People say to me, "Mr. Curran, why do you keep trying new things in the middle of the year?"
Well, I guess it's because I really feel like I need to be flexible and able to change, on the fly if need be. I try to pay very close attention to how things are going, and respond when needed.
So when I needed to communicate more effectively, I started a blog. When I noticed we weren't practicing problem solving skills enough, I added the POW. When I noticed students weren't reading every night at home, I added Book-in-a-Bag. When I realized the students needed more practice writing personal stories, I started Slice of Life stories.
It makes perfect sense. I'll never be the kind of teacher that does things exactly the same, year in and year out. If I find an idea that will benefit my students or I find a way to improve my teaching, I'm adding it in, whether it's September or January or May.
Hopefully this makes sense. It leads to me introducing the concept of Student Portfolios. A portfolio is a great way to assess students' progress. It's more than just a collection of their work, stuffed in a folder, though. Everything that goes in the portfolio is carefully selected by both me and the students.
In the end, what we'll have is a great picture of the students' performance and growth over the course of a year (and over two years by the end of fifth grade). It will allow me to make more helpful suggestions in our Learning Team Meetings and more insightful comments on students' narrative reports.
What it means to you, though, is that you'll see a little less returned home to you. I'll be saving it here at school, instead. Especially bigger assignments, such as Problems of the Week, writing projects, tests and quizzes, etc. But don't worry, I'll still keep you informed of progress and scores. I'll just be keeping the finished products in the portfolio.
This is pretty much an experiment. It's something I've always wanted to try and now I'm finally doing it. We'll see how it turns out.