Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Not On the Test

We are entering the high stakes testing season. It’s always our great dilemma as creative educators because we know deep in our hearts that our students learn more when they create content. They know it when they can teach it! Yet, when it comes time for high stakes testing to roll in, creating, the highest level of Bloom’s revised Taxonomy is rarely implemented.  Instead, the students are prepared for the lowest level, remembering. I get it, I understand the pressure. Jobs are at stake, schools and now counties will be graded and ranked. How can we prove once and for all that students will achieve higher scores when they own the content.  I wish I had the answer.  All I know is that students who are creating audio, videos, presentations or projects of any type are engaged, purpose-driven and mastering the material.  This “tuesdays” is designed to engage in the conversation of a classroom where the students are doing the creating or the teacher is doing all the work. What do you think?
A creative website
This little toe tapping website has a powerful message.  Be sure to watch this little 2 min. video, Not On The Test. It’s a powerful message and a great way to help those of us who love creativity in the classroom help get the word out.  It’s not so easy to prove that students learn better in a creative classroom, but it’s very easy to observe.  Did you know that young people who consistently participate in comprehensive, sequential, and rigorous arts programs are 4 times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, 3 times more likely to be elected to class office within their schools, 4 times more likely to participate in math and science fairs, 3 times more likely to win an award for school attendance and 4 times more likely to win an award for writing an essay or poem.  I got those facts from Tom Chapin’s website.  Is your toe tapping yet?

An image to share
Hedges, Kathryn. dsc07881.jpg. 2005. Pics4Learning. 31 January 2012

A proverb
“Here is the test to find whether your mission on earth is finished. If you’re alive, it isn’t.”  Richard Bach, author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull

An encouragement
The encouragement I would like to give all teachers is to trust your students. We tend to not offer students the ability to try new technologies or creative projects if we are not comfortable with them.  The reasoning goes something like this, “If it took me 2 hours to learn this, it will probably take 4 hours for my students.”  Ironically, it is probably the exact opposite. They most likely need half the time to learn new and creative ways to accomplish the task at hand.  Our job as educators is to give them time and opportunity.

How do you do that?
How do you give the students time and opportunity to be creative? There’s no ONE way, there’s a multitude of styles and environments, but mostly importantly you must establish trust and accountability. When equipment is limited, use stations, centers, labs and rotations to give the kids a chance to put their hands on the creative tools of today: iPads, digital cameras, digital camcorders, SMART Boards, etc. Establish and practice a dignified signal to get their attention and complete silence when needed, but don’t overuse it. Teach them to appreciate the opportunity for you can surely say, “I giveth and I taketh away.”  Once the students understand the power of having a time to become producers of their content, they are very careful to guard the opportunity. Just as we should have evidence of student work all over our classroom walls, we need to give today’s students the opportunity to have their content displayed on our school websites and teacher web pages.  The quality of the projects are immediately enhanced when they know they have a wider audience. Please consider doing any form of project with your students for their learning sake.

As always, I am
Ubiquitously yours,

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