My friend Carol has written a lot lately on our state’s “big” event. As we all know the pressure put on teachers and students over this test is counterproductive to what we should be doing: teaching, and learning.
One of my student’s father works for a rocket company. Kindof cool. I can say “What, you think your dad is a rocket scientist? And he can reply “Why, yes he is!” Well, anyway his company goes to schools and builds rockets out of two litre soda bottles, and other fun stuff. After they are “built” we take the third graders out and they shoot them off. Last year it was the best memory of the year. Given the company’s busy schedule, and our science unit about space the logical time for this activity was set for the Thursday and Friday before the “big” event. Like I said this has been planned for months. Everyone from the principal to the other third grade teachers knew the dates and time commitment. Well, today came the realization that it is days before the “big” event, and even worse it takes time away from mathematics. There is concern that by a few kids missing two days of instruction it will negatively impact their test scores.
I read the email multiple times to see if there was fine print saying “just kidding!”; but alas it was not there. Now to be blunt a few things entered my head, and some were said with my door closed at lunch; but for the sake of this being a blog I’ll just censor my thoughts: “What the…..” Really! If they aren’t ready now what will two more******* days do?” After calming down I decided that I would do what I always do when I need to be calm in front of my class. I READ A PICTURE BOOK. Not any book, but one that told them what I really thought.
I read Hooray for Diffendoofer Day! by Dr. Seuss. I have read this book many times. I use it as a mentor text when we discuss using our brains to think, and that we are capable of doing so much. In third grade they split up the “big” event over two months. ????? We take Reading in February and Writing and Mathematics in March. In our class we discuss how we started preparing for these test the day our first story was read to us, the first time we knew a number, and the first time we wrote a letter. In other words we know what is on the test, so sit back and show the state what you can do.
In my heart I, truly, believe this. I am, also, not naïve enough to believe that I don’t need to teach these wonderful students the formats of the test. The format of the editing paragraph on the writing test is enough to put anyone over the edge. What will the results show? They will show that some students still struggle, and some fly.
What won’t the results show?
· deeper thought
So in the words of Dr. Seuss: “Miss Bonkers teaches a pig to put on underpants, and ducks to sing. Mr. Kimmal teaches your shoes are untied, and what's on your shirt? Mr. Kimmal, also, teaches EVERYTHING! He’s different-er than the rest.”