Monday 25 April 2022

Important information for year 4 students around Mar-April each year

It is the information I sent out to parents in early April. It is still useful for parents towards the end of May (each year).

We are now at the beginning of year 4. Soon, students will have to be able to do difficult year 5 work at Mathemafix to have a chance for the OC test in 2022. This means the foundation must be solid before doing OC trials. Unfortunately, a lot of the kids don't have a solid foundation and this means they will have to work on the foundation right close to the OC test date and cram on the hard stuff. This is not useful for long term performance and only helps a little in the OC test. And it is unlikely to be able to get into any OC classes in Sydney. This is why it's important to have a long term view and build the foundation mainly for the selective school test in 2024.

The test series called OC Prep Readiness can help parents to quickly diagnose their kids to see if they are ready for OC prep work. The series covers the advanced level for year 3 students. If year 4 students score poorly in this series, you know that they are not ready and would not do well in OC prep and in the OC test. And this means parents need to look for a long term goal of the selective test.

Here are a few things parents should check to make sure that the kids are on the right track and building the required foundation suitable for high performance. This is also part of the preparation for ICAS competitions in term 3-4. By following what I describe here, parents can keep kids very busy and learn a lot during year 4. Our goal is to achieve a solid foundation and ultra high performance for the smart kids and a decent foundation for the weak kids.

1- Does your child know the math timetables well enough?

Go to the Timetables module and do the tests. The test level 6 is particularly as they cover table 6, 7 and 8. They have to get 100% for all tests and be able to do each test which includes forward and reverse operations under 5 minutes.

2- Does your child have all the basic math in year 4 and 5 and the fraction part of the year 6?

Read the Maths Lessons guide on page QUICK LINKS. Print out the tracking sheets and go to the  Maths Lesson module. Do all 32 year 4 weekly revision tests, score over 90% in each test. Then go on to cover all the year 5 maths online lessons using the normal tracking method as described in the document Maths Lessons. Also do the year 6 fraction topic.

3- Does your child have advanced year 3-5 maths problem-solving strategies and mental maths?

Download and learn from the Maths Problem Solving Strategies Year 2-3 document on page QUICK LINKS. Then study the document for years 4-5. The stuff in these documents are very advanced. In fact, the document for year 4-5 takes students to the selective test level.

4- On page Download, download some year 3 and 4 Singapore maths past papers for the kids to do. The year 4 Singapore papers are even hard for top year 5 students in Australia as their level is at least 1 year higher than Australian school year.

English reading comprehension

1- Can your child consistently score over 85% for English comprehension grade 4 and over 90% for English reading skills grade 4?

If not, go to the Reading Eggspress website and get a free trial account. Do the placement test. Kids are often placed into year 2 level at this age and it is alarming. It is highly recommended that kids should do ReadingEggspress and reach the end of year 5 level by July. Do not rush. They have to do the lessons properly and score over 90%. Kids are known to treat Reading Eggspress as a silly game and randomly click on the choices just to get through the lessons to please parents. They can do one entire year of work in 1 week without understanding anything.

If kids do not get on ReadingEggspress, the Reading Library module has a lot of ebooks for kids to read. Reading e-books and doing the quiz for every chapter will help .

Parents should create a free account for the kids at the Read Theory website and get them to do at least 3 quizzes per week. Strong readers should reach grade 7 level and stay there by the time they get to June of year 4.

2- Can your child spell and write meaningful sentences? Can your child start to write a sentence with two clauses or more? Can your child do proper punctuation and recognise sentence structure, clauses, phrases and describe the job of a phrase in a sentence?

You can check all this by going to More ... and look for the Super Teacher worksheet module and download worksheets for English. Get your child to do the worksheets and read the writing.

Go to the module Punctuation in More ... and do some exercises.

Go to the module Writing Workshop and watch a bunch of video lessons there.

Do all NAPLAN language convention trials year 5

3- Can your child spell common words and some advanced words?

Use the Reading Eggspress spelling module. Mathemafix has a lot of spelling lists and the module Spelling to help.

Top students can also start using the Advanced Word module at grade 4 level to improve vocab. Also, when your child finishes a test in English, GA and science, open the result and look for long words at the bottom of the window. Add the unknown words into the Personal Wordlist and later access them to learn inside the module Personal Wordlist.

4- Can your child write a simple narrative and persuasive writing task about 250 words in length?

The Writing Tools Kit on page QUICK LINKS will be very useful. Also, use the module Read Summarise Write to practise copying ideas from simple stories up to 300 words in length and rewrite the stories. Use the module Writing Planner to start getting familiar with the narrative and persuasive format.  Use the Super Teacher Worksheets in More ... to get worksheets to practise writing sentences to practise English expressions.

Science and technology

Year 4 students have to put a lot of time into English and maths to prepare for the OC test. However, the top performers may have enough time to spend on science, technology and general knowledge.

Parents are highly encouraged to get kids to access Brainpop for science and technology. It also has very good video lessons on various aspects of English and humanities. This will greatly increase the general knowledge of the kids along with English words. Parents should get their own subscriptions to have 24/7 access. But it is fairly expensive. I have a pool of 3 concurrent connections to Brainpop at both Junior and Senior level. With a one-off  contribution to the fee (check PAYMENT page), I will grant access to this shared pool for the life of the Mathemafix account.

Super Teacher Worksheets in More ... also has an enormous collection of science and general knowledge worksheets for parents to use.

The Reading Library has a lot of ebooks for kids to read. Reading e-books and doing the quiz for every chapter will help .

Getting ready for OC trials

The OC trials will be open soon. However, I only expect the top students to do them while the weaker students would still need to prepare the foundation of reading and maths until they reach year 5 level before it's possible to score ok in the OC trials. Experience shows that weaker students tend to wait until the last 6 weeks to do OC trials and many may not finish all the trials.

One really important area is Thinking Skills where kids are only ready to learn when they get to year 5 level in English and maths. There is no point to do TS early as it rests on a solid foundation at year 5 level. Around 3 months before the OC test, students start to prepare for TS. There is a module for TS training in More ... The Thinking Skills module has video lessons to help parents take kids through question types. The OC TS booster tests help students improve their English foundation then move on to do the TS reasoning questions. Strong math problem solving skills will also be needed. GA is still important to boost TS scores (especially with visual reasoning).

The module Sentence Cloze trains students to deal with the new question type called Sentence Cloze. This question type is very difficult so students will need to practise a lot.

Students should start to focus hard on improving everything. The following modules become so important

- Personal Wordlist
- Watch List (allowing students to add hard questions they don't understand during the review process into the Watch List then access the Watch List from the Welcome page. This allows parents and tutors to quickly help them with what they cannot solve).
- Thinking Skills
- Sentence Cloze