Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Pumping Them Up for the State Test

From the Apple

These are some tried and true suggestions that come from seasoned FCAT teachers. These come from Special Education teacher Debbie Rossignol's collection of ideas. These are some of the things that she has used to encourage her children as she gets them in the right spirit each day for the testing. Most of the teachers at my school ask parents or groups of parents to select a day of the testing and then they are responsible for the treat for that day. Here are some of the things that have been winners.

You have MOUNDS of brain power! - statement attached to a mini Mounds candy bar.

So you can analyze the question stems! – statement attached to a small bag of flower seeds

We have visions of “sweet” success – statement attached to any sweet treat

4th Grade Writers are RED HOT! – attached to Red Hots

“Super” Bubble for Super Writers! – statement attached to Super Bubble gum which research says stimulates the brain – Make sure the kids chomp while they work!

Let’s PUMP IT UP! Put a label on a bottle of citrus/ peppermint sanitizer and give each child a squirt as you tell them to “pump it up!”

Find a parent that is willing to make homemade cookies. Put a cookie in a Ziploc bag for each child with a note – Take a bite out of FCAT!

There will be no SNICKERS about your awesome score! – statement attached to a mini-Snickers bar

It’s CRUNCH time! You’ll do GREAT! - statement attached to a mini Nestles CRUNCH

FCAT is your time to shine like a STARBURST! – statement attached to a pack of Starburst

FCAT will be a slam dunk! – statement with chocolate basketballs

Great writers get HUGS and KISSES – statement attached to a little baggie of assorted chocolate Hugs and Kisses

Go around and sprinkle the children with magic dust (little bits of glitter) and tell them that the magic dust will make them sparkle!

Fill a spray bottle with water and a little peppermint extract – peppermint is suppose to stimulate the brain. Attach a sign on the spray that says “Attitude Spray.” Make a BIG deal of going around and spraying each kid so that they will have a positive attitude for the test.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Think 6!

From the Star

The time has come for the infamous Florida Writes, our state writing test. Like many other schools we have been training our kids for this test, getting them prepared mentally and academically so that they perform at their best. Of course, like any other school day you can not predict what the students will go through the day of the test. You just never know about the stresses individual children will encounter throughout the test.

When we came back from Christmas break we started our writing camps which are designed for students to be able to work independently on the skills in writing that are the most important for their grade. We had a 3rd grade camp where the students worked on structures of writing a paper, 5th grade working on research papers so that they could be prepared for middle school and our two classes of 4th graders getting ready for the FCAT Writes. These classrooms were the true writing boot camps.

For six weeks these fourth graders went over the six traits of writing, how to use powerful verbs, catchy grabbers, beginnings, middles, and endings. And, of course, the most important lesson of how to distinguish between a narrative and an expository piece. If you have ever taught intermediate writing, then you know what a nightmare this can be. No matter how many times you go over the key words that distinguish the two types of writing, you are still going to have those students who choose to write the opposite style. The big surprise this year seems to have been - or at least the rumor is - that all prompts were narrative! So... any child who said he wrote about three reasons wrote in the wrong genre. He may be a great writer but his scores will suffer.
I can say that the past six weeks have been super stressful when it has come to writing, but I really feel that the writing camps benefited each individual student. They provided the students with confidence. I will let you know when our scores come back. Until then have fun getting ready for the FCAT!