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  #1  
Old March 22nd 04, 06:53 PM
Circe
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default More School Issues (warning: VERY long!)

I have been posting on and off since Julian (now in first grade) started
kindergarten about my concerns regarding what I
perceive to be an overly aggressive and academically pressured educational
atmosphere at our elementary school. This post would be even longer than
it's likely to be as it is if I went into all of the issues that have arisen
in the past, but I think I need some advice/assistance/input/insight from
others to help me decide what to do about the current problems.

Julian's second trimester report card came home a week ago Friday. He is
doing fine academically in reading (all marks at or above grade level) and
in all areas of math except for the addition and subtraction facts, in which
he got a "1" (below basic; last trimester, he got a "4" which is advanced,
so he has lost ground here). In addition, he is still getting poor marks in
writing (all below grade level although I think I have seen a lot of
improvement). Finally, he got a "Needs Improvement" in completing homework
on time, making good use of class time, completing work on time, and
exercising self-control.

So, to address each of the problem areas one by one and why I'm concerned
about them or disagree with them:

Addition and subtraction facts

The California state standard calls for first graders to "know the addition
facts (sums) to 20 and the corresponding subtraction facts and commit them
to memory". For this trimester, they were
tested on the facts up to 12. I don't have a problem with teaching this
(although I do think it's a LOT to expect a 6yo to memorize) but I do have a
bit of an issue with the standard they're using for testing it. This
standard is that the child can write the answers to 20 problems in 90
seconds.

Now, I can't find anything in the state standard that says this is the only
acceptable way to measure proficiency (or even that it's the preferred
method), but to me, it seems like setting the kids up for failure. I mean,
giving them only 2.2 second per problem doesn't really seem reasonable to
me--seems like it would take at least half that time to read each problem
and absorb whether it's an addition or subtraction problem, let alone the
issue of actually pulling the answer from memory (I know all my addition
and subtraction to 20 and have them memorized, but it can take even me a
couple of seconds to get the answer sometimes) and write it down.
Apparently, a lot of the kids in his class are having problems this
trimester in this area (according to the mom of twins in his class--more
about her and them later), so it seems to me that it's not just Julian.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to come up with some games (both of my own invention
and online games) to help get him up to speed, but in the final analysis,
I'm just not very happy with the way the standard is being applied.

Writing

I'm not as worried about the writing as I am about the math facts because I
think that writing naturally comes with reading, provided the fine motor
skills are there. Julian's fine motor skills have always been behind the
curve, and he is on the younger end of the scale for first-graders anyway. I
truly believe that most of the issues (legibility, etc.) will come up to
speed in second grade as his fine motor skills improve. Still, I've seen
remarkable improvement in his writing (both speed and legibility) since the
first trimester, so I'm somewhat surprised that his marks didn't improve.

The one area in which I have an argument is in the "use of standard spelling
on tests" mark. Now, it's true, we weren't doing a very good job of
reviewing the spelling test words and I suppose he didn't do as well as he
could have on tests as a result, but really, some of the word lists she's
giving just seem very advanced for first graders. Last week, for example,
it was a list of animals. The only things they had in common were that they
were plural and they were animals. The ten words we cats, kittens,
turtles, toads, zebras, horses, owls, ants, snakes, and one other that
escapes me. Now, Julian apparently got 100% on the test, but we had to spend
well over 2 hours during the week (and a full 45 minutes the night before)
drilling the words to achieve that. This is in addition to the standard
homework that takes 10-20 minutes to complete (though, thankfully, he has
gotten much better at buckling down and doing it).

I just think this is way too much for first grade. Am I crazy?

Completing homework on time

Okay, what gives? Maybe some of you remember, but a while back, I mentioned
that the teacher said she considered homework "optional". In addition, I
have been told on at least one occasion that "late homework is never a
problem." So, um, if it's optional and late homework isn't a problem, how
can he "need improvement" in completing it on time

On top of that, at least three times this trimester, his homework went to
school with him on time on Friday but was not placed in his folder where it
belonged and the teacher apparently didn't bother to look any further in the
backpack. Twice, this was because his folder had been left at school (which
his teacher must have known, since she put it back in the backpack that
afternoon) and once because his dad put it in his backpack without knowing
it had to be in his folder for the teacher to find it. None of these
occasions were his fault and on two other occasions when it was late, it was
due to familial obligations (deaths in the family, etc.) and I noted that
when the homework was returned late.

So, I'm pretty annoyed about this one. I don't necessarily want her to
change it, but I want her to admit that it isn't optional because it
obviously isn't, and also to take a few extra seconds to look in his
backpack for his homework if it's a Friday and his folder isn't in the
backpack.

Other areas

I see so much improvement in his ability to finish his homework quickly,
without getting distracted and making better use of his time that I'm having
trouble understanding how he is still getting "Needs Improvement" marks in
these areas. Possibly, what's happening in the classroom is very different
from what's happening at home, but it's hard for me to believe that it's
really harder for him to do his work in class than at home when he's got
two siblings playing, making noise, pestering him (when I can't prevent it),
etc. So these are areas in which I feel I need to probe his teacher for more
information.

Okay, so I'm trying to make an appointment to sit down with his teacher to
go over his marks. I really like her very much overall and certainly don't
want to lay a lot of blame at her door for some of the curriculum issues,
which I think are not dictated by her so much as by the state, district, and
school itself. Still, I feel we need to come to some agreement as to how
much extra work we should be doing at home to master the curriculum, and at
this point, it seems to me that between the math facts, spelling tests, and
regular homework, we'd have to spend at least 7-8 hours per week on
schoolwork to get the job done. That seems like an unreasonable amount of
time when the kid's already in school for 30+ hours a week. What, has he got
a full-time job now? When do kids get to be kids any more?

I mentioned the mom of the twins above and she is even MORE concerned than I
am. Right now, she's having trouble getting her son (a bud of Julian's) to
finish his homework at all. He nearly always breaks down in tears. He's
having trouble with the math facts, too, and her daughter is having trouble
with both the math facts and counting coins (which, thankfully, Julian
aced). They're both also having trouble with the spelling lists. It is to
the point for her where both her kids are starting to say they are dumb and
her son has even said he wants to die. All I can say is, what the hell are
we doing to the kids with this curriculum? Julian seems relatively
impervious to feeling bad about himself because he's getting poor marks in
school, but it may not always be that way and I CERTAINLY don't want to see
him getting that point.

Okay, so that's the end of my long and perhaps disjointed rant. Any
advice/thoughts for me?
--
Be well, Barbara
(Julian [6], Aurora [4], and Vernon's [2] mom)

All opinions expressed in this post are well-reasoned and insightful.
Needless to say, they are not those of my Internet Service Provider, its
other subscribers or lackeys. Anyone who says otherwise is itchin' for a
fight. -- with apologies to Michael Feldman


  #2  
Old March 22nd 04, 07:41 PM
Beth Kevles
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default More School Issues (warning: VERY long!)


Hi -

First of all, you need to worry about YOUR son, not the twins. (The
twins' mother should definitely make an appt. with the teacher to
discuss the depression that the stress of homework is causing. She may
also want to consult the school counselor and teacher about ways to make
homework less stressful, or even get an IEP with respect to homework.
But that's an entirely different story.)

Next. Do NOT let your child get stressed about grades in 1st grade!
Praise him where praise is due, an a LOT when he improves due to his own
work.

Quantity of work. Yes, it's a lot, but that seems to be coming from a
higher level than the teacher. (We're getting too much as well. I HATE
homework!) Be sure your son gets a good, solid hour of playing and
exerise after school, along with a healthy, protein-filled snack. More
than an hour is good if you can manage it. Then supper. And only then
start on homework. My experience is that homework goes more quickly and
easily that way. If he doesn't finish it before story time (which is
what we have before bed), then get him up early in the morning and let
him finish then. It goes even faster in the AM when the kids are fresh.

Spelling. Have him write each spelling word down once every day. (Or
do 5 a day, since he has so many.) He should copy them the first time,
copy them the second time, and quiz him the third time. You can also
quiz him in the car when you're going places, etc.

Yes, it's too much homework. But parents need to push-back, in writing,
and not just to the teacher. Primary grade homework quantity is a
trend, and you need to be on record as fighting the trend.

Oh, and as for losing homework in the backpack or leaving it at home
.... that actually IS your child's responsibility. Get a file folder and
put your son's name on it. Have the file folder go to school with his
homeowrk in it if he's forgotten his folder. Make HIM responsible for
checking that his homeowrk is in his backpack every day. Remind him to
check the backpack just as you remind him to brush his teeth.

My two cents,
--Beth Kevles

http://web.mit.edu/kevles/www/nomilk.html -- a page for the milk-allergic
Disclaimer: Nothing in this message should be construed as medical
advice. Please consult with your own medical practicioner.

NOTE: No email is read at my MIT address. Use the AOL one if you would
like me to reply.
  #3  
Old March 22nd 04, 07:53 PM
Welches
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default More School Issues (warning: VERY long!)


Circe wrote in message
news:[email protected]
I have been posting on and off since Julian (now in first grade) started
kindergarten about my concerns regarding what I
perceive to be an overly aggressive and academically pressured educational
atmosphere at our elementary school. This post would be even longer than
it's likely to be as it is if I went into all of the issues that have

arisen
in the past, but I think I need some advice/assistance/input/insight from
others to help me decide what to do about the current problems.

Julian's second trimester report card came home a week ago Friday. He is
doing fine academically in reading (all marks at or above grade level) and
in all areas of math except for the addition and subtraction facts, in

which
he got a "1" (below basic; last trimester, he got a "4" which is advanced,
so he has lost ground here). In addition, he is still getting poor marks

in
writing (all below grade level although I think I have seen a lot of
improvement). Finally, he got a "Needs Improvement" in completing homework
on time, making good use of class time, completing work on time, and
exercising self-control.

So, to address each of the problem areas one by one and why I'm concerned
about them or disagree with them:

Addition and subtraction facts

The California state standard calls for first graders to "know the

addition
facts (sums) to 20 and the corresponding subtraction facts and commit them
to memory". For this trimester, they were
tested on the facts up to 12. I don't have a problem with teaching this
(although I do think it's a LOT to expect a 6yo to memorize) but I do have

a
bit of an issue with the standard they're using for testing it. This
standard is that the child can write the answers to 20 problems in 90
seconds.

I've just tested dh on 20 questions +/- up to #12. He's very, very clever.
And very mathematical. He could have got most places with maths-just chose
chemistry for some reason! He took 30 seconds on these (+ got them all
right). Okay, I didn't tell him he was under time pressure, but I think that
says something about the time spent on them. Baring in mind writing, reading
etc. is easy for dh, I think 90 seconds for a 6 year old would be very good
going.
Debbie

Now, I can't find anything in the state standard that says this is the

only
acceptable way to measure proficiency (or even that it's the preferred
method), but to me, it seems like setting the kids up for failure. I mean,
giving them only 2.2 second per problem doesn't really seem reasonable to
me--seems like it would take at least half that time to read each problem
and absorb whether it's an addition or subtraction problem, let alone the
issue of actually pulling the answer from memory (I know all my addition
and subtraction to 20 and have them memorized, but it can take even me a
couple of seconds to get the answer sometimes) and write it down.
Apparently, a lot of the kids in his class are having problems this
trimester in this area (according to the mom of twins in his class--more
about her and them later), so it seems to me that it's not just Julian.




  #4  
Old March 22nd 04, 07:54 PM
Circe
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default More School Issues (warning: VERY long!)

Beth Kevles wrote:
First of all, you need to worry about YOUR son, not the twins. (The
twins' mother should definitely make an appt. with the teacher to
discuss the depression that the stress of homework is causing. She
may also want to consult the school counselor and teacher about
ways to make homework less stressful, or even get an IEP with
respect to homework. But that's an entirely different story.)

Well, I provided that information primarily because I wanted to make it
clear that we don't seem to be the only family struggling with the
curriculum.

Next. Do NOT let your child get stressed about grades in 1st grade!


He's not. *I'm* concerned, however, particularly about the math, because if
he doesn't get the facts down this year, *next* year they start
multiplication and division and then he's *really* going to be lost. So if
he's getting a "1", that indicates he's *well* below grade level, that
concerns me.

Quantity of work. Yes, it's a lot, but that seems to be coming
from a higher level than the teacher. (We're getting too much as
well. I HATE homework!)


It's really just getting out of hand. And this is the other reason I brought
up the other parent and her kids. I'm just starting to think we have to wage
an all-out grassroots campaign against the ridiculous amounts of homework
we're seeing for our kids these days. It's absurd!

Be sure your son gets a good, solid hour of playing and
exerise after school, along with a healthy, protein-filled snack.
More than an hour is good if you can manage it. Then supper. And
only then start on homework. My experience is that homework goes
more quickly and easily that way.


Actually, we *never* do homework here until after 5pm because that's when I
finish working. My nanny speaks mostly Spanish and can't help him with it.
He usually does it in the kitchen while I'm cooking dinner, setting the
table, etc. It's nearly impossible, however, for us to do homework after
dinner since it is rarely served before 7pm due to my husband's schedule and
by the time dinner's over and put away, it's bedtime.

If he doesn't finish it before story time (which is
what we have before bed), then get him up early in the morning and
let him finish then. It goes even faster in the AM when the kids are

fresh.

You haven't gotten MY son out of bed g. I dread the teen years if it's
this hard at 6.5yo! (And we *have* been doing a pretty good job of getting
him to bed early enough in the past couple of weeks.)

Spelling. Have him write each spelling word down once every day.
(Or do 5 a day, since he has so many.) He should copy them the first
time, copy them the second time, and quiz him the third time. You
can also quiz him in the car when you're going places, etc.

We do all of this. It's still too much.

Yes, it's too much homework. But parents need to push-back, in
writing, and not just to the teacher. Primary grade homework
quantity is a trend, and you need to be on record as fighting the trend.

I agree.

Oh, and as for losing homework in the backpack or leaving it at home
... that actually IS your child's responsibility.


He never left it at home when it was completed. And, frankly, this is just
something I have always done for him since kindergarten. You're right that
he needs to take over the responsibility for it, though. It's just not
something we've transferred to him yet, primarily because we're lazy!
--
Be well, Barbara
(Julian [6], Aurora [4], and Vernon's [2] mom)

All opinions expressed in this post are well-reasoned and insightful.
Needless to say, they are not those of my Internet Service Provider, its
other subscribers or lackeys. Anyone who says otherwise is itchin' for a
fight. -- with apologies to Michael Feldman


  #5  
Old March 22nd 04, 07:59 PM
Circe
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default More School Issues (warning: VERY long!)

Welches wrote:
I've just tested dh on 20 questions +/- up to #12. He's very, very
clever. And very mathematical. He could have got most places with
maths-just chose chemistry for some reason! He took 30 seconds on
these (+ got them all right). Okay, I didn't tell him he was under
time pressure, but I think that says something about the time spent
on them. Baring in mind writing, reading etc. is easy for dh, I
think 90 seconds for a 6 year old would be very good going.


Hmmm, well, I wouldn't go by what an adult could do. These kids are just
learning these facts; adults have been using them/acquainted with them for
many years. Also, adults read and write much more quickly than children. I'm
sure *I* could do it within 30-60 seconds, but there are a *lot* of things
that I could do in 30-60 seconds that my son knows *how* to do (like write
2-3 simple sentences) that he couldn't do in twice the time in takes me.
I've had lots of practice; he hasn't.

As I mentioned, my son isn't the only one who has had trouble with these
timed tests. So it's clearly not *necessarily* "easy going" for a 6yo. It
may be for some. I'm just not sure it's reasonable as the *only* test for
this particular skill. Maybe as *one* test, but I think there ought to be
other ways for the kids to prove competence.
--
Be well, Barbara
(Julian [6], Aurora [4], and Vernon's [2] mom)

All opinions expressed in this post are well-reasoned and insightful.
Needless to say, they are not those of my Internet Service Provider, its
other subscribers or lackeys. Anyone who says otherwise is itchin' for a
fight. -- with apologies to Michael Feldman


  #6  
Old March 22nd 04, 08:29 PM
Welches
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default More School Issues (warning: VERY long!)


Circe wrote in message
news:[email protected]
Welches wrote:
I've just tested dh on 20 questions +/- up to #12. He's very, very
clever. And very mathematical. He could have got most places with
maths-just chose chemistry for some reason! He took 30 seconds on
these (+ got them all right). Okay, I didn't tell him he was under
time pressure, but I think that says something about the time spent
on them. Baring in mind writing, reading etc. is easy for dh, I
think 90 seconds for a 6 year old would be very good going.


Hmmm, well, I wouldn't go by what an adult could do. These kids are just
learning these facts; adults have been using them/acquainted with them for
many years. Also, adults read and write much more quickly than children.

I'm
sure *I* could do it within 30-60 seconds, but there are a *lot* of things
that I could do in 30-60 seconds that my son knows *how* to do (like write
2-3 simple sentences) that he couldn't do in twice the time in takes me.
I've had lots of practice; he hasn't.

Sorry, that came across totally opposite to what I meant:
I meant if dh took 30 seconds, I would expect it to be a very quick (and
very able too) 6 year old to manage to do it in 90 seconds. Dh also wasn't
under test conditions which makes it easier for him. I'll bet the teacher
makes a fuss about their handwriting in the test too (knowing infant
teachers) which dh would be peanalised on!! :-)

As I mentioned, my son isn't the only one who has had trouble with these
timed tests. So it's clearly not *necessarily* "easy going" for a 6yo. It
may be for some. I'm just not sure it's reasonable as the *only* test for
this particular skill. Maybe as *one* test, but I think there ought to be
other ways for the kids to prove competence.
--

I wouldn't think speed at this age for maths was any good as a test. A good
mathematician may not have the verbal/writing ability to get it across
quickly anyway. Obviously not giving unlimited time, but I wouldn't time
pressure at age 6 to find out how good they are at maths.
Debbie



  #7  
Old March 22nd 04, 08:33 PM
Circe
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default More School Issues (warning: VERY long!)

Welches wrote:
Circe wrote in message
news:[email protected]
Welches wrote:
I've just tested dh on 20 questions +/- up to #12. He's very, very
clever. And very mathematical. He could have got most places with
maths-just chose chemistry for some reason! He took 30 seconds on
these (+ got them all right). Okay, I didn't tell him he was under
time pressure, but I think that says something about the time
spent on them. Baring in mind writing, reading etc. is easy for dh, I
think 90 seconds for a 6 year old would be very good going.


Hmmm, well, I wouldn't go by what an adult could do. These kids
are just learning these facts; adults have been using
them/acquainted with them for many years. Also, adults read and
write much more quickly than children. I'm sure *I* could do it
within 30-60 seconds, but there are a *lot* of things that I could
do in 30-60 seconds that my son knows *how* to do (like write 2-3
simple sentences) that he couldn't do in twice the time in takes
me. I've had lots of practice; he hasn't.

Sorry, that came across totally opposite to what I meant:
I meant if dh took 30 seconds, I would expect it to be a very quick
(and very able too) 6 year old to manage to do it in 90 seconds.


Ah, I'm sorry. I see now. This is a case where I didn't read you "British"
enough--very "good" going has a different sense in British English than
American English!

As I mentioned, my son isn't the only one who has had trouble with
these timed tests. So it's clearly not *necessarily* "easy going"
for a 6yo. It may be for some. I'm just not sure it's reasonable
as the *only* test for this particular skill. Maybe as *one* test,
but I think there ought to be other ways for the kids to prove
competence. --


I wouldn't think speed at this age for maths was any good as a
test. A good mathematician may not have the verbal/writing ability
to get it across quickly anyway. Obviously not giving unlimited
time, but I wouldn't time pressure at age 6 to find out how good
they are at maths.


I agree. It seems very over the top. To add to the over-the-topness, they
practice these timed tests several times each day. Ugh!
--
Be well, Barbara
(Julian [6], Aurora [4], and Vernon's [2] mom)

All opinions expressed in this post are well-reasoned and insightful.
Needless to say, they are not those of my Internet Service Provider, its
other subscribers or lackeys. Anyone who says otherwise is itchin' for a
fight. -- with apologies to Michael Feldman


  #8  
Old March 22nd 04, 09:11 PM
Welches
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default More School Issues (warning: VERY long!)


Circe wrote in message
news[email protected]
Welches wrote:
Circe wrote in message
news:[email protected]
Welches wrote:
I've just tested dh on 20 questions +/- up to #12. He's very, very
clever. And very mathematical. He could have got most places with
maths-just chose chemistry for some reason! He took 30 seconds on
these (+ got them all right). Okay, I didn't tell him he was under
time pressure, but I think that says something about the time
spent on them. Baring in mind writing, reading etc. is easy for dh, I
think 90 seconds for a 6 year old would be very good going.

Hmmm, well, I wouldn't go by what an adult could do. These kids
are just learning these facts; adults have been using
them/acquainted with them for many years. Also, adults read and
write much more quickly than children. I'm sure *I* could do it
within 30-60 seconds, but there are a *lot* of things that I could
do in 30-60 seconds that my son knows *how* to do (like write 2-3
simple sentences) that he couldn't do in twice the time in takes
me. I've had lots of practice; he hasn't.

Sorry, that came across totally opposite to what I meant:
I meant if dh took 30 seconds, I would expect it to be a very quick
(and very able too) 6 year old to manage to do it in 90 seconds.


Ah, I'm sorry. I see now. This is a case where I didn't read you "British"
enough--very "good" going has a different sense in British English than
American English!

LOL
It's when you Americans talk about pants I get confused...


As I mentioned, my son isn't the only one who has had trouble with
these timed tests. So it's clearly not *necessarily* "easy going"
for a 6yo. It may be for some. I'm just not sure it's reasonable
as the *only* test for this particular skill. Maybe as *one* test,
but I think there ought to be other ways for the kids to prove
competence. --


I wouldn't think speed at this age for maths was any good as a
test. A good mathematician may not have the verbal/writing ability
to get it across quickly anyway. Obviously not giving unlimited
time, but I wouldn't time pressure at age 6 to find out how good
they are at maths.


I agree. It seems very over the top. To add to the over-the-topness, they
practice these timed tests several times each day. Ugh!

And I thought the literacy and numeracy hour (current fad for UK schools)
were OTT.
Debbie



  #9  
Old March 22nd 04, 09:19 PM
Donna Metler
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default More School Issues (warning: VERY long!)


"Circe" wrote in message
news:[email protected]
I have been posting on and off since Julian (now in first grade) started
kindergarten about my concerns regarding what I
perceive to be an overly aggressive and academically pressured educational
atmosphere at our elementary school. This post would be even longer than
it's likely to be as it is if I went into all of the issues that have

arisen
in the past, but I think I need some advice/assistance/input/insight from
others to help me decide what to do about the current problems.

Julian's second trimester report card came home a week ago Friday. He is
doing fine academically in reading (all marks at or above grade level) and
in all areas of math except for the addition and subtraction facts, in

which
he got a "1" (below basic; last trimester, he got a "4" which is advanced,
so he has lost ground here). In addition, he is still getting poor marks

in
writing (all below grade level although I think I have seen a lot of
improvement). Finally, he got a "Needs Improvement" in completing homework
on time, making good use of class time, completing work on time, and
exercising self-control.

So, to address each of the problem areas one by one and why I'm concerned
about them or disagree with them:

Addition and subtraction facts

The California state standard calls for first graders to "know the

addition
facts (sums) to 20 and the corresponding subtraction facts and commit them
to memory". For this trimester, they were
tested on the facts up to 12. I don't have a problem with teaching this
(although I do think it's a LOT to expect a 6yo to memorize) but I do have

a
bit of an issue with the standard they're using for testing it. This
standard is that the child can write the answers to 20 problems in 90
seconds.

Now, I can't find anything in the state standard that says this is the

only
acceptable way to measure proficiency (or even that it's the preferred
method), but to me, it seems like setting the kids up for failure. I mean,
giving them only 2.2 second per problem doesn't really seem reasonable to
me--seems like it would take at least half that time to read each problem
and absorb whether it's an addition or subtraction problem, let alone the
issue of actually pulling the answer from memory (I know all my addition
and subtraction to 20 and have them memorized, but it can take even me a
couple of seconds to get the answer sometimes) and write it down.
Apparently, a lot of the kids in his class are having problems this
trimester in this area (according to the mom of twins in his class--more
about her and them later), so it seems to me that it's not just Julian.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to come up with some games (both of my own invention
and online games) to help get him up to speed, but in the final analysis,
I'm just not very happy with the way the standard is being applied.

This seems like a VERY bad way to assess knowledge of the facts, simply
because of fine motor skills requirements. I know I would have had real
trouble with this at this age, because my motor skills were several years
behind the curve all the way through school. I would find out if any other
forms of assessment are used, or if they could be used.

Writing

I'm not as worried about the writing as I am about the math facts because

I
think that writing naturally comes with reading, provided the fine motor
skills are there. Julian's fine motor skills have always been behind the
curve, and he is on the younger end of the scale for first-graders anyway.

I
truly believe that most of the issues (legibility, etc.) will come up to
speed in second grade as his fine motor skills improve. Still, I've seen
remarkable improvement in his writing (both speed and legibility) since

the
first trimester, so I'm somewhat surprised that his marks didn't improve.

The one area in which I have an argument is in the "use of standard

spelling
on tests" mark. Now, it's true, we weren't doing a very good job of
reviewing the spelling test words and I suppose he didn't do as well as he
could have on tests as a result, but really, some of the word lists she's
giving just seem very advanced for first graders. Last week, for example,
it was a list of animals. The only things they had in common were that

they
were plural and they were animals. The ten words we cats, kittens,
turtles, toads, zebras, horses, owls, ants, snakes, and one other that
escapes me. Now, Julian apparently got 100% on the test, but we had to

spend
well over 2 hours during the week (and a full 45 minutes the night before)
drilling the words to achieve that. This is in addition to the standard
homework that takes 10-20 minutes to complete (though, thankfully, he has
gotten much better at buckling down and doing it).

I just think this is way too much for first grade. Am I crazy?

Our grade 1's do spelling words from phonetic lists and sight word lists-so
you might have all words which have the same spelling pattern. This seems
very advanced to me for 1st grade.

Completing homework on time

Okay, what gives? Maybe some of you remember, but a while back, I

mentioned
that the teacher said she considered homework "optional". In addition, I
have been told on at least one occasion that "late homework is never a
problem." So, um, if it's optional and late homework isn't a problem, how
can he "need improvement" in completing it on time

On top of that, at least three times this trimester, his homework went to
school with him on time on Friday but was not placed in his folder where

it
belonged and the teacher apparently didn't bother to look any further in

the
backpack. Twice, this was because his folder had been left at school

(which
his teacher must have known, since she put it back in the backpack that
afternoon) and once because his dad put it in his backpack without knowing
it had to be in his folder for the teacher to find it. None of these
occasions were his fault and on two other occasions when it was late, it

was
due to familial obligations (deaths in the family, etc.) and I noted that
when the homework was returned late.

So, I'm pretty annoyed about this one. I don't necessarily want her to
change it, but I want her to admit that it isn't optional because it
obviously isn't, and also to take a few extra seconds to look in his
backpack for his homework if it's a Friday and his folder isn't in the
backpack.


I tend to feel that homework, except for reading at home, is totally
unnecessary at 1st grade anyway, so I have real problems with there being a
place on the report card for it at all!!

In general (including the stuff I snipped), I think meeting with the teacher
is in order, especially to find out what this all means-if it is FYI, that's
fine-if it will affect which grade or class he is in next year, that's
another thing entirely.



  #10  
Old March 22nd 04, 09:45 PM
H Schinske
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default More School Issues (warning: VERY long!)

Donna ) wrote:

In general (including the stuff I snipped), I think meeting with the teacher
is in order, especially to find out what this all means-if it is FYI, that's
fine-if it will affect which grade or class he is in next year, that's
another thing entirely.


I agree entirely. If they're teaching spelling with tests *at all* in first
grade (which I don't even believe in, I don't think they do a lick of good),
they ought to be doing it with words that reinforce their knowledge of phonetic
rules. A random list of animals is no use at all.

Incidentally, the California first-grade standard regarding spelling is "Spell
three- and four-letter short-vowel words and grade-level-appropriate sight
words correctly."

--Helen

 




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