Monday, March 28, 2011

Music to my ears

President Barack Obama said Monday that students should take fewer standardized tests and school performance should be measured in other ways than just exam results. Too much testing makes education boring for kids, he said.

"Too often what we have been doing is using these tests to punish students or to, in some cases, punish schools," the president told students and parents at a town hall hosted by the Univision Spanish-language television network at Bell Multicultural High School in Washington, D.C.

Obama, who is pushing a rewrite of the nation's education law that would ease some of its rigid measurement tools, said policymakers should find a test that "everybody agrees makes sense" and administer it in less pressure-packed atmospheres, potentially every few years instead of annually.

At the same time, Obama said, schools should be judged on criteria other than student test performance, including attendance rate.

"One thing I never want to see happen is schools that are just teaching the test because then you're not learning about the world, you're not learning about different cultures, you're not learning about science, you're not learning about math," the president said. "All you're learning about is how to fill out a little bubble on an exam and little tricks that you need to do in order to take a test and that's not going to make education interesting."

"And young people do well in stuff that they're interested in," Obama said. "They're not going to do as well if it's boring."

The president endorsed the occasional administering of standardized tests to determine a "baseline" of student ability. He said his daughters Sasha, 9, and Malia, 12, recently took a standardized test that didn't require advance preparation. Instead, he said, it was just used as a tool to diagnose their strengths and weaknesses, and show areas where they could use more emphasis from teachers. The girls attend the private Sidwell Friends School in Washington.

Obama, who has been pushing his education agenda all month, has expressed concern that too many schools will be unable to meet annual proficiency standards under the No Child Left Behind law this year. The standards are aimed at getting 100 percent of students proficient in math, reading and science by 2014, a goal now widely seen as unrealistic.

The Obama administration has proposed replacing those standards with a less prescriptive requirement that by 2020 all students graduating from high school should be ready for college or a career.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

One for One

One day without shoes is 8 days away! Make sure you go barefoot on April 5th!!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Student Success Act

I have been trying to avoid blogging about SB 736 "Student Success Act." Unfortunately, SB 736 is hard to avoid and has taken up much of my valuable time.

I have scoured over article after article reading every bit of information I can find on this bill. I have gone as far as tracking the progress of SB 736 //I never thought I would stalk a bill\\ Emailed countless people that might be influential in this bill being changed or not passing. Lost sleep due to my brain non-stop thinking about the repercussions that will take affect once this bill is signed into law. Spent time at the beach to de-stress and forget about what is about to happen in education. //When I was at the beach a group of ladies, that sat a few feet away, were talking about...yep, you guessed it SB 736\\

Once signed into law SB 736 will:

1. tie 50 percent of public school teacher's salaries to students performance on standardized tests over the course of three years
2. eliminate tenure for teachers hired after 2014
3. prohibit school districts from considering advanced degrees earned by school teachers when determining salary

This past week I received not one, not two, not three, but four people apologizing for this bill being passed. I feel like there should be a funeral for every ESE student and teacher to attend for the lack of consideration in SB 736.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Dear Spring Break

Please come soon. I think everyone is in need of a break, but unfotunetly our break comes at the end of April. Thankfully, Q3 ends this upcoming week and students will get a three day breather. I can tell some of my students are losing steam. It is painful to watch them think sometimes...I can tell they are trying, wheels are turning, but nothing is happening. 

I am mostly seeing the lack of steam coming from students that are out in the general education classroom as well as those that are on the verge of being moved out of an ESE class. They have worked so hard and now the engines are slowing down. Learning activities that should be simple are taking longer to complete or even start.
FCAT is just around the corner and now is not the time for a freeze on thinking to happen! In the words of Billy Madison:
We have to work real hard and stick it out until FCAT testing day!

Monday, March 14, 2011

The blame game

Question: who is responsible for you not studying for your test?
Answer: Jesus

Stare at paper that I am pretending to grade so I do not start laughing at the fact that a student just blammed Jesus for not passing her vocabulary test. 

Oh the things I hear from students

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Science Vs. Language Arts

When I graduated from USF I had my heart set on teaching an ESE science class. I searched high and low for a school looking for an ESE science teacher. I went on several interviews for an ESE position, but only one fit the science category; the others were for math, reading, resource room and behavior. Can you guess what job I was hired for....SCIENCE! I love science//don't get me wrong I love L.A too, but science is amazing\\

Confession: I have to dig up motivation to teach students the proper way to use a semi-colon, but was overwhelmed with excitement when my class was discussing the roles our colon plays in our body//did you know that your colon is 5 feet cool is that\\ DNA, cells, mitosis, bacteria, kingdoms, experiments, atoms, mitochondria, elements and oh so much more...SCIENCE ROCKS

                            Language Arts                                                                                                             When I was asked to teach language arts last year, to bring up test scores, I agreed and hoped my love for science would transfer over to L.A. Well some of my love transferred over, but the majority has stayed loyal to science. I have found teaching writing to be fun/challenging. Teaching L.A is not all that of speech, literary elements, vocabulary, the writing process and grammar...I could be teaching math //bad idea\\. Although at times L.A class does seem to be a front for a reading class with all the stories we are constantly reading.

Upside is that some of our language arts stories cover science related I guess I am winning there

Saturday, March 12, 2011

B is for birthdays and beach

Guess what blog is a year old today...Oh Happy Day! Who would have thought that I could blog for an entire year! What is even more remarkable is that this blog is actually older than one; Oh Happy Day was created sometime in 2008 and I completely forgot about it until a year ago//poor blog neglected for all that time\\ So in celebration and to rid myself of stress I spent my Saturday at the beach!
I visited Sanibel Island where I planted myself at Bowman's beach//my favorite\\. I love Bowman's beach because there is not a building in site and no cars can be heard. I like my beaches natural without any touristy attractions.
If you are a shell lover then you should visit Sanibel or Captiva Island because there are mountains of shells. I can always tell the serious shellers from the not so serious shellers. Dedicated shellers have nets with fancy bags to place their precious shells in. They stand in one spot for several minutes picking up more than one net full of shells praying that they find that special shell they have been hoping for. They look like they are panning for gold and not shells.

The not so serious shellers walk around kicking piles of shells with their feet holding a plastic baggie in their hand waiting to find a shell that they fancy. The funny thing is that the not so serious shellers will literally pick up any shell. I mean shells that have holes, broken in two and have barnacles growing off of them. Their baggies are overflowing with shells that serious shellers would glance over.
//can you tell that I spent a good amount of time observing people picking up shells today\\
I am not exactly sure what sheller I am...I walk, look and will occasionally pick up a couple shells. I always find the swirly shell above//I really should learn the name of some shells\\. I found four within in a minute and the one with a hole is just neat to hold up to your eye.

//Side note\\
I think I will write a book on beach etiquette since there is people that are unaware of how to behave at the beach

Friday, March 11, 2011

Show your toes so kids don't have to!

24 days away from "one day without shoes" which is a global campaign to raise awareness of the millions of children at risk of disease and infection as they grow up without shoes.

Essie has decided to make a special limited edition nail polish to promote one day without shoes! The nail polish is called: One Day Without Blues. The color is similar to the Toms flag which is also a baby blue. Essie wanted to encourage people to go barefoot while representing Toms signature color. The goal of the color is to draw attention to your shoeless feet to bring awareness to children that are without shoes on a daily basis.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Race to Nowhere

Another film has come out this past fall highlighting the pressures that students are facing in school. We are asking student to produce, produce, produce to score high on tests so they can advance in their education. The government, school districts, teachers and parents are putting more attention on student's performance on a test rather than determining if they actually learned the material. Unfortunately, test score numbers outweigh the love of learning. We are raising wonderful test takers not critical problem solving individuals. Techniques that encourage students to develop critical thinking skills are pushed aside due to high stake tests that are looming in the future.

I know that my students as well as myself feel pressure on the ever so lovely FCAT
//24 days away\\
I have never been a fan of these influential tests; although I do not reveal my true feelings to my students in fear that they will not see these tests as important. The group of students that I teach historically score low on these tests for several reasons. I hate that tests determine what a student knows and does not know; when in all reality we know that not everyone is a good test taker! Creativity, problem solving, thinking critically and the love of learning should have more value than a test score
//but this is just my opinion\\ 

Monday, March 7, 2011

I cried and I told him he has a disability

NBC's Parenthood did not disappoint in the episode where Max found out that he has aspergers.
There were a couple of items that stood out:

1. different wiring
Originally when Max's parents sat down with him to explain what aspergers is they said that he is wired differently.

I remember being told that I was wired differently due to my disability//SLD\\. At the time when I was told this it made sense and it still does. In fact, there actually may be some wires missing when it comes to me dealing with anything math related.

I think the reason why people tend to resort to the "wired differently" explanation is because it is a visual reference. We all know what happens when you plug a wire into the wrong switch...things do not go as planned. This is exactly what happens when a person has a disability things that you think should happen don't because the wiring is we have to find a way around the mis-routed  wires.

2. explaining/telling
Toughest part of having a disability is telling someone that you have a disability. If you have a disability or have told someone that they have a disability than you know what I am talking about.

I am finally secure in telling others that I have a disability. Now this does not mean that I walk up to someone and say "Hi, my name is Megan and I have a disability", but if the "d" word came up in conversation then I may mention that I have a disability. The only reason why I tend to hold back revealing that I have a disability is because I DO NOT want to be treated differently because of my label.

3. crying
Max's mom cried when they were explaining what aspergers is to their son. There are really two reasons why people cry: sad or happy and in this situation Max's mom was sad. Her reaction was completly normal, but it may have signaled that having a disability is negative.

I know I have shed my fair share of tears due to my frustration and absolute disgust that this darn label will never leave me alone. Thankfully, the tears have stopped as I have learned how to adapt and deal with my disability...just do not try to get me to play euchre...worst card came EVER! 

4. buddy
Max's parent refered to him as buddy three seperate times during this episode

If you have ever taken any disability in the media class then you know that "buddy" is a common name to call someone who has a disability...well hello there buddy

5. life changing
Finding out that a loved one has a disability is completely life changing...nothing will ever be the same. One day your child is label free and developing like everyone else and then bam...a disability knocks you off your feet. Max's parent's noticed signs that their son was different due to his quirky behavior, but thought nothing of them...until they sought after expert opinion.

Having a disability has complety altered my life. I know that I am the person I am today because of all the struggles and triumpts that have come with having a disability. There have been days were I wish I was label free and was not weighted down with my disability, but I am grateful for all the experiences that have come my way because of my disability!

6. never going away
Max asked if the characteristics of his aspergers would last forever.

Much to my disability is my ever present companion. If I could have one wish I would want to spend one day label free.

7. abilities
I loved how Max's parents not only told him how asperger made him different, but all the wonderful abilities that come with his labels.

I think humans typically over look the abilities when disabilities come into the picture. I wish and pray that there is more of a focus on a persons abilities rather than the lack of ability. I feel that when we focus too much on the label that the true abilities disapear.

I may have a disability, but that does NOT mean that I am not abled!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

High Fives

Well today was the day. 4th, 8th and 10th graders took the FL writes. I usually dread tests, but today was different. I was excited to watch my students demonstrate all that they have learned this year and thankfully I was not disappointed in what I saw.

My student and I were relieved when we read the prompt which was similar to an essay they wrote over Christmas break. They may have groaned over homework during break, but I only heard sounds of joy when they realized the similarities between the two prompts! //there is a method to my madness\\ I had barely handed out all the material and said my speech before students were biting at the bit to start writing. In August they would have never been this eager to start writing, but they truly have grown as writers. I was literally told to stop talking! Watching them write was pure JOY as I saw them plan, pre-write and write their essays. If it was up to me they all deserve a passing grade for the growth and improvement they have made as writers!

Since my 8th graders missed their lunch window a couple of them gathered at a side lunch table to eat together. After I turned in my box of supplies I headed over to their table to see what they were chattering about. As I approached them they began to high five one another for a job well done!