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

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.