Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Catching Up

The idea when I started this blog was that I would write every day. I haven't, obviously, but I have been getting a lot of other things done. Most of them haven't been related to work, because I'm trying to squeeze in all the life things that I don't have time for during the year, like visiting my family, helping a friend move, moving my father-in-law into our house, getting a new roof, and going to a lot of aikido classes. However, it's almost the end of July and I sat down with my calendars this morning to start getting organized for the coming month and the school year that will follow it. Here's my life right now:

By August 18th I needed to have finished:

  • Senior Seminar Semester 1 Course Map - Done
  • Senior Seminar Semester 2 Course Map - Done
  • Senior Seminar Q1 Performance Assessment - Done
  • Senior Seminar Q2 Performance Assessment - Done
  • Senior Seminar Q3 Performance Assessment
  • Senior Seminar Q4 Performance Assessment
  • Senior Seminar Q1 Unit Plans (including all daily lessons)
  • Drama I Semester 1 Course Map - Done
  • Drama I Semester 2 Course Map - Done
  • Drama I Q1 Performance Assessment - 1/2 done (maybe another hour's worth of work to go)
  • Drama I Q2 Performance Assessment - 1/3 done (2-3 hours left on this - I have to do research)
  • Drama I Q3 Performance Assessment
  • Drama I Q4 Performance Assessment
  • Drama I Q1 Unit Plans (including all daily lessons)
Some of these items I'm still having a hard time wrapping my brain around. I am hesitant to try to write my end-of-year exams because I honestly don't know what my kids are going to be like. I understand that I'm supposed to be teaching to an objective set of standards and that I should test the students on those once they've been established, but I don't want to be unrealistic in my expectations, and I would really like to know a few things like how many SPED students I'll have and what the overall grade levels of students in Drama I are. Those things affect the end game.

Also, I'm supposedly going to get feedback on everything I submit. That hasn't happened yet, and I submitted some things before school ended in June. I'm going to communicate with my administration about that, but it is possible that I'm going to end up with a major time crunch at the end as I try to make adjustments that I could have been making while I still had a lot of time to think about things.

As for today, I scanned in all the texts for the Q1 and Q2 Drama I exams, which took about 20 minutes. Then I had to format them all into GoogleDocs. That took another 20 - 30 minutes. Then I started my research for the Drama I Q2 exam, which I gave up on after about 20 minutes because I was distracted by all the pounding the roofers were doing. I took a break, and this afternoon I've spent about 20 minutes organizing my personal calendar with all the Drama-related PD that I know about, another 15 minutes registering for an unrelated PD.

The PD calendar goes something like this:
  • Aug. 11 & 12 - Student Orientation: I still haven't decided if I want to do this or not. I'll get paid, but it means giving up part of all of two days, and depending on how done I am with the to-do list, I might not be able to give up that time.
  • Aug 13 - PD for teacher-facilitators regarding teacher orientation
  • Aug 20, 21, & 22 - PD at school all day
  • Aug 27, 28, & 29 - PD at school all day
  • Sept 2 - Students Return
I'm beginning to feel the crunch. Time to get back to work.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Playing Catch-Up

Today's success - in spite of the fact that I feel like crap and have been for a while, I still came up with the structures for my 1st and 2nd quarter Drama I exams. I still need to find three short texts for the 2nd quarter exam, but I have all the scripts picked out and the formats determined.

I've been avoiding doing planning and work for a while now; every time I think about it I feel overwhelmed and I just want to go back to bed. I know that the best way to deal with that feeling is to get something done, so I am attempting to ignore my headache and finish at least some of the tasks on my To Do list.

I also lack the energy to write a thoughtful blog post. You'll just have to believe me when I say that even though I haven't got much to show for it, I've been ruminating on a lot of work-related stuff, specifically how I wanted to structure my Drama exams so that they would provide me with useful information about my students' skills.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

I *Actually* Got Work Done

I will confess to being lazy over the last few days. I've spent time celebrating my mother-in-law's birthday, working out, gardening, cooking, and playing Dominion, but I haven't gotten a lot of anything done since Sunday afternoon when I was reading in the car. I've opened my Google Drive several times and stared at the test I was trying to write, but I haven't successfully figured out what I was going to add to it in terms of exam questions.

Writing a good exam is a lot like writing a good poem - it has to be full enough of stuff to make people think, and not so all-over-the-place that it becomes a fruitless exercise in guessing at meaning. I wrote, deleted, and re-wrote the same test question about six times before I figured out how I needed to phrase them so that I could tell whether the students actually understood the reading or were just lucky guessers.

I have succeeded.

I am now essentially done with two of eight exams, though I still need to create rubrics for them, and I have a third one formulated in my head that I need to organize on paper. By the end of today, I hope to have another exam fairly well completed.

Some time this weekend I'll be getting together with a colleague to help her with some exam writing for her classes.