Saturday, March 4, 2017

It's a W.R.A.P!

It's a W.R.A.P has been my labor of love for the past three years...well one of them. During my journey to learn the ELA standards...I  created so many different things. But I started with an assessment system. I had no way to formatively assess specific skills, and no texts with which to assess them in an interesting way. During the summer of 2014...I started writing and creating. I started with sixth grade, since I was a sixth grade teacher. I have since gone on to develop the system for grades 4-8 and they cover ALL reading literature standards, ALL Informational standards and ALL writing standards. The very best part of doing all of this work is the feedback I have received from teachers all over the country that are using my materials in their classrooms.

I'm not in love with all things Common Core. I fully realize that the standards were not created by teachers. But it doesn't matter. This is what we have to do right now. And there are some awesome things in the Common Core standards. Understanding them is the first battle. I live with the ELA standards every day (even though I no longer teach ELA). I want to do the work that other teachers don't have time for because I love it. A few years ago, when I was working in the most innovative environment I had ever worked, my teacher friends and I had an understanding. Most of my colleagues had little kids at home. I didn't. We used to discuss it. One of my teaching partners and I were ALWAYS willing to do the work that needed to be done for teachers. We wrote assessments and shared them. We collected data to report out. We designed materials for teachers so they wouldn't have to. We did all of that because we could. We could work until all hours, and would prefer that our colleagues spend their evenings with their small children. (It didn't hurt that we loved doing it...) That was the deal. And we were always happy to do it.

The result of that mindset is a plethora of materials that teachers can use in an instant. You will not find any dense narratives in my materials. You won't have to spend six hours reading to prepare for one lesson. It's a W.R.A.P. is the first piece of my ELA puzzle.

I had to study hard in my doctoral program. My degree is in K-12 Curriculum and Instruction. Statistics and assessment strategies were obviously a major focus. I learned that assessments should always be developed BEFORE anything else. Building an assessment is like creating a road map. You need to know where you are headed before you leave. I actually don't think teachers should all be expected to have the skill set to develop assessments and write curriculum. I think people like me should do it. I love it. I have the training to do it. This is one thing that can be taken off of the plates of teachers in order for them to focus on their kids.

I hope that with this blog post I can show teachers what my formative/summative assessment does, and provide an opportunity for me to get feedback so that I can continuously improve it. It's a WRAP is a fluid document that changes with new information or ideas. I WANT to hear from teachers that use it. I want to know how to make it better for them.

It's a W.R.A.P. (Writing and Reading Assessment Program) covers the Common Core Standards for reading and writing. There are three categories for the CCSS: Reading Literature, Reading Informational, and Writing. (Language standards are covered in a separate document...) I created four different assessments for each category. The assessments are not just tests...they can be used as reading activities, they can guide instruction on any of the CCSS, and they are appropriate for use as formative and/or summative assessments.

It's a WRAP includes:

4 assessments for reading literature
4 assessments for reading informational text
4 assessments for writing

(They are also available category...see above!)

12 total assessments + Bonus assessments to use with student choice texts.

Each assessment/activity has the same components.

1) They are based on original (and hopefully interesting!) texts. The following is part of the assessment for narrative writing. It's a true story about one of my favorite days ever. My nephew has been dealing with the fact that LOTS of my stories are inspired by him.

Narrative writing example

2) Standard tracker for students - Each assessment begins with this standard tracker. The numbers let the student and teacher know which standard(s) each question is measuring. They are divided into three different depths of knowledge. I tried to include questions that begin with basic knowledge, but also questions that show a deeper understanding and ability to apply knowledge. And finally, the higher-level questions that show a student has mastered a concept thoroughly. When students get a question correct, they can shade in the appropriate box on the chart. They will see their own growth as they master each concept, and also see which skills they need to sharpen and practice. When I used this in my classroom, I had students check their own quite often, so that they could discuss and learn as we go.

Student Standard Tracker
 3) Assessment questions aligned to the CCSS. Each assessment (or activity, however you choose to use it) combines different types of questions including multiple choice, short answer, and constructed response. This can be used for test prep too!
Multiple choice questions aligned to the CCSS

Constructed response questions

4) A series of activities/assessments that are standard specific and can be used with student or teacher selected texts. These can also be used with any of the texts provided. Some grade levels include this portion as the 4th assessment (in reading). In sixth grade it is the "bonus" section. 
Each document is aligned to ONE of the standards and can be used with any text

This is an example of the generic portion of this assessment. Students can search for opportunities to make inferences and find evidence from the text. 

Example #2: Analyzing "plot" and can be used with any narrative text
 5) Answer keys! Every assessment comes with an answer key, when possible. Answers will vary depending on the type of questions asked.
Answer keys are provided wherever possible

I created It's a W.R.A.P. to help teachers teach and to help students learn. It is available for 4th grade, 5th grade, 6th grade, 7th grade and 8th grade. Yes, this is what I do for fun. I am a nerd...a CURRICULUM NERD! If you have used it, please comment and let me know what you think! It is so cool getting emails from teachers all over the country that use my curricular materials and assessments. I love it!

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