Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Going to the "Other Side"

My friend, Bill @ Literate Lives posted about how busy September was for him and how he just didn't have much inspiration to blog.  I also felt this way and was extremely busy but now that the calendar says it is October which happens to be one my favorite months I am feeling a shift of energy.

But first I want to reflect on September because I sure learned important lessons about my life as a teacher.  First of all I learned that experience doesn't always make things easier in fact I learned it could hold you back.  For two years, I have been hearing about the D word-for those of you who read my blog who are not in education the D word is data.  The key to my last sentence is the verb (which itself is a little joke if you live at my school) the verb is: hearing.  My thinking shifted last week when I spent the whole day with my team members, principal, Mr. Mark and our instructional support teacher (IST). We spent the morning looking at 4th grade data since now they are my students, looking at OAA diagnostics that my students this year have completed as well as observations.  I was not thrilled walking into this  meeting however when I walked out--- I finally got it.

Here is what I got for those of you like me who just are not quite there yet.  OAA testing is here to stay, and I have to be accountable to it because I want my students to do well and have the skills they need to be successful on a 2 pt or 4 pt extended response question in addition to the multiple choice.  However most of our conversation was based on extended responses.  I want my students to have the opportunity to be successful on future high stake tests by building a strong positive environment about the state tests etc. Even this week, we discussed the ACT and SAT because in word study we were discussing the importance of building strong vocabulary. More about this in a future blog.

I have come over the the "other side" I continue to think about how to integrate test taking strategies and OAA text within our school day not everyday but more than I used to.  I am not willing to admit that there is a testing genre, but I am willing to admit I need to hold myself accountable to the tests by allowing my students the best opportunity in May to pass the Reading, Math and Science OAA with at least a year's growth which is another really long story.  Let me know where you are with your thinking-


  1. Your description of how you feel about standardized testing - dubious at first, now accepting that it is inevitable, and pushing to move forward with how best to prepare students - is admirable. I know my 5th grade son has years of standardized testing ahead, even more if he chooses an advanced college degree. I know my school's funding is based on how well he and the other students do. I don't mind his teacher's "teaching to the test," in that I think test taking strategies are essential, much like how social learning is essential through school, and I see them supporting the core skills he is learning, not in opposition to them.

    Your dedication and enthusiasm for teaching students is evident throughout your blog. It's wonderful to read. I just found your blog by googling "5th grade apps." I'm so happy that you spent time describing how you used them in the classroom and how your students rated them.

  2. Vicki, I am so excited you found my blog and I truly appreciate a parent's perspective on state testing. Your thoughts confirm my shift in learning! Thank you!