Monday, December 21, 2015

Helpful Testing Hints 101

The open response portion of the state test can be tricky for students to navigate. We have done a lot of talking about what the test corrector look for as I am not the one assessing their work on the actual state test. Those people are trained to make sure the student answered the question and can back up their thinking with evidence from the story. This is why I teach the students to incorporate quotes and this proves statement in their open responses. In the short answer questions they do not need to write lengthy paragraphs but I would still include quotes to support thinking to show the person correcting where you got the information. I once had a student answer a question about Ben Franklin, giving an in depth response. The student had studied Ben Franklin and wrote everything he knew about Ben. However the score that student got was a 0. It broke my heart because he spent so much time on it on the actual state test; however, since he did not use any evidence from the text the people did not know if he even read the story.  This is why I drill into our agents that when answering these questions they must only use details from the story unless it asks for their opinion. It is okay to make inferences in the "this proves" section because that shows you are reading between the lines.
Another tip I shared with students today is that when taking a math assessment rather than spend a significant amount of time struggling over one problem give yourself the freedom to skip it and go back to it. As they get older most students will only have the class period to complete the assessment. If they get stuck half way through and time runs out they will be scored on what they completed (which is only half the assessment). If they skip the problem and complete what they can then they will find they will receive a higher score because they did as many problems as they could before going back to the one they skipped. I hope students find this advice helpful.

To Accept the Friend or Follow: That is the Question

Yesterday I taught my own peers a BIG lesson and thought I would share it with all of you. No matter how old you are it is a HUGE lesson to learn. Social media can be used for so many great things such as connecting us to people, sharing ideas, and learning new things from experts. It can also have its dangers. Many students are on social media sites in which you need to be 13 years old to be a part of (I hear them in the morning talking about snap chat and know several are on instagram). I do believe students need to learn proper ways to use these sites which is why I created a class account which I solely have control of.  Today I shared with them what I am about to share with all of you.

Anyone who has a social media account opens himself or herself up to the WORLD. Anyone who wants to friend you or follow you MUST be someone you know. Just because someone has asked you to friend or follow you and they have mutual friends of yours DOES NOT MEAN your actual live friends know this person in cyber space. Recently three people have tried to friend a lot of my friends and they all accepted it because this person was a mutual friend of their friends. I was the only one who actually asked people if they knew this person. They were all surprised to realize no one knew who the person was but since they all had mutual friends they accepted the people.

In doing this you now share your friend list and photos with the new “friend.” This new “friend” might not be who they say they are at all. I encourage you to think before you or your children accept people to follow or friend. You open your self up with what you share on social media to complete strangers. This is the part of social media that scream stranger danger. Please be wise before you click yes! 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Dreaded Group of Three

Today we discussed the "group of three" friend phenomena. Often the group of three does not work, and I have seen it divide both female and male student friendships (though females are sometimes worse for some reason). We talked about how when you have two other friends one might be jealous. The word “friend stealer” was mentioned. I asked if a person tries to steal your friend, and they succeed was that friend really a good friend? Some friends can be jealous and need to learn to harness that in a way that is productive. Being mean will only end up hurting the person being mean, so that person is only punishing him or herself. 

We came up with some strategies of how to deal with this when you might feel excluded from the group. You could be honest and tell your friends you are being excluded. You could ask them to play something you all agree on. Or someone even said you could take a risk and ask different people to play. I encourage students in here to choose kindness and think about the kind of person they want to be when it comes to friendships. I also discussed how friendships change over time. I found a Teen Vogue article which offers some more information on the topic, which is something we all need reminders of. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Concept Mapping and Imaginative Lessons!

Students are continuing their study of explorers in social studies. They have been working on showcasing their knowledge using BrainPOP’s Make a Map. This is a great tool for students to organize their thinking about a topic, as it offers a visual representation of their thinking.  “Concept mapping gives students the chance to transform information into knowledge by making meaningful connections between their thoughts and ideas using BrainPOP images, keywords, and movie clips as resources to get them started.” To learn more about concept mapping visit:

We have been exploring a play in reading, which students are very excited about. This not only helps build fluency skills but also comprehension strategies. Students had to think about what the play was about, as understanding the message will help students act out the play. Ask your student what the play, Wings for a King, is about. The theme of our newest unit is inventors and inventions and our story has to do with needing a pair of wings. There is a BIG lesson in the story, which we discussed yesterday. Students will spend the week learning how to act out the play and perform it on Thursday. I cannot wait to see how our different actors take on their roles.

Our writing lessons over the course of the next few weeks will focus on crafting a narrative tale using their magical object they created a few weeks ago. I am looking forward to seeing entertaining beginnings, elaborative details, and extended endings. These pieces will also show us what students need to work on for the main event. They will be used in the computer lab as we craft our first book in My Awesome Publishing Company!

Dividing a decimal by a decimal was the topic in math today! Students know how to divide a whole number or a decimal by a whole number. Dividing by a decimal uses the same set of skills. First, the decimal divisor must be expressed as a whole number. We multiply the divisor by a power of ten to get a whole number. Then we need to move the decimal point the same number of places in the dividend as both need to be multiplied by the same power of ten. Finally we divide using division strategies taught in previous units leaving the decimal where it is. Students seem to be grasping the concept and working very hard during math class!