I have decided that “Teacher Tips” Tuesday is an incredibly presumptuous title for what I was attempting to accomplish on my little blog. I am new to education; I don’t pretend to know it all, but I will assert that I have learned a few things in my short years of experience. I love what I do; I am not a passive participant in education. I try to re-invent what I do each year so that I can keep up with new trends in education and reach this new generation of students. My goal for triple T was to dedicate the second workday of each week to become a voice for teachers in the frustrating times and share material in those moments when we just need a little help.
In light of this, I’ve decided to re-name my Tuesday editorials “Two-cent Teacher Tuesdays.” I don’t pretend to be the prevailing opinion of all teachers, but that is why it is my two cents. I have said it before: there is no one solution for the problems in education. Many thought NCLB was the answer. The Indiana State Board of Education still believes that could be the answer to monitoring “teacher and principal evaluation…(and) raising academic achievement.” Despite my affections for the dub, I wholly disagree. Student growth cannot be measured through a series of standardized tests. According to U.S. News & World Reports, a teacher assessment method which emphasizes student growth “has a weak to nonexistent link with teacher performance.” To be clear, testing students for the sake of testing students does not prepare students for real life. It only prepares them for multiple choice tests. This extreme importance we have placed on student achievement on high stakes exams affords extreme scenarios, like the APS cheating scandal. We can’t just give students answer choices and expect them to be able to verbalize higher order thinking skills. The following video shows the holes in NCLB:
Some people may disagree with me, and that is ok.
Penn Jillette said to Glenn Beck, “The idea of the marketplace of ideas is that everybody talks to everybody; the fact that we disagree so much…is the reason we should be talking…and standing up for each other.”
In my opinion, we must give students learning objectives. We must give students valuable writing tasks. We cannot rest on giving assignments and not placing them inside real world scenarios. The idea that our students are increasingly unable to engage in public discourse is the reason that I have begun to seek alternate assignments in assessing my students on objectives.
As a literature teacher, I get to walk through fiction and allow students to sort through their own connections to real-world applications. This school year, I focused predominantly on Socratic Seminar as my primary assessment model. My final exam for first semester was a Socratic Seminar that required students to connect in three valuable ways.
Each student is provided these instructions:
Text to Self: Students had to relate major themes of YA literature (Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian) to themselves and be able to verbalize what they had written.
Other points of discussion:
Pull an example from pop-culture or a historical reference of someone concealing their personality or motivations in order to get something that they want.
Text to Society: Students had to cite textual references for the reasons why they believed what they believed. For Pearl Buck’s “The Good Earth,” for example, students had to answer this question:
Text to Text: Students had to take Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “A Study in Scarlett” and relate back to another novel they’d read earlier in the semester using these questions as a guideline: