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#1 of 24 Old 09-11-2010, 06:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Okay - a little vent..

My dd is in first grade - already they have split them into reading groups and they switch teachers for this - she is in the middle group

they have 15 spelling words each week and get tested on them every friday - plus 5 'bonus' words??? These words are not even part of the same family and many of them are sight words - last week she had the words 'said' and 'friend' and this week she has 'people' and 'night'

Last week she got 7 wrong = 53% (yes the teacher calculated that for us) and wrote at the top 'Study, you can do better' - I went over this with dd and read the comment and she immediately grabbed a piece of paper and and had me help her spell "I tried my best" and then she scribbled out all the words she got wrong.

This is so developmentally INAPPROPRIATE I want to scream - unfortunately homeschooling is not an option and the parochial schools are even worse!

I am sending her paper back with scribbles/ her not stapled and a note from me requesting a conference - but so much of this is out of the teacher's hands! I just can't believe idiots think this is going to make for better learning! Kids will give up/not try and hate school before half way through first grade - AAAAAHHHHGGHHH
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#2 of 24 Old 09-11-2010, 06:11 PM
 
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If I may make a suggestion? Before you meet with the teacher, look up the states grade level requirements. Then look up the districts standards. That will tell you how much of this is the teacher vs. what is out of her control. It's always good information to be armed with and gives you ideas of where there's room for compromise. When DS was in 1st grade last year he had 5 spelling words each week (which was a little light to be honest). This year in 2nd grade it's 10, which seems more expected I guess. What you're describing sounds like an awful lot imo, but if there's not much else in the way of homework, it doesn't sound unmaneagable either. Good luck with your meeting!
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#3 of 24 Old 09-11-2010, 06:43 PM
 
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If I may make a suggestion? Before you meet with the teacher, look up the states grade level requirements. Then look up the districts standards. That will tell you how much of this is the teacher vs. what is out of her control. It's always good information to be armed with and gives you ideas of where there's room for compromise. When DS was in 1st grade last year he had 5 spelling words each week (which was a little light to be honest). This year in 2nd grade it's 10, which seems more expected I guess. What you're describing sounds like an awful lot imo, but if there's not much else in the way of homework, it doesn't sound unmaneagable either. Good luck with your meeting!
Just wanted to say, we always had 15-20 words in 1st grade and the words you mentioned would definitely have been on the higher spelling list (there were two levels)
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#4 of 24 Old 09-12-2010, 07:58 PM
 
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When my children were in public school 1st and 2nd, it was high stress and high pressure. I thought they were so far ahead. A certain number of children were held back sometime from kinder to 3rd. 1/4 of my children's kinder classes were still in 2nd when they hit 3rd due to being held back. Then 3rd grade was ok. Then 4th grade was nothing. In 5th grade, seriously, it was also 3rd grade. It was awful! Why did they pressure and rush the kids along so much in the early grades, only to do nothing new or different in the upper grades? Plus, a certain number of children had stomach problems and such in the lower grades from the stress. Some were on zantac (for stomach acid) and some on xanax (for anxiety) and some on both, in the early years.
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#5 of 24 Old 09-12-2010, 09:33 PM
 
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I'm trying to figure out what is "developmentally inappropriate" here. When do they get their spelling words and what is the additional homework? Most teachers give them at least a week to learn the new spelling words, but I would think that at least 5 days would be appropriate. That's learning just 3 per day and seems to be about right for 1st grade. The bonus words don't count against, right? Dd's bonus words are always unrelated... that's what makes them "bonus" words.
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#6 of 24 Old 09-12-2010, 09:33 PM
 
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Before you meet with the teacher, look up the states grade level requirements. Then look up the districts standards. That will tell you how much of this is the teacher vs. what is out of her control.

One of my DD's really struggled with spelling in 5th grade - 30 words each week, and they were long, unrelated words. I talked to her teacher and found out that her teacher HATED the spelling curriculum but didn't have a choice about it.

I'd talk to the teacher and let her know that your DD is doing in best and that comments like "you can do better" are not appropriate.

I helped my DD study for spelling, got ideas from other parents (including suggestions from this forum!) on studying spelling, and let my DD know that how she scored on spelling tests wasn't a reflection of how bright she is, how much she'll accomplish in life, or anything else. It's just a spelling test. It isn't a reflection of her value as a person.

When I was in first grade in 1970, we didn't start spelling words until half way through the year, and then they were 10 closely related words.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#7 of 24 Old 09-12-2010, 09:48 PM
 
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My kids school, first grade spelling words are a list of ten each week. They use the words constantly each week. We practice at home, with homework and orally. My
Fourth grader gets twenty and then ten bonus words
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#8 of 24 Old 09-13-2010, 11:26 AM
 
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Last year in 1st my daughter was expected to learn/write correctly 100 words this on top of weekly homework with 4 pages a night.

They had it so they had to memorize 50words then had a test on those ones and everyone that got them correct had a party, everyone else was sent to another room and had to study those 50words
They did the same thing for the second set of 50 words.


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#9 of 24 Old 09-13-2010, 11:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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what is developmentally inappropriate is the stress - as some already pointed out - children this age are just learning how to learn - she gets a homework sheet every night which is simply to copy the words - from what is sent home she does a few other work sheets at school with these words but not very many -

I understand these are "state curriculum standards and objectives" so the teacher has very little say in this -

just to preface - I have worked in the field of education for 20 years - special ed, parent ed, early child hood ed and now as an autism specialist and I have been fortunate to have taught all grades, including adults

My concern here, and what I feel is the real travesty, is that these are unrealistic for MANY kids - they are setting MANY kids up to feel like failures before they've even begun - early educators must instill confidence and a love of learning, NOT THE UBER STRESS OF 20 spelling words a week! and I am pretty sure many of those who do learn them will forget them in a month if they are not really engaged with these words on a regular basis

can my dd do this? with a bit more focus I think she can - and in truth this may be just the challenge she needs - too much has come too easy for her and she doesn't really like to work very hard at anything - if she cannot do it easily and with little effort she just gives it up - not a quality I want to perpetuate - But I also think that these early grades should be about learning HOW to learn and HOW to study and to instill confidence and a LOVE for learning - my friend's ds in is the same class (she too is in the field of education - SLP and early intervention) her son was also told to STUDY in bold marker - she asked him what that meant and he held out both hands and said "when you stay real still"

If the students need to 'study' and work this hard to achieve and it takes the parents taking an active role for them to be successful (beyond seeing that they have a place for hw and that it is in fact done - and even this sets the kids apart on many levels) then we are not just holding the children to higher standards but setting up a dynamic where it puts children whose parents work at a great disadvantage - only those children whose parents are able to take an ACTIVE role in assisting them will have a shot at success?

I work full time and by the time I pick up dd, get home, put a healthy meal together, have a SMALL amount of family time, get ready for bed and read to her (as I am 'required' to also do - no matter as I have read to her nightly since infancy, but still, not all families do...) there is very little time to "study spelling" - and they stress the importance of an early bed time as well....

Back to what would be more developmentally appropriate? 8 spelling words all of which were part of the same 'family' (or 2 families) with another 2 sight words - I would also include family words from the previous week on each spelling test for review

And to be honest - this is probably something I would work UP to over the course of a a month or two - so each child can see themselves as successful learners and then be encouraged to do more -

This level right out of the gate (as some are still struggling to read and write) is like slamming the door in their face before they even start....


I am meeting the teacher on Thursday BTW - and again - I am not really angry with her, so much as I thin the standards are wrong and will backfire on a great number of children here in what is largely a very low income area
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#10 of 24 Old 09-13-2010, 11:16 PM
 
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I had a teacher make an inappropriate(to me) comment on my dd's paper in K. It said "too slow, finish at home" the worst part was my dd could read it and knew exactly what it said. She didn't seem hurt by it fortunately but I was a little.

They do expect a lot more it seems in lower grades. DD is in 2nd grade this year and had a test the first full week on Friday. She was the only one that passed the test(with a 100% if I may have a proud mommy moment) and it was all review. So I would agree with the comment on them not remembering it later unless constantly engaged.

Also remember its early in the year and she may be trying to see where everyone is by offering challenging spelling tests to group them and be sure they are grouped. DD was in ps last year this year she's in charter(still free ps but most are a lot better at meeting needs) but I very much wish I could homeschool or more like unschool really.

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#11 of 24 Old 09-13-2010, 11:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I helped my DD study for spelling, got ideas from other parents (including suggestions from this forum!) on studying spelling, and let my DD know that how she scored on spelling tests wasn't a reflection of how bright she is, how much she'll accomplish in life, or anything else. It's just a spelling test. It isn't a reflection of her value as a person.
YES - and thank you - knowing this is what is expected and wanting dd to see herself as successful I have been helping her much more (now that I know this is what it takes) I have targeted the most difficult words this week and been putting them to sing songy verses and it seems to be helping - not only for her to memorize them, but also for her to be willing to work on it - she sings the words on her way home from school as we bike to and from school everyday.

But again - precious few families have the time, knowledge or inclination to put forth this much effort (especially in the first grade - where in our day it was just not necessary) - is this fair to the kids whose parents don't/can't do this? Is this why there is such an achievement gap? Parents MUST take an active role yes, but to what extent? I am happy to do this for my child, but it takes knowledge, time and creativity to do this. And this is my background - what of the poor kids who live in single parent households where this is just not going to happen - is this equality in education?

I don't have the answers here - just pondering lots of questions...
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#12 of 24 Old 09-13-2010, 11:24 PM
 
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what is developmentally inappropriate is the stress
I agree with you.

I'm glad that you are meeting with the teacher and that you are able to do so with a positive attitude. I hope that something works out.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#13 of 24 Old 09-14-2010, 10:31 AM
 
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But again - precious few families have the time, knowledge or inclination to put forth this much effort (especially in the first grade - where in our day it was just not necessary) - is this fair to the kids whose parents don't/can't do this? Is this why there is such an achievement gap? Parents MUST take an active role yes, but to what extent? I am happy to do this for my child, but it takes knowledge, time and creativity to do this. And this is my background - what of the poor kids who live in single parent households where this is just not going to happen - is this equality in education?

I don't have the answers here - just pondering lots of questions...
This is a very good point! With the economy the way it is, many working families are taking whatever type of hours they can get just to keep a roof over their heads. Even 2 parent households where both parents work it can be a strain to do homework and keep it all together.

And there are MANY parents who believe that its the schools job to teach them so they shouldn't have to worry about that kinda stuff..not my opinion just sayin'

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#14 of 24 Old 09-14-2010, 10:52 AM
 
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I'm with you! Drives me crazy! I want to concentrate on ds's fine manipulative movement skills (colouring, correct movements for writting) and reading which actually comes before writting, and he comes home with spelling words which follow no pattern which he just can not learn! he can not learn phonetically because he has a speach impediment which he is in speach therapy for. I just don't understand it!

His teacher wrote a note on his second test (he got 0%, big surprise!) that he needed to practice every night. I responded that we do and that due to the pressure on him he had started having bad dreams about spelling and writting! I had sat with him while he fell asleep the night before and he was talking in his sleep about how the words were coming at him too fast and he couldn't do anything to stop them!!! Why put that much pressure on a 6 yr old????.

What really got my goat is that we actually do a huge variety of activities to help with spelling, reading and writting. I painted a chalk board on the kitchen wall which we use, we write on windows, we use flash cards (not just as flash cards but memory matching, snap games etc) and scrabble letters. We use crayons, chalk, markers, paint etc.... AFTER SCHOOL?
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#15 of 24 Old 09-14-2010, 11:11 AM
 
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If the students need to 'study' and work this hard to achieve and it takes the parents taking an active role for them to be successful (beyond seeing that they have a place for hw and that it is in fact done - and even this sets the kids apart on many levels) then we are not just holding the children to higher standards but setting up a dynamic where it puts children whose parents work at a great disadvantage - only those children whose parents are able to take an ACTIVE role in assisting them will have a shot at success?

I work full time and by the time I pick up dd, get home, put a healthy meal together, have a SMALL amount of family time, get ready for bed and read to her (as I am 'required' to also do - no matter as I have read to her nightly since infancy, but still, not all families do...) there is very little time to "study spelling" - and they stress the importance of an early bed time as well....
YES! Thank you so much for writing this. My son is also in first grade, and last year and this, he is given homework assignments that require a parent to sit down with him and actively study with him. I don't mind getting him set up, helping him understand instructions, etc. - but I don't feel his homework should require me to actively participate.

And it goes beyond just homework. Last year in full day kindergarten, the children had absolutely no free play time many days - they cycled from learning center to learning center. The teacher's most frequent complaint to me was that my child did not focus on his tasks and complete them in a timely manner. When I suggested (politely) that maybe it was developmentally inappropriate to expect a 5 year old to focus for almost 7 hours a day, she got angry with me and claimed my son was the only one in her class to have difficulty with it. Ridiculous.
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#16 of 24 Old 09-16-2010, 05:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So I met with the teachers today - her 'regular' teacher and her 'reading' teacher - I thought she was in the 'middle' reading group but it seems this is the highest group - most of the other students are doing just fine - they are now also expected to take dictation sentences and she is clearly struggling with this - saw a sample and it wasn't pretty - we are going to move her to the middle group where she will probably do much better - although now that we have worked really hard on learning these words all week she will probably do pretty well ( but she still will struggle with the dictation - so it's still better that she move to the middle group - which is where I thought she was all along???)

So there we have it - I know reading didn't click with me at all until the middle of second grade - although really it isn't the reading she's struggling with so much as the writing -but I don't want her to struggle to the point where she hates it! So we will try this and see...
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#17 of 24 Old 09-16-2010, 05:53 PM
 
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When I suggested (politely) that maybe it was developmentally inappropriate to expect a 5 year old to focus for almost 7 hours a day, she got angry with me and claimed my son was the only one in her class to have difficulty with it. Ridiculous.
They usually say your child is the "only" but it's rarely true.

Ds "girlfriend" in K last year also has ADHD and I know from her mother that she was in trouble as often as ds; dh also sat in on ds' class a couple of times and saw most of the class engaging in "rule breaking" but ds was the one most often called on it, but we were made to feel that ds was the ONLY child in 5 K classes that couldn't follow the rules.

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#18 of 24 Old 09-19-2010, 09:36 PM
 
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I just had a meeting with a woman I've engaged to help dd with her reading. She's been teaching children to read for going on 40 years. Anyway, she asked if we'd done any spelling with dd (who is just beginning grade 2). When I said no, she said "oh, that's fine. Spelling was never taught until grade 2 when I was working in the public school system".
And guess what? Most of us spell very well.
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#19 of 24 Old 09-19-2010, 11:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
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well she just went from"unit 9" back to "unit 4" where her words are all much for related and easier for her - she just got the words Friday and we went over them tonight and she is 90% there already - I am happy she will not be stressing and frustrated over the spelling (and yes - most of us spell just fine - but my dh - super intelligent and with a phd in anthropology - is not a great speller - spelling ability is not a great determination of one's intelligence, or should I say reflects a very small part of one aspect of intelligence)

But now will she be bored? (I suspect not, her creativity keeps her engaged I think) I really would have liked her to have a decent challenge without it tearing down her self esteem - but clearly if I have to choose one over the other at THIS YOUNG age - I choose no stress/improved confidence over stressing with challenge and high achievement any day
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#20 of 24 Old 09-20-2010, 01:18 PM
 
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[QUOTE=bonamarq;15861469But now will she be bored? (I suspect not, her creativity keeps her engaged I think) I really would have liked her to have a decent challenge without it tearing down her self esteem -[/QUOTE]

I don't think that children need, or can even stand, to be working at their max in every subject all day. It's too exhausting and they often end up giving up.

Her spelling skills will also improve through reading and through her other written work. Spelling class is only one part of how kids learn to spell.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#21 of 24 Old 09-20-2010, 10:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh ITA - and for now it's enough of a challenge to do as she is told (not a strong suit for her ) and she is doing really really well with her behavior (they do sticker charts and I know they are not generally popular here but they work for my dd) and while I KNOW she is not really performing up to her intellectual abilities, I think she IS challenged just to stay focused and pay attention - she's very very active and distractable, more so than average but so far not outside the range of normal. So yes, being 'in the middle' is all and all a very good move
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#22 of 24 Old 02-15-2011, 12:38 AM
 
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I know I'm late to the party here - but this is just awful, poor kids.

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#23 of 24 Old 02-21-2011, 07:51 AM
 
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We don't use percentage grading at our school, and I don't think that the kids feel heavy pressure.

 

That being said, I don't think first grade is the new third at all, at least where I live.  If anything, by the time they get to third, the expectations seem fairly low, and the curriculum is boring.

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#24 of 24 Old 02-23-2011, 11:41 AM
 
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To be honest, I doesn't sound like too many words. 15 words over the course of an entire week doesn't sound too bad. My oldest is homeschooled now but she was in a parochial school before Christmas break. She had 20 required words plus 5 bonus words. It was an academic task to complete every evening along with the other homework but I didn't have a problem with it. Kids should be challenged, if all the school work and homework was simple to complete and easy the kids wouldn't be learning much.

 

They were also split into several reading level groups. DD was in the advanced group so she would leave the classroom with couple other kids and do extra work with a volunteer retired librarian every day while the other kids were doing grade level work. I shudder to think of how incredibly bored she would have been if the entire class was doing the same reading work at the same time. 

 

I'm thinking now about when I was in Kindergarten (at a parochial school). It was the late '80's and we had either five or six reading groups. Everyone was color coded. Reading groups are not a new thing, they've been around for a long time.

 

IMO, ability groups for reading are more important the younger the children are. Some first graders are only reading a few words and working on letter sounds while some are reading chapter books. That's a big range. Plus, even the very advanced kids are likely unable to teach themselves much where as in, say, the the fifth grade students who are advanced can work ahead. 

 

DD's first grade homeschooling curriculum has 20 spelling words each week but no bonus words. Each week's lesson is a one page introduction, three full pages of work, and a test.

 

Maybe you could work with the teacher on coming up with spelling work she has an easier time with? If she is learning disabled I wonder if the school would require the teacher to work with her?

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