Imaging the French Revolution

March 4, 2009

How can you tell I’m behind the scope and sequence?

I was just reminded today of how neat this site is:  Imaging the French Revolution. Good stuff comes out of George Mason University from time to time.  This site is part of that stuff.

Place Vendome, in the French Revolution (George Mason U image)

11. Le plus Grand, des Despotes, Renversé par la Liberté (Place Vendôme). [Place Vendôme, The Greatest of Despots Overthrown by Freedom] Source: Museum of the French Revolution 88.170 Medium: Etching and colored wash Dimensions: 17.2 x 24.4 cm Commentary (numbers refer to pages in essays): General analysis – Day-Hickman, 5 Reasonable crowd – Day-Hickman, 2

Oh, also:  Take a look at this site:  Some guy named Frank Smitha has assembled a history of the world, claiming to be trying to avoid bias.  The French Revolution page is a pretty good run down, much more thorough than the average textbook.

Beheading of Louis XVI, via Frank Smitha

The beheading of King Louis XVI, an execution opposed by Thomas Paine, who favored Louis’ exile to the United States – Image from Frank E. Smitha’s Macrohistory and World Report, The French Revolution

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Opening day of testing season: The hunt is on! Wear orange

March 4, 2009

We stopped education in Texas high schools yesterday to test students’ proficiency with the English language.  English is a difficult enough subject that it merits its own testing day, so as not to discombobulate students for the other Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) tests.

All controversy aside, it’s a grind.

Yours truly won the straw that got to make sure students made it to the restroom from their testing rooms, and back, without discussing the contents of the exam or sneaking off a cell-phone conversation or text message.  (Yes, testing rules require that students check in phones and other devices during the test.)  Classes in bathroom monitoring and cell-phone jamming cannot be far away at America’s great institutions of learning about teaching.

And you think teachers are overpaid?  In Belgium the restroom attendants get tips.  Same at the old Memorial Stadium in Baltimore.  Not in Texas schools.

The worst part:  None of us on bathroom duty knows what we did that we’re being punished for.   (NB:  This is a joke.  Somebody had to do it, and English teachers did a lot of it, in order to keep them out of administering the tests, where they might be accused of doing something to aid cheating to raise scores — teachers who do their job well may get bathroom monitoring duty as a result . . .)

Dallas ISD and the Texas Education Agency had monitors to make sure our testing was secure enough, though I’m not certain such pains are taken to make sure the tests work.  Our school is targeted for “reconstitution” if there are not dramatic improvements in TAKS scores in math and science, so the monitors hunt for errors.  One wishes that wearing orange would keep the guns from being aimed at one, but one suspects it would only improve one’s targetability.

So we take it all seriously.  One would hate to have been the cause of the demise of a community school for having committed some grand error in monitoring bathrooms.

It was one day of testing, but it cost us more than that.  Schedules were rearranged Monday so that instead of our usual block scheduling, each student got a briefer session with her or his English teacher for last minute review and pep talk.  Faculty meetings were for test administration instructions (required by regulation or law).

On test days, students are asked to leave their books and book bags at home (security for the test, mainly).  What sort of education system discourages kids from carrying books <i>any day?</i>

Math, science and social studies tests come at the end of April and early May.  Other tests dot the weeks until then.  One teacher noted in a meeting last year that testing season marks the end of the education year, since little can be done once testing starts eating up the calendar in such huge chunks.

“Time on task,” Checker Finn used to note.  When students spend time on a task, they learn it.  Measure what students spend their time doing, you’ll figure out what they’re good at.

In Texas, it appears, we teach testing.

Dave at DaveAwayFromHome may have put it best, quoting from Tyson’s recent appearance at the University of  Texas-Arlington (image from Dave’s site, too):

clowns to the left of me...
“When a newspaper headline proclaims half of the children at a school are below average on a test, no one stops to think that’s what average means.”

Neil deGrasse Tyson, speaking about math illiteracy.

(Actually, I think that should be “innumeracy.”  Is that jargon?  Do we have to know that?  Does it show up on the test?)


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