Friday, April 17, 2009

My Dream Project

Sometimes I amuse myself by thinking of fun little work projects I would like to do. My dream projects.

A few years ago, I read about a study in Florida which got me thinking about developing some kind of pre-testing curriculum. (Testing isn't going to go away. Nor should it, entirely. Whenever anyone waves the anti-testing flag in my face, I think about how none of us would like to the patient in an operation performed by a surgeon who had never undergone any tests of his medical knowledge. We wouldn't even want our cars repaired by technicians who hadn't ever been tested and certified. However, let us all agree there is room for reform in state and district testing, and leave it at that.)

So whenever we administer these tests, these tests on which some children score disproportionately lower than others, why not find better ways to prepare them? Not with test prep products, but with lesson plans that tell about the brain and how it works, and how we--we, all of us, all humans--gather and store and use information. Thereby making sure that the students understand that all humans have the same kinds of brains, brains that work the same way, and no one group has brains that are inherently better or less able to function than those of another group.

We could add a little writing exercise to the lesson plan:
ScienceDaily (Apr. 16, 2009) — In a follow-up to a 2006 study, a University of Colorado at Boulder researcher and his colleagues found that an in-class writing assignment designed to reinforce students' sense of identity and personal integrity increased the grade-point averages of African-American middle school students over a two-year period, and reduced the rate at which these students were held back or placed in remediation.
This follow-up just confirms the results of the 2006 study. This kind of writing exercise clearly has a positive effect on student performance. Why is it not common practice yet?

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