Wednesday, April 10, 2013

What would you do with 30 minutes of free time?

7-3 Reading Week April 9, 2013


An open letter to the Students of Winfield Middle School

From Mr. McCracken


In this essay, I will share some thoughts and ideas about what these upcoming tests mean.  Reasons for doing well, hints for doing well and what might help folks do better are ideas that will be addressed.  There will even be a few questions at the end to spark conversation and deeper thoughts.

Part 1:  Why try?

If you had 30 minutes of free time, what would you do?  Some would go hunting or fishing.  Others might get on the computer or play a video game.  Just about all of us would pull out our phones and check the time.  Others may call friends.  I might ride my motorcycle.  Regardless, we would all want to do something enjoyable.  This is where we run into a problem.  We all find different things enjoyable.  Getting up at 5 am to go sit in the cold would not be fun for some but waiting for a sale to begin would bore others to tears.  Nothing is enjoyed by all.

So, why can we say it is important to do well on these MAP tests, even if they are not “enjoyable?”  What will it mean if we don’t do well on the tests?  What if they are not fun?  For instance, nobody wants to go take a test.  Nobody wants to see how well they rate, especially if they are afraid of doing poorly!  We hate hearing how we don’t stack up or compare as well as another! Wouldn’t it be better to not even try, than to try and fail?

Story-time: What if your mom asks you to take out the trash?  Will you take it immediately? Will you wait until she yells at you?  Will you pretend not to hear her?  What will it take to get you to take out the trash?  Of course taking out the trash is a minor little chore, but the results make your mom so happy!  It may have taken a few minutes. You may have had to get off the phone, maybe come inside, maybe stop watching TV or get off the computer, but it made your mom so very happy!  This is a sign of maturity, finding enjoyment by making others happy.   

I know I am not your mom, but so many of you wished me happy birthday today. For you I have one simple request.   I am happy regardless but this would put me over the top.  To comply with this simple request would let me know how much you really care.  Would you try your hardest on the MAP test, for me, please?  I will still treat you well.  I will honor and respect your choices and even treat folks better than they treat others.

Part 2: Why would anyone do anything?:

This portion of this post reminds me of Green Eggs and Ham.  (Here are the words, in case you forgot.) Of course, Sam asks Grouch to try the meal over and over.  Consider the methods Sam used to get Grouch to try the meal.  No bribing, belittling or coercion is involved.  No force, pressure, ridicule or sarcasm is used while they go on their adventures together.  In fact, they almost seem to be getting along even better as they develop a relationship.  The adventures seem to be more intense, adventurous and even dangerous, but never is there talk of failure.  The relationship is solid and a failure does not put it in jeopardy.  In fact, the failure at the end where they are all in the water together is the proof that Sam does care.  Sam wants the best and is willing to fail with Grouch to prove it.  I know your teachers care, even in the midst of failure.   When Grouch finally relents and tries the concoction, of course he likes it, and is happy for the first time in the book.  This is a true relationship, that one give it all up for the other, regardless of the others response!  I believe the teachers at WMS want the best for us and are willing to go the extra mile to make that connection and reach students.

There is an old saying that relates to our lunch talk of Reluctantly Compliant.  It goes something like this:  Do what you want.  You are going to do it anyway and you might as well be happy about it.  I think, we all want to do whatever we want to do.  Sometimes we do things just because the consequences of something else are unbearable.  If we are in a relationship with another, we don’t want to upset them!  If a caring adult asks us to do something, we often times comply.  If we fail to comply, we are willing to suffer the consequences. The question becomes a matter of motivation.  Will students try because of their family, their friends, their teachers, or even their principal? Will you try because we ask you to try? Please?   A Version of Green Eggs  or Another Version a Final Version (Note the faces of Sam & Grouch)

Part 3:  What to do?

Our State of Missouri (dese) has listed a few pointers for us to consider when preparing for a test.   Reading and writing are parts of most of the Tips.  There are other practical ideas to ponder as well. Read, go slow, and all those pointers actually help.  Eating, sleeping, and skipping TV actually improve test scores.  Physical activity and playing are helpful for our brains.

Story-Time:  Does anybody have a door jamb or board on the wall at home that has tick marks or hash marks with dates and initials of your height as you are growing up?  This sort of measures your growth physically!  The MAP test sort of measures your growth academically. When they say, “stand up straight” to know how tall you really are, it matches when they repeat “do your best on the test.”  We learn what size clothes to get by your height and we learn what education is necessary by how much you know already!  Of course you can’t set a goal to grow but you can set a goal to learn.  These scores that follow along also transfer to show how much better you are doing over time.  We can make educational goals just like in Ac Lab.


            What is important?  What is valuable?  What will you remember about your future?  Will you remember things, people or actions?  Will you remember how you feel or what you did?

Student questions?

Define the following:

Coercion: ___________________________________________________________________

Belittle: ___________________________________________________________________

Comply: ___________________________________________________________________

What would you do with 30 minutes of free time? _____________________________

Do you agree with the statement, “WE ALL DO WHATEVER WE WANT, ALL THE TIME?”  Why or why not? ______________________________________________________



What would happen if we all did poorly on our MAP tests? 


What would happen if we did well?


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