Sunday, November 1, 2009

Soap Box

As my last full teach week approaches, I was writing a journal entry and it turned into a soap box time. I ended up apologizing for getting on my soap box, but not for the issue at hand. Here was my latest journal:

I am realizing just how much our kids are tested to death! This past week we decided we needed to test them over adding and subtracting fractions because it’s a huge part of the 6th grade. So we collaborate to make a 13 question test. I made a Jeopardy review game to go over all the concepts and still on test day I see 3/8 + 1/3 = 4/11! I just want to be like when have we EVER just added straight across! All of that is really besides my point though, back to testing. This week we have to administer the Unit 3 CScope test. It’s over fractions, decimals, order of operations, gcf, and lcm. It is a long test and we must have our kids complete scantrons for it now, which leads to setting aside 2 days for that testing. The very next week is the end of the 6 weeks, so we have the district 6 weeks test. That always takes 2 days. So for 3 weeks in a row now, my kids have been tested for a total of 5 days. That’s a whole week - 33% of my time is spent administering tests. This makes me want to only do in class projects, out of class projects, anything else besides a multiple choice, written test for my students’ major grades in my class. I feel like my time could be better put to use if we weren’t testing our students so much. I also don’t think this follows a very progressive learning mindset. Even if we are doing hands on activities to lead up to the tests, there’s still too much testing going on. It’s like they aren’t even giving us real time to teach. They want us just to shove everything in their faces so they can be ready for the next district test. Discovery learning takes time. You can’t tell a student they have to discover the concept of common denominators by 10:45 am when it’s 10:20. I know scores are important in Texas and, of course, I want my students to do well, but it can’t be everything. We spend more time teaching our students test taking strategies, then concepts that are going to be on the test. I know that may be an exaggeration and I may be on my soap box a little bit, but I think it’s an important issue.

I read it to my roommate and her response was "I love when teachers get on their soap boxes, because they're just so passionate about everything!" I figured this was a good way to look at it. As far as my personal life, everything is fantastic and I'm just loving where I'm at in life right now. Hannah reminded me this past week that I've reached the 200 days and counting until I graduate. Kind of scary! ha

Through my good friend Emily's death, my eyes were opened to her favorite Bible verse. It has become the verse I go to now when I find myself missing her (4 months last Thursday), but I also think it has an awesome message: "Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. Hebrews 11:1" I think "faith" is a word that is thrown around a lot in today's world, but this verse does a great job of defining what it really is and how we can apply it to our lives. I also love to listen to this song by Natalie Grant called "Perfect People." Being a natural, first born perfectionist, it helps to remind me that I don't have to be perfect to come before my God. Here's just the chorus lyrics:

There's no such thing as perfect people
There's no such thing as a perfect life
So come as you are, broken and scared
Lift up your heart and be amazed
And be changed by a perfect God

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