Tuesday, August 10, 2010

About Reader's Workshop: Camp and the Problem with Standardisation

So, once again I'm coming back from a short break. This has become a bad habit, one which I really should endeavour to break. Though, part of it is completely explanatory.

Each year, our Year 7s go on a week long camp. It's near the beach, and there's a tonne of fun activities which students would have no chance of doing in their regular lives. (Yes, we go to the beach in the middle of winter) I wasn't supposed to go, but two weeks before the camp, got the call up. I was so glad I did go. When you get the students outside their regular environment, you get to see them in a totally different light. You get to interact with them differently and build a trust with them that you might not otherwise build.

How will this translate back into the classroom? I'm hoping that the relationships they've built with each other will continue to hold strong. I hope it means they'll trust me when I say 'you'll really like this book'!

Unfortunately coming back has meant that it's time for QCATS. This is another form of standardised assessment, except this one requires us to give the students (Grades 4,6 and 9 do QCATS) a booklet full of 'classroom like' assessment.

The English one this year is a mixture of reading and writing, and as with all standardised testing, it's trying to be all things to all people. What you end up with is something that is rather uninspiring and frankly quite depressing. (Rinse, lather and repeat in maths and science). What bothers me most is that to get an A, you don't have to think deeply or creatively about the text you've been reading. You don't have a chance to talk and think through what you are reading, to develop a shared consensus. You just have to tick all their boxes.

And there is my problem with standardised testing. It's been developed to fit students into the little boxes or else they've failed. That's not going to develop the critical, thoughtful readers we need going into the future. Just people who like filling in boxes.

Photo from Flickr


A Reader's Community

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Queensland, Australia
A Reader's Community is a place to find ideas, information, resources and recommendations about Reader's Workshop.

This Blog has five main types of posts.

About Reader's Workshop - information about Reader's Workshop in my classroom and how it works

Reader's Workshop Tools - resources you can access and use to help you with reader's workshop

Book talks - Book recommendations of two or three books centred around a particular theme

Book letters - in-depth reviews of one particular book

Reader's Workshop Links - Short links lists to help you find more information
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