Tuesday, October 2, 2012

"Education is learning what you didn't even know you didn't know." ~Daniel J. Boorstin



NECAPS are fast approaching, and in case you're wondering what you can do to help your children prepare, I found some pretty good advice I thought I'd share.  According to Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts in familyeducation.com,  "[R]esearch shows that you can help your child perform better by making sure that [s/he] gets a good night's sleep and eats a nutritious breakfast before tests.  Another important tip is to be supportive without pressuring your child.  . . . and don't be overly anxious about any test scores, but always encourage [him/her] to take tests seriously.  Finally, never judge [him/her] on the basis of a single test score."  Sometimes the simplest advice is the best.

To go along with a nutritious breakfast, I would include providing equally nutritious snacks for your child.  Kids need "brain food" to function optimally. 

If I had to choose the most important tip for academic success, it would be to "READ, READ, READ!"  Plain and simple.  Children in 5th and 6th grade should be reading from between 30 and 60 minutes every single day (--to themselves, to their siblings, and to their parents for optimal results--).  Fluency (speed and accuracy) and comprehension (understanding/ applying/analyzing/evaluating what is being read, as well as making personal connections to the reading) are a direct result of consistent exposure to literature. Create a time each evening to talk to your child about the book they're reading.  Let them share what it's about.  Better still, read together for just a little while each night.  Keep track of the books being read.  Go to the library together!  Help them, through your interest and example, to develop a lifetime passion for reading.

 OK, back to NECAPs -- Here again is the schedule for 5/6:

October 9, 10, 11, and 12:  
  • Grade 5 -- 9:50-11:30 AM
  • Grade 6 -- 12:30-2:00 PM
October 15 and 16:  
  • Grade 6 -- 12:30-2:00 PM
October 15, 16, 17 and 18:  
  • Grade 5 -- 9:50-11:30 AM

Hey, Students: 
REMEMBER--Taking standardized tests is different than taking regular tests. They aren't something you can "study" for like Spelling.  They are designed for you to demonstrate your accumulated knowledge and skills in the areas of Math, Reading, and (for 5th graders) Writing.  They're timed and have specific instructions to follow, so you need to read carefully. Here are some excellent test taking strategies to consider when taking NECAPs.  We'll continue to talk about these in the days ahead. 

Strategy 1: Process of Elimination  - Eliminate answers you KNOW are wrong, this narrows down your choices.  It's easier to pick the right answer when you have fewer options to choose from.

Strategy 2: Using Context Clues - Look for clues in the test item that will help you figure out the answer.  Clues may be hiding in the directions, the passage (reading you will be doing) or the answer choices.

Strategy 3: Read the Questions & Answers FIRST  -  Previewing the questions and answers helps you know what information to look for as you read.

Strategy 4: Unerlining Key Words  -  Underline important words or phrases in the test item.  This makes it easier to see and helps you focus on the best answer.

Strategy 5: Plug-In  -  Try out each answer in the by "plugging it into" the question.  You can then cross out answers that don't make sense and find the answer that's the best fit.

Strategy 6: Reread  -  Reread the directions, a passage, or the answer choices when you need to.  Rereading helps you to be sure what the question is asking, or find the information in order to answer the question.

Assignments for the week of October 1-4 

Language Arts, Grades 5 and 6:

Monday:  Writers Notebooks were handed back--very disappointing for many students, especially considering the amount of class time we devoted to creating the 5 September writing "shorts."  So.....we went over (AGAIN!) the requirements (what they should look like) for Writers Notebooks and students received the October Bingo page to attach.  The assignment: complete the first prompt as classwork/homework for Tuesday.

Tuesday:   Check Writers Notebooks for homework completion.  Introduce the model lesson for the month, which includes coming up with a class composite list of "words you can find in a cookbook."  Then, with the help of an accompanying informational sheet, complete the classroom activity, write a "Recipe for Thunder."  If  not completed, it becomes homework. Due Wednesday.

Wednesday:  Using individual worksheets, create a class composite recipe for thunder. Then review format for writing a recipe.  Look at "Recipe for a Perfect Summer Day" -- the model for writing a "Personal Recipe" about a special event or occasion.  Assignment:  Write a "Personal Recipe" (1st draft on another piece of paper first!) -- due Monday. Some class time will be given to get everyone started.

Thursday:  6th graders:  For those who still haven't completed "How I Learn" or "Personal Mission Statements," -- get them turned in NOW!  Otherwise, for both classes, work on Personal Recipes. (Due Monday!) 

Friday:  Tie up loose ends. 

Social Studies, Grade 6:  

Monday: Complete Seven Wonders reading prompts (2). Due Wednesday.
Wednesday: NECAP Prep.

Social Studies, Grade 5: 

Tuesday: Complete class criteria for "What Makes a Wonder a Wonder".  Assignment:  Map activity, "Everything Visual" from Kids Discover. Due Thursday.

Thursday: NECAP Prep.

NOTE:  For the next two weeks (while NECAPs are being administered), we will not switch classes.  Sixth grade will remain with me, and grade five will stay with Mrs. DaBica.

Thanks, parents, for all you do; I sure do appreciate you!