Friday, October 24, 2014

Fishhook Frustration

I feel a great sense of frustration over my district's mandated writing assessments. I was given the assessments Tuesday, to start between Wednesday and next Thursday. The only real information we were given was that we should administer this over two days. Two days! Ha!

The packet includes two articles (one about archaeology, which does not include the word "artifact," a necessary vocabulary word when talking about archaeology), three images, two pages of questions about the articles (with space to cite evidence), three questions about the third image (a Gabrielino/Tongva Indian fishhook), a couple of sentences about the fishhook followed by two more questions, a writing prompt, and a complicated "brainstorming" page.

Just based on that information, do you think that two one-hour testing sessions is enough time to be successful on this task?

I wouldn't set my own child up for failure. I wouldn't give my own child assessments she wasn't prepared for. Add this to the list of reasons why we're homeschooling. When I assess my child, it will be based on what I have taught her. Look at Charlotte Mason and narration. We don't tell students to narrate back BEFORE they've heard/read a story; we ask this AFTER.

Last year, no one collected our district assessments, nor were we instructed as to what we should do with them. This year, so far, we have given one assessment (math) and it's the same story. The deadline was last Friday, but here it is a week later, and there they sit, unscored in a stack on my desk.

Now my students are supposed to write a fictional narrative as if they are an archaeologist who has discovered a Gabrielino fishhook. Their story is supposed to "establish a situation," include a series of events (the brainstorming graphic organizer they were given has four boxes for events, as well as lots of other spaces for various other things), and a conclusion.

To demonstrate proficiency, students must write a multi-paragraph story about discovering a fishhook.

Um, perhaps someone should inform the assessment creators that a "story" needs a little something called conflictHere's another way to put it: Do you realize how hard it is to make the discovery of a fishhook exciting to a nine year old?

We've had a series of three professional development meetings about Cultural Responsiveness, including a very small portion of one of the meetings discussing how to be responsive to Youth Culture. To begin to understand Youth Culture, we teachers were told to try the following (not the whole list): fist bump students hello, watch kid movies, and eat Flaming Hot Cheetoes. That's right folks. This is where your tax dollars are going: to pay for teachers to learn to fist bump.

While fist-bumping and Cheeto-eating, I am supposed to test students on how well they write a story with a beginning, middle, and end, with details, with dialogue, with characters, with the inner-thoughts of the narrator ABOUT FINDING A FISHHOOK!

More on this in Fishhook Frustration Part 2, coming soon.

(Blogging from my phone. I apologize if there are typos.)

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