Sunday, February 19, 2017

Having the rug pulled out from underneath you: Standarized Tests

            The day was going well for a Thursday; there was nothing out of the ordinary. The classes seemed a bit long, but again that was normal (I had three classes on Thursday). The most exciting thing I did was getting a ticket for the March 2nd STOMP performance. I had seen the show once when I was in high school and loved it, so I was excited to hear that they were going to preform here, BUT while waiting in line in for getting my ticket I get a text from my dad saying:
            “Unfortunately, it appears you didn’t pass the Writing Proficiency Exam. Go to Banner under Degrees Work. You will need to sign up for the next one in February by 5:00 o’clock tomorrow at office NQ336. See blackboard for instructions. I love you. Sorry for the bad news.”
For those of you who do not know the Writing Proficiency Exam is a test at Ball State that everyone has to pass (or to take the class) to graduate. At first I did not believe him, no, I refused to believe him. After I got my ticket I pulled out my laptop and low and behold he was right. So my day went from ok to absolutely horrible after one text message. So I naturally want to go vent out my frustration. I go to Dr. Jones and told her what happened. She said this happens to a lot of English majors, which I did know that too, but I was still upset. Then she told me to connect this experience to students who smart, but did not pass the IStep and this is how this blog post was born.
            I remember taking the Istep tests in elementary/middle school and having the mental thinking of students that do not pass the Istep tests are just dumb and trouble making students. Of course I do not think of this way now, but when you are at an age where you think popularity is the key to success you want to have any advantage that you can. In this case just being smarter than everyone else, of course I knew I was not the smartest in the class, but I at least could pass my Istep tests.
            Having this recent blow though in college, it did make me think; if something like this happened when I was younger would I still be where I am at today? Mentioned before popularity is very important when you are younger and this could be detrimental to a student who thinks they are smart, but does not pass the standard Istep test. They could think: “Well looks like I am not smart after all, why even bother to do work now?” Since the probility is that their friends passed the test and they did not, along with them most likely making fun of them for it. Causing them to go in a downward spiral and not wanting to have the drive to work because they know they can’t do it because they are dumb.

            This is why as teachers we have to keep students from feeling like this. We cannot let them think that one test is a deciding factor in whether they are dumb or smart. Teachers need to make sure to award students for passing simple homework, quizzes and tests. Giving them proof in saying “Hey you are not dumb, look at all the good grades you been getting on your other assignments. Do no let the Istep fool you, you are a smart student, it does not matter what that tests says.”

Monday, February 13, 2017

One small step for a student, one giant leap for my future career

For the past few weeks my ENG 350 have had a unique opportunity. We were able to go to Central Grove High School and help students on a writing assignment. We also were communicating with the students via Google Documents to give them their feedback. This was the first time I worked with students in a while now, the last time I worked with students in a school was freshmen year and the rest of the time I just learned about teaching techniques. So this was nice to have an opportunity to work with students again, especially since I will be student teaching next spring.

            While I was completing this assignment I learned a lot of techniques on how to give constructive feedback. This was really helpful because since I was little my dad had given me a skewed look on feedback, only marking what was wrong with giving me little good comments. I obviously could not do this to my students without them then hating writing, which is something I want to avoid at all costs. The different techniques like the green, yellow and red stoplight high lighting given me a good foundation on how to give good constructive feedback. Along with other tips like focusing on only 3-4 problem areas at a time and using questions in my feedback to get them to go deeper into the subject of the paper. It was also a good watered down simulation I might be doing while student teaching, since I only had to give feedback to three students. When I am student teaching I might have to do a lot more, but for me this was a another good step toward becoming a teacher.