Thursday, October 22, 2015

Going GaGa again...

We had new gravel put on the Clear Spring School playground, and the bobcat spreading it accidentally damaged the school GaGa court that I'd helped the upper elementary school class build two years ago. The court was pushed out of shape, and a board had been cracked and left jagged on one end. So the upper elementary school students helped in restoring the court. We used my tractor to lift one end so that the kids could push the court back in shape, then cut away a portion of the cracked board and added replacement wood.

The game GaGa has become a school favorite, and has been undergoing a renewed interest. The court also serves as an outdoor classroom at times, and is a gathering place for students during recess as the edges of the court are a great sitting height. So, even when the game is not in full play, the court is in use. The game is a good one for schools because children of all ages can play at the same time.

The damage to the court turned out to be a good thing, in that a new class was able to make an investment of effort it and feel pride in their work.

Today I have the luxury of working alone in my own shop, as I inlay boxes and prepare the parts of boxes for assembly.

There is a national movement afoot to opt out of standardized testing, but opting out is not enough of a response and not a good idea for an individual child. At the Eureka Springs elementary school they had 40 days of testing in the last school year. So of the 180 days required by the state. over 22% were spent or spent in part on standardized testing. Add to that time, test prep and test practice, and the curriculum taught to the test, and you can see how the opportunity to follow student interests is a goner. The regimen of standardized testing is so deeply ingrained, that even if a parent preferred that his or her child opt out of the test itself, the adverse effects of standarized testing are inescapable. Would a reasonable parent pull their child out of school for those 40 days? We need a much stronger positive response. Where students are doing real things, no abstract and artificial testing is necessary to provide evidence of real learning. And so the answer is for schools to get real, and to allow students to do real things.

Make, fix, create, and assist others to learn likewise.

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