Thursday, July 8, 2010

Open thread

Summertime! What are you and your APP kids doing this summer? And what is on your mind going into September?


Shannon said...

We're UN-schooling. With my incoming 4th grader we're just hanging around, playing Lego, trying the new Lego Harry Potter video game, he's reading through The Last Apprentice at a rate of one book every 4 days, been camping, paying him to help with yardwork and going traveling overseas in August.

Oh, and he's discovered scrabble. Yay!

Anonymous said...

For us, summer is always a good time to do some "real" math (10-15 min a day of SIngaporemath) and learn new vocabulary words using Vocabulary Cartoon books (very funny and extremely easy to retain!). Little time spent, no sweat but huge progress...And, of course, doggy beach at Magnuson park and lots of sleep...

Greg Linden said...

Ooo, those Vocabulary Cartoons books are a fun tip! Lego Harry Potter sounds like fun too!

ArchStanton said...

I enjoyed playing Lego Star Wars with my young'un. Unfortunately there is a dearth of co-op games that I find appropriate for her. We'll have to look into Lego Harry Potter.

Jennifer said...

Hi everyone! We have a son who will be a new APP student in 3rd grade at Lowell this year. We are wondering about the different options for before and after school care? I'm assuming that if we sign up for the YMCA program at Bailey Gatzert there is no way for my son to attend enrichment classes before or after school. Ideas? Suggestions? We are both educators so a nanny seems an unaffordable expense. Thanks in advance.

BL said...

Lowell does not have bus transportation after school clubs and activities.
You'd need to confirm this with Transportation Services, but I think SPS will provide transportation between Lowell and childcare that is outside the walk zone, but within any service areas north of the ship canal or Washington or McClure.
Last year, I picked up my son at school after activities, but other days, he took a 4 minute school bus ride to Kids Club at Stevens.

Anonymous said...

Hi folks--how have families dealt with testing for kindergartners? We didn't have our older son tested until the fall of his first grade year--we didn't know about it, and even when we had heard about it after the fact thought, "Well, he wasn't reading at the time, so no biggie."

He'll be going to Lowell next fall and has a younger sibling entering K. They both have late birthdays and our younger child isn't really reading yet either. Should we have him tested for the heck of it? I realize the CogAt test may not require reading, but assume the reading and math achievement tests would.

It also feels weird to ask a kindergarten teacher who has known our child a few weeks to write a recommendation letter. Last year, our older child's former K teacher wrote the recommendation, after telling us we should have him tested in the first place.

How do people feel about advanced learning testing for kindergartners in the fall in general? Thanks!

hschinske said...

The kindergarten teachers are used to this kind of thing, and it's seldom that the recommendation is really the make-it-or-break-it part of the application anyway. (I suppose he won't have the same teacher who taught his older brother?) I would go ahead and have him take the CogAT -- the test familiarity can't hurt even if there's no way he'll qualify for APP this year (and he might surprise you -- sometimes kids take sudden huge leaps in reading, or "not really reading" might in fact be much closer to the average early-second-grade level than you realize).

Be aware that it's an iffy business testing young children in groups, and he may come out far below his real ability (anyone can test *lower* than they deserve, especially on a developmentally inappropriate test). It doesn't always go the way you think from their personalities, either: my son tested a lot higher on the kindergarten CogAT than either of his sisters did, despite generally having a harder time sitting still and concentrating at that age (not to mention coming out of the test running for the bathroom). Incidentally, they were all born in July and August, so were on the young end of the grade.

Having an older sibling who's already easily qualified for APP is a perfectly good reason to test, I think.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

Try your kid to take a practice Cogat test (check the link here:

They have booklets for different grades. This way your child will be prepared for the type of questions on the real test. And it will give you an idea about his abilities.

hschinske said...

Wow, what a racket. The practice materials cost way more than the actual test, and one review on Amazon said when she got the booklet, she noticed the contents were the same thing her kid had been doing at an after-school club.

Mind you, it's better than the price someone's got a couple of the booklets at on the Advanced Book Exchange: $191.51 and $204.89! The bookseller claims "You will be happy," and I think it's true: you'd have to be happy, all the drugs you'd have to be on to fall for that.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

Sometimes, it is worth to spend $40 and be well prepared (yes, we used this booklet and it was very close to the content of the actual Cogat test) instead of paying $$$ for the private testing to appeal.

Anonymous said...

We were in the same situation - we didn't know about the testing (the school didn't exactly promote it) until we had missed the 1st grade deadline, so our older child didn't test until 2nd grade. We had our younger K child tested at the same time (even though not reading at the time of the CogAT testing). We're glad we did.

The achievement testing is not until a month or so after the CogAT, which is still several months from now. Your child's reading may grow by leaps and bounds by then.

Our only preparation was making sure they had a good night's sleep and a good beakfast.

hschinske said...

If you just want to see what the test format is like (which I suppose is reasonably legit), look at, which gives sample questions. But really, any kid capable of a top score is probably already capable without the prep. The biggest variability comes from factors that you really can't control so well, like whether they pay attention when the questions are read out loud (personally I would HATE taking a test that way), what they do if the tip of their pencil breaks off, or they're distracted by having to go to the bathroom, being in a large group, or whatever.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much, all--especially Helen! I am the original "Anonymous"...we didn't do anything to prep our older child before he took the test as a first grader other than to say he should pay attention and do his best.

He actually came out of it kind of upset and I asked him what was wrong and he said, "I didn't LEARN anything!" and I laughed and told him it wasn't about teaching but more to see what his thought process was. We didn't listen to our voicemail and didn't learn that he was doing the achievement tests until after he had taken them so no "prep" there either.

I think we'll likely test our kindergartner in the fall as well. They won't have the same teacher because we're going to be at a new school (thanks, NSAP! :S) but this new school does have a Spectrum program FWIW so that might be a good fit.

They are very different kids, but as others pointed out, kindergartener's reading skills can really take off quickly in a short amount of time and I hadn't considered that. Like Helen, we have July and August birthdays as well so they're both youngish for their grades--with our older son I just wanted him to do well socially and educationally in a "normal" kindergarten classroom.

Thanks again for your thoughts on this--we're definitely still newbies so appreciate your patience and insights!

Lori said...

Don't Kindergarteners take the MAP in the fall just like the other grades? I think they wear headphones and have the questions read to them since most aren't reading yet.

I would think that the fall MAP scores would help K teachers identify children for the district's testing that maybe they wouldn't have identified in the past due to the short period between start of the school year and the gifted testing deadline in early October.

In the past, it may have felt awkward to ask a teacher that is still getting to know your child for a recommendation for testing, but perhaps if the child has above average MAP scores, it will easier for both parents and teachers to proceed. Just another thought to consider.

Methylgrace said...

Anon at 7/28 and Lori,

TEST your children with the CoGAT AND get independent testing even though it costs $$. Our child was only Spectrum on the CoGAT, but was mid-2nd grade on the MAP as an early kindergartner, and was 99%ile on independent tests. Other children scoring equally well on the MAP, and CoGAT who didn't have independent testing did not get into Lowell. I think the CoGAT is not a good measure of whether or not they are eligible for Lowell.

Stephan B. said...

Our son is joining 2nd grade APP at Lowell this fall. Any advice you can give other than "wait and see"? Anything we can do to help him have a great start in the new environment?

Lori said...

Stephan, I assume you got the mailing about 2nd grade playground get-togethers? There was one this past Saturday and another coming up on 8/28. There is also the event at the school itself on 9/1; details are on the Lowell web site, I believe.

I heard from current parents (we are also new to Lowell, with an incoming 2nd grade daughter) that by 9/1, you'll know what class your child will be in and you can mingle and meet other kids in that class that nite, which is nice prior to the first day of school.

Finally, a few months ago, a few of us started a Yahoo group for Lowell families residing in the NE so we could find each other and organize get-togethers, carpools, etc prior to September. I think most folks would be very accepting of opening up membership to all Lowell APP families at this point, so if you are interested, the site can be found at

lendlees said...


Another way to get your child acclimated is to go to Lowell the day before school starts (Tuesday the 7th). Most teachers like having help getting their classrooms ready. This will give your son a chance to meet the teacher in a less structured setting and to also meet other kids that come in and help.

We've done it every year so far and it's been a nice way to ease into the school year.