So a new year is upon us! I have rolled my last class of 4th graders to fifth grade as I usually do. I have 25 students – 19 returners from last year (the others moved) and 6 newbies.

We used to give the state or district writing test in 4th, 5th and 6th grade. But in a cost cutting measure, the last few years, only 5th grade takes the writing test and the whole school is judged on those scores. Our scores were pretty miserable last year, so one of the interventions we are implementing is 3 practice tests that mimic the real one right down to being scored by paid scorers.

We gave the first practice test this week. It takes three, 1 hour + periods spread over 3 days to administer.  Since this is the second week of school, we are using this first one as a baseline. I decided since we had used gobs of class time to write them,  to use them as our first blog posts and not do any editing beyond what the students did during the test. That way because we had no time to write anything else, we could jump into our blogs. It was a great review for my returners, and a chance to learn how to post for my new students.

I had the young writers put “Baseline” in the title box, and their real title in the same window with their story. That way we have a baseline example of where they were at the beginning of the year, because it was written under “testing conditions” they got zero help, and since it is the second week of school the students thought it was cool to have something to build on. Now they (and everyone else can see their growth for the year. I will probably have them edit these same stories again after some instruction so they can be aware of where they began and what they have learned. You can view the posts here.

In addition you can peruse the posts of last year’s students to get an idea where they began last year. Also my last class has 3 years of posts further down the page.

Learning is messy!

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