Testing Season Approaches

It’s almost that time again. In fall, the trees shed their leaves. In winter, the clouds shed their white fluff. And in spring, the classroom walls shed their color and character because students must have a sterile environment for testing.

You know what chases the doldrums away? A nice book.

Now available to order through Square! Tested Out: Poetry Against High-Stakes Testing and Standardized Children.

Follow that link to order your copies just in time for them to be confiscated by the proctors.


A few months ago, we raised over $2,000 to make a book of poetry against standardized testing. You hit stretch goal after stretch goal, expanding the book to 20 poems (I even threw in an extra as a bonus) and adding full-color illustrations from the amazing Anna Fox Ryan.

And now it’s almost ready.

Some of Anna's amazing artwork!

If you didn’t get a chance to order your copy, now is your chance! I’m running pre-sales to make sure everybody who wants a copy can have theirs in time for the holidays.

Please help spread the word!

You can pre-order by clicking this link. The e-book is $7.99, the print version is $20. Discounts for purchases of 3.

And just as a bonus, here are the titles of the poems in the collection:

A Dedication
Attention All Schools
What Is Tested
Thank Goodness I Spent Weeks Studying Multiple Choice Strategies in Third Grade
Multiple Choice
Beat the System
The Truth
Marvin K. Parker
Inspirational Slogans
An Observation
Olympic Testing
The Dragon Slayer
UltraTest Mark 9
Silly School
Severe Case of Test-itis
Testing Instructions
The Pledge

Can’t wait to share the finished product with everyone!!!


[Blog] Two days left!!!

We’re so close to the finish line! For those new to the project, I’m running a Kickstarter (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1893721908/testing-poetry-a-book-of-passive-aggressive-resist) to make a book of poetry against standardized testing. The deadline is Monday at midnight — if you want to contribute, you have two days!

So far, we have:

-Fully funded the book! It’s going to happen!
-Added artwork by Anna Fox on every page!
-Increased the book size from 16 to 20 poems!
-Done a live poetry read! (skip the first minute)
-Done a full-day request-a-thon!

We have about 48 hours left! If we can raise $468 more in that time, we’ll have full-color artwork throughout the book! Anna is an amazing artist and just put out a powerful statement of support for the project, which I hope you will check out!

If you’ve enjoyed my poetry and want to support me, or want to make a statement against standardized testing, I hope you’ll consider supporting the Kickstarter! It’s only $6 for an e-book, and the more I raise the better I’ll be able to make your ultimate product. Support it here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1893721908/testing-poetry-a-book-of-passive-aggressive-resist

Request #3: Inferences and Classification

Julie Gottschalk (yes, my mother) writes:

My first science unit involves first understanding the difference between observations vs. inferences (also useful for talking about social interactions), and then we study classification (leading to invertebrates). If any of those ideas spark a poem, I’d love to share it with my kids. Last year’s crew loved your poems.

Here are 3 attempts to satisfy this request (2 poems about observations and inferences, one about classification):


Guess What I Drew

I drew a picture of a thing
It has a body and two wings
It flies, and walks on sharp clawed feet
And feathers make it all complete
What is it? You’ve probably guessed the word
The thing I’ve drawn is called…
A ferret-riding-a-remote-control-airplane-that-I-decorated-with-feathers!
…Why, what did you expect?

I drew a picture of a thing
It’s something that both flies and stings
It’s clad in black and yellow stripes
And enjoys flowers of many types
What did I draw? What could it be?
The thing I’ve drawn is called…
A florist-that-happens-to-be-an-eagle-which-is-dressed-up-as-a-tiger-for-Halloween-and-also-just-flew-through-some-painful-thorn-bushes
…That’s what you guessed, right?

I drew a picture of a thing
It has a mustache and three rings
It’s purple, but its eyes are blue
It’s ten feet tall, but skinny too
I wonder what you make of that?
Did you guess it? I drew…
A cat! Just a really weird cat
…You probably figured that one out, though



Today, we learned about “inferencing”
But frankly, I found it sickening
It’s all just guessing and assuming
So I won’t practice this “inference” thing

If my mom says to “Make my bed”
I won’t assume I understand what she said
I won’t infer that she means clean bedspread
And perhaps she was asking my brother instead

If someone’s knocking upon my door
Why bother walking across my floor?
There’s many reasons they might knock for
They could like knocking and nothing more

If my eyes are closed and I throw a ball
And later discover a hole in the wall
I won’t infer that it was my fault
I don’t see why I’d be blamed at all

Why can’t my teacher give this a rest?
Why is she just so inference-obsessed?
And if I get an “F” on my test
For all I know the “F” stands for “Best”



I have a theory
I’ve decided
Can be divided

Into one
Of just two types:
Things with fur
Or things with stripes

My pillow’s stripey
And my sheets
So are beach balls
And grilled meats

While dogs are furry
And wool socks
Tigers are–

I have a theory
I’ve decided
Can be divided

Into one
Of just three types:
Things with fur
Or things with stripes
Or things that have
Both fur and stripes

A cat has fur
A dog does too
My socks have stripes
So do my shoes

While zebras clearly
Have them both
And as for goldfish–

I have a theory
I’ve decided
Can be divided

Things with fur
Or stripes
Or fur and stripes
Or without fur and without stripes
Okay. I think
That’s all the types

But wait
Does having one stripe count?
Does it matter
What fur amount?

How many ways
Can I do division?

…I think my theory
Needs revision

Come One, Come All!

Tell everybody that you know:
My friends are putting on a show!
Come on and step right up to me
I’ll tell you what you’ll get to see!
First, Mark will bang upon his drum
So loud, he’ll make your feet go numb
And Tanya has a joke that’s fun
Some people might laugh when it’s done
Jane’s magic! She can guess your card
As long as it’s the two of hearts
And later, Juan will sing a song
Which, hopefully, won’t last too long
Big Jeremiah knew a dance
He may recall – give him a chance!
Then Sue will do flips and headstands
Assuming that the first one lands
Joe’s act will take your breath away
Though what it is, he wouldn’t say
Donovan will blink a lot
He thinks it’s impressive, but it’s not
Zoe taught tricks to her mouse
It’s hiding somewhere in her house
Dirk eats mud like it was pudding
But frankly, I wish that he wouldn’t
Then when it’s over, buy a treat!
Whichever ones Michael didn’t eat
So who’d like a ticket? Come and get it!
It’s possible you won’t regret it!