Friday, February 12, 2010

Last day of school! (for a while)

The last day of school (for a while) dawned bright and crisp - this is the view down our street to the left and you have to imagine the kids walking down with that little kid spring in their step and their backpacks bouncing. They're not really sure how to process this whole "And now, enjoy your two weeks of vacation" thing. They're thrilled, but are seeking the source of the bounty. "It's really two whole weeks, not just saying two weeks?" Oliver keeps asking. Eleanor is going with the flow on this one. "Who's idea was this?" Iris wants to know (she might well actually miss school).

My poor bird, she didn't get to go today. At about 2 a.m., we heard a plaintive cry and little feet padding down the hall - she made it (she always does, dear one) but she was sick, no doubt about it. Just a bug, and looking like less than a 24-hour one at that - she was in good spirits all day (except about missing motricity) and had more energy tonight. Here she is all cozy on the couch - lots of reading Asterix today!

Iris made five of these today - love the props!

And Eleanor was able to give a full report on today's motricity! Do you know they're supposed to go down that slide head first? That alone would be a goodly number of violations at New Pathways!

Of late, Eleanor's been the one to request French movies or French games. Here she is playing "Toboclic" - this shot really shows me the "native" aspect of technology for her: she's moving the mouse around and ready to click at any moment - amazing.

Both girls were given lots and lots of workbooks and sheets to look at over break. It makes us realize just how much is going on there during the day - games, skills, stories - and all of it carefully glued into these enormous notebooks. Some of the notebooks are meant to last you all three years of the maternelle - just incredible. We did hit on pedagogical snag, though. I'm of two minds concerning what you are about to see. But wait, first, here they are: here is a typical worksheet from Eleanor's workbook: instructions, her execution of those instructions and a smiley face response - nice!

But this page is another story entirely. Do you see the big sad face there to the right of the page? My poor dear was utterly confused: "Why did I get a sad face?" she asked. She honestly didn't know. At Ridpath, they only give out happy stickers (can you imagine a sticker that said "No go" or "Pfft, try again!"?). And of course in our book she didn't do anything wrong (does this officially make us very American?) - we told her "Well, your teachers didn't agree with your drawing style: the prefer something more naturalistic, maybe coloring within the lines..." Once we put it that way, she completely shrugged it off (did we do wrong?). I remember getting lots and lots of sad faces on my drawing (my hands looked like tambourines, and I didn't color within the lines nearly enough). Mac, who never gets indignant, said "Who gives a 3-year old a sad face on their art?" I'm of two minds: on the one hand, it does seem unnecessarily crushing at this stage in life to be told that your drawing is bad; on the other, the habit of praising kids for every single thing they do seems kind of ethically wishy-washy to me as well. I think that it was that Eleanor had no idea why she'd gotten a sad face that ultimately makes me think the sad face is not a good idea. In teaching workshops, they always tell us to explain thoroughly to students why they're not doing well - and yet, I can't help but daydream about the possibility of just putting happy and sad faces as comments on papers - grading would go so much faster! In the end, there's also something funny about this - sad face for the Eskimo drawing! - but I can't really express what it is. Perhaps the problem is my sense of humor. In any case, Eleanor is not scarred for life, and now can have street cred as a rebel.

So we settled into our evening having looked over the girls' filled folders, and then let our conversation drift to where we'll be next week and the week after. We have lots and lots of day trips planned and a short overnight at (I still can't believe this!) Mont-Saint-Michel. The site has been a tourist/pilgrimage destination since the 13th century, so we'll be in good company! To celebrate it all, Eleanor made a feast of French pickles - crunchy, tart, sassy - just like her. I love the musing look on Iris's face: "Can they be that good? Eh, oui!

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