Last week was the end of the first semester. Teachers have been working on report cards, continua and comments. The continua are for reading and writing. Several years ago we decided to report reading and writing achievement using Bonnie Campbell-Hill’s continua. I posted about that here. The report card is divided into sections one is on the Student objectives, posted about those here, the subject areas and comments. The Student Objectives are graded using the letters S for Secure, D for Developing and NI for Needs Improvement. The subjects are graded on a 5 point scale; 5 is Always(100-90%), 4 is Mostly(89-80%), 3 is Usually(79-70%), 2 is Seldom(69-60%) and 1 is Rarely(Below 60%). All of this can be a bit confusing. As parents how can you use the report card to help your child set some goals? First of all, as you look at each of the continuum, there is generally a section that your child is marked in. You might see a descriptor in the next area and think, my child can do that, why isn’t it marked? For reading, the teacher looks at the level of books as well as the descriptors. Talk with your child about setting a goal to work on a descriptor that is not yet marked.
In the Beginning stage students can be reading a wide level of books. All of the books pictured below are in the Beginning level(H, I, J, K and L).
In class, students are taught how to choose a “just right book” or I PICK book. Your child may choose their own books but are they at a just right level. Can your child retell the story? Or if a non-fiction book, what has your child learned? Talk with your child at home about what he is reading. Reading with your child, listening to your child read aloud and discussing books with your child are all ways to help your child. Maybe you and your child can set a goal of reading together 3 times a week? Or ask your child what he is working on in class, particularly if they are doing the Daily 5. Your child has a strategy he is working on. Have him model and practice it at home.
For writing, the same thing can be done. Look at what has been marked and encourage your child to keep up the good work. Look at what hasn’t been marked and help your child set a goal. Encourage your child to write at home. You don’t need to correct every mistake. Maybe she needs to work on capitalization. Have a checklist of when to use capital letters. Maybe she needs to work on spelling, have a sheet of frequently misspelled words available or a dictionary on your child’s level. No one can fix all their mistakes at once, they will get frustrated.
On the report card, look at the Student Objective area. Most students will be Developing in most areas. To be Secure, a student needs to be displaying a given descriptor almost all of the time. Any areas that Need Improving should be discussed about how your child might improve. Very likely the teacher has made a comment on the back of the report card suggesting an area to work on. Help your child to set a goal in this area.
One area that many students are Developing in and need support is “Using a biblical perspective.” How might you help with that at home? When reading fiction with your child, ask, “What truth or lesson can you learn from this story?” If you are reading non-fiction, “What can you learn about God’s world from this book?” In math, “How do you see order displayed?” As problems in the world are discussed, what does God want you to know and do about this problem?
As you look at the subject areas discuss with your child the importance of not just knowledge for a test but the importance of effort everyday in reading assignments, in class posters or assignments and discussions. Read the weekly newsletters that tell what the class is studying and if there is a test/assessment coming up help your child review for the test, check if your child is meeting deadlines for projects. The best way to study is an hour a day for 3 or 4 days beforehand.(The time would depend on the grade level, lower grades shouldn’t need an hour) Here are some good ideas for helping your child study at home.
Middle school and high school students have Student Led conferences coming up in February where they are setting SMART goals.
- S – Specific
- M – Measurable
- A – Attainable
- R – Realistic or relevant
- T – Time specific
The elementary students don’t have conferences after report cards are sent home, but teachers are available to meet with parents and students. Some of the classes have been having the students set goals but even if your child has set goals at school maybe it’s time to set some goals at home. “I want to get faster at the times table” is not a SMART goal. I will practice the times table for 10 minutes each day for the next month is a much better goal. At the end of the month your child can take a timed test to see how much he has improved.
A SMART goal will be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-specific. Some other examples of not SMART goals might be:
- I want to read harder chapter books.
- I want to score more goals in soccer.
- I want to learn division.
- I want to be a better friend.
None of these are bad things to want to learn or do, but how will your child accomplish their goal is important. Some better examples of SMART goals might be:
- I will read 30 minutes everyday and talk with mom or dad about what I read.
- I will collect 3 interesting words each week from my reading to use in my writing and use at least one in my writing.
- I will use a check list for capitals, usage, punctuation and spelling before I publish a written work or say that I am done with an assignment.
- I will study for 30-40 minutes everyday for 3-4 days before a test.
- I will have a set study place at home and get my things ready in my backpack each evening before I go to bed so I won’t forget my homework or assignment notebook.
Goals are important for each of us, not only our children or students. The teachers are all updating their professional development goals, we want to continue to improve in our craft as teachers. Many adults also set personal goals or resolutions for the year. Personally I have chosen the word “respect” and as I read the Bible, pray and live each day I want to focus on what is God teaching me about respect and how am I showing respect to those around me.
If you have questions about your child’s report card or the continua, please contact your child’s teacher or teachers. According to our Vision statement “Parents assume the primary responsibility for their children’s education, with CAJ assisting them in providing Christian education.” The words to a song “We’re all in this together” keep running through my mind. Let’s support one another so your child can be successful and be do all that God created him or her to do.