MCAS season is upon us. For some families, this will be your first MCAS experience and you may be a bit unsure of exactly what to expect.
While the English Language Arts test will be administered this week, our preparation started long ago. The students are ready. They take each challenge I set before them seriously and I believe they'll attack this assessment with the same focus and determination.
We began the week with a practice session on Monday morning. This was the final work they'll do with a released MCAS reading selection and corresponding questions. I've scheduled a well-deserved day of rest on Tuesday. The major goal for the day will be to prepare our portfolios to go home with report cards. While assembling the portfolios, adding work, and reflecting on the past term, I will guide the students so that they can see just how far they've come! The portfolio is really physical proof of each child's personal growth. Tuesday will be a success if every child goes home feeling good about his or her progress and comes into school on Wednesday feeling confident.
Here's where you come in. Even though we'll both work hard to make this first MCAS experience stress free, there is always stress associated with testing. Please make sure your child gets to bed on time so that he or she gets a good sleep the night before. Also, try to have a mellow morning at home complete with a healthful breakfast. We'll have some nutritious snacks available to all students thanks to all our generous parents. Fueling their little bodies is important. Encourage your child to put forth his or her best effort. Let your student know that you expect the test to be taken seriously and that you know he or she will give it his or her all. Most importantly, tell your child that you are proud of him or her and the hard work he or she has been doing all year.
The first session will begin at 9:30 Wednesday morning. The students are typically required to read three different reading selections (usually one to three pages in length each) and to answer the corresponding questions. Most questions are multiple choice. There will be a couple questions that the students will need to respond to by writing a few sentences and there is usually one open response question where the response required is lengthier. The state estimates that the session will take most students an hour to complete. While this is generally true, students can take as long as they need (inside one school day) and some work well beyond the two hour mark. You should expect your student to come home a little wiped out. Even though we've really been working on building their stamina this test is demanding.
Day two is much the same. The nice thing about the second day is that the first day is behind the students, they know what to expect and they never seem as nervous. On Friday we get back to work...business as usual. We still have 1/3 of the school year left and lots of important English Language Arts work to do before the students leave for the summer.
Their next MCAS test is scheduled for the month of May when mathematics proficiency is assessed. Again, this test will be administered over a two day span with testing sessions lasting about an hour each. You can help your child to prepare by making IXL practice a regular routine in your home and by working with your child to memorize his or her facts as fact fluency helps all students to work through math problems with accuracy and efficiency. Bring math into your child's daily life by involving him or her in everyday math problems and play mathematical games.
Thanks so much for all of your support. Our partnership is a key factor in student success. I continue to feel lucky to work with such high quality families. Thank you!
Hello Parents and Students,
Our school district has recently purchased access to Raz-Kids for all elementary students. This is yet another tool to help your child make progress in reading. To log in, please visit:
You will be prompted to enter a teacher name. Our teacher name is:
mbrigham1 (the last character is a one)
Your child can then select his or her own icon. He or she will be prompted to type in a password. Your child's password is his or her middle name. Remember to begin with a capital letter.
I have not give students a specific assignment yet. Please encourage your student to log in and explore. Their book room is filled with books at their reading level as determined when they last took the Scholastic Reading Inventory (SRI).
Parents, you can register yourself by simply logging in as your child and clicking the "Parents" link in the top right.
Meeting with every family is very important to me. I am so thankful for the meetings we shared last week. Thank you for taking time out of your busy lives to meet with me so that we could talk about your child and the progress he or she is making. I'm confident that the conversations we had will help to facilitate greater student achievement.
In the course of each conference, the conversation, for a time, focused on your child's progress toward the reading standards. We likely discussed your child as a reader, reviewed his or her current goal in reading and talked about the strategies that he or she is practicing toward meeting that goal. Each family went home with a "Parent Pipeline." I hope this description of the strategy that your child is practicing will be helpful at home. I will send your student home with new Pipelines each time his or her reading goal and/or strategies to practice toward that goal change.
While conferencing, I attempted to explain the Daily 5 and CAFE which are the structures I use to deliver ELA instruction. It is difficult to visualize what our ELA class might look like in contrast to the experiences we had during our own schooling. In addition, having few precious moments together limited the time we could spend talking about these structures. I have attached a digital newsletter to the right. It describes the Daily 5 in great detail. Embedded in this newsletter is a video that I produced last year for a faculty meeting. I think the video does a nice job of showing what the Daily 5 looks like in the classroom. I love using the Daily 5 because it enables my students to engage in the literacy behaviors that research proves, accelerate student achievement in reading. Equally important to me is time it affords me to meet with individual students and small groups to deliver instruction that is specifically designed to meet the needs of these students. I hope you enjoy the newsletter and video.
I hope that you have a lovely Thanksgiving with your families. I am thankful for all of the blessings in my life, especially having the opportunity to do what I love...teach your children.
I've been thinking a lot about all-stars this week. We had an amazing encounter with the Harlem Wizards this past Sunday. They have mind numbing ball handling skills and can dunk the ball like nobody's business. I had the good fortune of attending game 1 of the World Series at Fenway on Wednesday night. Those bearded wonders seem to be taking turns being MVP from night to night. But truly, the all-stars I'm most taken with are your students!
We're quickly approaching the end of October and they are surpassing all of my expectations. We recently started a new math unit. We're working with much larger numbers and rather than using their number sense to navigate around the hundreds chart they're navigating around the thousands chart. Soon, we'll begin a class collection with the goal of making our way to a thousand. For a few years now the third grade team has challenged each class to collect a THOUSAND Box Tops. I can think of no better way to build a collection while helping to bring cultural arts etc. to the students at Clough. Please support your students in the following ways:
We continue to study Rocks and Minerals in Science and we have begun our unit on the Wampanoags. These literature-rich units require students to use the skills learned in the Daily Five and CAFE to conduct research and communicate their understanding. We'll be very excited to share final projects with you.
My schedule for the November conferences is nearly set. Please contact me if you have yet to schedule a conference as meeting with every family is important to me.
Finally, we'll be having a little Halloween party on Thursday. I'll share one of my favorite Halloween stories, we'll make a little craft, and have a little snack. If time allows, we'll play a round or two of Halloween Bingo. Drop me a quick email if you'd like to come in and lend a hand. We'd love to have a crafty parent or two to help us out.
Thanks for your continued support of all that we do in the classroom. Your extra efforts are the reason why I get to coach the ALL-STAR TEAM!
The first month of school has flown by! The weeks have been busy ones filled with getting to know each other activities, the introduction of new routines, and the completion of initial assessments. On Tuesday, the students will take a computerized math assessment called the Scholastic Math Inventory and then we're done with all initial assessments. Individual and small group reading conferences have started. I love meeting with students and focusing on their individual needs. Designing short lessons to add rigor to every child's instruction helps all students to quickly become more skilled and knowledgeable. I am very pleased with how these rock stars have adjusted to life in our studio! The expectations I have for all students are high. These artists are hardworking, responsive to feedback and slow to frustrate. I know that their work ethic, paired with rigorous standards and high quality instruction, will make for a successful year for all in third grade.
I am a reflective teacher who likes to set ambitious goals. There are many ways to measure success in the classroom.
The first measure, and perhaps most important measure, is student attitude. My students need to be happy to come to school each day and they must love to learn and be willing to work HARD. I work to create a culture where this is possible for all students. Establishing a classroom where risk-taking is encouraged and mistakes are just part of the learning process, where humor and having a little fun is the rule, not the exception, and where progress (even the smallest gains) is celebrated, influences student attitude.
The Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) is another way for me to measure success. This test is standards-based and in my opinion, rigorous, and fair. As a teacher, it allows me to see areas where my instruction is strong and areas where I need to improve. While I am happy with the success my students have had on this test, I am not complacent. I know I can do better. This is NOT to say that I will "teach to the test". Instead, I will continue to design lessons aligned with the Common Core standards. I'll work to help my students make strides and I'll assess their progress along the way. I'll use the information gained from assessments to refocus my instruction making sure that I'm meeting the needs of all the students under my tutelage. My goal for the year? All students will score proficient or advanced on the English Language Arts MCAS test this year.
Of course, I've met success over the years because I've been able to work with AMAZING families who value education and who support their students at home. Thanks for all you have already done to help your student get off to a great start. The children are DEVOURING books. There is no clearer pathway to success than through reading. Thank you for inspiring them to read and for putting good books in their hands.
Please continue to stay in close contact with me as we progress through the school year. I'll be sharing information about your child's progress and strategies that you can use with your child at home. Never hesitate to let me know if you are finding these strategies helpful and effective. We can make adjustments, as needed, together.
Finally, I've updated the website a bit to include some photos from our New England map making experience. Thanks to Ethan's mom and Madison's mom for sending in homemade play dough and to Mia's mom, Jack's mom, and Madison's mom for lending extra hands during the construction phase. The band and I appreciate having such great ROADIES. The day was much more enjoyable for me thanks to all the extra help! The photo slideshow can be found under the "Pics from the Tour" tab on the left.
Many thanks for sharing your children with me. I am lucky to have a truly rockin' group this year!
Believe it or not, our artists have been hard at work in the studio for three weeks. They've made a very smooth transition and are really rockin' now. It is the perfect time for their greatest fans to come into the studio for a sneak peak. The studio will be open beginning at Six O'clock on Wednesday, September 18th. It will be a great time for you to tour our work space and meet with the band manager.
There will be some very important handouts that will guide you through our year in the studio. The Band Manager will lay out the set list (describe the curriculum) and review her expectations for the artists. Her PowerPoint presentation will be available on this website after the 18th for families to use as a reference.
More important than her handouts or PowerPoint, are the in-studio lessons the Manager will be providing. As a parent of two budding musicians, she knows that it can be challenging to support an artist at home when you're not in the studio with them all day long. To help make your work at home easier, her lessons will focus on:
So, if you have the tune to the rock and roll classic by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts stuck in your head, you're not alone and you've come to the right place! This year's third grade theme is ROCK AND ROLL! And...that is just what we're going to do for 180 rockin' days. So far, our BAND (B216) includes 23 talented musicians who will set out on TOUR on August 27th. The tour buses will roll in at 9:00 AM and we'll get right to work. Our first task...tuning our instruments. We've got a super ambitious schedule and we'll want to really rock!
Perhaps your musician has been hitting all the wrong notes or is singing a bit out of key? (Spending way too much time in front of T.V. and Video will do this!) Nothing a little tune up can't fix! My best recommendation is to spend a little bit of time (it is summer vacation after all) reading or writing each day. A little practice on a regular basis will ensure that our rock stars are ready to take the stage.
You're probably wondering about securing the correct instruments (school supplies). You can find our supply list by clicking on the "Instruments and Other Necessities" tab to the left.
I hope this site helps to answer some of your questions regarding our tour. Don't hesitate to contact me should you have questions that remain unanswered. Even though I'm a very busy manager, I check email nearly every day!