To Test or Not to Test, This is Not the Question

By Marie LeJeune & Tracy Smiles, Western Oregon University

SquarepegAssessment literacy- (Gallagher & Turley): [teachers’] deep understanding of why they assess, when they assess, and how they assess in ways that positively impact student learning. In addition, successful teacher assessors view assessment through an inquiry lens, using varying assessments to learn from and with their students in order to adjust classroom practices accordingly. Together these two qualities—a deep knowledge of assessment and an inquiry approach to assessment — create a particular stance toward assessment. (NCTE, 2013).

For the month of March we have presented reasons for pushing back against high stakes testing, and offered examples of how citizens comprised of teachers, parents, and community organizers are, through grassroots movements, resisting these punitive, and often harmful assessment practices. Read More »

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Field Tested: Educators Speak Back to High Stakes Testing

By Marie LeJeune and Tracy Smiles, Western Oregon University

Testing1A boy in Miss Malarkey’s class makes the following observation,

Miss Malarkey is a good teacher. Usually she’s really nice. But a couple of weeks ago she started acting a little weird. She started talking about THE TEST: The Instructional Performance Through Understanding test. I think Miss Malarkey said it was the “I.P.T.U.” test (Finchler, J, 2003).

Last week we talked about the personal toll testing has taken on our children Read More »

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Testing our Resolve: Opting Out as Activism

By Marie LeJeune and Tracy L.Smiles

TestTakingCartoonFirst grade was visited by a woman from the principal’s office carrying a big pile of papers with little boxes all over them. She explained, “We have some tests for you.” Read More »

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The Orbis Pictus Awards: Outstanding Nonfiction Literature

by Deborah Dimmett, The University of Arizona

OPSealThe Orbis Pictus Awards, established in 1989, commemorates the work of Johannes Amos Comenius, whose work included the first nonfiction book for children, Orbis Pictus—The World in Pictures (1657). Each year, NCTE gives one award for a book representing the best of children’s nonfiction for that year along with five honor books and eight recommended books can also be recognized. Read More »

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“Outstanding International Books 2015″: Part 2

by Holly Johnson, The University of Cincinatti

USBBYAs I noted last week, on January 30, 2015, USBBY announced the Outstanding International Books for 2015. I also mentioned how terrific this year’s books are, and how indeed, there is something for everyone. I also noted that many of the books can be enjoyed and used across age categories. Last week I looked at four great books that highlighted wonderful artistic forms. This week, I turn to some fantastic picture books that can be enjoyed or used across age groups. Read More »

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Outstanding International Books 2015!

by Holly Johnson, The University of Cincinatti

USBBYOn January 30, 2015, USBBY announced the Outstanding International Books for 2015. The OIBs, as stated on the USBBY website are “deemed most outstanding of those published during the calendar year. For the purposes of this honor list, the term “international book” is used to describe a book published or distributed in the United States that originated or was first published in a country other than the U.S.” The criteria includes artistic style and literary merit, creativity of approach, distinctiveness of topic, uniqueness of origin, and qualities that engage and appeal to young people. Read More »

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Oh, My! Cyborgs!

by T. Gail Pritchard, PhD, The University of Arizona

CinderFootThis week, I want to share books about cyborgs and those that don’t quite fit the previous categories—they are hybrids involving technology. Where the two overlap involve the symbiosis of humans, machines, and technology. In the previously reviewed books, the main characters were either machines—robots and androids—or humans whose DNA had been modified in some way. This week’s reviews looks at novels that consider what happens when humans and technology merge Read More »

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Robots, Clones, and DNA—Oh, My!

by T. Gail Pritchard, The University of Arizona

DNA2Perhaps one of the more scientific/medical controversies of the last few decades involves genetic modification, whether it is through altering an organism’s own DNA, adding new DNA, or cloning. In the following novels, the characters find themselves facing personal and societal consequences, while readers are left questioning their own assumptions about boundaries, scientific research, medical application, and how they define being human. Read More »

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Robots, Cyborgs, and DNA—Oh, My!

by T. Gail Pritchard, PhD, The University of Arizona

file000150798584My earliest memory of robots is from movies–Gort from The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) terrified me and Robby from Forbidden Planet (1956) fascinated me. Later, there was Hal from 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and three of my favorites Huey, Dewey, and Louie from Silent Running (1972); and of course, from recent times, Optimus Prime of the Transformers. From television, I met Robot from Lost in Space (1965-68) and various other robots and cyborgs in The Twilight Zone (1961-62), The Six Million Dollar Man (1974-78) and The Bionic Woman (1976-1978). In my reading, I encountered robots Robbie (Asimov) and Norby (Asimov and Asimov) and Eager (Fox), cyborg Cinder (Meyer), and characters whose DNA had been tweaked Read More »

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Russia Was Always There!: Reading World History through Russia Connections

by Yoo Kyung Sung, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM

Language binds the past to the present. With the advent of high-tech, wireless devices that is even more evident as people interact in new and unique ways reflecting rapid evolution in language. New words are born every day while other words slip into obscurity. In many ways, everyday language becomes a “fashion” as it mirrors social changes, trends, and contemporary issues. Historically linked language became really evident to me some weeks ago when I was watching a Korean reality show. An actor in his late 40’s used the word “Soviet” in place of Russia. When hearing this, other participants teased him as a veteran of the Ice Age. Read More »

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