Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Adding one more thing to my to-do list.

Second graders here in our fair city spend a goodly amount of time in the late fall and early winter learning about First Americans -- formerly known as Native Americans formerly known as Indians. At our school, part of this learning includes a "family project" (and we all know what that means) to construct a model of either a teepee, a long house, or a pueblo. This project is assigned the week after Thanksgiving and is due the week before winter break (formerly known as Christmas break) begins.

I'll let that thought sink in for a moment while you ponder the ramifications.

[waiting, waiting, waiting....]

Is it me or do the teachers have some unrealistic expectations? I mean, who thinks that we families have the time for this? January I could do. Hell, I could even have managed it in early November. But now? Do the teachers really think we parents have the time to go to the stores and track down the materials for this project and then spend a few hours on construction?

And if a teacher were reading this right now, I'm sure she'd say, "Oh, but Mrs. B., you shouldn't have to go to the store. Just use materials you have at home already." Right, because we ALL have sand-colored clay in our pantries, just waiting to be transformed magically into a pueblo.

Last year, Graceful opted to build the pueblo, even though I begged her to go with the teepee. Nope. So I went to three different stores to buy enough Crayola Model Magic in the requisite colors. Graceful and I worked together to construct the dwelling, including using toothpicks as the log roof supports. It was a great model and WE got top marks for OUR work.

This year, Elegant has opted to go with the teepee construction, which we can mostly whip up in an afternoon. Granted, we have to find the time to do so -- what with the insane work week I'm having and the 10-12 hours I'll be working on Saturday. So we'll have to find the time next week.

On the way to school yesterday, Elegant was talking about her plans for her model. She's thinking of creating several small teepees and arranging them in a circle around the communal fire. She plans to get some sticks for the logs and to use orange paper to create the flames. I'm just glad she hasn't tried to figure out how to add REAL fire to her model.

Then she said, "And then I'll put some people around the fire roasting chocolate."

Me, "Um El, Indians didn't eat chocolate."

Her, "Mommy! They're called First Americans!!! And I'll just have them roast meatloaf instead."

I think we need to get some books from the library.


Family Adventure said...

...meatloaf! LOL!

I know what you mean about timing...

B boy has a concert at school tonight, and yesterday afternoon he brought home a long list of costume requirements. FOR TONIGHT. Because I have nothing better to do that show for him all day. Argh!

Queen B said...

Amen. My daughter turned in her mediaval castle yesterday. A day in which she had to dress like a medieval girl. Like I just had that kind of outfit in the closet. I think there should be a rule about the amount of MAJOR CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS assigned during the holiday season, too!!

Patience_Crabstick said...

LOL. Wait until they have to do science fair. (Or, "Science Expo" as it is now called.)
Seriously, I hate hate hate these types of projects. I am the kind of cranky, recalcitrant mother who refuses to make any effort whatsoever, and my kids' projects are always the worst in the class and I don't care.

blackbird said...

Middle would make a short film of First American Life.
It would have dazzling special effects and he'd have to have special permission from the teacher to submit it.

Lisa@Take90West said...

We still call them Native Americans at our school, I guess we are not politically correct for this year.
I loved this post because I am up to my eyeballs in projects as well. I couldn't agree more, they are projects for the parents, not the kids. And of course, in December, I have nothing else that needs to get done.
Last month, my husband and I were so happy to recieve an A on our book project.

Jennifer (Jen on the Edge) said...

I should probably make it clear that, while I will offer assistance for my girls' school projects, the bulk of the work is for them to handle, including the basic ideas and brainpower. I'm just here to offer money and manual dexterity.

Melissa said...

Ah yes, the school project. A huge time suck augmented by poorly-planned timing and the inevitable subjective evaluation that will follow. Grrrr.

Professor J said...

The first Americans didn't roast meatloaf?

I have a technical question for you, Jen. How did you get rid of the huge margins in blogger?

Jennifer (Jen on the Edge) said...

Professor J: Venisonloaf perhaps, but definitely not meatloaf.

As for the margins thing, I have no idea. I just mess around with the template colors and that's the extent of my so-called knowledge.

Mrs. G. said...

I am a teacher and I like to see students put their own spin on projects even it some of them aren't, let's see, historically accurate.

That said, I get weary by the number of projects that are sent home these days. Why not do them in class. I resent the amount of time homework is taking away from family life. Don't even get me started.

Thanks for sharing some of the silliness of your life.

Sue said...

I'm dreading this stage of school. Right now the homework is limited to occasional math worksheets. I'm DREADING this. Dread.

smalltownmom said...

My son's favorite project was the third grade "build a star wars character" (there was a star wars movie out that year, usually it is build a space alien). He made Cat Maul (a cat with Darth Maul's face). I guess I'm in the minority here because I think they're fun! But he has to do the work, I just help with the how-to.

Jennifer (Jen on the Edge) said...

I actually don't think our second grade assigns too much homework, nor do I have a problem with this project in general -- just that the timing is particularly shitty.

I *do* however think our third graders have too much homework, specifically too much make-work. The third grade teachers told us clearly at the beginning of the year that they assign homework to get our children in the habit of doing it -- a point I have tried to argue with G's teacher (Hi Mrs. P!). My feeling is that if a child has already mastered the spelling/vocab words or the new math concept, why send more work home?

We haven't decided what we'll do about G's school starting in 5th grade -- if we'll go public or private. We're looking at both options and I have to say that the quantity of homework, standardized and other testing, and the quality of the gifted/talented education are two of the major issues I have in mind as I do my research.

alison said...

"Mmmmm, that's some damn fine venisonloaf, Pocahontas."
-- Mr. Pocahontas

Up this side of the border the correct term is First Nations (for the community) or Aboriginal (to describe a person). Go figure. Don't even get me started on Inuk/Innuit/Inuktitut.

Linda and her Surroundings said...

I have never heard of a pueblo. It sounds like some part of my body.

Cville Teacher said...

Pssst. If you wait long enough, they're going to change back to Native Americans. In the newest proposed revisions, slated to be instituted in 2009, they drop the First Americans label, now calling them Native Americans.

And no teacher in her/his right mind should expect outside projects to get done at this time of year. I'm too busy to grade big things like that at this time of year. I can only imagine that most (all?) parents and students are way too busy to complete them at this time of year.

Jennifer (Jen on the Edge) said...

Cville Teacher: Really? They're changing it again? Is this one of our illustrious superintendent's ideas? (You already know how I feel about her...) I think the Indian project is unique to our school, because I've talked to parents at the other schools and they don't know what I'm talking about.

Oh well, at least your family is done with second grade! ;-)

cvilleteacher said...

Heh. It's not the superintendent's idea.

Every so many years, the state decides to revamp the SOLs. This year they're "updating" the history and PE SOLs across the state. This is one of the changes.