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Friday, July 20, 2018

Teacher Evaluations: Success When Admin Pops Into Your Classroom

Let's face it. Pop in teacher evaluations are stressful for everyone. If you don't believe me, just open a colleague's door after the announcement of a new round of evaluations and watch her jump. If you have the perfectionist personality, it doesn't matter if you've been teaching one year or thirty, you want to perform well.


The Evaluation

When I'm expecting a pop in evaluation, I want to make sure to be teaching the way the administrator wants me to teach. Let's face it, I need to teach that way all the time. I've found that there are specific tricks to gain a smile out of your principal when he or she pops into your room. It begins with good teaching. The more you perform evaluation ready lessons, the easier it becomes to fall into the routine principals look for.


Technology in the Classroom

Photo of a mammogram machine. Get the mammogram outside of school.
Get your Mammogram before class!
If you are lucky, you have technology in your classroom. No, not the kind pictured. I'm actually referring to a Promethean Board or a Smart Board. I had a Promethean Board for years, and therefore, have many products in Active Software. After losing my Promethean Board, I still use the software! 

If you don't have great technology in the room, look into Powerpoints. Having a visual display is like having a friend at the board advising you on what to do when your mind is screaming. I know a teacher who got so nervous during an evaluation that she forgot her students' names.

When you make a powerpoint, you can remind yourself about what needs to be done each step of the evaluation.


Essentials For a Great Evaluation


I Can Statements and Common Core (or State) Standards

I start my evaluations with an "I can" statement and standards.  It's vital that your kids know what you are teaching them and that these standards are part of your given curriculum. Many evaluators will also expect the kids to state what they plan to do. You should also mention what your kids will be asked to do at the end of the lesson. For example, "At the end of this lesson, we will all show our skills at giving mammograms adding fractions." 

Remind Students of Past Learning and Why This is Important


Next, I will mention what we have done in the past and tie it into what I 
will be teaching. If you can tell the students how this will help them in the future, this is also a good strategy. 

babies toes
"In the past, you counted jelly beans to make sure your brother didn't get more than you. One day, you may have a beautiful baby sister, and you will need to know how to count her toes to make sure they are all there." 

Or better yet, "In the past, we have written a lot of stories. Using strong dialogue will enhance your writing."

This could also include the infamous set. Perhaps you could show a short video from TeacherTube to get the kids interested in what you are teaching. I once showed a video from The Beverly Hillbillies for an evaluation on idioms and word meanings. The administrator loved it!



Gradual Release Teaching


Right before I retired from public school, teaching was all about the gradual release method. When I gave a model lesson at my private school, I used this formula to win my part time teaching gig.

It's really not that different from the TIM method, I was taught thirty years, ago. The point is, you have got to model the skill! 

I do.

If your class is like rooms I've been in, there is always that one kid who wants to interrupt you when you are modeling how to do something. I will simple hold up a finger or flat palm and tell Big Mouth that sweet darling, "I'll get to you in a moment."

We do.

Next, I will work with the class to complete the given skill. I like to use sticks with names written on them to randomly call on kids. I know that during an evaluation, we all want to call on that bright kid who will give us the right answer, but you can certainly gain points by how you handle the wrong answer or the kid who gives you the blank stare.  

I like to give the child wait time to think of the answer. If the well is totally dry, I will move on to that kid with the hand up, only to come back to the stumped one. In the end, you need to make sure the child gives you a correct answer, even if it is only parroted after another student speaks.

Checks for Understanding and Formative Assessments

Your evaluator will expect you to continually check your students for understanding. This can be done in multiple ways. Sometimes I use a Likert scale, that tells how much kids understand. I've asked them to give me a quick thumbs up or down, or a Fist of Five. This is where students give me anywhere from one to five fingers to indicate how well they understand. Make sure to check the room to see if the kids are looking at others. Sometimes kids are embarrassed to show that they don't understand. In this case, you might want to include a note on a private piece of paper. Through continuous formative assessments you can guide the way you teach in terms of reteaching or enriching.

Specific Feedback

While giving tips, please remember to use specific feedback during your evaluation and any time you are teaching. "I like the way you . . ." is always better than, "Good job."

They do.

Have you ever heard that you don't really know something until you can teach it yourself? Pairing students up is a great way to practice the skill with a classmate. If a child is really struggling, why not put him or her with a strong student. Although we like to think of ourselves as the best, sometimes another kid can get the message across even better than we can.

You do.

Have the kids show you what they can do with some sort of exit ticket that is turned in. This way you can gage whether or not they learned what you've taught. I also like to include some sort of application of the skill with a project or writing prompt. If someone is struggling, you can reteach while others are working on this end project. 

Puppy next to a computer

Closure


I'll admit, after over thirty years of teaching, I've still been dinged on evaluation lessons for not having a strong closure. Closing a lesson is an easy thing to do, but in the stress of the moment, it's easy to forget. A simple, "What did we do, today?" or "Let's do one more." Should do the trick to wrap up your teaching success.

Evaluation Ready Lessons


Best of luck with your evaluations. If you don't want to take the time to write a new powerpoint for your evaluation, I have plenty that are ready made and tested. I also have several that have been student tested but not used for an evaluation. After all, when dealing with pop ins, I've had plenty of lessons ready when dog-gone-it, they didn't show!

Teaching Power point Fact vs. Opinion


Engage and challenge your students with this evaluation ready lesson from Catch My Products. This standards based power point will teach your children to distinguish fact from opinion. Like many of my products, it is evaluation ready with the gradual release method, standards, "I can" statements, and a check for understanding. Toward the end of the lesson, students will be challenged to write their own fact and opinion statements in response to pictures. 


Teaching Power point Area and Perimeter Word Problems

Kids often have trouble applying area and perimeter concepts to real life situations, especially with irregular shapes. I taught area and perimeter word problems of irregular shaped rectangles through this colorful and challenging lesson for my evaluation with fourth grade gifted and talented students. The sixteen page power point contains leveled handouts, which may be printed, to access student understanding. An enrichment activity is also provided in the lesson. 


Teaching Power point Writing Dialogue


This lesson was written for my evaluation with my fourth grade gifted students and includes work station suggestions after the Power Point presentation, which I ended up not including as part of my evaluation. My students were reading George Washington's Socks, so I used passages from the book to teach the rules of dialogue. This power point could be used without reading this particular book, although one might want to modify the enrichment on the worksheet. 


Inference Lesson for The Indian in the Cupboard
Powerpoint


This powerpoint related to The Indian in the Cupboard is complete and ready for use with your teacher evaluation. Guide your students through the process of making inferences from the text of chapter one of The Indian in the Cupboard. The lesson includes a powerpoint, exit ticket, lesson plan, and tips on how to make your evaluation shine with everything TEM evaluators are looking for. 



If you are stuck being a teacher because you didn't listen to your mom, who told you to choose another profession, laugh with this post.

I'm a Teacher

Don't forget to Catch My Products!


Monday, July 16, 2018

Songs With Numbers

It's Monday, which means time for "Musical Monday Moves Me." I've been moved from the Teachers Pay Teachers conference. I have strong NUMBERS of new bundles out, so here are songs with numbers . . . after all that is the theme.

When I think of songs with numbers, I immediately hum Three Dog Night's, "One is the Loneliest Number." This is true. It takes a community to raise a child and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting the TpT seller's community last week!


It's fun to revisit the sixties. We used to call these people "long-haired hippy freaks," but actually, they are way cooler than the bands today! Also, I love seeing sexy young men with man buns.

When teaching fractions, one way to explain them to the kids is to call them broken numbers. Furthermore, the prefix "fract" means broken or cracked. If you break your arm, the doctors may refer to it as a "fracture." "Fracking" means getting oil or gas from a rock. I guess they must break stones to get something out of it. So why the talk about fractions? Because I just finished a new Fraction Bundle, and it is selling for 50% off, for today only!



And now, for a number song involving fractions. 


When it comes to educational topics, you can find anything on Youtube. This may be a little off topic, but it is MY #1 favorite educational song from way back when, so it must pass. Here it is! Enjoy.




Friday, July 13, 2018

I'm a Teacher: If You're a Teacher, Read on.

I am a teacher, and here are my thoughts about teaching after attending a TpT conference.

I just attended this year's TpT conference in Nashville. It was a lot of fun, educational, and above all else, I made great friends from all over the place! I even met someone from my same city.

Teacher friends.
I'm in the middle between a friend who lives in my town and one who came from Australia!

A large part of the message was to blog. I taught in public school for thirty years and have yet to offer one piece of advice to beginner teachers. Sorta. I know two years ago at the Orlando conference they asked me what I would tell new teachers, and I yelled, "RUN!" If you didn't listen to your mother, who had spent a life time teaching and told you not to, you're stuck. After all, many of us get bitten by the teaching bug, and there is no getting out.

I Got Stuck Being a Teacher.

I was in college, I had an argument with a professor after I told him I was changing my major out of teaching.      
Girl punches man - she's a teacher.
No I did not punch him. Who do you think I am?
He said, "You're going to be a teacher."

I said, "I am not."

He told me I could go on to the School of Journalism, but I'd be back because he knew a teacher when he saw one.

I later crawled back to him to tell him I was going to be a teacher, only to get an, "I know."

So Now, You Are a Teacher.

Here's what you gotta know. Get on the Teachers Pay Teachers site because it has a lot of great materials on it. . . many for free. If your administrator is not on board, so sorry. My school is connected with TpT for Schools. If I see something I like, I click a button. If my admin likes it, too, she buys it for me. It doesn't get any easier than that, so tell you principal about TpT for Schools.

Teaching Advice:

Finally, thirty years and you want advice. Here you go. I don't care how many balls are on the upper elementary or middle school (if you STILL have recess) playground. The word is singular. The boys need to grab their "ball" when it's
child in shock about teacher.
time to come inside.

Have a great day, teacher, and don't forget to Catch My Products!