Tag Archives: Jedi

The Third Annual Star Wars Party and Standardized Tests

The second Death Star under construction in Re...

The second Death Star under construction in Return of the Jedi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“May the fourth be with you,” stated my eight-year old son.

“And with you,” I replied.

Thus began our STAR WARS day, May 4th, 2013.

A month ago the invitations were mailed. The RSVPs had been given. At noon, my son’s fellow younglings would arrive for light saber duels, Jedi training, and good v. evil challenges. The Jedi were to depart at 3:15. Not 3:00 o’clock. Not 3:30. Three. fifteen.

This was my son’s third annual STAR WARS party. At the first party, someone thought it was a birthday party and brought him a gift. The mom couldn’t understand that our son would plan a party to celebrate STAR WARS! Really? I have seen Oscar parties, Kentucky Derby parties, and Super Bowl parties. Those parties do not even come close to my son’s STAR WARS parties for fun and excitement.

The best part is he does the planning. We ate Death Star grapes, StarWarsberries, and make your own pizzas. Every little Jedi would be happy.

My son informed me that I was not needed in organizing games or activities outside. In fact I was to do nothing except put the pizzas in the oven and take them out of the oven. Part of me was sad that he was growing up, and he didn’t need me. However, I quickly became happy when I realized I would not have to be hit with light sabers, or have those Ewoks jump all over me. I could relax.

Jar Jar Binks, a Gungan

Jar Jar Binks, a Gungan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Of course, at every STAR WARS party we have a kid cry. Even if I remind them that no one ever cried in STAR WARS. This year, we had one accidental hit on the head with a light saber. A little Jar Jar Binks walked into a light saber being tossed in the air. And, we had a couple of boys try to sneak into the basement to play video games:

“It’s burning up outside,” they whined.

“It’s 73 degrees. There is a breeze. Get a glass of water and go play,” I ordered.

They drank some water, petted our little Chewbacas and ran outside to join the fun. There were no further problems or complaints.

The party was an excellent demonstration of skills my son learned in school and at home:

*Writing invitations

*Using time management

*Planning activities

*Leading small groups

*Creating a menu for kids with food allergies

*Compromising so everyone has fun

I can’t wait to see how the Department of Education will create a standardized test to assess these skills. I hope he does well, or he may not be college and career ready.

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Filed under Common Core, Humor, Learning, Measuring Student Success

Do or do not!

A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away I began my teaching career.  I like to think that I was the Yoda to the younglings in my classroom.  Remember in The Empire Strikes Back when Yoda tells Luke Skywalker, “No! Try not. Do. Or do not!! There is no try”?  It seems like Yoda is telling Luke to not try, just do it.  He must have had a Nike endorsement.

When I first began teaching, I had students write rough drafts, peer edit in class, and write a final copy.  Then, I noticed that their editing skills were weak.  True revising was not occurring.  Plus, freshmen prefer to use the time to socialize instead of do work.  I was incredulous! I am so glad all of the committees I have been on have not been like that.

So, my thoughts of students actually revising their essays into literary masterpieces on their final copy flew into hyperspace faster than the Millenium Falcon can jump into hyperspace.  I felt like Yoda, saying, “Do or do not!”

Within weeks I realized that that was not exactly what Yoda meant. Students had to learn how to be better writers by making mistakes and revising, revising, and revising, not writing perfectly the first time. In fact, I have rewritten this blog six times now. 

Ironically, Yoda’s words are an absolute, and as Obi-Wan Kenobi told Anakin in Revenge of the Sith: “Only a Sith deals in absolutes!”  Of course, Obi-Wan’s words are an absolute, but his meaning is that the dark side only allows the person to see everything as right or wrong, good or bad.  A Jedi knows that there are many shades of right and wrong.  But I digress.  To really understand what Yoda means, you have to see it in the context of the movie http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3hn6fFTxeo

Yoda wants Luke to have a positive mental attitude.   This will lead to success.  Not just trying.

I recently wrote about one young man who set a goal for himself to get an A.  Last grading period he had a B-.  Last week he began a daily competition with another student to see who will achieve the higher grade.  I am happy to report they both have an A.

Lizzie is another student who has improved.  Last nine weeks she failed.  She was apathetic and not doing all of her assignments.  After she got the report card, we discussed her strengths.  She also discussed the ramifications of her lack of effort with her parents.  It seems she has changed her mind faster than a clone trooper asking Obi Won about two droids.  Lizzie is doing all of her work and currently has a B.  She does not see any assignment as difficult.  She has unlearned the negative way of thinking and now has the confidence to do the work.

Now if I can only get Carl to achieve a C.   

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Filed under Education, Humor, Learning, Writing