So our first official blog on this site is on the night before the two weeks of standardized testing begins in Connecticut. There is a certain amount of irony in this meeting of dates since teachers dread these two weeks and this blog is designed to promote strong reflection and love for teaching and learning.
We have admittedly spent a fair amount of classroom time preparing our students to take these tests since we want our students to feel confident when they open the pages of the test booklet. And, some of the tasks that they will be asked to perform are useful and important for them to know how to do.
We definitely wanted the name of our blog to emphasize the importance of reflection in our daily work. Perhaps the most important lessons we gave our students during the test prep unit had to do with reflection. We encouraged our students to take an active role in planning for their own preparation. Since the Connecticut Mastery Tests assess specific skills for each grade, we shared what the students would need to know with the students. Then, they shared the responsibility of identifying and remediating areas of weakness. They set goals for themselves and we offered daily workshops on specific skills; students could choose to participate or work independently. No, they weren’t all able to do this and yes, there were some students who received personal invitations to strategy sessions that we deemed necessary. However, most of the students were impressively accurate about their own personal strengths and weaknesses and they were receptive and responsive to this level of differentiated instruction. What important life skills for our students, compliments of the impending mastery tests!