When I arrived at school this morning the first graders were hard at work. One group was reading with Ms. H. Others were sorting words by beginning letters in their "best handwriting". They then picked three of the words and used them in sentences. Others had listened to a book on tape and were answering questions on a worksheet. One group was doing phonics and writing sentences. The last group had pictures from a recent class event. They picked one they liked and pasted it on a paper. They then wrote what was happening in the picture.
Lots of creative writing going on. Nearly every child finished their work on time today. Things were a lot calmer than last week.
I was doing clerical type work for Ms. H while she did a "follow the directions" exercise. She gave directions and then drew on the white board what they were to draw. She had them draw an oval. Then two triangles. Next up was a circle around the oval. Step by step they drew a rabbit together. Well, some of them did. Another rabbit was drawn in profile. Background was put in so the rabbits didn't float on the page. She wrote out some sentences: There are two rabbits. One rabbit can ________.
The other rabbit can_________. They read the sentences then offered words to finish the two sentences, such as jump, play, eat, hop, run . . .
The children were to look at the sentences, copy them onto their papers, finish the two incomplete sentences, and then color the picture they drew at the top. This is where it all went to Hell in a hand basket. I quit what I was doing and started walking the room and checking the papers.
One little boy copied everything and finished the sentences. One problem,
this is where he began each sentence.
His name, date, and every sentence were started in the middle of the page. Plus he spaced words like this: The rabbit can jump. Major First Grade rule, use one finger to space your words. I asked him why he wrote like that. "That's how I normally write." (he isn't dumb, very bright, but not up to following rules) Now I had already had this conversation with him 30 minutes before. And Ms. H or I have it with him every day. He only wants to do things his way. We made him rewrite every single thing on another paper.
Others didn't write what was on the board. Some wrote what was on the board, except they didn't use capital letters, or they did use them but in the middle of a word. Ms. H says many more exercises like this will be done.
We finished the morning with me reading My Brother Martin by Christine King Ferris. It begins with the birth of Martin Luther King, Jr. and goes through his childhood. I tried to explain what it was like to have two schools, not being allowed to shop in a white store, two water fountains, no mixing of the races. I got a little emotional remembering and trying to explain segregation from my childhood and early 30s. After I read the book and answered their questions, one little girl said, "Well, that just wasn't fair." Out of the mouths of babes.