Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Big Dog and the report

A few weeks ago, Big Dog came home from school with his weekly homework.  This time, on top of the homework there was an additional sheet of instructions.  Their first report.  Each child had to write a report on a topic of their choosing.  In keeping with this being a first grade report, the work was outlined clearly and put into a format a compatible with a younger kid's style.  The report will consist of 6 pages, a cover sheet (decorated), a title page with the title and the author's name, a one page creative story using facts about the topic, a one page fact sheet, an illustration and a page of references used to learn about their topic.  Pretty simple, not much hard work to it. Or so I thought.
I'll be the first to admit that I lost track of the assignment sheet and put off working on this project until what may be considered the very last moment.  That said, given the scope of the work it was completely do-able in the short time I left for it.
Big Dog picked a topic, red-eyed tree frogs.  He got a book from the library at school and together we got a couple of additional books from the public library.  He enjoyed that part of the work.  He enjoyed reading about tree frogs.  He enjoyed reading to us about tree frogs.  He enjoyed spouting newly learned facts about tree frogs. However when it came to sitting down and putting this work into a report, it was like pulling teeth.
First we did the cover page.  He used his best writing to title the cover and even embellished it with a dramatic tree.  One page down.  The title page was also completed quickly.  Two pages down, four to go.
And there we stalled.  I asked him to write a story, he stalled.  We brainstormed things that he knew about tree frogs.  We talked about what things might happen to a tree frog on any given day.  Finally, he was ready to tell me his story.  And the story was great.  It used lots of facts about tree frogs, he had a snake attack and an escape.  Since he was stalling so much at getting it on paper, I let him dictate to me.  I had him sound out the difficult words and tell me what punctuation was needed, so if you wanted to get all technical, I didn't really give him any of the work that needed to be done.  His task was to transcribe this copy into his own writing after we'd completed the fact sheet.
We followed the same format for the fact sheet, and he'd quickly filled a page with interesting tidbits about tree frogs.  Then came the references.  At this point, it should be simple.  While it may not be fun, he only needed to sit down and copy.  And we've been stalled at this stage for about an hour.  My head may explode if he doesn't complete it soon.
In classic staller form, he has been too tired, too hungry, too distracted to complete his work.  Then came my favorite excuse.  His hands were too itchy.  I'm sure we'll get this done by the end of the evening, but what should have been the least taxing part of the exercise is not testing my sanity.  I can hardly wait for the next 11 years of reports that await him.

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