Welcome to LOLIPOP

LOLIPOP began as my master's thesis - an experiment in group learning with twenty homeschool families, including over sixty kids between six and fourteen years old. I coordinated 2-4 projects happening simultaneously, in 6 week sessions. The kids had a lot of fun, and the parents learned a lot about how this energetic and enthusiastic age group can have a successful learning experience. Since this first experiment, I have conducted seminars and webinars based on the LOLIPOP concept, and published For the Love of Learning: Giving Your Child a LOLIPOP Education.
This BLOG is for all those out there, trying to give their children and students the foundation they need to grow into great scholars, thinkers, and leaders. The principles align with the Leadership Education model and foster a love for learning, build individual confidence, and teach learning strategies that apply to a life time of great learning.
Check out more info about the book, seminars, webinars, and more at www.sdlaa.com.

Lolipop Learning, and terms and concepts such as "Love of Play", "Love of Sampling", and "Love of Producing" are the sole property of Amy Edwards. “TJEd", "Leadership Education", “Love of Learning Phase”, “Inspire, not Require” and other similar terms and concepts are taken from the works of Oliver & Rachel DeMille, and are used by permission and under license. For more information, visit http://tjed.org/.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

This is Just a Test

     What comes to mind when you hear the word "test"?  Most people don't get happy or excited about tests. Most home schoolers despise testing, and many cite it as one of the main reasons their children do not participate in public school.  Even the families who do allow their children to participate typically take great pains to explain to the children how meaningless the standardized testing process is. I am not a fan of State Standardized Tests, but I do believe that "testing" is an important learning environment.

     Why do we test? If you ask that question to most mainstream educators, the response is to "assess learning and comprehension" or to "asses readiness" of a student to move into a particular subject or onto the next level.  But testing should be used primarily as a learning environment--just one more tool to enable learning.  When a student thinks hard about what he has been learning, digests it, and then reproduces it in the form of a test, that helps his brain fully process the learning. Making connections is what solidifies learning. Here are two views of testing--think about which one you hold currently, and which one you feel is correct.

1  Testing is how students prove what they know to the teacher.  The teacher wants to uncover what the student has NOT learned yet.

2  Testing is one of many tools a teacher uses to help students connect personally with what they are learning.  The teacher wants to uncover what the student has learned, and build the student's confidence by showing him how much he has accomplished.

     What is testing?  When I say "test", do you think of Scantrons and multiple-choice worksheets? Do you imagine a student who is questioned under pressure? These are forms of testing, but they fall under the first view of testing described above.  I use testing every day as I teach my own children and the students in my classes.  But if you asked my children, they would tell you that they never take tests.  You would get the same answer from my younger class students (I will explain about my older class students a little later).

     Here are some ideas to consider.  I give "oral exams" when I stop reading a book and ask questions:
"What do you think is going to happen next?"
"Do you think he's a bad guy or a good guy?"
"Why do you think he said that?  What did he mean by that?"
"Are there any clues about how this will end?"
I give oral exams when I ask a child, during a science experiment, "What do you think will happen next?"

   I give "written tests" when I ask my children or students to do tasks such as:
Draw a picture of your favorite character (go back through the story to find out details about him/her).
Write another story about the same characters.
Write a story in the same genre (a fairy tale or adventure or historical fiction).
Rewrite the ending (if they didn't like the author's ending).
Write out what happened in our science experiment, so we can remember what we discovered.
Draw a picture of that flower or tree or bug we are looking at outside.

     I am asking my children to digest the learning on a deeper level and interact with the book or experience, rather than passively receive knowledge.

     I also teach classes for students between 12 and 16 years old, and they participate in tests as well.  For the younger students, about 12-14, most of my "tests" are in the form of Quiz Games, and the students work in pairs or teams, so no one student feels all the pressure.  For my older students, I do administer formal oral and essay exams.  But these students know that the purpose of these tests is to help them learn the material and articulate what they know, and to build their test-taking skills.  I teach test-taking strategies and give feedback to help them do better the next time.  The process is helpful and confidence-building, not demeaning and frightening.

     Life is full of tests.  Help your children and students gain the confidence and skills they need to succeed through life's tests, but keep it appropriate for their age, developmental stage, and individual needs.  Give them the chance to shine!

To learn more about development stages and how they impact a child's learning, read For the Love of Learning, available here.

Follow LOLIPOP on Facebook here.


  1. Dr. George Hadley dr.georgehadley@yahoo.comMay 30, 2012 at 4:01 PM

    Dear Amy Edwards,
    I agree with so many things you said above. Most people you talk to do react negatively to tests and the thought of being tested. This is a shame because how one feels about being tested reflects in how well they perform. As a former teacher and educational consultant I found that helping children feel good about themselves and develop a positive attitude about testing (testing is with us throughout life) gets rid of the fear or dread of tests.
    I also agree with the idea that tests should help those testing as well as the tested know where students are performing and help direct future lessons or remediation. Unfortunately, many teachers use them to assign ranking and grades or with standardized tests in judging how well a school, grade level or class is doing. "No Child Left Behind" is a good example of testing gone awry. It also has led to the narrowing of school curriculum in a new version of "teaching to the test" or only to learning that can be mass (objectionably) tested. "Fill in the bubble" or "make your best guess" comes to mind.
    The various types of testing you do with your children and others all make perfect sense if our interest is really in the learning of the children tested and how best to move them forward. I especially like the idea of tests in the form of Quiz Games a wonderful way of building a positive attitude about tests and testing.
    For the last fifteen years I have worked with LA and San Diego schools helping them improve classroom performance and testing results as an outside consultant working inside the schools. I developed a program called I Know It and I Show It that teaches basic skills in test/game form as well as the skills of setting goals (so important) and choosing positive role models (much needed with all children but especially in Inner City schools. After 15 years I am very disillusioned with most public schools and have recently rewritten the program K -6th for parent/teachers either as a supplement to classroom teaching or for homeschooling. It has been well received and scripted and helps every parent become a master teacher.
    I am connecting to your excellent blog and the many great articles and information/materials found here.

    1. Thank you so much for your comments. I'm excited to hear about the wonderful alternative methods you are developing for teaching and learning.