Teachers signs of spring – testing

sols_6It is Saturday, cloudy with rain.  The snow is slowly melting and there is the sound of birds still hidden behind the branches of the Arborvitae.  It is the first signs of spring that I grew up with.   Not the robin and green grass, they will come later to really celebrate spring.  Here in the north we look for the little signs that indicate spring is on the way.

  • more ice – means it is raining not snowing (warmer) 
  • water dripping outside (warmer temperatures)
  • birds singing
  • buds on the ends of branches seem to be swelling getting ready to open
  • the day light is just a few minutes longer
  • children are hauling test prep packets home on the weekend.

Oh, yes that last one was not part of my childhood signs of spring.   It is part of my teacher signs of spring.    It is one that has taken over more and more.   We are not yet to the middle of  March when we are being pushed to “prep” for the test.    The day to day curriculum begins to fall away and we are scrambling to push concepts expected on the test.

We know that if this test prep helps it is only for the short term for very little long term learning comes from vocabulary sheets and packets of work sheets.  The learning is in the reading of texts, the discussions with peers, the writing in response to what we are reading.  The learning is in the growing of seeds and watching beetles run to warm or cold habitats, or the research on what was life like during the Revolutionary war.

This is what was on my lesson plans last week but now I find myself at the computer building review work for a soon to be taken science test.   It is the first time our 5th graders will take this test.  It is considered a comprehensive test covering material taught from 2nd grade through 5th grade.   (Remember we have not finished 5th grade and I have 3 or 4 more units I should be teaching yet this year)

So the building of review and new teaching begins – vocabulary lists,  adding this information into my weekly word work and hunting for good books that we can read and write about to help us build some understanding of concepts not yet reached or forgotten from 2nd grade.  Yes, there will be a few prep test packets since that is the expectation but I am still seeking to provide this information in as much of an authentic way as possible.   So to the books I go!

Wish me luck in finding short informative text on all the science standards.   We are in the middle of a non fiction unit and science reading is non fiction. Yes?  Yes, ok still connecting to real learning.

Good Luck to all of you who have noticed this sign of spring and are preparing for spring- or should I just say testing season they seem to be one and the same.

 

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About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, help in schools and write. Life is good!
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4 Responses to Teachers signs of spring – testing

  1. Wilcox Carol says:

    Sigh! We are in the middle of a minor blizzard today in Denver. And a minor blizzard of test prep packets, given that our state tests start this Tuesday, and goes Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday this week, and Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday next week. And I so, so, so agree with you, “We know that if this test prep helps it is only for the short term for very little long term learning comes from vocabulary sheets and packets of work sheets. The learning is in the reading of texts, the discussions with peers, the writing in response to what we are reading. The learning is in the growing of seeds and watching beetles run to warm or cold habitats, or the research on what was life like during the Revolutionary War.”

  2. Kat says:

    This is my second year in a public school, and next year I will be in a testing grade. I am dreading it. These tests are blights on our education landscape. How can we raze them and erect structures of joy, truth and real learning?

  3. Oh, unfortunately those test prep materials are too much a sign of spring. Spring must have come in January in Indiana, because that was when I was told to quit teaching and start test-prepping. Like you, I’m trying to prepare my students for the test (first round started last week) while still finding authentic means of teaching and learning. I think the whole world has forgotten that there is a goal to education beyond a test score.

  4. Cathy says:

    I was all caught up in your signs of spring. I love the way you specifically said, “sound of birds still hidden behind the branches of the Arborvitae.” I was noticing that you must be just a little bit further north than me, and then BOOM the testing sign. All the serenity I was feeling was dashed. I wonder if our kids feel like that too.

    I hope the official start of spring brings you back to all that matters.

    Cathy

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