For over a decade I began the school year by administering a multiple choice test to my students on their summer reading. And for over a decade I questioned this practice as I entered dismal test scores. The testing was not reflective of my classroom practices, did not accurately measure whether students actually completed their reading (some adept test-takers could pass after only studying the SparkNotes version of the novel while other less-skilled testers would bomb despite reading and annotating the entire book), and worst of all it only solidified a distaste for reading rather than encouraging the habit of reading.
After many years of questioning this practice, my colleagues and I were finally able to pilot a new approach. While designing our new plan, we kept circling back to the essential question: what is the goal of a summer reading assignment? Keeping in mind that we ultimately want students to use it as an opportunity to continue to build their reading identities and strengthen their independent reading habits, we realized two elements are key: 1. Choice 2. An evaluation method that celebrates (rather than tests) the reading.
Here is our truth. Students need our help. We need help. We need each another--everyone in the classroom and everyone in our buildings. And we need the humility to know that our best teaching years may never be realized because of the hundreds and thousands of unreported moments that matter to the young people we mentor.
By Diane Esolen Dougherty
Several years ago Time magazine devoted its cover story to the latest wunderkind educational reformer. It was an in-depth look at “state of the art” practices in education, particularly in teacher accountability. One anecdote from the article was telling, at least to me. The reformer was doing a walk-through in an elementary school in the district. After observing a teacher for several minutes (yes, I wrote minutes), her decision was made. “I’ve seen everything I need to see,” she said. Nothing of merit was happening in that third-grade classroom. The teacher was conducting a class meeting, and class meetings are not instructional. All class time was to be devoted solely to instruction. Read more
By Janice Ewing
On a mid-summer evening in 2013, a small group of PAWLP Fellows sat down with plates of pasta to devour and an idea to develop—a blog that would invite and encourage all PAWLP fellows to write, share, and connect. The idea had been simmering for a while but was finally ready to come to a full boil. Read more
We are celebrating the one year anniversary of the PAWLP blog, and what a year it’s been! To celebrate our one year “blogiversary,” we’ve collected some posts from this past year that may be particularly useful to teachers as a new school year begins.
So in case you missed them, here are a “baker’s dozen” – thirteen blog posts with some practical tips and inspiration. We hope that you enjoy reading our blog and encourage you to comment, ask questions, and share your own experiences. We would love to hear from you! Read more
By Janice Ewing
On the first day of summer
with much on our plates
a group got together
to discuss the Six Traits
For PAWLPers a day
of immersion in writing
is our kind of fun
our kind of exciting