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Old 03-08-2010, 03:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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i just got a message today from dd's teacher about a homework assignment dd had turned in. she was to draw a picture of what she thinks she will look like at 100 years old. the teacher returned it with a question mark. i replied in a note that it was a picture of dd's face with "lots freckles". the teacher called in response to my note. she said she wouldn't have been able to tell it was a face (it looked like a face to me and-obviously dd) because it was all in pencil, with no details drawn in crayon. i didn't see anything wrong with the picture being entirely in pencil. she said this type of work is acceptable in sept. or oct., but now that we are in march, she should be using more details. i was thinking of requesting a meeting with her to have her define more clearly what she expects of dd. needless to say, i am feeling very anxious over the whole situation.

i just wanted to know if anyone else had this kind of issue ever. tia!!

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Old 03-08-2010, 04:06 PM
 
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woah that's a little too intrusive in art i should say.

children are all over the place where art is concerned. plus its their self expression.

i would be mad as hell.

however i think if you got the teachers guidelines you could gently encourage dd to do more.

better coming from you than the teacher.

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Old 03-08-2010, 04:16 PM
 
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I'd be really annoyed if my kid's teacher were criticizing her art. jeez.
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Old 03-08-2010, 04:30 PM
 
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Seriously?? I would be ticked. Is this your 5-year-old dd in your signature? That is completely insane. I would definitely have a talk with the teacher about this. Good luck and I hope you get it all resolved.
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Old 03-08-2010, 04:58 PM
 
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They're all about the detail in K (ds is constantly showing me how much "detail" is in his pictures), and read all sorts of things into it.

The first week of K ds drew a picture of his classmates that all had straight lines for mouths. The teacher obviously thought that this indicated something "off" with ds, but after talking with the teacher, dh figured out that ds was just drawing what he observed--a class full of closed mouthed children concentrating on their work .

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Old 03-08-2010, 05:12 PM
 
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Was the teacher assuming she did didn't take the time to work on detail? I mean for example if all the other kids sat and took their time and it looked like you DD just took a pencil and scribbled? I'm just trying to understand what the teacher is wanting. Either way.... Weird for a K teacher to be caught up with this.

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Old 03-08-2010, 05:12 PM
 
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Well speaking as someone with absolutely NO artistic ability whatsoever, I think schools put way to much emphasis on art in general. Its great to let the kids express themselves and learn as much as they can but sometimes teachers tend to go overboard about things. I am 33 and still draw stick people, and cannot draw in a straight line without an aid. art is something I could never wrap my head around..it's not something I use today in my life skills either. I understand the art concept but putting it into practical use I am deficient, so if I were in your shoes I'd prob show a picture I made to the teacher and ask if *I* would pass her art class, and when/if she said no I'd politely ask her to back off my kid as she comes by it honestly.

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Old 03-08-2010, 05:39 PM
 
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Also, I don't get sending it back with a question mark on it. That seems so passive aggressive. Either ask the kid about it, or at least write an actual question. I mean, couldn't she have just asked your daughter to tell her about the picture she drew, and then make suggestions for how to add more detail to it? Or suggest adding some color to it and offering crayons? WTH were you and your daughter supposed to do with feedback in the form of a question mark?
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Old 03-08-2010, 05:50 PM
 
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Take her criticism with a grain of salt. Because it means less than that.

I always wonder how come teachers don't get evaluated by parents? I mean it is OUR children they are teaching right? If we had the right to send report cards home with them about THEIR performance I wonder how much teaching would change....just a thought. I mean what if WE sent them a big question mark about their own performances in the teaching realm?

That would be trick to see.

 

 

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Old 03-08-2010, 06:08 PM
 
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Wow, that's truly annoying. I wouldn't spend a second worry about your daughter's artistic abilities. I would keep an eye on whether or not the teacher's negativity was having an effect on my child though.

My child at 5 was rather a minimalist with her art. She often spent lots of time with little to show for it. However, at age 11, we find we actually have a very talented artist who draws amazing, creative things. Well actually lately she's only been drawing Manga 99% of the time - but it is really good! LOL
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Old 03-08-2010, 07:20 PM
 
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That's seems really off to me. We are NOT organized. There are times when we have been less organized. A pencil drawing in *my* home is likely to be indicative of not being able to find crayons or simply not having a lot of time for that particular assignment. My kid will happily work math problems, puzzles and mazes before she has to draw yet another picture illustrating one more "High 5 expectation."

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Old 03-08-2010, 07:28 PM
 
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I find the whole assignment kind of interesting. When I was 5, I thought that a 30 year old was REALLY old. My grandmother was ANCIENT as a 70 year old. If someone would have asked me to draw myself when I was 100, I might have left it blank because that would have been wild to me. But I digress.....

IMO, individual artistic expression needs to be left as such. If the teacher needed or wanted specific details, then she should have been specific. Even my 8 year old isn't always detail oriented in all of his art - he places the detail where he wants. The 5-7 year olds in my dd's K class are all over the board in artistic ability.


and FWIW - I got an E on an art assignment when I was in 2nd grade -- I colored a squirrel black and white. My teacher had never seen a black and white squirrel, assumed I was coloring a skunk, and therefore gave me a flunking grade. My mother returned the paper with a photo of a black and white squirrel that lived in our neighborhood. Grade was changed.

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Old 03-08-2010, 09:09 PM
 
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I would like to know what the teacher's instructions were. Did she ASK for more detail? Did she provide crayons, or give ideas on how she wanted it done? It's the teacher's job to INSPIRE the children. How did she do that?
And quite honestly, what does it really matter in the long run if your daughter can't draw herself at 100 years old?

As far as drawing myself at the age of 100, well ... I probably would have drawn a corpse or a skeleton....
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Old 03-08-2010, 11:44 PM
 
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I'm laughing because I got in trouble over this exact assignment in the 70s. I think my mother still has the drawing somewhere with the teacher's comments. I drew a tombstone (and I don't think it was detailed).

I would just let your daughter know her teacher is detail-obsessed and please add more details if she can.

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Old 03-09-2010, 05:00 AM
 
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Speaking as an artist...

I am a bit confused.

What the heck does she mean by "details?" Does she just want the drawing to be busy so it looks like the kid spent forever working on it? Was the drawing actually missing important facial features like a nose?

Why would she think crayons would be clearer than a pencil sketch? IME immature crayon drawings are usually harder to interpret than immature pencil sketches.

What is the point of that assignment in the first place. Drawing old people is hard, trust me.

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Old 03-09-2010, 06:50 AM
 
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I second and third all the PPs who think it was an odd assignment in the first place. 100 years old? Chances are they're all dead. I am surprised that there weren't more kids who handed in tombstones, like GuildJenn, or skeletons, or just blank papers (I probably would have spoken up in class and tried to educate the teacher about life expectancy - I was that kind of little smart-ass). And how on earth would a kindergartner draw a person that was recognizably a hundred years old? Like eepstser says, drawing old people is really hard (I draw portraits recreationally).

If she wants a face with details in crayon, she should just say so. Otherwise, choice of material and expressiveness is hers. Or is this some weird kind of psychological test? I remember having to draw mself and my family as animals (with explanations in bubbles) after starting middle school in fifth grade, and thinking about putting in all kinds of jokes at my family's expense, and my parents asked me nicely to please put in only nice things about them, because they might get in trouble otherwise, and explained why. They didn't stop me from drawing my mother as a bird who feeds her children, my father as a trusty bear, my brother as an aggressive bull and myself as a prickly hedgehog, though they probably rolled their eyes...

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I wouldn't spend a second worry about your daughter's artistic abilities. I would keep an eye on whether or not the teacher's negativity was having an effect on my child though.
This.

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Old 03-09-2010, 09:32 AM
 
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As a Kindergarten teacher, I'm going to take the other side just for a moment.

In the Kindergarten curriculum we use, specific types of drawing is viewed as a way to practice organizing your thoughts for writing down the road. When our kids draw during writer's workshop, we coach them on adding details so you can see action, settings, feelings etc . . . , just as we would coach a first or second grader to add the same things to their writing. If we're in science and we're drawing the stages of a Monarch butterfly, we expect them to use the correct color and location and position of the parts -- if a child turned in a beautiful picture of a butterfly with 10 legs, and purple stars on the wing, I'd say "this is beautiful, but it's not a Monarch, please do it again". If they drew the same picture in the art center, or during art class, or when we're exploring a media rather than communicating science knowlege I'd hang it up.

As far as whether it's "art" I don't necessarily see it that way. Sure drawing can be art -- of course, writing can be art too. But there are also times when we ask a student, or an adult to use writing or drawing to represent a specific piece or set of information, and in those situations it's a reasonable expectation that children do just that. Drawing a picture with "freckles" is the same thing as assigning a paper to a child about "what do you want to be when you grow up" and having the write you a one liner saying "When I grow up I want to be old." As an adult, it's like fabricating information in your newspaper article, or drawing a picture for the instruction manual on how to assemble your new table, and leaving out one of the legs because it looks good to you that way. In both of the situations, the writer/artist would not be able to argue that they were creating "art", they'd be fired.

If my child's teacher called and said "I gave your child an assignment and he rushed through it and didn't give the info I wanted", I'd say "Thanks for letting me know" and have him do a new one at home. I wouldn't be anxious or assume that the teacher wasn't communicating, and I wouldn't be mad with my child, I'd just know that sometimes kids experiment and that I needed to clarify our family's values about taking time and doing work that meets teacher expectations.
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Old 03-09-2010, 11:08 AM
 
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As a Kindergarten teacher, I'm going to take the other side just for a moment.

In the Kindergarten curriculum we use, specific types of drawing is viewed as a way to practice organizing your thoughts for writing down the road. When our kids draw during writer's workshop, we coach them on adding details so you can see action, settings, feelings etc . . . , just as we would coach a first or second grader to add the same things to their writing. If we're in science and we're drawing the stages of a Monarch butterfly, we expect them to use the correct color and location and position of the parts -- if a child turned in a beautiful picture of a butterfly with 10 legs, and purple stars on the wing, I'd say "this is beautiful, but it's not a Monarch, please do it again". If they drew the same picture in the art center, or during art class, or when we're exploring a media rather than communicating science knowlege I'd hang it up.

As far as whether it's "art" I don't necessarily see it that way. Sure drawing can be art -- of course, writing can be art too. But there are also times when we ask a student, or an adult to use writing or drawing to represent a specific piece or set of information, and in those situations it's a reasonable expectation that children do just that. Drawing a picture with "freckles" is the same thing as assigning a paper to a child about "what do you want to be when you grow up" and having the write you a one liner saying "When I grow up I want to be old." As an adult, it's like fabricating information in your newspaper article, or drawing a picture for the instruction manual on how to assemble your new table, and leaving out one of the legs because it looks good to you that way. In both of the situations, the writer/artist would not be able to argue that they were creating "art", they'd be fired.

If my child's teacher called and said "I gave your child an assignment and he rushed through it and didn't give the info I wanted", I'd say "Thanks for letting me know" and have him do a new one at home. I wouldn't be anxious or assume that the teacher wasn't communicating, and I wouldn't be mad with my child, I'd just know that sometimes kids experiment and that I needed to clarify our family's values about taking time and doing work that meets teacher expectations.
See...that's exactly why I disagree with the teacher's position on this. I've been trying to put into words what bugs me about this and I think that's it, actually.

The problem I see with this is that the teacher is expecting the child to perform to satisfy them. The teacher has set up a certain set of expectations and is only looking at those expectations to evaluate the child. In reality, teaching is quite the opposite. We, as teachers, should look at a child's work with wonder and awe. If it's clear that the child did not do what we expected, we have to look and see why:
--Did the child really see any value in the activity? If the child is purely not interested in it, then he needs to be redirected into a more purposeful and meaningful activity. No reason to waste the child's time with meaningless activities in the classroom.
--Did the child have a different set of expectations? In a common analogy, remember that a child with an expressive personality will often "color outside of the lines" as he imagines a story. (Try asking them to tell you what they're drawing as they do it if they are like that. You'll be amazed at how much more important their art is to them than previously thought).
--Was the child working on other skills with the activity? I remember one 3 year old child taking the chains from the bead cabinet. The chains are used to teach everything from linear counting to skip counting to multiplications to squares of numbers to cubes of numbers to cube roots to....well....you get the point. The activity as it was clearly over this child's head, but what he did with it was hang them up and it was a fine motor activity, which is what the child needed at the time.
--Is the child having trouble controlling the pencil? If so, he needs more pre-writing, fine motor activities and more pencil control activities.

All the things you are describing ~ art, reading, writing....these things all happen spontaneously in the environment. A child learns to be meticulous in his art through observing things and **deciding** to try to draw it like it is.

Just my 2 cents.
Matt
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Old 03-09-2010, 01:40 PM
 
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See...that's exactly why I disagree with the teacher's position on this. I've been trying to put into words what bugs me about this and I think that's it, actually.

The problem I see with this is that the teacher is expecting the child to perform to satisfy them. The teacher has set up a certain set of expectations and is only looking at those expectations to evaluate the child. In reality, teaching is quite the opposite. We, as teachers, should look at a child's work with wonder and awe. If it's clear that the child did not do what we expected, we have to look and see why:
--Did the child really see any value in the activity? If the child is purely not interested in it, then he needs to be redirected into a more purposeful and meaningful activity. No reason to waste the child's time with meaningless activities in the classroom.
--Did the child have a different set of expectations? In a common analogy, remember that a child with an expressive personality will often "color outside of the lines" as he imagines a story. (Try asking them to tell you what they're drawing as they do it if they are like that. You'll be amazed at how much more important their art is to them than previously thought).
--Was the child working on other skills with the activity? I remember one 3 year old child taking the chains from the bead cabinet. The chains are used to teach everything from linear counting to skip counting to multiplications to squares of numbers to cubes of numbers to cube roots to....well....you get the point. The activity as it was clearly over this child's head, but what he did with it was hang them up and it was a fine motor activity, which is what the child needed at the time.
--Is the child having trouble controlling the pencil? If so, he needs more pre-writing, fine motor activities and more pencil control activities.

All the things you are describing ~ art, reading, writing....these things all happen spontaneously in the environment. A child learns to be meticulous in his art through observing things and **deciding** to try to draw it like it is.

Just my 2 cents.
Matt



I know that Kindergarten is "real" school, but I would take this kind of feedback with a grain of salt unless I understood more about the specific concerns of the teacher. Is it an issue of following directions? Is it an issue of effort? Is it an issue of fine motor skills? Even then, I would put in the context of my child's overall development path - are they really delayed (which would raise concerns) or just working on different skills than the one displayed in the particular assignment?

DD, fortunately, has a great Kindy teacher who may point out areas where DD "needs work" but leaves it to us as the parents to decide whether it is something we really want her to work on at that time. On her first report card, the teacher noted that her printing "needs work". Yeah, maybe it does, but I am happy where she is at, which is on target or ahead in other areas. I try to get her practice "neatness" when she is in the mood, but if she is more interested in the spelling at that moment, then that is what I am going to work on with her. At this age, kids gain skills at different paces and that is both expected and OK. DD's drawing skills are definitely "behind" many of her peers, based on the artwork that I see hanging in the corridors, but she is the youngest in the class and the oldest is maybe 18 months older, so a big range of ages and skills. So, it is not exactly an area that I am going to spend a lot of time worrying about.

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Old 03-09-2010, 01:43 PM
 
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In the Kindergarten curriculum we use, specific types of drawing is viewed as a way to practice organizing your thoughts for writing down the road. When our kids draw during writer's workshop, we coach them on adding details so you can see action, settings, feelings etc . . . , just as we would coach a first or second grader to add the same things to their writing.
If this assignment is about telling a story of a 100 yo you, then shouldn't the teacher have explained that to the OP. Shouldn't she have told the OP that she wasn't looking for portraits, but wanted a picture that told a story? She said the drawing needed more "detail." There are limited levels of action and story telling one can do in a portrait of the head.

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If we're in science and we're drawing the stages of a Monarch butterfly, we expect them to use the correct color and location and position of the parts -- if a child turned in a beautiful picture of a butterfly with 10 legs, and purple stars on the wing, I'd say "this is beautiful, but it's not a Monarch, please do it again". If they drew the same picture in the art center, or during art class, or when we're exploring a media rather than communicating science knowlege I'd hang it up.
If this is about scientific drawing, then wouldn't it make much more sense to draw a really old relative. If the teacher wants accuracy based on observation, then she could have asked them to draw the oldest member of the family, such as a grandparent or great-aunt or even a great-grandparent. This assignment wasn't about scientific accuracy though, she asked the students to imagine what they will look like at 100 yo. Since there really aren't that many people around who make it to 100, that involves much more speculation than observation.

As others have pointed out, scientifically speaking, most of them are going to die before they reach 100 yo. Unless the teacher wants the students contemplating their own mortalities at 5-6 yo, this is just not much of a science lesson.

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As far as whether it's "art" I don't necessarily see it that way. Sure drawing can be art -- of course, writing can be art too. But there are also times when we ask a student, or an adult to use writing or drawing to represent a specific piece or set of information, and in those situations it's a reasonable expectation that children do just that. Drawing a picture with "freckles" is the same thing as assigning a paper to a child about "what do you want to be when you grow up" and having the write you a one liner saying "When I grow up I want to be old." As an adult, it's like fabricating information in your newspaper article, or drawing a picture for the instruction manual on how to assemble your new table, and leaving out one of the legs because it looks good to you that way. In both of the situations, the writer/artist would not be able to argue that they were creating "art", they'd be fired.
If the assignment simply was stated as "What do you want to be when you grow up" then a single word such as "old' or "fire fighter" should be accepted. If the teacher wants more than that the assignment should be "Write a (sentence/paragraph/essay/thesis/novel) about what you want to be when you grow up."

If one has a job as a journalist, then it is usually pretty clear what is needed, and that is frequently not to add as much detail as possible. In journalism, words are money, add extras just for the sake of looking like you worked hard and you are wasting money. Every sentence a journalist adds to their article is taking away a half an inch of advertisements. If your in the obituary dept, then summarizing a life down to a single sentence is a valuable skill.

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If my child's teacher called and said "I gave your child an assignment and he rushed through it and didn't give the info I wanted", I'd say "Thanks for letting me know" and have him do a new one at home. I wouldn't be anxious or assume that the teacher wasn't communicating, and I wouldn't be mad with my child, I'd just know that sometimes kids experiment and that I needed to clarify our family's values about taking time and doing work that meets teacher expectations.
However, the teacher isn't communicating. She is did not clarify the goal of the assignment, she just made a vague statement about "details." Then she placed an arbitrary higher value on drawings done with crayons over those done with pencil (BTW, I did a bit of scientific illustration in college, we used pencils not crayons.) Talk about lack of details and sloppiness, the teacher wrote "?" on the students drawing, that's just about as minimalist as one can get.

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Old 03-09-2010, 05:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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i wrote the teacher a note letting her know i'd like to speak to her further regarding what is expected of dd at school. she called me this morning and we hashed things out. i'm still not really happy about the way she addresses the picture, in general, but she pretty much said the same thing Momily said, that this is a pre-writing exercise, which is why she wanted more detail. she felt that dd would not be able to "retell" the story, if she didn't know/remember what the picture was. i, however, think that dd did know what she drew, even if the teacher did not, but i digress. i guess the teacher felt that if dd used crayons, the details of eyes/nose/mouth would be more pronounced. i told her that when i drew as a child, i almost always used pencil, so i did not occur to me to offer her crayons. she was happy with the medium she was using, so i didn't challenge it. the picture was just face. it took up the whole page. it did have hair, eyes, nose and a mouth, however the "freckles" were large circles that covered the remainder of the face. i could see how the teacher might have overlooked the facial features, but come on-dig a little deeper!!
what it boiled down to is that dd has some fine motor issues, for which she goes to ot for 1x/week, and the teacher is not seeing a great improvement. i agree, her writing is not much better. however, the teacher said that dd has all the skills she should (letter/number recognition, letter sound recognition, rhyming, etc) just not the tools to apply them. meaning she has trouble writing and conveying her thoughts. we decided we will both encourage her to write and check-in in a few weeks.
the teacher said this kind of thing improves with age and she just needs to build her fine motor strength. yesterday, coloring a homework sheet, dd said her arm hurt, so i know this is a problem. i just wish i knew how to help her more.

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Old 03-09-2010, 05:29 PM
 
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That's interesting. My son's class had the same assignment (in class, though) and the teacher went over different things you might see on an older person - glasses, wrinkles, gray hair, etc. - and drew a picture of what she thought she would look like. The assignment was not vague this way and lots of neat pictures were the result. It was part of the "100th day" celebration.

I would be perplexed by the note you received as well.

Also, it seems like too much emphasis on homework. We do have homework, but we don't get it back with notes to correct or anything like that. I think our teacher understands that homework is not entirely appropriate at age, but is required these days (by school/parents/etc.), so it is used mainly as a tool to inform the parents of what the children are learning in class and to start the homework routine for the future.
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Old 03-09-2010, 05:48 PM
 
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what it boiled down to is that dd has some fine motor issues, for which she goes to ot for 1x/week, and the teacher is not seeing a great improvement. i agree, her writing is not much better.
This, I think, is the heart of the problem. Perhaps the teacher isn't used to dealing with girls with fine motor issues? (They're much more common in boys.)

Where does your dd do OT? I would ask the OT for fun things you could do at home to address the fine motor issues.

If it helps, our ds had a significant fine motor delay when he was in K. (Yes, he was in OT.) He could barely do representational drawings, and he spent all of journaling time in K drawing pictures of fire trucks and buses.

He hated writing in 1st grade. Oh the tears we had about writing just one sentence.

He's in 3rd grade now and writing a lot. His stories are detailed and interesting. He fills up several pages when other kids are still working on a paragraph. He likes writing.

What's changed? OT finally helped. And he's matured. His writing can now keep up with his brain. He's actually learning keyboarding and I think that will make a huge difference as he goes on.

On the other hand, his drawings still pretty much look like they did when he was in K.

Personally, I'd roll my eyes (to myself), smile sweetly at the teacher and say "we'll see if we can work on it at home." Then do whatever is fun for your daughter at home.

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Old 03-09-2010, 10:26 PM
 
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Drawing a picture with "freckles" is the same thing as assigning a paper to a child about "what do you want to be when you grow up" and having the write you a one liner saying "When I grow up I want to be old." As an adult, it's like fabricating information in your newspaper article, or drawing a picture for the instruction manual on how to assemble your new table, and leaving out one of the legs because it looks good to you that way. In both of the situations, the writer/artist would not be able to argue that they were creating "art", they'd be fired.
Off topic alert: I'm an editor and I'm not sure I see the correlation here between drawing a picture with freckles (probably age spots) and fabricating information as a journalist.

Like most editors, I have sometimes gotten in stories that didn't adhere to the assignment letter (or assignment conversation) but instead were adhering to someone else's sense of the story. If I'm informed in advance so that I can make a decision far before the deadline, I'd say my experience is often the story comes out better than planned.

However sometimes I just need what's been assigned and it doesn't come in that way. I usually start my investigation by going back over the letter or my notes, and I would say a good deal of the time it's because I was unclear as an editor about what I wanted out of the pitch.

There are sometimes writers who don't turn in what's assigned and sure, eventually they don't get the assignments. But I have to tell you that in my experience, this is much more rare than that there was a problem in how the piece was assigned in the first place.

Just sayin' It's a pet peeve of mine that teachers often get the latitude to be as unclear as they like and still blame the students, whereas editors get fired for that. It's a joint responsibility - among adults.

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Old 03-09-2010, 10:42 PM
 
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Off topic alert: I'm an editor and I'm not sure I see the correlation here between drawing a picture with freckles (probably age spots) and fabricating information as a journalist.

Like most editors, I have sometimes gotten in stories that didn't adhere to the assignment letter (or assignment conversation) but instead were adhering to someone else's sense of the story. If I'm informed in advance so that I can make a decision far before the deadline, I'd say my experience is often the story comes out better than planned.

However sometimes I just need what's been assigned and it doesn't come in that way. I usually start my investigation by going back over the letter or my notes, and I would say a good deal of the time it's because I was unclear as an editor about what I wanted out of the pitch.

There are sometimes writers who don't turn in what's assigned and sure, eventually they don't get the assignments. But I have to tell you that in my experience, this is much more rare than that there was a problem in how the piece was assigned in the first place.

Just sayin' It's a pet peeve of mine that teachers often get the latitude to be as unclear as they like and still blame the students, whereas editors get fired for that. It's a joint responsibility - among adults.
I'm sorry, I didn't write that part clearly at all. I was responding to a comment that said basically, it's art, you shouldn't tell kids what to draw or place expectations on kids art. My point is that drawing, like writing is a medium for communication. Both can be used for art, and both can be used for other purposes. Sometimes people who are drawing or writing should have a lot of freedom, and other times it's entirely appropriate for others (the teacher, the editor, the customer etc . . . ) to expect to find certain things in someone's drawing or art, such as specific details. If a journalist or scientific illustrator said "it's art, so you can't tell me what to write/draw" I'm guessing they'd be unemployed.

I agree 100% that teachers need to be clear in their assignments. I don't really know, and am not sure that how other people seem to know, whether or not the teacher was. I'm not sure what has been set out in the classroom as general expectations, or what was told for this specific assignment. Perhaps the OP does.
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Old 03-09-2010, 11:46 PM
 
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I'm sorry, I didn't write that part clearly at all. I was responding to a comment that said basically, it's art, you shouldn't tell kids what to draw or place expectations on kids art. My point is that drawing, like writing is a medium for communication. Both can be used for art, and both can be used for other purposes. Sometimes people who are drawing or writing should have a lot of freedom, and other times it's entirely appropriate for others (the teacher, the editor, the customer etc . . . ) to expect to find certain things in someone's drawing or art, such as specific details. If a journalist or scientific illustrator said "it's art, so you can't tell me what to write/draw" I'm guessing they'd be unemployed.

I agree 100% that teachers need to be clear in their assignments. I don't really know, and am not sure that how other people seem to know, whether or not the teacher was. I'm not sure what has been set out in the classroom as general expectations, or what was told for this specific assignment. Perhaps the OP does.
Oh ok, gotcha. I agree that is true when art is work and not play.

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Old 03-10-2010, 01:15 AM - Thread Starter
 
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the assignment was part of the 100th day of school, as a pp mentioned. all the paper said was "draw a picture of what you think you will look like when you are 100 years old". the teacher said that some children drew themselves with canes, blah blah blah. all my dd drew was a face. i believe they were supposed to be age spots or wrinkles or something of the like. i do understand that she feels like this is the beginning of writing. however, i want her to respect my dd's interpretation of the assignment and her choice of medium. she's five years old!!

btw-i just LOVE all the comments being generated on this. it' so great to hear others' (passionate) opinions!!

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Old 03-10-2010, 02:36 AM
 
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Hmmm well I would tell the teacher if she wants a colored drawing of an entire person---including arms, legs, wheelchair or cane if they think they'll have one, stuff like that, then she needs to SAY SO, in a note home if it's homework, and by talking to the children things like "Do you think you'll have glasses?" "what color do you think your hair might be? Do you think you will *have* hair?" Maybe even show them a picture of an old person or tell them to go home and look at pictures of grandparents, great-grandparents, other "old" relatives, etc etc etc.

My son wouldn't be able to do this in detail without some prompting like that and he was 5 in Oct. He also doesn't draw a lot but writes a lot.

Since she didn't say that, I think a face with wrinkles or age spots is perfectly appropriate. Drawn in pencil if that's what she felt like doing, since nothing else was specified or encouraged.

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Old 03-10-2010, 12:16 PM
 
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i just got a message today from dd's teacher about a homework assignment dd had turned in. she was to draw a picture of what she thinks she will look like at 100 years old. the teacher returned it with a question mark. i replied in a note that it was a picture of dd's face with "lots freckles". the teacher called in response to my note. she said she wouldn't have been able to tell it was a face (it looked like a face to me and-obviously dd) because it was all in pencil, with no details drawn in crayon. i didn't see anything wrong with the picture being entirely in pencil. she said this type of work is acceptable in sept. or oct., but now that we are in march, she should be using more details. i was thinking of requesting a meeting with her to have her define more clearly what she expects of dd. needless to say, i am feeling very anxious over the whole situation.

i just wanted to know if anyone else had this kind of issue ever. tia!!
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i wrote the teacher a note letting her know i'd like to speak to her further regarding what is expected of dd at school. she called me this morning and we hashed things out. i'm still not really happy about the way she addresses the picture, in general, but she pretty much said the same thing Momily said, that this is a pre-writing exercise, which is why she wanted more detail. she felt that dd would not be able to "retell" the story, if she didn't know/remember what the picture was. i, however, think that dd did know what she drew, even if the teacher did not, but i digress. i guess the teacher felt that if dd used crayons, the details of eyes/nose/mouth would be more pronounced. i told her that when i drew as a child, i almost always used pencil, so i did not occur to me to offer her crayons. she was happy with the medium she was using, so i didn't challenge it. the picture was just face. it took up the whole page. it did have hair, eyes, nose and a mouth, however the "freckles" were large circles that covered the remainder of the face. i could see how the teacher might have overlooked the facial features, but come on-dig a little deeper!!
what it boiled down to is that dd has some fine motor issues, for which she goes to ot for 1x/week, and the teacher is not seeing a great improvement. i agree, her writing is not much better. however, the teacher said that dd has all the skills she should (letter/number recognition, letter sound recognition, rhyming, etc) just not the tools to apply them. meaning she has trouble writing and conveying her thoughts.
we decided we will both encourage her to write and check-in in a few weeks.
the teacher said this kind of thing improves with age and she just needs to build her fine motor strength. yesterday, coloring a homework sheet, dd said her arm hurt, so i know this is a problem. i just wish i knew how to help her more.
I'll leave aside whether the teacher adequately communicated her expectations, and later her concerns, about the assignment. I agree that's important, and worth discussing with the teacher. I'd rather focus on the child in this scenario, and the difficulty with written expression. It seems to me that the teacher has identified a problem and that's what's really at issue here.

I have a child with similar issues, and I've known quite a few others. Yes, it's demonstrated both in drawing and other artistic efforts, as well as writing. In the earlier primary grades, before there are lengthy or intensive writing assignments, these kinds of developmental problems are often first identified because the child is turning in sketchy, poorly detailed artistic work.

Early identification is helpful to the child and the parents. It certainly avoids the tension that may arise in later grades when writing assignments become more intensive. Parents who don't realize what is happening often think a child is being lazy or obstructionist because s/he writes a couple of sentences instead of completing the page-long story. The child thinks s/he is stupid and starts to dislike school.

For a child with problems, it isn't at all helpful to focus on the shortcomings of the teacher, or debate whether a particular drawing has artistic merit. The artistic merit is kinda beside the point. Even if the child has an amazing talent to convey information in a few pencil strokes (I'm thinking Picasso's drawing of the dove), if the teacher is concerned about a pattern of poorly detailed written work - in art and in writing - it's an issue to be addressed squarely. Because that lack of detail is going to become a big problem in a couple of years when the writing demands at school increase. I wish we had had a teacher in the early grades who was more on top of the problem.

Let me repeat that - the artistic merit is beside the point. It's the pattern of lack of detail that is an ongoing issue.

The OT is probably focusing on fine motor skills, but there is often an underlying problem with gross motor skills and core body weakness as well. If the core muscles fatigue quickly, there is no support necessary for prolonged fine motor work. Swimming and dance are both enjoyable methods of developing core muscle strength.

It's also worth noting that it isn't always just a motor issue - neurologically, there is a lot that happens between the intake of information, organizing and formulating a response and writing it out on paper.

There are all sorts of accommodations that can help in later grades - keyboarding instead of writing by hand, oral presentations, video reports, extension of time to hand in work or complete exams....

Since "lack of detail" was a routine, persistent issue, no matter what kind of writing assignment he had, we made it a habit to ask ds whether there was enough detail in his work. He's learned to assess for himself the gap between what in his head and what's on paper. Yes, clear expectations from the teacher help, but really, if a kid routinely puts the bare minimum on paper (or even less!) then you can rest assured it won't hurt his learning or his grades to ask him to expand a little more. If it's more work than the teacher wanted (HIGHLY UNLIKELY), the teacher will either ignore it or give some positive feedback.

Good luck, OP. My ds is almost finished his high school career and we're still encouraging him to add detail to his written work. Thanks to recognition and intervention, he has always had very good report cards (sometimes straight A's) though, so don't get discouraged.
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Old 03-10-2010, 03:17 PM
 
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ollyoxenfree, I wish you were a teacher. I realize we've all been ganging up on the teacher for the wrong reasons! All this wealth of helpful and relevant information for the OP - to be conveyed in a question mark...

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