Honesty is such a lonely word. That’s why we must be taught what it means. My students are chomping at the bit to take a test on the computer. This is true whether or not they have read their AR (Accelerated Reader) book that they are being tested on. They often will interrupt a lesson or a time of independent work to ask me about taking an AR test. More often than not, at the beginning of the year, they have no idea what their book is about because they haven’t read it thoroughly. When I ask them if they are ready and did they read the test, they always tell me, “Yes! I read it two times.” The data unfortunately speaks otherwise when I see 30% correct, 0% correct. It’s hard to light a fire under kids for reading but it’s even harder sometimes to convince them of the value of honesty.
I think now at 45 years of age, I would rather fail at something honestly than win it by lying. Kids haven’t had the benefit of a forty-something’s years. It’s important for us as teachers to show them the value of honesty. There may still be consequences if they admit they haven’t read enough of their book to pass. But still, I will respect them for saying so and keep them from the sting of failing an AR test. In past years I have had less trouble with this. Kids learned after one or two failed tests that they needed to read more and stay with the book longer time before taking an AR test. This year it seems they are in a hurry to escape the class routine and “play the game” as they see it of typing in a title and guessing at the comprehension questions. I find this both sad and concerning. I think explaining the value of honesty is in some ways the most important lesson of all. I do a lot of frontloading trying to show that. How do you keep your kids honest?