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#91 of 109 Old 10-24-2012, 04:15 AM
 
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Are you SURE it was assigned when your daughter said it was?
 

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#92 of 109 Old 10-24-2012, 06:47 AM - Thread Starter
 
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mtiger, Definitely. He posts it to his google calendar, and all the other parents were up in arms about it, too.

 

I did email with him and asked how long he wanted the kids to take with the assignment (meaning an hour or what, wondering what his expectations were) and he replied "just tonight" and said they would be working on refining their rockets all week. I emailed him back to ask him more specifically what his expectations were for the amount of time they should put into it, 30 minutes or 3 hrs, but didn't hear back from him. He has been known to return projects and tell the kids they needed to add more to it, so while part of me thought maybe he just wanted them to dash something off, I was also worried about projects being returned for not being thorough enough. 

 

We have conferences coming up in 2 weeks and I don't know if I should wait to talk to him then in more depth or I guess I should probably go ahead and try to chat about it sooner. 

 

meemee, I know he taught 6th grade science last year, too, but that could have been his first year. I'm not sure. 

 

DD1 is still super excited about the rockets, though, so I don't want to engender any bad feelings on the part of the teacher. I'm really feeling like I need to walk on eggshells a little bit with this one. It's one thing if there's already some animosity between your child and a teacher (not that it should be there, but you know sometimes they have a teacher they hate and it seems the teacher doesn't like them either). Right now, though, I know dd1 really likes him  and I think he likes dd1 so I don't want to do anything to mess up that relationship. 

 

I did get some positive feedback from the counselor I emailed and he said they had put it on their agenda for their next staff meeting to talk about better coordination between the teachers of the homework load. I think that would help, but really this particular assignment is just pretty unreasonable.


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#93 of 109 Old 10-24-2012, 08:58 PM
 
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beanmama i would talk to him as soon as he is available. not wait the two weeks. two weeks is a long time since he assigned the rocket homework. 

 

really what you emailed him, i'd make that clarification. 

 

i would go with teh report and a break down of the time it took dd to write and make that. along with all the homework that was due that day. show him with a list of figures how much time it took your dd to do her hw. 

 

you know this is SIXTH grade. not even 8th. i wonder what he would do for 8th. yikes2.gif

 

go there with teh attitude as someone pointed out above - that this is how much time your dd takes to do her projects so it doesnt have to be about you giving him the stinkeye. give him positive feedback. tell him how fired your dd is over this project. how happy you are they are doing this in 6th when most schools do it in 8th (i think).


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#94 of 109 Old 10-25-2012, 09:50 AM
 
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I did get some positive feedback from the counselor I emailed and he said they had put it on their agenda for their next staff meeting to talk about better coordination between the teachers of the homework load. I think that would help, but really this particular assignment is just pretty unreasonable.

In light of this, I would write a very succinct letter the counselor and ask that it be read (or the points brought up) at the meeting.  I think this is a GREAT sign. I consider my DC's school a "good school" in that I think they are very in tune with the children and the families. They almost always address things before I have time to bring them up. It sounds like your DC's school has this same level of synchronicity. So, yea, proceed from the place "I'm sure you're aware that there are some issues with HW and I would love to add another layer of clarity of the situation from the perspective of our child/family." 


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#95 of 109 Old 10-25-2012, 03:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well, I wrote a very positive, diplomatic email to him last night and said that I wanted to chat with him about his expectations and goals for homework. I told him I wanted to better monitor dd1's work as far as the quality and the amount of time she spends on it. I told him how she had stayed up until midnight and had several other assignments to do that night for the next day as well (assigned that day). Etc, etc, etc.

 

He wrote me a positive email back and said her work looked great and he was concerned about the amount of time she was spending on it, too, and he expected the kids to spend about 30-45 mins on each assignment. He also said that the teachers had discussed spacing out the homework so that it wasn't all on the same night like that, so that's positive.

 

I need to write him back, though, because I'm not sure how anyone could do that project in 30-45 minutes. I think he needs to adjust his expectations for 6th graders, but at least it's all positive discussion at this point. I'm pretty sure that all the other kids are spending A LOT of time on their assignments, too, and I think he's just underestimating how long it takes. I could see just writing a rough draft of a 1 page paper in 30 minutes, but to do research and do a model also?!


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#96 of 109 Old 10-25-2012, 03:32 PM
 
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Well, I wrote a very positive, diplomatic email to him last night and said that I wanted to chat with him about his expectations and goals for homework. I told him I wanted to better monitor dd1's work as far as the quality and the amount of time she spends on it. I told him how she had stayed up until midnight and had several other assignments to do that night for the next day as well (assigned that day). Etc, etc, etc.

 

He wrote me a positive email back and said her work looked great and he was concerned about the amount of time she was spending on it, too, and he expected the kids to spend about 30-45 mins on each assignment. He also said that the teachers had discussed spacing out the homework so that it wasn't all on the same night like that, so that's positive.

 

I need to write him back, though, because I'm not sure how anyone could do that project in 30-45 minutes. I think he needs to adjust his expectations for 6th graders, but at least it's all positive discussion at this point. I'm pretty sure that all the other kids are spending A LOT of time on their assignments, too, and I think he's just underestimating how long it takes. I could see just writing a rough draft of a 1 page paper in 30 minutes, but to do research and do a model also?!

Sounds like an all around good result but I agree that his expectations for ANYONE to do that work in 45 minutes is sort of baffling. I'd be tempted to do it myself (in a rush) and see how fast an adult could do the work. 

 

Perhaps another interesting route (if you think he has the personality for this sort of suggestion) would to be for your DC to do a study on how long the class took to do the assignment and come up with an average and all that good stuff. 


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#97 of 109 Old 10-25-2012, 04:56 PM
 
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I need to write him back, though, because I'm not sure how anyone could do that project in 30-45 minutes. I think he needs to adjust his expectations for 6th graders, but at least it's all positive discussion at this point.

 

I think that if someone already had a good grasp of the information, plenty of experience throwing school projects together, experience building different types of rockets, understood the goal was to get done -- not have fun or learn -- they could pull it off in 90 minutes.

 

Homework - Research water bottle rockets, air pressure rockets, model rockets and what characteristics are needed in order to make the highest flying rocket. 1 page with 2+ refs in MLA format. Build your perfect rockets or rockets. Consider what kind of body, nose, fins and ballast you will need.

 

The quick way to do this is to goggle the different kinds of rockets, skim the information, and slap a paper together. Experience tracking down information and writing lots of papers would get you through it pretty quick as long as you understood that you could not waste time getting interested in the rockets, you were just searching for enough facts to write one page. In 6th grade, I suspect few children have this ability. They would spend a lot of time finding info and then figuring what they needed to know. (Which is why if my kids had to do that in one night, I'd end up doing it for them). Many 6th graders would struggle to write the paper in less than an hour even once they had all the information gathered.

 

"Building your perfect rockets" is easy if:

 

a. you understand that it doesn't need to be perfect, it just needs to be done. Quickly. You can't care much about the rocket and get it done quickly. You must discard the word "perfect".  My perfect rocket can't be built in my home, or by anyone quickly. It requires ceramics and titanium. The assignment really means "build the best rocket you can using materials around your home, assuming you can find tape and have other random useful things lying around."

 

b: you've made rockets before and already know a few tricks to include. You already know what the body, nose, fins, and ballast are and how they should be designed, and can BS about it to your teacher. If you need to look up these words and experiment to see how it works, its going to take time. In other words, if you have something to learn through this process, there's no way to learn it and get it done quickly.

 

I also think this assignment would have been easier if it were more specific. "make a rocket from an 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper than can be launched using air pressure from an empty 2 liter soda bottle" would be an easier assignment.

 

I think design challenges are really good for kids. Here is the path one of my DDs took:

 

6th grade they had a few and they usually lasted over 2 weeks (always included a weekend) and they didn't write papers. It was fun, and pretty low stress.

 

8th grade - had a class where once a week they did a design challenge in class - materials were provided, a goal was set, and they just saw what they could come up with

 

summer after 8th grade -- attended engineering camp at a university and was one of the youngest participants. They had competitive challenges for honor and glory, and even though the staff mixed up the teams for the different challenges, whatever team she was on won. Most likely because she's done lots of design challenges at this point.

 

BUT -- a kid rushing through a design challenge and not having time to really try different things out, or ending up having a parent do it or tell them how to do, teaches them nothing. Nothing. It is not going to produce a highschooler who can beat other highschoolers in design challenges.

 

I do think the ability to "just get 'er done" is a good one for children to develop at some point. It's something both my kids (who are in highschool) need to improve in before college. However, I think that "learning to do things" and "learning how to rush things" them are different skills, and 6th graders should be focusing on the first.


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#98 of 109 Old 10-25-2012, 05:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well, I just got Bcc'd on another email from him to, I guess, the 6th grade parents. He said it had been brought to his attention that the assignment was problematic for a few students and reiterated the 30-45 minutes and did say that they were shown how quickly and easily you could make one of these rockets and that should have taken about 15 minutes. I think he was using "perfect" in a way to mean give it your own design, don't necessarily copy one online, although he could have just said that. 

 

Still, I don't think you could research it (unless he gave specific links) and write it up in 30 minutes. I mean, as an adult I would be hard pressed to do that. 

 

Hmmmm, I think I need to respond since he sent me the other email directly and now this one to the whole class. I guess I can thank him for clarifying the expectations and also let him know that my child, at least, had not done a lot of writing prior to this. She had done some, but nothing close to this amount. She did not have the best writing teacher in the world last year, but he was okay. He taught them persuasive essays and that type thing, but they did most of that in class. She was in the best public school system in the state, though. I'm concerned that he's really expecting much more writing than they (at least my kid) have had to produce in the past and I am worried that she's learning to dash it off rather than sit with it and craft her best piece. This is her 6th paper type assignment for him since the end of August. She's had to write one book report so far in English (another due next week) and work on her journal (not graded for content or punctation), no papers in Social Studies, a couple of papers in her Outdoor Skills class (which seems weird), no papers for math (understandably), and none for her other elective type classes. So she having to write triple the amount of papers in Science vs any other class, but beyond the MLA formatting is being given no direct instruction and no feedback on the papers. 

 

What to do, what to do. I _really_ do like him. I was pretty angry at him Monday night when she was slammed with homework, but overall I really do think he's a fantastic and very engaging classroom teacher. Despite the homework dd1 is still super psyched about his class (which is more than I can say about Math). Hmmm...


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#99 of 109 Old 10-25-2012, 07:07 PM
 
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and he expected the kids to spend about 30-45 mins on each assignment. 

yikes2.gif you mean research, writing AND making a rocket. even I as an adult wont be able to. that is just preposterous.

 

when this blows over, or at the PT meeting give him positive feedback.  

 

in general (perhaps you already do this) i always try to talk to the teachers to touch base. i dont know how hard that would be in middle school, but i keep in touch with both the teachers classes dd goes to. just to check up. it then makes it easier to bring up hard issues. 


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#100 of 109 Old 10-25-2012, 08:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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See, I think he must not mean "writing a paper" like we're all thinking about "writing a paper". He must have some special meaning of his own because everyone thinks it's just ridiculous. I just replied to him and I probably spent more than 45 minutes crafting an email to him!

 

I don't think it does dd1 any favors to learn to crank it out really fast. He says he's seen higher quality work come from a 2-3 day assignment than from an assignment the kids are given a week or two for because they procrastinate and put if off until the last day. I've heard from other parents that he's said the same thing to them, too, so I doubt I'll be able to change his mind on that, but I do want to try to open his mind to the fact that if the kids are doing these kinds of assignments in 1-2 days they're spending far more time on them than he thinks they are. I think maybe he just doesn't realize how much time the kids are devoting to it. 

 

I told him that I was concerned about the quality of dd1's research and writing and I wanted her to do her best and not cut corners and dash something off, but that I just didn't think she could do her best in 30-45 minutes. I also told him that she hadn't had direct instruction in writing research papers for Science before and that she hadn't received a lot of direct instruction in writing or that many other writing assignments in school this year (outside of Science). I closed by asking him for suggestions on any adjustments we could help her make so that she could do her best in a limited amount of time. I also told him that she was super psyched about the rockets. So I'll see if he offers any suggestions, but at least the ball is rolling a little bit.


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#101 of 109 Old 10-25-2012, 09:39 PM
 
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What to do, what to do. I _really_ do like him. I was pretty angry at him Monday night when she was slammed with homework, but overall I really do think he's a fantastic and very engaging classroom teacher.

 

Actually, that makes it all so much easier for you. Because when you give him negative feedback (which you really NEED to do) you can also say nice things about about how fantastic and engaging he is in the classroom. I find it much easier to deliver criticism when it's part of a balanced feedback. Teachers have strengths and weaknesses like the rest of us.

 

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 I just replied to him and I probably spent more than 45 minutes crafting an email to him!

...

I also told him that she hadn't had direct instruction in writing research papers for Science before and that she hadn't received a lot of direct instruction in writing or that many other writing assignments in school this year (outside of Science).

 

 

yes, but you care about the email.

 

I think the part about never receiving instruction on how to do this is really important. If over the course of this year, he really teaches the kids how to write simple science papers, that would be a good thing. But it is unreasonable to simply assign work without teaching how to do it.

 

I think there is a big difference between a 2-3 day assignment and a one night assignment. A couple of days allows for kids having one night a week that is busy, or needing some time to mull over their research before doing their writing.


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#102 of 109 Old 10-25-2012, 09:53 PM
 
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beanma when you say write a report with MLA citations i cant imagine what he means or how to do it in less than half an hour. 

 

i am curious. does your school have a feeder school? or is it a middle school which has kids coming from many different schools.

 

i ask coz my friend's high school going dd who didnt come from the feeder middle school took a long time to get used to things because the teachers did not explain quite a few things in detail.  that is what i have also heard from the middle school for which dd's school is the feeder school. 90% of that schools kids come from dd's school. 

 

i wonder if that is why he assumes kids know what hw he is talking about. 


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#103 of 109 Old 10-26-2012, 06:21 AM - Thread Starter
 
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No, there's no feeder school. It's a charter and starts in 6th. It draws kids from something like 9 districts and 5 or 6 counties. 

 

I had a very positive unplanned chat with him this morning. He's really a great guy, but as I suspected his idea of a "paper" is not the same as my idea of a "paper". He's just thinking of a collection of some facts, which is fine, but for my kid that's still going to take more than 30 min if she has to do research. He did suggest a couple of online resources, but I still think that's short on time, but definitely better. I think it's a combination of me (and everybody else) interpreting the assignment as too much (well, you read it — that's what it sounds like!) and him underestimating the amount of time it takes to do even rudimentary research and writing. 

 

Anyway, we seem to be at a good place now so I'll leave it for now and see how it goes from here.

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#104 of 109 Old 10-26-2012, 01:57 PM
 
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Beanma, I am glad you got a good conversation going with the teacher both in person and email.  Hope your dd keeps enjoying science and the teacher, too.  

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#105 of 109 Old 10-27-2012, 12:27 AM
 
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No, there's no feeder school. It's a charter and starts in 6th. It draws kids from something like 9 districts and 5 or 6 counties. 

 

I had a very positive unplanned chat with him this morning. He's really a great guy, but as I suspected his idea of a "paper" is not the same as my idea of a "paper". He's just thinking of a collection of some facts, which is fine, but for my kid that's still going to take more than 30 min if she has to do research. He did suggest a couple of online resources, but I still think that's short on time, but definitely better. I think it's a combination of me (and everybody else) interpreting the assignment as too much (well, you read it — that's what it sounds like!) and him underestimating the amount of time it takes to do even rudimentary research and writing. 

 

Anyway, we seem to be at a good place now so I'll leave it for now and see how it goes from here.

beanmama i think i am getting what he wants the kids to do. go online and read about it. then just copy and paste that info on a document and MLA it and voila - DONE!!! except for a child like my dd it would be like opening a pandora's box. she'd want to get more thorough research done.

 

i am so glad you stopped for an informal chat. i think its wise to wait and see what the next chapter brings.


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#106 of 109 Old 10-27-2012, 05:56 AM - Thread Starter
 
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meemee, I don't think he wants them to just copy and paste, but maybe more "take notes". Which, really, is just about what dd1 has been doing. On one assignment he told them to read about something online and then write down 10 facts. That's a little less intimidating since you don't have to worry about making your paper flow and read well. It's more like bullet points, but 10 facts is still a lot for a kid to research and write down in 30 minutes. That felt more reasonable, though, but would still take dd1 longer. Maybe some of the other kids could do that in 30-45 minutes, though. After talking to him I think that is really what he is looking for as far as the papers. He called them a "collection of facts". I still think 15 minutes to research and 15 minutes to write is tight.


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 I still think 15 minutes to research and 15 minutes to write is tight.

it IS!!!! esp. for a 6th grader. i am in school doing school work. 15 mins to research is just not enough time even for me to gather enough good material to write a paper - no matter how casual the writing has to be. even 10 half sentences take a long time to write. 


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#108 of 109 Old 10-28-2012, 06:59 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Glad you agree! I think it will be an ongoing conversation with him. I think research and write down 10 facts might be a reasonable assignment over 2 days, though, which is how much time he gives for most of his assignments. What do you think? It was unusual that the rocket paper was due the next day. 


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#109 of 109 Old 10-28-2012, 08:03 AM
 
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I think research and write down 10 facts might be a reasonable assignment over 2 days, though, which is how much time he gives for most of his assignments. What do you think? It was unusual that the rocket paper was due the next day. 

oh yeah. two days is perfectly fine for a research and 10 fact assignment. i was so caught up in being mad at him, that i read that as one day too.

 

in the meantime though beanma get your dd an typing tutorial. if there is one skill that has been invaluable to me, its typing. in every form of life. i can relate to your dd because i was like her as a child. everybody would finish and be off and i would STILL be working. same with eating, same with waking up.

 

in second grade dd went into a split class. the teacher gave tonnes of hw. and he was upfront about it. if you are in my class you have hw to do. he was sooo funny though. the kids LOVED him. totally worshipped him. he even brought icecream after class. every day after class he was the last teacher to leave the school becaseu for half an hour after class his past students would visit him and hang around him so he wouldnt be able to do his work. that year dd never protested and did all her work. she was given 3rd grade work to do. the only time she protested was over winter break she was given an hours worth of work to do everyday. she was the only student who turned it in two weeks late. 

 

the teacher retired the next year. he visits. if you hear screaming kids before school starts you know he is on campus. dd is very very VERY lucky. in her 6 years of school she has had maybe 2 teachers whom she doesnt really care about, and 4 teachers she absolutely adored. teachers over whom she has cried when they had to take a medical leave of absense. and when they came back kids ran to hug them. 

 

she has had one BAD substitute - once for a few weeks, once for a week recently and omg how my child changed. it stressed her out so much. she was a mess. 

 

so i think its huge, HUGE that inspite of everything both you and dd think he's great. 


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