October brags, rants and ponderings: post here

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-23-2002
October brags, rants and ponderings: post here
7
Mon, 10-14-2013 - 1:59am

Anyone got any? 

My most obvious brag: dd10 has a 94% in 9th grade math, and is the only student to have completed more than 1 out of 7 of the units in the course (she's done three). 

I have a rant festering in my mind too. I'll be back with that. 

miranda

Miranda
in rural BC, Canada
mom to three great kids and one great grown-up
unschooler, violist, runner, doc 

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-09-2006
Sat, 10-19-2013 - 11:26pm

My dd19, in her first semester of a liberal arts art college, has midterm grades of A-,A-,A,A,A.   (I asked about grade inflation; she's found that there are lots of C's and D's given to classmates.) One of the A-'s is English Composition...she is extremely dyslexic/dysgraphic.  (The last way she spelled "apocalypse" (the topic of an essay) in an email to me was "applikepi".  It's never the same way twice...often not even close.  And she "strched canvise" today.)  She is allowed to use a human reader/editor (me), but had an in class essay on Wednesday.  She was allowed to present it verbally and got an A-.  So...sigh of relief here.  They understand that she is not wired typically for the mechanics of writing/reading and they're willing to work with her.  And she gets the same teacher for English Literature in the spring.

Deborah

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-09-2006
Sun, 10-20-2013 - 10:47pm

Excellent! It seems that a) your dd10 is ahead...on track to finish by Winter and b) everyone else is a bit behind. Maybe she's a bit more self directed than most? Deborah

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-23-2002
Mon, 10-21-2013 - 1:15pm

It's so awesome to hear about your dd's success despite her challenges! Thanks for the updates. It's also cool that she has all that feedback so early in the year: the university kids I know here in Canada are just receiving their first midterm exam grades this week. The first couple of months can be tough, doing all the work and not really having a sense of what the expectations are and how you're doing. My dd is an old hand at this now and has a pretty good sense of how she's measuring up even without the grades, but last year she didn't have any grades until early November. So kudos to her college for all the timely feedback!

School here starts in September and runs until the last day of June, and there are copious field trip and elective options early in the year, so the suggested pace for my dd's math course is to finish Unit 2 by the end of October. The other students aren't behind that schedule. My dd is ahead because she has only one course, and is enjoying the novelty of having an academic structure in that course, and hasn't done any of the elective weeks. If she was in school full-time, I'm quite sure she would be struggling with the juggling of 7 courses and electives and extra-curriculars. At ten she's not ready for that level of responsibility, or for the output expectations of a full-on 9th grade program. Which is why she's doing just one course. 

Her math teacher is doing a great job of providing her with enrichment stuff, too, which is nice. Because she's moving quickly and easily through the curriculum, she's being encouraged to work through some math contest material, and more complex problem-solving which requires her to integrate different threads of math learning. She's always been really strong in geometry, for instance, so she's being encouraged to look at math contest problems that combine algebra and geometry in unique ways.

The rant I had planned about school for my other kids has dissolved a bit....

My middle kids are attending the local high school, which has moved to a independent-learning-plus-seminar-and-tutorial model for most coursework, since with a student body of only about 40 students and four part-time teachers, they couldn't really offer a robust enough traditional program. My dd14 is taking a heavy load of 11th and 12th grade maths and sciences; my ds17 is finishing up his 12th grade academic course work and preparing for college. In other words, they're taking fairly high-stakes challenging course loads. 

They've been working hard -- really hard -- and getting almost no feedback about how they're doing at mapping out the pace of their learning. They're supposed to be doing their own planning, setting their own goals, but the teachers who are supposedly helping them with this planning and goal-setting (a) were only helping the students look ahead in a "what's next" sense, (b) had no idea what was expected in the 75% of the students' courses that they weren't personally responsible for teaching, (c) were unable to do the Monday advisorship sessions most of the time anyway due to field trips, stat holidays, special school events or teacher days off and (d) were only giving feedback about pacing if students seemed to be falling seriously behind. My dd has had two planning sessions so far (out of 7 weeks), and they consisted of being given a blank schedule for the week and being told to fill in all classes and write a plan for what she was going to do during her independent learning blocks. That's all. No checking, no feedback.

Last spring when they tabled the plans for this alternative approach, we were assured that there would be Monday advisorship sessions to help keep students accountable with the degree of structure they needed. What ended up happening was an extremely watered-down version of weekly planning, with almost no feedback to the students about how they were doing. My kids ended up working like maniacs, terrified that they might be falling behind, never sure whether they were moving through their work at an acceptable pace. 

There was a meeting with parents 10 days ago to discuss how things are working with the new approach, and teachers and staff were entirely befuddled by my report that my kids were stressed out about their progress. "But they're doing fine," they said. "They're either right on track or well ahead."

Oh. Okay. Thanks for letting me know. But why is no one telling them this? They've opted out of electives and immersion weeks and field trips out of fear of falling behind. Ds has an extra course he'd love to be taking if he knew he could fit it in while keeping up with his other courses. Just because they're not behind doesn't mean they don't need information about their progress! 

I let things percolate around in my mind after the meeting and finally wrote a pointed letter about the need for frequent systematic feedback to all students, even those who are "doing fine," about their progress, and about the serious short-comings of the "weekly" planning sessions. 

The good news is that I got an email back from the principal right away agreeing fully with what I had said, and within 24 hours he had a plan in place to address all the issues I'd raised. Colour me impressed! He's instituting a flow sheet planner approach for all students, with a weekly check-in with all teachers in all courses about progress, and then the Monday planning sessions will be about going over that flow sheet and providing feedback about modifications of goals and pacing. 

Then he's going to ask that the flow sheet be signed off on by parents on a weekly basis. This is the part I have mixed feelings about. My kids don't need or want parent involvement. But I suppose he's been so receptive to my other ideas that he'd be cool with me saying that I want my kids exempted from this requirement. 

There are still some other organizational issues, especially around what happens during and after "immersion elective weeks" when one teacher and up to half the student body are absent from the regular school stream and then return having missed a week, which tends to disrupt and slow things down even for those who didn't do the elective week. But I am feeling optimistic about the ability of this group of school staff and administration to figure out solutions. So, no rant required.

Miranda

Miranda
in rural BC, Canada
mom to three great kids and one great grown-up
unschooler, violist, runner, doc 

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-09-2006

dd's recently finished project for a seminar class...

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-23-2002
Wed, 11-06-2013 - 10:40am

Wow, that's awesome. What's the medium?

Miranda

Miranda
in rural BC, Canada
mom to three great kids and one great grown-up
unschooler, violist, runner, doc 

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-09-2006

Oil.  This is for a seminar class, not the "foundation" classes that focus on technique.  She audited Oil 1 at the little state U near here last fall.  One of her foundation classes is Oil 1...I think they're still working on color wheels and skin tones.

I was somewhat flabbergasted at the amount of effort that went into this...54 hours, at least twice as much time as has been invested in any other project.  She entered it into the student show...one of 200 to 300 pieces, of which many of the entries are photographs.

Deborah

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-27-2000
Sat, 11-09-2013 - 5:44pm

This is beautiful.  Thanks so much for sharing it.