Posts tagged ‘homework’

Standards of Dancing

22 February, 2012 | | 4 Comments

So there I was, Dining and Dancing with the SOLs.  This involves taking your 3rd grader, by which in this case we mean the Reigning Queen of Pink, to her school around 6pm, eating fundraiser-priced pizza, and listening to a lecture about what the Standards of Learning tests are, when they are, why they’re important, why they’re not important, why your students shouldn’t stress over them at all, but why you should pleasepleaseplease not go on vacation during test week and make sure they get enough sleep and make sure they get a good breakfast and make sure they’ve studied all the stuff we’re going to send home with them for 2 months beforehand and make sure to quiz them and drill them on the practice tests that you shouldn’t stress over but the URLs are right here, and we’ll have sample test questions sent home every day, but really, make sure the kids don’t worry about this in the slightest – it’s no big deal.

Really.  Not to worry at all.  It’s just our jobs on the line.  Which is the sad, sad, and odd part of it – for most of the kids, this test really won’t affect their lives.  Their teachers’ lives, however, will be measured and found full or lacking based on the results of the kids’ scores.  As a project manager, I understand this completely – but I have a lot more control over my team’s performance than any teacher ever had over a 3rd grader.  To say that this is a goofy way to run an educational system is to risk understatement, but it’s a perfectly valid rationale for the slightly schizophrenic tone to the message.   Also, this is a goofy way to run an educational system.

Then we got to the dancing part.  This is hook to get people to show up – promise the 3rd graders pizza and dancing, and they will drag their parents.

We retired to the gym, which still conjures in me flashbacks of Hell – from being picked last (well, next to last, most of the time; I was at least reasonably tall and didn’t wear glasses) to coming in last to not being at all athletically inclined, the gym was never exactly a sanctuary for younger versions of myself.  This particular gym wasn’t helping with that – we’re going to line up and everybody gets to dance with their kid, isn’t that nice!  You’re invited regardless of inclination or ability.  It’s like the draft, only with line dancing. 

We started with a dance routine lead by an amazing drill sergeant dance instructor gym teacher who was somehow capable of being in 4 places at once.  Her voice is bigger than her frame, which I suspect comes from dealing with small children at a distance, and she moved through the crowd so fast I thought she was disapperating and apparating over on the other side of the room.  We “did the Hustle” for one of the dances, but she did it for the whole dance.  Every time we turned to face a new wall and clap, there she was!  She must be a hell of a gym sergeant. 

Anyway, the music teacher / DJ had us start with some new fresh wedding hell called the Cupid Shuffle, which I’m certain was invented by some wedding DJ bent on highlighting the dance floor inadequacies of overweight white guys. I mean, not that I blame him, but I resemble that remark, you know? 

Truth:  I have all the rhythm of a busted metronome trying to swing, tick-tock-splot, in a bucket of jello.  Thanks to events like this, I have the opportunity to prove it to not only my 3rd grader, but to the rest of the 3rd grade cohort.  And their parents.  And the PTA President.  And her camera. 

For one brief, shining moment, I held out hope that the evening would end as the last one did – when I was here with Number One Son 2 years ago, he bailed out after about one song.  Alas, it was not to be – when the Reigning Queen of Pink dances, she’s in it to win it, baby.

We danced to my Achy Breaky Heart, which (I never knew!) involves moving your hands up to the right and then left, down to right and left, and then slapping your hips – right and then left – and then doing some other stuff.  Needless to say, this lasted for about 15 seconds before my “right hip slap” sent my Blackberry skittering across the floor (one of the dangers of coming without changing from work). 

There was a brief medley of 5-second musical vignettes that seemed like a combination of “Flashdance in 15 Seconds” and “Name That Tune.”  In less than 3 minutes, we covered everything from “Do You Love Me” and Glen Miller’s “In the Mood” to the Velvet Underground’s “Heroin” to “The Twist” to “Day-O” to Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night.”  We danced to them all, my white bread, jello-shot metronome notwithstanding. 

Consolation prize:  When we came home, someone mentioned that it’s National Margarita Day.  Also, this is my last 3rd grader – I am done with line dancing until the next wedding.  The Reigning Queen of Pink came home perfectly happy and content – after all, she’s got nothing to worry about.

Fractions? Oh, Poo.

15 November, 2010 | | 1 Comment

Do you remember fractions?  You know, seven eighths, two hundred forty-seven three hundred twenty ninths?  A third?  Do you remember what a pain in the butt that was?  No?  Me either.  The joy of having kids is that you get to revisit ALL your childhood, not just the good parts.  Not that the diapers were such a joy, but at least I could speak with some authority.  “That’s poo.”  (I know poo when I see it.) 

Hard to speak with authority when you haven’t done your math homework in 30 years, and what little you remember is all from Tom Lehrer

So I don’t really know poo about math, and I certainly don’t remember poo about simplifying fractions.  What I do know is how to talk to everyone in the language they understand.  For me, helping Number One Son with his homework tonight was a question of finding the point at which his interests, his experience, and his problems intersect.  

“Son, you’re not going to simplify these fractions.  The problem is that they’re all too fat.  You’re going to perform Gastric Bypass on these things, and get them as thin as you can!” 

Suddenly it was fun, plus he got the analogy because he’s seen so damn many ER and medical shows that explaining simplifying fractions as surgery made perfect sense to him.  But I’m still humming “You can’t take three from two, two is less than three, so you look at four in the tens place…”

Why was 4th Grade never this much fun when we were in it?

2 December, 2008 | | No Comment

One of the many dangers of helping your kids with their homework is that you won’t be able to – sometimes for vastly different reasons. Number One Daughter got halfway through her homework this evening before shouting for help. The assignment was to take any eight of her 18 weekly study words and write at least 8 jokes, with a study word as the answer. 


You can imagine the issue. Can I write jokes? Don’t call me surely. Can I write the kind of jokes a ten-yr-old would come up with, that she can pass off as hers? You must be Lupin, ’cause you’re surely not Serious. I’m just not 10 anymore – no comments, you.


The words to choose from are: applaud, appoint, balloon, cocoon, counsel, coward, daughter, devour, doubtful, exploit, faucet, fountain, laundry, noodle, poison, rejoice, rowdy, shampoo. 


I thought I’d take a moment to share why I can’t do my daughter’s homework for her. The best I could do for her were the following:


  • What do you get when you cross a cow with a yard? A coward! 
  • Why was Sham in the bathroom? Because he had to shampoo. (They were begging for that.)
  • Why did Barack Obama appoint Hillary Clinton to be Secretary of State? He thought she had appoint!
  • If a cannibal divorces his wife, does he devour?

 The first two, OK, I’m channeling my inner child. The third, my kid, maybe. The last one, let’s face it, her teacher’s gonna know it’s not a 4th Grader writing anymore. And then there’s a whole list of “no, don’t write that down.”


  • What do you do when your teacher makes you read “Ulysses” twice? Rejoice! 
  • What do you do when Oon, the new girl in class, asks to meet you behind the bleachers? Balloon! 
  • What do airlines do with dyslexic pilots? Exploit them!
  • What did the Boston plumber advise when told the handle on the sink wouldn’t turn? Faucet!

 Please comment with your own examples. You will be graded on punctuation, spelling, and usage. (There will be no math.)