Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Learning is not a Race!

For those of us who blog and many who do not, teaching is a Passion.  Learning is not a race, but a journey.  It's not a line segment, but a line that continues on infinitely.  We are always moving further on the continuum to help our treasures become stronger readers and writers, powerful mathematicians, and problem-solvers.  And yet, those who do not teach and have never been in a classroom, write education policy and tests.  They use words like value-added, achievement, standardized,  Race to The Top, and common assessments, all the while throwing in 21st Century Learning ideas and thoughts.  How can you measure problem-solving?  How can you show all the growth of a child in one 2 1/2 hour test?

Imagine G: she is very creative and is not afraid to share what she is thinking.  While it does not always come out positively, I know she is constantly thinking.  In January she told me, "Mrs. Archer, for some reason I don't like the words Mentor Text.  I don't like the way it sounds or feels when I say it."  Last week, she shared with me that she was using another student's quilt square as a mentor text for her own.  She has internalized what a mentor text is.

L:  There is a reading pattern from previous years:  cannot choose books or stay engaged.  As of last week, he had read 22 books and can read for longer periods of time.

N:  He is now taking ownership of his work and is striving to complete quality projects.

C:  One of my promising mathematicians:  she has recently shown a lot of growth and feels math is not a 4-letter word.

Each student spent 12 weeks creating an electronic portfolio of their writing, reading, and reflections of math and content areas.

How do you measure these celebrations with a multiple choice, short answer, and extended response test?  One answer:  you cannot.  Ann Marie Corgill quoted Albert Einstein yesterday on her blog:  Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.
She also has a great powerpoint by Marion Brady on this message.  Check it out!

So at 9:00am today, I will welcome my treasures in my room. I will close the doors and celebrate the learning that counts.  The learning that cannot be measured and the unique treasures in my room.   I will conference with my friends on their "How-To" projects.  I will talk about their reading choices.  More importantly, we will learn and celebrate our growth.  When I begin to feel boxed in because of common assessment tests, standardized tests, and achievement tests, I will step back and celebrate Learning That Counts. 

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