Kate had an online prompt to write tonight. On the top of the page it said CBAS-CT, something new and foreign to this parent. This paper was to be drafted by Kate and corrected by a computer. My concern was, how could it know her heart? The question it posed was this: Your family might describe you in one way, while your friends would describe you in a different way. Compare and contrast your family's description of you with your friends' description. Be sure to develop your response fully.
She came down stairs after writing the third draft with mascara running down her eyes and tears flowing freely. Distraught, she told me that as she wrote, she had to make the whole story up because normally, she acts the same way around us as she does her friends. She was cautious to write what she really thought because she was afraid the computer would be score it poorly for having no contrasting argument to the posed question. She had written what in her heart, was a lie. I have seen her writing before. This was choppy for her, almost forced. She scored poorly and believed she did, not for misplaced capitals and commas, but because of her confused message. She was distraught that her favorite teacher and her parents would be disappointed. While she waved her white flag in surrender, it waved a red flag for me.
As she sat next to me, I did my best to calm her. Unlike Kate, I don’t ever attempt to consider myself a writer. It doesn’t complete me like it does her. Somehow though, it still makes me feel good. In 8th grade, it would be a tragedy if writing didn't do the same for her. I’m a messy writer. I missed the memo on contractions and sometimes I’ll leave out verbs because I forget to use them. But I do know one thing. If your not going to reach deep into your heart when you take pen to paper or tap away on a keyboard, then there’s no point to writing.
I know this girl’s soul despite our many differences. I see it in her eyes each and every time I take a photograph of her. I know her in a way that only a mother can. She is good.
On first glance, I can’t help but wonder if this CT CBAS entity is just a bully, designed to force capitals and commas, and not freedom of thought on our kids. Parents, beware of this unfortunate new teacher. I feel for any real educator that must climb this mountain because it's big and it threatens their real ability to teach. With this, I fear a disconnect as a keystroke does what a red pen once did. I still do believe in the teacher and urge the profession to come from their hearts, or they too will wave a white flag. May our teachers never forget that they are a direct extension of a parents' protective arms that wraps around a child. They carry an important torch. Kate will prevail because despite what the computer may read, the people who love her can read her better.
4/11/2013 02:13:22 pm
I love you so much mommy. You're amazing <3
4/12/2013 02:45:40 am
You are both amazing.
4/12/2013 03:05:44 pm
And did you ever hear about the 1992 or 93 CAP test at Strong where the prompt was: "What is your favorite season and why?" Even though the scorers were actual human beings, they had a rubric of things to look for. The class had miserable scores. Bill Breck, D13 superintendent at the time, tried to get the state to release the actual kids' work so they could see why they were so abysmally "bad." After much angst and teachers yelling at kids for making them look so bad, Bill got the tests and lo and behold, a lot of our kids had interpreted "season" to mean sports season as in "I love baseball season because my dad takes me to see the Red Sox." Not in the rubric, which leaned heavily on temperature, holidays, etc. so they all "failed." Too bad it hasn't changed:(
4/14/2013 01:30:42 am
4/16/2013 11:27:38 am
I am a teacher. I am a believer in the proper use of the English language. I hate Facebook et al for its participation in the destruction of the language. That being said, we are fortunate to have the technology that we have today. A computer program cannot live, feel nor understand the thoughts of a young girl, but it DOES have SPELLCHECK! In my day, it was called editing. I guess what I'm trying to say is this: a young student should be able to express her thoughts in her own honest way - that's primary; the editing is very secondary. Her writing shouldn't be put in a "box" (which is what I think the program is doing). That's not how great writers are born. Gee, I wonder what Hemingway, Bronte, Poe or Thoreau would have thought of this computer program? Ha! You go, Kate, and while you're at it, GO FAR!
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