Testing, Assessment, and Feedback

by Matthew Koslowski on July 29, 2009
in Essays

In This Essay

Never Work Harder Than Your Students & Other Principles of Great Teaching by Robyn R. Jackson
Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A’s, Praise, and Other Bribes by Alfie Kohn
“Feedback as Assessment” by Grant Wiggins

In order to begin sailing at Community Boating, a member needs to earn the Solo Rating. To earn that members need to demonstrate:

  • that they can rig the mainsail on a Cape Cod Mercury by rigging a boat in the slip;
  • and that they have an understanding of how boats move and of the right of way rules by passing an oral quiz, the Solo Test.

Everything one needs to learn to pass the Solo Test is taught in Shore School.

Shore School is a one hour lecture on sailing. A classroom lecture. On land. With a whiteboard. In a bay with wide garage doors that open onto the Charles River and the fleet of boats and, at least we hope, sunshine. Shore School is considered one of the more difficult courses to teach.

Last Thursday, July 23rd, I attended a seminar, “Classroom Management/Learning Styles” at Community Boating so that I can teach Shore School as well as Rigging. Marcin, the seminar presenter, spoke about the teaching style of several of Community Boating’s Shore School teachers. One stood out.

Read more..

The Prestige in Poetry

Around the time I decided to launch Literature&Literacy on matthewkoslowski.com, my friend Simon Brown was promoting his blog Written Word as a venue for publishing and discussing his poems. Because of the conversations about poetry we had had when we both attended Ohio Wesleyan University–or, at least, so I like to think–he asked me to read his work.

One of his poems in particular, “Reflections” caught my attention. The imagery was stirring, the voice intriguing. But I did not understand the poem.  I saw a collage of images without a narrative instead of a cohesive whole.

I discussed the parts of it that I did not understand. He explained what the narrative was supposed to be: I reread the poem and, knowing the narrative, the poem opened up and became intelligible. But the narrative he provided was not present in the poem.

I began to think of how a poem functions, how understanding and surprise are built into a poem.

Read more..

Limiting Literature

by Matthew Koslowski on July 15, 2009
in Essays

I was listening to Radio Boston on Saturday. After main feature, called “Patrick in the Crosshairs,” about the developing Massachusetts Gubernatorial Race, ended there was a short feature called “New England Music of Life and Death, Not Bed and Breakfast”.

When most people think of New England Folk music, they imagine cheery songs sung in the Berkshires, our gentle mountains at Massachusetts’s western border, dotted with bed&breakfast inns and craft stores. But as Tim Eriksen reminds us, Massachusetts was once a frontier, just as wild and rugged as that explored by Lewis and Clark. He sings a murder ballad to prove his point.

I realized that he was discussing literature as  history: this murder ballad is both a folk song and historical record.

Read more..

Sinking a “Lifeboat”…

by Matthew Koslowski on July 8, 2009
in Essays

When I began to read the Opinion page of the Boston Globe today, I felt a stone in my stomach and gall in my throat. Before I finished the first sentence I could already imagine the course that the editorial “Lifeboat for failing schools” was going to take.

And I knew I wasn’t going to like it.

The editorial rehashes a lot of familiar ideas while ignoring what I see as significant factors in student achievement.

Read more..