Thursday, April 16, 2020

Let's call this individualized education

E-schooling may be the thing that does me in.

The first two weeks we basically did nothing, because the school extended spring break to give themselves a chance to plan something. It was great. We watched a lot of documentaries.

After that we were emailed a giant packet for each kid, with pages to print for each day. The computer fought me about printing everything in the proper format, but I got the pages for them to do. Or, for at least one kid, to scream at and refuse to do any.

Then they had a drive-thru to pick up print copies because obviously not everyone has a printer or can afford to toner to print out 90 pages per kid.

I thought that was just how it was going to be, set up a nice routine to do the work, and eventually got Marko doing most of it. But it turned out that was only enough for two weeks, and at the end of that they rolled out yet another system. Except that it's not so much a system as a giant flood of different stuff.

Each child's teacher has a different system for informing us what work needs to be done, and in Marko's case, uploading the work after. I have had to log into half a dozen sites, and since they all have to log each other out and themselves in, I have to remember all those logins. For extra fun, one of the sites had "first initial and last name" for a login. All three of my school kids have the same first initial and last name!

Miriam has her work in a Google Slides presentation with different categories for subject and week. There are these itty bitty YouTube videos embedded which take a deft hand to pop out so they're viewable.

Michael's teacher is my favorite right now, because all the work for each day is on one page. I can open ONE file and know what his work is for the day. Also, all of the work is independent, which of course means the world when I have the other three all needing attention at every moment. (Not that Michael doesn't still demand attention, but at least it's theoretically possible for him to do it all.) Downside is, all of it is on the computer and we have only two computers. Also a tablet, but not all of the learning websites work on it, and anyway Jackie's got it most of the time we're doing school. Also the second day of school I couldn't find the document because it was posted on the general stream of the Class Dojo app and somehow the app doesn't think I need to see posts from two days ago.

Marko's work is the worst. He has a "choice board," also known as a paralyzing array of options, all of which he hates. Plus twenty minutes of this one app and twenty of another app and 30 minutes of reading. We are supposed to take photos of him doing the work and upload them on yet another confusing app.

It's the turning in that gets me. If the other kids don't finish something, their teachers probably won't know. If Marko doesn't, there are blanks in the app. I don't like leaving blanks in the app. But I also don't want to spend the entire day pressuring him to pick one of several activities, all of which are reviewing skills he already knows.

Normally his special ed teacher has tricks to coax him to do the kind of repetitive work he hates. But she's not here, and we have been informed our IEP has been reduced to a 15 minute group live chat weekly. I'm not sure what good this is expected to do. But I also don't know what else the teacher could do.

The worst part of it all is watching my kids do something awesome and interrupting it. Marko made tickets to Neverland and was getting Miriam to write repeating patterns of shapes to earn one. Michael built a space station out of Legos and we discussed the physics required to keep it in orbit. And I had to stop them from doing that and make them play frustrating, timed math games.

Not that I cave to the pressure entirely. I wrote off Marko's assigned writing activity and let him write a medical text about healing dragons. (Him: can I write it in the original Draconic? Me: uhh how about you write at the top that it's a translation from the original Draconic?) He's sending that to his teacher. That'll be fun.

Miriam was supposed to draw and write about a picnic. Instead she drew an angry stick figure and wrote "I HAYT PIGNIGS." Who cares.

Michael was supposed to write a letter to a classmate. Instead he wrote about how it's Thursday and Thursdays are okay but not as good as Saturdays.

I'm still getting the hang of this new regime, and deciding how much of the stuff they throw at us we're actually going to do.  I get the feeling they sent a lot because they are afraid of not sending enough, and not because they actually expect us to do it all. I'm trying to chart a course between "you do actually have to do some work" and "screw it, we're doing what works for us."

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