The Screen-Free Quarantine – Day 14
The Screen-Free Quarantine – Day 14
Mike didn’t sleep well last night, but not because he was sick. He didn’t sleep well because there was a light left on in the hallway. So that’s good and bad news. We’ll work on that tonight. Otherwise, he is just fine. I don’t think we need to worry about the virus. At least not today. We’ll stay at home and practice social distancing, just in case, though.
I was worried when I went to bed last night about how good of a job I’m doing with teaching my children. So, this morning, I logged on to their school accounts at 5:30 am, when the internet works at least moderately quickly. As soon as the sun comes up, everyone and their brother gets on the internet, and things slow down. Kind of like that dream you have when you’re running up the stairs and your feet sink in quicksand? That’s my internet the rest of the day. Posting these blogs is an exercise. I wait until the kids are in bed, and the rest of the house is shut down. Even then, it takes about an hour to load everything up. I wouldn’t trade living at #thebookfarm for anything, though. Learning on the internet, at least today, isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
I spent about two hours preparing the kids Monday-Wednesday curriculum, and I was quite proud of what I’d done. Both boys seem to be at a similar reading level, so I assigned them a story out of a sixth grade literature book, and then the exercises that come after, which includes short answer questions (not multiple choice), that I require them to answer in complete, written sentences using proper punctuation (or they have to do it again). My favorite at the end of each section is a writing assignment. Today, they will have to write a letter to the character in the story’s boy scout leader. A persuasive letter. Which the book tells them how to write. What a skill to have!
In comparison with the school assigned work for Daniel, my fifth grader, this is Harvard compared to community college. Today, with his class, Daniel is to listen to his lovely, wonderful teacher who we love, read a story that is about a page long. Then they are to answer two multiple choice questions about the main idea of the story.
I love my county, and I love my school district. I do. I believe what they are doing is pulling together a curriculum that they believe will be attainable by the entire population of students. They have to take into account what each parent and family can and will support with respect to their students. Some parents may not have the time to supervise their children’s education at this time. They may be working or struggling to make ends meet, or even SICK with the virus itself. I get it.
But this is not education. This is jut maintaining some form of status quo. Ensuring that the kids can check the boxes on a state evaluation when they return from this quarantine, or social distancing or whatever.
I get it. I don’t think there was anything else that was possible. It’s not like they could have sent textbooks home, instead of computers, could they? Or have the teacher email assignments from the textbooks? Would that have been possible? Would the parents have ensured that kids did the work?
Why was online learning the ONLY option?
Again, not criticizing, I am just asking the question that NOBODY is asking? Why was hooking my kids up to a video of their teacher reading a story and asking them to answer very basic multiple-choice questions the ONLY option? If you want them to hear the teacher reading a story, why not have her email the parents with an essay prompt, and have us submit it, either through canvas or email? It seems to me that there are so many more viable options.
My county estimated that they would need to provide 4,000 laptops to families to ensure that this distance learning objective was accomplished. Would purchasing textbooks have been cheaper? I don’t know. Maybe textbooks aren’t really printed any longer? I was able to buy a literature book for under thirty dollars. A Math textbook for the same price, and a science workbook for ten. I just added a social studies book to my list as well, because I don’t want my fifth grader to have a knowledge gap compared to other fifth graders, because I am also teaching him using his brother’s sixth grade textbook.
This is not about me, but about us as a community and as parents. Aren’t our children the most important thing? Aren’t they the reason why we are staying home, keeping our distance and being safe? For me, they are a large part of my equation. They are why I get up in the morning and work so hard. I want to provide them a better future.
And that future begins with their education. So why was this online instruction that offers the sheer basics of edutainment to my kids the first and only option offered to us? Is it because this is all that they are capable of? Or, is this what we as parents have shown the school system that we are capable of. I would say that the school system has experienced disconnected, detached and irresponsible parents for far too long. This experience had made me realize that I have been woefully out of touch with what my children are learning and HOW they are learning it.
This is MY responsibility. And at least from now on, I am on task, teachers. I’m sorry that I let you down.
Of course, my kids are gonna hate me.
I wrote the words above in the morning, before I spent the entire day schooling my kids.
After spending another entire day trying to school my kids, I wonder (and doubt) my own abilities. What am I doing? Who do I think I am? Why do I think I can do this?
So I went on Canvas to try and see if what I’m teaching matches what the kids are being taught. Maybe I should just let them hop on for a bit, to make sure I’m doing what’s best for them, I thought.
Well, my internet answered me loud and clear. Tough luck, it said. The Canvas page will load, but my connection is so slow in the afternoon, I can click on the box for a subject and NOTHING happens. Come back and hour later? Still nothing.
The school did print out a packet for this week, so I guess they’ve assumed some people may have this problem. So, I’m following the packet as a guide, but adding more work, and more engaging topics. I think the kids like Literature the best. They love the stories. We read one today about Boy Scouts who live in New York City, and they needed to go camping to go up a level. They all wanted to be tough guys, but they chickened out when it rained on them and their canned beans couldn’t be opened because they forgot a can opener. I’m really excited about today, because they get to write a letter to the boy scout leader persuading him that the boys should still get their badges, even though they didn’t camp overnight.
For Science, we have a workbook that we are going through, but I also had two empty raised bed planters. I had the boys choose their seeds and draw a diagram of how they wanted their gardens layed out. Then we set up the irrigation system and now they have gardens of their very own. They will be checking on them daily and writing about what they see.
One funny (not so funny thing) happened. I made salsa last week and set the core of the jalapeno out to dry so I could plant the seeds. I decided to go ahead and do that while I was working with Jacob in the garden. I planted the seeds, and then moved on to helping him. Our academic periods are only 45 minutes, and I packed them a little too full today! So I was hurrying. After a few minutes, my face was burning. I thought at first, it was sunburn. But then my eyes, nose and throat began pouring out fluid and burning, too. JALAPENO!!! I ran inside and flushed my face with water for about 10 minutes. I had to explain to Jacob what happened (Daniel was upstairs doing Math), I knew I would be fine, because the same thing happened to me once when I was a little kid. As an adult in Agriculture for 15 years, I should have known better, but I was rushed and I just forgot. Jacob thought it was pretty funny (once he knew I was okay) to see snot pouring out of my nose. He took good care of me, though, and grabbed me an ice pack for my face. So I guess we have a project coming up on what makes pepper plants “burny.”
Jacob asked me if he could do a report on Turner Syndrome. Apparently, he and Kasie had a nice discussion about it, and he wants to understand what causes it, and more about the genetics, so this week he will get to do that for science. Fun stuff.
I pretty much waffle from hour to hour on whether I’m doing the right thing. But the state decided yesterday that I have no choice. School is out until May 1, and I don’t disagree. Better safe than sorry. I worry that my school system is going to punish me for not being on Canvas. But I tried. I was able to get Daniel’s canvas up early in the morning at 5 am, but of course, on the first day, there was Social Studies and Language arts. Same with Jacob’s. One subject. Later in the day, Jacob’s had all of the subjects, but nothing happened when I clicked on them. I knew this would happen with us, because Kasie’s college uses Canvas, and she has similar issues, and we’ve been dealing with frustrations there. Fortunately for her, she turns in a lot of her work via email now, and for the thing that require Canvas, she can stay up later than the boys to work on things and submit them.
So, I will forge on with my homeschooling plans. The kids like it. They’re learning a lot. Fingers crossed it’s enough to make the school system happy.
I’m learning more than they are, about how I’ve let the schools down so far. I always come in for conferences and events. I thought I was supportive, but clearly, I could have been doing more. Reality check for me. I can put it on the list of “Things the coronavirus taught me.”
I’m guessing it will be a long list.