With three weeks to go until we administer the PARCC test to our third graders, I struggle with the why, how, and what of preparing them. We teach our kids to read (Reading Workshop), to write (Writing Workshop), and to compute and problem solve (Pearson Realize) and I feel good about their skills. They span the spectrum, for sure, but they love to read, they love to write, and they love math. So…
WHY? I guess they need to get a feel for the test. We are fortunate to have chrome books available to our students so they are comfortable with them but they don’t necessarily know all of the “ins and outs” of the testing format. Ok, what else. Well, we have not completed our curriculum so there are topics they have not been exposed to yet as third graders. I’m especially thinking math! Hmmm, well, we also just finished information writing units and fiction reading units so that means there may be some narrative writing skills and some nonfiction reading skills they need to brush up on. Alright, so I’m feeling better about ‘why’ since it seems like there are some reasons they need to review before the test. Everyone reviews before a test, right?
HOW? Since this class thrives on routine I know I do not want to change that routine too much. So I can utilize the mini lesson to provide them with the test taking and review what we know strategies and skills. We can practice those skills during independent reading and writing, that will feel the ‘same’ and keep everyone humming along! Math still needs to be math! We are in our fraction units and they are a very important skill in third grade. BUT…we can steal time from other parts of our day and maybe sneak a little extra practice during math as a way of ramping up all that other ‘stuff’; telling time, counting change, geometry, area and perimeter, volume, and, of course, lots of problem solving! Ok, all do-able!
WHAT? But what should I be using? Well, our chrome books, obviously, since they will be taking their tests on them. And authentic texts, their own books, to practice those reading skills. There are also tons of online resources for articles and fiction pieces for the children to read. Writing is easy, I’ve already incorporated a “Slice of Life” challenge in my classroom. I told my class all about what I did for a month. They loved it and couldn’t wait to start slicing on their own! This will help them put those narrative writing skills back on the front burner. We have a test prep book that comes with our math series and beyond that I have my bag of tricks, I have been teaching these topics for years. So I guess I just need a good schedule to make sure I address everything I just thought through.
Ok, I’m set. It’s a test, like any other test. We won’t struggle, we will simply review. We won’t let it take over our lives, we will simply stick to a schedule and get the job