Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Documenting Learning

Learning is my passion. Many things about the schooling process are important to parents. Parents are trained from daycare or preschool by the schools to care about grades and behavior, as well as, activities and field trips.  But, my passion is learning. We need to activate our parents concern for the actual academic learning taking place in each classroom, particularly in middle school and high school.

More importantly, as educators, we need to retrain ourselves to document learning, and to talk about the actual learning.  Preschool programs such as Montessori and Reggio Emilia are meticulous about documenting learning. MS and HS teachers are meticulous about grading.  Is SBG the answer
(look to @drjolly and @garnet_hilman)? Perhaps. Even if a school uses a standard grading scale with mandatory weighting, grades are still subjective. As teachers we also need to hold students accountable for documenting their own learning. Are student-led conferences the answer? Perhaps. Could Interactive Notebooking become part of the process for students (thanks @acaciatc), perhaps.  Are portfolios the way to go? Perhaps. Retraining teachers, students, and parents to question the learning, rather than the grade or the behavior is a noble starting goal.

Thankfully, teachers across the US are implementing the Common Core Standards. These common standards will help teachers begin to see beyond the scope of their own communities. Educators can learn best practices from each other for documenting and sharing learning. Some schools began implementing SBG many years ago.

I am passionate about learning. Please do share the ways that your community documents learning in your middle schools and high schools.

Suzanne Rogers, M.Ed.

Resources for learning how to document learning.
Reggio Emilia
Interactive Student Notebooks

Sunday, March 9, 2014

This is a test. This is only a test of the American Education System.

 "This is a test. This is only a test of the American Education System"

As an Arkansan Educator, I read with interest @Edusanity's recent blog post by +Jason Endacott who blogged about the +NWEA  MAP data craze at his son's school.  As a fellow #Eduparent, I share a similar concern, as do all parents. We want our children to be recognized as special, unique individuals. More importantly, as an #Eduparent, we owe it to our schools to be the voice of reason. 

Last July I blogged about the #Unitedoptout plan. I urged reason then, and I continue to urge reason in the rising tide of testing angst. This is only a test. Your child is not a number.

 "My child is NOT a number."  I remember hearing that same refrain from a parent of one of my first grade students at @HolyFamilyAcademy in Honolulu, HI.  My students were assigned a number so they could put their papers in order by number, line up in a specific number order, and imagine this...think numerically! I knew that this child's name was +Christine Gibo. I knew that her mother taught in the classroom beside me. I knew their family history and how they left from California to become Keiki O Ka 'Aina.  I wanted my students to not be afraid of numbers. I wanted them to think numerically at an early age. We could math games by calling out a number! The students could move and think numerically at the same time. How wonderful! #5 could join hands with #8 and #13 would join them. They could line up by odd numbers or even numbers.

Fun memory aside, I know that some parents worry about the Social Security number assigned to their baby prior to leaving the hospital. I remember the concern when numbers were put on packaging for inventory purposes. I remember when there was some concern that immunizations put the mark of the devil on children. (Really?Truth!) 

So, as  an #Eduparent how do I calm parents regarding the upcoming 8-9 hours of PARCC testing? Perhaps we need to sound the Klaxon and remind parents "This is a Test. This only a test."
"This is a test of the American Education System. The Administrators of your school in voluntary cooperation with the Federal, State and local authorities have developed this system to keep you informed.  This is only a test of the American Education System.

All joking aside, 8-9 hours of testing each year is only two half days of school. Most parents have their children out of school that much for family activities such as dental appointments, picking up Grandma from the airport, big sister's graduation, and other important events. These test scores are not currently recorded and shared with colleges and universities. We must tame the fires. We must help our parents understand that these test scores are not the "be all and end all" of their children's educational lives. This test score does not truly define their child for all time. This is one brief moment that will provide information regarding the education of their child.  Remember, "This is only a test of the American Education System."

Suzanne M. Rogers, M.Ed.

Endacott, J. (2014, March 07). [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://www.edusanity.com
Shmoop Editorial Team. (2008, November 11). Macbeth Time Quotes Page 2. Retrieved March 9, 2014    from http://www.shmoop.com/macbeth/time-quotes-2.html