Sunday, March 6, 2011

Report Card Season

Who loves report cards???

Well, I'm not too sure many teachers do. It takes an incredible amount of time to complete assessments, grade, and comment on report cards. Many, many hours beyond our teaching hours. I've been at this for 10 years now and I can easily say that report cards have not become any easier. In fact, I probably put more time in now because everything for my district is web-based. I miss my dear old report cards on Excel! The site never froze, I rarely lost comments in outer space, and I did not need to reload the page each time I added or edited a comment.

At any rate, I have been reading a bit about how teachers in blog land make this time consuming responsibility more efficient. I love to make lists when I am thinking through something, so here is my list of how I manage report card season.

1. Student Files - I keep a crate with a file folder for each student. I keep students notes, any important papers, and any assessments that I do not need to refer to frequently or update (i.e. DRAs, Words Their Way assessment, Math Assessments, etc.). This tends to be where papers go after I have used them for determining report card grades and comments.

2. Assessment Binder - I use some of the pieces from Daily 5 and the Literacy CAFE. I keep a record of when I assess each student for sight words, informal running records, and writing conferences. I have a section in the front where I put the date I worked with a student to keep track of how often I reassess. Each student has a section with a Dolch List record to track sight words, a sheet to track spelling words (students have individualized lists), page/pages for running records (the running record is on the left and there is room to comment on teaching points on the right), and a writing conference sheet (observations on the left and teaching points on the right). I also include a CAFE sheet for reading with reading behaviors and a similar sheet with our writing Focus Correction Areas. My goal is to highlight features as students have mastered them. This binder provides a great deal of information for my comments.

3. Database of Comments - I created one this year. After 5 years of teaching first grade, I felt like I had just run out of things to say. I was spending hours reinventing the wheel, only to end up say the same thing in different ways. Since our cards are web-based, I also found that I would add comments only to find out when the full card was printed with the last semester comments, that I used similar words. I reviewed old cards that I had saved and created general comments that can be customized for students when needed. This has really helped me to focus on making sure that I am not repeating myself and I can comment in a timely fashion, while still saying meaningful things.

4. Set Aside Blocks - This year I went through each student report all at once and then moved on to the next. I ended up completing them in a day and a half. Usually I comment on a section at a time for all students. This allowed me to view everyone with the same eyes, but also made me feel likes I worked on comments for weeks. Not sure what the verdict is in terms of what works best.

5. For Me - chocolate, snacks, coffee, and sappy movies.

What do you do/use to make report cards easier to get through?

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