In an attempt to soften the experience of the MAP (Missouri Assessment Plan) testing in my high school classroom, I asked my friends on the Storytell international storytelling e-mail list for suggestions of positive stories. I selected stories of hope and acceptance, work for its own reward, finding good in difficulties, and working carefully. I told a story a day to my juniors, beginning the week before and saving very short ones for the testing days, since I didn’t want to cause anyone to run out of time.
I think it did help to provide a positive focus and a chance to give gentle advice. If nothing else, it gave us a chance to relax just a bit, as we all think better when relaxed, and not one student had a melt-down, screamed, or argued as had happened the previous year. (Scores did rise, but who can ever say why?)
Week before —
Debate in Sign Language — I used Syd Lieberman’s version on video. Trying to interpret the language of the test, and making the best guess you can.
A story/joke I learned long ago about a hunter who missed a short-range shot at a lion, which fortunately leapt too far and missed him. The next day he went out to practice short-range shooting, heard a noise in the brush, peeked through and saw the Lion — practicing short-range leaping.
Worry Bundles — my own version, incorporating bits of “St. Louis Blues” into it.
First day of testing — try to savor some of the good things as you read:
The Brahman finds himself caught between two hungry tigers and takes the moment to savor a perfect strawberry. (A student interpreted it as “we’re going to die” but they didn’t 😉
Before the Terra-Nova Section — work carefully
A parallel is the Jukha story where he is taking 10 mules to sell, rides on one and forgets to count it. He runs back to find the missing one, and recounts when he returns to find them all, repeated several times until a bystander says there are 11 mules, counting Jukha.
Before the writing portion — you are creating for yourself —
A great and wise man once called one of his workmen to him saying, “Go into the far country and build for me a house. The decisions of planning and of actual construction will be yours, but remember, I shall come to accept your work for a very special friend of mine.” . . . (man cuts corners) . . . My friend, you are the one I had you build it for. It is all yours.”
The travelers told to fill their pockets with stones, which in the morning were jewels.
If you are feeling pulled in too many directions, remember the boy, the man, and the donkey — you can’t please everyone, so listen to yourself.