Tag Archives: Common Core

How school is going to kill me.

code is funHomework. Oh how I hate thee. My awesome hurricane turned 7 last week!! I’ve really been enjoying being with her. Until homework, and then the devil comes out of both of us. What used to take 2 hours now takes 1 hour (still waaaay too much). Each night we have to practice spelling words and this week’s selection were particularly tough and confusing – circus, cell, circle, pencil, silent, palace all were consistently spelled by her as she hears it – circis, sel, circil, pencel, silint, palis. It didn’t matter how many times I went over it with her, it wasn’t clicking with her. We were both equally frustrated, and the tension was building. Soon, I’m yelling that I don’t understand what’s wrong and that I’m done. What an awesome example of motherhood I am (input complete sarcasm there). I walk into the kitchen, trying to take deep breaths and it dawns on me. Dawns how bloody ridiculous this all is. This is ONE damn test out of who knows how many she has, and who the hell cares if she fails this one. It’s not worth me yelling at her, making us both feel bad, and consequently, making her feel like a failure.

So I returned to the table and before I got to say anything, she asked me for a hug. I squeezed her tight and told her we were done with the spelling words. Just done. They were super tricky words, because they go against a lot of the spelling rules she’s been learning so it’s super easy to get them wrong. That I didn’t want silly, tricky words to end up with us both angry and exhausted. That it just wasn’t worth it and that I didn’t care what grade she got. She asked if that meant she was going to fail it. I told her to just do her best, and whatever grade comes home, I don’t care, because it’s only one out of soooooooo many. She asked me why we do homework at all, and I told her she should ask her teacher, because I don’t like homework either and I don’t think it’s effective.

What I’ve seen with homework is that I often have to explain what should have been covered in class. Sometimes I’m merely reinforcing what she has learned, but other times, I’m the one introducing new concepts to her that she’s expected to know, because they are on her homework sheet. I have no doubt her teacher is worked to the damn bone. It’s not her fault either. It’s the system. So much emphasis is put on testing and grades, that every single thing has to be entered into the computer as a grade. I can see these grades in her school portal online, and for every grade on every sheet of paper, I can see when it was entered. Her teacher is working Saturdays & Sundays just to enter in this ridiculous information. I see time-stamps of 6:30am during the week, mornings and afternoons on the weekends. It can be 9 pm at night and her teacher is responding to emails. It’s no wonder teachers are leaving in droves. There’s barely any actual teaching involved. At this point, each teacher should have their own secretary to handle the paperwork alone.

Capture2Having to explain things first hand to my daughter is part of why I started the book series. I needed to learn what the rules of reading and writing are, so that I can help her. The Magic Forest Alphabet: Introducing Letter Sounds came out last week and you people knocked me to the floor with your support and well wishes. You shot me into Amazon’s top three of their “Hot New Releases” category. The books are just as much for parents as they are for children. I had planned on just doing the basic alphabet book then moving onto the stories of The Magic Forest but I’ve realized how much I don’t know and need to know if I’m to help my kids through this important journey. I’ve already begun book two which will focus on common consonant blends & digraphs, and then I’ll round the trilogy off with tackling those bloody vowels. I blame them for everything! Lots more information over at Little Gem Publishing. There’s a free giveaway going on right now too.

rick roachA few days ago, I was fortunate enough to meet Rick Roach who is running for FL Senate in 2016. I don’t normally bring up politics here, but he used to be a teacher. He took the FCAT as an adult and failed it. He was on the school board at OCPS so he knows how that beast works. He’s watched the school system get dirty, begin to crumble, and the fall out is becoming apparent. He has a solid understanding and knowledge of the educational issues we face, and just as important, he has solid plans to fix them, and they definitely involve changing this testing ridiculousness. He also happens to be a very nice guy too. Give him a look.

Is it summer yet?

Forget Ragged Mommy, Meet the Ragged Teacher.

Seriously, I am overwhelmed at the depth, length and breadth of information that has simply to be entered into systems for record keeping, let alone actually teach the class, prepare lesson plans, keep strictly up to date with state mandates, all the while, try to keep a jovial or at least civil face to the students.

My 6-year old in doing very well in her new school. She loves it, I love it. Still, I’m alarmed at the information thrown at them. For example, here are her courses for the year:

courses

Seriously, kindergarteners now have social study and science. I can’t even begin to describe the website portal that parents have access to. Every single thing they do, I can see on this portal, as well as how my child has performed. Guess what? The poor teacher has to input this information every day or every week. For eighteen students. I can click on each of these subjects, open up the attendance records, see the individual aspects studied weekly as well as the grade again. Holy crap. I kid you not, as a parent, it’s almost a full-time job to keep up with the information flowing forth. I can’t even fathom what the heck these teachers have to do to get it all in there. And that’s just the main portal.

Then we also use Study Island, which (oh joy!) covers the Common Core standards for reading and math. Here are both that she has to complete over the course of the year. We’ve now begun getting assignments here for homework.

Study Island1Study Island2

THIS IS JUST KINDERGARTEN, PEOPLE!!!!!! It blows me away. Again, having said all that, whatever way it’s being done must be OK for the kids because my child still jumps into the car as happy as can be. We get homework on a Monday and have to hand it in on Friday. I usually insist we blow it all out on Monday night while she’s still fresh from the weekend and that way she’s free for the rest of the week. When it comes to the online testing, I do have to fight myself to not lean her towards the correct answer. I must be doing well on that issue because she did fail a test so we redid it, with fewer distractions around, and she did just great.

Books she's covered this month.
Books she’s covered this month.

As a parent, we have to keep a reading log every night because there’s a very heavy emphasis on reading at her school. Reading can mean we read to her, she reads to us, or a combination of both. Basically, they want to ensure expose to books. They have an Accelerated Reading program and for every book a child is involved in, they complete a little test (3-5 questions) and get points for correct answers. It sounds pretty bad but with every point added, rain drops are added to a sunflower and they get to make the sunflower grow. My little girl has been gobbling up the books just to make that sunflower grow and covered more than enough this month to be involved in the monthly AR celebration.

Then, our overworked teacher also keeps up a classroom website on shutterfly to send out information or downloads. The poor woman has to be working at least 12 hours a day. In our parent/teacher conference a few weeks ago, she showed us the Dolch list of sight words that the kids are tested on at the beginning, middle and end of the year. From our old school, I know how to motivate my girl with sight words so I took the entire list and made sight sheets, Here’s the PDF list of Sight Words if you’d like to use them. Feel free. I offered them to our teacher and she was so grateful, she sent it out to all the parents. Every week, I add a new sheet to the fridge and at night, we’ll go through the words. My girl loves it when she nails a word she didn’t know before. So this method works very well for us, right now.

It’s every teacher that gets worked to the bones, day in and day out. No matter what the grade, no matter what the subject. The paperwork involved alone is mind-boggling. I can easily spend an hour every day going through the various portals and websites gathering information. And I’m not the one teaching.

So for the love of God, be nice to your child’s teacher. They don’t work 8am – 3pm, having this cushy life with long vacations and days off. They work their asses to the bone, every single day.