Thursday, June 15, 2006

substituting summer school
I got a call last week to see if I was available to substitute for a summer school class. I was surprised, but said I would. It was today. First, I was curious why they would need a substitute. Turns out, the school system was having a meeting about some *new* discipline program they want to use next year. Part of what's frustrating about that is that, as a regular sub, this information never gets trickled down to us. I even specifically asked about new policies at the school at the sub meeting last year and was told nothing had changed. It had, in fact changed, but no one decided it was important for us to know about it. To be honest, nothing has more fads than the educational system. Each of my three kids have learned to read using a different *new* approach to reading and there are only three years separating each one from the next.
Anyway, I wasn't sure what to expect for summer school classes. The kids are there for a variety of reasons. Some have been "strongly encouraged" to participate in summer classes (to help their skills) while others are there for "fun" or, otherwise known as "babysitting". I personally would have thought that the classes would have been more fun than they were.
There's still the worksheets, the accelerated math, the reading, both alone and as a class.
All the lead up to the summer school showed that it was to have some sort of beach theme or ocean theme, but I saw no sign of that in the work, although the room did have shells that the kids were interested in looking at.
So, I went a bit "off the page" and why not? I wrote a list of numbers on the board. 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,and asked them to come up with the next three numbers in the sequence.
I gave the hint that they needed to use addition. It wasn't long before they found the sequence.
Then I gave them a piece of graph paper and had them draw squares 1x1,1x1, 2x2, 3x3, etc... In a spiral direction. Then, I had them draw a curved line from corner to corner in each square.
You end up with a spiral. I had them look again at the shells from the point end. Did they see that spiral there?
Where else can you find that spiral? We went outside and looked at some of the weeds (wildflower) that had escaped the mower. Then we brought them inside and had a look at them. We found the spiral again. I talked about where else they might look to find it, like a sunflower or acorn or pinecone. We found it on land and in the sea, maybe we'll find it someplace else? In space! Spiral galaxies! We can find this spiral based on a number sequence in nature over and over in the large part of nature and the smallest of places.
Then I asked them, Which came first? The numbers or the places we find them? I made certain I said there was no right or wrong answer to this, they had to decide for themselves.
Well, all in all, I thought it was much more interactive and thought provoking than doing worksheets. But, what do I know?
I know I'm frustrated with how little biology is studied here. Seems like the TESTS want everyone focused on Physics, then chemistry then some earth science. Any biology they cover is in health class, which leaves out animals and plants.
I also get frustrated by the lack of reasoning they ask the kids to do. One worksheet they did today was an introduction to logic- very simple. Having to have an opinion and defend it is non-existent.
One thing I have always enjoyed personally is the areas of study that HAVE no right or wrong answers. Places where points of view are of the upmost importance. Art, music, philosophy, and religion. The Humanities. What makes us human. Imagine that.