Ancora Imparo - I am still learning

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Star Wars

What is it with boys and Star Wars. Every Sunday, Taliesin has to watch one of the movies. He started with one, then on to two, and so on. Kelsey is the Star Wars fan here, but he was missing Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith. So I found a used copy on Amazon a few days ago and ordered it. It came yesterday. Guess what Taliesin and Nathanael watched last night. And the really scary thing? I have never been a big Star Wars fan, but I am learning the story line and all of the characters. I admit that I found myself intrigued last night as I watched Anakin Skywalker slowly drift over to "the dark side." But, of course, we cannot get through an episode without tons of questions from Taliesin and Nathanael about why things are happening in the movie. So here is a warning, if you want to get through a movie with no talking, do not watch it with Taliesin and Nathanael. LOL

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Nathanael's Question - God and Tornadoes

Nathanael loves to study weather. When he paints, he always paints a tornado or a hurricane. He has questions about what tornadoes can "suck up." He is always asking, "Can a tornado suck up a house?" "Can a tornado suck of the sidewalk?" "Can a tornado suck up a tree?" Well, this morning in church before Nathanael went to his new class, he heard the pastor say "God can move mountains." Nathanael looked at me and said, "Mom, can I talk to you? God can move mountains?" I told him that God can do anything He wants to do because He's God. Nathanael's immediate comeback? "Can God move a tornado, too?" Of course, I responded that God can move a tornado because He's God. Nathanael is excited now that God is more powerful than a tornado. :^)


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Dinosaur Labor Day

I hope everyone had a good Labor Day holiday. Ours was a lot of fun. I have some great pictures; but, alas, I'm still not able to download them. On Labor Day afternoon, we hiked on Indian Rock - looking for dinosaur fossils. :^) This was kind of a kick off to a new unit study we're doing on dinosaurs. (Taliesin has really been into lapbooking recently. Nathanael is even getting into this dinosaur lapbook series). We did not find any dinosaur fossils, but we did find some pretty leaves and even some kind of crab claws. Taliesin and Nathanael think they're pretty cool! Then after our fossil hike, we came back home and had a BBQ and watched Prince Caspian with my dad, my sister, and her husband. It was a fun day!


Sunday, September 6, 2009

Standardized Testing? I Think Not...

It's always interesting when my unschooling worldview collides with the educational world in one of my teaching classes. This is a result from this week of such a collision:

The following paper will evaluate assessment tools available for teachers. These assessment tools will be divided into four different areas (1) interests, (2) ability/ intellectual levels, (3) achievement levels, and (4) personality tests. Each test will undergo thorough examination to understand how it achieves its goals. As a disclaimer: this educator does not necessarily agree with the use of such tests. This educator believes that all children learn differently. Grouping individuals into neat little boxes, even it just be through a personality test, in this educator’s opinion, borders the ideas of astrology (the grouping of different personalities under a star’s sign). This educator believes that each child’s individuality is more complex than a so-called assessment can explain.

Part 1: Interests

The Scholastic Student Interest Inventory found at assesses a student’s interests by having the student take a paper-and-pencil test. It consists of fifteen
questions that the student answers – questions such as “What I like most about school is…” and
“I am really good at…” This test is thorough in discovering how students feel about themselves. It is able to be given individually or as a group (this educator would recommend giving it to the group). Depending upon the age of the students, they should finish the inventory within 30 minutes. The results of the test would show teachers what is perhaps the most important thing for a teacher to understand – how students feel about themselves and what they are interested in. Perhaps the most informative answers will be ones to questions regarding students’ favorite books and TV shows or how they would spend $1,000.00. Out of the inventories and tests, this is probably one that this educator would be more likely to use in the classroom. It always helps to know the likes and dislikes of students to know how to cater to their interests. Because this educator believes in child-directed learning, I could always have books and learning materials that my students would have an interest in (based upon this inventory) on hand.

The other inventory that this educator found helpful is the “Things My Child Likes to
Do” inventory found at This is definitely
something that this educator will give to parents of the children in my childcare. This educator
always appreciates knowing how well a child does at imaginative work. Imaginative play and
projects are encouraged at this educator’s childcare. If I would know in advance that a child
needs extra help in this area, I could provide materials that would cause this child to begin
using his/her imagination. This inventory is also helpful in the educator discovering if students
are independent learners. Independent learning is also something that is encouraged in this
educator’s childcare. This educator believes that while children need to develop social skills by
working in a group setting, they also need to know how to work independently in any workplace. “Things My Child Likes to Do” is a paper-and-pencil inventory that is filled out by the parent of a student. This is especially helpful in (1) younger children that are too young to fill out their own inventory and (2) knowing how the child’s home life is. Background is important in understanding how to teach children. The inventory is extensive – 14 questions. A parent
should be able to answer the inventory in approximately 30 minutes to an hour, depending upon how thoroughly the parent answers the questions. It is best that this test be handed out to parents before a child begins the class. The educator is able to score the test, as with the Scholastic inventory.

Part 2: Ability and Intellecutal Levels

The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children is, as it states, a test to measure the IQ of
students. According to, is an individually-given
assessment that measures the verbal, reasoning, compression, speed, and memory abilities of
students. The test is meant for students ages six to sixteen. More information about the
inventory can be found at This website provide such information as the assessment is required to be administered by a trained examiner (no author, no date given). According to the information in these two websites, the test is very extensive, dividing students into categories based upon their IQ level. The test takes approximately 90 minutes and is administered partially verbally and partially written. Because the test is given by trained examiners, it is not found online and the results are calculated by these examiners. The results of the test show the IQ level of each student. This educator, personally, would probably not use such a test. If this educator were to teach in a school that required such testing, I would probably take the results lightly. This educator does not believe in standardized testing, because students do perform differently in real-life than they do on a test. Testing does not give accurate results of what a child’s intellectual level really is.

The Cognitive Abilities Test from Riverside Publishing ( is a paper-and-pencil, teacher-
administered test that assesses the cognitive abilities (reasoning skills) of students. The
Cognitive Abilities test appears to be less detailed than some other tests such as the Wechsler
Intelligence Scale in that it measures how high or low a student scores based upon grade level.
Also, where the Wechsler Intelligence Scale is administered to individual students, the Cognitive Abilities Test is administered to a group of students. Depending upon the age group of the students, the test takes approximately 30 minutes to one hour to administer. The test is not available online. It must be purchased from Riverside Publishing. The teacher, however, is
the one who scores the tests. The results of the test show teachers how to place students, particularly gifted students. Again, this educator would not probably not choose to use this type of standardized test. However, many teachers and school systems do use this type of test to see
how to group students. Students should not be placed in ability groups, but students of all
abilities should be grouped together. This type of test would show teachers how each child
scores in reasoning abilities and how to group students based upon their reasoning.

Part 3: Achievement Levels

Perhaps the most well-known standardized test is the Stanford Achievement Test,
administered to students in kindergarten through high school. The Stanford Achievement Test
( measures the academic ability of students. The Stanford Achievement Test is quite extensive, measuring students’ academic ability in reading, lexile measurement, mathematics, language, spelling, listening, science, and social studies. The length of time to administer depends upon the grade level and subject being tested. In many instances, there is no time limit. The Stanford
Achievement Test is available in paper-and-pencil format. It is not available online. This test
does have to purchased from Pearson. It is administered to a grade level. The teacher does
administer and score the test. Resources are available to assist the teacher with scoring. The
results of the test will show if teachers are being effective in their methods of teaching students – if students are comprehending the information being presented to them in the classroom. In all honesty, this educator does not see how this type of test is helpful in designing lessons other than showing the teacher how to teach a test. Children deserve more than to have their academic abilities measured against every other child in the United States.

The Kaufman Test of Education Achievement seems a little fairer than tests such as the
Stanford Achievement Test. According to the website, the Kaufman Test of Education Achievement measures the academic ability of students in preschool through twelfth grade, based upon norms such as gender, geographic location, socioeconomic status, and educational background of the parents. This test is said to be accurate and reliable in educational testing, with very little margin for error. It also covers all areas necessary under the Individuals with Disabilities Act. It is recommended for special education teachers. The test takes approximately 30 to 80 minutes to administer, depending upon the grade level. It appears that this test is available in paper-and-pencil form and computer form. It is group-administered, teacher-administered and scored. Pearson does have a computer program available to help teachers with scoring. The results will tell the academic ability of students and where these students need extra help. The Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement appears to be especially useful for special needs students. It could assist the teacher with knowing where these students need extra help, thus being able to plan lessons that will offer this extra help where needed.

Part 4: Personality Tests

The Myers-Brigg Type Indicator personality test groups students into psychological
types. The test is extensive, providing confidential feedback to the teacher about what type of
personality a student possesses. The time it takes to administer the test – by a trained expert – depends upon how long the students take to answer the questions. It is available in paper-and-pencil format. It is not available online, but may be ordered from MBIT – It is
administered individually, and the experts who administer the test also provide the feedback.
The results are to describe to teachers what type of person each student is. Is the student a
dominant person or a more laid-back person? Is the student an introvert or an extrovert? This educator once worked in a businesses that used personality tests regularly to determine how to manage the office. This educator did not agree with personality tests then and still does not. This educator believes that personality tests border on astrological conclusions. When people are grouped into neat little groups – whether they be based upon a personality test or an
astrological sign – idolatry can follow. What is important is that students are recognized for
their God-given individuality and talents.


The purpose of this paper has been to locate assessment tools available to teachers. It is
this educator’s humble opinion that the tools available are too standardized and do not accurately reflect the individuality of each student. It is this educator’s belief that students would benefit from the lessons presented by teachers if these teachers would rely less on standardized testing and more on good, old-fashioned observation of how each student learns best.


The Meyers and Brigs Foundation (no date given). My MBTI Personality Type. Retrieved
September 6, 2009, from

No Author (no date). The Wechsler Intelligence Scales. Retrieved September 6, 2009, from

Orfei, M. (2004). Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children – 4th Edition. Retrived September 6,
2009, from

Pearson (no date). Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement, 2nd Edition. Retrieved September
6, 2009, from

Pearson for Education (no date). The Stanford Achievement Test. Retrieved September 6, 2009,


Riverside Publishing. The Cognitive Abilities Test. Retrieved September 6, 2009, from

Scholastic (2009). The Scholastic Student Interest Inventory. Retrieved September 6, 2009,

University of Connecticut (no date). Neag Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development.
Retrieved September 6, 2009, from


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I've Been Featured

I just received an e-mail about this. Check out this link for some good unschooling blogs!


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

My Latest College Assignment

For my new class - differentiated instruction, I was to write about how I feel children have changed and what we now know about learning that was not known in previous generations. This is my discussion:

I believe that children have changed because they are no longer expected to adhere to God's Word. The unfortunate fact is that human nature is still human nature - sinful. Children, however, are no longer taught the Golden Rule. They only know how to think of themselves. This does affect a child's learning ability. I have noticed in my childcare that all too many times, children do not think about how their behavior toward others affects the other people. Children that are excluded from "cliques" lose confidence in their own abilities.
I do believe, however, that our understanding about how humans learn has greatly increased not only in the twentieth century, but even prior to that - beginning with Jean Jacques Rousseau. Rousseau, with his emphasis upon the developmental stages of children, led the way in teaching children rather than teaching information. Prior to Rousseau's work, educators believed that children were miniature adults who needed to be exorcised of their playfulness. Later, Piaget, Vygotsky and Dewey paved the way in understanding how children learn. They realized that children will learn best when they are interested in the information being presented. Learning styles are important in education. Unfortunately, however, Christians are all-too-apprehensive to adopt constructivist or progressive ideas, citing these philosophies as atheistic. What Christians all too often fail to realize is that just because these philsophers were non-Christian does not mean their ideas were anti-God. In fact, many of their ideas correspond well with Christ's own teaching methods.
Unfortunately, most Christian schools (and many homeschools) today are traditional in nature - relying on a drill-and-test method. Children are expected to learn from textbooks and worksheets. Teachers rely on rote memorization for students to pass the test. Differentiated classrooms, on the other hand, do not rely strictly on testing. Teachers in differentiated classrooms understand that all children are individuals - created by God with individual interests and talents. These educators rely on these talents and interests to lead students into learning. Learning is more student-centered. Christian teachers who use differentiated approaches also model and expect respect from students. They are willing to answer children's questions and respect children's similarities and differences. This encourages children to also respect the teacher and the other students.
I believe that traditional methods dominate classrooms because, in all honesty, they are easier for the teacher. It is much easier to teach a subject than it is to teach students. It is much easier to rely on good grades to keep students motivated than it is to meet students where they are at and teach in ways that cater to all different learning styles.
God bless.