Saturday, February 7, 2009

the writing workshop where my head exploded

i have a small group of three kiddos i take to do writing workshop in another room. although they are capable of doing writing workshop in their room it gives one of them personal attention she craves throughout the day, it means i can hold one of them accountable for her work (because otherwise she'll find ways not to do it), and for the third child, my bff, it allows the classroom a break (and means that if i decide today WE ARE WORKING, which usually means he'll yell and throw things at me, i can let him keep throwing knowing it wont bother the entire class)

so, our motley crew tracks upstairs to the special education office every day at 1:15 to spend half an hour of me trying to make them write without a) beating my head on the table, b) laughing hysterically at the ridiculousness of what's going on c) giving up, doing their work for them, and then returning to the classroom quickly.

on thursday my kiddos had already gone through painful standardized testing so they were a little off as it was. by the time we got upstairs (one had to count every stair- 19, just like yesterday, my bff running ahead, the other tiny one talking to herself about princesses and parties) i was already exhausted. so we sit down. my little pixie (previously featured in stories like 'just how is your tv doing?' and, 'i don't know why you bother saying vote for duck, everyone is just going to vote for charlie brown anyway' and in my lunch-bunch episodes from last year) was determined NOT to write. we usually are open-ended with our assignments, but this time she had to write a letter to her mom. this was not what she wanted to do, and so she was determined not to do it.

she decided to encourage herself to keep going by letting herself add a flower to the picture on the back of her paper after every letter she wrote. (and by letter i mean 'a' and 't' not after everytime she completed a full letter). it took her far longer to draw the flowers than it did to stretch out the word, decide which letter made that sound, and write the letter. i'd get her to stop drawing and then turn around to talk to my bff who was drawing elaborate pictures of veggie tales with no intention of adding words to his story and pixie would do it again- paper over and she'd be adding the flowers. my other little one who craves attention is asking me to confirm every letter on her paper although she knows them. finally i decided to ignore those two and focus on pixie, who is the only one in the group who hasn't completed her letter due that afternoon. as i give her my full attention to keep her from flipping the paper over i can hear the other two deep in their own writing workshop worlds.

"but how do you spell 'the'?" my needy-one asks "the- th-e, t-h-a?" (she knows this, she's dropping wrong answers to see if i'll cave.

my bff finally decides to step in. having heard this conversation many times, both directed at her and at him, he begins my usually
"what do you hear? ok? listen to the sounds! ok? say it slowly, what makes that sound? you know it. you know this. don't ask me, ask yourself. say it slowly, ok? grrratwoinpkng"

while he got most of my speech correct, the noises coming out of his mouth to imitate me stretching the word out where in no way correlated with our alphabet. and so, i learned, he still does not fully understand that letters make sounds which when put together make words. he thinks i magically pull sounds out of the sky, he says a letter, and then writes it on paper to magically make a word.

*sigh* for a moment there i thought we were making progress.

~~ ~~ ~~
friday i pulled pixie into the hallway to finish the letter she never did complete the day before. she starts giggling and playing around, although finally says, "i'm just kidding. i'll work now"

"thank goodness!" i say, "i thought my head was going to explode"

"owwwww... what will that be like? how can i make your head explode?"

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