Teaching Writing to the Test – A Response to Evolving Technologies and Standardized Assessments!
As I was reading this article, I felt that what it says about evolving technology and how it is being used for standardized assessment is exactly what is happening with it.
First of all, the article states, “Teachers, schools, and colleges find themselves challenged to respond to this rapidly changing environment in responsible and constructive ways.” I agree with this. In the last five years, I have found it difficult to try to adapt and bring in technology in “responsible and constructive ways.” Each year it gets better, but it is hard to keep up with everything that is offered. The other issue at hand is that although politics and policymakers are trying to implement and encourage technology it is difficult to do that when technology breaks down or is too expensive to replace to keep it in the classroom. I am trying to embrace the technology, and I believe that this course has offered multiple ways to implement technology in creative, engaging, and meaningful ways for the students. I am currently preparing to incorporate more use of blogs and wikis in my classroom, and when I get it set up to the point of publication, I will be happy to share it.
I also believe that with this incorporation of technology that students will be writing, composing, and producing more work. I also think that it will help them boost their confidence in the work that they complete as long as I do my best to create a safe environment for them. I know that this type of writing may not necessarily fit to the “standardized assessment” for writing persuasively, but I think that it will help the students to create and polish a voice and style particular to them as writers. This will help the students on those tests, maybe not in the way that the “standardized programs” believe is adequate, but when they get out into the real world, they will not be noticed if they do not have their own sense of voice or style. If every student wrote exactly the same, or every person spoke in exactly the same way, how would they be able to sell themselves in an interview for a job?
And the article is right, because there is a huge overwhelming push for schools to meet the standards or exceed the standards on the writing assessment tests, the teachers are teaching writing to the test. The formula!! Ever heard of the Schaffer method? I used to think that this was the answer… I don’t think that anymore, and I hate to say that I did teach the Schaffer method to students. However, I did this mainly because my school adapted it and made it a requirement to do it. At our school, it has proven to “work.” Administration wanted perfect test scores on the GHSWT! And that’s just about what we have gotten… First year: 98%, next year: 99%, next year 99%. And, we have always attested that the 1% was the 1% that can’t write even on a 3rd grade level… The teachers say, “How do you get those gets to write with style and voice, let alone write a cohesive, thoughtful sentence… ” I think that through this type of formulaic writing and practicing this type of writing is doing students a disservice! However, we have had senior teachers receive emails from college professors asking us what we have done to get our kids to write so “well.” Well? With no voice or style? Now, I’m not saying every student has lost voice or style, but the “average” kids have… I’m not sure I have the answers to fix this, but I think that incorporating other types of writing into the classroom will help.