Tracking Six Students through the Assessment Schoolyear

How are students affected by the periodic assessments required by the Denver Public School district?  Will the tests improve their academic interest or depress it?  Will the tests prove to be a motivator or a discouragement?  Will students be anxious about the assessments or ignore them?  How will the tests affect the daily life of students at school?

To address these questions, I will profile here six students in my class—two each from grades four, five, and six—and then attempt to describe them throughout the schoolyear as they undertake these periodic assessments.  I have chosen… Continue reading

Instructional Time: First two weeks

The schoolday at Denison begins at 9:00 AM and ends at 4:00 PM   To fairly calculate time actually available for Curriculum & Instruction, I propose the following daily schedule as “basic”

9:00 – 9:15  Arrival, attendance, lunch count

9:15 – 11:45  Curriculum & Instruction

1145 – 1:15  Lunch and Recess

1:15 – 3:45  Curriculum and Instruction

3:45 – 4:00  Dismissal (includes bus loading)

This basic schedule provides for 5 hours of Curriculum and Instruction daily.  Because of Union rules about Teacher Planning time that must be allotted, students leave the classroom 4… Continue reading

I did not make this up!

On the first August morning of 2008 that I returned to the school to set up my classroom, a stack of books and materials that were stored on the shelves in the hall waited to be carried back into the classroom.  I had stacked those things outside the classroom at the end of last year’s school term so that the custodial staff could do their summer cleaning.  On the top of the pile was a large rectangular sign, black and yellow poster board made to last, that said “Testing:  Do Not Enter.”

A Perfect Day?

What would make a perfect day for a teacher eager to set the curriculum in motion with instruction?  Given the normal hours of the schoolday, how much Curriculum and Instruction (C & I) time is possible?  The Denison Montessori Elementary School where I teach runs from 9:00AM – 3:45 PM.  Subtracting arrival and departure time, lunch and recess, there are 2.5 hours in the morning and 2.5 hours in the afternoon for C & I.  Five hours.

I woke up this morning feeling confident of five perfectly uninterrupted hours with my students.  After greetings and… Continue reading

Professional Development takes a big bite

August 25, 2008

Reflecting on the three days of paid preparation time we had prior to the students’ arrival, Professional Development enters the contest for Instructional Time. One of those preparation days was devoted to Professional Development sessions, probably a reasonable warm-up for our returning band of teachers sprinkled with a few newcomers. A second afternoon was devoted to the schools’ policies, procedures, and schedules of meetings for teachers: faculty meetings, level meetings (all teachers at a particular level), cross-level team meetings, committee meetings, and professional development meetings. It was announced (by the School Leadership Team or SLT) that Professional… Continue reading

When will the tests begin? A mystery.

August 25, 2007

Upon examination of the “Testing Schedule,” which is printed in the Denison Montessori Teacher Handbook, I see that the first Benchmark Tests are supposed to be administered August 27th – September 3rd. That would mean that we will begin testing on Wednesday, but there is no mention of it on the principal’s Weekly Agenda for August 25 – 29th.  Will I be able to finish my second week of orientation in the classroom or not? Will curriculum and instruction screech to a halt before we are even “On our mark?”

Post script:  A day later… Continue reading

A Day in the Life: Time Tally

Friday, August 22, 2008

9:00 — Attendance, lunch count

9:05 — Students exit the classroom for 50 minutes of Art followed by 50 minutes of “Gym”

10:55 — Curriculum and Instruction (C & I)

11:15 — Fire Drill

11:30 — C & I

11:45 — Preparation for Lunch (in the classroom)

12:00 — Lunch

12:30 — Recess

1:15 — C & I

3:00 — Assembly (Review of school’s behavior standards)

3:40 — Announcements and dismissal

TOTAL TIME for Curriculum & Instruction in the Classroom:

2 hours, 30 minutes

First Week of School

It’s the end of the First Week of School, always a test of nerve for both students and teacher. Leaving behind our lazy habits of summer and trying to resist late-night Olympic viewing, we try to get going again. Last year’s fifth graders have become the sixth grade class leaders. Last year’s fourth graders are experienced fifth graders now. New fourth graders come timidly into our midst. As the teacher, I introduce activities designed to ignite interests and generate enthusiasm: pictures of Olympic champions scattered strategically across the Map of the World, a handwork project that invites the boys to… Continue reading