Monday, May 19, 2008

Two separate topics

Yesterday we had a lovely day at a state park letterboxing. If you haven't been letterboxing before it may be something fun to add to your hikes. It goes like this: Go to or and find your state and city. Get clues to a letterbox near you and plan to take a hike. You will need a rubber stamp, an ink pad, and a pen, as well as a LOT of water and snacks. As you hike the trails you follow the clues to a box hidden in the woods where you just won't casually come across it. The box contains a rubber stamp and a book. Some of these stamps are beautiful handcarved works of art, others are from the store. You stamp your rubber stamp in their notebook, and then stamp their stamp in your book, then hide everything back where you found it. You can see Blondie with her notebook in front of her above. We use letterboxing to keep the kids entertained while hiking longer distances. Sunday we got them to go a little less than 4 miles WITHOUT COMPLAINING. Most excellent.

The second topic tonight is state testing. Probably not a big issue for you guys, but I'm in the middle of administering them right now. In a class I took this year, someone gave us a website called . I highly recommend listening to the lovely song on the front page of the website. I absolutely think there needs to be accountability - not everyone can teach well. I personally don't mind if I'm required to teach curriculum, but many days I feel limited by what I have to cover, and the general level of competance (which varies from class to class). Math is one of those things I have to constantly go back and reteach earlier topics which means what I need to teach gets pushed back a little bit. But as a teacher you can't teach rules for parallel lines with a transversal unless someone has used a protractor before - then the whole "which set of measurements do I use" pops in even though you KNOW they were supposed to learn in it 5th grade. I also do not have the power to go home with each of my students and make them finish their assignment to be prepared for the next day. So when less than half show up without their work completed it's time to revisit yesterday's lesson again. And, DON'T GET ME STARTED on how UNFAIR it is that children with severe learning disabilities have to take the test on grade level. Not all children with Down's Syndrome can take the 7th grade reading test even if they themselves are 12 or 13. You watch one cry because they can't do it, and it will change your whole perspective. Okay, off my soapbox now.

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