Tuesday, October 15, 2013

adventures of a homeschooler in public school, week six

the saga continues as we rounded up the first six weeks in public school.  read here and here for  earlier posts.

memorable moments:
  • walking to and from school.  i don't remember when diana started doing it on a regular basis, but i know how much it helped me and ander when he was sick at home to have her manage getting to anf from school every day.  wednesday was an official "walk to school" day, so ander and i walked with diana.  i had never been on the trail that she took; i had only used the main street sidewalks.  now i understand more why she enjoys herself.  it was pleasant and relatively short and easily done.  now ander wants to walk, too, all by himself, but i assured him it would be a while before that would happen.

  • getting grades.  this is the first time diana received grades.  she participated in regular standardized assessments and testing for years as part of her enrollment in a charter school in california, but her stand-alone classes did not evaluate her in that way.  grades are not the same here as when i was in public school - no letters A to F - rather, they are given numerical scores  of 4 - 1 depending on how they meet up to expected standards.  also, they are given effort grades.  i still don't know how it is that teachers can evaluate effort in a valid way, and i am reasonably informed regarding measurement issues from my stint in graduate school, so this is interesting to me.  how can they possibly know if diana is pulling her hair out trying to solve a problem or whipping through an assignment with ease because she's done it before, and (how) do they address each of these situations?  already i see her sometimes doing "just enough" to satisfy the requirements, but there is little i hear from her regarding something in-depth as a result of school.  she comes up with some fascinating research project ideas on her own, but i don't know yet how to put supports in place for her to work on them so she doesn't give up in exasperation.
  • confusing her classmates.  diana has one fellow student in particular who just does not get her.  fortunately, instead of taking his incredulity as a personal attack, she has turned it back on him as a joke.  she's miffed with him because he blatantly broadcasts his misinformed opinion about rats, which are near and dear to her heart.  now she simply whispers to him, "i don't have cable tv in my house" so that his head explodes.  he cannot fathom how anyone could survive without a tv or wii or xbox, and was only slightly mollified when she assured him that of course she has wifi and access to plenty of computers and movies.  she is finding it a bit annoying that a couple of other classmates sing tv commercial jingles to her all the time, knowing that she's unfamiliar with the songs; in return, she and a couple of her friends have started a club that spouts random phrases ("enough with the tongues!") at opportune moments to shake people out of their dazed reverie.
  •  drama.  i'm not talking about a class in theatre, this is the lunchroom-recess-social-time incidents diana is finding herself surrounded by.  there are two female students in particular who seem to find themselves enmeshed in a tumultuous relationship, and encounters between them often leave their classmates polarized or confused or wanting to get the heck out of there.  diana feels strongly about standing up for people who seem upset or unable to defend themselves or who specifically ask for help, so she does what she thinks is right, even if it lands her in the outs with another friend.  what really sparks my curiosity is the involvement (or lack thereof) from adults.  teachers or staff who overhear angry words or see someone visibly upset will come over and say something to students and receive mixed responses.  once, diana's teacher approached her and another classmate after having heard them use harsh voices with each other.  she reminded them of their responsibility to be respectful, and, fortunately, both girls looked at each other and wondered aloud about why they had become so exasperated with each other, anyway, and recovered on the spot.  another time, though, a staff member approached diana's lunchroom table when she saw that there was a verbal altercation in progress.  to diana's simultaneous horror and admiration, one of the involved parties stood up and said, "it doesn't help when you come over and tell us to just stop arguing.  that doesn't fix it.  we need time to work this out."  wow.  a powerful statement.  insightful.  and brave, considering this came from a student to an adult.
  • she likes her main subject teachers.  diana's homeroom teacher also instructs diana in language arts and social studies.  diana likes her because she's, well, she's just really nice.  and compassionate.  she suggested that if diana was not feeling well the next day that she should stay home, because her health was more important than a quiz.  the teacher who leads lessons in science and advanced mathematics makes diana and her classmates feel comfortable with her, whether it's by her ability to laugh at herself when she gets into arguments with the smartboard technology or her proclivity for subjecting her students to spanish immersion during math instruction.  she's easygoing, understands what fifth graders think is amusing - and laughs along with them, and inspires them to work hard and learn.
  • scheduling.  i thought that she would be rebelling against the enforced structure of her days.  however, diana has expressed to me the feelings of reassurance she has, knowing that each day is planned for her, with clearly laid-out expectations.  she knows which day she must bring her viola to school, which days she has to ensure appropriate clothing and footwear for physical education.  it's a relief to her to not have the responsibility and occasional chaos of working that out with me or on her own.  the rote and routine are settling for her, even down to knowing when her lunch will be so she can decide whether to have a snack at the designated time.
  • playtime.  outside of her planned school hours, diana is increasingly aware of her need for down time alone or just with the family on school days.  that leaves only the weekends for her social time with friends and she intensely craves every moment of that.  the weekend we recently spent camping with homeschool friends was clear evidence of that.
  • volunteering to be a library assistant.  she and some of her fellow classmates have been mightily dissatisfied with their recess period.  she complains that it's either too hot, too cold, too wet, or too infested with stinkbugs by the swings for her to enjoy herself.  when they learned of an opportunity to become library assistants, they jumped at the chance.  she's really hoping she can be involved with encouraging other, especially younger, kids to read.  she'll be going to classrooms to deliver and pick up books, reading to and with younger students (she's so excited about reading to ander's class - they all know who she is because she comes to say hi to him in the cafeteria at lunch every day), and helping kids find books on the shelves that build their personal love of reading. she also is excited about stretching her surprisingly good sorting skills. she plans on being a "good" librarian (thank you, alcatraz smedry!)
  • introducing her own writing to others.  as you may remember, she's written and "self-published" two books: clock of fate and i write white.  she's distributed copies of these works to family and friends and other parties who have expressed interest; clock of fate is also up on her website in several posts.  now she sees her school as another outlet of opportunity to gain readership.  she's given copies of i write white, her latest, to both her homeroom teacher, who also happens to teach her language arts class, and the school librarian, who now is apparently enamored of her.  she's requested permission to include these copies in both the classroom and school libraries, maybe offer readings and hold discussions about writing.  i do so hope she will receive positive reactions to her efforts.
  • more bathroom rules.  she said she wanted to immediately run home to tell me about how she is in utter disbelief of the situation as it now stands.  apparently, some fifth graders have been abusing their freedom to use the bathrooms as they see fit.  some disappear a multitude of times, causing a serious interruption in their classmates learning process.  (either the teacher has to hold up the entire class for the student and his or her bathroom buddy, or has to catch them up when they return.  either way, it's an imposition.  i get that.)  some are suspected to trying to avoid schoolwork.  some are seemingly incapable of or unwilling to demonstrate universal bathroom etiquette, like flushing, using only what paper products one actually needs, picking up after oneself rather than expecting someone else to, and using doors to the stalls with respect rather than tearing them off their hinges.  also, the boys are accused of goofing off and the girls are accused of gossiping.  now, it may be that there are only a few students doing this or a limited number of incidents, but clearly this behavior is ridiculous and certainly unacceptable.  it's definitely not indicative of students accepting responsibility for their behavior.  anyhoo, now there are scheduled bathroom breaks during the day, limits on the frequency of bathroom usage during class time (tracked by tallies on their personal schedules), and students now.  some students immediately broadcast their contempt for this, saying that it was "so third grade."  hmmm.  i do wonder what's coming next.
  • PE is the best when they play the "mission impossible" game, which requires coordination, cunning and strategy along with physical ability.  diana must have been pretty successful at being sneaky, because they changed the rules later to prevent her from being able to gain ground like she had the first time.
  • chorus.  diana really likes the music and what she can achieve with her vocal instrument.  she was honored to fulfill "a music teacher's dream" by voluntarily performing with a small group in front of another class.  she was (understandably) agitated when she recently discovered that some students joined chorus simply to avoid a period of time for free reading.  wha...?  she cannot relate.  she would love more time to read, plus she doesn't understand why someone would participate in a singing group if they really don't want to sing.  sigh.
all the students get to sing, though, when it comes to social studies and language arts.  diana giggles when she wonders what passers-by must think about what's going on in her classroom.  she's getting startlingly good at singing along with these relatively new genres of music for her.

1 comment:

  1. I am so impressed by Diana's ability to really process and understand challenging situations and people. And I am SO IMPRESSED and humbled and inspired by your (Dawn's) ability to listen to and process what Diana relates about her school experiences empathetically and without judgement.