This past week in class, we focused a lot of talking about discussions and how these can be incorporated into a classroom. We talked about different strategies that can be used in order to get students thinking deeper about what they read. One of these strategies is “Read Aloud.” This is a pretty self explanatory strategy: the student rotate reading out loud in the classroom. Everyone follows along and the teacher can stop them at any point and ask questions about what they just read. If you had a class full of strong readers, this would be a great strategy to use. However, you have to be careful that if you use this strategy, it doesn’t backfire in a classroom of students who are struggling readers.
Discussions are also a great way for students to learn from other students. When teachers facilitate discussions, sometimes the main goal is not to talk a lot but to let the students talk for themselves. Students listen to one another and can learn from listening to what others have to say. They also have to back up what they say with information from the text. A lot of the time a teacher can ask “Well, where did you find that in the book? What page is that on?” Which makes them have accountability to what they say.
We also talked about tests, quizzes, and different strategies that are used to basically test how “smart” a student is. We have also talked a lot about standardized testing and multiple choice and short answer tests and how productive these are in testing how much students know. Who was the person that came up with the idea of standardized tests and said it was the best way to test students? Who was it that said that “if you can’t do this by this specific grade level then you aren’t smart?” I really liked the quote that was given in class that said: “The question is not: are you smart? The question is: how are you smart?” I think this is very true. Every student is smart in their own individual way. When we standardize the way we test students on how much they know, we are taking away from their individual talents and the areas where they are the “smartest.”
For example, I also take a class called EDIT 2000 where you learn more about how to use technology in the classroom. The past week we had someone come and talk about creativity and how creativity is measured. Why is it important that we measure creativity? I have always thought that someone is just born more creative than others. What happens if you have your child’s creativity measured and it turns out they aren’t very creative? The speaker gave us all these different areas where the graders look to measure creativity, such as energy level, organization, planning, and detailed. Well for the people that grade these tests, what if their definition of being organized is different than another grader? Who are they to tell someone that their child is not creative because he doesn’t have a high enough energy level? How is “energy level” defined, and what energy level do you need to be considered creative? I think this is just an example that goes along with the idea of standardized tests. Who was it that said “okay this is what needs to be known by this grade level and if someone can’t answer this question they aren’t smart.” I think that students should have freedom in their learning and also freedom in testing of their learning.