Aaaarrgghh! Spider!: A CCSS Anchor Standard 3 Ladder Activity (Part 1)

Saturday, October 25, 2014

     October is here, and that means that I am reaching for one of my favorite books, Aaaarrgghh! Spider! by Lydia Monks.  It is the season for all things creepy and crawly, and a fun book about spiders fits that description nicely.

     Our staff has been working hard at looking at student work to start driving our instruction.  For the past few weeks, we have been using our building meetings to do gallery walks of student work across grade levels, led by our core leaders +Jane DeCaire  and +Christina Betz.  We have simply been looking at work samples (K-5) and noticing commonalities and differences through conversation with each other. Next week, we are going to be looking at reading work, but we wanted to start examining the work at our own grade level more closely to help us make some decisions about where our instruction needs to go.  Time for some formative assessment analysis!

Step 1: Pick a Text

     Formative assessment is really anything that you do with students that you can analyze and use to move your students to the next step in their development.  In order to do a whole staff PD about a possible way to analyze a formative assessment, I decided to create assessments that would walk up the Common Core ladder of expectations for Standard 3.  But what character to study?!?!?


     I love Aaaarrgghh! Spider!  But is my love enough to read it to all 6 grade levels in my building?  Here's why it is:
Kindergarten: Next week, they are reading the Itsy, Bitsy Spider in their nursery rhyme unit.  They 
     also have the word spider up on their October word wall.
First Grade: I had talked to one of our first grade teachers about using this book to help with her 
     Small Moment shared experience story about a bug they found in their classroom.  It can be used 
     to see how some small moments are put together to make a story.
Second Grade:  Our second grade is currently working on adding onomatopoeia and dialogue to 
     their small moment stories.  "Aaaarrgghh!" and "Off you go!" fit perfectly into those lessons.
Third Grade:  Our third grade is currently reading Charlotte's Web.  What better spider to compare 
     than Charlotte?  They even call Spider clever for making her webs, just like Charlotte!!!
Fourth Grade:  They are currently reading Tales of Despereaux, which is about a mouse who doesn't 
     have a family that supports him.  Guess who also doesn't have a family?  Spider!  
Fifth Grade:  They also just wrote a shared experience small moment story about Haunted 
     Hiawatha. Their writing samples were filled with onomatopoeia, and filled with fear (even if the  
     fear in Aaaarrgghh! Spider! is on a much friendlier level...)

Step 2: Create the Assessments

     Once I had a book in mind, I opened the Common Core rubrics I made for Standard 3 across grade levels and really thought about what would be expected of our students to do with the book based on the CCSS.  I then opened a blank Pages document and got to work.  The assessments I made focus on key components of the grade level standards, but are certainly not complete and can be measured in other ways as well.  But, for the purpose of my assessments, they reflect the work of the CCSS standards across each grade.

     Here are the assessments.

Step 3: Go into the Classrooms!

     I then went into one classroom as each grade level in my building.  Thanks, +Kara Wesolowski+Jodi Meyer+Margaret Daly+Christine Flowers+Lori Horne, and +Katie Cardelli for letting me come in to read to your class!  

     I started by walking them through the character assessment, using a character that they have been following in their read alouds.  Using No, David, Arthur, Charlotte, Desperaux, and Rob from Tiger Rising, we had a brief conversation touching on the kinds of character analysis that their standards expects by the end of the year.  I used a familiar character to set up the expectation, and then told them that they were going to do the same work using a new character.  Enter Spider!

    Once the kids were working independently on the assessment, I did leave them alone to work and their teacher and I took some time to talk about the questions I used on the assessment, and to start to look at the early responses as they came in.  This gave me some time to talk through my rationale for the assessment so that the teacher could lead the sorting for their grade level at our building meeting. I also didn't want to offer the kids too much support, because we are going to sort it into categories to help us guide our instruction.  If I provided a lot of support, it might skew the sorting and cause a child not to get the feedback or support they need.

     Here is a video of me reading the book.
(I made the video so that the staff who didn't hear me read it would be able to listen to the book before our meeting.  My kids helped me out, and the mic went in and out, so it is not Grade A quality, but it is helping me flip our meeting a bit.)

Step 4: Sorting the Work

     The whole point of doing this was to collect samples that the teams could sort.  That will be covered in Part 2, sometime after our building meeting next week!

     Stay tuned for completed work samples and thoughts about sorting student work into categories in grade level teams.  Until then, here are some pictures of our cute Hiawatha kindergartners showing us the emotions felt by Spider at three points in the book.  


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