These are some of the stories that have been passing through our inboxes, Twitter feeds and Facebook conversation threads. As you read, please consider sharing your thoughts in the comments section, or with a post of your own. We’re always looking for new voices!
Here is what our editorial board has been reading these last few weeks. Perhaps one of these links will inspire you to respond via a post on Writers Who Care.
Mark’s Good Reads
Anne Elrod Whitney provides a strong companion piece to our blog’s post on the opt-out movement, in this letter to the Centre Daily Times. She provides an eloquent and passionate rationale for why parents should opt their children out of standardized testing.
This quick post on Kyleen Beers’ blog is the perfect push to help teachers through the final weeks of the school year. She reminds us that it only takes one teacher to make the difference is a child’s life, one teacher to be that “hope whisperer.”
Amber’s Favorite Finds
Though this Facebook page was created by Texas parents, the message is relevant to parents around the country. They provide a sample letter that parents can give to administrators to opt out of state tests as well as descriptions of their children’s experiences with standardized tests.
I found a great response on NCTE’s (National Council of Teachers of English) Teaching and Learning forum by Nancy Patterson of Grand Valley State University. The topic of this post was preparing students for college composition. Patterson brings up the point that, while we constantly want to prepare students for the next level, we also need to be very cautious, recognizing and honoring a student’s current level of development and maturity. She shares a great passage from Zorba the Greek.
I remember one morning when I discovered a cocoon in the back of a tree just as a butterfly was making a hole in its case and preparing to come out. I waited awhile, but it was too long appearing and I was impatient. I bent over it and breathed on it to warm it. I warmed it as quickly as I could and the miracle began to happen before my eyes, faster than life. The case opened; the butterfly started slowly crawling out, and I shall never forget my horror when I saw how its wings were folded back and crumpled; the wretched butterfly tried with its whole trembling body to unfold them. Bending over it, I tried to help it with my breath, in vain. It needed to be hatched out patiently and the unfolding of the wings should be a gradual process in the sun. Now it was too late. My breath had forced the butterfly to appear all crumpled, before its time. It struggled desperately and, a few seconds later, died in the palm of my hand.
As we look at testing and Common Core State Standards, Nancy’s post (posted April 22 to the forum discussion) reminds us that forcing students into rigor for which they are not developmentally ready is not the way to achieve higher standards. Instead, we (teachers, parents, educators) can advocate for what’s best for kids at all levels.
What have you been reading? What has sparked your thinking? Write about it!