Contract for Grading : LUSENET : MEd Cohort III : One Thread

This is my grading contract page.

-- Anonymous, November 11, 1998


Proposal #1

This school year I will be part of the inservice group for the reading graduation standard at grade four. (The group consists of five, grade four teachers who are advised by Becky Ardren - reading/ language specialist for I.S.D. 709.) My role will be to attend the necessary meetings to plan lead up activities which prepare students to meet the standard , and then to inservice other 4th grade teachers in the implementation of these activities as well as the actual administration of the standard package. I will submit written work done by the group, plans for presentations, my self-evaluation and evaluations from participants.

I am submitting this project as the requirement for a grade of B. I am asking that it be considered a major project to fulfill my requirement for this grade through May.

Proposal #2

Below is a letter which explains the mentorship program that I would like to facilitate. This proposal has been approved by I.S.D. 709 and would be under the supervision of Carol Basig. I would submit a journal entry summarizing each session as well as a self- evaluation , and evaluations from participants.


My name is Kris Downs. I am a 4th grade teacher at Piedmont School. I am also in the process of working toward earning my masters degree through the U.M.D. Cohort Program. As part of my course work, I would like to facilitate a group to support beginning 4th grade teachers.

We would meet once a month to discuss topics which you feel you would like some help with , or just to share some ideas which might make your work easier. This is meant to be a place for sharing without an evaluative component.

Topics for discussion may include, grading, parent communication, classroom management, literature groups, graduation standards, etc. The group will spend time during our first session to decide on which topics will meet the specific interests / needs of the group.

Teachers who participate in these meetings may earn one inservice credit for 10 hours of participation. Meetings will take place monthly at Piedmont , from 4:15-5:45, November-May. The first meeting will be held on Thursday, November 19th.

For planning purposes, it would be helpful for me to know ahead of time who will be participating. Please return the form below to me ASAP. I hope to meet with you soon!

I am submitting this proposal as the requirement for the A grade. I am asking that it be considered a major project to fulfill my requirement for this grade through May. Thank you!

Answered by Kristina Downs ( on November 03, 1998.

-- Anonymous, November 11, 1998

My proposal for facilitating a mentorship group did not work out because only 2 grade four teachers wanted to participate. Instead of this project I would like to read and report on The Quality School Teacher by Glasser.

-- Anonymous, January 14, 1999

Summary of Graduation Standard Committee Work

Submitted by Kristina Downs - project 1 of 2 to fulfill the requirement for a grade of A

Project Outline

During the summer of 1998, I.S.D. 709 , hired teachers at each of the elementary grade levels, to write packages to meet the graduation standards for reading set by the state of Minnesota.The district specialists felt that the process of implementing standard packages would be easier if the packages were already developed using our existing curriculum as much as possible.

The fourth grade team was asked to develop packages to meet the writing standard and the reading comprehension standard. The team used the district reading series,(Scholastic Literacy Place), to develop the lesson packages.

After the writing was completed, the district reading specialist joined the team to double check the packages to make sure the standard was being met through the proposed lessons. The next, and most challenging step, was to inservice the district teachers in using the materials. This was done through a series of grade level inservice presentations.

At each inservice meeting, teachers were given a copy of the standard , and the plan to help students achieve it. The most important message to teachers was that pre-teaching of the skills was imperative because the actual package work has to be completed by each child independently. Each teacher was given materials to assist them in getting their children ready for the package assessment.


I support the district decision to implement uniform packages for several reasons. First, I believe teachers, myself included, are somewhat overwhelmed by the task of implementing graduation standards. These district packages save teachers the task of finding or writing their own. This method also provides continuity across the district. If we continue to be held accountable to the state graduation standards, teachers may wish to write their own packages and submit them for approval. In the meantime, however, teachers can teach using the packages provided by the district and know that they are meeting the law. I also like the fact that we are achieving the standards using our curriculum. This helps teachers to believe that teaching the standards is not 3new material2 being added to what we are already teaching, but instead, a way of being accountable for what we already teach.

I believe the packages are well written and the pre-teaching suggestions do help prepare students for success. The inservice portion of the project is the portion I still question the effectiveness of. I believe our team was well prepared, but teachers were frustrated at the inservice sessions. I know some of the frustration comes from just having to implement the standards . Some teachers feel very negatively about the whole idea of standards and therefore arrive at the inservice with a bit of a chip on their shoulders. Other teachers however, do value the standards , but are frustrated at trying to understand how to implement them. It is a process that I believe you need to work through in order to understand. We can only provide a framework, as with everything they teach, teachers will learn as they work through this processes.

*A copy of the actual packages , pre-teaching materials and inservice handouts will be given to Karen and Tom in hard copy.

-- Anonymous, January 17, 1999

Book Report on : The Quality School Teacher by: William Glasser M.D. Submitted by: Kristina Downs Project #2 of 2 to fulfill the requirement for a grade of A

In this book, Dr.Glasser reviews his philosophy and the main ideas that we read about in The Quality School. This book placed more emphasis on the role of the individual teacher. Dr. Glasser sets apart the Quality School and Classroom by the following characteristics:

1. The Quality Classroom is centered in the use of control theory which says that we are always choosing our behavior and it will always have consequences, positive or negative. He believes that all teachers , administrators, and students must learn this theory and put it into practice.

2. If we let our students get to know us, and hopefully like us, they will take our council and there will be few or no discipline issues . He maintains that the student / teacher relationship must be non-coersive at all times .

3. Teachers must teach the usefulness of what we teach so that students will understand the relevance of their tasks and do the work willingly in order to achieve long and short term goals.

4. Students must learn to self- evaluate and work to improve each assignment until it is an example of their best quality work.

In reflecting on this book, I have some of the same feelings about it as I had about the Quality School. Dr. Glasser makes some excellent points , but is very idealistic and somewhat unrealistic about student response to the practices explained in his books. I believe all of the ideas listed above are the way we would like our classroom to be , but Dr. Glasser seems to leave out discussion regarding individual differences and attitudes of our students. My experience leads me to doubt that any set of rules or conditions will prove to be the magic potion that works for all students. (I wish it were that easy.)

Some students will be motivated by the four points outlined above, but what about those children who are distracted by family or social issues? Sometimes knowing something is good for us, is not enough to motivate us to participate in it. Take exercise for example, we would all agree it is relevant and useful to everyone, but we don9t all participate. Glasser himself declares that work must be need satisfying. Some work is not need satisfying to all the students in our classrooms , or the gratification may be too delayed. Young students especially are not always developmentally ready to work toward long term goals.

I think this book was valuable in that it reminded me of sound principles which will improve my teaching , but with all due respect to Dr. Glasser and his research, I am not convinced that implementation of this program will indeed create the nearly perfect learning environment he describes.

-- Anonymous, January 25, 1999

The following proposals are being made for 2nd semester 1999 for the Cohort 3 program:

Proposal #1

I would like to continue with my graduation standards project from first semester. This semester, the grade four team will meet with all grade four teachers(I.S.D. 709) to work on grading the standards with the rubrics. I will report on this project by submitting a summary and any handouts used in our presentation.

Proposal #2

I would like to read and report on the book Parenting With Love and Logic-Teaching Children Responsibility by: Foster Cline and Jim Faye. This book is not only useful to parents but to teachers as well since we certainly teach children responsibility and discipline. One of the authors of this book is a former elementary school principal and so many of his examples and teaching have to do with education.

-- Anonymous, February 15, 1999

Summary Of Graduation Standard Committee Work

Submitted by Kristina Downs

Project 1 of 2 to fulfill the requirement for a grade of A

This paper is a continuation of committee work that has been done throughout this school year to help implement the graduation standards for reading and writing at grade 4 (in Duluth).

This past fall , teachers were inserviced on how to implement the district approved performance packages in reading and writing . This spring, the focus of the inservice was scoring the products using checklists and rubrics. My role this spring was to help in planning the meeting ,with Becky Ardren (district reading specialist) and Mary Ostazeski (a 4th grade teacher) and then to facilitate by working with small groups at the meeting. Teachers brought in samples of student products and were lead through the steps they should take in order to score them. Work time was provided so that teachers could discuss the process and compare results.

The meeting was successful in that I believe teachers left knowing how to score their students work. I also felt that we all learned more about the value and process of scoring with rubrics . The disappointing part of the session, was the general frustration teachers expressed regarding the entire issue of implementing the Graduation Standards. Much discussion took place about whether or not the activities in the packages were really the best way to teach the concepts, or rather just a frustrating mandate. Many teachers felt that we are already teaching these skills ,and the graduation standards are just being pushed for the sake of accountability . All educators know that we do need to be accountable for what we teach , and for what the students are actually learning. The arguable point is, do the graduation standard packages warrant the time we must spend to implement them? Are they an accurate and efficient measure of what students are learning?

My own opinion is that the reading and writing packages take too much time to administer and to evaluate. The skills within the packages were already being taught. The legislature will decide the fate of the graduation standards. I hope they ask for a lot of input from teachers so that they can , at least , be revised into a more meaningful tool.

(Attached are the handouts used at the spring inservice.)

-- Anonymous, May 17, 1999

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