Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Make Like Billy Madison...

And head back to school.

Last week I got my school assignment. I've got a new district, but I'm staying with 4th graders. Yaaaay! I have a soft spot for them...Boy Wonder being one himself and all. Yep, I'm biased.

To start each assignment off, we have a sitdown meeting with the teachers I'll be working with, a member of the WITS office, and myself. It's a short time to get to know each other, get a feel for what the teachers are looking for in the coming weeks and a chance to familiarize myself with the school.

I should jump in and say that I was 20 minutes late to the meeting despite leaving my house 90 minutes ahead of time. I-10 hosed me, ya'll. It HOSED me. What a great first impression I must have made...

This year, instead of four teachers, I have two. Two super nice, extra gentle fourth grader ELA teachers. Is it silly that the nice ones scare me more than the more stand-offish ones do?

Their biggest concern this year is adding voice to the students' work. It makes sense. Most of what their learning is aimed for the annual standardized test in the spring and it seems the rubrics are getting more rigid. Kids are getting dinged for not having enough "voice" in their essays...even the dreaded expository. (Barf.)

I've been thinking long and even longer about how to teach kids what their writing "voice" is. I have no clue where mine comes from and I'm pretty sure that it changes depending on the material and whether or not I got enough sleep. It might even lean on the amount of gas in my truck, truth be told.

It's such a vague notion, isn't it? How do you teach someone how to sound like an individual when they're taught to answer the same thing, the same way, every single time throughout their education. We're creating a generation of test drones, but we want these test drones to have an individual voice inside the 34 lines provided. But then go back to having the exact same answer as everyone else.

Luckily, the awesome teachers get to figure that part out, god bless 'em. I get to show up, make them laugh with my Lumpy Space Princess impression and let them go HAM on the paper, no rules, no censoring, just writing.

But here we are. Tomorrow is week one. We're concentrating on voice.

I'm goin' in folks...

...happy happy happy...

1 comment:

  1. It's something to think about, for sure... I'm excited to hear how it goes!