If you asked to me what have been the main topics on Twitter this week (at least for me) I would say that it boils down to three.
1. The problem with teaching to the test and the fact that in some cases the tests we give set up kids to fail before they even begin
2. A related topic is that we should be focused student growth and not a number grade or a letter grade. What does a 100 or an A mean anyway. I don’t think it means you are perfect.
3. The use of technology. That technology is a tool for learning but the learning is still the key or the focus.
I believe that all three of these ideas while very important and need to be addressed can be boiled down further. The one person we need to focus on is our students.
1. What is my student going to gain from taking this test? Does his/ her success on this test show me that they learned or are there other ways that I can make sure that my students learned the material? Since we are not going to change the system overnight and you may need to give tests I urge to make them tests that incorporate critical thinking and other important skills and not just memorization.
2. Who Benefits from a grade or a number maybe in the short term the student but in the long term what does it tell them. You have a good memory and know 90% of the work. The last time I checked you need a bunch of other skills in the “real world”. It doesn’t say if you have taken risks, how well you can think, analyze and solve a problem, or any other worthwhile skill. Does 100 mean you can stop learning? Well we know that isn’t true or sound advice. Imagine every student who got a 100 in Third grade, we would be in worse shop compared to the world than we already are.
I believe grades are to make us feel good and the us I am talking about is more often than not are the parents. What is a report card was an anecdotal comment describing the whole child. The child’s weaknesses, strengths, and areas for growth wouldn’t our students benefit much more from that.
3. I just sent a Tweet if the focus is learning than we should use any and all tools available to help us accomplish our goal. Technology being one of those tools but we can never lose focus that the goal is Student learning
There are many things wrong and we may not to be able to change everything. However if at least in our classrooms we can make our decision based on putting the needs of our students first then we can be assured we are one step closer to making some real significant changes.