Video

Understanding Ukraine: The Problems Today and Some Historical Context – YouTube

I love John Green. He talks so fast, I think he gets in twice as much info as anyone else….

I cannot evaluate the content in this video, as I know next to nothing about the situation in Ukraine.

I do know, however, that John Green has nailed how students – and adults – learn. I learned more about the situation in this 6 minute video (which I watched twice) than I have in the last few weeks.

Green makes great use of using history to understand a current situation. There is really no way to understand what’s going on there without knowing the history, but he does a great job moving through the essentials, and demonstrating how history, geography and politics all contribute to the current situation.

Wouldn’t it be great if students were empowered to do this type of assignment? Not only does video production require writing (like a paper), it also requires visual literacy skills. Yeah! 21st century skills!

Professionally, I would love to be able to produce content out this quickly as it relates to current events. I’m not keeping my fingers crossed….

A Better Experience

Thankfully, we’ve had a better experience (so far, at least) than Lisa McElroy’s family (see Standardized testing: I opted my kids out. The schools freaked out. Now I know why..) in opting out. There are many differences, including state (we’re in Minnesota), grade (my daughter is in 11th) and tests (only math at 11th grade.)

As much frustration as I have with my daughter’s school, they were very accommodating with this request. I expect I’m not the first — they knew exactly what to do, and did not give me any grief. In Lisa’s post, the principals and others came after them to encourage them to test. I’ve had none of that, thankfully.

In Minnesota, it is legal for a parent’s to opt out of the test. In my case, it’ll show up on my daughter’s transcript a “parent refusal.” OK, that part is totally annoying and irritating, but better than putting her through the test.

I know testing is crucial to teacher evaluation, and as Lisa points out, who’d ever want to penalize the teachers? In my daughter’s case, I’m not sure how it impacts teachers. At 11th grade, just for math – I’m not sure what it does. In addition, her test score is not likely to be stellar. She hates math and does not test well. Maybe that’s why they aren’t giving me any resistance!

When I first discussed this with my daughter, she was not excited about opting out of the test. However, before we made the final decision, we had a long talk with her. She’s quite supportive of the idea now. I just hope they don’t try to give her the test, but if they do, she’s well armed with the fact that her parents opted her out.

Lisa’s post is an excellent reminder that the schools and district aren’t the ones making the testing decisions, at least for the statewide tests. It’s coming from the legislature. I will write our legislators and tell them of our decision and why. Will post that letter later!