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Friday, March 19, 2010

He scored 103!!!!!

I just have to share this because it's SO amazing to me! This year for MCAS testing the 4th graders have to do a creative writing piece. They are given their "prompt" or topic and they have to write a paper on that topic. The paper must be 5 paragraphs minimum, each paragraph must have at least 6 sentences. The first paragraph must restate the prompt and tell about the story. The next 3 paragraphs must be details about what was in the first paragraph and the final paragraph must conclude the story, restating the prompt in a creative way. The students must also use "figurative language" throughout their story. They must use a simile in the 2nd and 4th paragraphs, must use a different form of figurative language in the 3rd paragraph. They must also use 4 to 6 adjectives and/or adverbs in each of the body paragraphs as well. When all the points are added up they can score a total of 100 points and then they get 5 points bonus for every well written paragraph over the required 5. They have been doing practice papers every month since school started...this last one blew me away!

Orions paper missed a couple of adjectives/adverbs in his 2nd paragraph and the teacher felt he could have had a slightly stronger lead so for the main part of the paper her got 98 points, but then he wrote a total of 6 paragraphs and he scored the bonus 5 for that and ended up with a total score of 103!

You have to understand something here, at the beginning of the year we were lucky to see Orion writing 1 or 2 paragraphs total. Each paragraph but a couple sentences and there was no figurative language at all!! Not a single bit of it. He writes facts and that's it, he doesn't give you the details to let you "see" the story. So at the end of last term Orion did not score well on his creative writing grade, he was truly struggling and the teacher and I together came up with a plan to teach him to write better. I have always loved writing, I can paint a picture with words when I have to. I have been known to be wordy and too detailed, but I knew that I could get him to at least write a passable paper if I was allowed to work it the way I thought he would learn it best. So he started bringing home assignments where he would have 1 week to do this creative writing assignment. He had to brain storm, write a rough draft and then a final. I would have him verbally brainstorm with me and I would write down the details as he spoke them. I would prompt him more asking how he felt, what did he see, what did he hear? I would put these things down on the paper for him. Then we would both take those brainstorming ideas and write a paper using them. I would write it with everything I had, paint the picture he gave me as he wrote his rough draft. Then, when he was finished I would read his rough draft out loud to him. THEN I would read my rough draft to him. After he had heard both stories we would talk about how my figurative language showed him the story and not just told the story. After discussing it and making comments on his rough draft as to where he needed more details, where he needed to change things to show instead of tell, and of course pointing out spelling errors etc. I would send him back with his rough draft only and have his re-write his paper. If the second draft came back lacking a lot of details I make him write a third time...again pointing out where he can add more, what he can do to make this a better story. At the begining of the year he would score a total of 25 at the most, and that's why we knew he needed help. He lacked so many important details. This term he has gotten the lowest of an 85 and now the highest score of a 103. Now granted, that's with all my hard work and prompting dragging these details out of him, and at school, when he does one of these assignments on his own in one day he scores around a 60 BUT 60 is way better than the 22 he scored just 4 months ago!

So, without further ado, here is Orions story! The promt was to write about the first time you tried something new:

I remember the first time I tried to use a chairlift like it was yesterday, in reality it was over a year ago. I was nervous and scared waiting in the lift line. The ride up was relaxing and really not bad at all. Getting off was way different, it was not as easy as I had hoped it would be and not what my instructor had described. It all began with my instructor telling me that he thought I was ready to ride the Barnyard Chairlift.

When my instructor told me he thought I was ready to ride a chairlift we headed over to the learning area lift, the Barnyard Chairlift. He told me how to get on and off and it sounded easy enough, but I felt like I had butterflies dancing in my stomach. I was SO nervous! We skated up to the waiting area. I watched the people in front of us get into their lift chair, then we skated forward to the loading dock. We looked over our shoulders to watch for the chair and when it reached us we sat down. The chair lifted us up into the air over the trees. We pulled the bar down over our heads and we began my first ride up the mountain.

The ride up was relaxing and quiet. I was up over the mountain trails hanging on a big cable sitting in a chair. It reminded me of being on the ferris wheel with my mom at the fair. As I came to each lift pole I could feel the bump - bump - bump of the chair going over the wheels and hear the squeaking of the gears. I had time to look around at the trees and animal footprints in the snow and watch other snowboarders and skiers going down the trails. I could hear the swish of the boards and skis as they moved through the snow. At the next to last lift pole we lifted the safety bar and prepared to unload. Once again I felt nervous and those butterflies came back. this did not look as easy as it had sounded!

As we came to the unloading dock, I was supposed to point my board straight forward, put my back foot on my board and stand up. I was supposed to glide smoothly down the ramp with only one foot clicked in. What I did instead, because I was scared, was turn my board a little sideways so I could skid down instead. Unfortunately I learned the hard way why you aren't supposed to do this and I fell. The butterflies in my stomach sank like rocks. I stood up and skated over to my instructor embarrassed and frustrated. He told me not to feel bad, the same thing had happened to him his first time too.

My first time using the chairlift was a scary experience. I didn't really understand what to expect so it made me nervous. The only thing I was sure of, was that the ride up would be the easy part and the most relaxing because there would be nothing to do but look around at the people and listen to the sounds. I didn't really know how to get off the chair because I had never seen it done and had only been told what to do. I did fall down, but according to my instructor that happens to a lot of people, even him.

It's been over a year since my first time on a chairlift. I still fall sometimes, but not very often. Just this past weekend I used the chairlift almost one hundred times and I only fell twice. Both times were because I didn't want to hit the person who got off before me and hadn't cleared the path yet. I don't feel those butterflies anymore, they've flown away. I guess they just don't like the cold mountain air.

From Blogger Pictures

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