Wednesday, March 05, 2008


Now is the season of our discontent. In short, it's TAKS season in Texas. For those of you who don't live in Texas, or who do live in Texas and don't have children, this is the time of year when we cease teaching anything new and do the old standby's of drill and kill. This is the season when the TEA and the other "powers" decide to take children who can barely do average work due to language limitations or learning differences and put them into a normal classroom to take a test that make the average student cringe. I thought this is what special education programs were supposed to avoid. I thought we were supposed to "meet the learner at their place of knowledge." But obviously, I thought wrong.

As I have stated in other places, the TEA expects, no, it DEMANDS that we the teachers who administer the TAKS, be constantly roaming the room. I have equated this in other forums to a herd of antelope being stalked by a particularly hungry lion. You can fill in the species to your own content. I can understand the TEA not wanting the administrators to grade, or surf the internet or sleep during testing. But I think it's just a bit over the top to expect us to wander aimlessly watching every scratch and scribble that kids make on their test booklets. Since Lord Knows we can't beat them, I think I have found some ways to alleviate the mind-deadening boredom of test proctoring. It's called "TAKS-ercize!"

Based on the movements initiated sometime in the last century and practiced by countless middle aged women, the idea is to incorporate dance moves as you wander around the room. But the moves must be done slooooooooooooooooooooooowly.
1. The Slide-Begin with feet together, slide the right foot slowly to the right, bring the left foot together. Cross the room and then reverse direction.
2. The Slow Chaser-Point the right toe, reach with the foot to the right, step, then bring the left foot just behind it-second position for you ballet school dropouts.
3. Mini-Lunge-Slight bend the left knee, move the right foot six inches back placing the heel on the floor, bend the left knee slightly, then release. Repeat with other leg
4. The Pickup-Walk as you normal do, step forward but slowly push with your toe on the back foot. Change weight to your front foot and push the heel up about six inches.
5. Slow Grapevine-For those of you who know how to do the Grapevine step, do it slowly and with little steps. It's too complex to describe here.
6. Relevees-Slight raise up on your toes and then back down. Change the position of your feet to work different muscles.

I have to admit, I actually did some of these steps today. The kids never noticed, except for this one girl who is actually in one of my classes and who more or less expects this kind of behavior. For more ambitious folks here are some other ideas

1. Pick Up Sticks-Drop all the pencils and pick them up one by one. (note-not to be done with cleavage baring apparel or if you are over sixty.) For those living in warmer areas, consider picking them up with your toes.
2. Pencil Sharpener Lunge-(note-required equipment-an electric sharpener) Stand away from the sharpener. Take the pencil and jab it into the sharpner as you lunge. Change pencils and change legs.
3. Reverse Arm Raises-Lean against a desk, lower your body and push up with your arms. Don't overdo it.
4. Leg lifts-Stand behind podium or chair and lift you leg behind, alternating legs.
5. Dictionary/Thesaurus Armcurls-Use whatever reference material and use it as counterweight for armcurls. This will also visually reinforce the idea that knowledge makes you strong.

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