To whom it may concern,

For some reason my comments are sometimes labeled RachD1106 and some just say Rachel. I am assuming this is because I was logged off when I made some comments. For this reason I was unable to track all my comments through wordpress. I found ten comments and just linked them but there are more out there. Sorry for the inconvenience.


Comment 1

Comment 2

Comment 3

Comment 4

Comment 5

Comment 6

Comment 7

Comment 8

Comment 9

Comment 10

Published in: on December 2, 2008 at 5:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

Goodbye WordPress

I am not going to lie, I have hated every minute of having to blog. I am extremely uncomfortable with every aspect of it. I may be young but I feel like I missed the technology boom I still like to play on the original Nintendo. In fact, the first Mario has been kicking my butt for the past few months. Also the fact that I just found the spell check on the blogging part of this is extremely frustrating, as it is a tool I use frequently.

However, it was beneficial to me. I am vaguely familiar with the whole blog idea now. I know how to do it and the idea behind it is good. I will know how students feel when approached with something that is completely foreign to them; which can only help me become a better teacher.

I have enjoyed this class. I have learned a lot and found many things extremely interesting. I like how it was not lecture everyday. The videos were interesting and I love my writing group. Sorry Mr. Rozema it is probably in large part my fault my group never seemed to stay on topic. Not only will I take a lot from the class, but also the people in the class. I normally hate speaking up in class, but the classroom was a comfortable place to share ideas.

I do not want to be an English teacher. I am a Social Studies major with an emphasis in History. However, if I were put in an English classroom I think I have been given adequate tools to begin with.


Published in: on December 2, 2008 at 5:23 pm  Leave a Comment  


An article I found interesting was from the Craig Daily Press: Almost 140 students get credit for CSAP. The CSAP is Colorado’s assessment test for schools. What I found interesting was that by offering elective credit to students who scored accordingly on the test students were motivated to do well. The credits would not replace required credits, they were strictly elective.


This is shocking to me. When I was taking the MEAPs in high school, which I assume to be the Michigan equivalent, students were offered $1500 for getting high marks; $1500 that I collected myself. However, many of my classmates did not take this so seriously and many missed out.


I did not try harder on the MEAPs because I wanted the money. I was just a good student who did what I was told. The fact that I got the money was just a bonus. What is shocking to me is that the elective credit was so motivating. If my classmates were not motivated by money they sure wouldn’t have been from class credit.


This article pointed out to me something that I hadn’t thought of before. With assessment I was concerned at how it was unfair to students. I never thought it the students treated the test unfairly. But if students don’t take the tests seriously the results don’t matter.


Published in: on December 2, 2008 at 5:22 pm  Comments (1)  

High Stakes Testing

Both teachers and students are nervous about a new math test at Willmar Senior High. The state did away with the Basic Skills Test in math, a test students would take in eighth grade. Replacing it now is the Graduation Required Assessment for Diploma math test, which will be taken in the eleventh grade. According to Students and Teachers Nervous About Math Test an article in the West Central Tribune Online, “It’s a high-stakes test-if they don’t pass, they don’t graduate.”


Many students and teachers have deemed the test as unfair. According to Shea Johnson a student who will be required to take the test, the test isn’t fair, “Because we work so hard in high school, and if we don’t pass this test we don’t graduate. Some people aren’t good with tests.”


Students were afraid of freezing on the test, Johnson being one of them. Others were concerned that they would not be adequately prepared for the test.


Other concerns were about the material on the test. Some of the questions would be counted towards this Graduation Required Assessment for Diploma math test, some would be counted for the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment II, and some wouldn’t be counted at all. When the test is taken no one will know which questions are which. One teacher said, “A classroom teacher would never get away with that — Here’s your test; we’ll let you know next week what counted.”


This is completely outrageous, the idea that a students future rides solely on one test. That would be enough to freak anyone out.


I remember when I had to take the MEAP in elementary school. We were told to fill in the bubbles perfectly or the answers would not be counted. I was stressed out because of those stupid bubbles for months. I can only imagine now being told my whole future was on the line.

I understand the goal is to make Minnesota diplomas more valuable, but at what cost.It’s too much pressure to put on students. This test will affect their future, but most don’t even know what that is yet. 

Published in: on December 2, 2008 at 4:59 pm  Leave a Comment  


The people that are harmed the most by standardized testing are ESL students and students from low income families. This is a well known fact because these tests are not geared towards these kids. While some students are told to dumb it down in order to score well on standardized tests most are just plain old not prepared.


One standardized test is the FCAT or the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. According to the article Penny-Pinching Says FCAT Is Not a Priority by the Miami Herald the FCAT is crucial to focus public schools on the needs of the weakest links. Now faced with a “state budget meltdown” they want to cut funding for FCAT.


In the article is says, ”They tell us public education can be the great equalizer, offering opportunity regardless of race, gender or ethnicity so long as a student puts forth the effort.” In the next line it says, “If that’s all true, then why is Florida penny-pinching at the expense of the most vulnerable kids and leaving parents in the dark.”


This hits at something that has always bothered me. I do not know about the whole situation in Florida, I only know what I read in the article, but why is it that the first thing that is always cut are the programs for the underprivileged. If it is a public school and public education is the great equalizer how is it that these kids are always getting a bed deal. We grow up learning that saying “it’s not fair” is pointless because as every adult is willing to point out, “life’s not fair.” However, in this situation I think one good “IT’S NOT FAIR” is completely appropriate.


The worst part is that there is substantial proof that FCAT is helping. Three-fourths of fourth graders passed the National Assessment of Educational Progress in 2007, whereas in 1998 only 58 percent did. Take in with these statistics the fact that the National Assessment of Educational Progress is the gold standard of standardized tests.


This is absolutely heart breaking to me. The fact that there is a standardized tests directed to students that need it, that has been proven to work, is being cut.

Published in: on December 2, 2008 at 3:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

Stephen Greenblatt

Like every other person I remember learning Shakespeare in the most grueling way. In fact, I happened to have class with my cousin Lindsey. When we were reading Romeo and Juliet aloud our teacher assigned me the part of Romeo and her the part of Juliet. The class had field day with this. We are both girls but that did not stop them from chanting kissing cousins kissing cousins. So…. Maybe my experience was a little different.


I thought everyone was supposed to love Romeo and Juliet. So even though I did not care for Shakespeare at all or his plays I always said I loved Romeo and Juliet, it’s so romantic.


Then in one particular class we watched the most recent rendition of Romeo and Juliet, the one that stared Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes. Then I really did fall in love with the play. Like every girl in my class I developed a crush on DiCaprio.


It wasn’t until this past summer that I developed genuine feelings towards Shakespeare’s writing. In a British literature class we read A Midsummer Nights Dream. With no DiCaprio to dress it up, it was actually the play that I liked and not the actors.


However, my new found enjoyment of Shakespeare was short lived when after a Midsummer Nights Dream we had to read Henry IV. This play was not for me. The only other thing I took from that British Literature class was about Shakespeare himself.


In high school when we had read about Shakespeare, we learned that he was a genius. He wrote in ways that no one else could and he made it seem effortless. After reading a section of Will in the World by Stephen Greenblatt I realized Shakespeare was not the untouchable god but a real person.


When I learned that one of the possible lecture choices was to see Stephen Greenblatt’s I knew that was the choice for me. So with knowing nothing more than Stephen Greenblatt wrote a fascinating biography of William Shakespeare I went to his lecture. I thought I would just learn more about Shakespeare the man.


So when Greenblatt started speaking of cultural ambiguity I was surprised. His work with Cardenio, Shakespeare’s lost play was extremely interesting. It has been a while since I heard this lecture so bear with me. Greenblatt set out to write Cardenio. He also encouraged writers around the world to make their own version of the play. Expectedly, the plays were different. Unexpectedly they were also very similar. While minor details were different, the basic structure stayed the same.


The idea that while all different, we still somewhat similar is an interesting idea. Through Shakespeare we can teach students about other cultures but show them how it relates to them as well.

Published in: on December 2, 2008 at 12:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

Chose Your Words Wisely

An article that I found extremely interesting says it all in the title, “What a difference a word makes.” The subtitle being, “Assessment for learning rather than assessment of learning helps students succeed.”


This is the point I have been trying to get at. We cannot just use assessment as a measuring stick of what students have learned. We need to use it as a tool to help students learn. If we use it strictly as a measuring device we are cheating the students.


This goes back to my first point. Students who are assessed of learning only learn what they have to; to get the grade they want. Maybe not all students, but some do. Even if it’s just a small portion its still a travesty. We want students to learn for life not just the fifty minutes their in class.


If we use assessment for learning, we use their knowledge as a jumping off point. We can use assessment as an important educational tool. The article says:

“Assessment for learning happens in the classroom and involves students in every aspect of their own assessment to build their confidence and maximize their achievement. It rests on the understanding that students, not just adults, are data-driven instructional decision makers. Several key features differentiate assessment for learning from formative assessment as currently being sold by test publishers: To begin with, state standards are deconstructed into classroom-level learning targets, which we translate into language our students understand so they know what they are responsible for learning. In addition, we turn those classroom-level targets into dependably accurate classroom assessments, aspects of which we integrate into daily instruction. In short, everyone understands the definition of success from the outset and we generate an ongoing flow of descriptive feedback that permits students to watch themselves grow. In this case, students and their teachers become partners in the classroom assessment process, relying on student-involved assessment, record keeping, and communication to help students understand what success looks like, see where they are now, and learn to close the gap between the two.”

I like how it says that teachers and students become partners in the classroom assessment process, relying on student-involved assessment. If we involve students it can only help them. They become more invested in their own education.

Published in: on November 11, 2008 at 4:57 pm  Comments (1)  

What is Assessment

As I surfed the web looking at different articles on assessment, struggling to find one that I thought was interesting enough to blog on, I came across wikipedia. Most people know what wikipedia is but for those of you that do not wikipedia as their tagline says is a “free encyclopedia.” It can be found easily enough and most internet searches will pop up with at least one wikipedia article.

I’ve heard from many teachers that they do not care for wikipedia. The main reason being that the information gathered there is not always accurate. This is because anyone can edit the information on any given page.

However, there are many editing tools in place. According to a well respected professor that I once had, he changed the information on a biographical piece on a historical figure. He knew the information on wikipedia was correct but he wanted to see just how accurate their editing process was. He changed the information from his office, went home, and then rechecked wikipedia. He was shocked to discover that the information was already changed back to the correct information.

This is not meant to be about wikipedia. I just wanted to get some background information in before I got to my point. When I did a google search for assessment the very first link that popped up was from none other, wikipedia.

It says, “In classrooms where assessment for learning is practiced, students know at the outset of a unit of study what they are expected to learn. At the beginning of the unit, the teacher will work with the student to understand what she or he already knows about the topic as well as to identify any gaps or misconceptions (initial/diagnostic assessment). As the unit progresses, the teacher and student work together to assess the student’s knowledge, what she or he needs to learn to improve and extend this knowledge, and how the student can best get to that point (formative assessment). Assessment for learning occurs at all stages of the learning process.”

This got me to thinking. What is assessment? The wikipedia definition sounds ideal. Students know at the beginning of a lesson what is expected of them, the teacher will work with the student to determine what they already know and recognize any misunderstanding the student has, they work together to assess the students knowledge, find what he or she needs to advance and broaden this knowledge, and lastly find methods as to how the student can best achieve their goal.


If assessment was used more often in this way, students would benefit greatly. Its shocking to me how often teachers skip a majority of these steps and simply give the information and then test on it. If students don’t know what is expected of them, how will they know what direction to go in?

Published in: on November 11, 2008 at 4:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

Alternative Testing

There is a problem with the way that students are assessed in most schools. Students with high grades are not necessarily learning the information any better than students with lower grades.

What some students practice is what I call regurgitation. You do minimal work throughout the semester then when it comes time for a quiz or test you cram the night before. When it’s test time you regurgitate the information that you crammed. Then after the test you simply forget the majority of what you learned.

I know this because I am one of those students. I wish I was a better student, I honestly try, but sadly this is the case the majority of the time.  

This is why I believe schools should have alternative means of assessment. According to the North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL), “alternative assessment is any type of assessment in which students create a response to a question or task. (In traditional assessments, students choose a response from a given list, such as multiple-choice, true/false, or matching.)” NCREL: Alternative Assessment

Examples of alternative testing the NCREL website gives are short answer questions, essays, portfolios, oral presentations, performance assessments, demonstrations, and exhibitions.

With different types of assessment students have to work for their grade. It will encourage students to retain the information they’re given. Instead of storing up information to use in one hour on one examination, they are building their knowledge with a larger project over the course of a semester.

Here comes the catch 22. I do not believe that all elementary, middle, and high schools should do away completely with traditional assessment. I do not mean to contradict myself. It’s just that in many college level courses traditional assessment is the main form of assessment. If we cut out the traditional method of assessment then we are leaving behind the students that are college bound. We would leave them unprepared.

There should be a combination of traditional and alternative assessments found in our education system. We should truly leave no student behind. We need to prepare students for life after school while also preparing students to further their education.

Published in: on October 28, 2008 at 1:42 am  Leave a Comment  

Assumptions of Classroom Assessment

An article I found concerning classroom assessment had a list of several different assumptions made when facing the issue of assessment. These assumptions were:

Assumption ONE

The quality of student learning is directly, although not exclusively, related to the quality of teaching. Therefore, one of the most promising ways to improve learning is to improve teaching.

Assumption TWO

To improve their effectiveness, teachers need first to make their goals and objectives explicit and then to get specific, comprehensible feedback on the extent to which they are achieving those goals and objectives.

  • Where are you going? Where do you want students to go? Articulate specific skills and competencies.

Assumption THREE

To improve their learning, students need to receive appropriate and focused feedback early and often; they also need to learn how to assess their own learning.

  • Is the role of assessment to give a final grade or to help students progress to the goal? Or BOTH?

Assumption FOUR

The type of assessment most likely to improve teaching and learning is that conducted by faculty to answer questions they themselves have formulated in response to issues or problems in their own teaching.

  • The results of institutional assessments may apply to the structure of the curriculum or to the organization of programs and departments, but not to teaching and learning.

Assumption FIVE

Systematic inquiry and intellectual challenge are powerful sources of motivation, growth, and renewal for college teachers, and classroom assessment can provide such challenge.

  • Assessment activities can assist faculty that are interested in becoming more knowledgeable, involved and successful as college teachers.

Assumption SIX

Classroom assessment does not require specialized training; it can be carried out by dedicated teachers from all disciplines.

Assumption SEVEN

By collaborating with colleagues and actively involving students in classroom assessment efforts, faculty (and students) enhance learning and personal satisfaction.

  • Classroom assessment is a very social activity. Students appreciate of faculty interest to improve teaching and learning.
  • The first two assumptions I agree with completely. I fully believe that, “The quality of student learning is directly, although not exclusively, related to the quality of teaching.” If a particular student is struggling with a certain concept then the teacher needs to find a different way of reaching that student. We all have different ways of learning and as a teacher you need to find one that works for each student, whether it be a different style of learning (such as hands on or visual learning). Or if the student has a disability it is the teachers job to find away to work with that disability. Concerining the second assumption, it is very important for the students to know what they are striving for in the end. Also, to give them feedback as soon as possible is a huge benefit to them.

    The third assumption bothers me a little. In the bullet following the assumption it says, “Is the role of assessment to give a final grade or to help students progress to the goal? Or BOTH?” I Struggle with this because I know that in the end all students need to have a final grade, but the idea that the role of assessment is to give them a final grade is troublesome. If the student gets an A, they are assumed to understand the material. If the student gets a D, then they are assumed to not understand the material. This is not always true. Hence the saying, “when you assume you make an ass of u and me.”

    The assumptions listed in numbers four through seven, in my opinion, are strictly opinions. I have not made up my mind exactly how I feel about them.

    Published in: on September 23, 2008 at 3:50 pm  Comments (1)