All this talk about testing

If you live in Australia and read or watch the news there isn’t much chance you missed the breaking news last week that Australia’s Education System is a disaster.  In fact you wouldn’t be mocked for thinking that it might be end of education with words like lacklustre, disappointing, flat line, doubt, disaster.  The list goes on.

The tests were the TIMSS and PIRLS Monitoring tests and students in grade 4 were tested on Numeracy and Reading. The media and our government focussed on how Australia fell well short of Asian countries such as Singapore and Korea.  Who cares?

If we want our students to be compliant robots who are capable of regurgitating knowledge we may well be in trouble and maybe we should care.  If we are looking to produce a conveyer belt of learners who look and act the same then maybe we should be concerned.

 

If we continue to look to limiting tests and comparing ourselves to other nations I do believe we will be in dire straits.  We need to start thinking about what we, Australia, want to achieve in education, not focussing on where we sit in a ladder of test results.

If we start to talk about what skills we want our students to have I believe we will talk about resilience, adaptability, confidence, creative, critical thinkers and acceptance.  Students, who collaborate, communicate and initiate change.  Students who are curious and life long learners and can apply skills they learn in literacy and numeracy to real world problem solving. This should be the more holistic ideal we have for education in Australia rather than to follow others.

If Australian Education was a student in my class I would ask them to reflect on what they want and not worry about what everyone else was doing.  I would encourage them to think about what makes them unique and what they are proud of.

Let’s stop talking about testing and start talking about learning.

Note: This was a post I wrote on Friday evening and planned to post first things Saturday morning.  It was then that I woke to the news of the Newtown shootings on Saturday morning.  I couldn’t bring myself to post it.  It all seemed trivial compared to what was unfolding.  The world was hearing about the heroic actions of teachers and how they put the lives of their teachers before theirs, something I know teachers would do without hesitation. What angered me was that in Australia we were putting down the quality of our teachers, reducing children to test scores and labelling education a disgrace and disaster. Teachers are so much more than delivery drivers of knowledge.

This morning I read a post from Sheryl Nussbaum Beach who was able to put into words some of what I was feeling. As I grieve for the teachers who gave up their lives for the safety of their children I take comfort in knowing that millions of children around the world  are cared for by their teachers everyday because life is more than test results.

Wallwisher

I was introduced to Wallwisher early last year but have not really had a chance to use it in the classroom.  In the last couple of months I have certainly made up for that!

Wallwisher is an online notice board where people can add a series of ‘sticky notes.’

Wallwisher

Using Wallwisher in the Classroom

Brainstorming

This week we came up with a list of what we thought was the most important environmental issue facing our school.  By linking the Wallwisher page to our class blog, children used their net books to post a note in a few minutes and then we could look at the responses on the interactive white board instantly. Look at our Wallwisher here.

Sharing

Have Wallwisher open during the lesson and children can add questions or statements about their learning.  During sharing time at the end of the lesson use Wallwisher to discuss learning and any problems.

Treasure Hunt

I often send children on treasure hunts for words with common spelling patterns.  Instead of writng these words on a poster we collate them on a Wallwisher.

Collate Work

Wallwisher has a fantastic feature where you can embed files to a post.  It is a great way to have children share favourite websites or links to Five Card Flickr Stories.

Reviews

Use Wallwisher for reviews.  It is especially good at this time of the year with the Children’s book awards coming up. Have children review the different books. Or why not review how a term or theme has gone.

Goal setting

When setting goals at the start of the year children can post these on a Wallwisher. Come back to them at the end of each term to see how the children went.

Suggestions

Why not use it for suggestions in your school.  Perfect if you are trying to decide on a charity day for the Junior School Council.

Compliments Chart

Why not create a Wallwisher where people can post compliments about each other.

Matching it up

Create simple matching activities by writing the two matches on two notes and have children move these around to be together.  Try it with shapes and names, numbers and words or compound words.

Do you use Wallwisher?

Are you using Wallwisher for the first time?

Leave a comment and share how you have used it.