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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Test/STEAM Intersection

The intersection of standardized testing and STEAM study is making my classroom uncomfortable. The types of spaces, time, and attention both need don't support one another.

Why?

First, with regard to space, the STEAM project needs lots of space for supplies, storage, and invention. The project has spread out into all corners of the room, and there just isn't a lot of space for 44 students' collaborative and individual creations--projects that are growing in all kinds of ways with lots of trial and error.

On the other hand, the testing requires me to stretch out the desks so that students can't see each others' work and so that I can get around to proctor. A room without distractions also sets the stage for good attention and test work. Also both the testing and STEAM activity take time, focus, and lots of energy. And there's only so much energy for learning in a day.

Next year, I won't match a big STEAM project with testing in the same room as it creates too much havoc with regard to moving materials, keeping students focused, and doing good work. Hence, we'll finish the STEAM project, our marble maze simple machines, by Friday, clean it up, and make the room a test-room for the next 3-weeks of testing, and then for another three weeks in May. After that we'll have the space and time for more STEAM study.

Hopefully next year's testing schedules will be set early in the year at the State level so that we can use this new knowledge and experience to create optimal learning paths that help us choreograph our learning goals, schedules, and structures well.