While I agree that high stakes testing is not a valid measure of a child or their learning or the education they are offered, what is the option? We can’t simply say we don’t wanna without offering some sort of solution to how we can show that students have learned and are learning and will continue to learn. As a school that ranked top in the state on state mandated testing, it is easy to go with the high stakes testing flow. But is that also right? Do we rest on our laurels and know that we can succeed through any changes or do we, as the top, take a stance that this is not how we show we are successful? What kind of message would that send?
Though, to be truthful, I think the bottom line needs to not be with testing and regulating education through measureable means, but a true look at what is education and why is it important. Those are the questions we should be asking and arguing for. We can’t refuse high stakes testing when we don’t have enough people in our country who believe that teaching and education are more of a priority. Until we make that change, high stakes testing, regardless of our feelings about it, will remain as a way to find accountability.
I think this is a very interesting study mostly because it is something we deal with at the place where I work. We have students like this all the time and often they are reinforced by the parents that raise them. It is a hard thing to face, but the best choice we have in dealing with it is to stick to our guns as teachers. It means we ask students why they answered as they did, teach them to think critically and converse about their work instead of just assigning it, going over answers and moving on. The more discussion there is about the learning that occurs, starting in kindergarten, the less this becomes a factor because they know we’re not giving answers, we’re building pathways of learning.
This is a fairly interesting article about the decision to go to Tech or not. My school remains somewhere inbetween with some tech (smart boards) but a focus on interaction with the physical world (science experiments and social studies projects). I can’t decide which way I would go. I don’t think that tech is a fad and that it is just going to go away, but to do everything based on tech? I think there is still value in learning to add by hand and write a personal letter in cursive. Maybe I’m just old school. What about you?
Now I can’t remember if I posted this or not, but the article is worth a read.
I think the most important of these is actually pushing out the information in different ways. As a very introverted person, it is even more exhausting to be the ‘teacher’ at the front of the room all day long. It is far better for me to have the students direct the learning and make education happen. And think how much it can save you. Even if you planned to do one lesson a week with the students taking the lead, that is an hour wherein you are less a director and more a facilitator or participator in the learning.
Ask for information: Instead of trusting Wikipedia, ask the crowd on Facebook. One kindergarten teacher asked parents to research seeds and got great information about the largest seed in the world according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
Attend remote lectures: Using Facebook, you can tune into remote lectures and presentations from around the world.
Museums and more: Help your students follow along with local and international museums, art galleries, exhibits, and more for enriched learning on Facebook.
Firsthand research: Students can connect with family members for genealogy assignments, discuss issues with local celebrities and more through Facebook.
With my school going 1:1, I know that the math department has been talking a lot about how they could use the computers in their classrooms. Here are some assessment ideas that don’t require the old pencil and paper!
I love this. Love. Can I hug it?! Gah. This is what we can do with assessment. Don’t talk to me about how to turn something as organic as reading and reading assessment in to a piece of paper that you read and bubble answer questions. Talk to me about how organic assessments help us gather important data about students. Then we’ll talk assessment.
On a personal level, I think that the more time we spend on this the better. I found that in the classroom, every minute I spent on this kind of activity was worth it in the end. WHy? It just made it all smoother and easier and provided a heck of a lot of chance to foster a community. If community is important to you or your school, be willing to take TIME and make it a priority. Because then in May, you’re not going crazy, but you have that community to build toward a positive end on.
As we move to having middle school students in our building, I wonder about something like this being a possibility for them. Get them up and get them moving. It’s a cool idea and definitely something I’d love to participate in (though more than that, I’d love an hour for lunch….)
I just love this use of a game and the things you can do with it. I think it also has the chance to do some great community building and learning about how to live and act within the virtual world - something students will need to know how to do as virtual education becomes more and more likely for every student. And what better way to teach than a game!
An interesting point of view on internet censorship and the school’s responsibility in dealing with this kind of information. Do we have the right to censor? We can’t censor our libraries without a strict policy in place (originally called a Selection Manual and it discussed how and why books were selected and had a form for parents to deal with challenging a book). Do we need the same kind of manual in place for the internet? How intensive would something like that need to be? Or do we just not filter and hope for the best?
The uber-popular social network / social bookmarking / time sucking website is a great way for anyone who wants to organize their online travels. You can pin just about anything (as long as it has a big enough image on the page)using a bookmarklet. Pinterest is by far the easiest tool of all the ones mentioned by us. Best of all, it’s the best in terms of content discovery. Pinterest is a legitimate social network where you can waste, err, spend hours just browsing your favorite categories. You’ve been warned.
Diigo is very popular with the world of education. That’s because it offers a few critical tools not found in most other tools. You can ‘highlight’ certain web snippets for easy access at a later date. In other words, you can pick and choose certain parts of web pages and not have to simply bookmark the entire page. That’s great for detailed lesson plans, research, citations, etc.
Struggling with making things in the classroom? Check out these super cute printables! Lots of things for kids to color as well as things like flashcards. I love not having to make cute things and instead find ones to use for free.
Though they do tend to reference a good portion of their own work, they also have referenced large studies and projects that relate back to education and technology and point out many of the current trends that are affecting our students. We need to keep those trends and ideas in mind as we work towards a new technology plan at our school. I think it is important to keep the student focus as we move in that direction. How does your school make technology choices?
Beautiful classroom art work. An amazingly beautiful alphabet and numbers. All organized. You have to print them on your own, but the posts are free and really cool to look at. Lots of ink and need some interesting art, check it out!
As much as I worry that so much of this connection and giving parents makes the burden of teachers harder (ie needing to keep up with Ms. Jones who grades at lightning speed) and removes the student from the loop (don’t talk to me about missing 4th grade math, talk to my kid and let me know you did and I will back you 100%), I still think that this is the way to move education forward. Provide more ways for things to be accessible and students and parents can be better involved with the education process. It’s worth a consideration. Do other schools do this?!
How can you make gym and technology mesh? This article is a great way to show that they can and that kids get excited about technology. It takes the time and effort and certainly finances, but it can be integrated. Do kids still need to just get out and PLAY? Absolutely. But within confined space, we can still make fitness a priority.
“One of the myths of creativity is that very few people are really creative,” said former education professor, author, and TED speaker Ken Robinson, in a statement released to coincide with the report. “The truth is that everyone has great capacities, but not everyone develops them. One of the problems is that too often our educational systems don’t enable students to develop their natural creative powers. Instead, they promote uniformity and standardization. The result is that we’re draining people of their creative possibilities and, as this study reveals, producing a workforce that’s conditioned to prioritize conformity over creativity.”—
As much as I love and respect the work of Ken Robinson, I’m hitting a breaking point. If America is tired of it’s underfunded education system failing, then they need to recognize the following:
You either value education, or you don’t.
It’s that simple.
You either care enough to demand that state and federal governments stop slashing your funding for education (paid for by your tax dollars) instead of giving themselves pay raises and fighting for tax loopholes and breaks for millionaires and billionaires, or you don’t.
You either care enough to demand that we pay teachers a decent wage (since those vile liberal Communist Socialists also spend all day with your children, mentoring, tutoring, sometimes parenting, but generally taking care of them above and beyond what you will ever comprehend), or you don’t.
You either believe that repeated high-stakes standardized testing forces your children to learn how to take a test rather than think critically (because if their multiple test scores are too low the district will lose funding and the teacher may lose their job), or you don’t.
As technology becomes more about learning and providing education online, we need to get our kids online and writing with and sharing with one another. But to me, one of the main issues ends up being keep identities private and making sure that kids are safe. I love it when places come up with solutions to student privacy and making use of great educational tools. So go out, link up and blog with your kids!
Some times we just need an idea of where to start with grading and rubrics and creating them. Help your students see what your expectations are prior to starting the activity and know that they can provide just what you want. It gives them information and nothing comes as a surprise.
Transmission teaching views children as passive learners, empty vessels to be fill by the teacher, school or community. It is the belief that knowledge in fixed and can be divided into subjects. Its primary function is to transmit knowledge from the knowledgeable teacher…
In appreciation of what my students – and children – have taught me, I’d like to close with a few suggestions for making all of our classrooms gifting ones.
Fill your classroom – regardless of your grade and subject-area – with as many learning objects as possible. Stuff your room to the gills with sensory tables, toys, art supplies, and whatever tech and accessories (like mini-MIDI keyboards) you can beg, borrow, or steal, and make it a point to give students time to play or negotiate student-directed projects using these resources. Watch the kids. See what they do. Let them teach one another through discovery. Let them teach one another through play. Learn how they learn alone. What makes a successful arts- or project- or tech-infused classroom is not a teacher’s planning; it is, instead, the teacher’s sustained commitment to trust students to learn and to provide them with the opportunity to learn and create what’s valuable to them with diverse media inside and outside the classroom community. Does this mean you sacrifice some curriculum and perhaps eat some test scores? Absolutely. Rightly.
Ditch what doesn’t work. Don’t keep on keeping on with one approach until all students are consequenced enough to comply or be sent from the room on a regular basis. Really embrace failure and try to depersonalize failed lessons. Experiment with stations or other classroom rituals that let you flow between students who are in and out of their own flow. If you can help some kids find a learning passion, you’ll have more time to help the other kids who struggle to find their own. This takes a long time with students who have been conditioned to be teacher-centered. Indeed, teacher-centered might be a stop-gap strategy to keep kids from being frustrated with more independent learning, but teacher-centered can’t be our goal if we really want to reject high-stakes testing and what we say it does to our children, classrooms, and schools.
Let go; let go; let go. Broadening the definition of learning in our classrooms is a scary thing to do. We have to let go of our traditional roles. We have to let go of some of our darling lessons. We have to let go of some content, some scores, and some approval. Finally, around week 2 or 3, when the novelty has worn off, and kids are questioning everything along with you, we have to let go of fear and help kids reach that next milestone that cements their faith in themselves as learners and valuable community members. The fear is the hardest thing to let go of for me. I ran into a colleague this past week, and we talked about our assignments. I encouraged him to go off his pacing guide. He said, “But the man pays my salary.” All I could say was, “Yes, but he pays mine, too.”
Keep the faith. Believe in democracy. Believe in your students and learning. Believe that you are a valuable member of your classroom community. Believe that you will do what’s right for all kids even when compromise, negotiation, and forgiveness feel uncomfortable to you. Believe that there is a better way to approach teaching and learning than the way we school children. There are no billionaires hiring researchers and bloggers to support this. This is our work; it is not yet theirs.
I really want to get in to this. I think this is a great way to make technology both interactive and more useful for classrooms instead of just that ‘one more thing’ that teachers have to learn and use. If you can make it useful so students can preview lessons or ideas and be prepared for a discussion, then technology helps and doesn’t hinder the classroom.
This is a great place to assign and follow students’ progress in math. It is worth it when it is free, but definitely our school is considering the purchased option so we can coordinate it with the national standardized tests we take each spring. A great practice set for parents to see what kids are learning about.
We all have diverse classrooms with so much going on in them. It’s worth taking time to remember a few ‘hints’ that can make the classroom function for you and the student. Keeping that focus on making them feel like they belong and can do it is an important idea.
End of the year is always the toughest time of the year. What do we do with kids? How can we sum up ALL the wonderful learning and exploring and thinking we have done? See what you can do with some of these ideas. Remember - it’s all about celebrating what we learned.
A very interesting discussion of standardized testing with some links to items that are occurring in the state of New York because of testing. I think it is important to note that all tests have a place but how we USE a test is the key. And the minute we start using tests to ‘autopsy’ our students and not move them forward in their learning is the true key. We can learn from tests and standardized testing but only if they are transparent and meant to teach teachers as much as they show student learning.
One of the best places to get information about our math standards and science standards. I look here constantly for new assessment ideas and ways to teach concepts for the math students I do see. What I have found has allowed me to be more knowledgeable and create even better Interim Assessments.
A fun place to play around and meet other educators. With middle school students on our door step, here might be a way to get them up and interacting with us and their homework and other needed skills. Build a class and try it out!
These YouTube channels provide a wealth of entertaining educational content for use in or out of the classroom. They are organized in to categories for easy reference but still can be a bit to sort through. Make sure to check out the additional mentions in the comments.
I love all thhe new products that google is putting out and with their Drive being added I think there is a great case for using it more and more in the classroom. But how do you use it with elementary kids without needing every kid to have a log in? Same thing with twitter and a lot of other cool web based things using social media. We have the tools to make use of them but I worry about the logistics of every student needing to log in or even having a six year old with a google account. Solutions? Thoughts?