Sunday, March 9, 2014

Data + Relentless + Creepy Weirdo = Results!

Some people would probably call me a freak if they knew how much I like playing with data numbers. I really just embrace being able to see where my students have made gains and where I need to help them make bigger progress. 

There are actually several of us at my school that love playing with our data. As you may recall from my rant not so long ago that I feel VERY strongly that if you aren't going to embrace what is coming down the Educational Pipeline, that you probably should find another career. I don't mean to blindly go along with things that aren't good for kids. If you think for a second that I love testing my kids to death, you haven't been paying attention. I HATE the testing as much as the next person. I know at the drop of a hat where my kids are because I am constantly observing them, making mental notes (I'm REALLY bad about writing them down) and keeping them filed away in my head for future reference. I don't need a test to tell me if my kids are really getting what I'm testing.

I don't mind the MAP testing because it shows me from Fall to Winter to Spring where my kids are, where they're going and where I need to get them. The other testing can kiss it for all I care. But I don't sit around and gripe about something that isn't going to go away. Kaitlynn, from Smiles and Sunshine, pointed out in a comment on that rant that Lucy Calkins says we can either look at it with a curmudgeon attitude or as if this is the best thing since sliced bread (Ms. Calkins clearly states this in the introduction section of Pathways to the Common Core -- a great read btw). I would have to agree. I think its all about your mindset. You don't have to LOVE everything that comes down the pipe but you DO have to teach it and make it engaging for your students. Period. Bottom line is, if you can't do that...Adios.

It probably won't surprise you to know that I am relentless. RE-LENT-LESS. Always. To my myself, my own children, my boss, my students, my colleagues, everyone. I will fight for what I believe in. To the point, that I have pushed back to my principal this year MULTIPLE times. Most people probably wouldn't dare. It's not that I'm rude. I just have a ton of passion for what I believe in. Thankfully, my boss this year totally sees that and forgives me when I come on strongly. I have no problem telling you when I think -- and especially when I know -- that you are wrong. Not really going to bother me if you come out of that conversation thinking I'm a jerk either. I just have steadfast beliefs and my number one job is to educate my students, not be friends with you or my colleagues. Harsh? Perhaps...but you probably have come to expect this if you've read my blog for any length of time.

I am beyond relentless with my students. I truly do not know what happened to them in 3rd grade. My third grade colleagues are all great teachers--truly, they are amazing, passionate and know their stuff. So why are these kids SO far behind?? It's honestly because I think that 3rd grade is when we separate the ones who have the cognitive power to persevere and those who don't...and those who don't continue to fall behind and begin to act up and not care about school. Well, not in my world honey. Not going to happen.

There has been so much of this blase attitude lately that I have implemented a policy wherein if they don't earn a 70% on a big assignment (any test or quiz basically), they will do it over until they DO get a 70%. It's not to be a jerk. It's because damn it, I am NOT going to be the only person in my classroom working as hard as possible. If nothing else, these kids will learn the value of hard work from me and that may be what they need. They don't like I having to lose Fun Friday time to make up work they didn't do their best on in the first place (and believe me -- I know who got a 30% that tried their very best and who got a 30% because they just don't care...there is a HUGE difference. I have six resource friends in my class--soon to be 7--and I know what their best work is, even if that really is a 25% or a 40% and they get some slack on that but the others who are capable of so much more don't).

Some of you might be thinking "Geez, how could ANY kid want to be in this chick's class? She's MEAN." Actually, I have kids asking me if I will be teaching 5th grade next year so they can have me AGAIN (and for some of them that would mean having me 3 times because I had them in 2nd grade). They WANT my relentlessness. They do. Most of them really rise up to it and I have seen better scores out of these kids than I have all year. It's truly remarkable.

Want to know my secret? I'm not only relentless but I'm also a Creepy Weirdo (this is our new term in class--anytime anyone is doing something really silly, either I or one of the kids will say "uh oh, another Creepy Weirdo has entered the class!" It's all in good fun, I don't advocate for name calling or bullying). Really, I am BE-YOND silly. It's not that I sing and dance to entertain my kids but I do provide real life silly examples to help my kids gain understanding. For example, when I'm teaching writing, I often insert something completely ridiculous to help them get the point when I'm modeling. Once they can point out that I'm not doing it right, I can say, "well what if I told you that sometimes YOU guys do this?" and they are collectively offended but then learn to REALLY look at their own work and realize that they do this without even knowing they are doing it! It's really cool.

And guess what? I am a COMMON CORE TEACHER. I teach the Common Core just like you do. I have embraced it and I still find ways to make it fun.

So to break it down ...... Data + Relentless + Creepy Weirdo = Results! It really does. You might be going "wait, she's crazy, she hasn't given any data"....Gotta save the best for last.

We use the MAP test three times per year. This year they are using the Conditional Growth Index scores to evaluate our ability to show student growth. This is because those are statistical numbers and someone decided to get their statistical geek on this year :) (Like I can judge...I get geeked about these numbers too!)

My principal shared with us that in order to be highly effective your growth has to be greater than 0.3 (yes only 3 tenths!).

My results are as follows:
Reading = 1.22
Math = 1.35

Ahem. Embracing the Common Core has its perks. Being a Relentless, Creepy Weirdo also obviously has its perks.

My Grade Level (2 full 4th grades and 1 half 4th grade):
Reading = 0.37
Math = 0.95

So my scores are WELL above both averages when you put my numbers and my colleague's numbers together. Because I just do whatever I need to do in order to help my class learn. If that  means turning on my silly, you better believe I'm gonna do it.

The Caffeinated Teacher


  1. I have noticed the drop from third grade to fourth grade scores. I'd like to try the 70% thing

  2. Thanks for the shout-out! I've noticed that when the kids get to us in 4th grade, we have a lot of training to do on how to answer and explain things-I think the shift from learning how to read to reading in order to learn is too much for some of them.

    I love your scores! That just means that you're doing an awesome job for those kids-you're just exactly what they need!

    :) Kaitlyn
    Smiles and Sunshine