professornana (professornana) wrote,

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Heaving a sigh

I get loads of junk mail, mostly ads for things others think I need. I am quick to delete them. Sometimes, though, the subject line requires me to open the email. Such was the case this week when this subject line appeared in my Inbox: Place testing at the center of course planning.

This lovely ad from The Teaching Professor informed me that I should plan my curriculum by placing grading at the center of my planning. It used the terms testing and grading and assessment interchangeably, but it did want to sell me on a seminar on using tests to improve student learning.

You see, I do not use tests. Not. At. All. I could if I elected to do so. But I think I can see what students are learning by asking them to apply what they are learning in textbooks and other sources directly to REAL books for children, tween, and teens. I would rather my students perform real world tasks than take tests.

And that brings me to the tweet today from a friend whose child received the summer reading list for AP English along with the directions to analyze the various texts (all canonical) in multiple ways (I think the suggestion was to use 13 different "techniques."). When did summer, a time when kids should be able to read for pleasure, become a time for analysis of classic texts? When did we come to believe that AP kids did not need to read difficult (dare I say rigorous) texts without some sort of scaffolding for the analytical component? Who would prefer to kill a love of reading by assigning dissection over the summer rather than asking kids to read and offering suggestions? Or maybe teaming with the public library?

Please, as summer approaches, think more about how we can foster a continuing love of reading. Consider how we can ensure kids have access to books more readily. Deliberate on the element of CHOICE. after ALL, I plan to participate again in #bookaday. I will select the books to read freely. I will have access to a community online that can make recommendations for me as well. No dioramas or book reports, maybe a tweet or a blog post. Maybe not. I will have books to take along with me, audiobooks, eBooks, GNs, the whole spectrum. I am psyched for this challenge. If I do not read a book a day, there will be no sledge hammer blow to my skull. Instead, there will be encouragement and understanding.

So, by all means ask kids to spend time reading this summer. But do so bearing in mind that we can either support readers or murder them. The choice is ours.
Tags: summer reading, testing
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