Celebrate: Culminating and Growing Learning

celebrate link up

This week…

I celebrate my students who showed strength and perseverance during five days of testing. I was worried about their stamina. I was afraid they’d be overwhelmed. I worried they’d lose focus. Maybe give up.

They showed me.  They worked. Took breaks and worked again, until they were done. They walked away proud. I know this because they said so. And not to me, to each other.

While I don’t believe young students should have to work this hard to show learning, I was taken aback and hugely impressed with their desire to reach for their best work.

And I have to wonder, where did that come from? We didn’t do much test prep.

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t an accident. And it wasn’t me.

I believe it was purposeful reading instruction every day through interactive read aloud, mini lessons, small group work, and one on one conferring. Students have read with a purpose every school day without fail. Every school day, since they were in kindergarten.

The writing work was intentional. We cycled through narrative, opinion and informational units of study, again and again. We used mentor texts, checklists aligned to common core standards. (Thank you TCRWP Units of Study.) Students wrote every day without fail. Every school day. These students have been writing, with writing instruction since they were in kindergarten.

I believe my fifth graders sat and worked so hard during testing because of purposeful, school-wide instructional based reading and writing work from kindergarten, culminating at the end of their fifth-grade year. It was a result of all the work done by all the teachers they had before me. It was a result of parent support. Students believed they could do their best. So they did.

I have no idea what students’ scores will look like.  But at this point, I believe students reached for as much as they had in them. They showed what they could do. And, they were proud of themselves.

I don’t mean to leave an impression that all is done.

Which leads me to this…

I celebrate my 4th- and 5th-grade colleagues who on Friday afternoon spent two hours planning. Planning for our upcoming students. Planning for summer reading and writing. Planning for connecting with parents. Planning to build on what we have done.

I celebrate teachers who don’t want to let go of their current students, yet look forward to the next crop.

I celebrate walking away from that planning meeting revitalized with exciting ideas and next steps.

I celebrate a PLN, who with one tweet came back with so much feedback off of one query. I am so grateful for this community. We are better together for our students.

So today after a long week (is there anything more exhausting than testing?), I celebrate my students and all the learning and teaching that has been done over the past six years.

I am honored to have colleagues near and far who believe in purposeful, intentional, student-driven reading and writing instruction.

I am honored to be a part of it.

Thank you to Ruth Ayers and the practice of celebrating. Connect to others who celebrate their week here.

6 thoughts on “Celebrate: Culminating and Growing Learning

  1. I hope I’ll be singing this tune next week as we once again dive into testing, week 3. Argh! It’s too much! But the kids are doing it. They are rising up. I love that you are seeing this with your students, too.

  2. Wow Julieanne! What beautiful honoring of the work done across years by so many – culminating in a week where students showed grit in the face of … Testing… And how good to sit with colleagues to plan this purposeful work forward. Awesome! A celebration indeed!

  3. I so admire you all that after such a tough week you gathered for future planning, you had the stamina yourselves to talk about what’s next. Love that you honored everyone. I always think that too, that those years before I received the students were years I was grateful for! Thanks for reminding me, Julieanne. Glad you felt the week went well!

  4. What Linda said – because you celebrated what has been accomplished in the present as well as prepared for what is to come. Dedication, indeed!

  5. Julieanne, it was so rewarding to read how your students are managing so well with the testing. The reason as you said: “Students have read with a purpose every school day without fail”
    Long Island is so caught up with the opt-out movement that I am not sure what the teachers will say to me when I see them on Tuesday. Thanks for sharing the good news!

    • Carol,
      I don’t know what to think about opt-out.
      I have concerns about how “they” will use the data. And I suppose that is the basis of opting out. But I worry if we don’t have a test that measures writing, you won’t see it in schools. (Sad but true!) Good luck. I wish I could hear their thinking.

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