Synthesizing Assessments

Ewww.  That is definitely not a good title.  And it doesn't reflect me at all.  But I have to talk about both so I combined them.  But don't fear.  This will not be a post filled with big educational jargon.  It will still be me.  

First, I forgot to offer the Houghton Mifflin Theme 6 Weekly Assessments that I created.  Oops.  My bad.  I think vacation and P.J. got in the way.

Theme 6, Week 1

You can grab Theme 6, Week 2 {HERE} and Theme 6, Week 3 {HERE}.

I keep running out of time on Fridays to give these tests (or maybe I conveniently wait to give them because I don't want to grade any more of anything on the weekends).  I just give them on Mondays and it's been working out fine.  And dandy.  Let's fill in another bubble, shall we?

So the assessments part of this post title is out of the way.  Check.  Or fill in the bubble underneath it.  This is a test.  Stop looking at your neighbor.

Synthesize.  Synthesize.  Synthesize.

Makes me think of Chrysanthemum, Chrysanthemum, Chrysanthemum.  But that's a whole lot friendlier than Synthesize. 

Synthesize was the topic of our PTT yesterday.   Do you have PTT?  I think it stands for Professional-Teaching-Time.  But I could be wrong.  For all I know, it could mean you Poor-Tired-Teachers, now you have to go to a meeting and-sit-and-listen and not get all the things done you wish you were getting done in your room.  The way our school does it, we meet with our Principal and the whole staff every other week and on the alternate weeks, we get to be with our teams.  

I won't state the obvious and tell you which week I like better.  Remember this is a test.  Figure it out on your own.  I can't give you all the answers.  Stop tapping your pencil.  Who's doing that?

So . . . yesterday's PTT was thrilling.  We discussed the Engagement Cube again.

Do you know about the Engagement Cube?  We went to a PDD (I think that stands for Professional Development Day but it could also mean Please Don't Daydream) with an excellent speaker named Jon Antonetti.  Seriously.  He's HILARIOUS and it felt like we were at a comedy show.  I loved him.  I wanted to go on the road with him.  

So now we try to implement his engagement cube with all of our Mandated Curriculum.  

Uh huh.  Ahem.  Cough.  Clear throat.

So . . . yesterday we focused on the side of the cube and it's Bloom's Taxonomy.  And we had to go through all this stuff I won't go into and the word Synthesize kind of threw us for a loop.  Us being the K-1 teachers.  This could be because we use words, such as "Shhhh" and "Stop talking about his underwear" and "Who's humming?".

We asked the guest speaker to define Synthesize and do you know what he said?

Wait .............. for ............... it.......................

He said, "Tell me what it means to you."

What?  I mean, you're the guest speaker.  Speak.  Teach.  Do something.  (We had been writing on chart paper the whole time while he walked around)

I didn't mean to say what I said but apparently, it came out.  I asked my group afterwards and they said, yes, I said it, and they were glad, and for me not to feel bad.  But I inevitably felt bad because that's just the way I am.

I said, "No, no, no, no, no."

And then I said, "We need a definition and some examples."

And then I have no idea what he said because we didn't get it.  Really.  We didn't.

But now I've found out that it just means taking two or more different pieces and creating something new.  For example:  students learn long vowel sounds and also digraphs, and they put the two together to generate long a words with digraphs.  Shape.  Choke.  Three.  See?  We found that on google.

Anyways, this whole running diatribe (ha! look at that big word!) is to tell you how disappointed I was with yesterday's PTT.  

And I really want to know if any of you have PTTs or other weekly things like this.  Please tell me it's not just me.  PLEASE.


  1. You are scaring me. It sounds like a foreign language...one that we don't know yet, but will after you guys in CA have already been doing it for 5+ years. By then it will have made its way to AL...and I will probably dislike it. lol
    First Grade Blue SKies

  2. yikes! Are these after school?? That would be the absolute end of me! We have weekly PLCs where we have to miss one precious planning period to collaborate as grade level teams. The collaborating part is excellent of course, I just can't turn my mind off from the "must copy, must pick up snack, must post attendance" flow of thoughts in the middle of the day.

    I would have needed an example as well!
    Kristen :)

  3. The teachers I sub for have weekly PLC meetings and Professional Days (like today, so first and kinder ALL classes were out) .

    K and 1 are being pulled out a lot this year for literacy and ELD stuff.

    Journey of a Substitute Teacher

  4. We have pd all the time. We have an early release day every other Wednesday practically. We also have PLCs everyone other week and staff meetings the opposite weeks. Half the time I can't keep in straight. Our PD is usually pretty good thanks to our amazing instructional coach or my best friend. She spends so much time planning and making sure it is worthwhile!

  5. Oh, don't worry. It's not just you. Today we had a meeting during which my principal said, "I'm not saying what you're doing isn't working. It is. It has. But it won't. So now we have to figure out what we're doing now. Because what we did won't work."

    After this, we made a few suggestions and a few people argued about them and nothing else happened except that I got really really really angry and wanted to stab some people in the face with a pencil.

    So as long as you didn't stab anyone with a pencil, I think your reaction was perfectly fine. lol

    Buzzing with Ms. B

  6. You are not the only one! We have PLC (professional learning community) meetings every Thursday. Our kids get out of school and hour early, and we have our PLC meetings. Right now, they're as a full staff though to work on math common core stuff. Usually they're withing our grade level teams and we get to set the agendas based on our school's SMART goals. We also have monthly faculty meetings, plus any committees that we're on...yikes! It can be SUPER overwhelming.
    Hangin' with Mrs. Cooper

  7. ha ha I love all your nicknames for things because that is how I view them too. During PD day I create all my massive long to-do list.

    We have staff meetings every other week. I wish we had more of PD planned school wide. All we have is a meeting with the principal every month to review what our students need to work on based on the most recent assessments.

    Apples and Papers

  8. Unfortunately, I too, have PLC meetings (every week and then we have extended PLC where we have subs come in). Some of our teachers call them Party Like Crazy meetings, but I have renamed and re-acronymed PLC to PMN= Pluck My Nerves because that's all it seems to do. I'm tired of meetings, and I'm tired of doing paperwork to show that I'm doing this and doing that. In my humble and underpaid opinion (IMHUO haha)if you need to see that badly what I'm doing, come on into my classroom. I don't need to fill out a piece of paperwork to show that I'm contacting parents. It's very frustrating and time consuming. I see how it would look good in theory but taking me out of the classroom so often seems to be defeating the purpose. It may just be me, but for what it's worth, that's what I think :)

    Following Optimism

  9. How do you make synthesizing funny? I don't know I need you to google it and then make that funny too. ...couldn't love you more. I even read your post with a terrible title because I love you and guess what? I laughed. Tho There.

  10. We don't call them PTTs, just banked days (as we have "banked the time" and added a few minutes onto the school day for the rest of the week to get out an hour early on Tuesdays) But your PTTs sound exactly like our Banked Days....so much fun.

    Teaching in Room 6

  11. This made me laugh until I hurt...because I get you. Sadly enough.

    We have staff meetings every Monday after school (what is with these schools that have early release on meeting days??? What?!). They are whole-staff meetings with our principal and/or school psychologist and I think we have had the same subject for meetings every other week for two years now. Stab myself in the eye with a pencil? Yes, please.

    Once a month our Monday staff meetings are PLCs (professional learning communities), during which at least we get to break out into age-group collaboration and talk about practical things. So there's that...


  12. Rule 1 for me: They bring out chart paper and masking tape (from 1962, no doubt) and I suddenly have an urgent parent conference. Or the onset of appendicitis. Or a call from an employment agency.
    One of the kindergarten teachers said recently (after trying to enter RTI data into an (exasperating) non-working computer program)...
    "For every hour I spend doing this, that is an hour of planning for tomorrow that is lost. Which has a greater input on the kids?"
    Of course, by then, I was hiding in fear under the table.
    One day until the weekend!

    Finding JOY in 6th Grade

  13. The first time I ever heard the term PLC I was in a staff meeting doing what I usually do.... sort of daydreaming. All of a sudden my principal said get into your PLCs and discuss blah blah..... I turned to my friend and said I don't think I brought my PLCs.... she cracked up! I thought it was some kind of new pajamas or clothing...Sort of embarassing, but really funny now! I can't keep up with all the acronyms... PLC, PDD, PEP, SlC, etc.... In fact, we are having one of those ??? tomorrow---- I wish I could sit and listen (daydream) but they make us get up and discuss our homework! Yeap, I had homework to do for tomorrow! Fun!

  14. Like everyone else who posted, we have PLCs too. They are EVERY Wednesday. The kids dismiss early and we have PLCs from 1:30-3:00pm. However mine never ends at 3:00, always runs over.

    The building I teach in has only pre-k & K. So we have a PLC team for pre-k and then I believe there are 3 different PLC teams for K.

    We have no 1 single faculty meeting this school year. Everything is discussed during PLCs. (Our principle comes around to each meeting)

    I don't have students on Wednesday afternoons, (How can you in a half day program with 1:15 dismissal!) so I don't mind them being on Wednesday, but I feel like our K teachers are missing a lot of planning time!

    Creating & Teaching

  15. Actually my school may be the only one on the planet that hardly EVER meets. Seems like the Big Boss has better stuff to do than worry about us. We all feel left out on a regular basis.

    And professional development? Forgettaboutit. We got nothin'.

    So I do enjoy your little story immensely and it certainly validates my faith in Google. Yup.

  16. We have PD every Wednesday, which is early release in our district. We meet as a staff, grade level across the district, as a grade level and when we are really lucky like yesterday, we get time in our room. You can bet that the "curriculum cops" come around in the days following to see if we are integrating what we learned into our curriculum along with stating our objective every time they walk into the room and having our differentiation strategies defined in our lesson plans. Keep up the great stories! It is the only thing that keeps me sane right now! Love your blog!!

  17. I think you gave the only appropriate response that did not include stabbing him in the eye. We meet once a week during our planning periods. I lead those meetings (we call them cluster meetings) so I hope that they aren't bad and the teachers do learn practical things. I am going to start my next meeting with your story.

    Thinking Out Loud

  18. Sit back and be Ah-mazed!
    We meet EVERY Thursday from 3:30-4:15. It is "contractual".
    We (the first grade team) meet EVERY Tuesday during planning from 1:05-1:50.
    We meet EVERY Thursday during planning from 1:05-1:50 with our Academic Coach.
    This leaves me (us) a total of three hours a week in our classroom during the school week to plan.

    Come to TN- where teaching is a 24/7 job- for real! hee hee

    Going Nutty!


  19. How did you know we're starting theme 6 next week! Psychic! I will send you a picture of a super cute texture art that we are going to do after reading the sleeping pig, but beware, I doubt you're allowed to even look at it. Your staff should just have a revolt ;)

  20. No PLCs here BUT our last 2 staff meetings have been discussing/brainstorming how to rewrite our school's Mission & Vision statements to be in line with the NEW district ones. Seriously? I could care less...especially at 7:45 AM the first day back from a three day weekend. Who reads those things anyway? Thanks for the Theme 6 tests.
    Finally in First

  21. hahaha... you just simply crack me up... thanks!
    We have PLC (professional learning community) ... same crap... different name!
    We have a PDD tomorrow (1st only) to go over our DII traiing, yet again. Have you guys been forced into that yet?
    I am sooooo glad you are using the same antiquated ELA series as we are. Thanks for the freebies!
    ♥ Dragonflies in First ♥

  22. Hey Kristin,
    Do you have one of those tests for Theme 5 Week 3? That's what I'll be on next week. I can always use so more teacher created contraband. :D

  23. What a nightmare! I had when we have to do professional development and the presenters are terrible and don't have a clue what's going on in a real classroom!


  24. First of all, thanks for the HM Assessment pieces - I use HM too. So - THANKS! Secondly, YES, we have meetings constantly: We call them Staff Meetings and Grade Level Meetings, during which we either listen to the principal drivel on and on about things we could have gotten an email on OR we sit together in grade level and look at DATA. I'm sorry, but there's just so much data to look at before you turn into a pumpkin - or a cucumber. I don't know...TODAY, lucky me, I have a minimum day so we can sit in a PDD (love the Please Don't Daydream) on writing. Lately, the district has been using Teachers On Assignment to do the teaching at these inservices, which is even more excruciating than PDD's used to be. The only good thing is we get 45 minutes for LUNCH so we're all going off campus. :) Lisa
    First Class with Mrs. Mac

  25. We don't have them weekly, thank goodness. I just want them to be interesting and something I can actually use. Sadly, this is very, very seldom the case.

  26. I think I just threw up reading this. All those PLL, ALL, CLL, whatevers. And I actually love Bloom's taxonomy. What a way to numb your wonderfully creative mind.

  27. Our PTT's are called PDD (and something different every year) - but they are really pretty much PTT's (positively teacher torture) and a BIG fat waste of time. My stomach feels sick and my blood pressure rises every time they announce the next "PDDPTTPPP".
    Funky First Grade Fun

  28. When I saw the title of this post, I thought you got hijacked!!!!!!! Or abducted. Can you hijack a person?

    Anyway, this was hilarious. Also I'd like to say that we have a staff meeting every Wednesday that runs from 2:40 until 4:30 (or later). My principal just talks and talks. For example, last week we discussed how we are going to go from half-day preschool to full-day preschool next year. There was a lengthy discussion about where the preschoolers will take their naps (which made me want to take a nap) and we had to go through the preschool handbook page by page and dissect every section. Ahhhhhhhhhh!

    Marvelous Multiagers!

  29. We have PLC every week during our "plan time." The good thing is that our principal never shows up to ours because I teach first grade and we aren't a testing year so we don't "count." Needless to say we cheat a lot. Our faculty meetings are twice a month per contract. Love your posts.

  30. I almost didnt read this because of the scary title... but then I did.

    We don't have PTT, we have teacher meetings every other month or so.

    and a PLC day every other month or so... I think...

    and PD sometimes...

    typically it doesnt pertain to me. so i zone. ugh. im so bad.

  31. We have TCT meetings every week. I think TCT stands for Teacher Coherence Team. Anyways, we have them once a week from 7-8. We always seem to do more talking than anything else! These days always start off a little crazy since school has already been in session since 7:30. We also have weekly faculty meetings (although sometimes they're canceled). This week though, I'm anticipating a long one. There's talk of either extending our workday (to like 10 hours!) or the school year. I yi yi...

    Living A Wonderful Life

  32. We have meetings ALL OF THE TIME! I cannot find the words to tell you about them because they would get me all stirred up if I get started.

    I bit my tongue during them or kick my friend under the table. I cannot sit where we could make eye contact because we would both start laughing. I have mentioned on a post about needing to buy someone toothpicks...remember??!!!?? This would be because we have the pleasure of watching someone pick her teeth THEN eat whatever she foraged! Because of this, I have a VERY hard time paying attention.

    I have a safety pin with the alphabet beads QTC on it that I wear pinned to my lanyard...QTC standing for Quit The Cr**! I just want the time to plan and do what is best for my kiddos and not have people who know nothing about teaching little ones to stop setting these expectations that keep our kiddos from being a kid and loving learning without all of the pressure

    So, I just take a deep breath and remind myself there are bigger worries on my plate and find at least one thing that happened during the day that God used to show me why I am a teacher! =)

  33. All that professional talk just makes me sleepy! And thank goodness for Google where we can go to really learn something...like synthesize, digraph or something useful like how to remove white board marker stains.

    2B Honey Bunch
    The Best Endings

  34. We had John Antonetti (loved him!) start in our district last year, and this year he has visited all of the classrooms in the district and then met with each building. Our building is K-2 and we had the same synthesizing questions as you. He suggested we focus on the application and analysis parts of the cube. So that is where we are starting! We have to use McGraw-MacMillan Treasures, and can I say ITS A JOKE to try and make this mandated curriculum fit the cube! Eager to read more about how you manage to make it work!
    I'm a brand new follower and love, love, love your blog. We have curriculum cops and kid runners who warn us about them going into classrooms saying "Code Purple!" (our district's colors). So I can relate and empathize and sympathize and laugh and cry with/about all you are saying. I'll keep reading!