Writing and All That Jazz

Oh man, all of you enVision people - I wish I had some magic words!  I'm going to have to think long and hard about this one and get back to you.  I honestly have to say that we just keep on keeping on.  I don't know.  We don't have a lot of time to slow down and smell the math equations because our District Assessment is coming up soon and it covers Topics 1 through 6.  It's a NIGHTMARE - I wish I could show it to all of you.  I don't think you would believe me if I told you the District Assessment tends to be about 10 pages long and about 45 questions! I know!  It sounds make believe to me, too!

RIGHT NOW, I am stressing about writing.  ~~~~~  Our Progress Reports are due this Friday (didn't school JUST start???) and I can honestly say that I have no idea where my kids are (academically) in writing.  Beats me.  Insert blank face and empty hands here.  HUH.  I guess my two and a half hour language arts block is more about . . . tends to focus on . . . um . . . anyways!  I have been incorporating our Step Up to Writing program with the Houghton Mifflin curriculum and I'm wondering what all of these writing samples are actually showing me.  So much of it right now is guided and shared pen and all of that stuff.  All good stuff but still . . . I repeat, I have no idea where my kids are in writing.  Are they on grade level, below grade level, above grade level . . .

I came up with this to help me:

First page:  label the dog.  I already told you that rule number two in my class is Must Love Dogs.  Now students Must Write Labels.  I'm checking to see if my kiddos can sound out words.  Fingers crossed.

Back page (or next page):  Correct the sentence.  I'm looking to see if my friends will remember to begin the sentence with a capital and end it with a period.  You know - since we've been practicing that over and over and over and over . . . Oh, who am I kidding?

Also, students have to write their OWN SENTENCE about the pictures.  Yikes.  I don't know how this will go but I really want to see who my writers are . . . because like I said, still not sure.  As you can see, I put pictures of the playground.  That's because 1) I wanted to remind them what it looked like since we haven't seen it in so long and 2) every child has seen, done, been near this equipment, regardless of their background because it's on our playground.  

Click the pic to grab it if you want it.   Although I know that all of you have been shaking your heads at me and judging me for not knowing where my kids are.  I mean, I hope they're at home in their houses with their families, but it's true - I don't know where they are in writing.  I just don't.  At least I'm trying to get to the bottom of it.  

Bachelor Pad (the live part) was CUH-RAZY!  I loved it all except I felt so sad for Michael.  Love hurts, man!!!!  I'm dying  counting the minutes on pins and needles looking forward to the Season Finale of Big Brother tomorrow, as well as the Season Premiere of Survivor.  :) :) :)

PS  I've been having trouble with google docs.  I'm trying scribd.  Hope it works!!!!


  1. So many things to comment on!

    First, Bachelor Pad was awesome. I felt really bad for Jackie. She looked totally wrecked. I'm glad Ben is the next Bachelor. I liked him.

    Next, we use enVision and I don't like it so much. Each lesson takes soooo long. I'm never on track with the pacing guide. In fact, right now I'm like two weeks behind! I just ask what's on the assessment and try to hit those skills. I know, I know! Teaching to the test. What can I do?

    Our benchmark assessments are on the computer!!! It's bananas. I have to read each question aloud and wait for each child to answer before we can move on. it takes forever. Such a nightmare.

    I've started using my old Investigation lessons because I feel like the kids are getting more out of them and then I can move those activities to my math tubs.

    Last, I really like what you made for writing. I agree with you about knowing (academically) where my kids are right now. Our mid-terms go home next week and I don't have much to work with. I've been working so hard at teaching procedures and BREAKING bad habits with my strong-willed firsties that we haven't spent as much time with writing as I would have liked to by now.

    Anyway, I'm very excited for Survivor. My husband is in a Survivor Pool and we have high hopes to win!

  2. The writing assessment is so helpful. I'm right there with you on the writing part. Our reports go home on the 26th. I've been dreading the writing portion.

  3. CUH_RA_ZEE!! :) I was cracking up at it all but really felt sad for Jackie, too. I was for SURE they would have a million cute, smart babies! What the heck happened there? And I never would have expected Blake to be all "in luuuuuuuv". haha Lastly, yay for Ben!

    Now about writing, we have ONE, uno, single, lonley writing assignment since the beginning of the year. But, like you said, a bunch of it is guided and edited. I ALWAYS do a baseline... uh... idk what happened this year.

    Our district math assessments used to be that long... we got a new head of curriculum so things have been becoming more realistic this year. But 45 questions for first graders??? That's just stupid. Who decided that? It surely wasn't a balanced panel of teachers!

    Have fun with the playground situation, btw. We have had so many "orange" air quality days, my kids new favorite game is silent speed ball. :(

  4. Hi Kristin!
    I just wanted to thank you for sharing all of your wonderful ideas! I've been so crazy with school that I've fallen behind on posting to my blog and blog stalking! Hope you're cooling off and your kiddos are able to be outside more...loved your Independent Study Projects (I have some smarty pants this year who are going to go nuts over them)!
    A Pirates Life for Us

  5. Thank you so much for sharing. I just downloaded it for assessment! Yeah--something our state is requiring more and more and more and more each lesson!

    We use enVision also this year. (New)/. So far I actually like it because it is giving the kids a chance to understand number sense. Our old series just jumped right into addition and yikes--number names!

  6. We also use Envision and it isn't the greatest thing in the world, but we make do with lots of other/old lessons incorporated in. We also don't DO every envision lesson, only the ones that are pertinent to our goals. We don't do the games/centers either. The way we work math has been to teach a lesson M-Th and then Friday is a review/assess Game day! It's been great.

    About midterm progress reports, I'm not sure if you school/district has a set form you must use or tells you what to incorporate, but for 1st quarter (only), we ONLY report on behavior/work study habits. We have a note at the top saying that we are reviewing so much in math and just getting to know students' reading abilities that these are not being assessed at this time. It's so low-key and really fast! Then again, for our report cards currently, we only "grade" reading, handwriting and math (as well as behavior).

    Good luck!

  7. Hi Kristin,

    We use enVision and are going on year 4. I used to HATE it with a passion, but it is growing on me. I don't love it, but there is no more hate with it! Our district jumps around the program and we don't go in order at all and that really helped with the kids learning the math concepts really well. We have a district assessment, but no where near 45 questions...think 15 or so! As for writing, we start with Framing Your Thoughts and writing one single sentence and then move into Step up later in the year. Funny how we are so close, yet so far away!


  8. Bachelor Pad was CRAZY!!!! I felt AWFUL for Michael and I really really really didn't want Holly to win.. I was wanting Michael to take it all - Ha, Holly! That's what you get!! Also, I think I'm in love with Kirk.. I'm voting for him to be the next Bachelor after Ben (I do not like Ben!)

    In other news, cute assessments! I love it! What I do in my kinder room is every Friday, we do a "quick write" on just a piece of journal paper. I give the kiddos 2 minutes of thinking time, then tell them they can write whatever they want. Obviously some at this point will just scribble, some write their names, some try sentences. But by doing this once a week (and collecting it!) I am able to have a writing portfolio of each student's independent writing and it is so awesome to see the growth!!!

    Hope that helped! Have a great week!

  9. Love this. Do you have the assessments for the other quarters or will you post as you go?

  10. I don't want to use the *hate* word,but that is how I feel about Envisions. The lessons are SO LONG, but I didn't really feel like my kids were learning anything... weird. Anyhow, we dislike it so much my principal let us not reorder the pages... You totally need to jump ship and come work for a smaller district. Thanks for the printables!

    Queen of the First Grade Jungle

  11. I love this writing assessment. I used it on Friday. I have a hard time finding assessments that the kids can do mostly on their own. I really can't bear to go to EACH and EVERY student for every question telling them what to do. So this worked out well. I found a great pre-assessment for math in our Calendar Math program. We did the 20 questions in about 20 minutes which was perfect.

    1st in Maine