Thursday, September 16, 2010

Back to School thoughts; nearly 5 weeks in

I had Back to School Night at Sylvia's school last night, and woo hoo, it didn't suck!

It seems they put all the best teachers in 8th grade. And it's no wonder her Algebra teacher is so good; she was the Math Chair for 4 years and is now the Faculty Chair. She helped write a textbook, she helped write the CA State Standards, AND she's blond, pretty and looks about 19! If she wasn't such a great teacher, I might just have to hate her.

Sylvia's Science teacher used to work for NASA so yeah, she knows what she's talking about. The English teacher gives them time to journal every day, which I think is awesome, and her book report projects are open-ended; the kids have free reign to express it in any way they wish. Sylvia's already decided she's going to do a skit.

Riley had a crazy Math assignment last week: she had to figure out how to spend a million dollars. We could've spent it on real estate alone, but Riley was very practical about what she wanted.  A 3-bedroom was big enough, three flat screens were enough, an $85 bike was enough. We were stuck with over $300,000 left for far too long! I finally talked her into a more expensive house, and we "spent" the rest on furnishings, appliances, some clothes, an $18,000 timeshare, and we gave $40k to charity. It was pretty fun, actually! I wanted to factor in taxes, closing costs, and invest some, but the point of the assignment was to use the prices we found on the internet to do the math so Riley was decidedly literal.

What I love about Riley's 5th grade teacher is that homework is encouraged by peer pressure. As it is, they only have homework (besides reading) on Mondays and Wednesdays, and if everyone turns in their homework for both days, then the following week, they get to walk to the park across the street for lunch and play games. Riley was totally motivated to get that assignment done, even if it meant staying up late, because she didn't want to be the one keeping the class from this special privilege. It has cut down on my nagging dramatically!

While I don't want to get too ahead of myself, this school year may not produce as many ranting posts as the past couple of years!


Danielle said...

What a great concept. Peer pressure for homework. Totally puts the responsibility on the student. I love it!

Anonymous said...

Now THAT is a great HW idea! Smart teacher! Glad back to school nite went ok....We've been doing ok here except for a trip to the Principle's office last week. We forgot her medicine in the morning. I had really been thinking it didn't make THAT much of a difference, but apparently I was wrong!

bonggamom said...

I love that million-dollar math assignment! It's not only a good math exercise, it's a great way to teach kids the difference between investing and spending.