Monday, May 28, 2012

Catch-up edition

Little Guy and I hopped a bus on Friday (not the right one, but that's a different story) to help Eldest pack and store her belongings for the summer. Got to see my friend Kate's son Adam in his school musical production of Studs Terkel's Working, which was impressively good.

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Little Guy and I took a field trip to a 17th century house, where he bought two small figurines, one British and one Patriot. One the bus home he played "Super Colonial Brothers" with them, which involved a lot of running along imaginary platforms and jumping on things. I am unsure if either of the Colonial Brothers was named Mario.

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I have mostly recovered from the political debate. Didja know that some people can be major jerks? Yup. I guess in part it's an occupational hazard of politics, but I gather there's a degree of choice: you can be beef jerky or chicken jerky or pork jerky or (in the case of one of the candidates) 100% organic jerky. I've always figured that people who are jerks are their own punishment , but unfortunately there's spillover to the lives of others. In this case that didn't affect the attendees, but the behind-the-scenes view sure gave me a new perspective.

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Last week I had a team meeting up at Big Guy's school to introduce his new case worker and to discuss some concerns. One issue is writing ability. He is a very bright kid, but his writing output is nowhere near proportional to his knowledge of a subject. Some of that is anxiety-related, some may be a learning disability (I asked to have him tested), and some is just avoidance.

In the process of talking about this it came out that he has not been doing the practice essays for his upcoming State-required history exam. I asked, "So what happens when he doesn't do the work? Is he supposed to bring it home and do it there?" No, he just gets a zero. Hmmm. If I were a 15yo boy who has a deep aversion for writing, I'd take the zero, too. Because really, do most 15yo boys think things through? Do their minds work like this:

don't wanna -->get a zero --> get lower grade--> lower my chances of getting into a good college --> worse opportunities in life

No, no, no. This is not how most 15yo boys think. And since the class is global history, a subject my kid owns, he is going to be really upset if he gets a mediocre grade on the exam. Which, if he doesn't practice writing the particular style of essay needed, is going to happen.

So I came home and offered him $5 for each set of practice essays he completes. Sometimes a more immediate and positive consequence jump-starts the motivation.

And yeah, he should write the essays just because he should, but he's not gonna. The way I look at it, $5 gets me a lot more progress than should.

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Yikes! It's the end of the month. That means I have a 1200-word article due in four days. Better get busy...

1 comment:

  1. I only recently subscribed to Lotsa Laundry and I am so glad I did. I just wanted to let you know that I totally agree with the $5 for practice essays. Whatever works!