Thank Goodness for State Testing

Why on earth would I be happy for state testing?  State testing means I have access to a computer cart full of laptops for my entire class.   At the same time no less!  This meant I could throw away what I thought I was going to do today and do Genius Hour.

So I finally finished meeting with my last few students about their Genius Hour projects today.  The topics they’ve chosen to pursue are interesting. I have one researching why Pokemon cards are so popular among their peers. He’s planning to create a survey as part of the project and use Edmodo or Survey Monkey so he can utilize technology. He’s so excited about it!  I have another researching what it takes to become a Major League Baseball catcher. As they think of how to present their research there are the more common ones like Power Points and Prezis, of course. Then I have others who are wanting to create a web site, a public service announcement video, an interactive timeline, a picture book, and even a tutorial for parents about Pokemon. I’m so proud of my kids!   

Now, don’t think for a minute it was all rainbows and unicorns. I was hopping all around the room getting kids started, showing them how to save web sites, informing them that they did indeed have to read the material and that they may actually read the entire piece of information and discover it’s not what they needed.  All the while I’m praying they won’t accidentally stumble upon anything inappropriate. I think the best moment was when a student informed me that she typed her question into Google and it didn’t give her an answer. Gotta love them!

As crazy as it felt on our first full day of Genius Hour, I was so proud of my class. They were helping each other out with technical issues and were, for the most part, patient with me.  What really made this amazing is that after a morning full of state testing and all the glitches we had with that, they were willing to sit in front of a computer in the afternoon and do research. There were even groans when I said time was up for today. Many asked if they could work on their projects during Daily Five or whenever they finished their work early. Of course, I still have a few students who’ll need a little more support and maybe a structured list of items to accomplish in a given session, but we’ll get there. 

I would have loved for my principal or school improvement specialist to walk in and see them at work. You know what? My principal did just that.  Of course, we had just finished and my kids were watching a Magic School Bus video on sound.  Timing is everything.  But hey, at least it was an educational video and they were one hundred percent engaged!  



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