipher why I don't teach 3rd grade anymore.

But I digress...  The point of this post is how I have tried this week to take the fear away from the testing.  First of all, we renamed the test "Our Time to Shine!"  We made up a little jazz-hands movement to go with it every time we said it.  It made them laugh {almost} every time.  We talked about how a test is just a way to show what a great job you are doing.  Then I had to explain that Ms. B. and I couldn't read any of the test to them.  You know me... I needed an anchor chart!  Here it is:
Well, we made it.  One child cried, and some of my struggling readers finished 40 reading questions (with passages) in 25 minutes, but we held it together as a group.  I stopped another child on number 45, reminding her that there were only 40 questions.  It took us a while to figure out all the places she misaligned. If you are in a state/district that routinely tests 2nd graders and below, my hat's off to you!!  I could barely take the stress of it today, and I have 2 more days next week...  {Breathe}  In. Out. In. Out. {wine} In. Out. {wine} That's better... ;)  How do you handle testing in your class? 
Wow!  What a fun time I had at our first NC Bloggers Meet Up.  I met some a-maz-ing people, and we had a great time!  Randi from Teach it With Class organized it, and she is just all sorts of awesome.  We talked for more than 2 hours about blogs, our schools, blogs, our districts, blogs, our students, blogs, well... you get the idea.  :)

One of the best things about blogging is that the blogging community is so friendly.  Teacher bloggers ARE teachers, so they are probably helpful and positive (unless you tell us we can vent for a sec with the door closed!!  just sayin'), and the vibe from the blogger group was supportive.  We had a super time at the Mexican  Restaurant; a few of us even enjoyed a beverage, good food, good company, fun.

Before I left, my hubby asked me if I was really about to go meet some people I had only chatted with online for dinner.  I realized that sounded pretty bad, but I assured him they weren't all strangers - my buddy Casey from 2nd Grade Maniac was going to be there, too!  I was worried the storms would keep people away, but we had a nice turnout.  Seriously, the middle of NC was under a Tornado Watch for hours while we ate; at one point, the storm was shaking the windows!  It sent a few of us to our phones for the weather updates.  :)

Here's the picture, from Randi.  {She remembered we needed a picture, I forgot, so I'm using hers!!}
Visit their blogs and leave a bit of love for the NC bloggers!  :)

If you're a NC Blogger, Randi was talking about another meet-up this summer.  I'll keep you posted!  :)  Enjoy!  ~Jen
I was thinking about some of my first year stories last night at the NC Bloggers Meet-Up, and I just had to share... In January, 1998, I started mid year in a small school in rural Eastern NC teaching a 2nd/3rd grade combo.  We had 99% free/reduced lunch, and the school had been taken over by the state... I did my best, and I loved each of the students as amazing, unique, and creative individuals.

My first year was filled with challenges; I had a runner (Where did he go?  He ran away from school?  Really?), a biter, several kids whose parents I saw selling stuff on the street corner by school daily, state representatives evaluating my teaching, an inexperienced principal, and a group of students who had home situations that made us cry most days.  I still love those kids!!  <3

One day I walked into my room from a meeting and my students were complaining that someone must have burned popcorn.  I thought nothing of it until I saw the flames.  Oh.  My.  Goodness.  Y'all - it's a good thing we practice those fire drills, 'cause I started to panic.  Luckily, habit took over, I yelled "Fire!  Line up!"  My class walked jogged out in our line, and I alerted other classes, since the fire alarm hadn't started ringing.  Everyone was safe.  The firetruck came, everything was ok.  It was an electrical fire in one of the ancient florescent lights - it didn't spread.  No damage done, except the lights didn't work.  Whew!

We couldn't go back in our classroom because of the smoky smell, and I needed a moment to calm back down, so we had an extra recess time.  About 10 minutes into this, I hear "Watch this!"  I turn, and in slow motion I see Marshall jump from the top of the slide... time slowed... it felt like it took forever for me to start running... when he landed, everyone heard it and turned.  His arm was *very* broken.  OK.  Whuck?  I'm brand new.  They didn't tell me about this in my teacher preparation courses!!    We didn't have walkie-talkies, outside intercoms, or any of those things.  I stayed with Marshall while my assistant ran to the office for help.  The secretary ran out with a ruler and a pillow, which we used as a splint for his arm to get him into the office.  Grandma wouldn't be able to pay ambulance fees, so we waited for Grandma to race over and pick him up to carry him to the doctor.  By this point, I was crying and hysterical (What have I gotten myself into?), and the secretary gave me a Dr. Pepper and made me relax for a few minutes.  Whew!!! 

Have you had any cr-a-zy days teaching?
After 3 ag-ra-va-ting days without internet service at home, I'm back online!  Yay!  :)  I really missed y'all.

Here's a super cool Common Core shortcut...  right over here ------------->>

Click it.  Isn't it cool?  Want to get your own?  Check it out here.

Also, have you checked out Dropbox?  I live in fear of losing my precious files, so I back up everything important on my laptop, desktop, and flash drive.  An easy solution is to use Dropbox.  You get 2 G of storage for free, but if you click this link,  you'll get another 250 MB for free.  Enjoy!!

I'm proud to say that I am a National Board Certified Teacher.  It's the time of year when many people are frantically finishing up "The Box," where they send their hard work, videos, and artifacts off to be scored as they strive for National Board Certification.  If you are in the midst of this process, just know that I understand how crazy difficult this process is for you!  I still have my pictures from when I packed my Box in March 2010.  Here's a glimpse for those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about...

If you are considering pursuing National Board Certification, you need to do a lot of research and soul-searching beforehand.  For me, this involved a lot of serious conversations with my husband and my parents about how to provide support for our family while I worked on NBs.  Since we have 2 kids (ages 2 & 6 at the time), this was no small task; my amazing husband loaded the kids in the car practically every Saturday for a few hours at the park, the library, grandparents' house, etc., and I would work on NBs. Throughout the work week, I reserved an early morning before the bell each week to work on NBs.

Luckily, there are some *Fantastic* resources out there to help us as we undertake this process.  I went to absolutely every National Board support meeting offered by my school system, formed study groups with other EMC-Literacy candidates, and scoured the web for tips.  The best, best, best, best resource I found was the compilation of advice/tips/resources from Angela Watson at the Cornerstone for TeachersClick here to visit her NBC free resources page.

I hope this is useful to you!!  ~Jen
     When I went back into the classroom to teach 2nd grade in 2010, I found that I *really* missed working closely with teachers, holding workshops, and meeting regularly to discuss the best practices they are using in their classroom so I can see how best to support their professional growth.  Stemming from that desire to assist other teachers, I created this blog to share resources.
Do you teach guided reading? Click through to this blog post about the guide I use to teach and manage guided reading groups, and a free cheat sheet for teachers!

      I created this Guided Reading Guide based on the needs of my teacher friends.  We were always chatting at the grocery store or while waiting to pick up our kiddos from Scouts, and we always ended up chatting about Guided Reading. It's become a quick resource for anyone beginning guided reading for the first time.
Do you teach guided reading? Click through to this blog post about the guide I use to teach and manage guided reading groups, and a free cheat sheet for teachers!

Do you teach guided reading? Click through to this blog post about the guide I use to teach and manage guided reading groups, and a free cheat sheet for teachers!

Do you teach guided reading? Click through to this blog post about the guide I use to teach and manage guided reading groups, and a free cheat sheet for teachers!

I hope you like it, and give me some feedback.

"I am very happy using this product as a first time teacher of guided reading. This is a well focused document and fun to use!"
"This really helped me in getting myself ready to start Guided Reading. Thanks for such a helpful resource."
"Everything i need in one place!"

Here is a Freebie from the Guided Reading Guide...  It's a cheat sheet for before/during/after reading.  Click here to download on TPT.   I'd love it if you left feedback on Teachers Pay Teachers! Thanks!!

Do you teach guided reading? Click through to this blog post about the guide I use to teach and manage guided reading groups, and a free cheat sheet for teachers!

Need more?  Here's a blog post all about Working with Small Groups.  :)  Happy Teaching, y'all!

Back to Top