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For quite some time, I watched as friends were using an app with their iPhone called Vine. Simply put, Vine is a social media platform that allows you to be creative and share 6 second videos. I stayed away from it for a while and then got a little nudge from my fellow Verizon Lifestyle Bloggers that were trying it out with their Apple and Android devices.
My first Vine was introducing my new Windows Phone just to get used to using it. After that, I was a little more creative. Why not showcase how I am going to have to debate between two different types of smartphones.
Then I had a bit more fun. I made a Vine to share with my boys. Yes, I had some explaining to do when they got home from school and saw their TMNT items had been used.
I have had fun sharing the non-stop rain in our area and a few other items while waiting for the boys outside of school. I do believe my favorite use of Vine was at when we went to the miSci Museum over the weekend. I could quickly showcase a few of the fun items that we explored in a more authentic way that a simple photo can not capture.
Of course, a great example was when the boys were completely fascinated with one of the new items in the Notions of Motions Exhibit. I think they would have stayed testing this out a lot longer if we had allowed it.
So are you on Vine yet? If you are I would love to know how you are utilizing it. For me, it will be a great way to showcase educational fun and learning as we travel.
Disclosure: As a member of the Verizon Lifestyle Bloggers, I receive different devices to check out in my life. There is no other compensation. I am a long time Verizon customer, and all opinions are my own.
These days, I often find myself thinking and worrying about my children. It is not about their health, it’s about their future. More specifically, I am growing more fearful of the lack of education they will receive as they proceed in their academic lives. As I have mentioned in the past, I have seen a dramatic difference in public education in just the last five years between my own two boys. I do NOT blame their teachers. They are also a victim of the teach to the test mentality that is being forced at them. If they want to keep their jobs, they must do what they are told. The chain of command is a lot higher in this respect and far above most on even the district level.
Looking back, I hardly remember tests as a child. Sure we took the Iowa exams, there was the New York State ELA in grade 4, and of course the Regents exams in high school. None of these exams scared me for life or left me afraid of following my dream of becoming an educator. I think I took a lot of things for granted at the time. I was given the ability to be a kid, to learn and be able to think outside of the box, and my teachers were able to be creative and teach us material that would NOT be on a test.
Fast forward to the One Voice United Rally at the Empire State Plaza on June 8. It was at that moment that I realized more had to be done. I did not want my children to lose out on what they should be learning and doing in their school. I no longer want to see the frustration on the faces of parents, children, and teachers. We need to stand up together and make our voices heard. We need to gather groups together to let New York State know that our children mean more than a number to us. Our children need to be educated so they can think freely and not conform to tests. The robotic nature of teaching to the tests has to end now.
One of the most inspiring speeches at the rally was from 18-year-old Nikhil Goyal. As I noted in my rally post from the other day:
18 year old Nikhil Goyal, a recent high school graduate from Syoset, New York talked to everyone at the rally. He is the author of One Size Does Not Fit All: A Student’s Assessment of School. He pointed to the need for students to join the fight for their education. Next year, he plans on rallying them to stand up for a world beyond No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top. In his words we need to stop the “drill, kill, bubble fill” generation of students.
Here is the video he posted of the speech. I urge you to take the time to see what a young man who is from the testing generation thinks of the system. Watch his passion to stop this and get the kids involved in the process.
As Goyal stated:
To Governor Cuomo, Commissioner King, Mayor Bloomberg, Chancellor Tisch: We’re coming for you. We’re taking back our children. We’re taking back our schools. We’re taking back public education from your hands, from the hands of corporations, billionaires, Wall Street, and testing companies.
Now I am more determined to keep going in the right direction to help my boys and other children. They deserve to be able to follow their dreams, be kids, and not have to worry about tests constantly invading their lives. Remember, this is not just happening in New York State, it is all over the United States. Look for groups in your area to get more information and join in the movement to take back public education for the future of our children.
On Saturday June 8, my family went to the One Voice United Rally for public education in New York.
I was a student in the public schools of New York and so was TechyDad. I have spent some time teaching in the public schools of New York. These days, I am a mother of two boys in a public school in New York. The high stakes testing and curriculum manipulation that results in teaching to the tests has gone too far. The rally was a time for teachers and parents to come together to say enough is enough.
NYSUT was coordinating the rally where bus loads of people were coming into Albany from throughout New York. Seeing the streets lined with school and charter buses filled with people marching onto the Empire State Plaza by the State Capitol Building took my breath away. We were all there for the same reason – children.
Some may question why TechyDad and I took the boys to the rally. In my mind, it was an educational experience. NHL and JSL were going with us to the State Capitol and they saw history taking place. Of course, they also saw all of their teachers and their parents together. All of the boys’ main teachers were at the rally. The kids saw their teachers and colleagues, along with other families from our school together. Estimates also say the rally drew close to 20,000 supporters all there in the name of children and their right to learn, be creative, and not be taught simply for high stakes testing.
I am still digesting the experience because it truly was powerful. Listening to Albany High School teacher Jeremy Dudley perform “Stop this Madness” completely rocked the crowed to the core. My kids are still chanting the key words (sorry to their teachers).
17 year old Nikhil Goyal, a recent high school graduate from Syoset, New York talked to everyone at the rally. He is the author of One Size Does Not Fit All: A Student’s Assessment of School. He pointed to the need for students to join the fight for their education. Next year, he plans on rallying them to stand up for a world beyond No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top. In his words we need to stop the “drill, kill, bubble fill” generation of students.
Then, Tom Chapin filled me with even more memories that will last. I watched as teachers laughed at his “Not on the Test” song. The biting words in the song that I shared the other day really do say a lot. Then, he introduced a new song that he wrote. “One Voice” brought tears to my eyes. I watched as two of my sons’ teachers linked arms to sway and sing together. I listened to my boys utter the words in unison with the giant crowd. I do hope this song will be shared for others to hear as well.
Thank you to everyone that worked on making this rally happen and to all those that showed up and stood on the Plaza in the name of the children of New York State. This is just the beginning of the public school movement, but it was a truly inspiring experience. More will be coming on this topic soon.
Growing up, I went to my neighborhood elementary school. Then, I moved onto one of the middle schools in our district for two years. After that, I went to the giant high school where I had amazing opportunities that many other kids my age did not receive. Teachers in my life made such an impact on me that I wanted to be like them. I hoped to one day be in a classroom where I could be creative and teach to watch children grow and learn.
Of course, these days the world of education has changed a lot. As a parent, I have watched a dramatic change over the last five years. The difference from my oldest son’s experience in kindergarten to my youngest son’s current classroom is alarming. My youngest son is being forced to take 30+ minute tests on a computer several times a year to see how well he has been taught. The tests are not developmentally appropriate and most definitely will not show how well all children are doing academically. I know my son’s teacher is an amazing woman, but she is being held back. She is helpless if she wants to keep her job. Rather than teach the kids in creative ways that reach each of them, teachers must do it the way the curriculum guide tells her.
Looking into her eyes, I can see the level of frustration and it makes me sad. I am sad that my kindergarten kid did not experience things before the change. I am angry. My anger stems from teachers being told how to do things when they are the ones that know their students best. They should be able to create authentic ways to assess how well their kids are learning. Instead, we pay companies millions of dollars each year to frustrate our children.
I also see my older son with a year before he goes to middle school being taught for state tests. As a teacher, I know the drill and it breaks my heart. It hurts to know that kids are not taught to be free thinkers and look outside of the box. Instead, they are being shown how to systemically dissect a specific high stakes test. I do not blame his teacher or any of the others, it goes above them. I saw how stressed my son’s fourth grade teacher was each morning of the NY State exams (three days of ELA, three days of Math, and two days of Science). No child should be put through this, nor should the teachers.
This is why we will be going as a family to the One Voice United Rally in Albany at the Empire State Plaza on June 8, 2013. We will be walking side by side with people from our school letting them know that we have to be heard and that we support them. We need our children to be creative thinkers and not limited to the test. Grammy Award winner, Tom Chapin will also be at the rally. Mr. Chapin recorded the song Not on the Test which really does hit a strong note. Here is the video of the song and you will see why.
Once again, I urge more people from throughout New York to make a trip to Albany on June 8 to teach your children a valuable lesson.
Visiting museums with my family is something I can vividly remember as a child. I can still recall the first time I went to a genuine science museum in Boston. The Museum of Science quickly became a favorite. I went there numerous times with school, Girl Scouts, my family, and then as a teacher.
My boys have been to a several science museums over the years. For some reason, we had never made it to what used to be called the Schenectady Museum and Planetarium. Over Memorial Day weekend, we fixed this and went to visit what is now called miSci, Museum of Innovation and Science, to check it out with Nana, Papa, Uncle I, Cousin S, and Cousin B.
I had not been to this museum in more years than I would like to admit. The minute we walked in, I knew it was something special. All four of the kids were immediately drawn to the different items on display. Watching my two boys, niece, and nephew explore was priceless. Although a lot may have been lost on my three year old nephew, he had a blast trying things and running from exhibit to exhibit. The two kindergarten kids, and especially my fourth grader, were actively engaged and learning as they explored.
We all spent a lot of time checking out Seeing which was a hands-on area from San Francisco’s Exploratorium. This was the last weekend of the exhibit that had an amazing array of optical illusions. As someone that loved to teach this in the classroom, it was fun to see how they shared different principals in a fun way for young learners.
There is a lot more that I want to share, but I will save that for another day. What I will mention is that we are now members of the Museum of Innovation and Science in Schenectady. We will be going back many more times over the next year as they add in new exhibits like Dinosaurs! (opens June 29) and Notion of Motion (opens June 15).
In addition to this, as a member of miSci, we have a reciprocal membership in participating Empire State Museums and free admission to several hundred participating museums and science centers with the ASTC Travel Passport Program. This will allow us to bring the boys to the Boston Museum of Science and other destinations this summer for small trips. If you live near one of the participating museums, I would love to know other locations that we need to pencil into our travels.
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