Am I crazy?

Posted by: Eleanor05

Am I crazy? - 09/12/11 05:39 PM

Where to begin. My DS7 is in the 4th week of 2nd grade. It is painfully easy. So easy, in fact, I think a lot of the kids are finding it painful. I had a brief discussion with the teacher and followed up with email. She was commenting on DS's inability to attend to things and I was commenting on the level of academics. One point I was particularly concerned with were the books DS had chosen for quiet reading time. They were instructed to pick a "just right book" from the class library. Some of the books he picked had one sentence on each page. At home he is on the 4th book of the Percy Jackson series. When I asked about his book choices she said she does not have many higher level books out at this point, but they are right behind the curtain! I then asked her if there is an educational reason for not offering the more advanced books now, and can I send a book to school with DS. This is her reply:

"1. From an educational standpoint I choose not to give too many reading choices at the beginning of the year because I find, even though we review "just right books," that students tend to want to read harder books. This does not apply to all students, as some are ready for the challenge. Some students desperately want to read a chapter book but are honestly not there yet. They might see peers who are ready for that step and then decide they do also. This limitation allows me time to asses students and then accurately guide them with their bin suggestions. Once all reading assessments are finished then students will be allowed to read from the appropriate bins. I prefer students chose the books I provide our classroom library because I have read them and am familiar with their content."

I find this preposterous, but need to check with you all. I'm emotionally charged.

She writes, "students tend to want to read harder books" and thinks it's a bad thing. Really?!?!?!?

Eleanor05
Posted by: Belle

Re: Am I crazy? - 09/12/11 05:56 PM

I got SO tired of hearing that nonsense to the point that we are now in our 4th year of homeschooling. Total baloney! I taught for quite a number of years and children should have access to all levels of books NOT until the teacher is able to assess them all. Total balhooey and makes me SO angry that there are SO many teachers out there with this opinion. When my DS8 was in Montessori PreK when he was 4 - he was already reading books and I will never, ever forget the day he was SO excited about sharing a new book to his teacher. The LUNATIC actually got upset at him and told me in front of him that we shouldn't allow him to read books at this level because what was he going to do in the classroom - for months after that my DS was actually scared to go to bookstores and get new books because he thought his teacher would get upset at him again. I would honestly sit down again with the teacher and ask someone else to sit in on the meeting like the Reading specialist if there is one and see if there was a way that she can get the assessment completed now
Posted by: Eleanor05

Re: Am I crazy? - 09/13/11 05:44 AM

Thank you. We have a meeting with the principal tomorrow. I need to make a plan.
Posted by: Kate

Re: Am I crazy? - 09/13/11 06:09 AM

You aren't crazy, that sounds terrible! It was like our 3rd grade teacher telling us that kids like to read harder books and skip over words they don't know so they don't have good comprehension, so they should read lower level books. It makes no sense! I do not understand teachers who don't encourage kids to fly as high as they want.
Posted by: JonLaw

Re: Am I crazy? - 09/13/11 06:41 AM

This reminds me of a conflict I had with my first grade teacher. I explained that I was quite able to read actual chapter books.

I recall winning that battle by proving I was able to read them.

In your situation, I think the teacher is way off base. Although it probably doesn't do much good to fight too aggressively unless you can get a group of parents together to prove that the teacher is way off base.
Posted by: NCPMom

Re: Am I crazy? - 09/13/11 06:51 AM

No, you're not at all crazy. The teachers who are of that opinion are. Look forward to hearing what the principal has to say smile
Posted by: Cecilia

Re: Am I crazy? - 09/13/11 07:38 AM

Ughhhhhh!!!!! Rooting for you Eleanor05 smile
Posted by: Cricket2

Re: Am I crazy? - 09/13/11 07:49 AM

This part in particular:

"Some students desperately want to read a chapter book but are honestly not there yet. They might see peers who are ready for that step and then decide they do also."

sounds like "we are going to hold back the higher achieving kids in order to avoid making the kids who can't keep up with them feel bad or try to do things for which they aren't yet ready."
Posted by: Bostonian

Re: Am I crazy? - 09/13/11 08:05 AM

Originally Posted By: Cricket2
This part in particular:

"Some students desperately want to read a chapter book but are honestly not there yet. They might see peers who are ready for that step and then decide they do also."

sounds like "we are going to hold back the higher achieving kids in order to avoid making the kids who can't keep up with them feel bad or try to do things for which they aren't yet ready."


I was going to write the same thing. If it makes kids feel bad to observe classmates who are more advanced, schools could use ability grouping in reading and math, but that idea is anathema to the kind of teacher described in this thread.
Posted by: Iucounu

Re: Am I crazy? - 09/13/11 08:11 AM

You're definitely not crazy. But to play devil's advocate for a moment, isn't it reasonable to have an initial assessment period before beginning differentiation in general? (I know four weeks is so long as to make one chafe, as we're in the third week here and I'm already antsy.)

Also, the teacher's saying that, in her undoubtedly fathomless well of experience, she gets valuable feedback from the children's unpressured choices, and that she's seen kids try to "keep up with the Joneses" in the past, ruining that as a useful tool for her. Some thoughts on that: she might be right that this is helpful information; she could well be wrong; but especially during the initial assessment period, you might harmfully create a real enemy in her and also come off as unreasonable with the principal if you too aggressively suggest that she is wrong on this.

She's not insisting that your child stick to easy readers all year long. I'd take a light approach for now, remembering that the teacher (and probably principal) will feel that the teacher is due some deference in her area of "expertise". I would above all want two things at the very least: 1) when the assessment period's over, free reign for your son to read whatever he likes, bringing books from home/library as necessary in light of the fact that the teacher won't have appropriately-leveled books, and 2) some definite (and short) date by when the assessments will be over. Best of course would be to bypass the teacher's assessment period; I just don't know if that's going to be possible, not knowing enough of the situation.

I might ask innocently during the meeting whether some sort of standardized reading assessment would be helpful, mentioning that there are some online ones available (DORA springs to mind and might help because it can generate some high, impressive grade equivalents), which you'd be glad to pay for. Go in if you can with samples of reading material (and if possible reading comprehension writing samples, past reading comprehension test scores, etc.). You might try giving full credit to the teacher's wisdom and expertise, while saying that your son is just so far out of the norm that that sort of assessment approach might not work as well as for children who were closer to normal.

You might ask how she plans to differentiate the children who pick the toughest easy readers, and ask how many there typically are in a classroom. Mention more than once what he's reading at home, and ask if she has any way of assessing children who can read at that level.

I'd try to stay away from specifically mentioning boredom (that could sound like "he's not being taught, and you're hence not doing your job" in their ears). Instead, I'd kill two birds with one stone by saying things like, "Research shows that highly gifted children can lose attention and focus when they are not given appropriately-leveled material" or something-- this will suggest that he needs higher-level material even during the assessment phase, and hopefully put a stop to any suggestions by her that he can't handle high-level material due to lack of attention span.

I'd use the phrase "evidence-based practice" and similar language whenever possible. I was given that advice, and I think it helped. I noticed that the school teachers and admins tend to use it in my local area as well.

I might also make a video and bring it. Have him read a passage from a Percy Jackson book and explain what he just read. Whip out your laptop or other device at a key moment and say, "I have something to show you that will really show his current reading ability we see every day at home, and will take just a moment." It will be hard for them to refuse.

At the end, I'd perhaps wrap up with, "I see him all the time just turn off when he is asked to do things that are too far beneath his level. It's just hard for him to stay excited when that happens. I'm just trying to avoid that. DS presents a really rare situation, where a lot of assessment tools may not work very well if his ability level isn't taken into account."

Just some random thoughts. Good luck with the meeting, and please report back.
Posted by: barbarajean

Re: Am I crazy? - 09/13/11 08:19 AM

Just my thoughts


This is interesting, I understand the teacher's issue, but her solution is worse then the problem of some kids trying to read above their level.

Instead of keeping the harder books away until the reading levels can be determined more levels need to be kept out until levels can be determined. However, this could be more difficult for the teacher to deal with until evaluations are complete. This difficulty may encourage the evaluations to be completed quicker. The teacher is answering the following question, whats worse having readers attempting (with out much success) to read above their levels, or to have readers being bored (and discouraged) reading well below their reading levels. Also, it is absolutely ridiculous for the teacher not to allow you dc to bring in a book. I would feel that she does not value my understanding of my own child's reading level.

Please post after your meeting I am, as I'm sure others are also, curious about what they could possibly say to defend this teacher's decision.
Posted by: lilswee

Re: Am I crazy? - 09/13/11 09:03 AM

We got the same thing in 1st/2nd grade. It was frustrating as my DD needed a push to attempt something a little longer. She was hooked on "fairies" and she could read those books so quickly...The reason I was given was so they could get "confidence" reading out loud. Very frustrating when she could read most of the newspaper. I ended up signing the reading log and telling her to read silently in case she got quizzed and then just read something else. The outloud reading got old. This is part of the reason I left DD6 at the montessori another year. This all seemed to get a little better by 3rd grade in our Public schools. No more 6 weeks of assessing DRA levels, etc.

Posted by: Grinity

Re: Am I crazy? - 09/13/11 09:37 AM

Originally Posted By: Eleanor05
"1. From an educational standpoint I choose not to give too many reading choices at the beginning of the year because I find, even though we review "just right books," that students tend to want to read harder books. This does not apply to all students, as some are ready for the challenge. Some students desperately want to read a chapter book but are honestly not there yet. They might see peers who are ready for that step and then decide they do also. This limitation allows me time to asses students and then accurately guide them with their bin suggestions. Eleanor05

Eleanor - I have seen kids act with way. In fact my son got into a 'reading duel' with a boy in his 2nd grade class over the 'Series of Unfortunate Events' books, which had no intrinsic appeal to my son, but one boy was braging about how far he was in the series, and my DS felt that this was a good oppertunity to show off.

((It's been a long and difficult process to wrap my mind around my son's orrientation to peer attention. He is very different from me in some ways.))

Anyway, I think Ioconco's advice is excellent. And I think what is really needed is a reading assesment ASAP. I can't believe that it takes 4 weeks to see where the children are reading, but I don't know anything about the inside of classrooms.

Try tomorrow to get an agreement that the assesment will continue to find DS's actual level, and not just stop when he reaches the highest level in the building or some artificial ceiling. Try to get them to be excited about providing him with some peer in reading so he can get the same opportunities to learn in a social context as everyone else. You might want to steer it towards looking for a skip or subject accel, with some temporary relief from the current teacher while the testing is being done.

Best Wishes,
Grinity
Posted by: Eleanor05

Re: Am I crazy? - 09/13/11 10:51 AM

A little more background on the situation. The school has a complete file on our DS that includes a psychological evaluation from his Kindergarten year, including achievement testing, IQ (140 on the WPPSI), and a battery of other tests. His achievement testing showed better results than the IQ. The teacher told me she was given the file at the beginning of the year and she chose not to read it. I get that she was trying to form an unbiased opinion of DS, and yes, the report is older now, but after you see behavioral problems and complain that the child " can't attend to anything" you think she would be more interested. I'm actually more concerned with the math he is being asked to do than the reading because that is where he really is a superstar.

Also, last year his teacher did reading assessments and said he tested to the O level. I asked her if that was where he hit the ceiling or where she stopped the test. She said her book only went up to O and the very next day she sent DS to the reading specialist who said he was at an R or beginning 4th grade, I think. He actually didn't even enjoy reading last year and it wasn't until we cracked the Percy Jackson series this summer that he really got into it.

This is a public school in a district that has no mandate, funding, or even recognition for gifted education. My plan is to get the grade skip I've asked for in the past or get him complete and total differentiation in math. The school subscribes to an on-line math program and every child is eligible for a username and password. She does not use this in her classroom however, and when I asked if it was an option for him she didn't respond directly, which gives me hope, as she didn't say no outright.

The principal knows me and my child. I've made it a point to be a stalwart volunteer at the school. We'll see if it helps! Stay tuned....
Posted by: Grinity

Re: Am I crazy? - 09/14/11 08:23 AM

Originally Posted By: Eleanor05
Also, last year his teacher did reading assessments and said he tested to the O level. I asked her if that was where he hit the ceiling or where she stopped the test. She said her book only went up to O and the very next day she sent DS to the reading specialist who said he was at an R or beginning 4th grade, I think.

Good for you for asking about the ceiling issue. It so amazes me to watch teachers makes statements like 'he tested to O level' without batting an eye, sadly this is normal moral behavior from a teacher's perspective.

Good for your particular teacher that she got the reading specialist on the job so quickly - in school time 'the next day' is truely amazing, and like '30 seconds' in your life. She didn't have to do that, she could have stuck to her position defensively, which is a really good sign.

Still I hate it that if you hadn't asked, she wouldn't have done it own her own.

That whole 'unbiased' approach thing is frustrating, but can work for certian children. Still I agree that once the issues arose, it would be nice if she had taken a peek. What I hear as translation is: "I don't really understand what's in those folders, so I don't open them." Which I can sort of understand.

The big question is 'how far up would he have to go for reading to find a room with a reading group that's working at an R level.' I know Math is on your mind, but don't ignore Reading. Kids like this can 'jump ahead' wildly and unpredictably, and deserve to learn with readiness-peers in every subject.

((shrugs and more shrugs))
Looks like you are on the right path.
Grinity
Posted by: Austin

Re: Am I crazy? - 09/14/11 09:31 AM

<<Sigh>>

When I was that age I was reading a lot of Farley Mowatt/Jack London books but the class was doing "See Spot Run" books. The teacher decided that I needed to do the "See Spot Run" books with the rest of the class. It was very frustrating.

After a bit of drama when I walked out of the school and could not be found - and some discussion with the school, I then got to go to the library for the first hour and then sat in the back of class reading, taking tests as required.

--

Mr W was evaluated at his Montessori School and we found that they just did the "three year" old stuff as the ceiling. When we looked at the evaluation form, which went all the way through K, he had almost all of it. Their response was that they just stop at three because he was just turned three.

As his new school, he will be evaluated in a week and we made sure they will use the test ceiling rules, not an age ceiling.



Posted by: Grinity

Re: Am I crazy? - 09/14/11 09:52 AM

Originally Posted By: Austin
<<Sigh>>

Mr W was evaluated at his Montessori School and we found that they just did the "three year" old stuff as the ceiling. When we looked at the evaluation form, which went all the way through K, he had almost all of it. Their response was that they just stop at three because he was just turned three.

I wish I had a nickle for every time I've heard that story. It seems to be 'unAmerican' or something like it to want the simple courtesy of being seen for who you are at a particular moment in a school setting.

((shrugs))
Grinity
Posted by: GM5

Re: Am I crazy? - 09/19/11 10:06 PM

Originally Posted By: Grinity
[quote=Eleanor05]Also, last year his teacher did reading assessments and said he tested to the O level. I asked her if that was where he hit the ceiling or where she stopped the test. She said her book only went up to O and the very next day she sent DS to the reading specialist who said he was at an R or beginning 4th grade, I think.

Quote ("Good for you for asking about the ceiling issue. It so amazes me to watch teachers makes statements like 'he tested to O level' without batting an eye, sadly this is normal moral behavior from a teacher's perspective.

The big question is 'how far up would he have to go for reading to find a room with a reading group that's working at an R level." )end quote

This sort of not testing to see where the child really is frustrates me tremendously!!! And not providing challenging books to read is especially hard to understand because it is so easy to do.

At the end of GD7's Kindergarten year we were given her reading level as "I" which we knew was not realistic. When the teacher was asked she said the district did not allow them to test more than 2 grade levels ahead. At the end of 1st grade her reading level was stated as "V" with 184 wpm fluency and perfect score on comprehension. I'm not sure if she even hit a ceiling there or that was as far as they could test. A recent homework assignment was to read and name a book that was difficult for them last year - GD said she couldn't do that one because there were not any difficult ones for her last year. Of course there are books that would be hard for her but none she tried to read.

Last week her 2nd grade class was reading Henry and Mudge books. Fortunately GD still enjoys them even though she read them 2 years ago. She is identified as GT in a mixed ability classroom. She now gets math enrichment homework worksheets which completely lack challenge - she finishes them in no time.

I keep hoping the differentiation will improve as we get further into the year. Good luck to you.
Posted by: Grinity

Re: Am I crazy? - 09/20/11 07:13 PM

Originally Posted By: GM5

Last week her 2nd grade class was reading Henry and Mudge books. Fortunately GD still enjoys them even though she read them 2 years ago. She is identified as GT in a mixed ability classroom. She now gets math enrichment homework worksheets which completely lack challenge - she finishes them in no time.

I keep hoping the differentiation will improve as we get further into the year. Good luck to you.

Good Luck GM5. Has anyone contacted the gifted coordinator about this question? Seems like some home-adult needs to crank up the school machine and see what can be gotten out of it.

Shrugs,
Grinity