My friend and colleague Todd Williamson tagged my in his post listing 5 things I might do if I were brave. He had some great ideas at his blog, The Technorate Teacher, and it really got me thinking. What would I do if I were brave?
1. I would push for an all inclusive field trip form. At the start of the year, I’d ask parents and administration for permission to take my students wherever I wanted them them to go, whenever I wanted to take them. While we, as teachers, try to plan experiences for our students to learn and grow, I think some of the greatest learning is spontaneous.
2. My beginning of school supply list would change. I would require my 4th grade students to have a USB drive and their own headset-mic for the first day of school. Students with laptops could bring them to school (even though I couldn’t hook them into the internet) for mantaining spaces for their own learning. They could bring cellphones to school and keep them on their desks for impromtu assessing and sharing.
3. One of my daily jobs would be “virtual note-taker.” Who needs a door holder or line leader? What educational purpose do these positions serve? Instead, one student would be assigned to a class Twitter account and another would be assigned to note-taking on the class wiki for the day. These students would make key academic notes and observations for students who need a review or for those students who are absent. They could even be following along at home! Talk about some real responsibility for students…
4. Service learning would be a requirement for passing my class. This is the first year that I have embarked on my first big community service learning project with my students. It was the most amazing experience and one that I value most about my entire school year. If I were truly brave, I would require my students to have at least 10 hours of community service and service learning per school year. Only five of those hours could come directly from classroom activities. They and their parents would be required to seek out opportunities to learn and serve.
5. I wouldn’t give THE test. I am adamantly opposed to everything that THE test stands for, but I give it every year. I believe that the reading test is actually a test of will and stamina. I think the math test is a great test of reading comprehension skills with inference, reading for a purpose, analyzing text for details, and understanding graphic representations. I’ve seen kids (and other teachers) break down over these tests. I’ve seen schools torn apart by them and communities at war about them. But, still, I give the test. If I were truly brave, I’d leave the books and bubble sheets shrink wrapped, throw away the “Sshh. We’re testing!” sign, and take my students on a field trip.
I wonder how brave I really can be. What would you do if you were brave?
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