My son came home from school yesterday. He said, "Guess what, Mom, big news." I waited for the big news. "The End of Grade tests don't really matter this year. They can't grade them until October."
"What?" I asked. Sadly, EOGs are all parents hear about this time of year, so it seemed odd that the whole thing was derailed. "Are you sure?" He seemed sure, but I still haven't heard anything officially, so who knows. But this is what really caught my attention, "Mom, how will they know whether or not I can go to the fifth grade?"
Yikes! This kid really thinks that no matter what he does ALL YEAR, it is only the EOG that matters? I explained to him that his hard work all year will surely take him safely to the 5th grade. "What about all the kids who don't try until the EOG? Lots of kids just rely on the EOG."
Wow. So believe you me, I know your skepticism. I know your concerns. I know your reluctance to invest your time and energy into yet another educational 'trend' like the Common Core Curriculum. But here's the thing--the children need our BEST EFFORTS. All the time. No matter what happened last year or last month or who isn't going to grade the tests until October (???? This is probably a rumor). So let's take a look at the next Kindergarten unit for Language Arts.
THE GREAT BIG WORLD In this fifth six-week unit of kindergarten, students focus on the difference a setting can make in the creation of a story.
Writers and illustrators everywhere are trembling with excitement at this unit. We know setting is IMPORTANT. We also know setting can be fun and interesting and educational and thought-provoking---all before the story even begins.
Students will learn to identify the parts of a story--characters, settings, and major events. They will be able to compare and contrast characters, events and settings. They will connect events with their own experiences. They will utilize conventions of Standard English and spelling in order to tell stories of their own.
I am currently working on a nonfiction picture book about a significant historical figure. The setting is EVERYTHING. If he had been born earlier or later or in another region, his life would have been completely different. This unit is a great opportunity to learn the relevance of the parts of the story. What if the THREE LITTLE PIGS had lived in condos? What if LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD had taken the subway instead of an obscure path through the woods? What if George Washington had cut down a cherry tree TODAY in a historic district? What if the Wright Brothers had performed their top secret flight research in today's media culture? What if Anne Frank had a cellphone or twitter?
The possibilities for wondering are ENDLESS. What fun!
To me, this unit is particularly well suited to the following kinds of books:
1. Historical fiction/nonfiction. Necessity IS the mother of invention.
2. Books will simple story lines that can be 'retold' as an exercise in a different setting. Fractured fairy tales. Unfortunately, our children don't seem to know the old fairy tales so well, so the fractured can fall flat. Be careful there.
3. Stories and books that show how technology has changed lives--for good and otherwise.
4. Books that take a common childhood theme and twist it, especially if it is the setting that is twisted.
I don't know about you writer friends, but this unit makes me want to write, write, write! So get to it, friends.
My Mission Statement
I write to serve, to unite, to educate. I write to share literature and flesh out ideas that may be of interest to others. I write to document an emotion, experience, or a blip in time. My mission is to write in such a way that the reader is reminded that we can find humor in all situations. It's one of the great blessings of life.