The Gold Rush, Get Rich Quick Schemes & High Test Scores???

How are the Gold Rush, get-rich-quick schemes, and higher test scores related? Well, wait for a minute and, as usual, I will bring it back around. Recently I had a conversation with my fourth graders. We are studying the Gold Rush right now and they are so fascinated with it. As we were discussing the “rush” to California to find gold, one of my fourth graders, asked me if I would have tried to make my fortune in California, if I lived back then. I will tell you later what my answer was once I explain the reason why.

“What would you have done, Miss?,” they asked. Those people made a lot of money. That’s when I had to give them a Genesis to Revelation explanation about get-rich-quick-schemes, the secret to increasing test scores, and just good old fashioned saving vs. modern day get-rich-quick schemes.

To begin the story, I told my current students about my former students, their low reading, Math & comprehension scores and how I consistently taught them basic foundational skills that helped to raise their test scores. They wanted to know how I helped raised their test scores.

“What was your secret?,” they asked.

“Well, there’s no secret to good teaching and to helping raise student’s test scores,” I told them. The key is to behave just like you’re building a house- build a good foundation; something the house can stand on, come rain (spelling tests), sleet (monthly OCR assessments), or snow (standardized testing) . Being a Special Ed. teacher, you get used to filling “holes”. By holes, I mean, concepts and ideas the students just didn’t catch onto the first time around. So, when a child isn’t progressing, it usually (not always) means there are certain holes that need to be filled. That’s what I do. That’s why I have had the success that I’ve had. Just call me The Spackler!

If I hadn’t already learned it from life, I learned it from an L. Ron Hubbard educational training program  I and my children attended through my old church. There’s this technique called Clearing a Word. This is how it works. If you’ve gotten to the end of a paragraph and don’t understand what you’ve read, chances are, there are only one or two words in the paragraph you don’t understand or misunderstood. In order to understand the paragraph, you have to define the misunderstood words and re-read the paragraph. AND, if there are any words in the definition you don’t understand, you have to define those also. That is the same principle I teach by. If there is some word, concept, or idea that a student doesn’t understand, I work with them to “clear” that word, concept, or idea. Once the misunderstanding is cleared up, then proper learning can begin.

Okay, now that I’ve given a Genesis to Revelation answer, let me bring it all together. So, in response to the question my students asked,”Would I have gone to California during the Gold Rush to seek my fortune?” My answer was a resounding NO! I would not have gone. I told them that I would have done it the old-fashioned way because there is no “secret” to getting rich quick (Well, maybe there is. I just don’t know about it.), just as there is no secret to teaching. The key (not secret) is building a good foundation, filling holes, and just good old-fashioned problem solving.



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