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Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Teaching Today - May 2017

Today students and I will review lots of facts and figures related to measurement. We'll do this in preparation for a number of upcoming assessments including two systemwide tests and two math MCAS tests. In a sense, we are cramming to fit in all the standards. Is this a good idea?

I've thought a lot about that, and have decided to go forward with the quick and pointed review so that every child will have a shot at completing all the questions accurately on upcoming tests. I admit there is a personal motive here too since I am essentially scored on students' scores too.

If I were in charge of the world, as I've mentioned before, I would begin to work on more progressive assessments that test students now and then with streamlined assessments--the kinds of assessments that allow us to understand students areas of needed skill and knowledge, and assessments that help us with regard to planning and carrying out a meaningful program for every child.

As it stands now the many assessments I give do demonstrate growth, which is helpful. These same assessments also show areas of capacity and strength which is also helpful. What still needs to change is how these assessments address students who don't do well or do very well--these students' would profit more from a progressive test structure that helps educators plan and carry out a more tailored program for students who already know the grade level standards or for students who have yet to reach readiness for learning the grade level standards. It seems that there are efforts in place to streamline testing and make the tests more targeted and these are steps in the right direction.

Yet, it's not a perfect world, and no assessment will be perfect, so what will I do with what we have? This summer I'm going to assess the entire teaching and learning program with regard to math and STEAM efforts. It's true that the expectations equal more time than we have especially when it comes to the need for greater practice and hands-on explorations. To rush students is not good teaching so I want to look at ways to better scaffold the teaching and learning standards to make the math/STEAM program a student-friendly program.

For the time being though I'll review all the standards before the tests. Acknowledge to students that we're doing our best to give them a chance to do their best on the tests, and then once the tests are past we'll move on the exciting STEAM and biography projects ahead.