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30 April 2013 @ 04:09 pm
Taffy Daffy  
Some days I feel pulled in too many directions. Do you have days like that? I bet you do. Add in the fact that I think I am somewhat ADD (squirrel? where?) and it is easy to feel overwhelmed. And I think that is what may be happening to some of our students. One of my friends posted earlier today about his child not achieving the required reading of 40 books with the teacher questioning that the child had even read some of the titles (apparently, they were "beyond the child"). Result: one child who feels like a total failure for only reaching 39 books. Raise your hands if you would LOVE to have this child in your class, a child who has read 39 books this year. That figure is higher than some adults I know for certain.

And then there is all the pulling being done in the name of CCSS. As a child, I watched salt water taffy being pulled by a machine on the old boardwalk in Atlantic City (back before it became so commercialized). The machine folds the taffy over and over into itself and then stretches it seemingly to the brink of breakage. I feel that is sometimes the approach I see outlined in postings to teachers about how to apply CCSS, especially as it relates to close reading (and the stickiness of the taffy is a great metaphor for all that is being done in the name of nonfiction, but that is for a later post). Here is a posting I saw a few weeks ago. It centered on a photo of MLK at the March on Washington of 1963. The first question asked to the "reader" related to the impact of this moment on the Civil Rights Movement. Now, I can answer that with background knowledge. I know who is in the picture, where it was taken, and the moment in time it represents. Imagine, though, a 3rd or 5th grader coming to the same photo with ZERO knowledge. How could he or she begin to address the question posed? Okay, but on to the second thing prescribed in the posting: "readers" are asked to list the "actions" they see in the photo (suggestions were given just in case). Now I am scratching my head and feeling sort of twisted. Step 3 asks "readers" to identify a possible theme (and I was happy for a moment that there was not ONE them) but the suggestions provided were not themes; they were perhaps main ideas but I am not even certain I would call them that. Twist again, inside out. Next step was to return to the phot and now talk about the impact this moment had on the Civil Rights Movement with fresh eyes. Once more, I am twisting and turning and trying to understand how my insights could be any better given this twisted process.

Folks, I am just constantly doing a double take when it comes to things I see that supposedly address CCSS goals and the strategies being used. If I am confused, what about the kids? This is not just simple confusion or stumbling toward something; this is HIGH STAKES because, ultimately, the kids and the teachers will all be evaluated using new instruments (of torture?). Until or unless the architects can even agree on what is essential and how it should be taught (and even how it can be taught when kids do not have the requisite developmental abilities) and whether it all has to be measured and if there is some way to do this without making kids sit for days on end, until all this happens, we need to disentangle ourselves from the pulling machines.

I am trying to end on a note of HOPE (VISION). So, I leave with these two: I HOPE the teacher who has made the child feel a failure for reading only 39 books will rethink her or his arbitrariness in assigning ONE number for all kids. And I fervently HOPE that more and more folks speak up about the inconsistencies they are witnessing, the disconnects between CCSS goals and the PARRC measurements, about some testing companies and their more than questionable ethics, and about how, with summer coming up soon, we can stop the summer slide by ensuring that all kids have access to great books all summer long.
Current Location: office
Current Mood: been through the wringer
Sandra Delgadoext_1743897 on May 1st, 2013 03:58 am (UTC)
Taffy Daffy
Yes, most of us feel as if we are pulled in so many different directions all at the same time. This CCSS [supposed miracle answer to teaching, yeah right!!] movement unfortunately does not take into account the kids or teachers AT ALL! As you always post, Dr. L, SpeakLoudly and keep advocating for kids and future teacher-librarians. We need you in the trenches, you INSPIRE!
mssrcrankypantsmssrcrankypants on May 2nd, 2013 12:06 am (UTC)
I appreciate all the commentary on CCSS you've been making. As a teacher and department chair in an independent school, I'm not directly affected by the initiative, but there are others--some similar--that are making me feel the taffy effect, too. I had asked on another post if you had any opinions on the NCTE Framework for 21st Century Curriculum and Assessment, but my comment was marked as spam (maybe because it included a URL to their position statement?), so I thought I'd ask again.

Thanks for all the thoughtful updates and links related to this initiative.
professornanaprofessornana on May 2nd, 2013 12:16 am (UTC)
What imwould love to see from NCTE is more than what is in the Framework. I was pleased that they issued a statement opposed to. Omputer grading of writing recently, but they have been too silent on CCSS and PARRC.