Thursday, February 2, 2012

Ratchet Up the Rigor

Texas students will take a new accountability test this year, the STAAR test.  I attended a workshop today presented by a consultant from Lead4Ward who helps school districts prepare for the new test.  Part of the problem is that very little is known about the test, but what is known is this--it will be more rigorous than ever before.  Process skills (which he referred to as "tools to know or ways to show") will be embedded into at least 75% of the items on the test.  One of his main points today was that kids don't need more practice, they need better practice.  They need to learn to become independent problem solvers with a wide variety of tools to draw on.  Because the readiness standards will be tested more heavily, students must have ample practice understanding those concepts from every angle.  In other words, kids can't just memorize all the ways it might be shown.  Because of that, we need to be thoughtful and creative with the activities we give our kids to do.  And the number one question we must ask ourselves is Does this activity make the students think?  As an example of what process skills would look like embedded into a 5th grade study of area, perimeter, and volume, I prepared 6 task cards that kids could use to explore these concepts.  I call them Area, Perimeter, and Volume Puzzlers (don't you think kids would like that better than task cards...).  Click on the picture to grab your freebie.  Enjoy!

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