Today we started on the writing section of the Open Court test. Though the students have become a little bored over the years with these assessments, and have been known to do less than their best work on them, this one is a little bit more important than the others. This writing assignment is designated as a “Performance Assessment” and the score is posted on their report cards. Worse still for them, an unsatisfactory score generates an automatic “Would you like your child to have the opportunity to attend summer school?” letter. No ten year old child wants his or her parents to have to be tempted like that.
Fortunately, the writing prompt is not that difficult – if the students follow directions. Students are supposed to be writing a school newspaper article about how some disease was treated with folk medicine and how it is treated today. I had to explain to the students that they did not really have to know anything about the disease or its treatment, but simply had to be able to say something which sounded vaguely plausible. (Yes, I am teaching them to BS. Aren’t you glad in this economy that they are gaining the job skills they will need later on?) I helped the students create a graphic organizer that would help them write the rough draft. The students planned their compositions, and then wrote rough drafts. We even took some time to share some of these completed rough drafts and to compare them to the criteria set in the writing prompt. They were pretty good! Tomorrow we will do the final draft of this project as well as doing the fluency tests.
After lunch we read and discussed a chapter in the social studies about the state’s first constitutional convention at Colton Hall in Monterey in 1849. This is particularly interesting to study now when many voices across the political spectrum are calling for a new constitutional convention to overhaul California state government after the 8 month budget debacle. We had to talk quite a bit about slavery here, and how the admission of California to the Union disrupted the fragile balance which had been established by the Missouri Compromise. We also had a good discussion of the historic decision in the California Constitution to give married women the same legal rights as single women and abolishing the common law principle of femme couvert. Our girls are sure glad they are living today!
The day ended on a less happy note in the auditorium. The school scheduled an assembly on “Financially Responsible Students.” Somebody in the office did not think things through and all the third, fourth, and fifth grade students were told to come – far more than the auditorium could handle. The presenter seemed pleasant, but the logistics of making this kind of presentation to so many children at the same time guaranteed that few would listen.
Homework: (1) Do the “Thirty-First State” study sheet. (2) Do “Decimals Greater than One,” Math pages 362-363. (3) Do “Equivalent Decimals,” Math, pages 364-365.