Monday, November 3, 2014

Taking a Closer Look at PARCC, part 1

Principal ponderings...
I am posting one of the sample 4th grade ELA writing tasks from PARCC.  Let's all read the passage and the poem and then think about all of the skills that will be needed for our students to develop an essay answer.  From kindergarten to 4th grade, we are all teaching literacy skills that are building off of each other.  Everything we are doing is helping prepare our students to think critically about their reading and then respond in writing.  Even though your current students might not be doing the PARCC assessment this year, your teaching has had an impact on the students who are taking it.  So try it out for yourself.  Read the two pieces and then see what you would come up with for an answer to the following question:

Identify a theme in “Just Like Home” and a theme in “Life Doesn’t Frighten Me.”

Just Like Home

by Mathangi Subramanian


When the recess bell rang, Priya sighed and slowly hung up her smock. At her old school, she spent recess climbing the monkey bars and sharing secrets with her friends. Now she sat in the corner of the field and watched the other kids play without her.


The only thing Priya liked about her new school was art. They hadn’t had art at her old school, but here art was a whole hour. The studio had the most wonderful things, like aluminum pie tins, plaster of Paris and India ink. During art, Priya forgot that she didn’t have any friends at her new school. All she thought about was whatever she was working on.


As she cleared her table, Priya noticed a box of sidewalk chalk sitting on the counter by the window. She grabbed and stuffed it in her pockets. Then she took her usual place at the end of the recess line.


While she and her classmates filed through the halls and out into the yard, Priya thought about how she and her mother used to draw chalk patterns on the long driveway leading up to their old apartment building. The patterns were called rangoli, and they looked like stars and roses. Priya’s mother said that the drawings were to welcome guests to their home. All the families in India, where Priya’s family was from, did rangoli every morning, just like Priya and her mother. Their new apartment had barely any sidewalk in front of it, and there was no room for rangoli. Priya missed the early mornings she and her mother would spend drawing feathery, colorful patterns on the cement.


Priya walked over to the basketball court and sat on the hot pavement. She was glad to have something to do besides sit in her corner. She pulled the box out of her pocket and took out a bright red piece of chalk and began drawing the rangoli patterns she loved best. She drew flowers with huge, swirling petals and stars with eight points. She colored them green, yellow and blue, all colors her mother had used. She liked the soft, solid feeling of the chalk in her hand, and the way that the dust left patterns on her fingers.


“That’s pretty,” a voice said.


She turned around and saw that Enrique, a boy in her class, was watching her.


“It’s called rangoli,” she said. “They do this in India, where my parents are from.”


“You know what that reminds me of?” he asked, kneeling down beside her. “The floor of my grandmother’s house in Mexico has tiles that have designs like that.”


“What do you mean?” Priya asked.


“Hand me a piece of chalk,” Enrique said. “I’ll show you.” Enrique sat down on the pavement and began to draw. He used green, orange, and yellow chalk to draw flowers that were more detailed than Priya’s, but still had huge, curvy petals. Then he drew circles inside circles, and surrounded them with small diamonds. Priya kept drawing too, in between and around Enrique’s designs.


“What are you guys doing?” a voice asked.


Priya and Enrique had been so absorbed in drawing that they hadn’t noticed that their classmate Farah had been watching them.


“Hey,” Farah said, sitting down beside them, “that looks like the rugs in my Uncle’s house in Iran. Except on the rugs, the shapes are bigger, and aren’t as curly.”


“Show us,” said Enrique, handing her a piece of chalk.


Farah took the chalk and began drawing. She drew shapes that were full of straight lines and bold colors. They were bigger than the shapes Priya and Enrique had drawn, and they overlapped each other in diagonals to form new shapes. She colored the drawings purple, dark blue, and white.


“Wow!” Ms. Lopez, Priya’s teacher, said. “That’s beautiful!”


Priya, Enrique and Farah stood up and looked at what they had done. The pavement was covered in bright colors and shapes: triangles, circles, squares and diamonds, all mixed together. Their classmates began to drift over to see what was happening.


“It looks like a universe, with lots of planets and stars,” said Lily.


“It looks like a coral reef full of tropical fish,” said Jasper.


“What do you think it looks like Priya?” said Enrique.


Priya looked at Enrique and Farah. Their knees, elbows, and fingers were covered in red, yellow, green and blue chalk dust. Priya smiled and said, “It looks like home.”
"Just Like Home," by Mathangi Subramanian. Reprinted with permission from Skipping Stones Multicultural Magazine, March-April 2012.
"Life Doesn't Frighten Me" poem by Maya Angelou


Don’t show me frogs and snakes
And listen for my scream,
If I’m afraid at all
It’s only in my dreams.
I’ve got a magic charm
That I keep up my sleeve,
I can walk the ocean floor
And never have to breathe.


Life doesn’t frighten me at all
Not at all
Not at all
Life doesn’t frighten me at all
"Life Doesn't Frighten Me" from AND STILL I RISE by Maya Angelou, copyright ©1978 by Maya Angelou. Used by permission of Random House, an imprint and division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved.
Currently reading:
Did you know that November is Picture Book Month?  In honor of this, I have been checking out lots of picture books from my town library to read.  Plus, I only have two months left to reach my goal of reading 200 books!  So far, I have read 135 books...still hoping I can reach my goal.
Great book by Peter Reynolds all about the importance of imagination
This is a lovely book about a boy who wants to make the world a greener place, one garden at a time.
A giraffe who loves to count?  This is a definite book for Florence Roche!
Beautiful illustrations and a modern day Giving Tree story about life cycles.
And of course I had to read this book as I anxiously await the arrival of my little one!

Events this week:
Monday - Latin Class @ 3:30
Tuesday - 4th grade field trip to Lowell Mills, Latin Class @ 3:30, Spanish Class @ 3:15
Wednesday - 4th grade field trip to Lowell Mills, Kindergarten Chorus Practice @ 2:25, Staff Meeting @ 3:30 in the library
Thursday - Student Council Meeting @ 8:30, 3rd grade literacy work @ SU in the am, 4th grade literacy work @ SU in the pm, Spanish/French Class @ 3:15

Great things I noticed last week:

  • We were excited to see all of the members of the tech team in our building on Tuesday, helping anyone who needed some tech tutorials!  I told Luke that they are welcome back to FloRo anytime!
  • At Wednesday's School Committee meeting, the Middlemiss family and their Big Heart Foundation generously donated a buddy bench to the Florence Roche playground.  Scott and I are regularly communicating and collaborating and this is just one more way to stay connected to him, and for him to be able to give back to all of you.  He is truly grateful for the support that you all have provided to his family.  Check out the foundation website to learn more about what it is and what they do:  We are still working on making literacy collaboration connections with our schools.  I am excited to announce that Scott and I have been selected to present together at the MA Reading Association conference in April.  I am submitting a grant to GDEF to try to bring several staff members with us!
  • We had lots of great book character costumes on Thursday!
Check it out:
Interesting blog post about using assessment to teach transference between the different writing genres:
This is the story of the "buddy bench" that was developed by a student:
Designing a growth-minded school:

No comments:

Post a Comment