I am participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge: A slice a day for all of March. You should do it too! Thank you, Two Writing Teachers! Readers, check out their site, and start slicing!
My poor children. I find it nearly impossible to turn my teacher brain off when I’m helping them with their school work, or even just reading with them.
My 9 year old has a big project due at the end of the month: The 3rd grade “Going Beyond” project. H’s inquiry is “How does the brain work?” I’m sure we should have been working on it for the last few months…Let’s just say that homework is not our specialty around here.
I made him bring all of his things home for spring break, though. The other day we bought fun index cards and some poster supplies. This morning, we sat together at the kitchen counter and started working. One thing I have found out about H is that writing can be a deal breaker as far as stamina goes, so if the assignment isn’t about writing specifically, I scribe for him. Reading is another challenge that we are working on. It’s a balance, always. What do we do for him to help modify the assignment, and what do we push him to accomplish on his own?
We sat at the counter, with our colored index cards, post-it tags, and his favorite brain book. He organized his cards. I noticed later that he had put a quarter in front of each stack. I’m not sure why… but it made me laugh. As we read, I led him to agree to first take notes on the parts of the brain, and he carefully put post-it tags on important other information.
“What should I write about that?” I asked over and over.
“Just write what it says!” he replied a few times. I tried to explain that we can’t just copy someone else’s words. I’m not sure I have him convinced about that yet.
He was working on his attention getter: A paragraph that you can read even though many of the letters are mixed up. It’s actually a hoax, and as we wrote down how to explain that to his class, I asked him what the point of sharing this was. I was trying to have him bridge the hoax to the rest of his presentation. He took offense for a minute, misunderstanding my question, and that’s when I knew his stamina was at an end. We had worked for over half an hour on a beautiful spring break morning. I would call that a success. We worked for a minute or two more and then he said. “Okay. I’m done.” We piled up his cards and notes and book. I hope later we can have another work session. I know he will feel proud when he is ready to present it to his class.
Reflecting on the work this morning, I was reminded (of course!) of some of the conferring notes I had taken at the recent Jennifer Serravallo conference.
Now, I wasn’t technically conferring with my son. I was working with him. But, I’d call it pretty close. Jennifer told us that kids do their “best work when you are just with them.” I’d say that H benefitted from the time I was with him. I gave him feedback, I named the things he was doing well, I told him what I thought he should do next. I worked with him. I’m supposed to put myself out of a job as a teacher, by equipping my kids with strategies and a desire to read. I take that on as a parent too. This morning, I did some of the work to show H what to do, we did some of it together as well. Somehow I have to get him to work with other kids, and then do it alone. Knowing my son, it will be a slow and steady marathon to that independence when it comes to reading and writing. Third grade is almost over, I hope his fourth grade teacher is up for the challenge. You could say that working with H takes a little “Going Beyond.”
Maybe I should buy his fourth grade teacher a few Jennifer Serravallo books.