Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Teachers Write, Tests and Teaching, and nErDcampBC!

Normally, I post about the nonfiction I read this week, but sadly, I didn't read any.  Not to fear!  I have other things I want to write about today!

If you don't know Jo Knowles's work, I would highly recommend that you read See You at Harry's!  It's a beautiful story.
See You at Harry's
Now, for my Teachers Write response!  Like my previous Teachers Write responses, I'm adapting the prompt to fit my goals for professional writing.
     You can't take it with you.  My daughter and her friends are just finding out their AP History Test scores while other juniors and seniors are finding out the results of all the other AP tests out there.  Just a couple of weeks ago, principals and teachers received scores from the soon-to-be-obsolete-Ohio Achievement Assessments given in the spring.  Students will get their copies later this summer.  Some teachers will have letter grades assigned to them based on "Adequate Yearly Progress."  Juniors and seniors across the country are taking their A.C.T.s and S.A.T.s and finding out whether or not they did well enough to get into their colleges of choice and receive scholarships.  Various third graders and elementary teachers are being shifted around in order to meet the requirements of the Third Grade Guarantee.  Third graders (8-year-olds!) take two high-stakes tests - one in the fall and one in the spring.  The Common Core State Standards are being studied, critiqued, and dissected in order to prepare for the PARCC assessments coming soon.  Whew!  It's enough to make your head spin!  How much do all these tests and grades impact the future of our kids?  What can they take with them from these experiences and results?  Will these assessments teach creativity, curiosity, problem-solving, and collaboration?  Can students take test scores with them when they are challenged to find creative solutions to a real-life problem?  Will they have a passion for lifelong learning and reading? 
     I want my students to take something with them, and it's not their state test results.  Of course, I want them to do well on those assessments, and I will do my best to prepare them.  I will study the CCSS, and I will write curriculum for my classroom that will most effectively teach those outcomes. I will collaborate with other teachers, analyze data, and design differentiated lessons to make sure kids are ready for those PARCC assessments.  However, those numbers are only a part of what I want to accomplish.  I want my students to feel valued and safe.  I want them to see my passion for learning, reading, and writing, and I want them to catch it from me and each other.  I want us to interact compassionately and clearly.  I want them to CHOOSE KIND and help others in need.  I want my students to think of others before themselves and act responsibly.  I want them to ask questions and make mistakes.  I want them to take healthy risks and step outside their comfort zones.  I want them to read widely and deeply.  I want them to make choices for themselves and self -evaluate.  I want them to explore topics and subjects they love.  I want them to be good friends and citizens.  I want them to love coming to school.  THOSE are the things they can take with them.
On a completely different note, today I'm heading to nErDcamp Battle Creek!!!  Yay!
I'm so excited to meet and spend time with all the Nerdy Book Club folks I've grown to admire for their "nerd-vana," as Alaina Sharp so effectively called it today in her Nerdy Book Club post!  We'll all be talking about literacy tomorrow in an "unconference" - a conference in which the participants decide what to discuss, teach, and learn instead of formal sessions.  I can't wait!  I need to stop blogging now and PACK!


  1. Holly,

    I would love to go to nErDcamp but work through the summer. Please remember us working slobs and post updates on your blog and Twitter. I really wish we could have a live stream going but given that most #nerdybookclub members practically have smartphones permanently attached to their hands, I doubt we will be left in darkness. Tweet Loud, Tweet Proud. You might even get some pretty good questions from us.

  2. I'm so excited for you that you get to go to nErDcamp! I can't wait to hear all about it!!

    You hit the nail on the head with the rest of your blog post. We've been talking a lot about assessment and the merits and/or demerits of it at OWP. Some food for thought for your loyal readers.

    Have Fun!!!

  3. I am totally adding a link to your blog on my home screen. You are such a phenomenal writer. I saw the blog about "Turning Your Classroom into a Hotbed of Enthusiastic Readers" on the Nerdy Book Club last week, and I shared it with a ton of people. I didn't make the connection that it was you until I finished reading this post. Your thoughts about standardized testing resonate deeply with my spirit, and I agree the kids won't take their scores with them into life. Thanks for daring greatly and sharing your art with the world. You ROCK!

  4. Great blog post, Holly! The tests are just so looming, and feel like they are so little upon which to measure a year. When my youngest daughter announced that she just had her best year of school yet, I didn't look at test scores to verify that. I looked toward the way she loved her teachers, and felt loved by them!

    On that note, I saw a cartoon which really summed it up recently. A young person was being interviewed for a job when they were asked... "What skills or qualifications can you bring to this job?"... to which they replied... "I'm a good test taker!". Ugh!