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Toy the Pug

Dear Toy,
Today is the 6th day since you left and in a way it seems like so long ago. Days seem to never end and they passed so quickly before. I stayed away for a while, but now I am here – although my thought has had you all along. I think of when I first met you riding on your moms hover round and how I would watch you step off into the grass for a few minutes and hop right back on and back into the assisted living facility. Although I had come to visit my mom and brought along a girlfriend’s little pug, I noticed you right away. One day while visiting my mom, I walked over and knocked on your mom’s door and did not know you or her. I said can I walk your dog for you and to a complete stranger she said sure you can. You galloped down the hallway on your little red leash, through the elevator, to the outside where we walked for at least an hour. The next visit brought great joy as you ran up to me at the front door. My girlfriend and I had broken up, so I no longer brought her pug over. Out the door we went again like two little school boys out to explore nature – as if we had known each other for a long time. I had been by myself and alone for some time and after my mom passed there was really no one for me to visit any longer, but your mom and I became friends and I would visit you and her as often as possible. Our long walks soon turned to car rides to the beach and I kept you out later and later each time. I hadn’t had a animal friend for a long time and really didn’t want one — only because I was too busy of course, so I enjoyed seeing you. As you know, it became more difficult for your mom to care for you any longer due to her health and then one day I left with you for good. We visited your mom often as you remember and I would leave you for a while and come back and pick you up. When your mom moved to California our visits ended and then it was just the two of us. For a long time your mom and me lost contact and until recently I wasn’t sure your mom was still alive, but last night through a lot of searching I found her and called. We shared memories of you and once again she bragged how you were a millennium dog –January 1 2000 she said proudly. As you know your mom has always loved you and we cried a little remembering some of the strange things you did. I know you really don’t want to hear this but I am not doing well, but I am slowly trying to accept things and may eventually get-somewhat back to normal, however, never the way I once was. I put you in the back yard and visit you every day and when I leave for a while I know you are waiting when I return. Life is different now and I try to compromise and adapt to a new, but less quality of life. I think of you always and that my friend, will never stop. When you left, later that night a cool wind blew in and opened up the blurry sky to clear blue and the clouds parted so I could see the stars and planets. The next day it rained all day, and then another grim forecast the following day as if the sky grieved with me. I know longer run to the comfort of friends and stay out all night, or do I have any staying over any more. As you know it was rare when people came over anyhow and staying out and having others over didn’t help much anyway. I know that you would want me to find another friend who may need me, but I cannot see that happening, at least for some time. When I realize that there can never be another you, perhaps some company would be good. For now, I am working on some art work for a new tattoo of you, well my only tattoo, so I can somehow carry you with me until my own end. I realize that by normal people standards this appears bizarre, but that is alright, you and I know. I know how much we loved each other and how it would have felt if I left first – these thoughts help carry me through one day into the next one at a time. I will see you soon My Toy. I did find this place where people that feel like I do right now share stories of their missed loved ones –it makes me not feel so alone and confirms that it is normal for some people to grieve so deeply over their lost pets, if the term pet is even appropriate our children more like it.

Until we see each other again
Love always,
Your Dad DavidToy on the bed


Learning assessment plan


How can I make this performance assessment as authentic as possible?

The popular movie “National Treasure” ignited the curiosity of millions of movie goers with the idea that a message written on the back of the Declaration of Independence – upside down – was perhaps a secret message of some sort. “Original Declaration of Independence dated 4th of July 1776” is indeed written on the back of the Declaration and while no one actually knows who wrote it, it is known that the Declaration had been rolled up for storage in its early life. According to “The National Archives” there is no hidden message (US History.com, n.d.).

Crafting a new unit of study often begins with drafting the learning unit and sharpening that draft into a clear and cohesive article of instruction. The objective describes what the instructor hopes to accomplish, while the learning objective describes performance as a result of the unit (DePaul Teaching Commons, 2012). Clear and understandable goals and learning objectives provide a visual and mental map through course content, such as what materials will be used, how long it will take and what is expected at the end.

The learning objective: Teach an understanding of the foundations of the Declaration of Independence.

The Learning Outcome: Students will identify actors and events that made the Declaration possible.

Although most performance based assessment usually involves context outside the lesson itself, performance testing can occur within the learning content. The material part of the assessment can return significant feedback that confirms whether or not a student is familiar or unfamiliar with the assignment. The self-reflection portion of the assessment uses what has been learned and describes its importance in society. The self-reflection essay should demonstrate the ability to explain certain rights and freedoms that are often taken for granted as compared to some other systems of worldwide governments. What if the Declaration of Independence had never occurred, would America still be a part of Great Britain? How did this transition eventually affect the rest of the world? Performance tests are ideal vehicles for assessing positive attitudes towards learning and understanding, habits of mind, and social skills. Furthermore, it keeps a check on how the student uses content to extend reality.

There are three general questions to ask when deciding what to teach: 1) what knowledge of content is essential for the learner to understand the subject matter? 2) What intellectual skills are necessary for the learner to use this knowledge or content? And 3) what habits of mind are important for the learner to successfully perform with this knowledge or content? (Kubiszyn & Borich, 2010). Paper and pencil tests are generally the most reliable and valid instruments available for assessment, but other skills such as independent judgment, application, critical thinking and decision making are best assessed with performance tests (Kubiszyn & Borich, 2010). A self-reflection essay simply provides feedback for the assignment from the students’ point of view and this promotes thinking outside of the rearrangement of researched text.

There are two assessments for the learning outcomes 1) matching a photo of an actor to their contribution to the Declaration of Independence; 2) a written reflection essay addresses 1) what was the final turning point for declaring independence? 2) Which event and/or actor do you consider the most important 3) what would today be like if we failed our goal of independence? Although there is no course material to support a direct answer, the essay hopes to reveal learner investigation, hypothesis, and self thinking skills.

Materials included for the week long learning block consist of teacher demonstration and presentation, an oral short story, a copy of the Declaration and student groups positioned at both sides of the conflict and reading materials assigned from US History website “Declaration of Independence”. The groups will represent both sides of the original argument. The entire learning block with assessments is five days.

Table 1

Learning Rubric 6th Grade History






Demonstrates complete understanding of course. Participates effectively in the classroom, extends content to real world solutions both written and orally. Organizes ideas Asks questions



Demonstrates an understanding of most concepts. Forms individual ideas. Participates in the classroom, develops self perception. Organizes ideas Asks questions



Demonstrates little understanding of the assignment. Reflection lacks clarity and is unorganized



Does not participate or attempt assignment


DePaul Teaching Commons. (2012). Creating course goals and learning objectives. Retrieved from http://teachingcommons.depaul.edu/course_design/developing_a_course

Kubiszyn, T., & Borich, G. (2010). Educational testing and measuremen: Classroom application and practice (9th ed.). Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons.

US History.com. (n.d.). The Declaration of Independence. Retrieved from http://ushistory.org/declaration

Matching test items to instructional objectives

The problem with multiple choice and/or true/false test selections is that the odds of guessing the correct answer are fairly good. Given four answers to choose from it is not difficult to eliminate one or two and still have a 50-50 chance of getting it right, the same applies with true/ false questions which usually contain complicated distracters that almost mirror the correct answer. Therefore, we are teaching lottery playing skills in conjunction with deviousness. Further, it takes little cognitive preparation on the student’s part when they know they are facing a test that has the answer right in front of them –hardly a motivator for participation.

Kubiszyn & Borich (2010) put forward that educators are often to sophisticated in measuring learning out comes, and that a more successful approach would be direct and to the point. Additionally, testing and content should be “age appropriate”. In other words, language and materials that match that of a 5th grade classroom. Once an instructional objective has been met, it is a good idea to analyze it and include the necessary components to realize the outcome. What is the objective? How is the content introduced? Does the outcome work with the objective? The primary objective should contain the following three components: 1) the observable learning outcome (what does the instructor expect from the student); 2) the conditions, and 3) the criterion level (what level is being taught?)

The lesson on photosynthesis measures the following, and although an essay is one of the desired outcomes, students will not be graded on grammar, but it will be noted on their returned copy as a reminder to check spelling and grammar.. Three significant evaluations were addressed here: 1) a scrabble game (circle the word in the puzzle) and write that word next to its definition. The word puzzle was designed to get the cognitive flow started and make it more fun. 2) Artwork; connect the term to the diagram parts of the plant, and 3) The essay is an approach that attempts three primary functions; a) it allows for the student to put in their own words what they have learned; b) promotes independent thinking and creativity, and c) gives the instructor an idea where the student ranks, or places in 5th grade level writing, creativity, and cognitively. A short essay may move abstract thinking to more concrete thinking skills.


Kubiszyn, T., & Borich, G. (2010). Educational testing and measurement: Classroom application and practice (9th ed.). Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons.

Measuring Learning Outcomes

Student evaluations have a significant impact on the student and the outcome of student learning (Combs, Gibson, Hays, Saly & Wendt, 2008). Learning objectives may be defined as the expectations that the instructor desires at the end of a unit of study. This seems fairly straight forward; however, there is a distinction between learning outcomes and learning activities which yearns for clarification. A learning outcome is not necessarily a learning activity, activity occurs up to the point of evaluation, or alright I said it –testing. Between point A = learning objective and point C = the outcome, is B = where the learning preparation (activities) take place. An instructional objective includes an action verb which specifies an outcome; however, not all action verbs specify learning outcomes (Kubiszyn & Borich, 2010). While, learning activities are a means of learning, such as study, watch, investigate, explore, and reading, learning outcomes are the result of an end to a learning activity, which should furthermore be measurable.

Desired learning outcomes for 5th grade Earth Sciences:
Subject/Title: Photosynthesis and how it relates to you
(Title purposely chosen for intrinsic interest and life application, the following criteria should be met.)

1) Identify photosynthesis and how it works
2) Label worksheet plant components responsible for cellular respiration
3) Independent reflection: Write one page in your own words the significance of photosynthesis and how it applies to your life.

Combs, K. L., Gibson, S. K., Hays, J. M., Saly, J., & Wendt, J. T. (2008). Enhancing curriculum and delivery: linking assessment to learning objectives. Assessment & Evaluation In Higher Education, 33(1), 87-102. doi:10.1080/0260293060112298
Kubiszyn, T., & Borich, G. (2010). Educational testing and measurement: Classroom application and practice (9th ed.). Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons.

Testing outcomes

The objective in this conformation of learning is not to debunk religion or any system of belief; it is to confirm that life starts somewhere regardless of how it arrived. The assignment criteria does incorporate previous skills such as writing a short essay were writing skills were not part of the lesson plan, however, does include all necessary learning to complete the essay with supplied data. Certainly photosynthesis is not responsible for your pet dog, cat or chicken, or is it? While not directly, your favorite pet is the result of the photosynthesis phenomenon. Careful analysis will argue key points such as what does a plant do at night without sunlight or on days which are cloudy and little sunshine appears.

This analysis takes place in an open classroom and is not part of the final testing, but rather creates an environment in which exploration provides the facts. Scientific research has postulated that some are more capable than others to use photographic memory snapshots for short-term memory; however, for concrete thinking and perhaps long-term memory storage, students should be able to comprehend and put into context what has been learned and how it applies. Furthermore, the materials used for learning conformation –testing – should provide something of personal interest while creating a climate than promotes above average thinking and comprehension skills. This science lesson is not simply an activity about photosynthesis from some plants that some may not care less about, it is a lesson about what ifs?, and how comes?, and why is this? It promotes cognitive skills and problem solving, forward thinking and possibilities. Furthermore grade appropriate language is significant the essay requirements have purposely used common words to explain.

Testing and conformation/detachment

1) Define – word scrabble, find the word, circle it and write it next to its definition.

2) Demonstration: Artwork, pictures, diagrams: What goes where? Connect terms to corresponding diagrams

3) Synthesis/critical thinking, personal reflection: essay; write one page in which you describe why photosynthesis is important and how it reacts on cloudy days. Wonder if it rains for a week? Why is the chemical process of photosynthesis so important and how does it affect you. Since only plants can make its own food, then what would happen if they stopped? What would happen if plants decided that they did not want to photosynthesize?