Yes, it’s that time of year. A week from today the 8th graders at our school will take the Constitution test. Because our school receives federal funding, 8th graders are required to pass this test in order to graduate and go on to high school. This makes this test quite stressful for the students, as it holds a heavy consequence for not passing. (Students are allowed to take the test as many times as it takes to pass.) There are three 8th grade teachers and each of us creates our own test (this is not a standardized test) so it very directly reflects the work we do in class. My test has the reputation of being the hardest because it is the longest. Though I assure the students that there are lots of editorial cartoons throughout, they still panic that it is 38 pages long.
Today we played a game to review some of the terms. I urged the students that if they didn’t remember a term to make sure to write it down so they could go over it later. EJ didn’t have any paper so used the next best thing—his skin. He even had a friend write “extradition” and its definition on his right arm when his left seemed too full of notes, jottings, and self-inflicted academic tattoos.
Integrating the vast amounts of material we have been learning is not easy. Writing notes, making flashcards and creative study guides, at least for EJ, are certainly not enough. One needs to let the Constitution get under (or at least on) one’s skin for it to truly penetrate.