Here is what I promised. http://tinyurl.com/ntzr43p photos of Shenandoah National Park Information about the park: http://www.nps.gov/shen/index.htm http://tinyurl.com/pyg95w9 photos of Virginia Beach Information about VA Beach: http://www.visitvirginiabeach.com/visitors/things-to-do/ http://tinyurl.com/q4uwq38 photos of the Norfolk Naval Station Information about the Naval Station: http://cnic.navy.mil/regions/cnrma/installations/ns_norfolk.html http://tinyurl.com/pnbjl7n photos of Monticello (President Thomas Jefferson’s home) Information about Monticello: http://www.monticello.org/ The Wildlife Center of Virginia—international leader in wildlife conservation: www.wildlifecenter.org At the top of the homepage for the Center, you can learn all about the Center and its education ambassadors (animals who can’t be released), but my favorite thing is to hover on Critter Corner at the top of the page toward the right and select Critter Cams from the drop down menu. There are three streaming cameras to select from, and each has different animals to watch. You can see the cameras during Virginia daylight—right now from 6 in the morning to almost 8:30 in the evening (that is Eastern Daylight Time) If your students are interested in any specific places in VA, just let me know, and if you want me to select more places and send pictures, tell me that too.
I am fine, thanks. I'm unhappy with Beta and the fact that ICHC doesn't work properly much of the time now, so I don't go here much anymore. I never even received notice that you had sent me a message on the 18th. I will put together some sites with good photos of places here and list them in a message. Your students can see nice places and read about them as well.
Sorry you hit the wet weather--having a lot of it this summer. I'm glad you have enjoyed the view of TN and VA. Both are beautiful states. I wish you could have had more time in the Shenandoah Valley. I was up there last week myself and am still just as homesick as ever after leaving even though it has been 43 years since I lived there. I hope all of your journey goes well. Thanks for checking in.
The US has its share of schemers claiming to prepare people for various tests but only filling their own bank accounts. There are sham colleges too whose "diplomas" aren't worth the paper they are written on, but folks fall for the scheme and throw away their money. It's all disgusting. As to the high stakes testing, this article expresses what I've seen very well: http://www.eval.org/p/cm/ld/fid=76 I didn't know the terms "extraction" and "extrusion": but understood them immediately. I have no theater background, but I've given that kind of writing assignments in my classes with good results as far as what is expressed. No one suggested this to me, but I always assumed that all English teachers do this from time to time. There is little time for it now that everything we do is dictated by whoever puts the state tests together, tests for which we have no input at all as to what is tested or how. I think your colleague with the "Zombie invasion" idea is right. All of this testing was preceded by a campaign in the media to discredit educators and rally people to question everything schools were doing. Then it was easy to bring on the tests to "force accountability and high standards" on schools while dictating curriculum with no regard to what is actually best for kids because that is not what's wanted. The real powers that be in the country want to eliminate the troublesome (to them) middle class, and the way to do that is to keep people from learning. Their goal is to have only the elite and the rabble, who will be their slave labor. That's my theory, and I'm sticking with it. Many don't see such a plot and think the testing is the result of having non-educators (politicians) making the decisions and that they have simply made some mistakes. Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion.
You aren't imagining it. It is totally disgusting and frustrating, and I'm counting the seconds until June when I will walk away from all of it and not go back. The injustice we are being forced to impose on children is reprehensible.
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The students are being trained to use their native language in a grammatically correct manner and to write argumentatively without errors in logic. That is what is expected of them on the state writing test in two weeks. I don't think it's asking a lot, but for this particular group it is because they have never bothered to learn the most basic tenants of English grammar, and there is no other way to know them. They have had horrible writing test scores from the primary grades on up to high school, and they are making no effort to do better now. They don't seem to believe or care that they cannot graduate without passing this test even though they could be moved along even with failing scores at the lower grades.