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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Real response

Just so people don't think I'm totally insane, I didn't actually send the last post to anyone.  It was a nice outlet to release some of my anger though.  The version I actually sent is below.  I wonder how long it will be before I receive a response, since I did ask some specific questions.  At this point we are still waiting for a list of authors.  This was promised to us in October and Jon sent a follow-up email regarding it on Tuesday morning after the phone call.  He received a response Tuesday night that she would "look at her documents" and get back to us.  Is it that out of line to ask for a list of authors?!  As an elementary teacher I would think that would be a common question.  We did contact the director of the gifted program who took 36 hours to respond and say she's looking into it.  It will be interesting to see how long it takes to hear back from her again.  I didn't think fully before I hit send last night, in that today I will be in the classroom.  Things are going to be a little awkward, but I work with the kids anyway, I'm not there to see the teacher.

We recognize that God is in control in this situation and He will lead us in the right direction.  Through His grace I was able to come down from my anger and not say anything I regretted, this is why Jon does the phone conversations as well.  We continue to seek guidance for His will and know that we will be led to the right place.  Hopefully we will have more answers than questions shortly.

Dear Teacher,

Now that we’ve had time to talk as a family and reflect upon yesterday’s discussion, we wanted to follow-up with some additional questions.  One concern we have is the use of Razkids and that earlier in the year, Carolyn completed the initial level but then was reset.  This effectively showed her that her hard work of taking the time to answer all the questions correctly would not be rewarded with more difficult material but rather her level is being decided by you.  Jon asked about this in the conversation but felt he was not given a clear answer.  Last night I looked at Carolyn’s iPad to discover that she has currently been set to level L.  This is disturbing since [last year's teacher] had her reading at level N and O in kindergarten.  I know that the questions asked after the stories in this program become progressively more difficult, so it would make sense if she were allowed to progress at her own pace so long as she is able to answer the comprehension questions at the end of the story. 

We are also somewhat puzzled by the discussion around reading.  Carolyn does not feel that anything has been difficult for her, aside from taking a couple days to effectively implement new ideas set forth.  She does not feel that she is able to share her opinion when working in a large group.  We did discuss this morning how it’s not possible for everyone to answer every question, but she feels that she is not being asked often to offer her opinion.  She does appreciate working in smaller groups now so that she can be more involved.

We are concerned about what is taking place with math.  We realize that her fact fluency is very high and that her abilities are well above the first grade level in that she is able to understand the concepts of multiplication and division.  We also understand your philosophy that homework is not necessary at this age and respect that.  But we are receiving a mixed message regarding this when homework that is sent home is busy work and not something that furthers understanding.  As a parent, it is difficult to keep track of and plan for homework when it is sporadic.  We also feel that time would better spent focusing on further fact fluency or other areas rather than reviewing material Carolyn has already shown proficiency with.  We want to know what can be done at school to support Carolyn’s growth in math and critical thinking skills.  Can the students that have shown mastery work on logic puzzles or something similar that helps to improve critical thinking skills?

The district website states that “The needs of gifted children are as disparate from the norm as the needs of special education students. The needs of gifted children in District 34 can be met with a proportional allocation of resources and expertise. “   We have yet to see this philosophy enacted for our daughter.  She has shown both on nationally normed IQ tests via Northwestern and the school tests that her abilities are significantly above her grade level, scoring higher than the 95% in every subject.  What needs to be done for her to gain access to what is needed to further her potential?  We want to be sure that her spark for learning is not lost and have found it to be waning as this school year progresses.

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