A Teacher’s Guide to Surviving Standardized Testing Season

testing

Teachers across the state of Pennsylvania are gearing up for the most dreaded weeks of the school year. Yes, worse than the Monday – Wednesday of Thanksgiving week; yes, worse that the week before the winter recess. It’s standardized test season!

Here is a checklist to help you and your students survive:

1.) Have your kids clean out their desks completely. Old papers can go home, books can be stored in bookcases, coat closets, or their lockers.

2.) Talk to your students who struggle the most with these situations about where they will be seated in the classroom. I ask them directly – where do you think you will be most successful?

3.) Space the desks so you can easily walk through every aisle. There is nothing worse than banging into the sides of desks for a few hours as you are active monitoring!

4.) No matter how much you are feeling the pressure from administrators or the district, do not pass this anxiety on to your students. Stop calling them “high-stakes” tests, or making it seem like it’s the most important thing they will do all year. Remind them to just do the best they can, that’s all we can ask.

5.) Sharpen all the pencils. And then sharpen some more. Oh, while you are at it, buy a new pencil sharpener. The one you have will undoubtably break.

6.) Remember you are not going to have your prep at your scheduled time. If this means missing a usual morning break, get up and have your coffee earlier. Then you won’t have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the test!

7.) Buy the jumbo size bag of mint Lifesavers. When you see a student start to get tired or lose focus, drop one on their desk.

8.) Tissues, tissues, tissues!

9.) Bring your fitbit. Time to get your steps in!⋅

10.) Encourage them to bring healthy snacks to eat between test sections. Bring some in for students you know may not be able to do this.

11.) As you look around your room (and NOT AT TEST QUESTIONS) remember that there is something really off about covering up books and other learning tools in buildings that are suppose to be dedicated to educating. Is a sign that says READ over a classroom library really going to give a kid an answer on a test?!

12.) Remember that throughout the school year, you have taught and they have learned. No score on any standardized test can judge your merit as a teacher or everything your students’ have accomplished.

Good luck! Eight weeks until Memorial Day weekend!

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

My Friday Favorites 03.31.17

Happy Friday! Here is my roundup of the things I’m loving this week.

On TV – Last night’s Grey’s Anatomy episode reminded me why I loved the show when it first began. From the first moment with a Meredith voiceover talking about her Mom, to the doctors disagreeing over a patient’s treatment because the stakes are so high, this was old school Grey’s Anatomy! It even felt like it was shot in a reminiscent way (an elevator door coming between possible love, a daughter following her mother out of an ambulance) so it did not surprise me when I realized that it was Ellen Pompeo’s director debut. What was the rest of Ellis’s sentence??? Tell Meredith not to……what do you think?

GreysAnatomy_sisters

On the Page – Do you want to know genius storage tricks? 17 ways to add color to every room? To read a moving story about a family and their late father’s bucket list? And to see Octavia Spencer’s fun spring wardrobe? Check out Good Housekeeping’s April issue.

GHK040117_051On the Web – This is the time of year that I am not always thrilled at work. As a teacher, the “standardized testing season” can be long, unfulfilling, and demoralizing for students and teachers alike. Every teacher should read I Can’t Answer These Texas Standardized Test Questions About My Own Poems by Sara Holbrook. The poet admits that she cannot answer questions on a 7th grade standardized test about poems she authored. Teachers – just breathe! It will all be over soon! (Sidebar – don’t forget your fitbits!)

standardized tests

On Instagram – Nothing says spring like the flood of rainbow colors on Instagram! My pick this week is the wonderfully color-coded bath accessories displayed by The Organizing Store. This deserves all of the heart-emoji smiley faces and rainbows you can type!

theorganizingstore

On the Playlist – Bon Jovi’s This House is Not for Sale album, as I prepare to see them tonight in concert! I’m liking this new album, but, I can’t wait to hear them sing their oldies including my all time favorite Bon Jovi song… drumroll…. Who Says You Can’t Go Home!JBJ_touronsale_bnr
Hope you have a great weekend! Let me know some of your favorite things AND what you think Ellis Grey wanted to tell Meredith in the comments below!

My Friday Favorites 03.24.17

I haven’t done this in awhile! But the snow is finally melting and with hopes that spring is right around the corner, I found myself noticing my favorite things again! I almost returned to this post last week since, according to the world wide web, I was the ONLY person who liked the This Is Us season finale! Without further ado, here are my favorite things this week.

On TV and in My Bookshelf – I am currently watching Big Little Lies on HBO at the same time as reading the book by Liane Moriarty. I have never done this before! I usually read then watch or watch then read (sometimes causing me to have to recall – was that the same, or different?) Reese Witherspoon is fantastic and I read all of Madeline’s dialogue in her voice!

On the Page – Better Homes and Gardens April 2017 issue. It introduces the 2017 Colors of the Year and three of my favorites have emerged – Sky Blue, Daffodil and Mossy Green! Plus six new recipes using one of my fav veggies – asparagus.

On the Web – Mornings can be a very hectic time if everyone is trying to get ready and out the door at the same time. This week Huffington Post gives us 8 Things The Happiest Couples Do Every Morning. Full disclosure, between breakfast, book bags and bathrooms, my hubby and I rarely do all of these every morning, but I love a good challenge so I am going to be mindful of this list and see how well I / we do!

Close up of a happy young couple enjoying time together

On Instagram – Check out this amazing kitchen in my signature color from House Beautiful. The green gingham ceiling!! Swoon! I have that tea kettle (love when I can say I have something from a gorgeous shot like this!) Photo credit: Eric Piasecki.

FullSizeRender copy

On the List – Shout out to my hometown, Philly, PA, USA who was named to National Geographic’s Best Spring Trips 2017! They mention Philadelphia’s great restaurant scene, including Reading Terminal Market, which is awesome. Looking for a great trip this spring? Come on by for a cheesesteak and a soft pretzel!

reading-terminal-market-philadelphia-pennslyvania.adapt.1190.1

What are you watching, reading, liking and retweeting? Let me know in the comments below. Hope you have a great weekend!

Car Organization

I try my hardest NOT to live out of my car, but inevitably my days and weeks get so packed with responsibilities and activities, I do find myself needing to “pack the car” on just a regular Wednesday! I decided to be proactive in what I needed to keep in the car on a consistent basis. Time to do one of my favorite things – make a list! I started jotting down all the things that would be helpful to have but NOT necessarily for me to drag around in my purse. Once I had all my ideas jotted down – I got to do another favorite thing of mine – organize bins! Off to Target I went! I found these three basic black bins in varying sizes and I knew they would work perfectly.

Largest bin lives in the trunk.
Contents:
-a few purses varying in size and color – now when I have to go out directly after work I have options that do not include carrying my large laptop bag around (See my Practical Packing tips and read what I carry in my purse here.)
-flip-flops – stopping for a pedicure? nothing worse than forgetting your flip-flops!
-reusable bags – stopping for a big grocery list or one thing you need for tonight’s dinner? bags are ready to go.

IMG_7028

Medium size bin also lives in the trunk.
Contents:
-wipes and other cleaning supplies for the car
-a lint brush
-umbrella
-back-up supplies for the smaller front seat bin

FullSizeRender-9

Small size bin lives on the floor in the front seat.
-tissues, lip gloss, deodorant, feminine supplies (personal supplies that I don’t need to carry around in my purse, but I know I have extra of if I need it.)
-snacks! Don’t stop at a drive-thru for the small fries because you are starving – take a handful of almonds instead!

FullSizeRender-7

I also have a cardboard box (not a nice, fancy bin) in the trunk that has all emergency car supplies in case I have car trouble. During the school year, one reusable bag becomes a “school store.” When items are on sale, I buy them for my classroom (tissues, clorox wipes, dry erase markers, notebooks.) I keep them in my trunk until I need to bring them into my classroom. 

The back seat pockets are ruled by my daughter. She has both stuffed with books. She loves to read when we are in the car and every few months or so she will tell me its time to switch out some new books for the car.  (Shout out to my brother at Gemiknight Press for the Larry Gets Lost series.) 

How do you keep things organized in your car? Do you keep things in your trunk? Do you have a car organizational system that works for you? Leave a comment and let me know. Thanks for reading and happy hump-day!

My Friday Favorites 07.29.16

On TV – I just discovered OWN’s new drama Greenleaf. I caught up on demand and watched live this week. The Greenleaf family runs the Calvary megachurch in Memphis. This drama is filled with scandal, deceit, cover-ups, and family secrets. In the latest episode, Grace got the evidence she needed against Uncle Mac, the verdict in the Officer Daniel Nelson case was revealed, and tragedy struck again in response. This week’s episode started with a disclaimer that it was filmed in January and it understood the topic of crimes committed by and against the police were even more relevant today.
FullSizeRender-5
On the Page – Better Homes and Gardens August issue takes a look into a home that’s created great work and display spaces, new recipes for green beans, beautiful hydrangeas, and how to pack a throwback 1956 picnic. 

https-%2F%2Fwww.discountmags.com%2Fshopimages%2Fproducts%2Fnormal%2Fextra%2Fi%2F4378-better-homes-and-gardens-Cover-2016-August-1-Issue

On the Web – I could not stop laughing as I scrolled through Glamour’s article, 20 TV Shows to Watch on Netflix When You’re Feeling Stressed. Parks and Recreation, Gilmore Girls (returning in November!) Grey’s Anatomy… the Riggins GIFs!! Anything on HGTV – I know there have been times when I click on HGTV and go about my business in the house as if I flipped on a radio. My only addition to this list would be One Tree Hill. What would you add to this list?

giphy

In the Garden – I’m very proud of myself this summer. I decided to cut my spending money on fresh herbs and try to grow some myself. I have the absolute opposite of a green thumb so this was a daring experiment. I picked spearmint, basil and cilantro. The basil and spearmint have taken off! I have fresh basil in my salads and fresh mint in my water everyday! The cilantro…. hasn’t done as well. I need to research that one a little more. Since I’ve had 2/3 success, I think I should try a few more so I can completely stop spending money on herbs. I found this chart from Country Living and I’m printing it and hanging it on my fridge! At first I thought there were no cilantro tips, until I took a closer look, and saw it says to look at coriander. 

FullSizeRender-6

In your Coffee Mug – I love coffee. I love ice coffee. I love cinnamon. I love that Starbucks is sharing this recipe so I can make this at home and not spend $5. 

FullSizeRender-4

On Instagram – So, I’m switching schools next year and teaching a grade I haven’t taught in 20 years! (yay and gulp!) I’ve been thinking about how I’m going to organize my classroom library. I first saw this pic on @teacherspayteachers (one of my favorite websites.) It inspires me and gives me so many ideas! The photo is originally from @kindercraze, so of course I had to check her page out and you should, too!

FullSizeRender-2

FullSizeRender-3

What things are you loving this week? And how do you keep your fresh cilantro alive?!? Leave me a comment and let me know! Have a great weekend. 

My Friday Favorites 07.22.16

Happy Friday! I hope today is the start of a great weekend for you and yours.
Here are the things I am loving this week!

On TV – Judges Cuts are all done on America’s Got Talent and the live shows start next week. But this week I’m picking one of my favorite summer shows – Suits. Season 6 begins with Mike going to prison and Jessica, Louis and Harvey doing everything in their power to keep PSL in business.  Harvey came through like he always does – but this time it cost him something very personal.

On the Page – I just got Real Simple‘s August issue in the mail and I couldn’t wait to read it cover to cover! “How to use paint to transform just about anything” is RIGHT up my alley (look at my past outdoor makeovers using mainly spray paint to transform old furniture here and here.)

FullSizeRender

On the Web – Lately I’ve been enjoying reading Crazy Organized tips for how to keep everything neat, organized and together. I love her Paper Organization Series and her Fast Fix Friday posts.

Paper-clutter-09

For My Classroom – I went into Walmart for beach chairs for my vacation – and came out with 30 notebooks from the back-to-school aisle. Even though I was cursing that the school supply aisles were already in full force – I could not help but scoop up these adorable math notebooks for my daily “Solve-It” problems. Next I need to make cute name labels for everyone!

FullSizeRender-1

On Instagram – Loving the That Color Coding System Though post on  creative.pine.apple ‘s IG account.  Click through to the great blog post on her color-coding systems.  Of course I heart all of this!
FullSizeRender

 

What are you loving this week? Leave me a comment and let me know. Thanks for reading.

Honey Bourbon Lemonade

FullSizeRender (14)

I saw this recipe as a video on The Kitchn’s Facebook page the same week my husband received a bottle of Wild Turkey Honey Bourbon as a gift from our brother-in-law. What other conclusion could I draw except it was meant to be the drink of the week?

IMG_7017

You can watch the video and see their recipe on how to make this drink here.

In my typical fashion, I adjusted the recipe a little bit based on what ingredients I already had. (No need to shop when making a cocktail!)

I didn’t have pure lemon juice, but I did have lemon sour mix.  Knowing that the sour mix already has sugars and sweeteners in it, I reduced the amount of simple syrup.

1 cup honey bourbon
2 cups lemon sour mix
1 cup simple sugar (made from 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water)
1 quart water
With these proportions, the drink is still sweet.  If you prefer more tart, reduce or eliminate the simple sugar.

Stir and serve offer ice! In cute vintage sour cream glasses if you have them.

FullSizeRender (13)

Enjoy – It’s almost Friday!

IMG_7019

 

My Friday Favorites 06.24.16

Happy Friday! I hope today is the start of a great weekend for you and yours.
Here are the things I am loving this week!

On TV – Netflix released season 4 of Orange is the New Black a week ago. Last year, I binged watched through the weekend finishing season 3 in 48 hours. I vowed to make the show last a little longer this time and I stretched it until Wednesday. This season was by far the most heartbreaking yet. Unfair judicial and prison systems, racism, corporate greed, privilege, religion and mental illness were just a few of the timely topics unearthed in these 13 episodes. No spoilers here.


On the Page – Real Simple Magazine’s July 2016 issue is full of summer fun.  Great tips on how to actually relax on your vacation, gaining control of your inbox, and party tricks for your summer get-togethers. Of course, the “Ask the Organizer” section is always a fav of mine!

FullSizeRender (3)

On the Web – I’m a teacher and it is my first full week of summer vacation. But that doesn’t mean my brain stops thinking about the classroom. Especially this summer as I am switching grades and teaching 4th grade for the first time in 20 years! I bookmarked this article Dollar Store Dos and Don’ts for Teachers by Genia Connell on Scholastic.com. It is so easy to buy something because it is inexpensive. This article has test driven lots of Dollar Store items for you!  

FullSizeRender (8)

In the Kitchen -Meal prepping is something I am completely committed to during the academic year, but it always seems to fall to the side in the summer. Anna Nguyen, Philadelphia’s Healthy Kid blogger shared Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Liz Coover’s  5 Tips to get Meal Planning Into Your Family Schedule. Time to get back into a routine! I roasted summer squash and zucchini for the week and made tuna that we can grab easily to make basil wraps.

FullSizeRender (4)

FullSizeRender (6)

On Instagram – This week I picked a color of the week and posted pics of my favorite apple green things!  I loved searching for other #applegreen photos and I pushed the like-heart a LOT!!  I loved, loved, loved these apple green canisters in Edita Trinkunaite’s kitchen. Check out her other amazing food pics on her IG @edita.trinkunaite

FullSizeRender (7)

What are you loving this week? Leave me a comment and let me know. Thanks for reading.

Grapefruit Lolita – Thirsty Thursday

This week’s signature cocktail is a Grapefruit Lolita. 

IMG_6838

Cuervo Silver Tequila
Cilantro Simple Syrup
Grapefruit Juice
Club Soda
Sea Salt Rim

IMG_6837

FullSizeRender (1)

IMG_6842

Thanks to Iron Hill Brewery in Chestnut Hill for whipping this up for me!