29 Days

This morning on the 4 train to work a man (presumably homeless and/or mentally unstable) came onto the train and starting shouting warnings of fire and brimstone and lakes of fire. It was 7:30 in the morning. As a Jew I'm not generally interested in hearing about Christ as the past to salvation. Before 8am I'm really not interested in hearing about it.

Why do I relate this story? The state ELA exam is 29 days away and throughout the school the test is being touted as this End of Days event. "If you don't get it together you will fail the test and be back in 4th grade!" Is fear really the way to get kids motivated? And if they don't want to hear about in general, do they really want to hear about it at 8am?

I am tired of hearing about the test. I am tired of using it as a blunt tool of intimidation and motivation. Everyone in the school constantly complains about the tests and how there's way too much emphasis placed on them. But when it comes to talking to the kids we make them think it is the end and the beginning of their education this year. So if/when they fail it feeds into a powerful sense of learned helplessness. There must be a way to prepare them for the test without building up the test into this singular and final indicator of academic performance.

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Anonymous said…
My 7th graders take their NYS ELA exam in mid-January. (I teach 8th graders on alternate years.) Hurray. I know what they need to know on the test, and the knowledge is built into our curriculum (such as literary terms, identifying main idea, etc.). But I don't actually show them the test or work on it specifically till early or mid-December. I want them to not be anxious or afraid, and I most certainly tell them the limited value of such testing, especially since I refuse to judge my teaching by my students' test scores, despite the judgment of politicians and school administrators.

So, that may or may not answer your question, but mainly I just wanted to say that you're not alone.
whats good man. yea, im gonna start blogging again. between teaching, studying, and living, blogging has definitely taken a back seat.. but it is also a part of my processing of it all.. how u?
IMC Guy said…
We've had students not takes tests seriously because they didn't see the connection. Getting them to realize the importance is critical - how you do that is the question. Maybe they need to get used the pressure - it only gets worse as they get older.

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