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Old 05-17-2009, 11:35 PM
 
Location: mass
2,905 posts, read 6,572,840 times
Reputation: 4979

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My son is in second grade and has to do a report on a dinosaur. He has to choose one then write one or two paragraphs and include the following:

period the dino lived
eating habits
other dinos that could have been present
size info
how it protected itself
any other special info discovered

Plus a visual component "diorama, model, picture, poster"

He also has to say a little about the topic (name eating habits & period).

He is being graded on Presentation, Neatness, Information & Creativity.

(This can be typed or printed, in his own words, no printouts from websites)

My question is this:

Being that he is only in second grade and cannot possibly do this on his own, how much do I help him, what does the teacher expect, etc?

I'll tell you what I did.

He chose Tyrannosaurus. Ok. I researched on the net, found and printed a bunch of information. Then I sat down with him and went over the assignment. I wrote the 6 things he needed on a sheet of paper and discussed them with him. Then we started reading the information I had. I told him that whenever we got to some information on our list he needed to stop me. When he did I made notes on our list, very brief notes like "small arms" and "predator and scavenger", etc....

We got what we could then had to go back to the net for missing info.

After we had the info we needed I sat him down next to me at the computer and we decided together what order we wanted to go through the topics in, then we started writing the report. I typed exactly what he said, reminding him to use complete sentences, confirming with him when the sentence ended, and reminding him to stick to the facts (a couple times he let his imagination run away and tried to include things that we did not discover as "facts"). There were obviously things he said that could have been reworded but of course I left them alone.

The problem is, I realize that by typing it this way, he will not have any spelling errors in his report. I know that teachers don't expect perfect spelling from a child his age anyway, but this whole situation got me to thinking what the role fo a parent is. Did I help him too much? But what else could I do? There is no way a second grader could have (or at least my son) could have done such a report without a large amount of guidance from someone. I also wanted him to know the proper way to do a report. (Not reading and copying from a book). As a student, I always felt that teachers wanted kids to do a "report" but had never taught us how to actually do one.

Also, the visual thing is getting me. I plan to have him draw a picture of the dinosaur as well as a life size tooth (they can be up to 9 inches, holy cow!) so that the kids can just imagine such a tooth.

Anyway, teachers, if you're out there, what the heck is a parent supposed to do? Obviously a kid cannot pull this off on his own. There is no book that is going to have this information on a platter for the kid and I don't think he has the stamina or reading capability to read multiple books and actually make notes of the information he needed. And how is the kid going to be graded on creativity???? How creative is an 8 year old going to get on his own? To be honest I'm kind of annoyed by these "creative" assignments as I feel like they are more work for me, with no academic purpose (or if there is an academic purpose I don't know what it is), I mean what is my kid going to learn from drawing a dinosaur?

I just wish there was a handbook for parents as to what the teachers expect from the children at each grade level. I don't want to put pressure on my kid to produce something they don't expect from him till 5th grade but how am I supposed to know what it is expect from a 2nd grader????

omg, sorry this is so long, hopefully someone might respond!!

Thanks for reading it if you got this far!
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Old 05-18-2009, 06:44 AM
 
6,585 posts, read 22,858,000 times
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I did my son's big projects like this in kindergarten through 2nd grade, including the assignment of tracing your family tree back to when they came to this country and then draw it. My then 2nd grader's geneology skills were still undeveloped, so I worked a long time on that one and since we go back to the Mayflower, it wasn't a tiny family tree to draw. There was no way he could have done that assignment on his own. The kids who were 1st or 2nd generation had that one a lot easier.

We switched to private school at 3rd grade and the big assignments were more age appropriate and done in class so the teachers would know for sure the parents weren't doing the work.
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Old 05-18-2009, 07:47 AM
 
3,087 posts, read 6,654,142 times
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If I didn't already know the expectations the teacher had regarding projects such as this, I would have asked before starting. Almost all the teachers my kids have had do not want the parents to do much more than offer support and guidance and tend to grade accordingly.

My third daughter received an A+ while another child received a B+ on a very similar project in 2nd grade. It was painfully obvious the other student had not done the project themselves especially to my daughter who saw this student work on a daily basis and knew he never was that neat nor creative.

The teacher told me after school that because my daughter not only met all the requirements for the project that she was confident my daughter had done almost all of it on her own, and that she had learned from doing the project. Therefore she awarded her that + for that very reason.

I do know that not all teachers are that way, and that some do indeed assign projects that are far beyond the capabilities of their students. I just know that I've never run into that and have two daughters that are already grown and another daughter and son still in elementary school. I suppose we've been blessed with teachers based on what so many others have to say......
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Old 05-18-2009, 08:07 AM
 
1,025 posts, read 1,003,873 times
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I still struggle with this issue with my 7th grader. Do I proof-read her papers for her and point out her errors or suggest different words/phrases, etc.? Do I let her turn in a paper that I know has mistakes?

I would have done exactly what you did, with the exception of having him write out what he wanted me to type. I would help him correct his "rough draft" before typing a final draft.

It sounds like you were helpful, but did not take over. I think you did a great job and were very supportive.
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Old 05-18-2009, 09:03 AM
 
11,636 posts, read 20,430,045 times
Reputation: 12160
Quote:
Originally Posted by mommytotwo View Post
I'll tell you what I did.

He chose Tyrannosaurus. Ok. I researched on the net, found and printed a bunch of information. Then I sat down with him and went over the assignment. I wrote the 6 things he needed on a sheet of paper and discussed them with him. Then we started reading the information I had. I told him that whenever we got to some information on our list he needed to stop me. When he did I made notes on our list, very brief notes like "small arms" and "predator and scavenger", etc....

IMO this is to much you, not enough him. You could have found and printed the information and let him read it independently.

He should have been able to read it, and do the assignment, with you simply checking off the things he needed in the assignment, and maybe correcting his spelling and grammar.

We got what we could then had to go back to the net for missing info.

After we had the info we needed I sat him down next to me at the computer and we decided together what order we wanted to go through the topics in, then we started writing the report. I typed exactly what he said, reminding him to use complete sentences, confirming with him when the sentence ended, and reminding him to stick to the facts (a couple times he let his imagination run away and tried to include things that we did not discover as "facts"). There were obviously things he said that could have been reworded but of course I left them alone.

Why not have him write it and then you type it?

The problem is, I realize that by typing it this way, he will not have any spelling errors in his report. I know that teachers don't expect perfect spelling from a child his age anyway, but this whole situation got me to thinking what the role fo a parent is. Did I help him too much? But what else could I do? There is no way a second grader could have (or at least my son) could have done such a report without a large amount of guidance from someone. I also wanted him to know the proper way to do a report. (Not reading and copying from a book). As a student, I always felt that teachers wanted kids to do a "report" but had never taught us how to actually do one.

IMO you did a little to much, but it's ok because we all do the best we can. Most 2nd graders should be able to do a report like you describe AT A 2ND GRADE LEVEL with guidance, but no real work on the parent's part. It's ok to help with research and typing, but IMO the kids should be writing on their own.

Also, the visual thing is getting me. I plan to have him draw a picture of the dinosaur as well as a life size tooth (they can be up to 9 inches, holy cow!) so that the kids can just imagine such a tooth.

My experience with my rather art challenged sons has been that as long as a child makes an effort it is perfectly ok for work done by a 7 year old to LOOK like it was done by a 7 year old. It might help you to draw a line (in pencil) to give him an idea of how big 9 inches is. After he draws the tooth you can erase the line.

Anyway, teachers, if you're out there, what the heck is a parent supposed to do? Obviously a kid cannot pull this off on his own. There is no book that is going to have this information on a platter for the kid and I don't think he has the stamina or reading capability to read multiple books and actually make notes of the information he needed. And how is the kid going to be graded on creativity???? How creative is an 8 year old going to get on his own? To be honest I'm kind of annoyed by these "creative" assignments as I feel like they are more work for me, with no academic purpose (or if there is an academic purpose I don't know what it is), I mean what is my kid going to learn from drawing a dinosaur?

An 8 year old will get as creative as you let him if you simply do not interfere. He does not need to create something that looks like an adult did it. He certainly can do it on his own as long as you let it look like a 2nd grader's project. You can guide him without doing the project for him.

I just wish there was a handbook for parents as to what the teachers expect from the children at each grade level. I don't want to put pressure on my kid to produce something they don't expect from him till 5th grade but how am I supposed to know what it is expect from a 2nd grader????

omg, sorry this is so long, hopefully someone might respond!!

Thanks for reading it if you got this far!
I know it's tough to allow your child to hand in work that looks like it was done by a child, but IT WAS DONE BY A CHILD. Relax and let your son do the project on his own.
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Old 05-18-2009, 10:11 AM
 
5,684 posts, read 8,121,530 times
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I would have had him type it. I know the kids at the school I work at go to the computer lab once a week starting in kindergarten. Also I would have had him write the notes as you read.
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Old 05-18-2009, 10:36 AM
 
Location: Hallandale, FL
204 posts, read 739,835 times
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I wouldn't help him at all. I don't remember a single time my brother or I received any homework help from our parents and my brother and I turned out great. A teacher is not going to assign a project that REQUIRES parental help. Kids are more capable than you think.

You are handicapping him if you don't let him learn on his own.
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Old 05-18-2009, 10:43 AM
 
1,122 posts, read 2,018,446 times
Reputation: 741
I just did a project similar to this with my 7 year old daughter. Its a bit different since we homeschool so I'm naturally more hands on anyhow.

I asked her what she wanted to learn that day for science. It was her day to pick. She picked spider monkeys. I asked her to write down some things she wanted to learn about them. She wanted to know about their habitat, eating habits, how they communicate and about reproduction. I had her put them into a nice order, with plenty of space to write in between with what she learned. I put introduction at the top and I threw in conservation and referances at the bottom.

Then I asked her where she could learn about spider monkeys. She gathered some books. I pulled out the A and M encylopedias, and she mentioned the internet. I helped her look the information up. I read the information in the books and helped her sum it into a few short sentences that were at her knowledge level. Then I let her go online free of myself to look up more and use the skills I had just taught her about summing the information. She wrote down some more info. I had preped her already on how to save her link so we could referance it later. We saved a picture for printing on the cover. Then we checked the report over for spelling, grammatical and punctuation errors. Then she typed it up. The program showed her spelling and grammar errors and I helped her type the first section so she knew what to do on the rest. I stepped back in to help with referances. Then I reminded her of some public speaking practice I had taught her and then had her present the information to her dad. It was a lot of work for a one page report but it will be a lot easier if I teach her the right way now. She had two errors, one word needed to be omitted and she had an enxtra space between two words. I didn't think she did too bad at all.

We've drawn lots of habitats. I encourage it all the time. If one of them draws a lion, I ask them questions about what else is where lions live and have them draw it...grasslands with Acacia trees and other proper bushes and animals. The one I think was done best was a freshwater ecossystem my daughter did when she was five. I was only stumped on the newt. I didn't realize she knew what one was.
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Old 05-18-2009, 10:56 AM
 
1,628 posts, read 5,892,599 times
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Assuming your 2nd grader can read, you can show him how to put the name of the dino in the google search area, let him pull up a couple of articles, let him print them out, let him read it, let him write the report. You get the idea. A teacher is not expecting an adult level report at that age. If I were the teacher, I'd have a talk with the parent of any child who came in with work which clearly is not 2nd grade work.

The main thing here is that the child feels they did a good job. If a parent is correcting, rewriting, basically leading the entire thing the message is "you can't do this very well. I'll have to take over."

I think most of the responses here are examples of helicopter moms. Let the child do 2nd grade level work. Let him do it himself. Back off!!!! You're supposed to be creating a love of learning, not a feeling of dependence and a feeling they can't do 2nd grade level work.
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Old 05-18-2009, 10:58 AM
 
1,628 posts, read 5,892,599 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spac3d View Post
I wouldn't help him at all. I don't remember a single time my brother or I received any homework help from our parents and my brother and I turned out great. A teacher is not going to assign a project that REQUIRES parental help. Kids are more capable than you think.

You are handicapping him if you don't let him learn on his own.
YES!!! EXACTLY!!!

If any teacher does not think the work is done well when it comes it at a 2nd grade level, that's a discussion you need to have with the teacher and/or principal. A second grader who comes in with great spelling, grammar, organization, and references is not a 2nd grader who did his own work. Mommy should get the grade.
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