Saturday, November 26, 2011

Dystopian Fiction Weekend!

So while the rest of everyone is enjoying Thanksgiving, I'm in the middle of a reading marathon of Dystopian / Post-Apocalypic / "The-future-is-not-so-bright" books for YAs and middle grade.  The reason?  My Scholastic Book Fair, which starts on Monday.  There must be an entire CASE just devoted to it and, while I thought that I was well-schooled in the genre, I was serious mistaken.

So take a look at my growing Shelfari widget on the top left.  I've got a few more to go before Monday. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

THANKSGIVING! World Harvest Festivals!

Looking for a different way to celebrate Thanksgiving with your class this year?  I'm promoting the notion that kids need to learn more about the world by sharing information about harvest festivals around the world. Here's my FREE research idea which can be downloaded on my Teachers Pay Teachers Web store!

It uses some ideas that I've been working on as a part of my THANKSGIVING: WHAT'S ON YOUR PLATE collection of ideas.  There's a SmartBoard Notebook file that is very interactive and contains some really cool original clip art and there's also a PowerPoint and paper version of it as well.  The paper version would make a great Thanksgiving themed literacy center!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Making Sense (and peace?) with NWEA MAP Data

Two weeks ago, my world was rocked by the fact that I had to make certain that everyone in my school of 518 5th and 6th graders took an online assessment called MAP.  And not only took one online assessment, but did so THREE TIMES!  MAP,  which stands for Measures of Academic Progress, has been created by the NWEA (Northwest Evaluation Association). 

Administering the MAP can be a logistical nightmare that involves signing each machine in to a separate student since the students cannot log themselves in.  But we worked through it in two weeks with two computer labs set up specifically for MAP. 

And now we are onto the data evaluation and use portion of MAP.  All of my kids in all of their classes have been assigned RIT scores and ranges.  Each range has goals and objectives that students should work towards.  The idea is that teachers can create groupings around the RIT scores so that they can differentiate instruction and tailor each student's learning to their strengths and deficits. 

So I decided to see how this would work by taking a novel study that almost all of my social studies teachers use in the fall.  

That novel is Pedro's Journal by Pam Conrad.  
This is a short journal form novel that imagines that Christopher Columbus had a ship's cabin boy named Pedro who could read and write and had many opinions about their first voyage together.  He was also given great access to the "Captain" as he calls Columbus.  

Firstly, let's talk Book Metrics: How do we measure whether a book will work for a reader?

My perception has been that this book is not all that difficult to read, as I look at the numbers, I may  be mistaken, however.  The LEXILE level is 1030L, the DRA level is 40 and the Accelerated Reader level is 5.8.  The high AR level and Lexile must have much to do with some of the vocabulary that helps set the historical setting: like bonaventure and mizzenmast.

Secondly, let's talk RIT Levels:  

The vocabulary list generated from this little book is huge!

As are the inferences that can be drawn about the conflict of the two main characters, Pedro and Columbus.

Here's what I think can be taught with Pedro's Journal.

RIT GOAL STRAND: Read for a variety of purposes.
·         Classify Text as Historical Fiction (201-210)
·         Identify Characteristics of Historical Fiction (211-220) 

RIT GOAL STRAND: Text Components
INFERENCES (191-200)
·         Infers a character's feelings in simple literary text       
INFERENCES (201-210)
·         Infers the conflict (term not used) in a literary text
·         Infers the conflict in a literary text
·         Analyzes to determine the problem presented
INFERENCES (211-220)
·         Infers the reason behind a character's actions
·         Evaluates character development in literary text
·         Infers the qualities (emotional and/or physical) of a character based on information found in literary texts
·         Infers the reason behind a character's feelings/emotions

And since both are on a journey, one can take kids on a great GOOGLE EARTH journey.

So I've created a novel study for my teachers to use that fits all of these objectives.  It is for sale at my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  

A freebie that allows people to use Google Earth to understand this story can be downloaded at my Teachers Pay Teachers store as well.  

I really wish that I knew how other people were using and hopefully enjoying their MAP assessment data. As I was watching the students take their test, I could see how hard many were working.

I am also discovering that there are many school districts out there that are aggregating games based on RIT scores.  Here is one example: from the Belle Plaine in Minnesota.