The Texture Of Things

Gah, I’m so bad at decisions

April 15th, 2008

I just got off the phone with HG a bit ago. I’m in the process of waffling on a decision regarding the tot and childcare for the first half of summer (while I’m still working). After I hung up with him, I decided that I need to quantify the things that are bugging me, so I will put it here and torture you all with it.

Babysitting Day Care Pros:
*caregiver, L., knows how to deal with feeding issues, including when to be tough
*field trips – berry picking, swimming
*easy drop off and pick up
*both the tot and I like L.
*L. likes the tot and me
*tot has several friends there
*tot gets along with all the kids there
*communication journal
*kids play outside every day, weather permitting, including sprinklers when hot
*some diversity – mostly cultural, but also exposure to special needs, sibling pairs, wide range of ages

Preschool Day Care Pros:
*more structure
*circle time every day
*art every day
*cultural and ethnic diversity
*located at my school
*better ratio of adults to kids
*cheaper by $1.25 per hour
*the tot is ready for the challenge of preschool (even though it’s not really preschool as much as it’s child care with a preschool structure in the morning)

Babysitting Day Care Cons:
*tot comes home speaking like L.’s son – who cannot say the letters “L” or “R”
*L. does not offer messy experiences daily, like messy art things
*not as structured
*not as challenging because, hey, it’s not preschool
*the tot bitches about going in the morning

Preschool Day Care Cons:
*tot comes home speaking baby talk
*fewer kids overall (weird, but I think this is true based on when I pick up and drop off)
*different kids from day to day
*about half the adults seem apathetic or disinterested in being around kids – not outright annoyed or hostile, just blase
*the bathroom has adult-sized toilets (not that big of a deal) but no step stool, so the tot has to scale them like a mountain-climber because she is small and the adults don’t help the kids in the stalls
*both boys and girls use the girls’ bathroom (I guess because all of the caregivers are women?), so twice now at pick up I have seen the tot come out of the stall with pee-splotched pants because of having to climb through messes left by previous users (both times boys, though girls have the capacity to pee everywhere, too)
*the lunchtime caregivers don’t like the lunches I pack, so they micromanage the tot’s eating. Case in point: I had been sending a handful of baby carrots each day. The tot does not eat them, but she’s been known to gnaw on one. I thought some exposure to the food outside the home and my influence might yield a breakthrough, as in ‘if it’s just there in a neutral territory, maybe she’ll develop new associations.’ One day, one of the apathetics told me that she had been telling the tot that she couldn’t have the other parts of her lunch until she ate a carrot. I guess that would explain why her lunch box was coming home full all those days.
*when we switch to the summer, we’ll be later in the day, so the tot won’t be there for the preschool portion
*the tot fights going a lot more than she fights going to babysitting
*OMG, how could I forget this?! After a semester at the preschool, at least one caregiver (I believe two) still gets the tot’s name wrong

So where I am is that I don’t know. I don’t think that each item on the list can be weighted the same, so simply counting up the items is not an accurate method. Whichever I choose, I feel that after a semester of doing one day a week at preschool and one day a week at babysitting, the tot needs to be both days at the same place.

Personally, today I feel like sending her to babysitting this summer because of how late I was this morning getting to preschool. I got the tot up earlier than usual and we were later than ever. If we had been going to babysitting, I could have called her stalling bluff by loading her in the car in her pull-up and jammies and said, “I don’t care if you won’t get ready – you’re going anyway.” L. wouldn’t have cared; in fact, she encourages it. Could I do this with preschool? Probably, but I just don’t feel comfortable enough with the staff there to do it yet.

I need to make this choice by the end of the week, ideally, but I simply don’t feel inspired. I thought writing this out would help, but I’m not sure it did. I think I will give it a day and come back to this to look for patterns and an answer.

Questions Answered

January 6th, 2008

In the comments for the last post, Successful Reader coffeypot asked some good questions.

Successful Reader? Yes. If we accept my idea that Successful Readers do not always understand the text and if we accept Steph’s idea that they “disagree with what they read (or play the doubting game, or talk back to the text),” then yes, Virginia, coffeypot is a prime example of a Successful Reader.

First, his comment, which I quote here in its entirety:

Give them comic books, or something with pictures in it. Seriously, is this a required class or an elective? I think that would make a difference in how you present the subject. If it’s an elective you will have students wanting to learn or at least have an interest vs. those who are there because they have to be. Or am I missing the point here?

Let me clarify.

First, this is the course that comes before Freshman Composition I, so it is required for those who place into it – meaning, for those who were (through entrance exam testing) determined to not be quite ready for Comp I, which is a prerequisite for just about everything. In short, yes, it’s a requirement, but not for all students.

Second, the text is determined by the college. This term, it’s this book. I have to teach it and they have to read it and write their essays on it. As my commentary on the book, I will offer this: I love reading, I love science, I generally love history, and I am struggling with this book. It is hard to get into, hard to stay into, and at this point, hard to love. It is a good book; it just wouldn’t be my choice.

Third, don’t dismiss the comic book idea here, people. I already intend to bring in picture books, as I have done in the past with my Comp I and Comp II students. Put Me in the Zoo has a nice demonstration of introduction, argumentative thesis (specifically, position argument), and topical organization. The conclusion would fail for a college level course, but the book gets the point across for students who struggle to see how a thesis drives a whole piece.

That, I think, is another post.

I also have a handful of other children’s picture books that reveal different meanings if read from an adult’s perspective rather than a child’s. The Birthday Fish and Dear Juno are two that spring to mind at the moment.

So, I am not “above” bringing in easy reading if it can demonstrate something useful to more advanced readers. For me, that’s picture books, because I have access to a ton of them and I’m more familiar with the stories. Comic books have never been my thing, beyond reading The Watchmen for a college reading circle. (For the record, I was skeptical about the comic book/ graphic novel, but it was fantastic and I recommend it to everyone, particularly literature lovers.)

Coffeypot raises another good point about purpose, too. A reader’s purpose changes, based on what s/he is reading and why. A textbook chapter before a big test? A comic book for fun? Assembly instructions for jet pack? For this course, it’s a history text to write English papers on.

Okay. I’m done rambling. I need to finish writing my syllabus.
Much love and peace out, yo –

Good Readers,

January 4th, 2008

I need your help. I am preparing my course stuffs for the impending semester, and this time I’m teaching a developmental reading and writing course. I haven’t taught this kind of course since I was pregnant, and all of my memories of teaching during that time have evaporated into swiss cheese.

Nice mixed metaphor, eh?

I know that to figure out what reading strategies to teach, I must first identify the reading behaviors I want my students to cultivate. To do that, I thought about myself as a reader, I watched the tot reading (I’m not kidding), and I recalled things I have taught to all of my students about improving reading comprehension. I’ve come up with a rough list that I’d like to post here. If you think of something I’m missing, please share it with the class. I ‘pperciate it.

Good Readers:
read and re-read
read aloud
make notes
summarize important points
anticipate what’s coming
check to see if that guess was right

Good Readers:
don’t always understand everything
ask questions about the text
read with a purpose (e.g., gather info for a paper)
guess at a word’s meaning based on context
look words up

Good Readers:
make connections between the text and existing knowledge
make connections between the text and other books, movies, essays, etc.
read titles, headings, footnotes (not necessarily every footnote)
think or talk about what they’ve read

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