Sunday, July 4, 2010


I began writing theprimateproject as a way to get back into the habit of writing regularly, (I think originally I was trying for daily, but reality required regularly--and that has worked out perfectly!). My hope was to sharpen my writing skills as preparation for applying to doctoral programs. It's a year later, and this blog has become a powerful reflection tool for me as a teacher, and sometimes a mom too. It's also provided a new connection between myself and the parents of students I serve: a window inside our classroom and the way I see things. Teachers and parents never have these conversations--about teaching and learning in a general sense and as more process than product, and I think it has really opened new lines of understanding on both sides.

Writing is a very personal act for me, especially this type of journal writing--off the cuff, no editing, no required topic. But I ask my students to make their writing, however personal, public in our classroom daily, so this blog allows me to develop a new perspective on how I teach, motivate, and assess my writers--with their perspective in mind. Vulnerability is critical to all aspects of learning, and developing comfort with--or at the very least, willingness to be vulnerable, is challenging....and often just plain hard. A year later, I feel MUCH more comfortable.

In defiance of all psychometric testing, (and yes, I am comfortable saying that I do not see any value in standardized testing worth the price we pay to gather the flimsy data it provides), I have chosen to make my (and my students') learning visible through written documentation, reflection, photographs, and videos. Observation and analysis are the assessment tools I use, and this blog provides some evidence towards that end.

Writing the blog has helped me shape my beliefs and ideas on teaching and learning influenced by MI theory vs. "g" intelligence, and when speaking about this, I notice an increased confidence and assuredness in myself.

Finally, a word about "the primates". Most people whom I speak with about the blog ask, "why 'primates'?" Well, we are primates, defined by The Oxford American Desk Dictionary & Thesaurus, a primate is: a member of the highest order of mammals, including lemurs, apes, monkeys, and human beings.

In my research of doctoral programs, I became initially discouraged at some of the successful applicants' accomplishments prior to acceptance into a particular program, which included a guy who lived with apes for a year. I chose to consider my own "primate research project" in the jungles of American public education, hence the name of the blog and my reference to my students as my primates. I also feel confident in my ability to make correlations between what teachers face today to the wildest dangers one might encounter in any jungle!

So almost a year later, I am moving forward with doctoral plans, although my timeline is still a bit unclear, (again, reality requirements!), but I am definitely much farther along the path to a new destination than I was in '09, and I am quite happy with that progress!

School is winding down...our last day approaches in a few more weeks, which I have to admit are becoming torturous as the temps & humidity rise, and our hopes for air conditioning disappeared years ago. I hope to catch up on: *portfolio night, *the end of weaving, and *circles in learning, soon.