Monday, September 30, 2013

adventures of a homeschooler in public school, week four

lots going on for diana these past two weeks.  since my last report, she:

- likes walking to school.  it's not a long walk, there is a pleasant path, and she can warm up her muscles and prepare herself for the day.  she doesn't even mind carrying her viola on strings days.  (also mighty convenient for me on days where ander doesn't go to school while he's sick, she can walk there and back on her own.)

- volunteered to be a row captain in chorus where she would get to check attendance and distribute and collect music.  she wanted to take on the position to have some responsibility and take active roles in her classes.

- thinks there should definitely be more bathroom and water breaks throughout the day.  if you ask to go during class, you miss something.  if you ask to go while transitioning to another class, you hold up the whole line of students and risk public admonishment.  if you go before lunch, you lose out on the all-important initial minutes to determine the seating arrangement for the meal. oh, and it applies to your buddy, too, because they often have to go in pairs.

- had a schedule change so that the students can have science and social studies every day, rather than just one subject for a week at a time, much to their satisfaction.

- would probably like more from science class.  having two scientists as homeschooling parents providing opportunities for all sorts of lab and field work meant that she was immersed in hands-on science as a way of life for many years.  she already knew how to describe what science is and how to use the scientific method.  she's looking to go beyond the memorization of facts, which, while interesting if it's a catalog of the weird-but-true, just doesn't draw her in as much.

- was told by the school librarian that she was checking out an unreasonable number of books.  (guess she has to leave some for other students.)  but, the librarian was amused when diana did a little happy dance each time she found interesting new books to read, some she had been hoping for but did not know they had been published yet.  so, there were high-fives for that.

- doesn't get to see ander at recess anymore, due to more schedule changes, but she now has the chance to reunite and reconnect with him during overlapping lunchtimes.  he looks for her when she comes in to the cafeteria, beaming a huge smile and waving to her.  she goes over to meet his friends and find out what they are doing.  many of her own schoolmates have siblings, some of them at the same school, and have told her they are quite envious of the relationship the two of them have together.  he is quite obviously happy to see her and introduce her around, and she is loving and attentive and fiercely protective of him and kind to his classmates.

- has found some solace during a busy day.  though lunchtime can be loud with multiple attempts at conversations across tables and jockeying for position in who-sits-next-to-whom, diana has retreated to her books.  it seems to suit her buddies just fine: she can join in or withdraw from conversation as she likes and can set an example for maintaining the new "cup" status (three cups on each table - cup is green, we get 2 'noise points.'  teacher turns over the yellow cup, 'noise point' number goes down to 1.  red cup is 0 points.)

- told her grandparents this weekend that she already knows about half of what's being covered in her studies so far, with the other half being either completely new (we didn't really address geography as a subject separate from history), or covered sufficiently long enough ago that she did not recall with clarity many details, so she appreciates the refreshers.

- uses the same language arts curriculum we had been using at home, at the next appropriate level.  it makes me feel good to have some continuity there for grammar and vocabulary.  she likes having that familiarity and getting back to more formal study of word roots and etymology.

- is getting grades for pretty much the first time in her life.  the school does not give letter grades but assigns numbers that correspond to how well the student met the standard for the assignment.  (i wonder if this is a common core thing?  I need to do some research.)  diana also says they are mostly evaluated on their effort.  when i challenged her on how a teacher could evaluate how hard she was trying, she said, "oh, they just know."

- received a kindle from one of steve's coworkers who was passing it along.  it's an older model but suits diana's needs.  she registered it at school but was quite disappointed to learn she was not permitted to take it into the cafeteria or out to recess, which are two places where she'd most like to read and not have to carry books along with her (and if she actually spills food on a school library book at lunch, woe to her).  there are so many free kindle books and plenty to borrow from the public library.  she stills prefers the feel of reading a paper book, loving the smell and the heft, but is quickly coming to appreciate the sheer amount of content she can have at her fingertips.

- was recognized by her art teacher for techniques she used in her triptych project.  i don't know if she sees it the same as i do (probably not), but i noticed some influences from the zentangle art we've explored, with color and shading and perspective from her lessons with miss becky and monart classes early on in california.

the subject was "migration"
the moving truck

meteor crater

our new home

 - came to an epiphany regarding the concept of "good readership" as it applies to her class.  within discussions, classmates suggested characteristics of a good reader and the teacher either agreed or corrected them on their ideas.  unfortunately, some of what diana has done in developing as a reader was contradictory to what was explicitly stated on the list, so she was starting to feel like she was not a good reader in the opinions of her teacher and classmates.  this struck her as demoralizing and confusing because reading has been one of her very favorite activities and she is quite adept at it.  it nagged at her that instead of focusing on one book until she finishes it, she reads several books concurrently, keeping the different storylines separate in her head.  she reads a wide range of books in varied "levels" rather than concentrating on "just hard enough" books because she finds the value in both stretching and relaxing her mind, appreciating how beautiful illustrations enhance the experience of reading what some might call too-easy-picture-books, sampling abridged versions of "great works" to see if she has interest in reading the original works (which she often does).  rather than always reaching for a new title, she reads and rereads her favorites in between new acquisitions, gaining something a little different each time, picking up a new detail or comprehending a perspective that she hadn't before.  she doesn't have as much of a taste for "learning books" that often come across at too textbooky or dry, but eagerly soaks up non-fiction in captivating stories in the smithsonian magazine, usborne reference materials, and other compendia.  she readily exposes her mind to many forms of poetry, classics, (auto)biographies, mythology & folk tales, and a wide assortment of fiction, including historical fiction diaries, fantasy, and science fiction.  she gets bogged down in tracking the number of minutes or pages read or writing down the questions she wants to answer because she is just so immersed in her reading that she is in the flow.  minding such details is distracting and tedious, and when she has a question, she reads on to find out for herself, or comes to me to discuss her thoughts.  this girl does not need a list of rules to follow in order to become a good reader - she is a good reader who still has plenty of room to grow.  we talked at length and several times about this and she now realizes that the list doesn't have to apply to her, especially as an absolute and/or comprehensive resource, and that it did have some excellent points.  she now appreciates that her teacher is speaking to a whole roomful of students, some of whom do not enjoy reading at all or struggle with it, and the list suggestions may be designed to inspire and encourage habits to build reading skills.  so, she decided to read what and how she is instructed to do so in school, but that will not affect her choices of reading elsewhere and elsewhen.

- has had enough homework to give her something to do after school but not so much that she's mired down.  and she's been doing a marvelous job of keeping track of her schedule and responsibilities.  i will be the first to admit that i was concerned that she'd struggle with this, but it seems like second nature to her now.

so, rounding up a decent first month of public school.  wonder what will happen when the novelty wears off?

1 comment:

  1. I'm so happy for her that school is working out. Being a homeschooler is a state of mind, perhaps. A little formal schooling won't end that.