Bonus and Virus

Back when I was in the Katimavik program we had weekly house meetings. We always started the meetings with our “bonus and virus” of the week – like a high point and low point. This past week has been CRAZY in my teaching world (Halloween candy + daylight savings + full moon = Why do we do this job?!) and although normally I am a very positive person, especially when it comes to blogging, there were some tough moments! But don’t worry there were lots of amazing, I can’t believe I get paid to do this moments too…


IMG_3288The Book Draw! This is an idea I got from one of my profs in university and I had totally forgotten about it. Every so often he would bring in a book to give away and we would all write our name on a piece of paper and he would draw a winner – simple as that! He said his reason for it was so that we would do it with our classes one day. Well two more years of university and two years of teaching have gone by but this past week I remembered that and decided to give it a try.

It was perfect timing because a) I had received a $25 gift card for a book store at the conference I was at for Pro D and b) the book store was having a big sale on hardcover teen reads! I managed to get 5 books for about $30 (so I only spent $5 out of pocket!).

On Friday I put three of the books at the front of the room and told the class I was going to do a book draw simply because I like books and I like them. Everyone put there name in, the draw wasn’t tied at all to behaviour or work habits or anything, and they were so excited! Happy students and excited about books/reading – winning combination so far…

The best part? Drawing the name of a student and having the rest of the class cheer for him as he went to choose a book. What an awesome group! It warmed my heart and felt so great – best way I’ve ever started a day at school! I think I will do the book draw about once a month and I’ll keep looking for books on sale to make sure it’s realistic and affordable for me.


I’m not going to lie – there were MANY tough moments this week to choose from. But that’s a part of life and I know the ways I can prepare myself better for the weeks to come.

The biggest “virus” I went through this week was what I’m going to call my “Math Assessment Meltdown.” I’ve been struggling with math assessment since my final practicum… I find it really hard to find a place where I feel I have a good idea of where every student is at without marking everything.

IMG_3290Friday afternoon I was three hours into my marking load when I felt like crying or screaming or hitting my head against the wall. How did I get so behind? Why was I doing all this marking when the answers are in the back of the book? Why did this seem like the best way to assess math? And why was I only half way through the pile of work in front of me?

So I did what I’ve always sworn I won’t do – I packed everything up and brought it home with me! I have strict rules with myself to maintain balance in my life and usually that means no work on the weekend (unless I have to do a little bit of prep from my home computer). I allow myself to stay as late as I need during the week but the weekend is my time and not for marking. But I just couldn’t sit in the room anymore and I needed to get some of the marking handed back on Monday so home the work came.

As I was walking around doing some errands after work I started thinking about this marking overload – This can’t be what every teacher does? I must be missing something! So I put the call out on Facebook to my lovely teacher friends who came rushing to my rescue with tons of ideas, and I talked to my friends and family trying to figure out what would work best for me.

As it turns out my “Math Assessment Meltdown” has turned into a much bigger and more productive thing… It has started an important conversation about what we can do as teachers to assess students without spending a ridiculous amount of time up to our elbows in papers and red ink.

I am so happy I asked for help (although I wish I’d asked sooner!) and I can’t wait to delve into this assessment stuff with a few more innovative ideas in my toolbox.

What was your Bonus and Virus this week?

Any tips for effective math assessment?






3 thoughts on “Bonus and Virus

  1. I love the book draw idea for older students! Bonus for me- Class review meeting was good.
    It is an opportunity to meet with the Special Ed teachers and Admin. to discuss class needs and strengths for 1/2 hr ( coverage provided). I am lucky to have a lovely class this year and it reminded me about some next steps, eg having a SBT( School based team) meeting about one student who has special needs. Virus- need time to move into my classroom still( we had a flood right at the beginning of school and our district was reconfiguring so the school was new to many of us this Fall). I will focus on my filing cabinet this week as it has been a back burner item that I haven’t got to yet.
    Math Assessment- If you have choice, then choose what fits with your philosophy.
    I teach K and like Carole Fullerton’s K/1 assessment tools so I try to stick with that. Marking can get out of control at higher grades. While assessment needs marking, not EVERYTHING assigned has to be marked. Students can also mark some of their work or mark each other’s if that works. Education is about the learning, not the marking so…Speaking of balance, it is time to go to the movies! Have a great week!

    • Hi Karen,

      Thanks for your comments! I’m sorry to hear about the flooding – the school year really didn’t need anything else to make it a tough start! Good luck getting everything together. I think I am starting to figure out what I’ll need to do and have students mark their own work for math and I’ll just collect and check or give out quick check problems that I can collect to look at. I hope you enjoyed the movies! Have a great week 🙂

  2. Pingback: Let’s Make Reading Irresistible | Tale of Two Teachers

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