Read and Write 180-Day 58

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Today was interesting. I feel that my 6th graders are not making as much progress as I would like in their thinking about reading and reading comprehension so I have made a decision. I am going to change my strategy of teaching and return to the scripted basal. I am not going to assign homework anymore, and they will not be doing reading response letters. I am going to look at our SF reading program again and see about trying to follow it as closely as possible. I’m not sure how much of it can actually be covered in a day because there is SO much that they provide, but I am going to try.

I have about 12 out of 48 students that are reading on grade level, the others are reading below grade level according to the STAR reading assessment. This is just hard to absorb. We have been an ARI school for 7 years and this is the 4th year of the SF Reading Street program. It seems that the numbers should be opposite with about 12 out of 48 not reading on grade level.

So I might end up taking a hiatus from blogging for awhile because I am feeling discouraged and down about all of it. If you don’t see me on here for awhile you will know that I am collecting my thoughts. 🙂

I’ll miss ya’ll.


About shannonjoe

I teach 3rd grade. Love Jesus, teaching, reading, running, and working out.

Posted on November 1, 2011, in Read and Write 180. Bookmark the permalink. 28 Comments.

  1. I understand completely what you are going through! May I ask how much time you have with your kids? Is it a reg. ed class? Do you teach other subjects?

    • jbc-

      I have about 2 hours 15 minutes with each of my 2 classes, and it is a regular ed. class. I only have 2 children out of 48 with a special ed. iep. I teach reading, english, spelling, writing. I am so down right now!

  2. Oh Shannon:
    Does it help to know you’re not alone in the sinking boat? (My on-grade-level rate is about the same–or worse!) Remember: They’ve only had you for TWO months. You haven’t had enough time to work all of your magic yet. I’m sure many of them came to you struggling, and you should feel good about caring so much. Some teachers just turn the page and keep going.
    I think you’re an amazing teacher, It’s a HUGE job–more challenging than most non-education folks will ever know. Hang in there… You’ve got a whole Blogosphere cheering you on!

    Finding JOY in 6th Grade

  3. 6th grade Alex City is in the same boat- ARI, SF for years now and they just fail to produce any lasting knowledge. We can sing, act, draw, tech, tell and investigate and still they dont seem to remember it from day to day. I call it the leap frog effect- push a button- bells and whistles-if wrong just push another button. they have no interest in learning because social connecting is the top priority more than ever. the kids and their parents are both spending the nights fb and texting. dont get down. you are fighting an uphill battle while getting stones thrown at you. we do what we can and until parents take an active role in their child’s education. i think they eventually get it at least i hope. we all feel your pain.

    • Gwenn-

      It is sad isn’t it??? All this work and determination on our part and sometimes it seems to lead to nowhere! I am so thankful for the Thanksgiving break so I can recoup and go at it again!!! 🙂

  4. Hey Shannon –

    I know that this would bother someone who’s passionate like you, but please don’t get discouraged. We are facing such overwhelming challenges in today’s world and the kids are so much more anxious, sad, and disconnected. I’m sending good vibes your way from TX and want you to know that you ARE making a difference, even when the data doesn’t seem to support that. Hang in there and enJOY your respite!


    • Barbara-

      Thanks so much-I’m just getting around to replying to everyone’s wonderful comments from a few weeks ago! AND catching up on reading other blogs-including yours a few hours ago! Hope everything is going better for you now! 🙂

  5. Shannon, I know you will do whatever it takes to help your students – you’re just that kind of wonderful teacher. Sometimes it takes a little time for everything to “click” together – and once it clicks, boy does it click! Right now you’re spending time laying the foundation for everything else, when that is in place, everything else will move so much more smoothly, and quickly. We’ve all been where you are right now – when I finished my DRA testing in September, I only had 3 reading at grade level. We don’t do another set of formal testing until February, so I won’t know exact results until then. I do know, however, that I am loving the discussions we’re having, and I’m constantly amazed by some of the insights given by my students. And I know that’s what counts. It’s like weighing yourself when you’re on a diet – you can’t do it too often, or you just get discouraged. I read EVERY SINGLE post of yours (EVERY DAY) and I can see what a fantastic teacher you are. You constantly build your day around what they need and what will engage them. I have absolutely no doubt you’ll get your students where they need to be … and more importantly, they’ll enjoy the journey. Sending thoughts and virtual hugs your way … and maybe a suggestion to break into the halloween candy – a little chocolate never hurts … and a glass of wine (or two) with that chocolate makes everything better. 🙂

    Runde’s Room

    • Jen-

      I am FINALLY replying to everyone’s comments when I had my nuclear meltdown a few weeks ago!!!! I am feeling better-well, we ARE out for Thanksgiving this entire week-I’m sure that has NOTHING to do with my mood!! 🙂

  6. Feel good about what you’ve done….its all about the journey and focusing on your daughter’s senior year is the most important. You tried to make up what all your students previous teachers couldn’t get done in years and that’s alot to take on. I know there are only a handful of teachers like you left…and we can’t have the good ones burn out. Ya did great!

  7. Don’t feel down! You tried to do what other teachers may not have been able to cover in the past 5 years with what you did in 50+ days …it’s not your responsibility to shoulder a task like that and good teachers such as yourself carry it…responsible! You’ve accomplished so much! You ARE amazing! Focus on the journey…you had a lot of teachable moments. You know what works and what’s not going to work for your kids. Yes, I believe it’s time to refocus so your senior daughter can share her moments with her upbeat mom! Kids these days are in a zone of their own and it’s going to take time to un-do what’s been done! You stepped up to the plate and as you can tell from your parent-teacher conference only 1-2 parents showed up…but you kept marching on! You go girl!

    • Thanks Ruth for the encouraging words!!! I am now in a better mood (for now-tee hee) and may just have to get through this year trying new things each week until something CLICKS!!! 🙂

  8. You are amazing! Your positive-passion for student learning is always so inspiring! Sorry you’re down and I totally understand! Teaching is a ROLLER COASTER!

  9. Shannon,

    I can so relate to what you are talking about. I wish i had the ability to give my student’s the STAR test to see what their reading level is, but no such luck. I was very upset with our district benchmark scores that we had during the 1st 6 weeks and I am hoping mine do better this next 6 weeks. I am with you about the basal and it not always being what is best for the kids. The one we have in our district sucks in my opinion. I would be more than happy to share ideas with you because I have a feeling that would help both of us better meet the needs of our kiddos. Hang in there!!!

    • Mrs. Klohn-

      What basal do ya’ll use in your district? I actually wish that our district wouldn’t spend thousands and thousands of dollars on a reading program but would spend money on real professional development and using strategies to authentically teach our kids to be independent readers and thinkers!!! 🙂

  10. I have been reading your blog since school started and I admire what you are doing with your kids. I teach 6th, 7th, and 8th grade reading, and I wish I had one of two things—-unlimited time to plan or one perfect planning resource. I am worn out and have gone back to picking and choosing from the textbook. Do what you have to do. Thank you so much for sharing on your blog!

  11. No, don’t feel bad and don’t stop blogging. You are doing a great job and I use so many of your ideas in my classroom. I also had to go back to the basal reader with the group that I have this year. I manage to get through a story a week most times. I don’t use their spelling program, I have my own, but I follow their reading, writing and grammar pretty closely. The kids are getting the hang of it, finally. And I do see a gradual increase in their reading comprehension. I tried your Thinking sheets and reading response letters, but with this group, they just weren’t ready. Sometimes we just have to go back to the basics. Thank you so much for all of your sharing and all your ideas. It is your blog that encouraged me to use the basal again because of all of your wonderful handouts and ideas. Please don’t get discouraged, I know you are doing a fabulous job. Sometimes we just get a group that isn’t up to par. It isn’t your fault!

  12. Don’t be down and upset. I have been reading your blog almost daily to get ideas for my classroom. When I read about all of the great things you do in your room it makes me feeI like I don’t do enough! I’m sure your students are getting what they need and having more fun than following a BASAL. I went throught the same thing a few weeks ago. I gave the basal benchmark test, (we only use the basal as a supplement and use chapter books) the results were horrible. I almost gave up on the CAFE and chapter books, now I’m so glad I did not. Parents at conferences were so happy that thier children are enjoying reading and wanted to read at home too. I think in the long run it will be worth it to stick it out. Although the basal is so tempting because it is all right there, less teacher work. Anyway keep doing what your doing, I’m sure its great!

    • Ashley-

      I am just now getting around to replying to everyone’s wonderful comments from my “breakdown”! 🙂 I did give up the CAFE routine-I was just too scared to keep on with the results that I was getting! The 34 out of 48 kids that are reading below grade level just scare me!!!! I have gone back to the basal-still not pleased with the results, but going to continue with it anyway! Thanks for your kind words-I think at this point I just want to make it through this year! 🙂 I am loving this Thanksgiving break!

  13. Shannon,

    I’ve never commented on your Blog before now, (any blog for that matter) but my fellow 6th Grade teammates have urged me to respond to your last entry.

    First, we have been soooooo grateful for all you have shared! We had searched the web for 6th Grade Scott Foresman ideas and found very little info. We were thrilled when we found your Blog!

    Second, we completely understand your frustration and discouragement. We experience it too. Remember, however, that Star Reading is really just a picture of the student’s “vocabulary”, not true comprehension of the selection. Also remember that students often “happy click” (my term) their way through Star tests without giving them their best effort. Star is just one piece of the picture.

    We love that you’re working in conferencing, independent reading and the CAFE 5 as you work on comprehension. The lessons you described to us are so much better than the ones in the Scotts Foresman program.

    We too are frustrated with the homework issue. As far as reading goes, We’re just asking the students to read for 30 min. Since we can’t be sure they really do this, we try as hard as we can to make sure they get 20 min. of independent reading time while at school. As Miller said in her book, “The Book Whisperer”, we can teach them all the strategies for reading over and over, but if they don’t read consistently enough to really apply them, it won’t help!

    So…..all of this is to say…Keep your chin up! We love what you’re doing and appreciate the way you share your ideas with the rest of us. We’re anxious to hear what you decide. Whatever you do, don’t stop writing about it! We need your creativity, your enthusiasm and your insight!

    Cynthia P.
    6th Grade/NC

    • Cynthia-

      Thanks so much for your kind words as well as your teammates!!! I have eliminated the CAFE and individual conferences for this year maybe to return to it another year with a different set of kids. Maybe. 🙂 I am now trying to use the basal as closely as I can and have dabbled in small group with plans to JUMP into small group after the Thanksgiving holidays. I am so glad for this break!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂

      Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!! And again-thanks for your kind words!

  14. Oh Shannon, I know how it feels! We take it so personal!
    I hope you see progress with your new strategy. Is their a way for you to only assign reading as hw, but somehow actually evaluate that they did it?

    ❤ Mor Zrihen ❤
    A Teacher’s Treasure

    • Mor Zrihen-

      I have completely done away with homework which actually gives me more time in class since I am not having to check all 24 students’ homework. 🙂 I am still in the process of changing things (I think I change something each week!), and hopefully will have it all ironed out by the time we are ready to adopt a new reading program. 🙂

  15. Hi Shannon:

    I still check on you every day. I hope you’re feeling (at least) a little better. Come to my site and read The Red Cup. I was thinking of you when I wrote it…

    Miss you!

    Finding JOY in 6th Grade

  16. I just wanted to let you know I really enjoy reading your blog! This is my first year to teach 6th grade in a while after teaching self contained 3rd for 6 years. I teach two sections of RLA just like you. This is also my first year with SF. I had been used to Treasures. I have used Daily 5 and Cafe along with the basal in 3rd and am attempting to do it with 6th but find it hard. So far this year I have stuck closely to the basal. I am in a new school and many people don’t use the basal or don’t use it all the time so I am a little unsure about it. We have our benchmark tests next week so I am hoping my work with the basal will pay off. If not, I may be pressed into not using it. Oh yes, before I had been in a Reading First school so we HAD to use the basal. That is why I’m so comfortable with it I guess.

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