A Lesson Learned in Time #sol17

testSo make the best of this test, and don’t ask why
It’s not a question, but a lesson learned in time   Green Day

April 4, 2017

This is state testing week in fourth grade.  I have had my own little bunch to proctor, so it’s given me a little bit of technology free time to think as I watch the students work through the ELA assessment.  This all led me to contemplate scaffolds vs. rescuing,  student agency and the like at 11:30 or later last night.  I’m the one with test anxiety.  So in my fitful near sleep I hear Green Day do this.

Green Day  singing Camp Town Races to the tune of Good Riddance.  

The actual words to Good Riddance are these:

Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road
Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go
So make the best of this test, and don’t ask why
It’s not a question, but a lesson learned in time
It’s something unpredictable, but in the end it’s right
I hope you had the time of your life

Green Day was singing Camp Town Races,  I was hearing Good Riddance.  Green Day has probably sang Good Riddance more than 1,000 times so adapting the Camp Town Races lyrics to the Good Riddance score might not have been difficult for them.  Our students daily have to adapt what has previously been taught to new experiences.  And they do.  With or without us,  they continue to learn.  Some of what they learn is adaptive behaviors.

So when presented with the challenge of a generic grade level assessment taken on a computer, can they remember the tune and adapt it to new lyrics.  It seems easier than it might be.  Memory might make this task more difficult.

As I watch them working through the test questions, I think about the opportunities that we have given them during this year to ‘wallow in it’.  To get down into a problem and think their way out.  I begin to ask myself questions about my instruction.  Do I let them sit in it?  Do we work for their questions instead of answers to mine? During this year,  I’ve read many books and articles about scaffolding and rescuing.  Who is creating the space for students to think?

So here’s the question for us.  What do we do every day to prepare students for ‘the test’?  The test of new situations, problems to solve, new learning.

9 thoughts on “A Lesson Learned in Time #sol17

  1. We just had this conversation today! We were talking about THE test and the need to teach kids how to work things out when the work gets hard, and to have the mindset to say, “Hmmm….this isn’t easy. Let me see what I can figure out.” This is important work…..on the test, and in the world.

  2. The question, Who is creating the space for students to think?–cathces my attention. I would hope it would be students as that speaks to agency and without agency, learning is often transitory at best.

    When I read these scenarios with test taking going on it hurts. An academic Turning point for my son was when he created a computer and used it to figure out the environmental impact if energy saving connectors were used on desktops like the one he made. It saved millions. I think he was a sophomore and entered it into his school’s science fair. One of the parents who was an engineer spoke with umm about the significance of his project. His work also won the fair that year. He begins his study in engineering next year at college. The science fair seems like such a superior (and simply one example) way for students to deepen and complicate their own learning. My husband and I, both public school educators removed Devon from public school when he started 8th grade. The test prepping was the main focus and we all wanted more. We were able to send him to a private school where state testing doesn’t happen and the CCSS aren’t focused upon. It seems to me that many of his teachers teach what they love. As he was accepted into college, he seems to have met the ‘college ready’ requirements.

  3. I think you are referred to the ‘test’ of life. I am not a fan of standardized tests. My youngest two sons are now in HS, so I’ve had my share of exposure to these tests. I applaud you for using your time this week for some self-reflection. I have been reading a book for a grad class on teaching and learning and am amazed by all the brilliant ideas posed that I never have seen put into action in the classroom. It makes me frustrated and sad. I do agree that we need to prepare our students to figure things out when the going gets rough and also look for other ways to assess, rather than just “the test”. Thanks.

  4. Personally, I believe the emphasis on “the test” has inflicted so much damage to our public education system. But as the literacy leader in my building, I have made it my business to minimize its impact. We don’t do much prep for it, we don’t spend much time thinking about it. We believe the work we do with kids is the right work, and although we spend a little time helping kids be familiar with the format, the test does not hold much power in our building. I suppose I am lucky my leadership allows that.

  5. This is the question we are constantly asking — that is why the messy sheet came to be. When we create space – we can watch, listen and reflect – on the messiness of their learning. We need to create this space in schools for kids to “play” with ideas, “make” their own understandings and navigate the process of their learning. I love the questions you pose at the end of this post!! Thank you

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