I am participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge: A slice a day for all of March. You should do it too! Thank you, Two Writing Teachers! Readers, check out their site, and start slicing!
One of my favorite bulletin boards this year is my “What Would You March For?” board that we made from a collection of the things that my 6th graders think are important issues. This was part of a larger activity from our celebration of Martin Luther King Jr, and watching Teaching Tolerance’s The Children’s March.
I love it because the kids were so genuine when they made their signs, and I love that we happened to make the signs on Inauguration Day. I love the memory, even though it broke my heart a little bit that day. After watching my students write that they would march for LGBTQ rights, The Environment, The Animals, Global Warming, Freedom, etc., I was reading news of White House taking down website pages protecting some of those very same things. But, it gave me hope to see my students thinking about things that were important to them.
Now we are just a few days away from starting our state assessments. All of us at school are trying our best to comply with the rules of what we need to take down and cover up in our classrooms and hallways. Obviously, we can’t have students looking at charts that will help them write Text Dependent Analysis essays, or charts of literary definitions… but not everything is so black and white. I’ve taken to just covering up almost everything with words on it, because the manual says something about covering things that could help students with the test. (Ironically enough, getting my students to use the charts and resources in the room when I WANT them to use them is challenging… thinking of them using it during a high stakes test is laughable. But, I cover everything anyway.) My students, like every year, walk into the classroom after I have slapped colored paper all over and go into mild shock. They ask me why, and I tell them that the PDE wants to make sure they don’t use anything in the classroom to help them, or to cheat. They look confused, asking me “How could we use the sign that says ‘read’ to help us on the test?” I just shrug my shoulders.
Our hallways need to be free of hints as well, so the other day as I passed the “What Would you March For” bulletin board, I stopped to comment to my friend, “Maybe we should just replace all of the protest signs with signs that say “No More High Stakes Testing!”
But, because I like my job, I asked our team para to cover the board instead.
Walking by it today, though, I shuddered.
Our marchers. Silenced.
Today one of my students looked up at my wall, where I have a little banner that says “THINK.”
“Ms. Feinberg! You better cover that up. It might give us a hint of what we should do during the test.”
I love sixth graders.