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Week ten: “Ms. Liz, I scored proficient!”

It is finally light when we leave our house in the morning because of daylight savings! Now we don’t feel like we’re leaving the house at the crack of dawn (6:10am, to be exact).


This week was a pretty easy week (probably the easiest yet). I didn’t have to deal with too much. Well, except one of my students punched a wall, but that blew over quickly.

Our team is in the early process of planning academic interventions for our students.

We have a huge book of different approaches to dealing with difficulties our students have. For example, some include: composes incomplete sentences or thoughts when writing, does not use appropriate subject-verb agreement when writing, fails to form letters correctly when writing, etc.

When I was looking through the book to find a starting point for my students, I realized most of the problems listed in this book my students have. Let’s face it: all of my 6th graders are at a 3rd grade reading level. Regardless of how much I want to bring my students up to grade level, is that really going to be possible?

Therefore, when I sat down with my students and created yearly goals with them I tried to make them realistic. Although I can’t say they will progress to a 6th grade reading level, I can say that by the end of this year they will read a full chapter book they enjoy and actually comprehend it. Another goal I made with one of my students is that he will be able to write down exactly what he is thinking. My students are all very articulate and have a large vocabulary, but just can’t spell the larger words they know. They’re excited to work with me because they know they have the potential. They want to be able to do all their homework (a reason why many of my students don’t do their homework is else they don’t understand it).

What’s really scaring me is how I am going to be able to effectively tutor my students in math when I don’t even understand the math they are learning. If I can’t explain it to myself, how can I dumb it down even more to explain to sixth graders? This is especially hard for me because the math teacher I am working with encourages peer learning, so I am in the same boat as my students. This is his teaching style because he believes as students get older they tend to become more social and want to work with each other (and trust me, they’re already pretty social). He places one proficient or advanced student at every table so the other students can get help from that student. My students are the kings and queens of bickering, so a lot of the time they refuse to ask for help from each other and then come to me. I wish I could just be in two English classes.

I think I am going to break the days up based on subjects for the students. Monday will be reading, Tuesday will spelling and grammar, Wednesdays will be writing and Thursdays math. My students need a lot of help in math, but I will be way more effective if I work on English with them more often.

All of my students are “basic” (a term used that refers to their California state test scores). I would love go push them up one level to proficient. One of my little girls scored proficient for the first time on her English periodic exam. She ran up to me beaming and said, “Ms. Liz, I scored proficient!! I was one of the four who did! I’m so proud of myself, I’ve never scored this high before! My grandpa is going to be so proud!”

She’s one of my focus list students so I told her that that’s just one more reason why she’s working with me this year because I know she can be pushed to the next level and I know she wants to be.

I tried to tutor all four of my students together at on Thursday, but that didn’t work because the boys and girls were picking on each other. I think one of my girls has crush on one of the boys she will be working with (awwwww). However, she asked if next time I can take the girls and guys out separately because they don’t work well together. I asked the girls if they thought it was because the boys were immature and they started giggling and said, “yessss.” My reply? “Ooohh, trust me. They don’t get any more mature, even at my age…”

Tomorrow I am presenting an idea to my team about starting a blog for Markham (similar to this blog). It would be either or It would be an online blog with different tabs (news, sports, opinion, entertainment, Markham student spotlight of week, Markham staff spotlight of the week, a ‘WATTS UP?’ section that highlights different City Year and community events and a ‘Markham Pride’ section that highlights student work that would allow teachers to submit student work for publication. Of course we’d have photos on this blog, too! This project would then be carried onto all the other City Year teams to serve at Markham in the future.

The 8th grade magnet program has a journalism class that I am going to start working with as well. I told the teacher that because he is already working on fundamental basics with the students, I would love to do workshops with his students based on different media themes (like new media convergence, ethics, social media, etc.) I WILL find a way to get my journalism dosage in 🙂

I’m hoping that this week was as chill as the last. A week and a half until Thanksgiving break! I may not be going home, but it’ll good to get some relaxing in.

Reporting live from Woodcraft Manor,



Here’s a cool project some of the students in our after school space have been working on with Ms. Charlotte. They’re making an ancient pyramid!


My roommate Daniel was really sick for two days, but came back to this card his students made me. How adorable.

One Comment Post a comment
  1. Dwight Warden #

    I love reading your stories about real kids in inner city schools. Once you strip away all of the rhetoric about dysfunctional parents, schools, funding, etc. there are real kids with real issues and real potential. I’m impressed with the heart and dedication you have to your students, even if it does involve math!

    November 13, 2011

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