Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Initial Highlights

School is going really well. Alice is happy. Home is peaceful. Here are Alice's highlights so far:

* The second teacher in Alice's class is a graduate student at UT. She is certified and is getting her master's in education. She is doing her internship in Alice's class this year.

* The other kids in Alice's class bring "strange" things for lunch and snack like homemade yogurt, pickles, and hummus just like she does. (She was excited about this.)

* In addition to their very own desk, the kids have lockers (that don't lock) inside the classroom for their coats.

* They are studying geography in social studies (YAY!) and there is a map of the US painted on the playground. The class is also doing a super cool project - more details coming soon... For now I'll just say that Alice might be paying some of you a visit via USPS.

* Transitioning from home to school to home again has never been an easy thing for Alice. Picture storm clouds over her head on the way to school and a full out tornado on the way home. This year has been different (knock on wood!). She is happy and calm when I pick her up.

Which leads me to the only negative thing Alice has had to say about her new school:
"There is more work in 2nd grade and it takes me longer to finish it. It's really cutting into my reading time at school."

This made me chuckle.

Last year Alice spent a good portion of the school day reading a book from home or playing math or reading games on the computer. This year she hasn't had a spare minute to read. She is doing work - work that makes her think.

THIS makes us all happy.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Meet the Teacher

Last night Alice got to meet her teachers and walk around her new school.

It's nice. It's old, but it's nice.

Last year Alice's class was in a portable classroom (aka a trailer). The ceilings were low, it was small and dark, there were tables instead of desks with a common pot of supplies in the middle. When there were storms, which happened often last year, the kids had to go in the main building because it wasn't safe to be in the classroom. To get to the main building, which they did several times a day, the kids had to tromp outside without coats. I guess I didn't realize how crummy this was until I saw the classroom she will be in this year.

It's big and bright. Alice has a desk! Another parent asked about supplies and the teacher said that she thought the supply list was pretty good but, you know, if there were other things the child might want - markers, colored pencils, etc, then they should bring those too. There is a boys and girls bathroom INSIDE the classroom as well as a water fountain. One child even has a taller desk because, "he is REALLY tall."

There are two teachers in her class. One is quite young and looks to be a student teacher / intern / educational assistant. I don't care what her title is, I just think it's awesome that the student - teacher ratio will be 10-1 or so. She will be there for the entire year. Both teachers are super nice.

We also met the instrumental music teacher, the art teacher (who's name is Ms. Musik), and the dance teacher. All were very welcoming. The kids have a 6 day rotation at this school of art, gym, instrumental music, general music, dance, and library. There is a dance studio. The art studios (!) are huge and include a floor loom and a kiln. There are glass display cases all over the school showing off student work.

All of this is very encouraging and exciting, and I haven't even gotten to the best part of the night... I was talking to Alice's teacher about gluten and she told us that there are a lot of kids with food allergies in the class this year, including another little girl who cannot eat gluten. Alice was so excited. She was literally jumping up and down and clapping her hands. The teacher said the other little girl (who had come in earlier) was also very excited.

fingers crossed....

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Sponsored by....

I was so shocked by this I had to share it here: Scholastic InSchool Backing Off Its Corporate Ties.

No, I'm not shocked that Scholastic is backing off. I'm shocked they have ties with these industries in the first place! The coal industry?! Egg producers?! The Brita water filter people?! What are they doing in the classroom and WHO decided it was okay to let them in?!

I know. It's all about $$$$$$. Schools don't have any, industries do. Children have more consumer power these days than at any other time in history. Schools get something for free and possibly some $$, industry gets a captive audience with ZERO parent monitoring. Makes sense. Except that it is so very very WRONG...

I was probably exposed to marketing at school as a child. I don't remember it. It would have had to be in print ads because when I was in elementary school there were two or three TV's for the entire school and the computer lab consisted of two PC's in the library. When I was in school, an ad would be glanced at. Now? It is a constant bombardment.

Walking through Alice's (old) school the past two years, there were several times I noticed posters on the walls advertising movies that were coming out. Other ads would come home in her backpack. The kid who sells the most for the districts fall fundraiser wins a bazillion chicken nuggets from Chik-Fil-A. A different elementary school sells ad space on their fence to local businesses (The ads face the road, NOT the playground). I've always been annoyed by these things. I would rather schools be completely separate from corporate America. I do know that the $ isn't free flowing for education, especially in this state, so I figured it was a necessary evil. I am NOT okay with it, but I don't see our schools getting the $$ they need elsewhere, either.

But, advertising disguised as curriculum?! Whoa, now. That is a HUGE step over the line.

This summer is the first time we have allowed Alice to watch any TV other than the shows on PBS. We've branched out to a very few shows on Nickelodeon. Her screen time is still very much limited and it is rare that we are not either watching with her or in an adjoining room. Part of our afterschooling this summer has been to talk about advertisements and the different tactics companies use to make you want to buy things.

Alice has gotten quite good at seeing through ads. Which is a good thing, because school starts in a little over a week.