Sunday, January 12, 2014

NBC Sunday #7: And Finally, The…Exam.

Aaahhh!  It's the dreaded exam!  I was so anxious about this part of the process and it turned out to be...alright.  I didn't pass social studies because the question focused on 3rd grade. I've never taught that so I was literally making crap up…and hoping it sounded good!  I also didn't pass play and was flabbergasted!  BUT learned why after talking to an NBCT teacher about it.

So here's how I prepared. I paid for and joined the online support group  It was the BEST decision I made to prepare for the exam.  They had weekly chat sessions of people preparing each other for the exam.  I learned how to word my answers quickly and succinctly.

And it worked. 

I only floundered on the standards I had never studied (3rd grade) and on play…something we here in CA don't get to do much of…so I was out of practice (which honestly, was disappointing to me!)

What I intend to do to help YOU prepare for this is to pose questions like what you might see on the exam.  Each week I'll focus on 1 of the 6 areas and present a few scenarios.  You can comment with your response or just practice with it at home on your own.  In the online support group people posted their responses and got ideas from each other.  It was extremely helpful!

Lastly, here's a tip.  Once you leave the exam building, write down what you remember about each entry.  That way when you get your scores you can have a better idea of why you scored the way you did.  You can't share those questions with anyone but at least, for you, you'll have a greater understanding of what happened.  When I received my scores and saw the play score…I scoffed.  Then I went back and read what my question was and remembered my response then promptly planted my face in my palm. *ugh* {note to self-actually study play!} 

Have fun studying this week and I'll see you next week with sample questions for the exam!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

NBC #6: Entry 1: Examining Children's Literacy Development

So this is the entry I chose to retake.  I had prepared a post about it previously and was putting the finishing touches on it WHEN I got my score.  YEAH.  That post got nixed!  The 2 entries that I didn't do well on actually weren't that bad.  Being down only 3 points is easy to make up (or so I'm told!).

I went to a CTA (California Teachers Association) support meeting in early December to meet with a NBCT teacher who could look over my writing and help me figure out where it went wrong.  What she found made COMPLETE sense.  And confirmed my beliefs that my procrastination on entry 1 is what did me in. (How many times had I been told, last year, not to procrastinate by the facilitator?)   The NBCT teacher said many times in my writing she knew what I was getting at but that I didn't state it explicitly and therefore, the assessor probably felt the same way.  THAT, my friends, is the result of me working under pressure because I procrastinated and had an extra life stressor (my husband's job loss) join the writing camp out.

At this meeting I also proved to be an example (for good or bad?) to those attempting to certify for the first time.  I proofed some of their work…entry 4's of course, because I rocked that.  (I didn't feel comfortable proofing the other entries, nor did they ask!).

This time around I'll be much more prepared and much more focused.  It'll be a lot easier to write academically and explicitly.  Bonus: it's only 1 entry!  However, I will not turn it in without getting advice so if you are an NBCT and want to read for me, I'd LOVE it!

Ok, so on to the prep work for this entry:

In this entry I will be taking a sample of 3 pieces from over an 8 week period with 2 students.

LAST YEAR, I kept the work from EVERY student for the whole year and had an incredible amount of writing to go through.  I selected an 8 week period from September-October…too far away to remember exactly what I did to help each kid move forward in writing…so I tried to "recall" and use my knowledge of the writing process.

THIS YEAR I am going to be much more focused.  My plan is to select 2 students from each of my 3 levels - advanced, benchmark and below benchmark.  So I will follow 6 students total.  My lowest writing group has only 2 kids in it so these 2 should {hopefully} benefit from the extra attention.

My advanced group is working on using digraphs and blends.  So my goal is to teach them how to utilize that in their writing along with adding more sentences.

My benchmark group is beginning word families and my below benchmark students are still learning their alphabet {bless!}.

For the benchmark group obviously they need to start work on word family lists and learn how to access that.  In fact, maybe that's a tool I can add to my writer's workshop tools product on TpT!   These kids need a bit more confidence in writing sentences.  I noticed that the higher benchmark kids get it and more often than not write sentences that one can follow.  But the lower end of the benchmark group are still very inconsistent.  I am thinking to focus on kids in the lower benchmark group to help them be more consistent by doing small group work as taught in Writers Workshop.

For my below benchmark children the focus will be on phonics…learning the letter names and their sounds.  I'm contemplating using some Montessori methods as it is multi-sensory. When these kids write it is just a jumble of letters.  I'm thinking of pulling them during writing time to do extra phonics practice while writing a sentence together.  What would you do?

I am going to get started this upcoming week.  I still have one more week off of school so I might as well get a head start and be TOTALLY ready.  My 8 week period begins January 13 and ends March 7.  We will be focusing on opinion writing during that time.

If you have any suggestions or ideas for me to work on, after reading this, I'm all ears! I'm happy to read your work as well.  I've always loved being a help to other people trying to move forward in their careers & lives.

In the beginning of my career I would spend many evenings with a co-worker helping her through her masters degree by proofing her work.  Not only did we get to spend time together but it helped her move forward (and up the pay scale). Working together and supporting one another is the best way to be successful!