Monday, March 16, 2015

Classroom Notes

Greetings!

Team 20 had another busy and productive week.  Our Survey Project is coming along nicely.  Kids published surveys, collected data, and began analyzing their data by coding survey responses to look for themes.  Kids put the finishing touches in GarageBand on audio books for our first grade reading buddies with Mr. Jamesbarry for our Recording Books Project.  Ms. Luscher taught in room 20 while I was away at a district training on Tuesday and Wednesday.  It sounds like everyone had a fantastic time at the Portland Youth Philharmonic!  During Reed Science, kids looked into the question, “Can antibiotics kill all bacteria?”  We watched drama performances by Ms. Brennan and Ms. Elissa’s kids on Thursday.  Speaking of drama, eleven Team 20 kids are in this week’s school play, Jack and the Three Sillies.  Tickets are available here: tinyurl.com/lewisplay2015.  Please contact the school office if financial assistance is needed.  Evie and I are looking forward to seeing the Thursday performance.  One final note, the Fifth Grade Read-A-Thon (bit.ly/lewis-read-a-thon) to benefit science camp is this Friday.  Fifth graders are welcome to wear comfy pajamas.   I will be wearing my Team 20 t-shirt.  Most of the day will be dedicated to reading.  Sounds like another great day!

After spring break, third, fourth, and fifth graders will begin several weeks of federally-mandated tests from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium in reading and math.  Testing will take place across the school week, with reading tests taking place during one week and math tests taking place the following week.  All testing will take place before lunch. 

Rather than seeing the test as a one-time, high stress event, I will try to fold the experience into existing classroom knowledge.  During the first week after spring break, I will talk with the kids about different types of genres in reading, establishing “the test” as a unique type of genre.  We will talk about how good readers change their reading strategies to match the genre.  This emphasis on strategies has been and will continue to be an important part of our classroom throughout the year. 

We will look at and practice taking Smarter Balanced tests.  This is a very different test from the former OAKS test.  Here is a link to some practice questions: smarterbalanced.org/practice-test.  If you have any questions about the test, do not hesitate to ask.  Also, a recent Lewis Elementary School News (eepurl.com/bgLS9L) mentioned a Portland Council PTA parents’ forum on testing scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 1st at Cleveland High School.  

Mark

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