So every day I have to read the same instructions which start with “We are ready to begin the test” and then continue for three more pages. It’s literally basic instructions on how to fill in a multiple choice question. I have to ask them to check not only that their name is on their test books, but that the numbers printed on them haven’t magically changed overnight. Anyhow, this is dedicated to everyone who has to read or listen to the same instructions, day after day after day after day…
At this point now, students
We’re ready to start
No DON’T OPEN IT YET
We’re not quite at that part
Today we’ll do Part 9
It’s 12 different sections
I’ll explain them, but first
Do you have any questions?
Then I’ll move on
Please open your test books
To page 31
Now look at the first box
Please quietly read it
I’ll also be reading
Out loud if you need it
It says: “You are ready
To start your test session
Step 1: Using a pencil”
Let’s pause — are there questions?
Then I’ll read more
–Yes, I know that we’ve read
This all ten times before
You did not raise your hand
That’s a test violation
I warned what would happen
In this situation
Yes, Officer Palmer?
Your help is awaited
Our test code of conduct
Has been violated
Please drop your test book
In the shredder downstairs
You’ll have to start over
Your new book’s prepared
Back to what is allowed
Read Box 2 to yourself
While I read it out loud…
I’m writing a poem about testing each day of testing during testing. Testing. Here’s one from today:
My stamina’s fading
I’m hitting a wall
My eyesight is blurry
My confidence: small
These tests are too taxing
It’s really a shame
(And all I’ve done so far
Is fill out my name)
We’re back to it! After a week of testing, spring break, then parent teacher conferencing, we get…more testing! Today was Day 1 of Math. As usual, I spent it “Actively Monitoring” and covertly writing poems. I wrote for the kids about lions and dolphins. For you guys, it’s tests, tests, and tests:
These tests make the brightest minds feel not-so-bright
Which answer’s least wrong? (Instead of most right)
I can argue a good case for A, B, or D
So can I rule C out? Maybe they’re tricking me!
I could argue that too if I gave it some thought
Am I supposed to be clever? No, probably not.
Yesterday you said that change was ahead
But now you say change is afoot instead
But I’ve also heard you say that change is at hand
I’m taken aback, I just don’t understand
Can you please just explain it, I find it too strange
Why are parts of my body exchanging this change?
Artwork as always by Anna Fox (foxryan.com)
While doing my “active monitoring” of this week’s standardized tests, I wasn’t only scribbling passive-aggressive poems about testing. Before the tests began, I let the kids make requests, which I then tried to write and share with them afterwards. Here are a few of the requests.
Request: Pink unicorns
What It’s Like Being a Unicorn
What’s it like being a unicorn?
Pro: You have this awesome horn
Con: It’s heavier than you think
Pro: Your hair is soft and pink
Pro: You make wishes come true
Con: No one believes in you
Con: They think you don’t exist
Oh yeah? Then how’d I write this list???
(Child responds: “Dude, that’s so lit!”)
Request: Gremlins on a farm (kids are weird)
On the Farm
A is for animals here on this farm
B is for bunnies and also for barn
C is for chickens and D is for dogs
E is for eggs, and then F is for fox
G is for gremlins who fill me with hate
H was for hens, which the gremlins all ate
I is for irrigate — help your plants grow!
J is for jerks, ’cause those gremlins won’t go
K is for kale, L is for lima beans
M’s for the mama goat they painted green
N is for nuisances — that is the truth!
Oh…wait, excuse me — they’re back on my roof
(Child responds: “Boom!”)
Request: Moon turkeys (Yes…moon turkeys)
The Truth about the Moon Landing
The astronauts are at last admitting
Something they’d been keeping hidden
That’s right: There’s turkeys on the moon
That’s why we won’t go back there soon
They’re super-smart and unforgiving
They’ve heard of our so-called “Thanksgiving”
If we set foot on their lunar dust
They’ve warned: they’ll gobble gobble us
And that’s it for…ELA testing. Now we have spring break and parent-teacher conferences…but I’ll be back at it in a couple weeks for math AND science testing. Definitely expect more poems then.
Marvin K. Parker
Before we begin today taking the test
I’ll tell you the story of Marvin K. Parker
He wanted to be sure that he was the best
So he filled in his answers
then bubbled them
He bubbled until his page started to tear
He bubbled, and bubbled, and bubbled some more
Bubbling straight through to the table. He didn’t stop there
He went through the table and into the floor
And he would have kept bubbling to the earth’s core
If he hadn’t been melted by magma before
So my lesson for you, while you’re taking this test:
Yes, please bubble it dark. But then give it a rest.
They really shouldn’t have scheduled PSSA testing during National Poetry Month if they didn’t want me to write sarcastic poems about it.
I’m not allowed to read anything during PSSA proctoring…but there’s nothing keeping me from writing poems as long as I’m mostly doing “active monitoring.” Friends, I have 9 of these tests to administer. Expect a lot of poetry.
Beat the System
The tests are out
My stuff’s away
My mouth is closed
I will not play
But I’ll show them
They don’t own me
(My pencils all
Are number 3)