The Great PARCC Challenge: How Chamberlain’s 3rd and 4th Grade Scholars Get Ready for the Big Test

Story by Emani Armstrong, Zyian Guster, Warren McKenzie, and Angel O’Neal. Photo compliments of Google.

MAY 14, 2018: Ahh, wonderful springtime... birds are singing, flowers are blooming, and kids like us are preparing for the PARCC test. Schoolwide, scholars are busily preparing for the big test. In 3rd and 4th grades, students are participating in the “Stamina Challenge” and “Spiral Power” to get their minds geared up for PARCC. What are the “Stamina Challenge” and “Spiral Power” you ask? Keep reading to find out!

Chamberlain’s 3rd grade scholars are preparing for the PARCC test using an activity called the “Stamina Challenge”. In this 15-20 minute challenge, students work in table groups to build points for their team by reading a short story and answering multiple choice questions, fill in the blank questions, or by writing an essay. The questions are turned in to the teacher by hand, and the essay is typed and emailed to the teacher. Your work is then scored… if you score an 80% or higher, you are rewarded with “lunch bunch” and are able to have lunch with the teacher in the classroom and watch a movie. Another prize that you can earn is two table points. When a table earns ten table points, they are treated to an additional lunch bunch, a popcorn party, or a cool sweet treat like root beer floats. The Stamina Challenge allows 3rd grade scholars to practice staying focused, being quiet, and working under pressure to achieve a goal, much like the students will have to do to excel on the PARCC test.

Rising to a challenge of their own, Chamberlain’s 4th grade scholars are also preparing to show what they know to power through the PARCC test. At this level, students are participating in “Spiral Power”—a review activity that combines lots of fun and friendly competition. In this competition, everyone in the class participates by competing in two ways: individually, and by side (East vs.West). To start the challenge, everyone gets a PARCC Readiness Spiral Power Assignment which consists of Math and English Language Arts questions. Students spend 20-45 minutes (depending on the difficulty of the assignment) silently working on the Spiral Power. At the end of that time, participants come together to discuss the answers and the teacher rewards individual points. In competition mode, if your opponent is absent, or has a lower score than you do, you move on to the next round automatically. If both people get the same score, the competition goes into overtime until the tie is broken. Students scoring 75% or higher are rewarded with “lunch bunch”. If your side wins the championship round, they will get a collective prize chosen by the teacher.

Given the huge goal of the PARCC test (to determine college and career readiness at a young age), the hard work that students are putting into preparing for the big test is of vital importance. Chamberlain’s outstanding 3rd and 4th grade teachers (as well as all of the other teachers preparing their scholars for the PARCC test) have done an amazing job to make preparing for the big test both fun and rewarding. Let’s go Champions!

Emani Armstrong and Angel O’Neal are 3rd grade scholars at Friendship Chamberlain Academy.
Zyian Guster and Warren McKenzie are 4th grade scholars at Friendship Chamberlain Academy.