Thursday, October 29, 2009

More on Moo-Moo Here

Thanks to Susan Ohanian for mentioning our spoof of the NY Times article about a class trip taken by Harlem Success as a way to do test prep. She sent me a nice note that she was rolling with laughter. Unfortunately, an hour later she sent a note that Gerald Bracey had died and she didn't post her daily list that evening. So, I just came across the full range of her wonderful comments on the article in the Times titled, A Moo-Moo Here, and Better Test Scores Later, which she includes on her web site at the end of her comments.

Ohanian Comment: I made a 'regular' comment on this nutty news item [see below] but now the penultimate comment has just appeared over at Ed Notes. I wish I'd thought of this, I wish I'd thought of this, I wish I'd thought of this. Test Questions on Outer Space Lead Eva Moskowitz to Book Space Shuttle for Harlem Success Field Study.

Eons ago, I was a teacher in a special federal program, given the mandate of helping urban kids do better in school. In those days, if a school got a federal grant, teachers made the decisions on implementation. I know, I know: Some people are smarter than others. But I didn't hear of any systematic abuse of children, which is so pervasive in schools now that I can't keep up with it.

One thing we did was take a busload of kids from upstate New York to the Barnum & Bailey Circus in New York City. It wasn't a matter of thinking "clowns: or "elephants" might appear on the standardized test kids took in the Spring. It was a matter of expanding children's horizons, helping them see beyond their insolated and isolated neighborhoods.

Hell, when I taught in Queens, New York City, I used Federal dollars to take two busloads of students to the Cloisters, also in New York City: expanding children's horizons, helping them see beyond their insolated and isolated neighborhoods.

Back with the circus trip: I've never forgotten one 5th grader asking, "Do they have different money in New York City?"

Unlike the five-year-old in the story below who thought he was visiting the farm so he could "get smarter on tests," our students looked forward to a good time for the sake of a good time. Only we teachers looked to the possibility of some deeper, longterm benefit. Unlike the folk at the Harlem Success Academy, we didn't have "a relentless emphasis on data," but we did believe that children should have many opportunities to explore the world--in books and in field trips."

Imagine reading stories of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table so children will "glide through questions" on this topic.

For Eva S. Moskowitz, even a visit to a farm has to be "rigorous." And when children are required to come up with an "I didn't know" statement, they'll tell you they didn't know chickens made eggs. . . right on schedule.

In my analysis of the NAEP items for fourth grade I found that topics include an American female astronaut on Mir, crab hunting, wombats, and life in the American Colonies. Two items, a West African tale and a pourquoi story from William Bennett's edited collection The Moral Compassare in the folklore genre. There are two stories about rural children and their dogs. Field "study: possibilities are staggering.

Take a look at the spot-on comments of a teacher who quotes a great observation a New York City principal left in the "comments" section of the article.

No comments: