Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Two Great Students

Even though we got Caroline's report card last week, yesterday was a day off for elementary school students so that parents would have the opportunity to meet with teachers to discuss the first quarter.  Bryce won't get report cards this year so this is an especially important conference for us to check in on how he's doing.  

End result:  Both kids are doing extremely well!  (Although based on the things they've told us and the work that they bring home, I was pretty sure that that was going to be what we heard.)  However, it was great meeting individually with each teacher to get some more insight to how they are doing along with some specifics.

Ms. A's meeting was jam packed!  She went through Caroline's report card (in grades 1 and 2, they don't have normal grades - A, B, C, etc - yet).  Because they don't have normal grades for subjects, they have many different skills that are assessed which takes a lot longer for the teacher I'm sure.  It was great hearing little specifics about how well Caroline is doing and how well Ms. A knows her.  Ms. A is just so organized and was able to give us a preview of the curriculum to come.  While they follow the standard Baltimore County 2nd grade curriculum, because she's a PACE (pre-GT) student, they have some extra units thrown in.  They just finished a unit on trees that Caroline just loved!  In January they will be reading Stuart Little which the other two 2nd grade classes won't be reading.

And then finally, I got to ask the question I've been meaning to ask for a while.  When do they start working on spelling?  (While I'm not overly concerned about the spelling since I believe all the reading and phonics work will help it along naturally, I also have other friends with 2nd graders in Balto County that have spelling homework and hate it.)  Ms. A explained that 2-3 years ago, Balto County handed down a directive that spelling should be phased out for grades 1 and 2 and replaced with a reading program.  They said they found that while kids could spell words at the end of the week they were given them, a few weeks later they had lost the ability to spell many of them.  Ms. A said at our school, the traditional spelling homework was replaced by the 15 minutes of reading and that she would rather have them read any time over giving them spelling.  I told her I knew some other BC schools still doing spelling and she was surprised because she thought that it was something they were supposed to have phased out, but clearly it's a school to school thing.

I also felt like my concerns about the quantitative nature of the reading program were addressed too - Ms. A said that while the 15 minutes of reading are important, it's not just about the reading - she also said the 15 minutes can include discussion of what was read.  After their schema lesson last week, I know exactly what would be helpful to Caroline now, so I think we'll try and take that route sometimes.

As for Bryce, he's doing great.  I was kind of surprised how high his initial math and reading benchmark scores were in September.  I knew he was doing well, but he is really poised to pounce on real reading and math when the time comes.  He's on the verge of teaching himself to read - he's always looking for sight words and constantly trying to sound things out - I'm just so proud of him.  And his continued interested in math and logic is showing too.

Days like these you feel like just maybe you're doing something right in terms of your parenting and it reminds you how important it is to stay the course.

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