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It's All Good... Right?

Written by Lacy Manship
November 08, 2011

Like the teachers around me, eating up the possibilities of video games as the next new best thing, I know this feeling of going along with the program.

I am such a good student. The good girl, with the “right” ideas impressed from many childhood moments of play and reinstated over and over again throughout my schooling and in so many other knots of my life.

I was a first grade teacher the year that the DIBELS reading and phonics test turned digital. The other teachers and I sat in the hallways for a full week three or more times a year reading questions from a PDA screen to our 6 and 7 year old students. We tapped in their right and wrong answers as the on screen timer ticked down. Then, immediately, scores and labels of “at-risk” or “progress-monitor” peeled across the screen. Our attention was zoomed into these devices, while a child sat reading.

It might not have showed in my plans for readers and writers workshop or the classroom layout into centers, but these digital scores that zipped right over to the county office and to my principal’s desktop, in the same moment that they flashed on my tiny PDA screen, consumed my thinking. All my professionalism as an early childhood teacher, zapped away as the competition and the need to please took over. All I could think of is how if Phillipe could get 2 more points on Non-Sense Words, I would look like a good teacher, Phillipe could look like a good student. Even though the narrative of assessment in our classroom was all about self reflection and digital portfolios, the narrative of the DIBELS’ PDA entered too through my words and stance in small moments.

I know really well what it means to be a good student, a good teacher. Even as I try to work myself up as a critical pedagogue, I AM still the dominant narrative. I can’t remove myself from my history of the technology of dolls that enforce just look the right way, it doesn’t matter what you think. Look good in body or in the body of the test scores. Lazer guns blink fake shots on your chest, making violence up as imaginary. Not created by Mattel or the military droid company Recon or DIBELS learning systems.

In my memory, the dark red fingers of the carpet crawl up the thin and curvy plastic limbs of Malibu Barbie, but only pretend blood, just my imagination, and the “15 out of 24” DIBELS score bloodies my interactions with students even in a play-based classroom, but it’s just my imagination, has nothing to do with the technologies of the corporate testing agenda and the master narratives that narrate our teaching and learning.


Want to know more about the people and ideas behind this resource? Click the image below to link to Digital Is (K)not, a resource to tie resources together created by the UNC Charlotte Writing Project.

Image originally uploaded on 2011-11-01 10:48

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