BY SHARON MARTIN
I may have been out of my comfort zone, but I had a responsibility to the students. I dove into the literature – research for me and grade-level reading for them. It was my last year. I had nothing to lose, but those kids had everything to lose if I didn’t do it right.
Here was the formula I came up with:
Dump the reading series and find books, stories, and poems that kids want to read. Every day, I read aloud to them and every day they had quiet reading time.
We underlined words we didn’t understand, made word walls, and even sang vocabulary songs. We had class discussions. Vocabularies and comprehension skills grew in an organic way.
Social studies and science were a compromise. We used the textbooks to learn how to read difficult texts. We learned science with hands-on experiments. And we learned social studies with maps, picture books, primary source material, and field trips.
We wrote every day. Some days it was just a journal entry. Other days the writing was more extensive. The students learned that writing is a process, from prewriting to final product.
We spent a lot of time doing math. The goal was automaticity. If a child can add, subtract, multiply, and think, he or she has math licked.
It was a difficult class and a difficult year. Several of the students had personal stories that would break your heart. Some had reading problems. Some had emotional problems. But in the end, everyone learned something, including me.
Could I make the same choices again? I hope that I would be brave enough to do the right thing.
Right now, I see good teachers fighting for their professional lives in test-prep factories. Edicts come down from above, many of them from folks who have never taken an education course. Developmental psychology has been thrown out the window.
I believe in best practices and accountability – not to so-called reformers or even to elected officials, but to children.
Teachers and parents, opt out of this testing madness, these ridiculous reform stunts that have students testing a month out of the school year!
Taxpayers, join the fray. Let the reformers and their minions know that you are paying taxes to educate the children in your district, not to enrich corporations.”
It is time for an education counter-revolution. Let’s take back our schools. Let’s do it for the kids.
– Sharon Martin lives in Oilton, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer