Leprechaun Fun

Today was SO much fun!

We came to school only to find a HUGE mess in our classroom. Chairs were tipped over. All our green crayons had been pulled out of our boxes and thrown onto the tables. Every green item in our room had been taken from its rightful place and tossed hither and yon. It was a sight to delight any 5 or 6 year old!

Apparently a leprechaun had come to our room on St. Patrick’s Day. He had checked out ALL of our leprechaun traps and didn’t get caught in ANY of them. Quite the clever boots he must be!

He took the fake gold from some of the traps, knocked others over and made a general hubbub of the entire classroom.

leprechaun pee

That trickster even peed in our classroom toilet! And he left his footprints on the seat. We could only imagine how he looked standing up there! Ewwwwww!

And he left us three packages of “magic powder.” The words “DO NOT TOUCH” and “DO NOT MIX WITH MILK!” were written on the outside of each one.

We didn’t care. He touched all of our things, so we thought we should touch his special powder.

We put the powder in a BIG bowl and smelled it. “Cheese?” “Birthday cake?” “Sugar?”

We mixed in some milk even though the leprechaun had warned us not to. At first it turned yellow!!! and the mixture was really thin and watery. “Eggs?” “Scrambled eggs!!!”

But SUDDENLY the mixture started turning GREEN!

*squeals of delight*

Then it turned VERY, VERY green and it started to get thick.

Pudding! He left us magic green pudding!”

It mixed up so fast. We spooned it into green paper cups and topped it with special all-green Lucky Charms cereal. Nom Nom Nom!

It took us a LONG time to clean up the room but we had SO much fun making things right again.

Tomorrow we’ll draw and write about what the leprechaun did!


Assessment – It’s Not What ‘They’ Are Selling

It’s this…

Found on Cherry Carl’s Assessment Alley page

In their book, Windows Into Literacy, Rhodes and Shanklin (1993) make a profound statement that summarizes how I feel about assessment. “Knowledge about how to gather and analyze useful assessment data to make decisions about instruction is crucial to teachers in socio-psycholinguistic, child-centered classrooms. In such classrooms, cues about instruction come largely from learners themselves rather than from the next lesson in a textbook. Through assessment, teachers can discover students’ interests, strengths, and areas of developmental need to help them become more literate.”

Dear Marie Clay (part 3)

When I read picture books with little ones, I always do a picture walk. We talk about what we see. I give them words that match the pictures. I ask what that word is in their language. I want to know what they notice and what they don’t. I might not point out everything because I want them to make their own discoveries, but I do give them some tools to make the text accessible to them.

That seems to be what your directions for Running Records tell me to do. You never said that Running Records should be done on a cold read.

Would it shock you to hear that when we do Running Records for benchmarking or progress monitoring (I’ll leave that description for another post, but if you are truly curious and can’t wait, click here), we cannot assist our students with a picture walk?

We can walk them through a level A book, but not books leveled B or above. We are directed to hand the book to the student and advise them to look at the pictures.

No vocabulary support. No extra noticing. Nothing.

We are disrespecting our little readers. We are hanging them out to dry.

When a student is reading a Level A, B or C book (and often other levels), they are using strategies to help them figure out the words and often the strategies have little to do with phonics and phonemic awareness. They might use picture clues (oh, that’s a picture of a giraffe, so one of these words must be giraffe) or schema (I’ve been to a zoo and I know that giraffes are tall and have skinny, long necks. That word probably is giraffe).

My own kinders haven’t yet learned that the letter G sometimes makes the same sound that the letter J makes. And many of them have never seen either a goat or a giraffe. Or they might know that in Spanish, that animal in the picture is called a jirafa, and unlike some people reading this post, they know that jirafa starts with the same sound as hat.

So when they see a picture of a giraffe, they might read the sentence below the picture

I see a giraffe.


I see a goat.


I see a jirafa.


I see… ummm…

Each one is an error that will pull down the results of their “test.”

Each one says something different about their reading behaviors and THAT was most important thing for you.

But, oh, yeah, we’re not looking at reading behaviors. We’re looking at levels. And teacher efficacy.

Oh, Marie. Your brilliant way of helping us pay attention to our students’ reading behaviors has been reduced to this.

Dear Marie Clay (part 2)

You said:

Any texts can be used for Running Records – books, stories, information texts, children’s published writing – but a good place to start is with a familiar text that the child has read once or twice before. This text will provide evidence of how the reader is bringing different processes and skills together. A classroom teacher would probably select something the child has recently read in class. The prime purpose of a Running Record is to understand more about how children are using what they know to get to the messages of the text, or in other words, what reading processes they are using.

Apparently, you felt strongly that a Running Record was not meant to trick a reader or to challenge a reader unnecessarily.

We do things differently now.

The texts that my district uses for Running Records are “secured.” Kids cannot see them prior to testing. Teachers can use them ONLY during testing. These are benchmark tests.

Oh, did you mean for Running Records to be used as benchmarks? I suspect not.

Dear Marie Clay (part 1)

Oh Marie. I really wish you were still here. I need your wisdom. I need your guidance. I need you to stay the hand of people who are bastardizing your brilliance.

You designed Running Records to enable teachers to analyze our students’ reading behaviors.

I think you might be dismayed to hear that my state is using them to analyze how well teachers are teaching students to read.

I don’t think the two uses are interchangeable. And I bet you would agree with me.

toilet paper

A transition from Common Core [placeholder] Standards to toilet paper seems appropriate, right? Work with me here. It’s not that hard to see the connection.

But I digress…

Toilet paper. We all buy it, but our kids are embarrased to be caught in the grocery store with it.

Again, I digress…

One of my kinders was putting his used t/p in the bathroom trashcan today. We’ve talked about this many times because in some cultures or communities where plumbing isn’t as reliable as ours, toilet paper is disposed of anywhere but the toilet. And many of our kids are not used to flushing toilet paper.

He was horrified to be reminded that he needed to put his toilet paper in the toilet.

“In the toilet?!?!?! NO!!!”

“Yes, sweetie.”

“But it might not go down!”

“If it doesn’t you can tell me. That’s why our custodians are here – just in case something doesn’t work right.”

So we had yet another mini-lesson with the whole class.

“Do we call it wastebasket paper?”


“Do we call it floor paper?”


“Do we call it wallpaper?”


“We call it – what?”


Maybe this will stick longer than wet toilet paper to a wall 🙂