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Showing posts from January, 2016

Defense of Learning: Portfolios- Day One

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Today was the first day of the oral Defense of Learning portfolio presentations.  I had to teach first period and I didn't get quite as many mentors/adults in to sit with groups, however in the end it was ok.  Day one was a success.  

Students came in dressed to impress, some in suits and ties others in dress pants and button downs.  It was clear that they meant business.  All I had given them going into today was the groups they would be presenting in.  They all had to be ready to go.  For the most part, they were.  Only a few students did not have hard copy of their portfolio-- the document that I collected at the end of the period.  All did however have their presentations ready and 14 students presented to panels of peers and adults today, justifying the grade and level of mastery they believe they have demonstrated for the semester.

In groups of 5, they sat around, some choosing to stand in front of their group and began.  Each student had 10 minutes to present their defense an…

Defending Learning: The Big Push

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It's Saturday morning and I am sitting in my classroom in Union Square waiting for a little more than half of my AP students to descend on my classroom for three hours of portfolio prep.  I picked up bagels and cream cheese, have fortified myself with an egg and cheese wrap, and my coffee awaits in my travel mug.  I am hoping for an epic morning of work.


I returned to work on Wednesday of this last week after a prolonged illness and unanticipated surgery- not once but twice right after new years.  I had a very different vision for what January was going to look like in my classes, but sometimes our bodies make different choices for us.  I was reminded that I do no good for my students if I am not healthy.  While I have had more challenges than many in the last two years, my students are what bring be back again and again.  While at the end of the day Friday, I was exhausted physically, mentally I was feeling better.

Tuesday will kick off the two-day portfolio extravaganza: AP Lang…

Defending Learning: First Semester Portfolios- Kickoff (or Best Laid Plans...)

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As teachers we always have the best of intentions.  I know I do.  When I began the #ttog grading pilot in September I had lots of big lofty goals about what it would do for student learning and thinking about work in my class (AP Lang).  I don't know that I have had the buy-in that I had hoped for.  My 11th graders have rolled with it, indulging me and my big ideas as I try and wrap my mind and teaching around mastery based learning and going grade-less in high school.

There are a few things that are clear to me as I approach mid year:

I need better mechanisms for giving students feedback on their writing.While my year long standards are great- and the rubrics I have designed actually are sound language they don't work in the day to day work for offering feedback and I need to work with students to create more "actionable" language that identifies the skills that go with standards and how to indicate where they are on a spectrum of mastery. I need to let go of the larg…