Monday, November 30, 2009

Nov. 30 "Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each." ~Thoreau

"The stripped and shapely
Maple grieves
The ghosts of her
Departed leaves.
The ground is hard,
As hard as stone.
The year is old,
The birds are flown.
And yet the world,
In its distress,
Displays a certain
~John Updike, A Child's Calendar

The last day of November--a time of endings and of beginnings.

The first report card -- that official documentation of academic progress --goes home this Friday. For some, it is accompanied by increased levels of stress and uncertainty. Standards-based assessments and continually changing curricula are confusing enough for us as adults. Your children are facing lots of unknowns, too. More sophisticated technology-based learning tasks, more precise requirements for "presentation quality" performance products, deadlines, increased (multiple) expectations...

May I offer some advice?

How to Talk to Kids About Their Report Card

  1. Plan an uninterrupted time to sit down together and go over report cards. Don't discuss them in line at the supermarket.
  2. No matter what, don't get upset; speak calmly and supportively. Remember that real learning often comes from the mistakes we make.
  3. Remember, too, that report cards are designed to measure educational performance and progress, but they are only a snapshot, and as such they tell only part of the story. After all, how can you measure a child's learning potential?
  4. Listen to your children and encourage them to discuss their performance -- the good, the bad, and the ugly. Recognize that they occasionally struggle as we all do. School's tough sometimes.
  5. Start with the positive. Praise your children's accomplishments, but also remember to praise improvements, however small they may be. Encourage their commitment to work hard on areas of concern, and offer your support.
  6. Celebrate successes, but remember that children want to do well in school even when they fall short. Reassure them that poor grades don't make them bad/stupid/a failure.
  7. Talk openly about those grades. Remind your children about the importance of good work habits, attitude, and effort. Poor grades may not be a reflection of ability, but rather a lack of sufficient effort. If that is the case, develop a plan for improvement.
  8. Use the report card as a catalyst for change, not as a reason for punishment. Set realistic incremental goals. Reasonable goals are achievable goals.
  9. End your discussion with a plan. Be optimistic; learning is an amazing journey. There's plenty of time to make the changes necessary for success.

Today we began pre-holiday preparations--a yearly tradition in my classroom. (Lock up your computer paper, I taught your children how to make beautiful intricate snowflakes.) Tomorrow, in another brief lesson, I'll show them how to make a perfect five-pointed star out of paper--requiring only four folds and one cut. Really.

I love the holiday season; it's fertile ground for creative projects! Stay tuned....

Today's assignments:

Spelling, Grammar, and Vocabulary: Day One assignments

Language Arts: Direction-following activity (...snowflakes). For tomorrow, bring in a favorite Christmas/Holiday picture book.

Social Studies: Postponed. (We'll make it up on Friday.)

Science: No class today, although some kids have not finished work for Mrs. DaBica. Ask your child if they know anything about that...

Reading: ALWAYS read for at least 30 minutes a day.

Enjoy your evening, everyone. Stay warm.