Sunday, January 27, 2013

Let It Unfold Naturally

Ever have  a moment in education where what you feel pushed to do and what you think is right collide? I had one of those moments this past weekend as I was thinking ahead to the major testing we have this week in reading. I began reflecting on the item types and questions that can come up on the assessment which had me thinking about what could be CRAMMED in this week. 

That saddens me really, because we have been so engaged in purposeful and meaningful learning these past few weeks. Our students have been delving into genres with renewed interest and digging deep into different kinds of text through close reading. We wrapped up Wonder and our students created amazing precepts of their own, many drawing on their One Little Words or our December study of respecting diversity. In math students are expanding their strategies for the basic operations and applying their understanding of the mathematical practice of "One big whole, break it up" to fractions, decimals and division (that last one without even labeling it with the D word!). Our work with science has infused our curriculum connecting our mathematical practices to science applications, finding symbolism and learning about electricity in our reading of The City of Ember and even experimenting in our work with art (ever consider all the variables that can affect a watercolor painting?). We are even extending our work with culture into the diversity that shaped the formation of the United States. Our learning has been varied, yet intentional, and in many cases it is the kids that have spun our thinking into even new and better ideas, letting the learning UNFOLD NATURALLY!

And this is where I am grateful that I am able to process my thinking with Celina. I sent her a text about something that could be CRAMMED in, but without my rationale. She then responded with her own thinking, and I was forced to rethink my idea and recognize if for the proverbial TEACH TO THE TEST CLIFF. I jokingly thanked her for allowing me to talk myself "off the ledge" and relaxed. Amazing, engaging and powerful learning happens in our classroom every day, and taking time away from that for just one test is not honoring our students or our goals.

So as the week unfolds, I vow to let it do so naturally. 

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