Some of you may have heard of the latest acronym in education, the PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers). This new test is being piloted by many Massachusetts schools this Spring, including Lane. Four of our classes have been randomly selected to participate in the English language arts portion of the test. The students will not be scored on the test, thus there will be no results to communicate to schools and families. However, the students still need to also participate in the MCAS, and those scores do count.
So what is the PARCC?
from the Department of Education website:
How can PARCC improve on MCAS?
Students have taken the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System, or MCAS, since 1998. MCAS is a stellar testing program. But MCAS is entering its seventeenth year of administration and, most importantly, was never designed to measure the college and career readiness of students.
PARCC is designed to build on the strengths of MCAS and add additional features such as innovative technology-based items and more open-ended, performance-based tasks that will better measure students’ ability to think critically and to apply what they know. At the high school level, PARCC intends to assess a broader range of the skills that employers and colleges report as essential for success after high school. PARCC promises to provide clearer signals to educators and students about the readiness of students for the next grade level and, in high school, for college and career. PARCC also will produce more timely results for districts and schools to assist educators in planning and tailoring instruction for students in the coming year.
How will PARCC differ from MCAS?
Here are some of the key ways in which PARCC will differ from MCAS:
- PARCC will test students in grades 3-11; MCAS currently tests students in grades 3-8 and 10;
- PARCC will be a computer-based test, though a paper-and-pencil version will be available at the outset; MCAS is only a paper-and-pencil test;
- As a computer-based test, PARCC will deliver innovative technology-based items and performance-based tasks that will better measure a broader range of the skills that we value and employers report are necessary for students to acquire;
- PARCC will assess writing at all grades levels; MCAS currently only assesses writing in grades 4, 7, and 10;
- PARCC will report five levels of students performance, including a level that coincides with college and career readiness; MCAS currently reports four levels of student performance (Advanced, Proficient, Needs Improvement, Warning/Failing);
- PARCC will allow us to compare student performance in Massachusetts to student performance in other states that also take PARCC; MCAS is a custom test that only Massachusetts students take.
- PARCC will produce more timely results for school districts and educators to help in planning and tailoring instruction for students in the coming year;
- PARCC has the real potential to reduce the costs for our testing program by taking advantage of the collaborative work across states.
Will PARCC replace MCAS?
In future years, PARCC could replace MCAS. The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will vote on whether to fully implement PARCC as the Commonwealth’s student testing program in fall 2015 following a two-year pilot of PARCC in Massachusetts.
This past week was designated as “One Hour of Code.” This effort was sponsored by a lot of big names in the technology world, such as Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg.
Coding is interesting in that at first glance it doesn’t appear to fit neatly into a traditional subject area (although it is most at home in math). But what is great about coding, is that it forces students to practice and develop their thinking skills. As Steve Jobs said, “I think everyone should learn how to program a computer, because it teaches you how to think. I view computer science as a liberal art, something everyone should learn to do.”
At Lane we had 5 grade 4 classes spend a few hours learning coding via the program called Scratch (from MIT). What I observed was students being very empowered in their learning, as they problem-solved their way through challenges presented to them, as well as by them. Some students did some simple animation, while others programmed the computer to draw certain shapes.
Who knows if today’s students will need programming skills for future jobs? At a minimum there is clearly value in coding for the sake of learning and letting students experience different types of thinking.
There is nothing quite as joyful at Lane as the choral sounds coming from Mrs Lang’s music room. She does an amazing job. Here is a brief snippet of how it sounded in her room today with a grade 4 class.
The Lane community has a rich tradition of helping out charities and local services for those in need. We are in our third year of organizing food donations for the Bedford Food Pantry. What I like about this project is the students not only collect the food, but they deliver AND stock the items themselves.
Ms Maguire (gr 5) and Mrs Hebert (gr 3) are the main leaders for this project. This week I asked Ms Maguire to provide the Bedford Citizen with a short writeup of a visit they had from Peter Grey (article below).
Bedford Food Pantry co-founder Peter Grey visited Lane School recently — Courtesy image
Peter Grey, one of the founders of the Bedford Food Pantry, visited Lane School and gave students some background to this community service project.
He told how he became involved in starting the Food Pantry in Bedford 23 years ago, and how the food pantry works. He also answered student questions about his role and the food pantry.
Because Lane students will visit the pantry to deliver donations and help to shelve them, Grey gave students instructions on how best to place items on the shelves. He explained how students can find expiration dates on packaged foods, as donated items might be past their sell-by date.
Many students showed interest in volunteering at the pantry in future years.
Editor’s Note: The Bedford Food Pantry and Community Table are supported by donations, among this year’s efforts will be the annual Thanksgiving morning Turkey Trot road race. Click here to visit the Turkey Trot’s Facebook page, and stay tuned to The Bedford Citizen for more information over the next several weeks.
October 22, 2013 · 1 Comment
Has your child ever complained about the teacher asking him/her to “explain their thinking” in math class? Why isn’t the right answer good enough?
In response to a couple of parents who have asked these same questions, I asked Sarah Dorer, our math curriculum coordinator, to help our parents understand why we often ask for more than just the answer.
“Explain Your Thinking”
Throughout the country, students of mathematics – from Kindergarten all the way into High School – are being asked to justify their answers, explain their mathematical reasoning and share solution strategies. These are not easy tasks and students often struggle with finding just the right words to explain their thinking even if they have attained the right answer. The Guiding Principles for Mathematics Practices in the 2011 Massachusetts Mathematics Curriculum Framework and the Common Core in Mathematics emphasize the need for students to be able to communicate their mathematical thinking through speaking and in writing. In doing so, children have to organize their thoughts, clarify their own reasoning, focus on precision of math vocabulary, defend their solution strategies, and explain what they know about a mathematical idea. Many students would prefer not to have to do this, but with guided practice they have demonstrated that they can deepen their understanding of mathematical concepts and skills, communicate in a more focused and precise manner, and improve their own learning. We, as an educational community, support the practice of communicating mathematical thinking through dialogue and writing and have seen its benefits first hand.
MCAS scores will be arriving in the mail this week. Please view the video below if you need help understanding the scores you receive. Grade 4 and 5 do have growth scores, whereas Grade 3 does not since it is their first year taking the state test.
Parents are often eager to learn about the new hires at Lane. Thus, it has been my tradition to post short interviews with the new teachers, so the community can begin to get to know them. Here is our talk with Ms Love, one of several new grade 4 teachers. Ms Love comes to us from The Pike School in Andover, where she was an intern and long term grade 2 substitute teacher. Before graduate school, she attended Phillips Academy in Andover, and Hartwick College in NY. Jamie brings lots of energy and passion to the profession.
1. Why did you want to become a teacher?
To me, there is nothing better than teaching. You are able to inspire so many children and push them beyond their own expectations. Teachers are able to mold students and watch them grow into amazing learners, which is quite an amazing feeling. In addition, teachers are also growing and learning from their students…we get the best of both worlds (learning and teaching)!
2. What excites you about coming to Bedford?
I couldn’t be more excited to come to Bedford. Bedford has a tight knit community where everyone is welcomed and acknowledged. It also has a rich and exciting history; a history that any teacher would love to embed into their classroom!
3. What was your most memorable moment from your own elementary school
experience in grades 3-5?
My most memorable moment, not favorite, in elementary school would be when I was so sick that I threw up on my 4th grade teacher….sorry Mrs. F.
4. What would our readers be surprised to learn about you (hobby? skill?
You can always find me playing softball or playing catch with my Chocolate Lab, Bella. A secret passion of mine is cooking – someday I would love to own a restaurant.
5. What is your highlight for this summer?
This summer I’ve been busy teaching reading and writing to International Students from Taiwan, Thailand, Korea, Japan, China, Mexico, Russia, and the Ukraine. It has been an amazing experience – nothing better than learning about people from all around the world!
This is a guest post from Allison Colpoys, a grade 4 teacher.
Over the course of the school year, my class participated in a program called Trucker Buddy International. Trucker Buddy International is a nonprofit organization started in 1992 and dedicated to helping educate and mentor schoolchildren via a pen pal relationship between professional truck drivers and children in grades K-8. Trucker Buddy matches classes of students with professional truck drivers. Every week drivers share news about their travels with their class. Once a month, students write letters to their drivers.
Our trucker, Mark Silva is a driver for Walmart. He started sending postcards in September and the packs kept coming every 2 weeks. Mark shared with us about his life, his job, and about the geography of the west. Over the school year, Mark sent at least 300 postcards!
We were fortunate to have a visit from Mark and his wife Mondee. They traveled from California to Massachusetts in Mark’s Walmart truck. The children had a chance to ask questions about Mark’s travels and each had an opportunity to climb into the truck and have their picture taken.
From Steve Bossi, parent and DI organizer:
I am very pleased to announce the great success of the 4 Bedford teams that represented our program and our schools. Team Massachusetts (MADI) took home a total of 4 trophies as well as several top 10 finishes. Bedford took home 2 of Team Massachusetts trophies.
The Middle School team, The Mirror Monsters from JGMS took 3rd in Middle Level Twist-O-Rama. In their sixth appearance at the finals, they too first overall or weight held ratio with a score of 100.53 (lbs held/grams of structure with a total of 900 bonus pounds). This team is made up of : Jacob Bossi, Da-Jin Chu, Ben Oleksinski, Ethan Graf, Michael Richard and Eamon Garrity
The High School team Water Droplets of Bedford High School took 3rd place Secondary Level In the zone. This teams 4th appearance at the finals yielded the maximum score of 150 points in the technical portion of the challenge and secured another DI trophy for Bedford High School. This team is made up of :Michael Barkan, Vishnu Varda, Karthik Sharma, Christopher En, Victor Chen and Bryan Werth
The Elementary Team, The Ninja Sombrero’s in their first appearance at Global Finals took 11th place in Elementary level In the zone, just a few points from a top 10 position. Their solution to their central challenge was noticeably one of the best in the tournament. This team is made up of : Jackson Warhover, Joseph Girifalco, Thomas Griffin, Aneesha Manne, Ashley Tonini and Nicole Hebert
The Middle School Team, the Technicolor Panda Stars from JGMS in their first appearance at Global Finals, took 30th out of over 1500 teams WW that competed in Middle level In the Zone. This is an excellent showing considering that the Middle level in the zone is widely regarded as the most technical challenge and at the most competitive level. This team is made up of: Vinayak Sharma, Michael Chen, Calvin Thomas, Nikhil Malrani and Jared Rennich
All teams performed well and were exemplary representatives of all Bedford students on a world stage. Their success is a tribute to their team managers, program volunteers, parents and teachers.
Please pass the word along to the teachers and staff and join us in congratulating our teams! We will circulate the trophies among team members this summer before finding a space in the (getting crowded) di trophy cases at the schools. The two other school systems taking home trophies include Acton-Boxborough and Groton.