Daily Archives: March 7, 2015

The Future – It’s Not What but How

Quote II

In a time of high stake testing, it can feel like we are being asked to say and do things according to the script of the NYS Education Department.  This is why when we saw this quote, we were immediately drawn to it. As thoughtful educators, we shouldn’t be focused on the “what” (content)  but instead we should be focused on the “how” (process).  It is our charge to build self confidence, independence, nurture curiosity, while providing security for risk-taking. We set the stage for  collaboration, and stoke problem solving  techniques . The thing that will leave a lasting impression and change a child’s life is the way we make the child feel.  Every child is a learner, an expert, a reader, a writer, an innovator, an activist, a problem-solver, an ambassador for change.  Nothing is more vital to our future than creating citizens who feel like they are successful, capable, innovative and able to change the world.

When you focus on the “how”, the results you will see are amazing.  Here are a few of our results:

  • Children taking a book out to recess to read in place of other traditionally fun activities
  • Children initiating writing groups to write books and stories together during their free time (spreading the love of writing)
  • Children sharing  about text we have read to their friends and parents (reading is contagious and something to be celebrated and shared)
  • Children so invested in debates that they continue to voice their opinion days later
  • Children being activists by making posters, writing letters and trying to persuade others to see things their way
  • Children coming up with creative solutions to problems within our classroom and school
  • Children connecting the activities we do in class to their own lives outside of school

Where does accountability lie?  For teachers our first measure of accountability is to the local communities we serve. We do not work in a bureaucratic void. We understand full well, that education is a public trust, and this is exactly why we are attempting to do this work. To grow a future society that will think critically and feel empathy.  Children are more than data points they are complex beings and we are their guides – understand that their questions are better than ours and their ideas will yield more value than a static score ever could. Creating classroom environments that set the stage for authentic learning helps make children feel like they can do anything. That is what we need for the future.

It’s Not Test Prep It’s Writing Meaningful Responses


Kidblog is a safe self-contained blogging platform that can be used for free.  For more information about Kidblog:  Kidblog.org?/home/  

Kidblog

According to NCTE: “Reading and writing are not only obliged activities (things we must do) but also self-sponsored ones (things we might choose).”  We are taking this statement for all it’s worth when it comes to our instructional approach when it comes to testing.  We are using Kidblog as an instructional tool that offers so much more than merely preparing students for state exams.  We begin by giving students choice with a prescribed focus.  The teacher sets the focus for the written response but the student has choice in the text they use.  For example,  students can be directed to write about theme, but  they are selecting the text.  Students understand they are writing for an audience, not a great void.  Their goal is (like ours)  to begin a conversation by engaging other students to respond to their writing.  This is real life practice for writing to an audience using 21st Century Technology.

What’s the end goal?

People from outside of education will say that testing is the much needed measure of accountability.  Teachers are left to create something meaningful from a static measure.  We are trying to create students who have a strong capacity for reading and writing; however, if we are also being forced to prepare them for a testing situation that is yielding little to our day to day real  instruction.  Kidblog is offering us the best solution so far:

  • Kids are responding to literature in an authentic way – with rules they have to use evidence, support their opinions, they are using the entire writing process to create their “posts”
  • They are  writing for an audience (their peers, teachers, parents)
  • They are getting real feedback through their peer’s responses that inform their writing. (they want others to respond to their writing)
  • They are writing and reading on screens

Quotes

 

Life is the real test  – so why would we create “testing like” experiences in place of something like this? We have to stop the victimization of our profession – we are the gatekeeper of rigor.  Believe we are and that will be reality. Teach like the house is on fire, teach with passion, teach with a keen eye that is always fixed on the students before you.  This is how we improve the state of public education.