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Welcome to the NEW Atkinson Reporter! Under new management, with new resolve.

The purpose of this Blog is to pick up where the Atkinson Reporter has left off. "The King is dead, Long live the King!" This Blog is a forum for the discussion of predominantly Atkinson; Officials, People, Ideas, and Events. You may give opinion, fact, or evaluation, but ad hominem personal attacks will not be tolerated, or published. The conversation begun on the Atkinson Reporter MUST be continued!

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Monday, November 8, 2010

Timberlane: More learning, less pressure without exams

From the Eagle Tribune;

November 8, 2010
Timberlane: More learning, less pressure without exams

By Cara Hogan chogan@eagletribune.com The Eagle Tribune Mon Nov 08, 2010, 02:54 AM EST

PLAISTOW — Now that Timberlane Regional High School no longer has midterms or final exams, both students and teachers say they feel more relaxed in the classroom.

"I feel like it's not as stressful," said Sam Hackney, a Timberlane junior. "You're not worried about cramming before the midterm and then just forget everything after. Now we're learning more."

Over the summer, Timberlane principal Don Woodworth announced the decision to eliminate the exams that counted for 10 percent of students' grades.

Now, after teaching for a few months with the new program, he said teachers focus on reaching competency levels in each subject.

"We're still going to have large tests, we're just not calling them midterms and finals," Woodworth said. "Now the teachers can decide how much a test is worth per quarter. We're assessing with more of a plan in mind about if all the kids reach a competency, such as learning an algebra concept."

If kids don't understand a concept at the end of a section, they are sent to a lab to get extra help. Woodworth said this style of teaching helps students with different learning methods.

James Kelly, a social studies teacher, said he's changed the way he teaches.

"Not having midterms and finals allows me to be more flexible and gives the students a chance to be creative," Kelly said. "One project we do is an Ellis Island simulator. Students have a role of coming to America as an immigrant in 1900. We act it out and they can talk about their experience."

He also said the new system also allows him 10 more days of instruction, days that used to be taken up with reviewing for and taking the exams.

"That's almost a whole unit in a half-year class," Kelly said. "All in all, I'm loving it so far."

But some parents are less pleased with the changes at the school. Peter Bealo of Plaistow has two children at Timberlane, his son, a freshman, and his daughter, a senior.

"The other part that bothers me is about being an experiment," Bealo said. "When some parents asked could you tell us what districts have done this successfully, the principal said someone up in Maine and a district in New York state have tried this. But no one in New Hampshire. Let's let someone else be guinea pigs."

He said he understands the school had to make some changes because of poor New England Common Assessment Program scores. But he said he is worried the lack of testing would not prepare students for college, where midterms and finals are often the only grades in a semester course.

Woodworth argued the big tests are part of the problem holding back learning.

"Kids sometimes put off trying to learn until the large test," he said. "I think that's where failure comes, when kids misjudged and try to cram and achieve significant learning at the end of a long period of time. We want to make sure they're learning all the way through so when we give a cumulative exam, they'll do better."

Melissa Zorn, a Timberlane junior, said she's enjoyed the change in teaching style.

"The assessments are a wide range of tests, not just a big paper-and-pencil test," she said. "In my biology class, we had to show and narrate how DNA creates proteins. I didn't get it until someone showed it to the class. Actually doing it with the physical model made such a difference."

She said it gives the class a completely different feel.

"It's not just filling out A, B, C, but more creative," Zorn said. "I feel like I'm learning more because they're giving us information in a new way. I agree that maybe the lack of tests could hurt some students in college, but there is just as much pressure on competencies. We still have to learn the information, and we still have to study."

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Don, if teachers had focused on reaching competency levels all along, the test scores would have taken care of themselves.

Anonymous said...

Here is a thought, maybe if the material was taught throughout the years of schooling, and material wasn't excluded so that teachers could focus on what is on the test, then maybe the test scores would improve, and they would be an accurate barometer of student knowledge.

Anonymous said...

This blog is a three trick pony. Anti-Phil, anti-Osbornes, and anti-Timberlane.

Yawn....

Anonymous said...

Oh do you think the elimination of midterms and finals is a good thing for the academic achievement of our students?

Anonymous said...

Oh, don't ask he, she it what they think, they are only for the dumbing down of America and our kids so they can steal from us with Con-sentino's help.

Anonymous said...

November 8, 4:57 PM,

I see. So, you think there are a group of parents that want to raise dumb kids that will conspire with Phil Consentino to steal from you? Is this Atkinson parents only or the parents in Sandown, Danville, and Plaistow? What's in it for those "outsiders"?

In a previous topic (You'll Decimate The School Budget", someone writes:

"One of the reasons I heard parents are using as an excuse not to attend the deliberative session is that your kids will be targeted by teachers (passive aggressive, no support, harm their grades, etc) if you show up and exercise your rights to vote and be heard at the meeting. I will not be intimidated by thugs who only care to take my money and not educate my kids...I vote for legal action to challenge the mob because that's what they've become. WAKE UP PEOPLE!!!!"

Gee, intimidation if you show up to meetings, thugs, "the mob", and a call for legal action. Haven't we heard this all before? But this time, you are writing about TEACHERS and not Atkinson town officials!

As I said, three trick pony.

Anonymous said...

DIVORCE AGREEMENT

THIS IS SO INCREDIBLY WELL PUT AND I CAN HARDLY BELIEVE IT'S BY A YOUNG PERSON, A STUDENT!!! WHATEVER HE RUNS FOR, I'LL VOTE FOR HIM.

Dear American liberals, leftists, social progressives, socialists, Marxists and Obama supporters, et al:



We have stuck together since the late 1950's for the sake of the kids, but the whole of this latest election process has made me realize that I want a divorce. I know we tolerated each other for many years for the sake of future generations, but sadly, this relationship has clearly run its course.

Our two ideological sides of America cannot and will not ever agree on what is right for us all, so let's just end it on friendly terms. We can smile and chalk it up to irreconcilable differences and go our own way.

Here is a model separation agreement:



--Our two groups can equitably divide up the country by landmass each taking a similar portion. That will be the difficult part, but I am sure our two sides can come to a friendly agreement. After that, it should be relatively easy! Our respective representatives can effortlessly divide other assets since both sides have such distinct and disparate tastes.

--We don't like redistributive taxes so you can keep them.



--You are welcome to the liberal judges and the ACLU.



--Since you hate guns and war, we'll take our firearms, the cops, the NRA and the military.



--We'll take the nasty, smelly oil industry and you can go with wind, solar and biodiesel.



--You can keep Oprah, Michael Moore and Rosie O'Donnell. You are, however, responsible for finding a bio-diesel vehicle big enough to move all three of them.

--We'll keep capitalism, greedy corporations, pharmaceutical companies, Wal-Mart and Wall Street.



--You can have your beloved lifelong welfare dwellers, food stamps, homeless, homeboys, hippies, druggies and illegal aliens.



--We'll keep the hot Alaskan hockey moms, greedy CEO's and rednecks.



--We'll keep the Bibles and give you NBC and Hollywood.

--You can make nice with Iran and Palestine and we'll retain the right to invade and hammer places that threaten us.


--You can have the peaceniks and war protesters. When our allies or our way of life are under assault, we'll help provide them security.

--We'll keep our Judeo-Christian values.



--You are welcome to Islam, Scientology, Humanism, political correctness and Shirley McClain. You can also have the U.N. but we will no longer be paying the bill.

--We'll keep the SUV's, pickup trucks and oversized luxury cars. You can take every Subaru station wagon you can find.

--You can give everyone healthcare if you can find any practicing doctors.



--We'll continue to believe healthcare is a luxury and not a right.



--We'll keep "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" and “The National Anthem."



--I'm sure you'll be happy to substitute "Imagine", "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing", "Kum Ba Ya" or “We Are the World".

--We'll practice trickle down economics and you can continue to give trickle up poverty your best shot.

--Since it often so offends you, we'll keep our history, our name and our flag.

Would you agree to this? If so, please pass it along to other like-minded liberal and conservative patriots and if you do not agree, just hit delete. In the spirit of friendly parting, I'll bet you answer which one of us will need whose help in 15 years.

Sincerely,
John J. Wall
Law Student and an American

P.S. Also, please take Ted Turner, Sean Penn, Martin Sheen, Barbara Streisand, & Jane Fonda with you.

P.S.S. And you won't have to press 1 for English when you call our country.

Anonymous said...

DIVORCE AGREEMENT

THIS IS SO INCREDIBLY WELL PUT AND I CAN HARDLY BELIEVE IT'S BY A YOUNG PERSON, A STUDENT!!! WHATEVER HE RUNS FOR, I'LL VOTE FOR HIM.

Dear American liberals, leftists, social progressives, socialists, Marxists and Obama supporters, et al:



We have stuck together since the late 1950's for the sake of the kids, but the whole of this latest election process has made me realize that I want a divorce. I know we tolerated each other for many years for the sake of future generations, but sadly, this relationship has clearly run its course.

Our two ideological sides of America cannot and will not ever agree on what is right for us all, so let's just end it on friendly terms. We can smile and chalk it up to irreconcilable differences and go our own way.

Here is a model separation agreement:



--Our two groups can equitably divide up the country by landmass each taking a similar portion. That will be the difficult part, but I am sure our two sides can come to a friendly agreement. After that, it should be relatively easy! Our respective representatives can effortlessly divide other assets since both sides have such distinct and disparate tastes.

--We don't like redistributive taxes so you can keep them.



--You are welcome to the liberal judges and the ACLU.



--Since you hate guns and war, we'll take our firearms, the cops, the NRA and the military.



--We'll take the nasty, smelly oil industry and you can go with wind, solar and biodiesel.



--You can keep Oprah, Michael Moore and Rosie O'Donnell. You are, however, responsible for finding a bio-diesel vehicle big enough to move all three of them.

--We'll keep capitalism, greedy corporations, pharmaceutical companies, Wal-Mart and Wall Street.



--You can have your beloved lifelong welfare dwellers, food stamps, homeless, homeboys, hippies, druggies and illegal aliens.



--We'll keep the hot Alaskan hockey moms, greedy CEO's and rednecks.



--We'll keep the Bibles and give you NBC and Hollywood.

--You can make nice with Iran and Palestine and we'll retain the right to invade and hammer places that threaten us.


--You can have the peaceniks and war protesters. When our allies or our way of life are under assault, we'll help provide them security.

--We'll keep our Judeo-Christian values.



--You are welcome to Islam, Scientology, Humanism, political correctness and Shirley McClain. You can also have the U.N. but we will no longer be paying the bill.

--We'll keep the SUV's, pickup trucks and oversized luxury cars. You can take every Subaru station wagon you can find.

--You can give everyone healthcare if you can find any practicing doctors.



--We'll continue to believe healthcare is a luxury and not a right.



--We'll keep "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" and “The National Anthem."



--I'm sure you'll be happy to substitute "Imagine", "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing", "Kum Ba Ya" or “We Are the World".

--We'll practice trickle down economics and you can continue to give trickle up poverty your best shot.

--Since it often so offends you, we'll keep our history, our name and our flag.

Would you agree to this? If so, please pass it along to other like-minded liberal and conservative patriots and if you do not agree, just hit delete. In the spirit of friendly parting, I'll bet you answer which one of us will need whose help in 15 years.

Sincerely,
John J. Wall
Law Student and an American

P.S. Also, please take Ted Turner, Sean Penn, Martin Sheen, Barbara Streisand, & Jane Fonda with you.

P.S.S. And you won't have to press 1 for English when you call our country.

Anonymous said...

The school is rated very good and they are experiementing with a drastic change in teaching methods.

I think this is a mistake. When the numbers drop again, maybe more residents will show up at the meetings and watch the administration more closely, demand accountability.

Anonymous said...

The school is rated very good among its peers(public schools) in a series of criteria designed to enhance the opinion of public schools. If you want an objective criteria, judge it's academic results versus ALL middle and high schools, public and private. Education should be about the outcome, not about a particular system.

Anonymous said...

I am not concerned about it's ranking amongst it's peers. This equates to accepting failure if failure is the norm.

The school has had unacceptable ratings for several years now and this is a better measure of the overall failure.

I think more testing would be better.

Anonymous said...

I remember the "New Math" concept. That was a BIG experiment that went on for years before it was dropped as a failure. Ever wonder why kids can't give you the correct change in a grocery store?

Our tax money is suppose to pay for teaching our kids what they will need in life. The last thing they need is another experiment.

Thanks Timberlane for screwing our kids out of a good education once again. If you can't teach them what they need the first time, then get out of the business and go work for a living.

No exams my foot.

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