Thursday, April 10, 2014

What are Little Boys Made Of?

There are so many things in the curriculum today:  craft and structure, key ideas, range of reading and complexity, production and distribution, etc. etc.
Yet there is nothing that says 2.34-  children should find joy in learning.
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I'm so thankful that most teachers include joy.
I can't begin to express the heartache of dedicating yourself to helping other children, and to not be able to move your own child as fast as you wish.  It steals the joy in learning.
It can truly make you feel like the worst person in the world.  

There can be further frustration that school is set up for girls.  
Sure, boys do amazing in school.  There are boys who are blessed with quiet natures and a natural learning ability.  
Just like there are loud girls who are not natured to sit still (me).

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However, a close look at current national stats tell a story. 
Girls on average are higher in language, do better on tests, relate better to the all female teachers, and most of the gains in America's educational system in the past 30 years have been made by girls.   Girls outperform boys in all areas (NEA).  
Further studies:

  • Boys account for 71 percent of all school suspensions. Fifty-nine percent of Black boys and 42 percent of Hispanic boys report being suspended. (U.S. Dept of Ed and Schott Foundation Report)
  • Boys comprise 67 percent of all special education students. Almost 80 percent of these are Black and Hispanic males. (USDOE and Schott Foundation Report)
  • Boys are five times more likely than girls to be classified as hyperactive and are 30 percent more likely to flunk or drop out of school. (National Center for Education Statistics)

We all know there is a lot of untapped potential out there.  

My whole teaching career I have sat across from these little boys who look at chairs like they are poison. They would rather be rolling in the dirt and chasing dogs across the pond! Adventuresome, intelligent, funny, dirty, wonderfully complex boys, who have been identified as slow, poor, wild, and defiant.

Then I give them a passage from your average first grade book:

"This is a very big painting.  The light on the woman's dress make it look like she's really sitting here.  A note on the wall tells us about the artist and the painting."

(Doesn't it make you want to sit and listen?) 
NOW Little Johnny sit and listen before you walk your whole recess, why are you moving around!?!  I'm not telling you again. Why did the painting look real?
Boy:  I don't give a crap about a dress.
That. is. it.  Go back to your desk!  You are so disrespectful! We don't have time for this.

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Last night I couldn't wait to get Connor to read this little chapter book called Shark Attack!  I thought it would be an awesome story about a Shark who got loose on a field trip.  
Freddy can't wait for the class trip to the aquarium!  But is Freddy a big enough shark fan to ace the Shark Quiz?

I mean I can't believe Connor didn't want to read further to see if Freddy would pass a QUIZ!?
The anticipation.  

For weeks, I have been "flash carding" my son to get him more fluent in sight words.  It was a lot like nailing jello to the wall. 
Boy did Connor enjoy it- "do we have to do this again?"  as the bug in the light captured his attention while I reviewed away, yelling PAY ATTENTION.

 How many sight word games can you play without getting out the cooking sherry and chugging?

So after reading, Shark Attack,  I decided I had enough abilities to write a book that didn't involve 'passing a shark quiz'.

I tried to fashion it as close to his current reading level as possible.
I made it about something he really loves.
I used the same sight words we have battled for weeks. 
It's my first finished book.
You can read it here.
I'm sure pretty Scholastic will NOT be rushing to buy it.

The good news:  Connor LOVED it.  He has read it three times tonight and asked for another story.  I can say he was sincerely interested and read for over an hour total with his hw book.
It made me feel awesome.  
I created something he wanted to read!  
(I mean I cringe every time I have to hear it....)  
Still, he is flying through those words.

YES!  YES!  YES!  -aka. Daniel Bryant

still reading in the van

Looking at my son, he is a wonderful little boy that doesn't fit the school mold.  
I know what God is telling me, but so help me Dear God the second school is in session I am the one trying to shove him with all my strength in that mold.  
It isn't going to happen.  God already said so.

I just hope in this rigorous academic pace of keeping standards high and pushing all children to succeed, that we take the time to include the frogs, tails, and puppy dog tails.  
We better all understand what children are made of, otherwise we are all going no where fast.

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