I am so excited to be linking up with my fabulous 2nd grade bloggy friends!  Even though I'm moving to third, 2nd will always have a big place in my heart.  Today we are bringing you a fabulous blog hop!
Our goal with this hop is to share 2 ideas to help you make a smooth transition back to school and 1 wish that we want to improve on.  
My first star idea really helped me stay organized this past school year.
Any bag can work for this, but the awesome organizational tool is the open file organizer inside!  This allowed me to put hanging files in it to keep all of my papers organized.  It worked like a charm and I will continue to use it this year.
The 2nd tip is also about organization.  Many teachers number their students alphabetically.  This number can be used for almost anything.  I also use these numbers to organize supplies.  Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of this, but I provide my students with most of their supplies (pencil box, crayons, pencils, pens), and I number each of them.  I just take Avery labels and cut them to about 1/2 an inch and number their supplies.  I do this so when kiddos are walking around doing work (we don't stay in one spot too long) and accidentally leave their materials behind, there is not confusion as to who it belongs to.  This saves a lot of time and a lot of things from magically ending up in someone else's desk!
The area that I want to improve on is assessment.  I have let a lot of my assessment data come from tests.  This year, I want to focus on building relationships with students and having that personal interaction to help in assessment.  To do this, I will be utilizing a conferring binder.  
I picked up this awesome binder from Target and I love it because it can bend backwards like a notebook!  

As a lefty, I have such a hard time writing in binders so I didn't want to have an excuse for not using my conferring binder.  I snagged some pocket dividers and numbered the tabs.  This way I can reuse them for years to come.  

I also made this set of conferring pages.  I've included a mix of pages to record each student's progress as well as labels to use during small group work.  My plan is to copy the same forms on colored paper for different subjects (math, reading, and writing)
 I will post about this binder in action once school is up and running!

If you enjoyed this bright idea, please consider following my blog, Facebook, and TPT store.  And for more star ideas from over 40 different bloggers, please check out the link-up below and choose a topic that interests you.  Thanks for visiting!

I can't believe this book study is almost over!  Only 1 more chapter left after this week.  I'm excited to begin implementing Guided Math in my classroom in a few weeks.

Chapter 8 is all about assessment.  Laney discusses the difference between assessment and evaluation.  Assessment is for learning, rather than of learning.  Evaluation is the process of reviewing student learning to decided if students have learned what they needed to know and how well they know it.  At the end of the day, both are essential components for learning, and unfortunately, I haven't been using them effectively.

My biggest take away from this chapter was the reminder that I need to let my kids know the criteria for success before beginning tasks and units.  This can be done through rubrics and checklists.  I would definitely like to incorporate these into my instruction in the upcoming year, because they represent genuine feedback on how students are doing, as opposed to a single test score.  Scores don't show exact areas of strength or weakness; they simply show whether a problem was solved correctly.  Kids might be able to get the correct answer, however they might be lacking in their understanding of key aspects of understanding.  I feel like rubrics and checklists will get to the heart of student learning better.

Another area I need to make drastic improvements in concerns descriptive feedback.  I admit that a lot of my feedback has been "good job" and I know that kids need to know what they are doing well specifically and what they can do to improve.  My plan is to use math conferences to improve in this area.

I can't wait to link up to see how everyone uses assessment in their classroom.  How do you balance assessment and evaluation and formative vs. summative assessment?

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"In many ways, conferring is the heart and soul of teaching.  As we confer with students, we sit alongside them at their levels and listen intently to their words, trying to follow their reasoning and probing to determine the extent of their understanding." (p. 207)  This chapter was extremely powerful for me.  A few weeks ago I went to a Balanced Literacy training where Dr. Gravity Goldberg was one of the keynote speakers.  After hearing her speak, I picked up her book Conferring with Readers.
This book was perfect to read along with this chapter!  Sammons uses the structure of conferences that was originally outlined by Lucy Calkins: research, decide, teach, link.
  • Research: talk to students, listen to their explanations, see what they can almost do independently; find out what the student can do and where their understandings and possible misconceptions lie; observe
  • Decide: reflect on the research, identify what students can do well and give them a specific compliment; choose a teaching point
  • Teach: pick a method to teach the teaching point (guided practice, demonstration, explaining and showing an example)
  • Link: help the student see how they can use the strategy in the future
Once you've conferred with a student, be sure to use the data to drive your future instruction.  To do this, you need to keep good records of your conferences and analyze any patterns you see.

One of the things that prevented me from conferring with students as often as I would have liked was a lack of Workshop management and a lack of an idea of how to effectively confer.  I would often work with students individually to help move them from their current understanding to a higher level, however I did not have a tool to record and later analyze this.
To help improve in this area, I created a Conferring Notes organizational pack:

I am very excited about this pack because it includes PDF and editable forms, as well as labels that can be used during small group work!  There are forms for individual student conferences where you can list the compliments and teaching points; forms for unit/skill/standard goals; forms for class analysis and at a glance; and forms to record when you met with individual students.  I've also included labels for math and literacy that you can use during small group instruction:

My goal with this is to create a conferring binder where I house all of this information.  I'm thinking of getting 1 binder then using different colored paper for math, reading, and writing notes.  That way all of my forms for each child are in one place and it's easy to analyze the data!

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I love being productive over the summer.  It's the perfect time to catch up on some things and to try new things.  Here's what I was able to get done this week:
 I've decided that I need to cook more and eat healthy.  I pin a ton of recipes on Pinterest, but haven't made anything....yet.  This week I made Slow Cooker Taco Chicken Bowls.  Here's the pin:
Chicken Taco Bowls
Here's how mine turned out:
It's not as visually appealing as the pin, but it tasted great!  My daughter is not a fan of rice so I put hers on tortilla chips and she loved it.  It was delicious on the chips so I might turn this into a chicken taco nacho recipe!
 To go along with my goal of cooking more, I thought of all of the things that I know how to cook and my family enjoys and made a 4-week calendar.  Now this is not set in stone, but I wanted to get things on paper and have it organized by type of food to make sure we're eating a variety of foods.
My goal with this is to plan out a 4-week rotation that I can pick and choose from depending on the week.  Hopefully this will keep me on track!
Along the organizational front, I finally put together my blog organizer.  Last summer I made an organizer but I never really used it.  I didn't like the set up of the pages.  When I saw that Ashley from Schroeder Shenanigans in 2nd had made an organizer I snatched it up.  I picked up a 1/2" binder and put it together:
 I printed one of the covers from the file and put it in the clear view front.
 Instead of using dividers, I used Post-It tabs that I had on hand to make my sections.
 The first section I have is the calendar section.  I have the rest of the year printed up.
Next I have the week at a glance type of page to jot down quick post ideas.  I love this pack because it has so many types of pages.  I'm loving the product pages to get my ideas for future products on paper and thoroughly plan them out.  You can check out this fabulous organizer in Ashley's TPT store.
Have you read this book?  One of the co-authors Dr. Gravity Goldberg was a keynote speaker at a Balanced Literacy training I went to a few weeks ago.  Both authors worked and trained with Lucy Calkins at the Teachers' College Reading and Writing Project.  This book is a fabulous read and really opened my eyes to all that conferring can and should be in my classroom.  While reading this, I knew that I needed to step up my conferences in all subjects, so I created Conferring Notes: Tools to organize and plan for instruction.

 This product has pdf and editable forms you can use to record your conferences.  I've also included labels that can be used during small group instruction to note progress.  I plan to use the forms to create a conferring binder that will house all of this important data.

Another week down...summer is flying by!  Here's what I was up to this week:
Happy 4th of July!  I love fireworks and I'm excited that my daughter does too!
 We went to the Dodgers game this week and got a free jersey!

The jersey goes down to her ankles, but she loves it so we're calling it her new sleepwear!
 My copy of Divergent finally arrived!  I didn't realize it was so long, but I'm loving it so far!
 A few weeks ago I went to an amazing Balanced Literacy training and one of the take aways for me was that I need to read more!  So my daughter and I hung out at the library!  I love that she loves it here!

I am going to attempt to make this for dessert today!  I'll let you know how it turns out on Monday Made It!

Have a great holiday weekend!

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