Tuesday, September 27, 2011

And three times one?

Hello again from Panera, the official* sponsor of this blog. 

I have a routine this week! It's an amazing feeling. Same school, same kids, same schedule. I'm working in special ed for kindergarten through 3rd grade, so I get to pop in and out of classrooms to monitor and observe and staple pots to children's heads in honor of Johnny Appleseed's birthday. (I <3 kindergarten.) 

It's strange being back in elementary school and trying to compare it to my childhood. I swear these kids are learning completely different things than I did in school. In 3rd grade today they were adding three different three-digit numbers together, and I'm just sitting there thinking, "Wait, didn't we start multiplication in 2nd grade? What happened to the times tables?" And the long vs. short vowel sounds... wow, they are very important these days. (My favorite part of yesterday was watching the teacher give a lesson on changing the vowel sound from a short /i/ to a long /i/ by adding an e to the end of the word. Rip becomes ripe, din becomes dine, slid becomes slide, etc. etc. But for some reason she only did the short /i/ sound when she wrote "win" on the board. Curious.) I was very much under the impression that these classes as a whole are not remedial in any way, which means either: 1. I was very wrong, and these are classes that receive some extra TLC, or 2. They did away with multiplication and division because no one uses them, anyway. I suppose other options could include: 3. I was a mega genius in elementary school and was advanced in ways that modern teachers can't even fathom (hint: it is not option 3), or 4. I am misremembering childhood (it is also not this option, because I have a very vivid recollection of my lightbulb moment in Ms. Fastige's class when I realized that multiplying just meant counting to one number so many times.) Can anyone with more experience in the schools offer some insight? I find it strange that teachers are expected to cram so much into these kids' heads while working from a slower-paced curriculum. Perhaps option 1 is the best explanation?

Tomorrow I'm looking forward to reading a story about a boy who dreams he's a wolf. I'll let you know how that goes.

*In the event that Panera rejects my offer of official sponsorship, I will also accept donations from my loyal reader(s) in the form of gift cards. Or maybe in the form of gym memberships since I have gotten fat and lazy since moving to Baltimore and consuming nothing but pumpkin spice lattes and Cheetos.


  1. I don't know much about kids or their schooling, but my second-grade nephew was in a combined first and second grade class. At home he was reading Harry Potter books on his own. He came home from school one day rolling his eyes and said, "today we learned about the letter R." That was when my brother decided to have him home schooled.

  2. We definitely learned multiplication tables in third grade. Or, my class did, and I never really learned them but mumbled my way to college anyway. But it's still early in the year - just because you do them at some point that year doesn't necessarily mean you spend all year on it, right?

  3. Good point, Keri. I'm just wondering how they'll make that progress if it's a month into the school year and we haven't even mentioned the word "subtraction."