Day three of our Ohio Graduation Test presented the hardest job I have ever had to do in a very long time.
It all began when one of the OGT leaders called me into the maximum security testing processing center. I tried to hide my trepidation. I gave the armed guards and their growling German Shepherds, Trixie and Cupcake, the I’m-cool-so-there-is-no-need-to-shoot-or-bite-me nod. Then, I placed my eyeball on the retinal scanner and my hand on the fingerprint scanner. A few beeps later and the door slid open as if I was entering the bridge of the Enterprise. I was glad I didn’t wear my red shirt.
“Mr. W., we need you to be a scribe,” said Mr. P.
“I would prefer not to,” I thought to myself. I kept it to myself for two reasons. First, I wasn’t sure he would know the reference to Bartleby the Scrivener
by Herman Melville. Second, I was pretty sure one of the dogs would have attacked my milk-bone underwear if I refused. Instead, I responded with a smile, “Sure. What happened?”
It seems that a young lady broke several fingers on her right hand, or dare I say, her write hand. It seems that softballs are not really that soft. This injury would prevent her from writing her essays and extended responses on the tests.
It doesn’t sound too difficult. However, I am used to conferencing with students. I ask them questions about their word choice, organizational patterns, sentence structure, and supporting details. The student would tell me when to indent, when to capitalize, and what punctuation to use. I could not ask her anything or help her. I just wrote and wrote and wrote. I wrote until my fingers became locked into a claw-like shape. I wrote so much that I had to have my wife fill out a workman’s comp form. I am still having trouble holding my toothbrush. Of course, a plus to this is my bad breath keeps kids from asking me for help.
Luckily, the student is smart and takes Advanced Placement classes. She did not make many mistakes as she dictated her essays and responses. I did not have to write any run-on sentences or illogical supporting details. She knew her purpose and created good answers, I think. I never really saw the questions or prompts.
Now, I have more respect and understanding of what the kids endure each day. And this young lady has to adjust the way she will take notes and learn for the next six weeks. Her teachers will work with her and find different ways for her to demonstrate learning and understanding of material. Do you have some ideas on creative ways to help a student who can’t write in class? I would like to share them with my peers at school.