Have you ever been driving somewhere with the family, and turned the music off or told the kids to stop playing their game because it occured to you they might not know the lyrics to the star spangled banner? Or what city and state they live in? Or what your phone number and address is? When this happens to me what inevitably follows is a barrage of question and answering until I am satisfied they have it, and I can rest easy the rest of the drive. I’m sure they love it.
Assessment is merely the process of finding out what your children know. It would be foolish to think you can teach someone anything without also knowing what it is they KNOW. Considering there is infinite knowledge in our universe, narrowing it down to what they DON’T know would probably help speed up the process. 🙂
But assessment, or testing, doesn’t have to happen as a seperate event. You can assess while you teach. The assessment can even be used as a teaching tool, as they learn while you figure out what they need to know. An easy way to do this is a simple line up exercise. When they are lined up to go somewhere (or sitting on the couch waiting, if you’re at home) just give them some questions. The correct answerer goes to the front of the line. Then, keep going. Ask the same question two or three times. Answer some questions if they don’t understand. Discuss. Repeat. Learn.
I use this with my class, and my kids. I’m thinking about using it with my wife as well. Honey – what’s the capitol of Indiana? 🙂
They say that Pride goeth before a fall, and I think that’s true about self pride. But pride is an important commodity as parents and educators. We feel pride at our students and children’s accomplishments, and there’s a little bit of self pride in there as well, because you KNOW there must be at least a LITTLE bit of you inside that accomplishment.
It’s okay – no, it’s NECESSARY – to be prideful of our young charges. They need that pride to keep going. They feed on it. I think sometimes we forget to show them that pride – even the ones who don’t always make us feel prideful. In the elementary years there are many learning opportunities, and even though sometimes it takes doing it WRONG for the child to learn not to do it.
For instance, I had a young student try stealing for the first time last week. I know he’s not a theif, it was almost like he needed to try it. Needed to see what it was like and see if he could get away with it. Now that he’s been scolded and told that it is wrong, he’s not tried it again. When they do things like that, they are still good kids, and they need to feel our pride in them still. That pride keeps them believing they are great, and greatness comes from belief.
I am extremely proud of all my students, and exceedingly proud of my kids. The girls are getting so grown up now – they actually wore heels and earrings to our recent father/daughter ball outing. It was a fun night with my kids, and I couldn’t have been prouder.
The trick is keeping that pride the next day, when they’re whining about not having enough of the right kinds of cereal. 🙂
I love the years/ages when kids are excited to go to school. The younger ones get up every day pumped to get to school. They can’t wait for the bus. Can’t wait to get there. It’s not WORK for them. It’s exciting. They get to do things and learn things. Kids understand on a subconscious level that it’s better to be active and have things to do, than to not. If they had to stay home all day, what would they do?
These days, I tend to never have a second to sit down and do nothing. But I should count my blessings! I’ve got things to do!
Many times I have bemoaned the fact that I’m so busy. I think – “I’d be so much happier if I had a lazy day to do just nothing. I’ll lay around all day.” But if I think back on some days in the past where I actually DID do nothing all day, I think I felt even lousier at the end of those days than any other. I wasn’t satisfied. I just felt kind of numb. I don’t want to be numb.
I want to be energized with life and challenges. I think I know how the kids feel. I WANT to go to school today. If I’m not teaching, or learning, or challenging myself or others I’m just going to be numb. And that’s no FUN!
It seems that I count a lot. It’s a fundamental skill and idea in our society to use numbers (and a system of numbers based on increments of 10) to conceptualize an amount. It can be an amount of objects, and amount of time, and amount of money…if we want to keep track of anything we have to count.
I’m often counting down to motivate kids to quickly finish a task. “Okay, put away all your materials! 10, 9, 8, 7….”
Sometimes I mix it up – “100, 90, 80, 70….” It’s effective, and all my kids know how to count down from 10, I know that! 🙂
But when we engage with kids, and spend time with them, we need to make sure we don’t count down the time, instead of making the time count.
Every second you are with a young mind – as a teacher or parent or uncle (you get the idea) – is an amazing opportunity to take advantage of filling that mind with knowledge and wonder. Make your time count each day. If you are just filling the void with things to count down the time – “okay, now just write some sentences” or “just sit down and watch TV” you are missing the opportunity of the day!
Make your time count each day.
If you are a teacher, educator or parent, you know there is a big difference between boys and girls (beyond the obvious grass stains). You know that boys deal with problems, handle stresses, deal with boredom, deal with friendships, deal with authority all differently.
I want to be up front about the fact that I enjoy teaching girls in my class – that’s obvious. Most teachers will tell you that the girls in their class are fairly well behaved (elementary grades). They sit still, do their work, and their handwriting is so nice!
I’ll contend that school is a place where a girl (for the most part – there’s always exceptions to the general rule) will do well. The sit and be nice model works for the way a girl handles life (Brain Rules – Medina).
Boys don’t sit still as well. They are wild and crazy. They have too much energy. They want to hit a problem with their actual head, rather than try and solve it with their mind.
But boys are awesome too. They are fearless and boundless. They don’t have the problems socially with cliques so early on like girls sometimes do. And they are enthusiastic when they are interested. So INTEREST THEM.
Do something to engage the boys in your class. Do something messy. You’ll both thank me for it (and you won’t have to wrangle Johnny into his seat for the thousandth time that day).
At some point, all little birds must leave the nest. In nature, the birds have it right. They are eager to push them out because they know it’s what they need to survive in the world.
As parents, we’re reluctant to let go because we’re scared. Scared they will fail. Scared they will get hurt or worse. Scared we will have done the wrong thing by letting them go too soon.
But as teachers and parents, it’s important to get kid progressing toward independence. They need to be able to perform the skill we want to teach them BY THEMSELVES without any help.
We do that with steps. First, do it for them. Show them. Give examples. Let it sink in.
2- Do it with them. Work on it together, with them providing as much help as they can.
3- Have them do it by themselves with a little guidance, or with another student partner.
4-Have them try on their own. Repeat as necessary.
You do. We do. They do. Simple and effective.
Get your kids progressing toward independence! They’ll thank you for it!
I remember very little from my elementary education years, if you figure that there were about 1000 days in K-5, and I probably remember maybe 200 individual days or events. I do have some knowledge of the things I learned (I remember the ABC’s, how to count, and that the united states has 50 of them – so don’t get discouraged teachers. It IS sinking in.)
But the day to day stuff is pretty much lost to me, except for some very specific memories –
– asking a girl to be my girlfriend (she declined)
– Any time I was made fun of or embarrased
– Meeting friends for the first time
– The talent show in 5th grade
– Mrs. Phillips singing “Peanut Butter and Jelly”
– and on and on (that’s maybe another blog post – “elementary memories”
The point is, memories are made each day in our classrooms, and we don’t even know it. We usually don’t even know it when they happen (like the girl I heard talking to a boy yesterday, asking “if you could go out with anyone in the class, who would it be?” with a hopeful tone to her voice (he was WAY too young to know how to respond to that).
Next time someone asks you what it is you do, if you’re a parent or teacher or mentor or friend, tell them you’re a MEMORY MAKER.
Now, excuse me. I have a few memories to make myself.
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They say, with the academic learning requirements we have in each state, that we literally don’t have enough time to teach everything that we’re supposed to. There just isn’t enough time. And I agree with that – to a point.
The real crux of the problem is narrowing down the learning requirements to essentials, but still that isn’t enough. Even if we narrow it down to essentials, we don’t want to control everything a teacher does, so all creativity goes out the window.
I propose a compromise. As a teacher, I take the learning requirements, and pull out the stuff I know is super important, and make sure to teach those. But in addition, I review the important stuff that EVERYONE should know, and I think all teachers should go over each year. That way, if they get to see or hear it each year they have a better chance of retention. And then it’s up to the teacher to fill in with fun facts and learning experiences along the way.
Would we have enough time for that? Maybe not. But it doesn’t hurt to try!
It’s important, I think, for kids, parents, and educators all to remember as school begins what it is we’re accomplishing. Why it’s important to lace up the old dress shoes again. Why do we do it?
Summer is awesome. Probably my favorite time of the year, and not just because I get more vacation time. Summer is great.
But kids, if we didn’t go back to school…you’d never get the chance to save the world. Educating the youth of today ensures our survival on this planet tomorrow. We’re going to need more doctors. We’re going to need more accountants. We’re going to need engineers and scientists to figure out how to increase our energy supplies. We’re going to need police men and fire fighters. And I don’t want anyone saving me from a burning building that can’t read the exit signs, and I don’t want