Each and every day for the four weeks leading up to THE TEST, I hand out practice test books.
Each and every time I hand out the booklets, at least three students say, “Is this a test?” Then I push the button on the continuous loop that says the following, “No, sweetheart. This booklet, like all of the twenty three booklets that I have handed to you, is just for practice. So that we can look at it together, and practice our skills so that we can do our very best on the actual test.”
Attempting to make this task “engaging”—letting kids work in partners or small groups, or placing small candies on their tongues for every four-minute period during which they remain on-task—slightly less than successful, as my students quickly break down into pencil larceny vigilantes, ready to take justice into their own hands, until they realize that their pencils are in their pockets or under their papers. Then they get even more pissed off in the face of the embarassment, and commence cussing at anyone who looks at them. “What are YOU looking at? ShutupI’llpunchyouintheface!” Yes. It is one word.
After we complete the exactly nine hours of testing in the next two weeks, I am pleased to announce that I will be hosting a “Burn the Test Prep Booklets” event on the playground. I have found no prohibitive language in my contract, nor in the Code of Conduct of the district (which is, by the way, a rare document and very tough to find. Presumably, there was either an earlier bonfire event, or students and families used them as a stopgap method during the toilet paper shortage back in November 2012. Times, they be tough).
I think it’s a go! We can roast marshmallows and hot dogs and, with any luck, attract some emergency vehicles that will act as a de facto field trip, since those frivolities are frowned upon and require a professional grant writer in order to procure their funding.
My posted learning objective for Bonfire Day will read as follows:
*We will explore the combustive properties of gently used test-prep booklets.
*We will not write a five-paragraph essay including an introduction, three paragraphs of textual evidence to support our answers, and a conclusion.
*We will write goodbye notes to our soon-to-be-dismissed teacher.