Conversations Episode 118 - Test Prep...How do we prepare while keeping excitement in the class?

Post-Show description: 

This week, we discussed the difficulties with preparing students for the major state tests without making the whole classroom be about test prep.  With Race to the Top, it's not easy.






20:01:28 Sheila : Hi Amanda!

20:01:29 marragem : Hi everyone!

20:02:16 Sheila : When's your first day with students?

20:02:24 connect2jamie : Good evening all!

20:02:27 marragem : next Tuesday

20:02:56 Sheila : Ahh!  Laminating done?

20:03:02 marragem : my PD days start tomorrow. Summer break is officially over :(

20:03:18 Sheila : Hi Jamie!

20:03:18 Lisa Parisi : Hi Amanda and Jamie

20:03:36 marragem : probably halfway through my laminating. I keep thinking of more things to do!

20:03:49 marragem : Hi Lisa

20:04:38 connect2jamie : Laughing *with* you!

20:05:01 Sheila : Is it still hot in Brisbane?

20:05:12 Sheila : Hi PeggyG!

20:05:12 connect2jamie : Hi @Peggy!

20:05:24 Peggy George : Hi everyone! Froze up in FF and had to move to Chrome :-) Great to be here with you

20:05:24 Lisa Parisi : Hello Peggy

20:05:38 marragem : Hi Peggy!

20:05:39 Peggy George : Amanda you're amazing!!!

20:05:46 marragem : no I'll join in!

20:06:03 marragem : hubby's working hard putting together a little table

20:06:09 Peggy George : Anyone participating in the EVOnline courses now? They have some fantastic courses going on :-)

20:06:33 Sheila : No I have not checked them out!

20:06:37 Peggy George : hooray Amanda!

20:06:46 mariak : @ Peggy - yes great offerings. can't give them any time though!

20:07:03 Peggy George : There is a digital tools course that has about 500 people signed up! Also a multiliteracies course.

20:07:23 Peggy George : ok to be a lurker and just check them out and view resources, etc.

20:07:36 connect2jamie : I tried joining in one year, but just too swamped. Couldn't do it justice

20:07:46 Peggy George : Carla Arena is one of the moderators of the digital tools course--think Cheryl Oakes may be too

20:08:07 Peggy George : I have a hard time keeping up too but they really are great. I do what I can...

20:08:07 Sheila : Wow! I hope to check it out soon.

20:08:10 connect2jamie : Yes, I think Cheryl is. Usually is, anyway--and she mentioned it on Seedlings this wk

20:08:46 Peggy George : you're going to love it Amanda!

20:09:16 connect2jamie : Don't know about dual touch active board. How's it diff than a smartboard?

20:09:53 Peggy George : I've heard great things about the table.

20:10:22 connect2jamie : Ahh! Cool! We have Starboards in our district, and there's not nearly as much active support/resources as Smartboard.

20:10:41 Peggy George : did you see what Robert Pronovost did with his tables--painted whiteboard paint on all of them and the kids all use them as whiteboards to do their writing on :-)

20:10:42 connect2jamie : Seems like Smartboard is more customer-focused.

20:10:59 connect2jamie : love the idea of that whiteboard paint!

20:11:09 mariak : I love my promethean board.

20:11:10 marragem : Kathy did that too, Peggy

20:11:43 Peggy George : it's a brilliant idea! saw him demonstrate it in a webinar :-)

20:12:12 Peggy George : perfect topic for tonight!

20:12:47 connect2jamie : you can say that again, Lisa! Our politicians are the *worst* of bullies!

20:12:57 connect2jamie : very discouraging.

20:13:07 Lisa Parisi : Yes, Jamie.  So how do we explain to our kids that these are our leaders?

20:13:09 Peggy George : don't you love the Peter, Paul and Mary version of "Don't Laugh at Me"??? :-)

20:13:30 Peggy George : I would love to have been there Maria!!!

20:13:54 Peggy George : how awesome for him to recognize educators!

20:14:12 connect2jamie : I guess the best we can do is just keep talking about it, and maybe when they are older, they'll have internalized the anti-bullying ideals a little more than some in our generation has.

20:15:11 Peggy George : yes Ooperation Respect--that's where all of the materials for Don't Laugh at Me are located

20:15:14 Lisa Parisi :

20:15:18 Peggy George : they are really great!

20:15:35 Peggy George : respect, peace, love :-)

20:16:16 connect2jamie : ...teach your children well...

20:16:42 Peggy George : what an incredible concert!!! I wish I could have been there!

20:18:04 Peggy George : it's going to take a lot more than just talking about it. Kids need to experience successful ways to handle bullying and treating other kids with respect. There are so many kids with powerful emotional needs.

20:18:41 Peggy George : autism spectrum creates special situations because they really can't control their reactions to feelings

20:19:01 marragem : there was a child in one of our Prep classes last year who demonstrated bullying behaviour

20:19:39 Peggy George : is it due to autism or just behavioral issues?

20:19:57 Peggy George : thanks for clarifying that

20:21:16 marragem : gee - that doesn't happen here. All are included in regular classrooms, no matter how severe

20:22:08 Peggy George : that's really challenging to manage Amanda. Do you have any support like teacher aides to help you with the special needs kids?

20:22:30 Peggy George : that's the key--they don't read the cues, body language and facial expressions

20:22:47 Sheila : We just had a 4th or 5th grader get placed outside of our district. It disturbs me.

20:22:53 Peggy George : what a great success story Lisa!

20:23:19 connect2jamie : I like that activity Lisa. Friend sense

20:23:36 marragem : yes, Peggy - if they have been ascertained and on an IEP. Often that doesn't happen until they're around Year 2, so it can make things rather difficult in Prep and One

20:23:43 Peggy George : these are such important points and examples Lisa!!!

20:24:19 Peggy George : I agree Amanda. Those early years are often the most challenging because they lack so many skills--both social and academic.

20:24:40 marragem : and often the parents are still in denial

20:24:59 Peggy George : so true!

20:26:33 Peggy George : that's great Lisa!! I'll remember those words... "Remember your bubble."

20:27:05 Peggy George : yes Maria!! Kids need the language to be able to communicate and understand it.

20:29:09 Peggy George : that's a great idea Sheila

20:29:57 Peggy George : don't just stay with their home room group

20:30:56 Peggy George : how cute-partner smiles :-)

20:31:17 Peggy George : hard to be mean when you're smiling :-)

20:32:39 Sheila : True PeggyG

20:33:43 Peggy George : what is different about this chat log than the one Jeff Lebow uses for Teachers Teaching Teachers and EdTechWeekly? You can't copy/paste in this chat log but you can in those.

20:34:33 connect2jamie : i think you're right @Lisa--we focus more and more on curricular needs, and the social learning doesn't happen as much as it used to, I don't think.

20:34:46 Peggy George : Love that Lisa! :-)

20:35:27 Peggy George : those social skills are really important!

20:35:39 Sheila : Welcome tgilley!

20:35:40 connect2jamie : We have to "sneak in" so much these days! things that are really important, and that need to be taught and learned. Things that aren't tested, so they get lost.

20:35:45 Peggy George : you shouldn't say everything that comes into your mind :-)

20:35:49 tgilley : [i]Hello,[b]

20:36:02 Peggy George : Hi tgilley-welcome!

20:36:16 Sheila : Inner voices vs outer voices

20:36:18 Lisa Parisi : Yes, Jamie, but so much of what doesn't get tested is more important than the other things

20:36:23 Peggy George : so true Jamie! there are a lot of important things that don't get tested!

20:36:24 tgilley : [i]what is the topic of discussion tonight?

20:36:29 Lisa Parisi : tolerance

20:37:08 Sheila : Awareness of others

20:37:17 Peggy George : and respect and how to teach/encourage this in children (in keeping with MLK Jr. Day)

20:37:23 Sheila : is the first step.

20:38:17 Peggy George : feeling accepted and part of the group is so important to life and to learning. Hard to concentrate on learning when you're feeling threatened and excluded.

20:38:41 connect2jamie : We all know that @lisa! Those who are creating the curriculum/worrying about standards, AYP, etc. don't give these wildly important pieces of learning the respect that they deserve. And so teachers have to "sneak" these pieces in. Because we KNOW it needs to be taught.

20:39:14 Peggy George : it takes time to really listen and have these conversations but they are so important!

20:39:19 connect2jamie : absolutely!

20:39:33 Peggy George : I agree Lisa! Those things will help them focus on learning!

20:39:43 connect2jamie : 100% agree @lisa.

20:41:01 Peggy George : in AZ last week there was a 7 year old who brought a gun to school and it accidentally went off on the school bus. No one was hurt but he brought it because he was afraid of being "stolen"/kidnapped. Pretty scary stuff!

20:41:13 connect2jamie : wow.

20:41:19 Sheila : Yikes!

20:41:33 tgilley : [b][i]I like to teach all these skills through PBL.  You can teach the curriculum, but life skills are sprinkled th[u]roughout.

20:41:55 Peggy George : like that point Lisa--you weren't available to learn...

20:42:12 marragem : and I know that 6 and 7 year olds have been hospitalised due to depression.

20:42:32 Peggy George : isn't that sad Amanda??

20:42:59 Lisa Parisi : Yes, @tgilley, PBL helps with so much of this.

20:43:14 Peggy George : teachers can do a lot with things under their control (making sure their classroom and school environment are safe for kids)

20:43:36 Sheila : We have 4 rules in school. One is Manage Yourself. This allows for great discussions from time to time.

20:43:41 Lisa Parisi : I have had kids who do everything not to leave at the end of the day because their home isn't safe

20:43:43 Peggy George : they need to learn the Sandbox Manifesto from Angela Maiers :-)

20:43:58 Peggy George : I remember kids like that too Lisa!

20:44:37 Peggy George : that's a great approach Amanda! Songs can be so powerful for remembering those things.

20:44:48 connect2jamie : over Christmas break, we found that we had a family of 5 kids that had absolutely no furniture in their apartment. No mattresses or anything--sleeping under piles of clothes to keep warm. None of us had any idea.

20:44:53 Lisa Parisi :

20:45:10 mariak : Virtues -

20:45:20 Lisa Parisi : My husband has a child who is now living in a shelter with mom.

20:45:29 Sheila : Wow Jamie! Glad you found out!

20:45:30 Peggy George : wow Jamie! weren't you so glad you discovered that? so sad and many more kids are experiencing this

20:45:33 Lisa Parisi : Amazing that he comes to school every day and learns.

20:46:16 Peggy George : Robert Fulghum was so right!

20:46:35 connect2jamie : Yes, it is mind-boggling to think that so many of our kids are coming from situations like that. Very glad that we found out about our 5 kids so we could help them, but so many more of them...

20:46:54 connect2jamie : love Fulghum!

20:48:25 connect2jamie : Our school focuses on a different social skill every week. The kids can tell you the steps for each of them. It's helpful--provides opportunity to discuss and think through situations.

20:50:20 Lisa Parisi :

20:50:21 Peggy George : sincerity is a bit harder--to get it to match their words.

20:50:35 Peggy George : not just saying sorry but finding a way to say/show you really are sorry

20:51:22 mariak :

20:51:31 mariak : A wonderful book

20:51:39 Peggy George : that's a bit harder Sheila :-) they often don't use the same language at home... I had so many parent/child conferences as a principal where the parent said "I told them if anyone bothered them to hit them."

20:52:22 Peggy George : exactly Sheila! parents don't know how to manage their own kids and they're out of control.

20:52:45 Peggy George : yes I think we are better off now but still have a long ways to go

20:53:26 Peggy George : too many things in society are out of control and incidents of road rage, political demeaning, etc. are what the kids see on the news and see/hear their parents doing

20:53:36 Peggy George : hahaha---more lawyers :-)

20:53:40 Peggy George : job security

20:53:53 mariak : we comply because of fear.

20:54:08 Peggy George : that's terrible Lisa!

20:54:19 Peggy George : that is shocking!!!

20:54:42 Peggy George : it's a lot about consciousness raising and awareness

20:54:50 connect2jamie : We just say ya'll down here in TX!

20:55:00 Peggy George : that's a battle you'll probably never win Lisa--educators use that term in workshops all the time

20:55:23 Lisa Parisi : And I teach all my student teachers and any teacher who takes a class from me...I'll get the word out

20:55:34 Peggy George : :-)

20:55:36 connect2jamie : Many of our tchrs say friends...

20:55:47 Lisa Parisi : I say boys and girls but I like friends

20:56:09 Peggy George : listen to a few webinars and you're bound to hear the presenter say "can you guys all hear me?" :-)

20:56:32 Peggy George : really good point Sheila!

20:56:37 Lisa Parisi : I correct people now, Peggy.  I just do.  Would you correct someone who said something wildly inappropriate?

20:57:47 Peggy George : teachers are counselors!! :-)

20:58:44 Peggy George : Byron Katie would say "Is that true? How do you know it's true?" :-) really gets the conversation/thinking going.

20:59:30 Peggy George : sarcasm can also create many problems--what do you really mean?

21:00:04 Peggy George : kids use sarcasm to be funny but the victim doesn't think it's funny

21:00:06 connect2jamie : Sarcasm is a huge problem. Kids don't understand it so many times, when tchrs are sarcastic.

21:00:13 Peggy George : yes!

21:01:17 Peggy George : wonderful point to end up with Maria! there can be great prejudice against poverty (homeless are perfect example)

21:01:21 connect2jamie : We have one team of tchrs whose personalities lend themselves to sarcasm--and I think that so many times it creates problems that are not necessary.

21:01:37 Peggy George : their parents feel they need to "lie" about their address to make sure the kids can go to school

21:02:04 Peggy George : so true Jamie--there are many teachers who use sarcasm themselves

21:04:32 Peggy George : whether it's finding the words to use with kids or other teachers, it's really important to find a way to talk about things that concern you and not just look the other way

21:06:02 Peggy George : there was an incredible interview with Steve Hargadon on Future of Education by David Maxfield on this topic. He has written many books but he provides the kind of language you can use when you want things to change.

21:06:35 connect2jamie : I missed that one @Peggy. Will have to go look for it.

21:06:43 connect2jamie : Oops! Peggy disappeared!

21:06:59 Peggy George : rats!!! guess the chat log didn't like what I was typing :-)

21:07:09 mariak : censored!

21:07:38 Peggy George : I was saying that David Maxfield wrote The Influencer: The Power to Change Anything" Incredible book!

21:07:58 Peggy George : all about ways we can use language better to bring about change

21:08:02 Sheila : Thanks Peggy!

21:08:13 Peggy George : I'd paste the link here but it won't let me :-(

21:08:37 Lisa Parisi : Peggy, if you float the chat, you can drop and drag links.

21:08:53 Peggy George : I always thought the Peer Mediation skills/training were really helpful to kids even when they weren't at school

21:08:57 connect2jamie : Oh my--we have such a wildly red state that the prevailing attitude is just what you described, @lisa. it's ugly and intolerant and sickening. We have many, many teachers who hold those views that you describe. Don't know...

21:09:11 Peggy George : I know that Lisa but I don't always have a tool bard to float the chat

21:09:13 Lisa Parisi :

21:09:18 Peggy George : thanks a lot!

21:09:45 Peggy George : his interview on Future of Education was really good. You can listen to it there:

21:09:57 connect2jamie : Good discussion tonight--and some good links to check out.

21:10:05 Peggy George : folk songs have so many wonderful messages!

21:10:15 connect2jamie : Thanks ya'll!! :)

21:10:19 Peggy George : everything on their site is free to download--Operation Respect

21:10:23 connect2jamie : Gotta go get ready for tomorrow!

21:10:26 Lisa Parisi :

21:10:33 Peggy George : bye everyone! thanks for a wonderful conversation!

21:11:02 connect2jamie : Bye!!

21:11:02 Peggy George : wish we knew why this chat log was different than the one on EdTechWeekly.

21:11:24 marragem : Goodnight everyone.

21:11:33 Peggy George : maybe Lorna could do the streaming for you

21:11:52 marragem : Bye1

21:11:57 Peggy George : see you on Jan. 30th

21:11:59 Lisa Parisi : Bye, everyone


This week, we discussed the difficulties with preparing students for the major state tests without making the whole classroom be about test prep.  With Race to the Top, it's not easy.