We are entering the cruelest part of the school year, standardized testing season. For those of you interested in introducing a bit of levity into your classroom without overtly protesting the tests, might I suggest the following books to read aloud to your students. Don’t just sit there! Read something! (then opt your own children out of the testing)
Hooray for Diffendoofer Day! is a literary gem begun by Dr. Seuss and completed posthumously by Jack Prelutsky with illustrations by Lane Smith of Stinky Cheese Man & Math Curse fame.
Hooray for Diffendoofer Day! tells the story of a fabulous teacher, Mrs. Bonkers, who teachers her students at Difendoofer to be creative, to think and to appreciate that learning can be fun. That is until the principal, Mr. Lowe, who normally treats Mrs. Bonkers with great affection and respect, tells the children that if they don’t do well on an upcoming test, their school will be shut and they will all be required to attend school in dreary Flobbertown where everyone thinks alike.
Perhaps the coolest part of this delightful (and timeless) little-known classic is that the book contains a substantial chapter explaining how the book came to be. This includes Dr. Seuss’ sketches, notes and word play. It might be a neat project to show kids JUST this section of the book and ask them to write a book from Dr. Seuss’ sketches and notes, just like Prelutsky and Lane Smith did.
Buy Hooray for Diffendoofer Day! from Amazon.com
The official Seussville web site offers a free collection of project ideas for teachers who wish to use this subversive book in their classroom.
Other books you might consider are:
Parents and educators interested in learning more about standardized testing and what they might do about it should click here for a collection of books and videos.
You might also point your browser at PencilsDown.org, SusanOhanian.org, AlfieKohn.org or FairTest.org
Veteran educator Gary Stager, Ph.D. is the author of Twenty Things to Do with a Computer – Forward 50, co-author of Invent To Learn — Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom, publisher at Constructing Modern Knowledge Press, and the founder of the Constructing Modern Knowledge summer institute. He led professional development in the world’s first 1:1 laptop schools thirty years ago and designed one of the oldest online graduate school programs. Gary is also the curator of The Seymour Papert archives at DailyPapert.com. Learn more about Gary here.