Posts Tagged ‘testing’

SOL #24

SOL #24

Pay attention to your fantasies, daydreams, and self-talk. What are they reinforcing? What purpose do they serve? Do you believe that some feelings are more “you” than others are? (The Wisdom of the Enneagram, 189)

Self-talk. Is that my enemy? I do this all the time.

We finished phase one of testing, and I read this post from one of my students.
The writing part is hard for me because I never learned how to start it or conclude it the way my class did.

I teach gifted pull-out, so she didn’t get the formula for writing.
Am I wrong not to teach the formula?

In the fall of 2014, not six months ago, I received the prestigious Donald Graves Award for the teaching of writing, and yet, I still question my methods. That is the curse of my personality type, self-talk. But I have to question, what is the real issue here?

I realize that the formulas offer comfort and confidence. While my student knew the answer to the prompt, she froze when faced with a blank page. How do you begin?

Even though I know that the best writing for my students is writing they choose, I realize that I need to provide the safety net. The additional practice in formulaic writing.

Today when I came home from school, a new magazine was waiting. The Spring edition of Cultural Vistas, a publication for the Louisiana Endowment of the Arts. My long time mentor Ann Dobie was featured in an interview by my friend and writing group colleague, Dianne Dempsey-Legnon. When I went through the Summer Institute for the National Writing Project of Acadiana in 1995, Ann was the director. This is what she said about her time as director.

It was a magical time… I have seen changes from teacher-centered to student-centered classrooms. Another monumental change is from feeding information to students to allowing them to discover it on their own which is far more dynamic and lasting. –Ann Brewster Dobie, Ph.D.

I will not give up the belief that students need to discover through writing rather than spitting back information within a set format. But I will look for ways to make my beliefs and the new reign of testing co-exist. I owe this to my students who count on me.

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SOL #18

SOL #18

I have been brainstorming all day.  I am chasing an elusive topic.  I know what my fingers want to write about, but I am avoiding it.  There are just so many things that are easier to write about, like spring happening outside my door or my cat chasing a baby lizard.  But these subjects are fluffy, romantic, stupid.

It’s moments like these that I wish I were Donalyn Miller or Nanci Atwell, and I could just come right out and say it.  I’d say it so eloquently that someone would get it and do something about it.  I’m not a famous educator.  I have not published any books on teaching.  But I am there in the trenches, as they say, doing the job.

This is the week, the dreaded week, of testing.  Actually, this is only the first of three weeks of testing.  We have another one in April and a third in May.  What is this world coming to?  Who in the real world takes tests for three weeks?  My daughter took the Bar Exam and it was only one week.  And at the end of that test, she became a lawyer.  At the end of this testing, where will our students be?  Gladly out for the summer!

Prior to this testing week were weeks of “test prep.”  Why?  Because we fear that our teaching isn’t good enough, that the test is too hard, that they are not ready.

I am one of the lucky ones.  My students are gifted. They are telling me the test is not as hard as they thought it would be.  I think this is a good sign.  But even so, the test is not what we have been doing in my class.  In my class, my students read the books they want to read and write about what they want to write about.  Horrors!  Will they be ready?

I’m wondering what happened to putting students first.  What happened to good old Piaget’s theory of child development?  (Note: Theoretical, abstract logic do not happen until 11+ years.)



Today I listened to beautiful and eloquent Nancie Atwell on CNN.  Her students do authentic writing and reading, so they know what writing and reading are good for.  She would not encourage any creative thinker to go into the field of public education as it is right now.  “It (CCSS) has turned teachers into technicians, not reflective practitioners.”   Wow!  That is heavy.  If Common Core and the tests have done this to teachers, then heaven forbid what they are doing to our students.

Where is the love of learning?  Who will teach our students that reading is pleasurable?  What about creativity?  I shudder to think what kind of adults this testing environment will produce. Creative problem solvers? Effective communicators? I think not.


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SOL #10

SOL #10


wicked witch and hour glass

This post lifts a line from Greg Armamentos.  He wrote this most wonderfully expressed lament over PARCC testing.  

Before we jam thermometers

into students

to measure

their current temperature,

Before we dig up

the seed we planted

to see if it is growing,

We must set the timer,

But not any timer.

Computers must be off.

Cell phones must be locked up.

No ticks or rings.

No sound but the deep breaths

of our students in the pressure cooker.

The district gives permission, my pretty,

to use the Promethean timer.

Does the great and powerful district know

that the Smart board has no brains of its own,

let alone a heart?

–Margaret Simon





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