Sunday, February 14, 2010

I write, hand cramps

I's been forever. But there has been a lot going on. On February 9th, the fourth grade took the FCAT writes. Now, for those of you not in education, let me explain a little about the FCAT. Thanks to the stupid No Child Left Behind act, states have to prove their competencies through a series of tests.In Florida it's the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, or F-CAT. If you really want to know how I feel, go here.

Anyway, in fourth grade, we have to prove how well we write. So from August to now, we spend an hour a day doing writing prompt after writing prompt. Learning about 5 paragraphs, creative language, expository and narrative. The whole thing is so phony and canned. But, of course, we are not teaching to the test! I want to tell everyone that kids DO NOT learn to write this way!!!! I want to tell them that it is totally counter-productive!!!! But I can't, because the truth is, it's my ass on the line. And guess what? If my scores suck, I get blamed for it. So we practice, practice, practice. I try to make it fun and creative, but by the end of January, we are all sick of writing. Really sick of it. I had 3 kids who just refused to write anymore. And I kind of don't blame them. So we sat down and had a conversation. All of us. And I told them that we were finished with writing. We were tired of it, and really, we had practiced as much as we could. They knew what to do, we had gone over it a million times and they could do it. So the deal was, no more writing. But on the day of the test, we all had to give our best effort and write, write, write.

"Yes, Mrs. Lewis!" my friends all chorused together.


On the day of the test I had one kid who wrote one line. and then erased it. And then wrote half a line. Total. In 45 minutes.

Another had 4 lines and one more had one paragraph. And that was it.

When I glared at the one-paragraph kid (because I cannot say anything during the test. I am not even allowed to know what the prompt is) He looked at me all indignantly and said "What? I'm done!"

4-liner just put his head down and went to sleep, and when I asked 1/2 line kid what happened, he just shook his head and said "I don't know".

Now part of me feels really bad that these kids hate it so much, but part of me want to scream "YOU KNOW THIS!!!! I HAVE SEEN YOU DO THIS!!!!!!!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME??????????" But I didn't.

The biggest surprise? Bad Boy! That child put his nose to the grindstone and I saw him plan, write, edit, re-read and edit again! He worked the entire time!!!!!! At one point, about halfway through, he put his paper down, heaved a huge, resigned sigh and got back to work. I was so thrilled! I told him how proud I was of how hard he worked and he looked at me and said:

"What do you mean? I just did what you told me to do."

I almost collapsed.