Be Prepared- PARCC is coming

parcc is coming

 

 

In what is feeling like the dregs of a never-ending winter, we find ourselves faced with another formidable opponent- PARCC.  I am a huge Game of Thrones fan and can’t help but at times feel like we are the residents of The Land of the Long Summer preparing ourselves for the winter that is coming according to those who reign in the North.  PARCC is our winter.  Just as in Game of Thrones, however, we can look at this as an opportunity to realign ourselves with new opportunities rather than feel doomed.

 

What exactly is PARCC?

parcc defined

PARCC stands for the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.  When stated like that it doesn’t sound so bad right?  We all want our kids to be ready for college and careers don’t we?  I personally think that the government should look into firing whoever shortened that lovely mouthful of a statement that most of us would readily embrace to the acronym PARCC.  I don’t know about you but anything that rhymes with the real word park causes me anxiety (have you ever tried to parallel park 10 times with a screaming child in the backseat?  The word park caused flashbacks for me!).   Had it been shortened to something like PACCS (partnership for assessment of college and career skills) I’d be able to correlate this to pleasant experiences like packing for trips or packing for college…..I digress.

 

What does PARCC test?

parcc breakdown by grade

 

PARCC is given at every grade level from 3-11.  In our elementary schools,  students will focus on Language Arts and Math.  The math section will focus on using math skills gained at each grade level in problem solving scenarios rather than straight forward math problems.  Visit http://parcc.pearson.com/practice-tests/math/ for more information and sample math problems.  Students in grades 3-5 will participate in 2 days worth of math during this first administration of the test.

The language arts section is broken into 3 days, with each day consisting of one section.  Students will both read for comprehension as well as read to gain information so that they can complete a short research based essay.  All sections contain a variety of question types. (see the graphic below for more information on question types)

question types

 

How are my child’s teachers preparing him/her for this?

 

Our way of teaching has been undergoing drastic changes over that last few years to prepare our students for these assessments.  First of all, we have implemented the Common Core State Standards which are the standards that these assessments are based on.  Secondly, our district has been focusing our efforts on increasing rigor in our classrooms by having students delve deeper into subject matter.  We have also incorporated technology into our lessons for years not only to prepare students for this assessment but also to help them develop skills that will help them throughout the rest of their school careers and into their adult lives.  This year, as PARCC is being implemented for the first time, we have been reviewing how to answer each type of question through lessons incorporated in our classes as well as workshops given to the students by the librarian and technology coordinators.  Classroom teachers have been reviewing how to read the questions thoroughly as well as strategies to eliminate known wrong answers.

 

What can I do to prepare my child?

First and foremost encourage your child to

relax

 

While this might seem impossible, if  we adults can present ourselves as relaxed and calm, the kids will pick up on these cues and relax.  Listen, I’m a busy mom, wife, full time teacher, part-time student- I know that this isn’t always easy!  If you could limit stressful extras the week your child tests that would help everyone relax a bit.  In fact that is everyone’s homework that week-  GO HOME AND RELAX!

Encourage a good night’s sleep.  The chart below shows the suggested amount of sleep for the children in grades 3-5.  If possible encourage lights out and electronics off at a reasonable time to ensure that they are well rested for the coming day.

sleep

 

Have your child eat a HEALTHY breakfast.  While Frosted Flakes happen to be my favorite cereal, I know that they aren’t the best option when I need to sit and focus for any period of time.  A good breakfast doesn’t have to mean a restaurant quality spread.  It could be a bagel and cream cheese, toast and jelly, Cheerios or other cereals low in added sugar, yogurt, oatmeal, or fruit.

eat healthy

Dress your child comfortably.  I always encourage my students to wear a light weight sweatshirt (preferably a zip up) in case they get chilly.  Sweats or loose comfortable jeans and comfortable shoes will make sitting for extended periods more bearable.

dress right

Make sure they come to school prepared!  If they need glasses for reading or computer use, please make sure that they have them!   There is nothing worse than ending the test with a headache because your eyes ache!

We will provide your child with paper, erasers, and pencils!

Please feel free to  contact your child’s teacher or school if you have further questions.  All we ask is that every student TRY HIS OR HER BEST!  That’s the best anyone can ever do!

Relax Testing Poster final

We are Creating Great Things in Room 11!

The month of December is often one that is crazy busy for most people.  It is no different here in Room 11!  The only difference is instead of hitting the crowds and shopping, we are creating, writing, crafting, coding, and working hard each day.  We started off this month by publishing our first official writing piece.  Students worked hard to write about a time they lent a helping hand to someone.  They then met with other students to peer edit their work, met with me to finalize changes that needed to be made, and finally used Microsoft OneDrive to type and share their documents with me.  We are officially authors!

Peer editing notes, Microsoft OneDrive

Peer editing notes, Microsoft OneDrive

After we finished publishing, we set out to travel the world and learn about how holidays are celebrated in other countries.  We are learning about their traditions, foods, songs, and languages.  For each country we visit, we locate it on our map, learn how to say Merry Christmas (or other holiday greetings), and listen to holiday music in their native language.  We were fortunate enough to have a FaceTime with my sister-in-law, Mrs. Phifer, who shared how Christmas is celebrated in Germany.  She read us a story in German, answered our questions, and shared many of her favorite German holiday traditions with us.  Check out the video she made for us to remember our chat:

 

Our Christmas Around the World Map

Our Christmas Around the World Map

We also did some creative writing and crafting to help decorate our classroom and hallway for the holidays.  While it may all look like fun and games, there was a lot of measuring, writing, proof-reading, and cooperative work going on to create our own Holiday wonderland!

IMG_2943

On December 8th, we participated in the Hour of Code.  This yearly coding challenge was created to have students experience working with code (the language of the computer) and learn about careers in the field of computer sciences.  This year my students worked on coding Starwars, Minecraft, Anna and Elsa from Frozen, Disney Infinity, and Flappy Birds.  Students had to use code to create a pattern for their character to move through a maze or complete a task.  They worked on all forms of devices- laptops, desktops, and Ipads.  Check out the link and try it yourself!  It really is a lot of fun and can be modified to challenge even the most experienced coders I know!  Hour of Code

IMG_3028

FullSizeRender (20)

FullSizeRender (19)

To finish out our week we will be visiting Spain, Mexico, Sweden, France, Ireland, Poland, and Finland to learn about their traditions.  We will be wrapping up Unit 2 in our Reading series on Friday.  In math we will beginning to explore the idea of division.  We are also preparing for our Holiday Concert on December 14th.

One Marking Period Down!

Panic-index

We have officially completed our first marking period!  The kids have worked very hard and I am extremely proud of them!  Many times report card distribution day can cause anxiety.  Please don’t panic!  What is especially nice about the first marking period is that report card distribution is in the same week as parent teacher conferences.  I look forward to meeting with each of you and discussing your child’s progress thus far.  I am using a few new forms this year to help make our conference time more focused and better answer any questions or concerns you may have.  Most of you have returned the parent input form that I attached to your conference time letter.  This will better help me to be prepared to answer any questions you have as well as gather any resources that you may need to help your child at home.  When you come to conferences, you will receive a detailed report with your child’s current levels, areas of strength, and areas needing improvement.  I will also keep a copy of this form as I will be updating it every marking period and sending it home with each report card.

This week our school will be participating in our annual Thanksgiving Feast.  This happens to be my FAVORITE school activity!  I love getting the chance to sit down and have “dinner” with my students and share what we are grateful for.  Stay tuned as I will be posting a video of our feast later this week.  Our cafeteria will be preparing all food for this event.  If you would like to help out you may send in canned food items that we will be donating to local families in need.

Due to conferences, all students will have a half day on Friday.  Our dismissal time is 1:45.  Below is our learning goals for this week:

Reading:

This week we will be working on becoming reading detectives.  We will be reading to find information and draw conclusions.  We will also be working on a fun writing piece this week.  Students will take on the point of view of a turkey and try to persuade us not to eat them.  Below is a presentation reviewing how persuasive writing differs from the writing we have done so far this year.

 

Math:

We will be continuing to learn our multiplication math facts this week.   We will be taking a test on Topic 5 on Tuesday which will cover 0, 1, 2, 5, and 10 times tables.  We will be learning 3’s and 4’s this week.  We will also be making flash cards to take home to practice.  Here is a really neat trick to multiply by 3’s:

Here is a short video to help review 4’s:

Happy First Week of Autumn! Learning Goals for 9/21-9/25

fall

I saw this image posted on a friend’s Facebook page and just fell in love with it!  Autumn is truly a magical time and one of my two favorite seasons.  I love fall and spring because the changes that take place in just a matter of weeks are just breath taking!  I am looking forward to some fall nature walks with the class to learn about the science behind the changes we see in nature around us.  Last week was amazing!  Our first full week together, our first story, finished our first math chapter, and completed our first assessments of the year.  I am very impressed with my class!  This week we are going to continue with our learning momentum by working on the following goals:

Reading:

This week we will be reading the story, “What About Me.”  Our reading strategy that we will be working on is identifying the sequence, or order of events, in a story.  You can help your child work on this at home by reading together (anything will do!  Short books, chapter books, magazine articles, comic books all work) and asking them to tell you what happened first, next, last, etc.  Below is the presentation that I will be using with the class to introduce this concept.

Vocabulary:

Carpenter- noun.  someone whose work is building and repairing things made of wood.

Carpetmaker- noun.  A person who makes rugs for floors

Knowledge- noun.  What you know

Marketplace- noun.  A place where people meet to buy and sell things.

Merchant- noun.  A person who buys and sells goods for a living.

Plenty- noun.  A full supply, all that you need; a large enough amount or number

Straying- verb.  To lose your way; wander, roam

Thread- noun.  A very thin string made of strands of cotton, silk, wool, or nylon, spun and twisted together

Spelling Skill:

This week we will be working with making nouns plural.  We will review the rules for making nouns plural as seen in the video below:

Math:

We will be beginning Topic 2 in math this week.  Our focus will be on addition and subtraction.  We will learn the properties of addition this week as well as some tricks to help us add using mental math (this may look a bit different than what you may remember the Prezi below should be helpful).

Properties of Addition (commutative, associative, and zero)

Adding using Mental Math- The Common Core Edition

Science:

This week we will be continuing our work with states of matter.  We will be conducting 3 experiments to learn more about how atoms look in each state of matter as well as how matter can change from one state to another.

Social Studies:

We will be looking at what it takes to keep a community running this week.  We will be reading about the elements of a community in our Social Studies book and creating a postcard  highlighting our favorite part of our community.

Homework:

Monday: Addition practice worksheet (please be sure your child shows their work!), Reading comprehension worksheet

Tuesday: Addition practice worksheet (please be sure your child shows their work!), Reading comprehension worksheet

Wednesday: Addition practice worksheet (mental math), Reading comprehension worksheet

Thursday: Subtraction practice worksheet (please be sure your child shows their work!), Reading comprehension worksheet, STUDY VOCABULARY

Friday: No homework, READING and VOCABULARY TEST

 

 

 

PARCC Prep

images

 

 

This morning my students were visited by Mrs. Mackall and Mrs. Daigle, two of our districts technology instructors, to introduce our class to NJ’s new assessment system the PARCC.

What is the PARCC?

Each year students are given a standardized test in 4th grade.  Prior to this year, the tests were called the NJASK and students took them using pencil and paper.  The PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers), however, will be taken strictly online.  Students will read passages, answer math problems, and write essays all on the computer.  This is more than a little intimidating.  To help students prepare, they were introduced to the different types of questions and buttons that they will see when they take the assessment in the spring.

What types of questions will they see?

Multiple choice- students will see questions that have multiply choices.  Students who are used to being able to cross off wrong answer choices will still be able to use this strategy.   They will be able to eliminate answers that they know are incorrect using the answer eliminator button on the test screen.  They will then click on the circle of the correct answer to fill it in. (Just like we do each week on our comprehension tests already)

Drag and Drop Questions- for these test questions, students students will select information from one area and slide it into the answer area.  While our weekly tests do not use these types of questions, they are exposed to this through instructional games and websites that we use.

Short Response Questions- for these test questions, students will need to type in responses.  There will be short response questions in both math and language arts test areas.   Students do type essays in class now, but they will definitely need to work on this skill in the coming months.  Students need to remember not to bold, underline, or highlight the text.  This will result in the answer being scored incorrectly.  There is no spell check on PARCC.  Also, NO TEXT TYPING!  Spell out the words!  (no lol, u, r, brb).  For the math short response questions, students will be given a set of icons to click on to show division symbols and whatnot.

Multiple Answer Questions- Some questions require students to select more than one correct answer.  (For example:  Select two of the details from the article from those below.)  Students must click on more than one correct choice for these questions.  These questions do look slightly different.  They have square answer choices instead of circle answer choices.  Students MUST follow the directions and select the number they are asked to find.

Drop Down Menu Questions- students will select the correct answer from choices in a drop down menu.

Shade in the Area Questions- students will select the areas to be shaded and the box or shape will change color

What tools will they be given to use?

In the math section there will be online rulers, protractors, and calculators that students can use in designated sections.

Students are also given scrap paper in both sections of the test- to plan out work in language arts and to use as scrap paper in the math sections.

At the end of each section, students are encouraged to click the review button to ensure that they have completed all of the questions in that section.  Once they hit the submit button, they will not be able to go back to make any changes.  As students take the test, they can also “flag” questions that they would like to remember to go back to and finish later.  These flagged questions will also appear in the review section.

Students will not be able to open other websites or tools on the computer as they take the test.  If they do they will be kicked out of the test site.  This would not be good!!!!!!

How am I preparing your child in class?

Thankfully, our text books offer an online test option for both math and language arts tests.  While this will help familiarize the kids with reading texts and questions online as well as answering the multiple choice questions, it does not help with the other questions types.  To help prepare my students in class we will be utilizing practice tests and games to help us practice answering the other questions types.  We also type frequently in class.  All of our essays are typed before they are submitted for a final grade.  We will be increasing our typing opportunities through the use of some typing websites.  Our social studies  tests do require some on line short response questions to help them prepare as well.

How can YOU help prepare your child?

Visit the district PARCC informational website and review the material with your child at www.parccmillville.weebly.com as well as visit the new PARCC resources page on our blog.

Offer your child the opportunity to log in to custom typing at home to practice typing skills.   They can also practice typing on your tablet or computer for fun.  They can even type homework if they want!  Encourage your child to text you in complete words so that they get out of the “text talk” habit.  Call me if you have questions!

This is new for all of us.  I got a TON of useful information from today’s session.  The website above gives games that will help students prepare as well as sample test questions for both you and your child to review.

Veteran’s Day Project Plans and Weekly Objectives November 10-14

I can very honestly say that I can’t wait to return to work with my kiddos tomorrow and get away from the germs that plagued my home THE ENTIRE LONG WEEKEND!!!!!!!!!!  At last count 4 out of 5 people in my home have been sick in the last week with a very unfun virus that left us stranded on the couch vegging out and watching movies.  Hopefully the return to routine will mean the return to health for me and my poor kids!

Last week we had a very short, very productive week.  We learned about the election process, became “registered voters” and elected a class president in a mock election.  Take a peek at what the kids learned as they reflected on the lesson below:

elections

 

This week we will continue on our project filled November by learning about Veteran’s Day and Remembrance Day.  Students will be taking a virtual field trip to the Tower of London in England on Monday as they celebrate its 100th anniversary.  We will be analyzing memorials from our country as well as England, poetry, and non fiction text to learn more about why people create memorials.  We will be taking a second virtual field trip on Tuesday to visit the war memorials in Washington D.C.   After we explore the different memorials and compare their symbols, students will work cooperatively in groups to create their own memorial for our veterans.  Stay tuned for pictures next week of our hallway display.  Links to the twp virtual trips are below.  The first is offered through Discovery Education UK and the second is a video I shot on a trip to D.C. with my daughter, Madison, a few years ago.

Discovery Education Website

Mrs. Sinone’s Veterans Day short video:

We will also be participating in World Run Day on Tuesday afternoon.  Be sure to wear your sneakers!

world run day

 

Math:

This week we will be completing our 1st marking period benchmark assessment on Monday.  Later this week we will be working on using arrays and expanded algorithms (ways) to multiply 2 digit numbers.  See below for some video resources to help you at home.  This is a new way to do this and it is easier to help your child if you “see” it.

Please check out our Important Dates Page as this month is PACKED with important dates to remember.  I will be sending home conference reminder sheets on Monday of this week.   I will be out of the building on Wednesday as I work with the principals at the Senior High and Lakeside to gain some experience and interview them for my NJEXCEL principal program.  As always, I know my class will be in good hands with one of our substitutes.

Weekly Learning Goals and Tools Oct. 6-9

respect

 

Brrrrrrrr!  I am sitting in front of a fire as I type this!  Fall is definitely making its presence felt today!  Don’t worry, however, because we will be learning so much this week we will work up a sweat!  This week we begin our month of Respect.  Over the weekend, you had a chance to review our school’s bullying information and sign our anti-bullying contract with your child.  We take this very seriously at RM Bacon!  Ms. Spanbauer will be in this week to speak with the class about respect and get us started on an activity that we will complete as a whole 4th grade class.   There is NO SCHOOL ON FRIDAY due to a teacher inservice day.  Enjoy your day off!

Reading:

This week we will be working with determining main idea and supporting details.  We will also be starting our first novel for the year, The Chocolate Touch.

Vocab words for the week:  glacier, impressive, naturalist, preserve, slopes, species, wilderness

The Chocolate Touch Chapters 1-3 will be covered this week.

 

Math:

This week we will be working with Multiplying by Multiples of 10 and 100 as well as breaking apart 2 digit numbers to find the product.  The prezi below may be helpful to reinforce what we are doing in class.

Writing:

We are working on our first book this week.  By the end of next week all of my students will be published authors!  We used the model text The Diary of a Fly as a guide and we all came up with our own versions of “The Diary of a Spider.”  Be sure to stop by the third floor hallway and read our creations next week!

Science:

We are finishing our study of ecosystems by creating poster representations of the 5 major ecosystems in the USA.

 

 

Welcome October- Learning Goals and Tools for Sept. 29th-Oct. 3rd

october-4

 

Wow!  Where did September go?  This week begins October and as the image above states, we are going to make it AWESOME!!!!!!!  Last week, I spent some time in the evenings learning about the website www.sophia.org and taking some tutorials online to become Flip Classroom Certified.

flipped classroom 2

What is a flipped classroom?  Does that mean I am now teaching gymnastics?  No gymnastics lessons (although back in the day I had a killer back handspring- just saying), but rather a way to have students learn the lesson for homework so that when they are in class with me they can apply the skills rather than sit through a lecture.  Starting Monday, I will be assigning a flipped assignment each night.  Students will need access to a computer, tablet, ipod touch, smart phone, or any other device that has internet connectivity.  If you do not have internet access at home, don’t fret!  Students can also look at the lesson in class if necessary.  They will watch a short video or view a website or presentation about a concept.  Once they are done, they will take a short quiz online.  I will look at the quiz results first thing in the morning or as soon as they finish for those who don’t have internet at home (they are graded on completion not how they scored as they can retake the quiz as many times as necessary to pass it- so it’s either a 100 or a 0).

flipped classroom

 

For students who got the concept quickly and are ready to move on, I will assign them the practice sheet to complete independently and then they will work on an enrichment lesson.  For those, who got it but still have a few questions, we will meet in a small group to clarify what needs working on and then they will move on to the independent practice sheet.  For those students who are really struggling, we will meet and I will reteach the lesson and we will complete a guided practice sheet together before they move on to working independently.  I am really excited to see how this works!  All students have their Sophia log-in information and we have practiced in class a number of times last week.  If you have any questions or encounter problems, please do not hesitate to email me at carrie.sinone@millvillenj.gov

This weeks learning goals and tools:

Reading:

This week will be reviewing author’s purpose.  This is a concept we covered a few weeks ago, so at the end of this week we will be having a short quiz to check for mastery.  We are also working on combining simple sentences into compound sentences.  For example:

The dog was very tired.  It had been running all  morning.  = The dog was very tired because it had been running all morning.

Vocabulary  Words for the Week: bargain, favor, lassoed, offended, prairie, riverbed, shrieked

 

Math:

This week we are wrapping up our review of addition and subtraction.

Examples of regrouping when adding three digit numbers:


Regrouping twice when subtracting three digit numbers:

Science:

Last week we learned about the elements of an ecosystem.  This week we are going to focus on the ecosystems in the United States.  Students will learn about them via a Sophia tutorial and then use the information they’ve gained through taking notes to create a Ecosystems of the USA poster.  Check back next week to see our work!

 

Easing Test Anxiety- Tips to Help Your Child Feel Prepared and Stress Free on Test Days

It’s that time of year again- NJASK time.  We will be testing from Monday, May 12th to Friday, May 16th.  The first two days will be focused on Language Arts, the second two days on Math, and the final day on Science.  While this one week out of the entire year really shouldn’t get the fanfare that it does as it is only one of MANY ways students are assessed each year, it still manages to cause unnecessary stress and anxiety for many (teachers too!).  There are many things you can do at home to help prepare your child for the test each day.  Below are a few easy tips to help make next week less stressful!

Tip #1- Get a Good Night’s Sleep!

good sleep

 

As if testing and sitting still for the morning isn’t hard enough, imagine doing that while tired!  Try to get between 7-8 hours of sleep the night before the test.  Wake up on time so that you don’t feel rushed or panicked as you start your day.

Tip #2- Eat a Healthy Breakfast!

healthy breakfast

Try to avoid sugary cereals or treats in the morning.  The sugar may give you energy initially, but it will cause you to tire out quickly!  Also, try not to eat too large of a breakfast if you are not used to that.  We don’t want to have to worry about a sore stomach while we are giving our brain a workout!

Tip #3- Wear Comfortable Clothes!

comfy clothes

Make sure you keep an eye on the weather report and dress appropriately.  You don’t want to be too hot or too cold.  You can bring a lightweight hoodie to wear if you think you will be chilly, but you will not be permitted to wear heavy coats.  Also, remember you will be sitting for the majority of the morning.  Wear clothes that will be comfortable around the waist.  I suggest sweats or elastic waist bottoms and loose, comfortable fitting tops.

Tip #4- Don’t Spend Too Much Time on Any One Problem

time management

Pace yourself!  If you begin to get frustrated with a question, skip it and come back to it if time allows.

Tip #5- Use ALL of the Time Given!

keep writing

Remember if you finish early to go back and check your work.  Did you use the Writer’s Checklist?  Did you answer every question?  Did you record your answers in the correct spot?  Can you add anything to your written responses or open ended questions?

Tip #6- TRY YOUR BEST!

try your best

Remember this is just one test!  You’ve learned everything you need to complete this throughout the year.  Your teachers are rooting for you!  WE KNOW YOU CAN DO THIS!

As parents we often feel helpless during test week.  Please keep a positive attitude and encourage your child to try their best as that’s all they can do!  Also, when your child comes home,  if the weather  and your schedule allow, please give them some down time to decompress!  Let them play!  I will not be assigning homework at all next week as we are working super hard all day.  We will be working a fun science activity in the afternoons- dissecting owl pellets!  If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to your child’s teacher!

 

Fabulous Fables, Particular Patterns, Much Ado About Matter- Weekly Objectives January 13-17

the horned toad prince  This week is going to be spectacular, I just know it!  We are going to have good weather (fingers crossed), work hard, and great attitudes.  I am so excited to start our next unit in Language Arts- Fables, Folktales, Tall Tales, and Mythology.  It is definitely one of my favorite each year because we can get VERY creative.  We will be writing our own fables, acting out fables we read, and looking for common threads among all of the stories in this unit.  We will also be starting a new weekly assignment for Language Arts homework.  Instead of a worksheet assignment each night, students will be assigned a short story, play, or article to read all week and given a packet of worksheets on Monday that are do back to me completed by Friday.  Don’t fret however if your child loses his or her magazine or packet, I will post a link that will allow you to print out the article to read (or in some cases you will be able to listen to it on line) as well as the worksheets he or she will need to complete.  This week we are reading “Yeh Shen.”  The link to the Play and the worksheets is here:  Yeh Shen Homework Due Friday!  Below are our learning objectives and video links for this week.

patternsMath:

We will be completing our unit on Patterns this week.  We are working with patterns in tables as well as geometric patterns.  We will be having a test on Friday covering all of Topic 2.  Your child can review for this test by logging into the PearsonSuccessNet website and reviewing the week’s lessons as well as play some review games.  Click on the link below for another review site.

 Pattern Review Website

Reading:

As mentioned above we will be beginning our study of fables this week.  One of the most famous author of fables was Aesop.  Below is a link to help you identify key elements of fables.

 

Science:

This week we will be wrapping up our unit on matter.  We will be writing our own non fiction books about matter to help us review prior to our test on Friday.  Here is a video to help reinforce the three states of matter.