Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A visit from the Terrible Trivium

For The Phantom Tollbooth uninitiated, the Terrible Trivium is a kind of demon-dude that Milo and his buddies run into who's main purpose in life is to waste people's time with trivial and meaningless tasks.  (He's the faceless guy up there in the corner in fact!)

Well, we got to meet him again today in the form of a standardized writing assessment. And we get to spend the rest of the week with him too. Blech. 

I know this isn't a particularly fresh or unique take on testing, but man...I hate standardized tests. For one thing, my kids dread them and get nervous about them. I downplay testing in my classroom and refuse to even acknowledge that it has importance in our lives. 

I've taught my kids good pre-writing strategies that I expect them to use. I've taught them how to spice up their writing with strong adjectives and varying sentence length. We've learned about the differences in the various modes of writing. We've discussed phrasing and prosody. We've beat punctuation and capitalization into the ground...but not so they could pass a test, so they can be successful writers in real life situations. 

I tell my kiddos that they should always put their best effort into anything they do, of course. But I never act stressed about it, or emphasize its importance. Despite this attitude I could tell that many of my kids were nerve-wracked this morning when they came in and saw the blue paper I'd hung all over the walls to cover our anchor charts and student work, their desks spread out, a new #2 sitting in their pencil wells and the fact that all of my students with special needs were being ushered out of the room to test in another place. They didn't like any of that. And neither did I. 

But of course it's our job as teachers to grin and bear it! Give up 3 days of real school to the Terrible Trivium each year with a smile on our faces. He'll be back in April for 3 more days of tedium and trivial tasks when it's time to inadequately assess whether the kids can do math and read well.

Aargh! Okay, vent over! On to better things! I have much more positive posts planned for the future!

If you haven't signed up for my "Brand New to Blogging" math game giveaway and you're interested in one of my 5th grade (easily adaptable to 3rd and 4th in some cases) math games, then sign up below!

As an apology for sitting through my whole rant on testing, I hope you'll enjoy this font I made! I call it "Nick's Typewriter" 

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