25 April 2010

TAKS Season (not to be confused with the equally frustrating but mostly unrelated "tax season")

It is once again time for educational institutions across the country to prove that minority students have not succumbed to the "soft bigotry of low expectations," and can answer multiple choice questions as well as their white middle class peers. In Texas that means it is time to administer the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills.

In an effort to prove to the federal government that our high risk students have an equal opportunity for education and aren't getting left behind, we interrupt their normal curriculum and instruction for two weeks to conduct TAKS review.

TAKS review is not my favorite part of the year. I look forward to it about as much as I look forward to (insert some type of universally agreed upon unpleasant activity here.) The only thing about teaching that is more unpleasant than TAKS review is the TAKS test itself. (Which, I am fairly certain, I will have something to say about next week.)

For a few excruciating days I followed the prescribed review format, and decided that it was actually making my kids dumber. When I am bored to tears and the kids aren’t learning a single thing it’s time for something to change. So I handed out markers told the kids that we were going to make an illustrated history of the United States. They were kind of confused at first. Several students reminded me that it was TAKS review week. Some kids asked me if I would get in trouble. After I convinced them that the new assignment was still part of TAKS review my kids did some excellent illustrations including the bombing of Hiroshima, the Spanish American War, and the Civil Rights movement. This picture of the 1929 stock market crash made me giggle.