The Des Moines Register reports today that we should expect the State Legislature to approve new statewide standards this year for what students should learn in school. We have long been a local control state and it appears we are about to lose that.
Just as long as what replaces it is something better. Set the bar high enough that the students will have to work to accomplish the goals. Students don't learn unless your expectations are higher than their ability. A little struggle increases the learning a hundredfold.
The article goes on to say that we should expect a push to beef up lessons in science and math.
That's fine, too!
However, I am going to advocate the strongest standards should be in reading. Critical reading.
If students have these skills they can handle anything. They have way too many demands on their time in today's world and reading often goes by the wayside. I found in my (38) years of teaching that the most successful students were those who could and would read. Everybody should be a reader. If you don't read (and you can) you may as well not be able to read.
I know there are people who have difficulty reading. For some folks their brains don't function the same way as everyone else's but they can be identified and given extra help. They can learn to read. Not only the ability to read but a love of reading should be fostered. I personally think that students television should be limited by parents and be dependent on the amount of reading they do. DO WHAT EVER IT TAKES TO GET THEM READING AND KEEP THEM READING!
Readers become writers. All of the students who could write well in my class were readers. This is just plain fundamental folks.
Sure "beef up" the math and science standards (although you can't function well in those areas if you can't read) but first demand that everyone read. Don't let them get out of it. Reading is the most basic area of our curriculum and should be the highest priority on every one's list.
Speaking of writer's - Ginny is a writer.- She also reads a lot. She sent this and I want to share it with you.
December 30, 2005
When I was a child Christmas began with going to a corner lot in Ames to pick out a Christmas tree. What had been a parking lot was transformed into a forest with the smell of pine excitement in the air. When I grew up and got my own house I decorated it like a demented elf and worked some magic of my own.
The week before Thanksgiving I would get the boxes out of various storage areas. I would wash and iron the table cloths, place mats, table runners, tree skirts and wall hangings. Then I'd check to make sure the strings of lights worked and get replacements if I needed them. The morning of Thanksgiving I would put lights around all the windows. Being a perfectionist and wanting the artificial tree to look realistic and the strings of lights not to have their cords show was my least favorite thing to do. This was done to the sounds of the Macy Thanksgiving Day parade. Our cat thought that the decorations were all his cat toys to be batted around so the special ornaments were put on two lighted wreaths. Stuffed animals were nestled on the tree skirt where the cat would curl up and reflect the lights in his eyes. The Christmas stockings were needlepoint, cross-stitch, felt, and all sizes and hung on the stairway banister.
Christmas mugs, candy jars, tiles and baskets decorated the kitchen, along with another Christmas tree. This one would be up until after Valentine's Day and was on a table in the corner underneath a red and green quilt. The tree had red lights, hearts, birds, and straw ornaments. Holly vines were strung on the kitchen light and around the window also.
The bathroom had clear holiday candle holders with white candles and a holly vine around the mirror. Did I mention I was a Martha Stewart fan at the time?
The tree in my bedroom was unadulterated glitz! Purple lights, silver tree skirt, gold and silver baskets, sequined houses along with metal ornaments of all shapes and kinds. If it was shiny it landed on the tree! This tree was the epitome of nature's glorious colors of all the seasons; from the soft spring colors to the bright fall ones, to the northern lights. My birch shelves had my wolf and badger collection on white batting and one year I put lights on my wicker étagère.
I have a collection of pine trees; some were obvious Christmas trees and were only displayed during the holidays. They were made out of tin, wood, plastic, rattan, copper, tin, silver, corn husks, glass, beads, yarn, bells, wax and even dough. My son counted 400 trees one year throughout the house.
My favorite box of "Christmas" held Christmas books, special cards, letters, tins and small Christmas ornaments. I would unpack the treasures on a quiet night to the smell of pine candles and eggnog bread with a cup of hot chocolate beside me. After my mom died I found the Christmas letters she wrote every year. One year she wrote "Ginny and her friends are keeping me young and giving me gray hairs".
I can't imagine ever decorating like an elf on a sugar "high" again. The memories will live in my heart forever. Christmas "magic" has always found me when I least expect it and I know it will this year
What a talent! Have a great Friday. Hugs, j