Saturday, February 28, 2015

Southwest Ragtime Musical Tickets On Sale Now

Southwest High School proudly presents its 2015 Spotlight Musical
RAGTIME
Directed by Margaret Berg
Music directed by Nathan Knoll
Choreographed by Kenna-Camara Cottman
Reid Wixson, Conductor

Southwest High School Auditorium
Thursday, March 12, 7 p.m.
Friday, March 13, 7 p.m.
Saturday, March 14, 7 p.m.
Sunday, March 15, 2 p.m.
Thursday, March 19, 7 p.m.
Friday, March 20, 7 p.m.
Saturday, March 21, 7 p.m.
Sunday, March 22, 2 p.m.
ticket sales open 6:00 am, Feb. 20 

 Written by the award-winning composer/lyricist team of Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens (Once on this IslandSeussical and Lucky Stiff), noted playwright Terrence McNally, and based on E.L. Doctorow's distinguished novel, Ragtime is the winner of the 1998 Tony Awards for Best Score, Book and Orchestrations, and both the Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for Best Musical and Best Score.  Called by Time Magazine "A triumph for the stage," and by the International Herald Tribune "the best musical in twenty years," this acclaimed musical is filled with pageantry, emotion and hope.

At the dawn of a new century, everything is changing… and anything is possible. Set in the volatile melting pot of turn-of-the-century New York, three distinctly American tales are woven together -- that of a stifled upper-class wife, a determined Jewish immigrant and a daring young Harlem musician -- united by their courage, compassion and belief in the promise of the future. Together they confront history's timeless contradictions of wealth and poverty, freedom and prejudice, hope and despair, and what it means to live in America. 

The Tony-winning score is just as diverse as the melting pot of America itself, drawing upon many musical styles from the ragtime rhythms of Harlem and Tin Pan Alley to the klezmer of the Lower East Side, from bold brass band marches to delicate waltzes, from up-tempo banjo tunes to period parlor songs and expansive anthems.

Ragtime will inspire Southwest audiences with a truly unique and powerful portrait of America. Join us!



Southwest Community Education Updates

Southwest Community Education Updates
Southwest Green Team:  The Green Team will be studying all about food (additives and processed food), nutrition and waste this year as their major topic of concern.  They have won several grants to promote this topic for SWHS.  Here’s what’s coming up for the Green Team:
  • Next Green Team Meeting – Monday, March 9, 6:30-8:00 p.m. 
  • Habitat for Humanity – Saturday, March 14The Green Team and members of the SW Community Ed. Advisory Council will be helping to build a home.
  • Grade School Environmental Workshops  The Green Team has started their grade school workshop environmental presentations..
  • Composting Challenge with South High SchoolThe Southwest Green Team will be competing with the South High Green Tigers to promote composting and reduce waste during Earth Week (the week of April 27).  Co-sponsored by Hennepin County Environmental Services and the Will Steiger Foundation.
  • Environmental Movies with the Green Team on Fridays, 3:15-4:30 p.m. (with popcorn!)  March 13, “GMO-OMG”; April 10, “Killer at Large”
May 8, “The Lorax”

 “Tin Chef” Cooking Contest – Wednesday, February 25  Sponsored by the SW Community Ed. Advisory Council.  Hosted by Liz Collin of WCCO TV.  Judged by local chefs.

Family Sock Hop – Friday, March 6, 7:00-9:00 p.m.  Don’t miss the fun.  Join us for our annual old time Sock Hop.  The best tunes even still played on 45 rpm records.  Fee $3.00/person

Southwest Study Buddies (no longer accepting tutors for the 2014-2015 school year)
The Southwest Study Buddies will be tutoring at Lake Harriet Lower Campus this spring from April 13 to May 18, from 3:00-5:00 p.m.  SW students can sign up to help for the 2015-2016 school year next September.   Students help in the fall, winter, or spring (or a combination of quarters).   Community Service hours are available and acknowledged for NHS, IB, or college applications/scholarship letters

Driver’s Education Classes   are currently full at SWHS for this school year. 

Prep classes for ACT
            You can register now for ACT preparation class.  It will be offered on 4 Thursdays, from April 30-May 21, 5:45-8:45 p.m.  The SAT/PSAT class is offered on 4 Tuesdays, April 28-May 19.  Fee: $120 for the ACT or SA/PSAT course or $210 for both.  Call 612-668-3100.


Southwest Club and Student Activities

ALIANZA meets each week in room 108
Want to perform Cumbia y Banda on the big stage? Show up to ALIANZA after Winter Break. Gente, let's connect and represent.  Check us out on FB or see Ms. Valdez for more info.

ALC Credit recovery meets every M-Th in room E110. 
If you have credits to make up, please see your counselor.

Spanish Peer Tutoring every Thursday after School in Room 218
Generally, Spanish peer tutoring is available Tuesdays AND Thursdays.  All level 1-3 Spanish students are welcome.  Snacks provided!  See Ms. Woebke for more information.

Chess Club Meeting
The chess team meets on Wednesday after school, from 3:30 until 5:00 pm in room 216, Mr. Fresco’s room. Everyone is welcome…and bring a friend.
Art club is on Thursdays  from 3:15 to 4:30 in room 14.
Come help paint the murals or use the time for open studio projects. 

Japanese Culture Club

Meets Wednesdays from 3:05 to 4:30 in Room 219.  If you are interested in Japanese Culture, Japanese movies, and J-Quiz, please join us.

Southwest Ultimate Frisbee Information and Registration Night!

Southwest Ultimate Frisbee Information and Registration Night! 

Thursday, March 12, 7:00 - 8:30pm, SWHS, Room 114


Parents or potential players who want to find out more about the Ultimate club team at Southwest or sign up for the spring season are encouraged to attend. Meet the coaches, captains, and boosters, and get answers to all your questions. 

Ultimate is a great game for kids of any (or no) skill or experience level. It develops stamina, strength, skill, and sportsmanship - combining elements of basketball and soccer. 

The game is governed not by refs but by the "Spirit of the Game" where players work together to make the calls. 

Questions? madalyncioci@gmail.com or check out the MUS website:  http://southwest.mpls.k12.mn.us/Ultimate_Frisbee 

Southwest Mentorships Groups Thursday and Friday

Young Ladies Mentorship Group
Young Ladies Mentorship Group meets on Thursdays in Ms. Christine’s room 126 during A & B Lunch. Snacks provided!

Young Men’s Mentorship Group

?        Young Men’s Mentorship Group meets on Fridays in Ms. Christine’s room 126 during A & B Lunch. Snacks provided!

PTSA Speaking Event March 10th

PTSA Speaking Event March 10th


Come join us for the SOUTHWEST HIGH SCHOOL PTSA SPEAKER EVENT on Tuesday, March 10 at 7pm in the SWHS Black Box Theater featuring HandsOn Minnesota, a nonprofit organization committed to promoting and facilitating meaningful volunteerism, education and leadership development in the Twin Cities Metro Area.  

Zeeda Magnusson and Rose Maanum from HandssOn Twin Cities will present on ‘Making the Most of Summer:  Productive Fun through Volunteerism, Community Engagement and Service Learning. 

Baseball Silent Auction - Saturday, March 7th


Baseball Silent Auction - Saturday, March 7th
The Southwest Baseball Team is having a new silent auction event this year that promises to hit a homerun!  The boosters will host a silent auction and beer tasting at the Town Hall Brewery near Seven Corners.  The event will be held on Saturday, March 7th from 6:00 to 10:00.  Stay tuned for further details, but, in the meantime, please SAVE THE DATE!  You can also visit ourwebsite at www. mplssouthwestbaseball.org

Lacrosse Informational Meeting March 2 at 6:30 pm



Interested in Playing Boys Lacrosse?
Informational Meeting On Monday March 2nd 6:30pm at Martin Luther King Park, 46th & Nicollet Ave South. Everyone Welcome! Any Questions?   Call Amy Neal 612-963-1618

Friday, February 27, 2015

Southwest Construction Moving Forward for March 9


Southwest addition and renovation project is scheduled to start March 9.

The first signs with the installation of a construction trailer in front of the west side of the front of the west building.  Soon after a fence stretching from the east side of door 3 to the west edge of the East building.  This will block Door 1 as an entrance.  Door 2 will also be closed.  A similar construction fence will soon be established across the back of the building blocking door 15.  Door 14A will also be closed.

METRO buses at dismissal will continue to load students near the corner of Chowen and 47th and north on Chowen.  Special Education buses will deliver and load students at the corner of Abbott and 47th, entering the building at door 19.

Families are requested to drop off and pick up students on 46th.  Students would be entering and exiting school from door 12, 7, 17 and 19.  Traffic on 47th in the mornings and at drop-off after school is congested.

Inside the school the hallway in the East building between the Media Center and room E102 will be closed.  The hallway between the auditorium and rooms 113 and 114 will be closed.  Door 5 and that entrance way will be closed.  The hallway between the cafeteria and room 27 will be closed.

Handicapped parking will be around door 6.  Delivers will be made through door 6 or 18.  Door 7 will remain as the athletic entrance.  In the West building during regular school hours the only door open is Door 3.

By the middle of March a walkway will be established between the East and the West building.  It will not be accessible from the outside.  It will extend from door 13 to door 16.  Both door 13 and 16 will be closed to external entrance.  The only way to enter the walkway is from inside the school.

Other adjustments will be necessary as the construction project continues. Announcement are made to students during school and information is posted in this blog, on the Southwest website and in weekly bulletin.

Southwest, the legend continues and renews in fall of 2016.

Southside Village Boys & Girls Club Open All Year

The Southside Village Boys & Girls Club is OPEN all YEAR and our summer session starts JUNE 8th!

·         Located on the corner of East 39th Street and Chicago Avenue (Phelps Park Building)
·         Open ALL summer, Monday - Friday, 9:30am-5:30pm,  June 8th-August 14th
·               Membership is just $5!
·         I have attached flyers and membership forms for your children and families!!!

Our Club offers a safe, supervised, educational, and fun environment for students Kindergarten – 12th grade (5-18 years old).

Here is a list of some of the programming we provide at our Club throughout the summer:
·         FREE Breakfast (10:00am) and Lunch (1:00pm)
·         Educational Activities / Summer Learning Loss Activities
·         Athletics / Sports Leagues
·         Recreational Activities (ex: board games, video games, pool, chess, etc.)
·         Career Readiness & Leadership Opportunities
·         College Readiness & Scholarship Opportunities
·         Teen Programming
·         Striving To Achieve Reading Success (K-2)
·         Mentoring
·         Field Trips
·         Art
·         And More!

If you are interested in sharing this opportunity with the children and families at your organization, feel free to print/distribute the attached documents and/or email/call me to discuss more details.  I would also be more than happy to set up a time to come to your organization/ school and speak with staff, children, and families about our ClubAlso, if you have any upcoming Family Nights or Resource Fairs, I would be more than willing to distribute information at the event!
Thanks again and I look forward to hearing from you!

Stephanie Siegel
Program Director
Boys & Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities
Southside Village Boys & Girls Club
701 East 39th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55407
Cell: 612-240-8659
Club: 612-822-3191

Equal Opportunity Employer/Service Provider.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Southwest Addition - Construction Trailer Arrives


Southwest addition and renovation continues to move on schedule.  A Graham Construction Trailer will arrive (NOT pictured above) around March 2.  This is the first visible sign for the major renovation project for the school.

The Construction trailer will be located on the west side of Door 3 in the front of the building (47th St. side).  A construction fence will be establish across the east side of Door 3 around the same time.  Construction equipment and materials will be stored in this area during construction.

The project is scheduled to start March 10 with completion date set for August 15, 2016.   The early state date allows re-establishing some classrooms prior to the full completion date.

Check out the construction site of the front page of the Southwest Web page.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Minneapolis Schools Looking for Parent Volunteers

There is a group formed called the High School Action Team.  The major task is to improve Graduation Rates for All students.

There are five groups – 1) Rigorous & Relevant Learning; 2) Personalization; 3) Freshman Academy; 4) Multiple Pathways to Graduation and 5)-College and Career Readiness.  

The meetings are 4:30 – 6:30 pm at Davis Center March 2, March 16, April 6, April 20, MAY 4, May 18 OR June 1, Meetings TBD Sept – November 2016 and Dec 2016.

If you are interested, please let me know.

Southwest Construction Going to Happen March 10


Southwest addition and renovation moved one step closer to a start point.  March 10th is the official beginning of the construction.  A construction trailer will appear.  A work fence will be establish on the west, north and south sides.  Slowly the momentum will increase.

The group assembled is for the pre-construction meeting.  All the preliminary formalities are completed.    Contractors, district trades and architect people met to discuss the various steps necessary to move the large project forward.  It will be a few week before there are visible signs of progress.

Southwest Community Education Green Team Teaching Clean Environment to Lake Harriet Students.

Southwest Community Education Green Team students working with Lake Harriet students about a clean and safe environment.


Sarah Steen, Chloe Spurgat and Carly Davis

Anna Lawrence, Maisy Martin and Yasmin Banishoraka

Isabella Gold

Monday, February 23, 2015

Southwest Addition and Renovation - Aerial View of Before and After

Aerial view of the current Southwest High School Buildings

The addition and renovation of Southwest High School will begin the middle of March 2015.  The entire project is estimate to span 18 months.  The first step is to empty some areas that can be returned to classrooms rather quickly.

The example is the Media Center.  Currently located in the East building, the Media Center will be emptied by the first of March and relocated to a temporary area across from door 3 on the main floor (rooms 126-127).  By moving out early, the vacated area can be renovated into classrooms.  Sometime this fall that area will reopen as classrooms.  That will be a great advantage for space and students this fall.

The existing science classroom (room 27) will be renovated and enlarged to create two science classrooms on the lower level and a dance studio and music room on the first level.  Starting early allows for the renovation and earlier return to working classrooms.

Aerial view of the proposed new Southwest High School

Southwest All-State Musicians


Congratulations to the Southwest High School 2014-15 Minnesota Music Educators Association All-State.  The program was present at Orchestra Hall February 24, 2015.

Congratulations to the Southwest MMEA All-State Members:

All-State Symphonic Band 
Yueqi Ren - Flute
Nicola Lowry - Bb Clarinet

All-State Jazz Ensemble
Aidan Sponheim - Trumpet

All-State Orchestra
Emerson Clay - Viola
Alice Schmitz - Double Bass

All-State Men's Choir
Peter Maki - Tenor I

All- State Women's Choir
Ming Montgomery - Soprano II

Congratulations to Southwest Conductors
Nathan Knoll
Reid Wixson

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Wanted - Test Scorers - for Our Childen's Standardized Tests


I could not resist.  Okay, you can call this a cheap shot.  Did you check out the classifieds today?

The lead posting is for "Test Scorers."    You need a four-year college degree and can earn between $13.00 and $14.25 an hour  Paid training, convenient schedules and an outstanding work environment are offered in the ad.

The ad just below that is for School Bus Drivers and they earn up to $15.00 an hour.  The ad below that is for another testing service with earnings from $13.00 to $15.00 an hour.  I have driven a school bus and have an understand of the responsibility and stress related to a School Bus Driver.

Now. pause, and turn to the front page of the Sunday, Star Tribune which is the same paper as these employment ads for test scorers.  The article is about teachers and their employment, value to the system and what can legislators do about it.  These are the same legislators, by the way, who decided that at least 35% of a teacher's evaluation be based on the results of the $13.00 to $15.00 an hour test scorers.

I have done much worse getting through college.  Any person willing to work at above WalMart wages should be encouraged.  I am sure these are good, caring individuals trying to feed themselves and their families.

Accountability in education is important.  The legislators in St. Paul right now are debating the how and what of education improvements.  Perhaps they should look at the value of teachers rather than the value of testing.  There are millions and millions of dollars being spent to administer state mandated tests scored by people earning $13.00 to $15.00 an hour on some type of speed quota system. Does the future of our children deserve this?  Should we be spending state tax dollars on smaller class size, more individual instruction for those needing that intense intervention or more tests?  Should our children's future be determine by speed grading?

Maybe our legislators need to spend some dollars of meaningful and productive education measures rather than hours of testing and then maybe teachers and schools could claim to have "an outstanding work environment"

Research -- 
Based on a detailed grade-by-grade analysis of the testing calendars for two mid-size urban school districts, and the applied research from other studies of state mandated testing, our study found that the time students spend taking tests ranged from 20 to 50 hours per year in heavily tested grades.

In addition, students can spend 60 to more than 110 hours per year in test prep in high-stakes testing grades. Including the cost of lost instructional time (at $6.15 per hour, equivalent to the per-student cost of adding one hour to the
school day), the estimated annual testing cost per pupil ranged from $700 to more than $1,000 per pupil in several grades that had the most testing. If testing were abandoned altogether, one school district in this study could add from 20
to 40 minutes of instruction to each school day for most grades. 

The other school district would be able to add almost an entire class period to the school day for grades 6-11. Additionally, in most grades, more than $100 per test-taker could be reallocated to purchase instructional programs, technology or to buy better tests. Cutting testing time and costs in half still would yield significant gains to the instructional day, and free up enough dollars in the budget that could fund tests that are better aligned to the standards and produce useful information for teachers, students and parents. -- Howard Nelson AFT -http://www.aft.org/sites/default/files/news/testingmore2013.pdf

-- based on approximately 34,000 students in Minneapolis Public school that is a cost of  $23,800,000 to $34,000,000.  Just think how that money could benefit our children

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Southwest Community Education News

Southwest Community Education Updates
Southwest Green Team:  The Green Team will be studying all about food (additives and processed food), nutrition and waste this year as their major topic of concern.  They have won several grants to promote this topic for SWHS.  Here’s what’s coming up for the Green Team:
  • Next Green Team Meeting – Monday, March 9, 6:30-8:00 p.m. 
  • Habitat for Humanity – Saturday, March 14The Green Team and members of the SW Community Ed. Advisory Council will be helping to build a home.
  • Grade School Environmental Workshops  The Green Team has started their grade school workshop environmental presentations..
  • Composting Challenge with South High SchoolThe Southwest Green Team will be competing with the South High Green Tigers to promote composting and reduce waste during Earth Week (the week of April 27).  Co-sponsored by Hennepin County Environmental Services and the Will Steiger Foundation.
  • Environmental Movies with the Green Team on Fridays, 3:15-4:30 p.m. (with popcorn!)  March 13, “GMO-OMG”; April 10, “Killer at Large”
May 8, “The Lorax”

 “Tin Chef” Cooking Contest – Wednesday, February 25  Sponsored by the SW Community Ed. Advisory Council.  Hosted by Liz Collin of WCCO TV.  Judged by local chefs.

Family Sock Hop – Friday, March 6, 7:00-9:00 p.m.  Don’t miss the fun.  Join us for our annual old time Sock Hop.  The best tunes even still played on 45 rpm records.  Fee $3.00/person

Southwest Study Buddies (no longer accepting tutors for the 2014-2015 school year)
The Southwest Study Buddies will be tutoring at Lake Harriet Lower Campus this spring from April 13 to May 18, from 3:00-5:00 p.m.  SW students can sign up to help for the 2015-2016 school year next September.   Students help in the fall, winter, or spring (or a combination of quarters).   Community Service hours are available and acknowledged for NHS, IB, or college applications/scholarship letters

Driver’s Education Classes   are currently full at SWHS for this school year. 

Prep classes for ACT
            You can register now for ACT preparation class.  It will be offered on 4 Thursdays, from April 30-May 21, 5:45-8:45 p.m.  The SAT/PSAT class is offered on 4 Tuesdays, April 28-May 19.  Fee: $120 for the ACT or SA/PSAT course or $210 for both.  Call 612-668-3100.


Southwest PTSA Speaker from HandsOn March 10

PTSA Speaking Event March 10th

Come join us for the SOUTHWEST HIGH SCHOOL PTSA SPEAKER EVENT on Tuesday, March 10 at 7pm in the SWHS Black Box Theater featuring HandsOn Minnesota, a nonprofit organization committed to promoting and facilitating meaningful volunteerism, education and leadership development in the Twin Cities Metro Area.  

Zeeda Magnusson and Rose Maanum from HandssOn Twin Cities will present on ‘Making the Most of Summer:  Productive Fun through Volunteerism, Community Engagement and Service Learning. 

Southwest Baseball Booster Silent Auction March 7


Save the Date!  Saturday, March 7th
The Southwest Baseball Team is having a new silent auction event this year that promises to hit a homerun!  

The boosters will host a silent auction and beer tasting at the Town Hall Brewery near Seven Corners.  

The event will be held on Saturday, March 7th from 6:00 to 10:00.  

Stay tuned for further details, but, in the meantime, please SAVE THE DATE!  

You can also visit our website at www. mplssouthwestbaseball.org

Southwest Girls Gymnastics Win City Championship




Southwest Black History Speaker Tuesday Feb. 24

The Black History Month Celebration
is on Tuesday, February 24th periods 4 and 6.  

Other events occurring this month include speaker, Malaak Shabazz (Malcolm X's daughter) on February 27th, street performances, and films. 

Look for announcements of coming events and posters announcing activities.

Testing Confusion - Reprint from a Blog

From: JERRY-P-BECKER-USA-L List [JERRY-P-BECKER-USA-L@LISTSERV.SIU.EDU] on behalf of Jerry Becker [jbecker@SIU.EDU]
Sent: Friday, February 20, 2015 5:06 PM
To: JERRY-P-BECKER-USA-L@LISTSERV.SIU.EDU
Subject: Sampling the PARCC
***********************************
From CURMUDGUCATION [A grumpy old teacher trying to keep up the good classroom fight in the new age of reformy stuff.], Sunday, February 8, 2015, See http://curmudgucation.blogspot.com/2015/02/sampling-parcc.html?m=1
***********************************
Sampling the PARCC

Today, I'm trying something new. I've gotten myself onto the PARCC sample item site [See http://parcc.pearson.com/sample-items/ ] and am going to look at the ELA sample items for high school. This set was updated in March of 2014, so, you know, it's entirely possible they are not fully representative, given that the folks at Pearson are reportedly working tirelessly to improve testing so that new generations of Even Very Betterer Tests can be released into the wild, like so many majestic lion-maned dolphins.

So I'm just going to live blog this in real-ish time, because we know that one important part of measuring reading skill is that it should not involve any time for reflection and thoughtful revisiting of the work being read. No, the Real Readers of this world are all Wham Bam Thank You Madam Librarian, so that's how we'll do this. There appear to be twenty-three sample items, and I have two hours to do this, so this could take a while. You've been warned.
PAGE ONE: DNA

Right off the bat I can see that taking the test on computer will be a massive pain in the ass. Do you remember frames, the website formatting that was universally loathed and rapidly abandoned? This reminds me of that. The reading selection is in its own little window and I have to scroll the reading within that window. The two questions run further down the page, so when I'm looking at the second question, the window with the selection in it is halfway off the screen, so to look back to the reading I have to scroll up in the main window and then scroll up and down in the selection window and then take a minute to punch myself in the brain in frustration.

The selection is about using DNA testing for crops, so fascinating stuff. Part A (what a normal person might call "question 1" asks us to select three out of seven terms used in the selection, picking those that "help clarify" the meaning of the term "DNA fingerprint," so here we are already ignoring the reader's role in reading. If I already understand the term, none of them help (what helped you learn how to write your name today?), and if I don't understand the term, apparently there is only one path to understanding. If I decide that I have to factor in the context in which the phrase is used, I'm back to scrolling in the little window and I rapidly want to punch the test designers in the face. I count at least four possible answers here, but only three are allowed. Three of them are the only answers to use "genetics" in the answer; I will answer this question based on guesswork and trying to second guess the writer.

Part B is a nonsense question, asking me to come up with an answer based on my first answer.

PAGE TWO: STILL FRICKIN' DNA


Still the same selection. Not getting any better at this scrolling-- whether my mouse roller scrolls the whole page or the selection window depends on where my cursor is sitting.

Part A is, well... hmm. If I asked you, "Explain how a bicycle is like a fish," I would expect an answer from you that mentioned both the bicycle and a fish. But PARCC asks how "solving crop crimes is like solving high-profile murder cases." But all four answers mention only the "crop crime" side of the comparison, and the selection itself says nothing about how high-profile murder cases are solved. So are students supposed to already know how high-profile murder cases are are solved? Should they assume that things they've seen on CSI or Law and Order are accurate? To answer this we'll be reduced to figuring out which answer is an accurate summary of the crop crime techniques mentioned in the selection.

This is one of those types of questions that we have to test prep our students for-- how to "reduce" a seemingly complex question to the simpler question. This question pretends to be complex; it is actually asking, "Which one of these four items is actually mentioned in the selection?" It boils down to picky gotcha baloney-- one answer is going to be wrong because it says that crop detectives use computers "at crime scenes"

Part B.The old "which detail best supports" question. If you blew Part A, these answers will be bizarrely random.
PAGE THREE: DNA

Still on this same damn selection. I now hate crops and their DNA.

Part A wants to know what the word "search" means in the heading for the final graph. I believe it means that the article was poorly edited, but that selection is not available. The distractor in this set is absolutely true; it requires test-taking skills to eliminate it, not reading skills.

Part B "based on information from the text" is our cue (if we've been properly test prepped) to go look for the answer in the text, which would take a lot less time if not for this furshlugginer set up. The test writers have called for two correct answers, allowing them to pretend that a simple search-and-match question is actually complex.
PAGE FOUR: DNA GRAND FINALE, I HOPE

Ah, yes. A test question that assesses literally nothing useful whatsoever. At the top of the page is our selection in a full-screen width window instead of the narrow cramped one. At the bottom of the page is a list of statements, two of which are actual advantages of understanding crop DNA. Above them are click-and-drag details from the article. You are going to find the two advantages, then drag the supporting detail for each into the box next to it. Once you've done all this, you will have completed a task that does not mirror any real task done by real human beings anywhere in the world ever.

This is so stupid I am not even going to pretend to look for the "correct" answer. But I will remember this page clearly the next time somebody tries to unload the absolute baloney talking point that the PARCC does not require test prep. No students have ever seen questions like this unless a teacher showed them such a thing, and no teacher ever used such a thing in class unless she was trying to get her students ready for a cockamamie standardized test.

Oh, and when you drag the "answers," they often don't fit in the box and just spill past the edges, looking like you've made a mistake.
PAGE FIVE: FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DNA

Here are the steps listed in the article. Drop and drag them into the same order as in the article. Again, the only thing that makes this remotely difficult is wrestling with the damn windows. This is a matching exercise, proving pretty much nothing.
PAGE SIX: APPARENTLY THIS IS A DNA TEST TEST

By now my lower-level students have stopped paying any attention to the selection and are just trying to get past it to whatever blessed page of the test will show them something else.

Part A asks us to figure out which question is answered by the selection. This is one of the better questions I've seen so far. Part B asks which quote "best" supports the answer for A. I hate these "best" questions, because they reinforce the notion that there is only one immutable approach for any given piece of text. It's the very Colemanian idea that every text represents only a single destination and there is only one road by which to get there. That's simply wrong, and reinforcing it through testing is also wrong. Not only wrong, but a cramped, tiny, sad version of the richness of human understanding and experience.
PAGE SEVEN: SOMETHING NEW

Here comes the literature. First we get 110 lines of Ovid re: Daedelus and Icarus (in a little scrolling window). Part A asks which one of four readings is the correct one for lines 9 and 10 (because reading, interpreting and experiencing the richness of literature is all about selecting the one correct reading). None of the answers are great, particularly if you look at the lines in context, but only one really makes sense. But then Part B asks which other lines support your Part A answer and the answer here is "None of them," though there is one answer for B that would support one of the wrong answers for A, so now I'm wondering if the writers and I are on a different page here.

PAGE EIGHT: STILL OVID


Two more questions focusing on a particular quote, asking for an interpretation and a quote to back it up. You know, when I say it like that, it seems like a perfectly legitimate reading assessment. But when you turn that assessment task into a multiple choice question, you break the whole business. "Find a nice person, get married and settle down," seems like decent-ish life advice, but if you turn it into "Select one of these four people, get married in one of these four ceremonies, and buy one of these four houses" suddenly it's something else.

And we haven't twisted this reading task for the benefit of anybody except the people who sell, administer, score and play with data from these tests.
PAGE NINE: OVID

The test is still telling me that I'm going to read two selections but only showing me one. If I were not already fully prepped for this type of test and test question, I might wonder if something were wrong with my screen. So, more test prep required.

Part A asks what certain lines "most" suggest about Daedelus, as if that is an absolute objective thing. Then you get to choose what exact quotes (two, because that makes it more complex) back you up. This is not constructing and interpretation of a piece of literature. Every one of these questions makes me angrier as a teacher of literature and reading.
PAGE TEN: ON TO SEXTON

Here's our second poem-- "To a Friend Whose Work Has Come To Triumph." The two questions are completely bogus-- Sexton has chosen the word "tunneling" which is a great choice in both its complexity and duality of meaning, a great image for the moment she's describing. But of course in test land the word choice only "reveals" one thing, and only one other piece of the poem keys that single meaning. I would call this poetry being explained by a mechanic, but that's disrespectful to mechanics.
PAGE ELEVEN: MORE BUTCHERY

Determine the central idea of Sexton's poem, as well as specific details that develop the idea over the course of the poem. From the list of Possible Central Ideas, drag the best Central Idea into the Central Idea box.

Good God! This at least avoids making explicit what is implied here-- "Determine the central idea, then look for it on our list. If it's not there, you're wrong." Three of the four choices are okay-ish, two are arguable, and none would impress me if they came in as part of a student paper.

I'm also supposed to drag-and-drop three quotes that help develop the One Right Idea. So, more test prep required.
PAGE TWELVE: CONTRAST

Now my text window has tabs to toggle back and forth between the two works. I'm supposed to come up with a "key" difference between the two works (from their list of four, of course) and two quotes to back up my answer. Your answer will depend on what you think "key" means to the test writers. Hope your teacher did good test prep with you.
PAGE THIRTEEN: ESSAY TIME

In this tiny text box that will let you view about six lines of your essay at a time, write an essay "that provides and analysis of how Sexton transforms Daedelus and Icarus." Use evidence from both texts. No kidding-- this text box is tiny. And no, you can't cut and paste quotes directly from the texts.

But the big question here-- who is going to assess this, and on what basis? Somehow I don't think it's going to be a big room full of people who know both their mythology and their Sexton.

PAGE FOURTEEN: ABIGAIL ADAMS


So now we're on to biography. It's a selection from the National Women's History Museum, so you know it is going to be a vibrant and exciting text. I suppose it could be worse--we could be reading from an encyclopedia.

The questions want to know what "advocate for women" means, and to pick an example of Adams being an advocate. In other words, the kinds of questions that my students would immediately id as questions that don't require them to actually read the selection.

PAGE FIFTEEN: ADAMS

This page wants to know which question goes unanswered by the selection, and then for Part B asks to select a statement that is true about the biography but which supports the answer for A. Not hopelessly twisty.
PAGE SIXTEEN: MORE BIO

Connect the two central ideas of this selection. So, figure out what the writers believe are the two main ideas, and then try figure out what they think the writers see as a connection. Like most of these questions, these will be handled backwards. I'm not going to do a close reading of the selection-- I'm going to close read the questions and answers and then use the selection just as a set of clues about which answer to pick. And this is how answering multiple choice questions about a short selection is a task not much like authentic reading or pretty much any other task in the world.

PAGE SEVENTEEN: ABIGAIL LETTER

Now we're going to read the Adams family mail. This is one of her letters agitating for the rights of women; our questions will focus on her use of "tyrant" based entirely on context, because no conversation between Abigail and John Adams mentioning tyranny in 1776 could possibly be informed by any historical or personal context.

PAGE EIGHTEEN: STILL VIOLATING FOUNDING FATHER & MOTHER PRIVACY


Same letter. Now I'm supposed to decide what the second graph most contributes to the text as a whole. Maybe I'm just a Below basic kind of guy, but I am pretty sure that the correct answer is not among the four choices. That just makes it harder to decide which other two paragraphs expand on the idea of graph #2.
PAGE NINETEEN: BOSTON

Now we'll decide what her main point about Boston is in the letter. This is a pretty straightforward and literal reading for details kind of question. Maybe the PARCC folks are trying to boost some morale on the home stretch here.

Oh hell. I have a message telling me I have less than five minutes left.
PAGE TWENTY: JOHN'S TURN

Now we have to pick the paraphrase of a quote from Adams that the test writers think is the berries. Another set of questions that do not require me to actually read the selection, so thank goodness for small favors.
PAGE TWENTY-ONE: MORE JOHN

Again, interpretation and support. Because making sense out of colonial letter-writing English is just like current reading. I mean, we've tested me on a boring general science piece, classical poetry, modern poetry, and a pair of colonial letters. Does it seem like that sampling should tell us everything there is to know about the full width and breadth of student reading ability?
PAGE TWENTY-TWO: BOTH LETTERS

Again, in one page, we have two sets of scrollers, tabs for toggling between works, and drag and drop boxes for the answers. Does it really not occur to these people that there are students in this country who rarely-if-ever lay hands on a computer?

This is a multitask page. We're asking for a claim made by the writer and a detail to back up that claim, but we're doing both letters on the same page and we're selecting ideas and support only form the options provided by the test. This is not complex. It does not involve any special Depth of Knowledge. It's just a confusing mess.
PAGE TWENTY-THREE: FINAL ESSAY

Contrast the Adams' views of freedom and independence. Support your response with details from the three sources (yes, we've got three tabs now). Write it in this tiny text box.

Do you suppose that somebody's previous knowledge of John and Abigail and the American Revolution might be part of what we're inadvertently testing here? Do you suppose that the readers who grade these essays will themselves be history scholars and writing instructors? What, if anything, will this essay tell us about the student's reading skills?
DONE

Man. I have put this off for a long time because I knew it would give me a rage headache, and I was not wrong. How anybody can claim that the results from a test like this would give us a clear, nuanced picture of student reading skills is beyond my comprehension. Unnecessarily complicated, heavily favoring students who have prior background knowledge, and absolutely demanding that test prep be done with students, this is everything one could want in an inauthentic assessment that provides those of us in the classroom with little or no actual useful data about our students.

If this test came as part of a packaged bunch of materials for my classroom, it would go in the Big Circular File of publishers materials that I never, ever use because they are crap. What a bunch of junk. If you have stuck it out with me here, God bless you. I don't recommend that you give yourself the full PARCC sample treatment, but I heartily recommend it to every person who declares that these are wonderful tests that will help revolutionize education. Good luck to them as well.
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NOTE:  There are interesting comments, in reaction to the above.
****************************************************
--
Jerry P. Becker
Department of Curriculum & Instruction
College of Education and Human Services
Southern Illinois University Carbondale
625 Wham Drive  /  MC 4610
Carbondale, Illinois  62901

Friday, February 20, 2015

Serious Allergic Reactions


SERIOUS ALLERGIC REACTIONS

In the past week, I have been made aware of two serious allergic reactions with our students at Lunch.  These students did not have any documentation concerning requirements for food accommodations.  These events could have been avoided if required accommodations were known by nutrition staff.

It is very important that all students with food related allergies have documentation on file with the Nutrition Services.  This lets our staff know what items are at risk for cross contamination.  This also allows you to know if some days are higher risk for cross-contamination, especially for share tables.

Special Diet Statements can be found on the District’s website at:http://nutritionservices.mpls.k12.mn.us/uploads/medical_statement_2012_with_fax.pdf
Once this form is filled out by the parent/guardian and physician, it can be turned into the school nurse or faxed directly to the Nutrition Center at 612-668-2830.

Michele Carroll, Culinary and Nutrition Services Business Manager

Southwest Sidewalks and Streets are Slippery

Take some extra time navigating around Southwest this morning.  The streets and sidewalks are slippery.  Students walking frequently walk in the plowed and driven streets rather than the dangerous sidewalks.  Yes, we warn them of that danger.  However, that is what they do.

When driving and walking around Southwest take some extra time and look out for each other.  That might be people in a car or people walking.  Yes, winter is back.  It is Minnesota in February.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Southwest Singers Open for Rene' Clausen Festival Concert




Southwest Singers opened the Rene' Clausen Festival Education Collaboration Concert at St. Andrew's Church in Mahtomedi.

The festival features six other choir from around the area including professional choir, The Singers.

Many of the choral music was written or arranged by Concordia long-time famous choral director, Rene' Clausen.  Dr. Clausen directed the last three numbers which was comprised of all seven choirs with over 400 voices.  A spectacular presentation for the audience.