Thursday, April 10, 2014

Opinion Writing, Track My Progress

Everyone seems invigorated by our latest writing unit of study--writing opinion/persuasive pieces! Before digging into writing about our opinions, we took time to determine the difference between fact and opinion and sorted statements such as "October has 31 days" and "October is the best month of the year" into each category. Ask a first grader to explain which one is fact and which one is opinion and why (we're really big into explaining our thinking, or giving evidence/proof). We've also practiced explaining our thinking/opinions through a Morning Meeting activity called "Would You Rather?" Students have enjoyed pondering choices such as, "Would you rather eat a whole pizza or a whole cake?" and "Would you rather live under the sea or in an igloo?" and "Would you rather jump in a pile of snow or a pile of leaves?" We take sides on the carpet and then students share their reason for choosing that side. It has made for interesting discussions!

Earlier this week, students wrote a piece about one of the "specials" they enjoy and had to give four reasons they think it's a great special. Every special was represented by at least one student. We plan to give these pieces of writing to the specialist teachers next week on "Fill a Bucket" day, as this writing will surely fill these teachers' buckets! Some students had the opportunity to share their writing yesterday--always a favorite activity in this class. We love to share!

As I wrote about in the winter, our class is part of a pilot of a program called "Track My Progress." Students are taking tests in both math and literacy. Here's a summary from their website about what it is: 

Track My Progress is a computer adaptive test. This means that the difficulty of the test questions adapt to the learning zone of the student. If a student is above grade level and answers initial questions correctly, the test will become more challenging as harder test questions are selected. If a student is below grade level poor performance on initial questions will lead the test to provide easier test questions. 

The information I receive from this test is individualized and has helped determine the direction of my instruction for students individually, in small groups and as a class. The content in the test is all directly aligned with the Common Core State Standards. Most students said the test was "fun" and "a little hard, but OK." Overall, it didn't seem stressful and it's good practice for the new state tests to come in 3rd grade. I am proud of everyone's efforts!

Here are some photos of students working on the iPad "Track My Progress" app today...

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