Monthly Archives: February 2014

Blurb about Assessment:

Alfie Cohn:

ImageDistilling a large body of research, psychologists Martin Maehr and the late Carol Midgley reminded us that “an overemphasis on assessment can actually undermine the pursuit of excellence.”  That’s true even with reasonably good assessments, let alone with those that are standardized.  The more that students are led to focus on how well they’re doing, the less engaged they tend to become with what they’re doing.  Instead of stuff they want to figure out, the curriculum just becomes stuff at which they’re required to get better. 


A school that’s all about achievement and performance is a school that’s not really about discovery and understanding.”




Been thinkin’ about different processes in my classroom.  Kids doing this, that, this again, that again.  Young children are positive joiners and love trying new and novel things.  They can be totally focused on Project A and in a moment’s notice move to Project B. Don’t get me wrong, I coach for completion and goals; however, there is also a place for this “river” in the classroom to flow.

Young students enjoy joining a new group with a plan and with purpose, and do this with spontaneous abandon on a daily basis.  Be it research on sod houses on the prairie; investigating weather patterns in our area; or showing thinking through building a robot in the Maker’s Space—often a clean, finished product is not the outcome. Students at this age (7 and 8 in my world) just lose stamina in the process; however, the process is a vehicle that propels them to acquiring and practicing 21st Century skills such as creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, communication, global awareness, resiliency, systems thinking, and civic responsibility. This is the golden nugget that has dawned on me as I try to assess and glean insight into where my kids are— in their second grade world— trying to honor their developmental place. In the “space” of their working toward a product, I find the gold.

I continually try to not control their presence in their classroom.  They are active participants in their space, often blowing me away with their performance and products, and sometimes causing me to tweak systems that are fitting for their journey.  I myself go back to my “drawing board” over and over.

Resiliency is a skill in which I continue to wrestle with as days can be exhausting and tiring in this model.  Thinking, moving, talking, interacting, risk taking students are much more difficult to manage than passive, sitting, told students.

As soon as I allow myself to step back, with more: observing, accepting, encouraging, problem solving, trying again, celebrating—those golden nuggets occur.  In the journey of it all, and in this space and classroom model, students’ talents, hearts and souls are unveiled in surprising ways.  In a more controlled place, where kids are told what to do all of the time, they are closed vessels and remain mysteries.