Thursday, February 28, 2008

Blog and Report Card

Dear Families,

It is hard to believe another trimester has come to end! Where does the time go? We apologize in advance for the length of this e-mail. Please keep it to help you interpret your child’s English scores on the report card. We put the “action items” at the top. The rest is report card information.

Next week we will start looking at the blog. Kids will first view the blog as a whole group. We will go through the procedures and learn how it works. We will be assisted by our district technology specialist on different options of the blog. On Friday, they will get a chance to log on with their passwords themselves and practice making comments about what we, the teachers, have already posted. This will give us time to process why/how we make positive, specific comments on writing and be good internet citizens. If you are planning to return the permission slip and haven’t done so, please try to get it in by next Thursday. Please let us know if you need an extra copy!

We just took a new inventory list and will be forming new groups. The homeroom teachers will also be forming new “Amerindiens/Voyaguers” groups. Of course the many layers of changes do not allow for much time for volunteer sign-ups! We will get the new groups and wiki sign-up page up as soon as we can. If you would be willing to be an “at large” volunteer for one of the groups on March 5th, please let us know. You may not end up with your child, but we will do our best to make that work. Thanks, in advance, for you flexibility! New to the sign-up this time around will be a box to add your name if you would sometimes be available to sub for someone on short notice. Thanks for considering adding your name to this list is your schedule might allow you the flexibility to come if someone has a sick child, broken water pipe, or whatever craziness life throws our way!

In reading, our benchmark has jumped from an early second grade level to an early-mid third grade level. This is quite a jump, but most immersion students manage it!

For fluency and accuracy, the students read an early third grade level passage. We are looking for 100 words per minute and 97% accuracy.

The comprehension score comes from a mix of stories in our reading curriculum. Most were read silently by the student, one was listened to as a group.

Vocabulary is an on-going part of our reading curriculum. All students practice new words weekly. A formal assessment is not given in this trimester. Students are graded on their participation.

The score for “chooses appropriate independent reading material” indicates a student’s ability to engage in meaningful silent reading, rather than socializing.

In spelling, the benchmark for weekly tests was 93%, which allowed for a couple of errors per test. The grade for spelling in daily work comes from high frequency words in their writer’s workshop journals.

In writing, the scores come from the poem the students wrote early in trimester, along with the personal narrative they are working on now.

For grammar and conventions, we are looking for complete sentences that begin with a capital letter and end with correct punctuation.

The grade for “process” measures a student’s ability to engage in the writing process or task, instead of socializing.

The “ideas” grade measures a child’s ability to generate ideas related to the topic of the assignment, as well as the clarity of the message in a final product.

The “other traits” grade this trimester comes from the poems. We spent a great deal of time on word choice and sentence fluency (line breaks in a poem).

The grade for legible writing is for the final copy of the poem.

We hope this helps shine some light on the scores you see on the report card. Remember that there is a huge skill jump this trimester. Even if a grade stays the same, a lot of growth has happened to keep that score because the work is so much more demanding.

As always, please don’t hesitate to be in touch if we can answer any questions. We are looking forward to meeting with families who have not yet had an English conference this year on Friday, February 29th.


Monday, February 11, 2008

Writing and Blogging Information

Dear Parents and Families,

We hope your child has kept you informed about the details of life in our classroom. Be sure to ask your child for stories about our fun at school and most of all, retelling stories of time with each other. Research has shown that one of the most important things you, as a parent, can do to support your child’s reading and writing is to encourage your child to tell you stories of his or her day. Ask the questions that set children up to tell these stories in *great* detail: “How, exactly, did it start?” “Then what happened?” “Help me picture it. What happened next?” “What did she say?” “What did you do?”

Every day that we are writing, we always begin with teaching children some of the skills they need to know to become better writers. Recently, we have been teaching children how to write stories about the little events of their lives (their personal narratives). We are hoping that instead of writing “all about my dog,” a child will write the story of losing her shoe and finding it in the dog’s bed, and that instead of writing all about a friend who is moving, a child will zoom in and chronicle the step-by-step story of saying good-bye and seeing the moving van pull away. Every child learns to add details to his or her story, and the children return to their drafts to add details both to their pictures and to their words. Those details make a world of difference in the writing.

The children will be writing lots and lots of stories, and before long it will be time for them to choose one story to fix up and fancy up for publication. For our publication, we will be piloting a new way to ameliorate our writing program by sharing our interests and sharing our writing with a real audience, you! We will be posting their writing to our weblog.A weblog, or blog as they are commonly called, is a special type of web page that can be created and easily updated using a web browser. Each new entry has its own date stamp. Each entry has a comments section where visitors to the blog may leave comments to the author. When we teach a writing lesson, students will have an opportunity to make an entry for the blog. The students usually choose the topic, but they need to make use of the skills taught in our lesson to help craft their writing. The emphasis is on the quality, not the quantity of what they write. When a student is ready for publishing, students will word process their work. Students may also work from home! We will then post the blog entry.Having a real audience is one of the key components to this pilot program. In addition to receiving comments from the teachers, they are also able to receive comments from parents, grandparents, family, friends and classmates. Parents are encouraged to visit the blog and respond to the writing. Potentially, anyone on the internet could respond to our blogs, however, it is not likely that the world at large will stumble across the blog.This blogging project is designed to minimize any security risk to your child. The only personally identifying information included in the blog will be their first names. There will be no mention of our school name or our location. Students are allowed to post their interests and opinions, but not their age, e-mail addresses photographs of themselves, or other sensitive information. We will be using a district endorsed site for blogging, Each child will receive a user name and password. After we have posted something on our blog, we will invite you to comment on their writing.

We will be sending home a district required permission packet that is mandatory for all families to sign before we may begin. Please read and sign and return to school. Away we blog!

Warmest Regards,

Lynnea West and Amby Takekawa