This post is part of this year’s Walk This Way series, designed to share The Walking Classroom experiences of teachers and students across the United States. It provides a glimpse into Jane Keen’s classroom.
Don’t look now, but it’s testing time! You can’t run from it, and you can’t hide from it. You can, however, make lemonade from the lemons by getting students out of their seats and moving with your WalkKits.
Measuring Learning through Testing
In Arkansas, nearly every student takes a standardized test issued by the Arkansas Department of Education. This testing is how we measure learning across the state.
I would like to take this moment to recognize the need for monitoring student progress and achievement in education. It is no one’s favorite time of the year, but sometimes in life, there are things we just have to do. There is that annual doctor’s visit; the termite inspection for your house; cleaning the refrigerator; folding socks . . We do what we know we need to do, but that doesn’t mean we have to like it.
In our building, four mornings are dedicated to state testing. I monitor small groups with accommodations, and I will tell you now that those four mornings mostly consist of students staring at walls imagining that they were somewhere else.
Students must sit quietly during the entire duration of the tests. We don’t even allow them to read books if they finish early in fear that they will all zoom through their tests without putting in full effort so that they can escape through the windows of the pages.
Enter . . The WalkKit!
When time is up, I always feel a little guilty. I mean, I am supposed to be the fun teacher! I am always on the lookout for things to do with these strange little sun rays of time that peek around the corners of the tests. Enter THE WALKKIT (I hope that you read this in your mind with an echo).
I love how structured yet attractive the podcast walks are for students. Activities without structure during testing weeks are just asking for chaos. These kids are ready to blow, and we need to just loosen the top a smidge so that some of that pressure hisses out.
With the podcast walks, there are rules and expectations that are all clearly relayed to students. And, they are just excited enough about the walks to keep themselves within the confines of these rules. Getting out in this beautiful spring weather is a huge draw, but when you can bring students back cool and collected and more focused, that is the sweet spot.
More Than a Content Lesson
Something to consider if using the WalkKits following testing is that each episode is more than just a podcast lesson. Every episode incorporates a character value lesson. If your testing group needs a little nudge in developing a certain trait, you may want to find an episode based on that character trait instead of the main academic content.
In regards to testing week, the Riddles from The Hobbit (5-#22, Complete-#24) episode is a great one to listen to, especially since the character value focuses on attentiveness (students need to be attentive for the test!). The Women and Girls in the Middle Ages (4-#82, Complete-#49) podcast has a health focus of “education and quality of life” and a character value focus on the “power of education” — nothing makes being educated look more important than the Middle Ages!
Many Ways of Finding Value
There are so many ways of finding value in these WalkKits. The main content is always engaging, but sometimes, students need gentle reminders to help them get through the necessary (though not always fun) times in life. The Walking Classroom fosters that personal growth along with the academic, and the episodes make for a great escape after setting at a desk all morning!
Gifted and Talented Facilitator