Day 5. Good news Tuesday…Not! #SOL19 #SOLSC

slice-of-life_individualMarch 5th:

When my son Vincent was in first grade and we were living in Annandale, Virginia, he received a weekly package of math, reading and writing homework. We really appreciate the fact that it was a weekly ordeal, since that way we could teach him to manage his own time, and take responsibility of his own work. Also, some days were so packed with after school activities that it would have been really difficult if he had to sit every single day to do homework. Reading was a daily routine in our home but math and writing drills, nope. With sports and other interests that my son has at that age, the package was at the bottom of the totem pole. Usually he ended up on Sunday night, tired and sweaty of a fun weekend of running around outside looking at the package with teary eyes, and whining that he didn’t want to do them. We always replied to him that it was his choice, and that it was OK  if he didn’t want to turn them in. Of course, he hated the prospect of arriving on Monday to school without homework.

Nonetheless, I tried to help him to work on his homework by chunks, avoiding as much as I could the Sunday meltdown. Math was one thing that he enjoyed and he finished that section fast and with joy. Another part of the package was called Good News Tuesday.  Vincent needed to write something that day. I knew it was a well-intentioned teacher trying to space out homework and make the writing shore of 1st graders exciting. So I decided to follow suit and encourage Vincent to write every Tuesday. It was a battle. We got to an agreement that he could go outside and play as soon as he finishes his writing assignment. He stayed in his bedroom forever. Once in a while I peeked and asked him how is writing piece was going. Of course the piece of paper was blank and he had found something much more interesting to do in his room than writing good news. I was suffering as much as he was. His writer´s block was serious. He usually looked at me and said desperate: I don’t know what to write! I  run through tons of ideas until I exhausted my owns. One day, I remember I told him in a very firm voice: Vincent, it doesn’t matter what you write, write about anything, a bug, a turtle, something that happen in school or the fly that’s on your window right now, look at it, just write about it. Your teacher just want you to write. She will be VERY happy to read anything that is written by you. He looked at me upset, and said: No, I can’t. Those are not good news!

No good news whatsoever. Homework was already bad news. You don’t have an idea how much I wished the teacher had called that piece, bad news you have to write every Tuesday, or Tuesday writing exercise, or anything that made more sense to a concrete and practical boy as Vincent was (and still is at 21).

 

Shine or storm, Vincent always preferred to be outside on a Tuesday afternoon

Vincent X 2003
Vincent in First Grade (or maybe kindergarten)

26 thoughts on “Day 5. Good news Tuesday…Not! #SOL19 #SOLSC

    1. Actually, he is a good writer. Even in those days (now he is 21), despite the fact that we needed to encourage him quite a bit, the outcomes were amazing, specially when he illustrated them. He has wit and really unique sense of humor. He doesn’t write very often (and doesn’t help that he is studying engineering hahaha), but when he does, it’s always fun to read.

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  1. I love this line, ” You don’t have an idea how much I wished the teacher had called that piece, bad news you have to write every Tuesday, or Tuesday writing exercise, or anything that made more sense…” Funny, but also so true!!

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  2. Homework can be such a bother on both ends. It’s amazing how much a small word means to a child. We try choosing words wisely, but we never know how it is interpreted on the other end. Thank you for your slice!

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  3. It was fun to think about what name might have helped your son do that writing. Write anything. Writers choice day. Make some writing Day. Writing experiments. Maybe examples of different forms like we have here on this blog would have helped. I know Vincent is grown but we still have kids who we are trying to get to choose writing. Thanks for helping me think about this.

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  4. How apt to write this piece on a Tuesday – I still haven’t figured out what to write about today.
    Homework can be such a fraught issue – and the open-ended writing assignment can be daunting. As others have written, I like how you tried to re-frame the assignment to make it more palatable for your young, active son. (You described his young, active self so well.)

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  5. Your advice from years ago still rings true, write about anything and everything! I will keep this post in mind when I hit that lull in my writing this month. And I love the photos that accompany this piece! They perfectly show all the things he would rather be doing than his Tuesday writing! HA!

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  6. Thank you for sharing! I commiserate with this as I’ve often found assignments my high school ELL students are getting are not compelling to them. I always try to write my own version of their assignments to put myself in their shoes and see if I also can understand the assignment.

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    1. Thank you for bringing up older ELL students. Many times I see expressions used by US teachers or librarians that now I understand. But a person not familiar with the US culture will get lost in translation. Sometimes I still do 🙂 and my children laugh not with me but at me hahaha. “to put myself in their shoes…” Empathy is key, Thanks for your thoughts!

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  7. Pia, I empathize with your son so much. The preponderance of research on homework shows that there are little to no positive effects for kids K-5. The way you tell this story paints a picture of how teachers can unknowingly reach into home lives and rip the joy away from a child and his family. I’ve studied this extensively, along with Stacey Shubitz, and hope that maybe your slice today will help even just a few teachers to rethink their positions on giving packages of homework to six year-olds. Thank you for this!

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    1. Thanks Lanny. I should show your research to teachers in Spain. Homework is dreadful. I saw kids in my library struggling with daily homework at 7 pm after being in the school between 8:45 am and 5 pm. I remember one first grader in tears because his mom erased all his homework because she said it was wrong and he needed to do it again. I tried hard to convince her to stay away, read a book and leave her son alone but she felt so much pressure…it was hard to watch.

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  8. I didn’t mind homework because school was my “happy place” and it gave me a chance to go upstairs and separate myself from my seven brothers and sisters who were downstairs watching tv. It was the only time I had any privacy. A lot depends on your perspective! I think the homework packages for young kids are awful. No wonder he was so unhappy.

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    1. Barbara, to be fair with the story or the teacher, I am grateful that they happened even though the process was a torture for Vincent. His pieces of writing were always amazing. Very simple, but he managed to write always something clever and witty. I saved some of them and I know they are somewhere in a container in our house in Oregon. One they I will rescue them from the dust.

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  9. Thumbs up for the totem pole analogy: felt fresh and apt. On the other side of March, when you’ve accomplished the Story Challenge and keep slicing, the weekly date is Tuesday. See what Vincent thinks when you share that tidbit… Good news hopefully, by that point!

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    1. Hahaha. I have forgotten completely SOL Tuesday when I wrote this slice! I will definitely join the Tuesday happy slicers after March. I did know about it but I was intimidated with so many good writers. Now, I am becoming shameless.

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    1. Thank you, Fran. I always love to hear when women tell me they have a kid the same age as my children. It gives me a sense of sisterhood imagining us both running around in the world pregnant at the same time, with similar sense of excitement or fear, or both.

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