Testing Continued…..

So one of the problems with testing kindergarten kids is that so MUCH of it has to be done one-on-one.  Which leads to the problem of what to do with the rest of them.  The admin kind of frowns on a lot of videos….. so you usually have to come up with some kind  work that they can do at their seats….. by themselves.  They can rotate through the computers, and they can silent read-to-self, but they can’t do either for very long and you can’t have all of them doing it at once.

So one of the other teachers had a four page project that looked fun and involved a  lot of cutting and gluing that I decided to try.  It was a giraffe, with the head on one page, and pieces of the neck on each of the other three pages.  The alphabet went down one side of the neck in upper case letters and they then cut out spots for the giraffes neck with the corresponding lower case letters on them to glue on.  Really kind of cute.

Oh my heck.

Even after demonstrating and posting examples………  if they could find a way to mess it up,  they did it that way,  each child in a new and original way.  It SHOULD have used 120 pieces of paper.  I finally cut them off when we got close to a ream of paper………

I couldn’t stand it.  So naturally I had to supervise……..

Which meant that I got NO testing done.  Which sort of defeated THAT idea.

You’d think that I would have learned by now, if it looks like a good idea, look again.

And wear your glasses.



29 kids and the Common Core

At least a third of them are behavior problems. Some of that is acerbated by there being 29 children and one adult in the room. With a smaller class size some of them might behave better due to receiving more individual attention and help. I have two kids from Special Ed Pre-K who are still special ed. in that they can not seem to get anything done without LOTS of individual attention. I have two that get pulled for Speech. I have one who I think is undiagnosed but could be in the Autism spectrum and another who started 4 weeks late, has a late August birthday and knows NOTHING. He’s ruined two glue sticks in two days by twisting the glue all the way out and then mashing it. Probably 60 % of my class is considered as non-English speaking, or very limited.

They have revamped the Common Core assessments that we do (AGAIN) and they are much more difficult to administer. They have changed our electronic grade book again (for the third year in a row). We had a meeting on Tuesday, and grade levels were discussing some of the assessments we were supposed to be doing, (new ones, with no training).  We used to have a 50 minute “intervention” time in the morning when we did Tier 2 interventions for those children who needed extra help to make progress.  This year they changed the intervention time to “whole group focus skill time”.  Alternating weeks between Language Arts and Math.  We are supposed to use the gradual release model of teaching.  I do, We do, You do together, and You do by yourself.  Then on Friday we are supposed to administer a 5 item quiz on the focus skill.  On the following Tuesday, we turn in our compiled results.   It’s just truly amazing. On Tuesday we were trying to figure out just what that would LOOK LIKE IN KINDERGARTEN and were a little frustrated. Near the end, our instructional leader mentioned to the whole staff that we (kindergarten, without actually naming us) were complaining too much and weren’t being productive. And it’s CLEAR that they have NO concept of what the issues that we are facing really are.

Here’s a sample of what the Common Core Math exam has on it for Kindergarten, (items changed slightly)

Make a group of ten ones (students do this on their own) Now using that set of 10, compose a group of ten ones and some more to make 16. Draw a picture or write an equation to match your work.

Using a set of 10, you cannot make 16. Yet that’s the way I read it………

Second example:

Make a set of 14. Now decompose that group of 14 by making a group of 10 ones and some more. Draw a picture or write an equation to match your work.

I know they use the words compose and decompose in the CCSS (Common Core State Standards) but they are stupid terms, they aren’t in any of our math materials (I’m sure they will be in the NEW math materials that reflect the CC, but they are dumb terms. I could just see going into the grocery store and asking a checker or even a bank teller to “decompose” a $20 bill into smaller bills……. I’m calling it Zombie Math.

One of my friends over at Kindergaten Today wrote a nice post today……..

More Universal Breakfast

In addition to the negative time factors with the breakfast, there are a couple of other problems.  Frequently there is juice as one of the items.  Frequently some or all of the juice is frozen. All of the juice was frozen on Monday, and at least 50 percent of it was frozen today.  If it’s only some of it, then the kids take extra time going through the juices looking for the ones that aren’t frozen.  Except kindergarten is last, so it’s pretty picked over when the kindergarteners get there.  Then between the breakfast and the lunch menus, the kids get whole apples 4-6 times a week.  Kindergarten kids don’t have good teeth for eating whole apples.  To keep my kids from just throwing the juice and apples away, and since the entire rest of the school is eating their whole breakfast in their classrooms,  I started allowing my kids to take unopened frozen juice and whole apples back to class.  In an hour or so, after the juice has mostly melted, they then can drink it.  I also bought one of those apple corer/slicers that you just push through the apple.  Five and six-year olds have a lot of loose teeth, they really have a hard time with whole apples.  They have eaten a lot more of the apples when done this way.  BUT.

Apparently, the custodian thinks that kindergarten shouldn’t take any food into their classrooms.  He says that it will attract ants.  Never mind that EVERYBODY else is eating breakfast in the classroom. Anyway, today the principal told us that we couldn’t take any food into our classrooms.  We threw away all the juice and all the apples.  Most of them drank the milk and ate at least the frosting off of their cinnamon rolls.  We threw the rest of breakfast away.

Kind of defeats the whole purpose for having the breakfast in the first place.

Universal Breakfast

We offer “universal” breakfast this year at our school (a Title One school), Kindergarten eats last.  They begin the breakfast when the bell rings for school to begin.  So, breakfast occurs during “instruction time”.  All other grades pick up their breakfast and take it to their classroom.  Kindergarten gets theirs and eats it in the lunch room.   Prior to this week, the bell would ring to line up at 8:45, and by the time we dumped our backpacks and got across the school to the line we didn’t have to wait much.  They had four lines going for breakfast pickup.  Someone from the district visited and decided that there wasn’t enough accountability with the kids moving through so quickly, so they made the lunch lady cut it down to two lines.  We found that really slowed us down and had us waiting in line for too long so we started doing more things in the room prior to going to the lunch room.  After some trial and error, we found that if we waited 10 minutes before leaving the room, we wouldn’t have to wait in line so long.  But now, instead of getting back to the room around a quarter after, we get back to the room 30 to 40 minutes after 9:00.

We were losing maybe 25 minutes of instruction, now we are losing 40-45 minutes.  Of course they do expect us to somehow teach the same amount in a day…………..

The first five weeks of testing

Yeah, five weeks.

I hope to be done by Friday.

Dibels, mClass Math, and Common Core State Standard baseline testing.  All of which is done basically one child at a time.  And they are all given multiple times throughout the year, the CCSS test with the same content, will be given 4 times throughout the year to measure growth (and whether or not the teacher is a good teacher…….)

Besides duplicating much of the same stuff in each of the tests, the CCSS test is particularly difficult for them because it basically is meant to show end of year objectives.  So we are basically testing at the very beginning, what they should know at the end.

For the ELA portion, we test letters, upper and lower case, and sounds (78 items).

We test recognizing rhyming words (5 items), producing rhyming words (5 items),  segmenting syllables (5 items), blending onset/rime (5 items), initial sounds (5 items), medial vowel sounds (5 items), and final sounds (5 items)

Then there are 100 sight words

Reading comprehension – read a short passage and then ask 5 questions about major events. Read a short passage and then ask 5 questions about key details.

For the first trimester they have to write an informative passage about their families with the pretest now and the post test on the same topic at the end of the trimester.

There is a 4 part rubric to grade the writing sample on.

To get a 4 on the rubric and be rated as exceeding the standard their passage must

  • Provide a clear topic (name what a student is writing about)
  • Include 4 or more supporting ideas (supply information about the topic)
  • Include a closing

To get a 3 or to meet the standard

  • Provide a clear topic (name what a student is writing about)
  • Includes 2 or 3 supporting details
  • includes a reaction
  • uses a combination of drawing, dictating and writing)

To get a 2 and be approaching the standard

  • Provides a topic (names what the student is writing about)
  • attempts to write words: drawing is easily recognizable

To get a 1 and be rated as Emerging

  • off topic
  • random words or letters
  • unrecognizable drawing

the second trimester writing is for a narrative topic

and the third trimester is for an opinion piece.

Then there’s the math part of the test.

Count to 100 beginning at 0

Count to 100 by 10s beginning at 0

Write numerals 0-20

count 10 different groups of objects and write the number to represent the number of objects (0-20)

compare 5 sets of numbers, identifying the greater, lesser and equal numbers.

5 addition or subtraction to 10 story problems students are to draw the story problem and write the number sentence,students may use manitpulatives.   Credit is given for either the accurate drawing or number sentence.

Name 8 shapes, 4 of them 3 D.

Show understanding of 8 position words by moving an object to the correct location, behind, under, over , on, beside, etc.

Five weeks of testing, and very little direct instruction.

And they are having a hard time transitioning to regular instruction.  Because we haven’t been doing any of that since school started…………..When do we teach?

One kid leaves, and another takes their place…….

I mentioned in my last post the one that just left.  Here’s the “new’ one.

On Friday we will have been in school for 64 days.  Today was his first day.  Ever.  He has never been to school.  He has been to pre-school, his mom said……”for a couple of weeks…”.  Oh, and she has taught him how to “defend himself”…….  Just wonderful.

I have 30 kids who know how to obey the rules (more or less).  I have 30 kids who know the routines and procedures (more or less).  And I have one little boy who is acting like the rest of them did on the first day of school three months ago.   And he knows about what most of them did three months ago.  That would be …. NOTHING.

See the thing is, in our STATE, (it’s a law), we are supposed to retain kids after they miss 20 or more days of school.  In practice that hardly ever happens, but this is the equivalent of three times that.  Granted, he was never enrolled so they aren’t technically absences, but when it comes down to missed days of instruction, it slices the same.  He can’t write the first letter of his name.

When mom dropped him off this morning, she mentioned that he had a fever yesterday, but that he was “OK today”.  No.  At lunch recess, (before the nasty turkey dogs for lunch) he threw up and had a 102.5 fever.  So he didn’t even finish one day of school.  And since he has to be fever free (without medication) for 24 hours before he can return to school, he will miss at least tomorrow as well.

The AP said, “Well, you’ll just have to try to get him caught up.”  Right, I’ll do my job, but mom is going to be doing a WHOLE BUNCH as well, or I’m not passing him to first grade.

It’s things like this that make me think that parents should have to pre- qualify to be parents.  At the very least they should be held more responsible for the way they raise their kids.   The really sad thing is,  I’m sure this mom really loves her kids, and the kids love her.  She just isn’t doing a very good job.  The only reason I heard for the kid not being enrolled sooner  had something to do with the mom not having a birth certificate, which is mandatory for kindergarten registration.   But I don’t know any place where it takes three months to get a copy of a birth certificate.


Why does the kid replacing the lowest kid in my class, still have to be the lowest kid in my class?  It’s not fair.


Halloween is Sunday, so on the last day of school this week, we will have whatever Halloween we will have in our kindergarten class.  The grade level met and didn’t really want to do too much, we each have 32 kids and two of the teachers are in conventional classrooms, which are smaller and without the bathrooms that the other two kindergarten rooms have.  Our School restricts parties to the last half hour of school.  We didn’t want to have costumes if we weren’t having a parade…….  too much hassle with 32 kids.

The principal didn’t want a parade involving the whole school. But she thinks the kindergarteners and first graders are “cute”.  So she decided to have a parade with just them.  So now we have a parade, a party and costumes.  With the party the last half hour, then stick the parade in front of that, we said we needed at least 15 minutes for changing into costumes, because she didn’t want them wearing them for the whole day.

But them she didn’t want us missing 55 minutes of instruction………

Just be the educational leader and make a decision…..