July 29, 2009

Independent Learning Woes

Last month I complained about how suddenly now that school is out, the course work in my grad classes asks me to use students to practice some strategies. I've been able to muddle my way through and have been lucky enough that my children have been home when I needed them so I don't have to practice on the neighbor kids, as the syllabus in one of my courses suggested I try.

I'm in the weeds this week, though.

I'm suppose to give an informal reading inventory (IRI) to a student of any age and my kids are at their grandma's until Sunday.

I have a close friend and colleague who has a son, but he's only 4, and he can't read.

Another friend has school-aged children, but I asked her for help on finding students to practice on for summer school (she was the coordinator for the program) and she said offered up any of the poor kids for me to practice on and then added, "I just used to fudge those kinds of assignments." Thanks for making me feel dorky for actually trying to do an assignment. She's also a stepmom, so her kids are in and out about as much as mine this summer, too.

I decided to call parents of my daughter's close friend to see if I could use their daughter, but the phone is out of service. This does not surprise me because they have been constantly slammed with hardship for the last 7 months (loss of jobs and new baby with multiple medical problems), and they are probably at that point where a phone is a luxury. They are living in a big apartment complex, but I don't know which apartment, so I can't pop over there. Now that I know their phone's disconnected, I'm worried about them, too.

Gee thinking about how their day must be going makes my little problem sounds lame.

It's my problem, nonetheless. I wonder if I could use my husband as a guinea pig...

Oh! And another stress about this assignment is this whole IRI. So never return to this blog if you like because I'm such a bad teacher that I don't give IRIs. Not exactly, anyway. I do use a few different assessments from the reading programs our school uses, but I don't think they are as complete as this inventory I need to do. So, the truth is, I'm not positive what this IRI looks like. Honestly, I think there are a lot of secondary teachers who don't know either.

The assignment demands that I administer one and write up what happened and what I recommend for instruction for the student. It doesn't come with the resources to give this test, though. It says that I can ask teachers at my school or find one online. This is bullshit. I've spent my whole teacher life trying to find resources online. I can do it, but do you know what would be useful in this program where I'm trying to be a better teacher--and paying a bunch of money to a private university while doing it? Give me the resource. If it's so important, why not give me the one to use. If I find one on the Internet, how will I know if it's a good one? You know, in my own classroom, sometimes I give my students the websites when I am more concerned with them learning the information than I am researching the information. It saves everyone time and confusion about what they should be finding. I'm way past middle school level, but I personally think it's a great strategy in this information-overloaded world.

I'm super irritated at this, but on the other hand, I think I have a guardian angel looking over me. When I bought the textbook for this class through Amazon, I noticed that in the "People who-bought-this-book-also-bought-this-book" section there was a book on reading inventories. It wasn't required for my class, but it must have been required in someone's class at some other university. It looked like a great comprehensive tool for me to assess reading levels from K-12. I don't worry so much about my accelerated middle schoolers, but I struggle with resources for my remedial high school students. Not a lot of reading resources past the primary levels, you know. So thank you, guardian angel, for directing me to this 500-page resource I thought I might use someday. Come to find out, it's sooner than later!

But with whom do I use it?


I'm I too old for imaginary friends?

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