Test Prep

I’m feeling pretty down today.  Next week we begin our state testing.  My students take 5 tests.  One writing test, two reading tests, and two math tests.  They’re spread out over three weeks, which is great for the kids, but exhausting for me.  I’m testing two classes a day, Tues/Wed/Thurs.  Monday and Friday I have to figure out something for them to do that’s engaging, but isn’t frying their already exhausted brains.  I think we’ll do the children’s book assignment.  It’s always a favorite and kids can literally color if they’re not up to writing.

My classes are really struggling with test prep though.  I’m not sure quite what it is.  Probably a combination of a lot of different factors.  I rarely lecture, so sitting quietly and listening really isn’t one of their strong suits.  I also have big classes.  29-35, and a total of 155 kids.  And a small room.  And the desks are in rows instead of groups for testing, which makes the room feel so cramped.  I can barely walk around.  And my windows will open but they won’t close, so that’s not much of an option unless I want to fight the windows at the end of each day.  That and I don’t want to run the AC with the windows open, and my room gets so warm in the afternoons.  /tangent.

I’m also worried they don’t care about this test.  I mean, how could they?  Why should they?  I just remember this test being more serious, and taken more seriously in past years.  I mean, we’d always have kids who didn’t take it seriously, but they’ve at least always settled down for test prep.  Today I had to remind my honors students that they were honors students, and to stop talking so I could give them some very useful tips on taking these tests well.  Maybe they think they already know everything?  I don’t know.  It’s just exhausting to do these prep lessons, and on top of it all to have them take so long because I’m constantly reminding them to be quiet.  It’s exhausting.  I know it’s a management thing and it’s at least partly my fault, but c’mon.  Literally all I’m asking you to do is sit quietly, and you can’t even do that?

I’m worried about these scores.  I really hope they do well.  Since these scores reflect on me.  Yay for language arts and math (and science in some grades).  Sometimes I wish I was a teacher in a content area that didn’t get tested, like social studies or an elective.  How is it fair that their test scores affects my teacher evaluation, but not other teachers’?  It shouldn’t be a part of anything, really.  I’m so sick of testing and I wish we’d just drop it all.

I spent almost 9 weeks a year testing, or preparing for testing.  That’s nearly 1/4 of a YEAR.  How about I get that time to actually, y’know, teach?  Ugh.  It’s so disheartening and it’s hard to walk in with a smile when I hate what I’m teaching and I don’t believe in it.

But I’ll try again tomorrow.

Embroidery

I’ve started practicing some embroidery!  It’s very soothing and pretty easy. I’m looking for my first big project. This is just my practice fabric.

Amish Cinnamon Bread

I didn’t make loaves of bread today, since we still have a loaf and a half in the freezer from last week.  The toddler isn’t eating as many sandwiches at the moment.  Because I didn’t have any sandwich bread to make, I wanted to make something else.  Baking on Sunday has become a habit for me, to make something useful and/or special for us for the week.

Today I chose a recipe I’ve made before, but love.  It’s a spin on Amish Cinnamon Bread, and the recipe is here.

It’s a pretty simple recipe, and the batter reminds me a lot of banana bread.  It’s thick and sticky, which makes it a little more challenging to work with.  It looks like frosting.  Then I greased the pans.  I always use some wax paper and Crisco.  My grandmother would always say, “If you can’t afford Crisco, you can’t afford shortening.”  I always use name brand Crisco when I’m baking.  I don’t know if it makes a difference, because I’ve never dared go against Granny to try anything else!

I didn’t used to weigh anything until I started making loaves of bread.  A matter of ounces can change the size of the loaf, under baking one and over baking the other.  So I’ve started using a scale and it’s worked wonders.

This is the cinnamon I use, from a local store, and it is amazing.  I never realized there was a difference in buying good cinnamon until I actually bought good cinnamon.  It makes all the difference in the world!

Fill the pans with a layer of batter, then sprinkle on some of the cinnamon/sugar mixture.  Top it with the rest of the batter (this was a little tricky to smooth out because the cinnamon/sugar blend made the batter want to peel up, instead of sticking.  It took some finessing to get the batter into all four corners).

Then swirl it with a knife.  I used a simple back and forth swirl.

All done!  It took a little longer than 50 minutes to bake, maybe because of the altitude.  Or maybe it’s my oven – who knows!  I can’t wait to cut into it, but it’s cooling right now.

Delicious!

Then I’ll clean the kitchen.

 

 

Testing

I hate testing. State testing, standardized testing…I hate it so much. I’m beginning test prep with my students tomorrow, after finishing a super fun poetry unit. We’re going to go from fun, creative things to the “how to pass a test” stuff, and I hate teaching it. It sucks the life out of everyone.
Over the course of a year, I spend about 9 weeks either preparing for tests, or administering tests. It’s insane. That’s almost a quarter of the year gone in the name of “data”.
What a waste.

Cinnamon Scones

I love baking, and as part of this blog I thought I’d include some recipes I’ve tried.

Today I tried this one, that I’ve never done before.  I pinned it ages ago, and only just now thought to actually, you know…make it.  Cinnamon Scones.

First you mix the dry ingredients, and then cut in the butter.  I’m never quite sure when I’ve done this correctly.  I don’t think I went far enough with it this time, because the final mixture (as you’ll see) was pretty crumbly and needed more moisture.  If the butter was in smaller chunks, it would have held together better.

See how dry it is?  At this point I thought I should add more milk, but I don’t like to deviate from the original recipe the first time I make something, so I stuck it out.

The neat thing about rolling something out on a sheet pan is that the edges are a set height, so when I rest my roller on it, I know I won’t roll something out to be too thick or too thin.  It ends up even all across.  This was still pretty crumbly, and I had to smoosh it together a few times.

The aftermath of baking, lol!  My poor husband.  He likes it when I bakes, and doesn’t at the same time.

It’s not as pretty as the original post, but it tastes pretty good!  I think next time I’ll make the dough more wet, and maybe use a different kind of honey.  The honey flavor is pretty strong.  Still, it’s delicious!

What Was I Talking About?

Good grief.  I had an idea for a post, but by the time I logged in (had to find my name and password even though I used them yesterday), ran some updates on the blog (I’m still fairly new to WordPress), and opened a new post window, I’ve completely forgotten what it was I was going to say.

Was it school related?  I was just in my classroom feeding my animals and watering the plants.  It’s also Wednesday, so I’m wearing red for our Arizona #redfored campaign.  I need to get a new shirt, this one is a little too short.  The challenges of being kind of tall.

Maybe it was about baking.  I am, after all, munching on some delicious homemade cookies.  Nothing special, just the standard Nabisco recipe with some M&Ms added, and then under baked so they’re still reminiscent of cookie dough without the dangers of illness.  When I was pregnant I wanted cookie dough so bad, I baked cookies until they had /just/ hit the safe zone (using my hubby’s laser thermometer) before eating them.  They were perfect.

Was it about my toddler?  I ran him ragged this morning with errands and visiting family, so that by the time we got home he went down for a nap without the usual screaming protest.  He even admitted he was tired and wanted a nap.  That made me so happy.

Who knows.  I still can’t remember, and now I’m staring at a blog post that’s about not remembering what my blog post was going to be about.  Oh well.  This is an experiment anyway, and without having shared it anywhere, it’s not like folks will notice.  😉

Hello!

I miss journaling a lot, and I’ve tried many times to get back into it.  For some reason, it hasn’t worked.  I’m wondering if it’s the hand writing that’s doing it, or maybe it’s not having an audience.  Though the private aspect of having a journal is important too.

Then I think why don’t I just post things on Facebook?  And I think that’s because I don’t want to feel like I’m bothering people.  At least with a blog, folks can visit if they want to, and it’s not cluttering up their news feeds.

So what will I be writing about?  I’m not sure.  I’m a teacher and a mother so it’s not like I have a ton of time to write, but I want to get started again.  If it’s about my day, if it’s about things I’ve read, or things I’m trying to bake…it’s all good.  No stress!