Friday, September 22, 2006
Okay – so I don’t really use this book for writing. But given that we have finally received the ELA scores for our state and everyone is clamoring to see how neighboring districts fared in comparison and trying to figure out where to lay blame, I thought I would share Hooray for Diffendoofer Day!!
Created from the last sketches of Dr. Seuss – this book honors those teachers who truly are “outside the box” and put their students, not tests, first. Ironically, those teachers are embodied by a teacher named Miss Bonkers! Students at Diffendoofer learn” how to tell chrysanthemums from miniature poodles” and other important skills. But then comes the TEST!! Students must pass a standardized test or face going to Flobbertown where everyone does things the same. But the students are inspired by Miss Bonkers who proclaims “"We've taught you that the earth is round,/ That red and white make pink,/ And something else that matters more-/ We've taught you how to think." Low and behold, and without test prep, the students of Diffendoofer school pass with a mathematically impossible, but nonetheless amusing percentage.
I have come to firmly believe in what I call the Diffendoofer Philosophy: that if we teach to student interests, give them choice, and engage them in thinking, the will be able to pass any test that is thrown at them. It is the same with writing – we don’t need to give them four document based questions a week or have them write essays to inauthentic prompts in order to teach them to write. We should encourage their creativity, nurture their enthusiasm, and promote risk-taking in their word choice. In other words, make it enjoyable and not a chore.
I believe we can do it– Business First be damned!!