Gotta Love Spring Testing

On Tuesday, I had a student complete is online reading test (42 questions) in about 15 minutes (takes most kids at least two class periods) and he was surprised (me, not so much) when his score dropped about 400 points from his last test.

Yesterday, at his request, I reset his test so he could start over in hopes of improving his score. The class period ended and he wasn’t finished, which was a good sign, so I suspended his test so he could complete it the next day.

Today he logged in to complete his test and promptly asked me, “Miss Lewis, why is my test starting over at question one when I restarted it yesterday?” I told him that was strange and that I was sorry that happened and that he now had two options: he could quit and take his previous score, or retake the test and try his very best. He proceeded to take his test.

50 minutes later, as I’m getting ready to pause his test so he could finish it tomorrow, I look at my screen and see he’s making good progress. He’s taking his time, but keeping a steady pace. He’s on question 19.

As I hit suspend, I look closer at my screen.

“Um Taylor, why is it that you are 19 questions in and you haven’t figured out that you are taking the Math test instead of Reading?”


Now here’s the chance to place your bets. When all is said and done, which one will be the final outcome?

A) His completed reading score will be leaps and bounds above his last score and the two of us will hi-five one another and he will say, “This feeling of success if fantastic! Is there still time for me to write those 5 paragraph arguments that I never bothered to turn in?”

B) He will take 3x as long to finish this test, and will still be 400 points below his last test which he took way back when he still gave two craps about school.

C) He will be absent the next 4 days of class and by the time he returns, the testing window will have closed and this whole week will all be irrelevant anyway.


7 More Weeks

Last week I had my students set up their own accounts on This process is pretty straight forward: first and last name, school email, grade level, and create a password. Once students created their account, they had to log in using the password they just created, and verify their grade and school to be accepted to the class roster I created. Finally, before completing the process, the screen asked them to include one vocab-2more crucial piece of information:
A nickname.

Student: “Miss Lewis, what does it mean by nickname?”

Me: “You can just put your name. It’s the name that will appear on the top of our screen when you log in.”

Student: “But it’s asking for a nickname.”

Me: “That’s okay. Just put your name.”

Student: “What if I don’t have a nickname?”

Me: “Just put your name. It doesn’t matter. You can put your initials, your last name or… just put your name. It doesn’t matter.”

Student: “But it doesn’t say name. It says nickname.”

Me: “Just put your name. You can use your name as a nickname.”

Student: “Does it mean my nickname? Or yours? You keep saying, ‘Put in your nickname.'”

Me: “Child, just put your name.”

Student: “But my name’s not a nickname. It’s just a name.”

Me: “For the love! Just put in FART FACE!”

Student: …”Well, could I just put my name?”

Judge Judy, Here I Come

I don’t write many office referrals, but here are a few events that I have documented this year.

April 6, 2017

During passing time, I noticed a student was on the floor in the hallway by the restroom/office. She was laying on her back, in her stocking feet, flailing around. She also had no shoes on. By the time I got to her, one of her sandals had been thrown back to her form around the corner. I quickly got the group of bystanders to disperse,  and as I walked the student, who was still missing one shoe, towards her class, I investigated further. I quickly learned that one of her friends had pushed her down, taken her shoes and then hid in the boys bathroom. I headed to my own class, got it stated, and then returned to the investigation.  I stuck my head into the science room, where I had dropped off my one-shoed friend, and mouthed, “Did you get your shoe back?” to which she responded by scooting her chair back from her table, lifting her leg in the air and waving her shoed foot in the air. My work was done.

February 24, 2017

During Hawk Lab, I had a student who had lost all ability to function. There were 5 of us sitting around a kidney table trying to complete a long over due assignment. This student had already been redirected to got to get back on track several times. (Get your arms out of your shirt, and pick up a pencil. Stop trying to see what’s stuck to the bottom of the table and worry about your assignment that is on top of it. No I do not think it would be cool if you tried to put your shoes on backward.)  Finally, I turned away from him to focus on the other students. We were once again interrupted when the same student got out of his chair to demonstrate to his classmates how he could “flop like a fish.” We stared at him in silence as he proceeded to flop around on the floor. He eventually stopped when he choked on his gum which then flew out of his mouth and landed on his shoe. He was about to put the gum back in his mouth, so I told to throw it away and get back to work. By then it was too late. Lab was over. He never did finish that assignment.

April 6, 2017

b4eea6db8af57e76927044a9879b-should-middle-school-students-have-lockersI was working at my desk during my planning period, when I heard a continuous banging coming from the locker bay outside my classroom.  After several minutes, I stepped out in the hallway to find two girls giggling by a locker. I asked them if I could help them with something, and one of them told me she was getting something out of her locker. I asked her, “Why does it sound like you were trying to open the locker with your head? Get what you need and go to class.”  They kept giggling, and when the locker was opened I discovered that the noise had been coming from a student inside the locker. I told him to get out of the locker and go to class. He told me, “This is my home. You can’t kick me out of my home.” I told him a second time to get out of the locker and go to class, or the next time it shuts, the principal will be the one letting you out.” He looked at, me, then looked at one of the girls (whom I later learned was his cousin) and asked her, “you remember the combination, right?” When she said yes, he looked back at me, smiled and closed the door again. I told both girls to go to class and ushered them away leaving the student in the locker. I went to the office to let an administrator know that a student was in a locker and needed to be liberated. By the time the administrator even left the office, all 3 students were laughing and walking down the hallway.

15 minutes later all 3 of them were doing the exact same thing. They eventually left, only to show up in another 15 minutes to do it a third time.

Update: I found out after school today that the boy’s Grandmother, had called the school because she “heard about the teacher who locked her grandson in the locker.” She wanted the school to know that she was “calling the police and pressing charges.”

Sidenote: The whole incident happened in a hallway right under a camera that records audio and video. I kind of want to go to court just so I can watch the footage.

Outlook Not So Good.


…days like today…

If some of the comments my students have made in class lately are any indication on how they are performing on this week’s IA Assessments… well…shit.

Reason for Concern #1: After reading the directions to the Reading Part 1 test, including a painfully detailed description on how to properly fill in a bubble on an answer sheet, I had students look at their own answer sheet and put their finger on the answer section for this test. I walked up and down rows saying, “Put your finger on your bubble sheet. Point to where your answers for this section will go.” Once we were in the clear, the test began. Two minutes later, a hand goes up. I whisper to the student, “Are you confused? What can I help you with?” He looks at me and whispers, “so, do you want us to…like…do we mark our answers on this sheet?”

Reason for Concern #2: In class, I had a student take a nap rather than do his work. As everyone else was finishing up with only minutes of class to spare, I instructed them to sit quietly. I told them, “You have a couple of minutes. You can read your book, just sit quietly, or even study the insides of your eyelids for a bit.” To which a student asked, “How can you study the insides of your eyelids?” I pointed to the sleeping student and said, “Ask him. He’s mastered it.” A class was dismissed, my sleeping student approached my desk.

Student:  “Miss Lewis, I couldn’t do any work today. Do you want to know why I couldn’t do any work today?”

Me: “Sure, friend. Regale me.”

Student: “Well. I hurt my hand”. (blah, blah, blah, I wasn’t listening 100%)… “And I can’t even feel my hand.” (He holds up his left hand.) “I’m pretty sure I broke my hand.”

Me: “Oh. Are you left-handed?”

Student: “No.” (Proceeds to stare at me for a minute then holds up both hands.)  “I think I broke both of my hands.”  (I found out later he started his next class by telling his teacher he couldn’t do any work today, because he had broken both of his thumbs.)

Reason for Concern #3: Today we practiced evaluating arguments. The article was titled

Are Zoos Ethical? Before we started reading, we looked at the source for each article and talked about why that person would be for or against zoos. One source was the director of a zoo. For the second source, I told the kids, “Find the source for the NO side at the bottom of the article. I see the name Marta Holmberg. What does it say under her name? What is her background? What word do you recognize?” 3 students out of the entire class actually look at their paper.  After a second a student shouts out. “PETA. She works for PETA.”  I ask the kids, “And what is PETA?”  Two students simultaneously shout, “Peeta Mellark!”  “Light-skinned!”  W.T.F?

At that point, one of my most outspoken students who excels at not being aware that she has no clue what is going on ever, jumps up and walks across the room. She slaps the Hunger Games poster on the wall and yells, “This is a Peeta!  And yes, he’s white!”

Me: “Children! Put your eyeballs on your paper. What is PETA? Read it out loud to me.” They all mumble, “People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals” and the room is filled with giggles, and “ohs.”  Except for the student who is now making her way back to her desk. She plops down, still completely oblivious and shouts, “So take that, President Snow White!” (After reading Catching Fire it its entirety, she still thinks the character’s name was President Snow White…She also still does not know what PETA is.)

I’m still working on how the other student got, “light-skinned.” She seemed pretty convinced it was a thing.


Pinterest Fails & Such

paper-doll-garlandI’m not the best at incorporating Pinterest gems into my classroom, but every once in a while I’ll give it a shot. My homeroom was tasked with decorating our classroom door. The theme: Community.  I found this cool idea on Pinterest and I thought – simple enough. The kids can decorate these sweet paper dolls to represent them and we’ll put them on the door.

I swear, this kid only made this to piss me off.


In Language Arts class we are currently talking about how supporting details help to develop the central idea of a text. The lesson started off okay, and then, like everything else that happens within the walls of a middle school classroom, things quickly spun out of control.

I addressed the class, “I know the topic of this passage is ‘wolverines,’ but as I read, I need to ask myself, ‘what about wolverines?’ to find the central idea.”

We read the passage and then I asked if anyone had any ideas about what the central idea could be. I got several responses:

Student 1: “It’s about how wolverines are fierce creatures.”

Student 2: “It’s about how wolverines fight for their food.”

Student 3: “It’s about wolverines having conflicts.”

Student 4: “I sexually identify myself with a wolverine.” (I had so many follow-up questions…but was afraid to ask.)

We also read a passage about how elements of Steven Spielberg’s childhood are reflected in his movies. One paragraph talked about his memories of seeing films about Davy Crockett. In each class, 2-3 kids had heard of Davy Crockett. Not a single student knew anything about him or who he was. I tried to give them hints, in hopes that they had learned about him at one point and had perhaps forgotten.

Me: “What if I told you that he was nicknamed, ‘King of the Wild Frontier?’ What might he have been known for then?”

Student 1: “I know. Isn’t he they guy that invented syrup?”

Student 2: “Wait. He’s that wild man who was killed by an alligator.”

Me: “I think you’re thinking of Steve Erwin, the Crocodile Hunter.”

At which another student piped in to clarify: “And he wasn’t even killed by an alligator, stupid. He was killed by a sting ray.” (They proceeded to bicker for a bit – but still didn’t know who Davy Crockett was.)

Me: “Davy Crockett was a frontiersman. He explored the wilderness and wore a coonskin hat. The song about him says he killed a bear, when he was only 3 years old.”

Student 3: “Oh. Was he on Bear Grylls?”

Student 1: “So who was the one who invented syrup?” (Hours later – with the help of a colleague, I realized she was thinking of Betty Crocker.

Another paragraph talked bout the techniques Spielberg used when making his films. I asked the class, “What do you suppose the author means when they say ‘techniques’ in reference to making films?” They had no idea what I was talking about. I tried to clarify. “What kinds of techniques do filmmakers use? What kinds of things make a movie visually stand out to you? What kinds of things really dazzle our eyeballs when we are watching a movie on the big screen?”

Student: “Cocaine.” cocaine




Humpty Dumpty & Other Junk My Kids Don’t Seem to Know Anything About

In class we have been practicing making inferences and citing text evidence to support our thinking. My partner teacher and I thought we would start basic and use comics to introduce the topic of making inferences or drawing conclusions. Easier said than done.

Example #1

I projected the first cartoon and read thcg4c40abf84fec7e words out loud. I asked the kids, “What’s going on in this comic?” A couple of kids chuckled. The rest were silent. I read it again, and accidentally said, “Humpty Dumpty Funeral” and got a few more chuckles. Mostly because I said “Humpty” which they thought sounded funny. I then asked for a show of hands, “Who knows what the word Dumpty is referring to in this cartoon?” I kid you not. 5 kids in the room had heard of Humpty Dumpty before, and even they were confused when they tried to recall anything from the story – which is THREE sentences long! I called it a victory when all BUT 5 kids knew that eggs were a key ingredient in making an omelet.

Example #2 cg4c93b689289de

In the second example, things went from bad to worse. I went through the same process. The kids knew what a morgue was and they were able to figure out that a coroner worked with dead bodies. The rest of the picture was a bit more tricky. I asked them, “Why do you think the other two characters are dressed like that? Who could they be or what type of people to do you think they are?” After quite a while, they came to the conclusion that the guy was a king. For the time being I was willing to accept that. I then asked about he girl in the drawer. “Who could she be? Can you think of any scenario that would involve a king, or a prince, and a woman who appears to be dead?”

Finally! A hand shot up. Student: “Ohhhh! I get it. She must have eaten something bad at the Renaissance Festival.”

Day 2 of this lesson: We try this comic again. We establish that he’s a prince or king and that she looks like she’s dressed fancy so she could be a princess. I asked them to think about the different princesses they know and the girl in the picture could be. A student pipes up, “I get it. She’s supposed to be Cinderella.”

Tricks or Treat

Today in class we talked about how to make an inference and cite it with text evidence. I showed my students the paragraph below and asked gave them sixty seconds in their groups to talk about what was going on in the passage.
Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 7.37.29 PMI walked around the room and most of the groups talking about how the girl in the passage was going Trick or Treating, or possibly to a Halloween Party.

I made my way towards a particularly rowdy group of boys. As I approached them, they were laughing and I overheard one boy say to another, “Did you hear what he said? He said she was getting ready for her shift at the strip club.” I just leaned over their group and said, “I sure hope that’s not the case, because we all know she isn’t going to make any money dressed like that,” and walked away.