Professional Educators

Thinkers or Test Takers?

By Shellie Sallas, National Board Certified Teacher. She teaches 5th grade at Mitchell Elementary School in Phoenix, Arizona.

Every year, on the first day of school I asked my students what the goal of reading is…with great enthusiasm they always respond, “To read FAST!” This breaks my heart.

How can students reach 5th grade and not understand that reading was about so much more than speed? If my students have this perception, then other students probably have the same thoughts on reading. Certain reading programs place significant emphasis on reading with great speed and fluency, and funding was based heavily on students’ fluency rates. This results in 5th graders who are reading 230 words in one minute, but comprehend little to none of what they read.

In this age of teacher accountability, many teachers are afraid of losing their jobs so they are abandoning their best practices and shifting their focus to preparation for the state tests and away from developing thoughtful learners.  The instructional focus needs to shift back.

If we are simply teaching reading, math, science, etc. to students instead of teaching students to become thinkers, innovators, and problem solvers, we are truly doing our future generations a disservice. If we want students to achieve success and be prepared to solve the problems of tomorrow, we must teach them how to think and support them as they learn how to explain their thinking. If students can think well, they WILL achieve success in a variety of contexts, including the state tests.

This post is part of a series from National Board Certified Teachers (NBCT) who have been invited to blog about their experiences working in a priority school.

View more articles in: Arizona or Professional Educators

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a Gravatar!

Spotlight

Classroom Superheroes

Educators in priority schools are rising to a superhero challenge every single day. Nominate educators in your community and support others at classroomsuperheroes.com

Visit the site »

PSC Superhero Keith G. Pemberton

Keith G. Pemberton is a social worker at Oak Hill Elementary School in High Point, N.C., where he has built a strong and steady pipeline for parental involvement, specifically among fathers and male mentors. Check out his Classroom Superhero profile and leave some words of encouragement.

Visit the site »