Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Reports and updates

Okay, keeping up over here is clearly not happening this year. Phooey!

As usual, much has been going on. I'll start with Eloise.

Last week Eloise was sent home with her second report card. I wonder if it is this way for other schools, but instead of getting graded A, B, C, etc, she gets 1, 2, 3, etc. As I sit here I am thinking that 1 is low and 5 is extremely high. Eloise got mostly 3's and then a couple of 4's. Since she isn't really graded on things being right and wrong, she is more graded on how well she is grasping material, how well she is moving along as she should, how well she gets along with other kids. Her first report card landed her a 2 in "Civics" which is basically understanding and following the classroom rules. We are happy to report she has moved up to a 3! ha ha. So, basically, zero concerns. Eloise has such a love for learning, it is crazy. The other day she said to me "I just want to learn how to read so bad!" (or something like that). She is working so, so, so hard to learn to read. And she loves math and science, and, well, pretty much everything. She has a lot of enthusiasm and that, more than anything, is going to get her places in life.

I also found out that last November Eloise took a MAP test (Measures of Academic Progress). I was a little annoyed that this was the first I had heard about it, but luckily the teacher knew it was a pretty poor judge of how much these little guys really know. It was more about just learning to take a test.

One afternoon when Iris and I were volunteering in her classroom we got to help with a science unit about ramps and balls. The kids were working in groups of three to make their own ramps out of cardboard tubes and other odds and ends. One boy in her group designated himself as being in charge of the scissors. Since scissors weren't once needed, he spent the whole time goofing off with another friend. Eloise and another girl worked so well together on their ramp. They problem-solved, shared ideas, collaborated, celebrated their successes and overall had a really fun time on the project. It was neat to see all of this coming out in her. It doesn't seem like that long ago she was overcome with frustration and acting out over every little thing. Of course, at home? Still blowing her fuse. But she is doing so beautifully at school and it is awesome.

Iris is also doing really well!

The past month brought with it a huge amount of stress over what the right school program would be for her next year. We went around and around and finally decided on applying for her to get in to Eloise's school. We will find out in a couple of weeks if she gets in or not. If she doesn't, I honestly don't know what plan B is.

Homeschool is fine. We are plugging along and mostly enjoying it. I think more than anything we are just bored. I still haven't quite figured out how to manipulate our current curriculum in to something challenging for Iris so we often slog through things that, while interesting, aren't really sparking that much interest. The social studies piece of the curriculum is really boooooring. I am having flashbacks to how much I hated social studies in grade school and I see now that it can really be quite dry. If I were a more imaginative teacher I would figure out a way around this, but alas, I am not. If I were to do it again I would buy a separate social studies curriculum.

We also have a lot of other things going on every week, like appointments, classes, and the babysitter being here, so luckily we don't spend very much time every day laboring over books and worksheets at home.

Every 20 lessons in Iris's curriculum she takes a test and then submits some writing samples to an advisory service that is provided with the curriculum. She also gets graded on a 1, 2, 3 level. Overall she is doing perfectly in everything. The one annoying piece is that Iris has tremendously sloppy handwriting . . . when she doesn't care very much about what she is writing. I wish I could submit random pieces of things she has written because when it is HER idea her handwriting is fine! Ugh! One of the annoyances of being a teacher is knowing how much more a child is capable of, I suppose. Last week Iris had an idea to write a play because a picture book we got from the library was written like a play. It was so beautiful! I know that those bits of writing are likely so much more important to her education than random stuff she is forced to draw for her composition lessons, but I still wish she could carry her attention to detail over in to her school work.

Next week Iris will take a MAP test from home. It is required through the online school she is enrolled in and I don't really care very much about it either way. It might be nice to know where she is at, but I am not sure the results will really be that interesting one way or another. Just feels like another hoop to jump through, mostly. Of course, in public school she will be required to take this test every year, so it is definitely a good thing to practice.

Unfortunately I have no pictures to share on this post, so that makes it pretty boring. I wish I was better about documenting things! Some day.

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