Friday, December 04, 2009

12/4/09 Report cards!

Ooh, a huge deal at school today -- report card day! Woo-hoo. Yahdah yahdah. Whatever.

But, it is interesting seeing what the teachers have to say about our boys.

The school seems to have standardized on a 1-6 scale for all grades, though the criteria for kindergarten is different than 2nd grade, thank goodness. 4 is "meets the standard," and 3 just means it's an area to focus on. Gabriel's teachers told us that a 6 means major extra effort and that not getting a 6 is not a big deal.

I gather from the way Gabriel's teacher pulled me aside to "warn" me about the S- he got in art that many parents are pretty concerned about 2nd-grade grades. Really, not a biggie, unless there really is a serious area of deficiency that needs addressing. Julian's teacher never said anything about the numbers and probably thinks that numbering kindergartners is silly. I agree.

Overall they're both doing great!

The real surprise is in Gabriel's teachers' assessment of his writing and written expression. They actually gave him a 6 for "Written and Oral Language Conventions," and even an "M" in a spelling category (the proficiency levels are M for Mastery, '+' for Exceeds the standard, 'check' for Meets the standard, '-' for Beginning to meet the standard). In their notes, they emphasize that he organizes his thoughts well and edits his writing well. He apparently is a natural speller like me, a skill I know well takes you nowhere.

Gabriel didn't excel in math, where Dave and I both would expect he would, but he's at grade level in proficiency and that's fine.

I'm amused at a summary section though, since it does sum him up quite well ("S" means Satisfactory in this context, modified by '+' or '-'):

Lifelong Learning Skills (Gabriel)
S Listens in class
S- Follows directions
S Works independently
S Works Neatly
S Completes work on time
S Accepts responsibility
S Respects classmates
S Respects authority
S Uses time wisely
S Uses conflict resolution techniques
S+ Communicates effectively
S Works collaboratively

That sounds like him....doesn't listen (S- in "follows directions"), and tells you what he thinks about his not listening (S+ in "communicates effectively").

Gabriel's first-grade teacher gave him 4s on just about everything, with an occasional + or -, and that didn't give us much information. We knew his handwriting and math in 1st grade were at drastic odds, yet she marked him the same. Not a big deal, just not a lot of information. This 2nd grade report tells us more about how he is in school. For instance, I'm really surprised about the writing. I'd never have known that he organizes his thoughts well; he doesn't write at home (beyond the occasional cartoon of a cat making bathroom jokes) or anything, and I'd have no way to put it into context for a 7-year-old anyway.

Julian too is thriving. His poor teacher has to temper that with positively-phrased statements like "With practice and reinforcement at home, I'm confident Julian will be able to consistently follow rules." Uh-huh. Good luck with that. He does putz around, he is easily distracted, but she says when he's focused he does an excellent job (as I learned with the Mexico poster). No surprises in her description of his strengths: he's an outstanding reader, and has a great understanding in science. I'm really glad to see that she can always count on Julian to volunteer to help in class, participate in discussion, and join in games and sports with other kids.

Once again, a summary section on Julian's report card tells the story:

Social and Emotional Growth (Julian)
S Works independently
S Works well in a group
S- Completes work on time
S Follows classroom procedures
S Listens and follows directions
S Respects self and others
S- Puts forth best effort

Unfortunately for us, Julian will be getting a sub for a few months starting March, since his teacher just announced she's expecting her own future kindergartner!

Despite my writing pages on report cards, I'm really not all that into the grades and all -- it's just very interesting to hear outside perspectives on the boys' strengths and weaknesses. I'm already so proud of them this week for their efforts on the drawing contest (Gabriel) and Mexico poster (Julian), that this just caps it off. I really couldn't ask for more.

And incidentally, Katrina has been asking NONSTOP for us to tell us what something spells. "Mommy, what does S-T-O-P say? What does E-X-I-T say? What does W-A-R-N-I-N-G say?" She can also read numbers up to 100, basically, like she knows that a 4 and an 8 is "forty-eight." Makes me feel like maybe we're doing something right!


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