It’s report season! - 10 Facts That All Parents Must Know Before Reading Their Child’s Report

Welcome back to Creating A Learning Environment. I can not believe that it is nearly the end of Term 2. Where have the last 6 months gone? The end of a Semester, means a very busy time for teachers. This is the time where teachers use all their observations and assessments to provide a formal document about each child in their class, to reflect on what that child has learnt and developed over the two terms.

This blog will look into the world of “grading” for reports and give parents information about what they need to know before they even open their child’s report.

New South Wales Primary schools send student reports home twice a year. The first one being at the end of Semester 1 (End of Term 2) and the second one at the end of Semester 2 (End of Term 4). The report’s aim is to give parents information about their child and give the parent an understanding of whether their child is meeting benchmarks for their age.

Reports can cause a lot of mixed emotions for many households. It can be a time of celebration of a child’s achievement or a realisation that your child is struggling to meet the expected level of a particular grade. With all situations, reports need to be used as a conversation starter between you and your child and between you and your child’s teacher.

Below is a list of 10 facts that all parents need to know before they read their child’s report.

1. The Board Of Studies - What is a KLA?

BoS%20Logo[1]The Board of Studies is the governing body for the implementation of teaching and assessing of students in NSW. They are responsible for setting the core curriculum that is being taught in schools and regulates how much time is allocated to the teaching of each KLA (Key Learning Area). A Key Learning Area is a term used to name a particular area of study.  There are 6 KLA’s in Primary School. They are English, Mathematics, Human Society and Its Environment (History), Science, Creative Arts and Personal Development, Health and Physical Education. Some schools may have the addition of Religious Education as their seventh KLA. All these KLA’s need to be assessed by a child’s teacher and a child is given a grade for each of these KLA’s on their reports.

2. Time allocation for each KLA

KLAsSchools are restricted to how much time they can allocate to the teaching of each KLA. Teachers must assess each child for each KLA in the allocated time per week. In Primary school the time allocations are; English (25%-35%), Mathematics (20%), Science (6%-10%), HSIE (6%-10%), Creative Arts (6%-10%), PDHPE (6%-10%) and additional time for Religious Education, assemblies etc (up to 20%). As a general guide 6%-10% is usually 1.5 - 2.5hrs in a typical teaching week. Many infant classes use combined units to incorporate a few KLA’s in the one learning experience.

3. Stages in Primary Education

children readingThere are 4 stages in Primary Education. Early Stage 1 is Kindergarten, Stage 1 is Years 1-2, Stage 2 is Years 3-4 and Stage 3 is Years 5-6. There are many different types of schools within NSW. Some schools operate in year groups and some schools operate in stage groups. Some schools operate in single classrooms while others have open learning (a few classes work in their own space in a large room). All students are different and they thrive differently in different environments. All schools are bound by the same curriculum, time allocation for teaching each KLA and grading responsibilities, however, schools can chose the best way to deliver the teaching and learning experiences to their students.

4. Outcomes

teacher assessingEach KLA has outcomes that address a particular concept in the area of study that is related to what stage level the child is at. Teachers assess whether a child has not achieved, achieved or has gone beyond each outcome at the particular stage of each KLA. A teacher must look at the child’s achievement across all the outcomes in a KLA that have been taught and then communicate that to the parent and child in the form of a grade for that KLA. An example of a Kindergarten outcome in Mathematics is “Counts to 30, and orders, reads and represents numbers in the range 0 to 20″

5. Kindergarten grading

reading 1Kindergarten is the only grade in Primary school that does not have “Grades”. Teachers generally communicate a child’s achievement in relation to them achieving an outcome or working towards an outcome. This is their first year at “formal schooling” and being it is its own stage, grading does not commence until the children move into Stage 1.

6. What does a “C” mean?

Grade AThis is an area that causes the most stress to parents as the meanings of grades have changed a lot since they went to school. Most parents want their child to receive an “A” but many parents do not realise how difficult it really is to receive an “A”. A “C” is given to a student who is meeting all the requirements of that stage level. They are able to work efficiently in the classroom and achieve all benchmarks at that stage. Most students, as a result, will receive a “C”. Even though some parents are not happy with their child’s “C” for a KLA, it actually informs them that their child is doing exactly what they are meant to be doing.

7. How a teacher grades

assessmentsGrading is not an easy task. Many students can be on the border line of two grades. Two students could receive a “C” for a KLA but one could actually be a high C (nearly a B) and the other could be a low C (just higher than a D). Even though each grade could have such a big spectrum this is not written on the report. A teacher must use all the assessments completed, written evidence in work books and their own observations to give one grade for an entire KLA. They must look at everything that has been taught during the Semester and the contribution that the child has made to group tasks, individual tasks, projects and class discussions to get an overall achievement level.

8. Student’s strengths

littleboyParents may find a grade unjust for their child if their child may be particularly gifted in an area of that KLA. For example, If a child is a particularly gifted skier and they receive a “C” for PDHPE, their parent may believe that this grade is not a reflection of their child. What the parent does not realise, is that within each KLA there are many strands that need to be taught. In PDHPE there are several strands. All health modules, Dance, Gymnastics, Games and Sports, and Active Lifestyle. This child may be gifted in Skiing but that is only one sport out of many that may or may not be taught within the school. They may achieve at a “normal” level with all other sports and their understanding of the theory component associated to PDHPE, so their average grade for all areas of PDHPE is a “C”. This is reflected in all KLA’s.

9. Report Comments

ParentsreadingReport comments can be particularly difficult for a teacher. They are restricted by how many characters they can write and also how they are allowed to describe different learning attributes of a student. The best advice I have for parents is LISTEN in your parent-teacher interviews. This is a time where teachers can go into more detail about your child and show you examples of your child’s work. They can suggest specific activities you could do at home with your child that targets your child’s area of weakness. Always attend the parent-teacher interviews as they usually offer so much more information than a grade on a paper.

10. Working out a plan

parentteacherPrior to reading a child’s report, a parent generally has a good idea of their child’s academic ability. If you have concerns about your child’s rate of development and reading their report supports your thoughts, speak to the child’s class teacher about it. Just because a child is struggling it does not always mean that they will struggle for the rest of their educational journey. Work out a plan with your child’s teacher about the next steps that you or the school will undertake to identify what your child’s additional learning needs may be. This could include going to a GP, having a speech or hearing assessment or having an observation survey completed by an OT or specialised teacher. Early intervention is the key, so the earlier you identify the extra needs of your child, the more success your child will have. Always book a date for the next meeting with the teacher in order to discuss what has been completed since the previous meeting.

Grades of an A,B,C, D or E enables parents to have a small insight into the academic abilities of their child. Teachers encourage parents to not use grades as the only way to judge their child’s success at school. They need to also think about their child’s social and emotional development as a factor in assessing a child’s “success” at school.

If your child has special needs and you and their teacher believes that “no benefit” will come from your child reading all “E’s” in their report, you can request to have a report with no grades and just comments. The special need’s teacher at your school can offer more information about this idea.

Reports cause a lot of stress for children, parents and teachers. Always remember to use reports as a way of starting communication with your child about their strengths and weaknesses at school. Try not to compare their grades with their peers or with other siblings. Use it to get your child to set some academic goals they want to achieve before the end of next Semester.

Until next time …

Kelly Pisani

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15 Ways To Learn Fractions, Decimals and Percentages

Welcome to the final blog in the series “How to help your older child”. In this blog we look at the world of fractions, decimals and percentages.

As children get older, it seems like it is a habit to remove equipment and games from teaching Mathematics. I strongly believe that as children get older it is more important to have resources and meaningful learning experiences to keep students engaged in more complex thinking and more difficult concepts. How do we achieve this? The answer needs to be by making the learning fun, interesting and important to the world of the child.

Unfortunately the teaching of fractions, decimals and percentages usually goes hand in hand with the use of worksheets and text books. Does this constitute as fun, interesting and meaningful to the child? Create a love of mathematics not a learning experience that is dreaded, with a child who is full of anxiety and an area they have no success at. (Think about your experience of Mathematics at school. Do you have a love for the subject? What engaging methods did your teachers use to help you understand mathematical concepts? - if any)

Some Facts About Teaching Fractions, Decimals and Percentages

  • Try to teach them together so the child realises the relationship between all of them
  • When reading a fraction always use the correct terminology eg 6/8 should be read as six eighths, not six over eight
  • When reading decimals always use the correct terminology eg 0.43 should be read as 43 hundredths, not zero point four three
  • Use equipment to show parts of a whole
  • Fractions, decimals and percentages need to be taught as part of a whole and part of many. (eg Part of a whole - cutting up one orange and Part of many - how many of one colour lolly in a packet of colourful lollies)

Please find below a list of 15 games that children can play to develop their concepts about Fractions, Decimals and Percentages.

1. Chalk pictures

chalk fractionsChildren draw a variety of shapes and divide them up into equal sections. Once they have divided up a shape equally they can colour some parts and say the fraction, decimal and percentage relating to their drawing.

2. Play-dough

PlaydoughfractionsChildren make shapes with play-dough and use a plastic knife to divide the shape into equal parts. Once they have divided it up equally they can remove some parts and explain using fractions, decimals and percentages terminology how much they have taken and how much they have left.

3. Fraction Bingo

fraction bingoMake up a bingo card with different representations of fractions. All players have a different bingo card. All the fraction cards are placed in a bag and the caller picks one at a time out. The caller reads the fraction out and players cover up the relevant fraction if it appears on their board. First player with all their fraction pictures covers calls out bingo and becomes the winner.

4. Fraction picture

fraction pictureChildren can make a picture (eg ice-cream bowl) with a variety of colours/flavours. After they complete it, they must describe the amount of colours using the fractions, decimals and percentage terminology. EG 20% of my ice-cream is chocolate or two fifths of my ice-cream is chocolate. (start with objects out of 10 to make it easier)

5. Colour fractions

colourfulfractionsGet your child to cut five equal paper strips using a different colour for each. They can then cut each one up in different ways ensuring that each section of the strip is equal. They can cut one strip in half, one in thirds, one in quarters, one in fifths etc. Let them experiment with more strips. They can paste them all next to each other to help them understand equivalent fractions. EG, A half is the same as two quarters.

6. Clothesline

fractionslineCut up some cardboard and write a variety of fractions, decimals and percentages on them. Give them to your child and see if they can peg them up on string from lowest to highest. They may need to peg some underneath each other to show that they are the same. This will help them with transferring their knowledge to a number line.

7. Puzzles

FDPpuzzlesHave children create their own puzzles that match the same fraction, decimal or percentage together. They may even make up a few and give it to somebody else to put back together.

 

 

8. Bottle caps

FDPmatchingcapsWrite a variety of fractions, decimals and percentage on the back of bottle caps. Hide all the caps around the room or house. Your child must find all caps (make sure you tell your child how many there are) and then pair up caps that mean the same thing. EG two quarters and 50%.

9. Dominoes

fdpdominoesCreate fractions, decimals and percentages dominoes out of cardboard. Children need to put the dominoes next to each other that mean the same.

 

10. Deck of cards

FDPdeckofcardsMake your own set of playing cards but use fractions, decimals or percentages. Get children to play go fish or memory or pairs with these cards. This will help children to read the fraction, decimal or percentage properly.

 

11. Expanded decimals

decimalexpanderMake up a variety of decimals using tenths, hundredths and thousandths. Pick a colour for each place value, EG Tenths are green. Get your child to select 2 or 3 cards - they must be different colours. Put them together and read the decimal. Take them apart and start again.

12. Decimal cups

DecimalcupsUsing styrofoam cups, write numbers 0-10 around the rim. One cup will need to have a decimal point. One person calls out a decimal eg 3 and 23 hundredths. The child must make this using the cups.

13. Ordering decimals

orderingdecimalsHave a variety of decimal numbers written. Children can work independently or in pairs to order the numbers from smallest to largest. They could work out where each number would go on a number line and use equipment to represent the decimal.

14. Food bag

foodpercentPut a variety of coloured lollies in a mystery bag. The child tips out the contents of the bag and groups matching colours together. They could then describe the bag using fractions, decimals and percentages.

15. Plastic eggs

FDPeggmatchUse a plastic egg that can be separated in half. Write a fraction, decimal or percentage on one half and a matching one on the other. Do this for as many eggs that you have. Take all the eggs apart, mix them up and get your child to match the correct ones together.

Hopefully these 15 games will help your children to be engaged and enthusiastic towards learning fractions, decimals and percentages. Knowing the relationship between them all, will help children solve mathematical problems.

Please share this blog if you have found it insightful and if you believe it offers practical information that your can implement at home or in the classroom. Remember to email a copy of it to yourself for reference later on.

Until next time …

Kelly Pisani

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