Rabbit, Rabbit! It's time for April!

Rabbit, Rabbit! It's the first day of April!

I hope you remembered to say that this morning, so you can have good luck this month :) I made sure to recite that this morning, but alas, but month did not start out so lucky. Oh well, I have 29 days to find some luck...

I have been counting down the days until April 1st, because that was when our state's standardized alternative testing portfolios are due. I had three (yes, three) of my kiddos doing portfolios in lieu of standardized test for their grade.

I will keep my thoughts about state-testing to myself, particularly the portfolio-version of this test. You can make your own opinions based on the information. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for the state of Massachusetts has provided the following information about the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System Alternate Assessment (MCAS Alt):

MCAS is designed to measure a student's knowledge of key concepts and skills outlined in the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks. A small number of students with the most significant disabilities who are unable to take the standard MCAS tests even with accommodations participate in the MCAS Alternate Assessment (MCAS-Alt). MCAS-Alt consists of a portfolio of specific materials collected annually by the teacher and student. Evidence for the portfolio may include work samples, instructional data, videotapes, and other supporting information.

After months, and months of data collection, 1:1 work, and seemingly endless paperwork, my student and I completed the expectations for the portfolio. I then spent days upon days, organizing and putting together the portfolio (as the organization is also scored...). I have finally completed the portfolio!

Side note: I understand that I continue to use the pronoun "I" when talking about the portfolio. This is the sad reality about this alternate assessment, in that it ends up being a project that reflects the teachers' creativity and organization, and very little of the students' successes and comprehension of the state standards.

Regardless of my own personal opinions surrounding the controversial alternate testing, I have decided to share this recently completed portfolio with you in pictures:

I used this idea from Pinterest to add a little pouch in the front of my testing binder. This was not the binder I submitted, but it was the one I used to contain all of my testing materials, such as the evidence worksheets, the self-reflections I made which were required for evidence submissions, and materials for the activities, such as scissors, stickers, etc., and of course, reinforcement in the form of M&Ms!
This is a close up of the dividers I created to help with my own organization. Our school's Administrative Assistant created the dividers to be used for the portfolio (as these are controlled by the state as well...), but for my own organization, I created these quick ones to help keep things in one place. Each standard had 2 tabs: one for To Do worksheets/evidence activities; and one for Completed worksheets, evidence activities. Even though I only need self-reflection sheets for the 2 or 3 pieces of evidence I am going to submit, I like to have my students to self-reflections for each piece of work, so I don't have to determine which pieces I want to include beforehand. That way, if each of them has a self-reflection, I have more options in the end. Because of the number of self-reflection I required, I had a tab for my self-reflection sheets as well.

Because of how time consuming this task is, I required an entire day, out of my classroom, just to organize this. I set up shop in our school's resource room (what you might call the teacher's lounge) and spread all of my materials across the table. These materials included, my computer (with the MCAS Alt online portfolio information, all of my work samples and work binder, my official portfolio binder, and any extra pieces of information I needed to add to the official portfolio that wasn't isn't my testing binder. These included a school calendar, my student's class schedule, including any pull-out services, an introduction letter, a cover designed by the student and any signed forms required to submit the portfolio. And of course, I needed my coffee. After spending nearly 6 hours staring at the computer, inputting all of the data and endless information, I completed the portfolio, and was ready to submit it to my supervisor. I ended up having to make some minor changes, but this was nothing compared to all of the work I had put into this Alt throughout the school year.

Well, now that it is April 1st, I am proud to say, that sucker has been shipped out! w00t! I can finally breathe and begin worrying about actual teaching again! I almost forget what it's like!

Do any of you have to do a similar process for you state's testing? If so, how do you manage the amount of time and stress it takes you to complete this? I'm very curious, because this is my 3rd year doing this, and I still haven't really found a system that works for me (especially to relieve my stress surrounding it!)

I'm getting stressed out all over again just thinking about it! Let's move on, shall we?

It's no shocker that I have decided to link up with Farley's creative and fun Currently Linky again for the month of April. I have to say...this month's currently is by far the cutest design I've seen! I L-O-V-E it!!!

Listening: My fiancé just looooves his stories - 90210 being one of them. While I am locked away doing work each and every night, he can be found watching his shows - shows I do not care about in the slightest! I have blogging. He has teenage girl shows. To each his own...

Loving: I LOVE Spring! I LOVE this springtime air! I LOVE capris, iced coffees, parkas, and rain boots. I LOVE being able to spend extra time outside with my kiddos. I LOVE doing Spring-themed activities! I just LOVE Spring!

Thinking: I have had a major case of teacher-writer's block recently. I have all of these ideas, I just can't get them down on paper. I also have been super busy lately and have not had time to try to just hash these ideas out. I'm hoping with my April break coming in just 2 short weeks, I can get some new products in the store.

Wanting: I am counting down the days until graduation, which is on May 10th! I have passed in my Intent to Graduate form and have reserved my tickets for the ceremony. It seems that much more of a reality and I am having a major case of "senioritis" (who knew that graduate students get that too?!) Just one month until the semester is over. I can do this!

Needing: I have been running around like a mad woman the past several weeks. I feel like I haven't had a moment to myself in forever! I just need there to be more hours in the day so I can get everything done, have time to eat a healthy dinner, exercise, and spend some time with the fiancé. Is that too much to ask?

Advice: My above necessity brings me to my advice for you: Take some time for yourself! I haven't taken enough time for myself lately and I am feeling the stress. I need to set aside time for myself and stop trying to get EVERYTHING done, otherwise I lose my mind and end up getting NOTHING done. Make sure you find something that you can fall back on that helps you to relieve stress and just relax. Mine is running and meditating. How do you take time for yourself?

To link up your own Currently, head over to Farley's blog to check out all the deets!

I would like to invite you to Teaching Blog Addict's Ultimate Freebie Celebration to celebrate their 2 Year B-Day on April 5th!!! I have linked a few of my freebies in the 1st-2nd grade category, and I'd love for you to check them out. This great celebration will be live on April 5th! Click the invite below for more information!

I also want to direct you to Growing Firsties' giveaway! Check it out below:

Stay tuned this week, as I have some really exciting posts scheduled that I can't wait to share with you! In due time, my friends. In due time...

Til then,


  1. Congrats on finishing your alts! Big achievement, they are so time consuming. You must be so relieved. Our special ed teachers were all smiles and happy after finishing theirs. What grade level do you teach?

    Caffeine and Lesson Plans

    1. This year my class consists of 3rd and 4th graders, but that can change from year to year, give or take a grade. I LOVE this age group currently and am hoping to remain here for next year as well :)

      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I LOVE Spring too! Just got my garden ready for planting! Found you through the Currently!

    1. How wonderful! I wish I had a green thumb - I would love to have a garden of my own!

      Thanks for stopping by! Headed to your blog now!

  3. Rae...I would love for you to participate in my upcoming 100 follower giveaway!! I do not have your email address to give you the details. If you are interested...give my a buzz at kathyolenczuk@gmail.com

    Kathy O.
    Third Grade Doodles

  4. Oh man, those alternate assessments look brutal!!! We have a test in place in MI that is our alternate assessment...

    Im a sped blogger too and am now following you!

    Ms. Rachel
    Ms. Rachel’s Room


Thanks for the comments! I look forward to reading them :)

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