The Memory Challenge!

I recently skimmed this article discussing how high-stakes testing in school takes away from authentic learning experiences. This isn’t news to teachers–we’ve always been aware of this. The rich experiences we had in school don’t occur as frequently in today’s classroom. And that got me thinking–what classroom activities stick out in my mind from elementary school. Here’s what my brain immediately dredged up:

  • My report on Triceratops, complete with lots of illustrations. 
  • My coat hanger mobile on different types of whales. 
  • My United States folder project, with information on all the states and their capitals. (Mr. Bell laminated our decorated folders so they were fancy.)

I loved projects, particularly those that involved some form of visual art. And I remember my teachers generally provided a lot of choice, so I could pick what interested me the most. What if those experiences were replaced with testing? The article referenced above words it this way:

“By the time my students reach eleventh grade—by the time they’ve been through the seasons of the test-preparation cycle every year for eight years of their educational lives—how much total learning time will they have lost?”

Too much.

What activity do you remember most from elementary school? 


8 thoughts on “The Memory Challenge!

  1. I recollect making a beautiful totem pole and carving my name on it. It’s still standing today outside the school next to the American flag.

  2. I remember creating a history game for social studies. I got a pizza box from a local restaurant & made it into the game board. It was sooooo much fun!

  3. Bringing History to life, Setting up the classroom as a ship full of immigrants, creating a battlefield, a factory, a store etc. My students loved those dramatic events.

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