Saturday, March 7, 2015

5 Things I Loved About This Week

1. Students walking out on standardized tests
Advocacy Day was on Thursday, so it was nice to read a couple encouraging stories this week. The first one comes out of New Mexico: 1,000 high school students walked out on the PARCC exam this week. The knowledge of how corrupt our educational testing culture has become has made its way to students and if you watch the video, these kids are incredibly articulate and understand the reasons behind their protests. It's not because they're lazy and don't want to take a test. It's because they recognize the education they are losing out on due to the ridiculous amount of flawed testing they are subjected to and recognize the ridiculousness of evaluating their teachers based on these test scores.

The other stories I enjoyed weren't so much stories as this blog post and Storify of ranty tweets re: standardized testing from author Kelly Barnhill.

Oh yeah, and she also wrote this amazing post that literally had me weeping:
Seriously guys, how do teachers do this every day?

2. Celebrating students past and present
This week was a veritable parade of encounters that made me smile, starting with a former student who saw my march fo(u)rth post (the same student who informed me that March fourth is the only date on the calendar that is a command) and sent me a Facebook message saying that she and her friends were reminiscing about being in my 6th grade class and asked if I still had a video of her telling a joke that she told that made me laugh so hard I cried.

I also had some pretty hilarious and touching encounters with current students this week, starting with one who told me, "Mrs. Shaum, a picture's just not a picture without Frank and Guenter in it." So I proceeded to go home, and post this picture to Instagram just for her:
Frank and Guenter

I also had a student who has been adamant since the beginning of the year that he hates reading, but he chose as his passion project to learn about the benefits of reading because he wants to be a better reader. When reading their research updates this week, this is what he wrote:

The benefits of reading are phenomenal. You get a better memory, imagination, attitude, and focusing skill. What I never knew was it makes you more attractive. Living in a house full of annoying siblings builds stress, but if you read it reduces stress. To me I have a good attitude but for the times I don't reading fixes that. It can help you to not have Alzheimer's.

Not only did this make me a little teary-eyed, but it also made me giggle a little when he pointed out that reading makes you more attractive. :)  Still, I am so proud of him for being willing to open his mind to how reading benefits your life. 

3. Lunch with the girls on this balmy 40-degree day
It has been a long, depressing winter here in Michigan. I really hate cold weather. Despise it. To the point where I keep bugging my husband every so often to check to see if there are job openings at Tesla (he's an automotive engineer) so we can move to California and leave winter behind forever. So the fact that it was 40 degrees today might give you pause since I hate the cold so much, but for reals, after how cold it's been 40 degrees feels like the tropics.

So it was nice to get out and meet up with my friends Sarah, Jessica, and Lindsay for lunch and a shopping date. It was so nice to catch up with them since I've been so into teaching and grad school mode the past few months so I haven't had much time to set aside for friends.

4. Me? An award winner?
Yesterday one of my grad school professors/advisors informed me that I had been selected as the outstanding grad student award in the English Studies program at my university.  I didn't even know this award existed so I was caught totally by surprise when I received the email from Cathy Fleischer. So as a result, I figured it was a good excuse to celebrate so my husband and I went to my favorite new restaurant in Ann Arbor, Aventura, which has amazing tapas.
Celebrating at Aventura

5. Teachers talk pen obsessions
I loved Michelle Hastletine's Slice of Life post this week about her pen obsession. To the point where it became an extended conversation on social media throughout the week, starting with this Instragam post from me, and then her response later in the week. It even filtered over to Twitter a few times as well. Teachers straight up don't mess around when it comes to their pens!

Celebrate This Week was established by Ruth Ayres


  1. Big congratulations on your nomination and award! I read these stories about testing and resisting with huge degrees of interest.

  2. Thanks Beth! I am loving my new pens!!! It's wonderful to find others who share my quirky obsessions! Congratulations again on your award, that's awesome!!! And I'm with you...let's move to warmer climates. I moved to Virginia from Massachusetts, years ago and after 12 snow days this's not south enough!

  3. Congrats on the award! I too am glorying in the warmer temps here in WI. I loved the pen post and the conversations. :)