The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

ISAT – Day Three

ISBE March Madness 2012 is now done for students in grades three and five. Fourth grade, on the other hand, has one more day of testing to go.

We finished the reading and mathematics tests today, which was a great relief to many in the class. As with the previous days, everyone seemed very confident with how the tests went. I realised yesterday after school that I had not given any kind of direct instruction on how to do an extended-response question for math for the ISAT. (Extended-response itself has been covered repeatedly.) I rectified this the best I could this morning by doing a quick review of the T-chart method.

The T-chart is pretty simple: the students show their work on the left side of the vertical bar and then explain why they did each step on the right. The hardest part for many students when doing an extended response is being able to explain their reasoning.

I don’t have the privilege of seeing the students responses on the tests, other than the snippets I catch as I walk around making sure that everyone is working and recording their responses in the right spaces. However, it seemed like most everyone was indeed making an effort to answer the extended response questions completely.

Other than testing, we took time this morning to discuss the proposed college research project. I told the class that I was going to have them do a compare/contrast research project between a colonial college/university and a modern one. I also explained the restriction that they could not use the University of Illinois or Parkland College. Finally, I told them that I’d like them to think about the questions they’d like to answer. To prime the thoughts, I gave them the name of an actual colonial college, the College of William and Mary. I then recorded their questions as they asked them. Here is what they came up with:

(Click the image to see the full-size, high-resolution image.)

I continue to be impressed by the higher-order thinking my students continue to exhibit through their questions. They also definitely ask questions that I would never think of asking, although I did redirect them with more specific language. (For example, one student asked what kind of libraries, stores, and restaurants are available, and I rewrote it to ask about amenities. What can I say? I can’t resist sharing new words with my students!)

Oh, and I also gave my students a challenge that I can’t write lest I give away the answer. It is about the three words in English that all sound the same: to, too, and two. You can speak the sentence that says there are three ways to spell the word that sounds like that, but how do you write it? I know, my explanation is awful. If you are a parent with a child in my class, just ask them what the challenge is and see if they remember.

One more day of testing to go!

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