Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween 2014: Chambered Nautilus Costume, Gangster Costume

When your son says in July that he wants to be a chambered nautilus for Halloween and continues to want to be a chambered nautilus all the way into September, you have to find a way to make it happen. Because how can you say no to a request that unique from a kid that committed?

So without further ado, the chambered nautilus costume:

His peers didn't get it, but it was a huge hit with the grownups handing out the candy. At one house, someone saw him coming from a distance and actually said, "Is that a nautilus?" and just went nuts over him and listed all kinds of facts about it. Clearly a fan.

Then there's the 1920's gangster costume. I didn't make it. We decided to see if we could borrow the trench coat (the cheapest ones at Goodwill were $42.00). The main question: "Who's shorter than 5'10" and has lived on the East Coast?" This left us with two people, one of whom had given away the trench coat he hasn't used since moving out here, and one of whom had to pull his out from storage, where it's been since he moved out here. Here being California, where no one has any use for a trench coat except as part of a gangster costume.

My favorite part is the pose. He is such a shrinking violet in public but he's a total ham when it's just us.

Happy Halloween.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Smarter Balanced Assessments: If you don't eat your meat, you can't have any pudding

Starting to get notes in the email about preparing for the upcoming Smarter Balanced Assessment field trials this spring. These are trial runs of the nationwide standardized Common Core tests that are supposed to be rolled out next school year, and as far as I can tell, will replace the STAR tests this year, at least at our elementary school.

First of all, and least important, Smarter Balanced Assessment is a terrible name. It reminds me of this:

or maybe I'm thinking of this:

or was it this:

In any case, dumb name. Talk about standardized-test-driven curriculum squashing creativity. Clearly standardized-test-related careers do the same thing.

Okay, now on to my main point, which is also kind of a side note to the larger issues of standardized tests, Common Core, and their effect on schools, students, and society.

My son reports that his teacher is telling his class that they are required to take the test, and that they will not be allowed to advance to the next grade level if they do not do well on it.


1. Bulllloney. It's illegal to hold a child back strictly on the basis of his or her score a statewide/nationwide standardized test.
2. The purpose of the test, whether we believe in the test or not, is to measure the school, not the individual student. 
2. Anyone can legally opt out with a letter.
3. The test isn't even a real test yet. It's a test of a test. Results can't count for real, anyway.

We're going out of town during the testing window anyway, so it doesn't matter for us. Still. How very vexing.