We have one more class before state writing assessments. We have practiced each of the parts of the multiple choice test. We have annotated student drafts for voice, fluency, and conventions.
We have reviewed the rules for commas with direct quotations, and when to capitalize “mom” and “dad” in a sentence. There is nothing more I can do for them now. But I still feel like I am stepping In front of a speeding train. I’m just not sure which train is going to flatten me!
We have writers’ workshop in my eighth grade class, and most days it’s a joyous place to be. Kids are reading drafts aloud, or conferring about how to describe a turning point in their memoirs. They’re sharing amazing examples of the genre they’ve discovered or reading amazing writing by favorite authors aloud. They are large and in charge of their literacy.
Then comes “March Madness,” my term of endearment for state tests. My workshop turns into classes and classes of sleepy eighth graders with glazed-over eyes and drooping heads as we slog through required review materials and write practice passages for no one. I am exhausted at the end of every day. And we tick off the days until
As I write this, I realize I’m not worried about the assessment train that’s going to hit. We’ll be fine. What I’m worried about is that my kids might miss a more important train, the one of life-long literacy, because we were in line for the test train. I realize that I need to be braver. If I’m willing to step in front of a train, it ought to be the right one!