• Continuation of FAQs for Attendance/Engagement; Zinc; and Grading


    Dear Students and Families:


    This letter should be viewed in conjunction with the communication sent last Tuesday, May 26. It continues to address some of the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) I’ve received from students and parents/guardians over the past couple of weeks.




    How will attendance/engagement credit be determined for the week of 5/27 – 6/2?

    • Student must complete all six (6) activities for “Week Four” of the current, “Active” Zinc Reading Sprint.




    • Demonstrate progress on the Scholastic Scope My History Project I posted last Thursday, May 28. (Outlines or drafts of work need to be “shared” with me in the Google Classroom or emailed to me directly.)


    How will attendance/engagement credit be determined for the week of 6/3 – 6/9?

    • Student must complete all six (6) activities for “Week Five” of the current, “Active” Zinc Reading Sprint.




    • Demonstrate progress on the Scholastic Scope My History Project. (Outlines or Drafts of work need to be “shared” with me in the Google Classroom or emailed to me directly.)


    How can I raise my pre-closure “letter grade”?

    Short Answer: Substitute 15,000 Zinc Performance Points for Independent Reading credit.

    Explanation/Rationale: A student’s letter grade is determined by quality of work completed prior to closure, March 17. In our class, the pre-closure letter grade is primarily comprised of credit achieved toward a student’s independent reading program. There were three (3) reading logs due prior to closure. Students had a semester requirement of reading at least five (5) books and taking Accelerated Reader (AR) Tests over those books. By the time of closure, students should have completed and tested at least two (2) books.

    Teachers are allowed to use work completed during the closure to substitute for pre-closure work or to enhance a pre-closure letter grade.

    During the closure, I have assigned two (2) six-week Zinc Reading Sprints. Points are earned for activities completed in Zinc and can be tracked in the “Leaderboard” section of the pulldown menu.

    Over a six-week Reading Sprint, there are enough assigned activities for a student to earn 15,000 points – if a student does well on the activities. A student not only needs to complete the Sprint, but actually do a quality job to earn the points.

    The amount of time spent “reading” and working the activities is equivalent to the amount of time it would take to “exceed standard” on a two-week reading log.

    So, 15,000 Zinc Performance Points would allow a student to substitute one (1) missing or low achieving pre-closure reading log with an “exceeding standard” score AND earn full AR credit toward one (1) of the required independent reading books.


    What if I finish the current Sprint, but I didn’t reach the 15,000 points to help raise my grade?

    Short Answer: You will need to read and complete additional Article Quizzes and Vocab Decks at your assigned Reading Difficulty Level.

    Explanation/Rationale: A student needs to do the work and do the work well to earn credit. Students who worked the first Zinc Reading Sprint have an advantage because they already have a reserve bank of points to draw on. Many times, during the Sprint, students are encouraged to read additional articles to earn “bonus points.” Students should take advantage of that opportunity. Students can also “browse” for articles that may interest them. However, students should be sure to search for articles that are at their assigned Reading Level Difficulty.


    WARNING: Especially over the last week, I’ve noticed students “rushing” through the assigned week’s Sprint activities to earn the “attendance/engagement” credit for the week. Substandard work, while enough to maybe earn engagement credit, will not be enough to raise one’s grade.

    Here’s an example of what I mean from a Close Reading Experience:

    This is a Level 2 “C” scoring activity. Notice the “Overall Score” in the upper left is comprised of three (3) categories. A student can only achieve high scores in the “Main Idea” category if they answer Main Idea questions correctly – the first time. It took this student three (3) attempts to answer one Main Idea question correctly. Also notice in the upper corner of the Main Idea box that the system registered that this student only took 13 seconds to answer this question. Rushing and not thinking something through will not earn a student the points needed to be successful.

    Look at the “Other Questions” score. Offering a prediction of “I don’t know” and then at the end of the reading taking 9 seconds to express, what is supposed to be a student’s gained understanding, won’t achieve a “meeting standard” or “exceeding standard” score.

    Additionally, taking 10 seconds to answer the “Further Thought Question” with “he is mean” doesn’t help achieve the points needs to be grade-level proficient.

    Lastly, look at the “Effort Score.” There are several factors that contribute to this score. Notice the system keeps track of how long a student spends on a question. In the upper right-hand corner, the system logged that this student “rushed” 3 out of the 30 questions presented in the lesson. So, the student took less time than the system felt was reasonable to provide a successful response. You can see for yourself based on some of the visible responses and the time it took to produce them.

    Look, also, at the “Total Time Taken to Complete” in the upper right-hand corner. This student took much longer than the expected time. This sometimes works for or against a student. It is not necessarily a bad thing to take more time and thought into providing a quality response. However, excess time can also be a sign of “distracted work.” A student may be multi-tasking. Starting and stopping the activity while texting or watching TV or doing some other activity. Breaking the concentration, breaks the chain of thinking and the focus needed to do well. A student should devote the time fully to completing a Close Reading Experience in one sitting.


    Article Quizzes are so hard, how can I do better on them?

    That is a good question. Did you know you can track your performance on Article Quizzes?

    If you go to the “Reports” section of the Zinc pulldown menu, you get a page that looks like this reflecting your personal performance.


    Notice that the total points from the “Leaderboard” are recorded in the upper right-hand corner. All the articles a student has read and their associated quiz scores are logged. Look at the little box with an arrow in it under the “Student Quiz” column. Clicking on that box brings up a student’s quiz results.

    Let’s take a look at an example.




    This student scored zero points on this article. Look at the “predictions” this student entered to “unlock” the multiple choice options. Predictions like these will not help a student determine the correct choice.

    How should a student approach Article Quizzes? I provided some tips in the “Zinc Terms & Tips” page on my website. Here are some additional tips with examples.


    • Slow down. On average, the Close Reading Experiences take students up to 30 minutes or more. Are you spending that much time reading the articles? Remember, even in SpringBoard, there is the expectation that students read a passage more than once. Usually 2 to 3 times. Are you doing that with the articles? Give yourself the time to be successful.


    • You are required to make a “prediction” in order to unlock the options for the multiple choice responses. I recommended in the “Zinc Terms & Tips” I posted on my website to try and find actual quotes from the text to help answer the question. After you unlock the choices, however, you may have to do some rethinking. In this Reading Difficulty Level 4 example below, the quote I found in the text that I predicted might answer the question was pretty much “spot on” and helped me zero in on the correct multiple choice response.



    • Maybe the unlocked choices have nothing to do with the text you copied as your prediction. But, maybe you can tell from the choices that they are referring to a different paragraph or section of the text. Go back and reread the sections that the choices may be referring to.


    • Remember SpringBoard also expects you to circle unfamiliar words, terms, and phrases. If you cannot figure them out through context clues, you are supposed to look them up. If you are unfamiliar with words or terms in the text of the article, the questions, or the multiple choice responses . . . don’t guess at their meaning. Look them up, so that you better understand the text.


    In the above example, if I didn’t know what “insemination” meant in the first multiple choice option, I might have been misled to answer incorrectly. But, after looking it up, it had nothing to do with my prediction about providing equal access to food.


    • Use a tried-and-true multiple choice test taking strategy – try to “eliminate the easily eliminatable.” There might be some choices that are obviously “not it.” If you can narrow your choices down to a couple of possibilities, then you are increasing your odds of zeroing in on the best choice. Also, be wary of what we call the “distractor.” That’s a choice that either seems too good to be true . . . so if you’re not careful or you jump to the quick conclusion, you might be easily misled to choose it. Or, one that is close but missing a slight detail or misrepresenting a detail.


    Again, in the above example, once I looked up “insemination,” I could eliminate that response from the other options as “not it.” The “distractor” in this case was option “C”. It was close, but just a little off from the main purpose of the crating system described in the paragraph. I might have been misled with words and phrases like “scuffles”, “injured animals”, and “bullied” to choose the option that talked about isolating aggressive animals, but the main purpose for the isolation is to insure equal access to food.


    • Double check your response against the text before you submit your answer.


    By taking my time and utilizing some reading strategies and resources, I answered all the quiz questions correctly and earned 502 Zinc Performance Points – as compared to earning zero points like in the previous student example.


    Stay safe, stay well,


    Monte J. Scholz

    6th-Grade ELA & Honors ELA Block

    Heatherwood Middle School

    Everett Public Schools