Tuesday, April 28, 2015

I Am More than the Test

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Yesterday I gave my students the test that will be used for my teacher evaluation. I walked around the room as they tested and sent them my best wishes! Watching their faces focus and work so hard to do their best makes me so proud. I don't care what the numbers are! They are more than numbers.

We talked about that a couple of weeks ago...one of my students declared, "Testing is like that quote by Albert Einstein. A fish is smart, but not if it's riding a bicycle, then it can't and everyone thinks it's dumb...or something like that!" She made me smile when she said that. She was grasping for this quote, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” These words have been attributed to Albert Einstein, but I've recently discovered that there is no evidence that Einstein ever said these words. Regardless, she has internalized that feeling and I REJOICE that she gets it!

One of my classes had already finished this particular test, so I got a chance to write poetry with them. We have been playing around with format and rule breaking and word choice and emotions in poetry. Today the challenge was to write a list poem that began with the line, "I am more than the test."* We discussed what that meant. Students worked collaboratively to plan their poems and then were given the choice to compose as a group or individually.

The buzz around the room inspired me! I checked in with groups and asked them what emotion would their poem convey? The answers varied. Sadness. Anger. Rebellion. Strength.

After they composed a first draft, we took a break and read silently. When we returned, we made some last minute adjustments and shared with the class.

Here are some of the first drafts of the poems in the class...


Can't you FEEL the power?!?!

Students shared their poems with the class! As audience members, students had to jot a GOLDEN LINE from each poem in their notebook and finally pick one GOLDEN LINE they loved best from all of the poems and write it on a yellow sticky note.
Students posted their stickies in the classroom. We made our own collaborative poem. With no changes or revisions here is class poem...

Here is my revised version...

I Am More than the Test

I don't wake up everyday
to impress you
Time ticking
Brain cracking
I am quick-witted
I'm a girl not a model
I am a pencil, not an eraser
I am the future not the history
I am the president of my own life
I am not perfect
I am normal
So just back off
I am human and that is all I am
perfect within my imperfections
I am  important, not worthless
I don't wake up to impress you
You don't define me.
I matter!

I'm going to repeat this lesson today with the rest of my classes! I can't wait to hear their poems. I AM NOT THE TEST! I MATTER! * I discovered this line from a Facebook page I follow called Read & Write with Rebecca. This is where I first heard about #Iwishmyteacherknew. She has inspiring posts and terrific ideas!


  1. This is wonderful and a great way to end the testing marathon. ! I love the line...."I do not wake up to impress you." I had my third grade test takers write poems about Picasso today - thinking - like he did - out of the box....knowing full well and smiling...even though I had to stretch to match my lesson to a standard!

  2. Wow!!! Outstanding, passionate, powerful. I loved them all but the top one really got me- "I am grass stains now white pants"- really speaking to the messy process of learning and growing and not being "perfect" in 6th grade. You should send these SOMEWHERE! They need to be published. I LOVE the idea of the golden line (stealing that) and creating a new poem. Never thought to do that but LOVE it. This was a joy to read.

  3. Awesome, awesome poetry! I can feel the power in their words and it is such a timely topic. This is just one more reason why you are an awesome teacher, Michelle. Way to FLY!


  4. Oh, and I agree with Kathleen...you MUST send these poems somewhere for the world to see. :))

  5. This is a great way to validate your students and let them know you care beyond the data. My favorite line was "I am a puddle, not the ocean."

  6. YES, I FEEL THE POWER! :-) What a wonderful way to take something negative and make it positive. Like Kathleen, I'm stealing the Golden Line/Collaborative poetry idea! I love all the poems, but that top left one is amazing. She even inserted a little feminism into hers - she's not going to be defined by anybody - good for her!

  7. I've used the 'golden line' before Michelle, so powerful to see one's line up there on someone's sticky note! All the poems are marvelous, unique to the student, I imagine. Love "comic books, not dictionaries!" What a great response to the testing.

  8. Hooray for you and your students, Michelle - I love that you brought them back to what really matters.

  9. Hooray for you and your students, Michelle - I love that you brought them back to what really matters.

  10. I love the "I Matter"! Of course you do! And I also love the "But I'm still going to try..." Yes, please!
    Good work, students!

  11. So powerful! I love how you inspire your students!

  12. What a great way to relieve some testing anxiety and reconnect to authentic voices.


Please share your thoughts. I love comments!