Watch D.O.G.S.

Note: I wrote this post in Nov 2012, but I didn’t publish it until April 2013 – the morning before me second Watch D.O.G.S. experience. I was re-reading it this morning and decided to clean it up and post it.

As part of the Watch D.O.G.S. program I got to spend the day at my son, George’s, school. They had me moving to a new class (grades K-4) every 15-20 minutes, so it was pretty hectic. I got to work with a few groups of kids in the classrooms while they did their regular work, a few groups doing their special assignments away from class, and some kids one on one. I was surprised that all of them were happy, well-behaved, and eager to learn with me.

I met some really bright kids who solved their math problems faster than I could, some who had started writing interesting stories about trolls, evil wizards, and portals to other worlds, some who had their books memorized, and a boy that can draw sharks amazingly well. It was a fun challenge to me to get these bright kids to stretch their skills a little farther. I asked the story tellers for more details about what they planned to write next, I tripped up the memorizers by taking pages out of order and interrupting their flow with questions, and I introduced the shark artist to a few anatomical details he hadn’t noticed, as well as a new shark (hammerhead).

I also met some kids who were behind the rest of class in certain skills. It was great to work with them one on one and see them make progress even in the short time I had with them. I helped one little guy figure out the difference between “b” and “d” and also “h” and “n”. I helped a girl work through her math problems and she grinned when she finally got something. But they weren’t all so easy to help.

One Kindergarten girl didn’t know her letters so she was really bummed about the game we were playing with a couple of other kids. When she would get a letter wrong she would harshly chastise herself with “Oh, great job .”, and put her head down. It broke me heart to see her beat herself up like that, but she just couldn’t seem to remember the letters. Just when I had run out of ideas for helping her, one of the other kid’s shoes came untied and he asked for help. The despondent girl said she could do it, and she did. George can’t tie his own shoes, so I was impressed by this girl tying someone else’s (which is even harder than tying your own). I praised her for this and she perked back up. She also told me she can do dishes and mop the floor!

There was one second or third grade boy I wasn’t able to reach at all. He had his coat on his desk, two of his favorite stuffed animals propped up inside of it, and a piece of paper with a black square colored on it so the animals were “watching TV.” He was obsessively concerned about keeping the animals on their “couch” and the TV facing them. He was very distracted during the math lesson. He didn’t do any of the problems, or even look at the teacher. He just played with some scissors and kept propping the animals up so they would watch TV. After we removed the coat, animals, TV, and scissors, he tried to do one of the math problems. He got it right, but went back to his own distracted world immediately afterwards. I’m not sure if this kid has a really bad home life, or has a bad case of ADHD, but it was tough to see him like that. He might be the only kid all day I couldn’t get to smile.

In another class, I was helping a group of 2nd graders with rhyming words. They had “trip” so I told them to a “s” to the front. One boy blurted out, “Oh yeah! Like you go to a strip place!” Not exactly what I was thinking, but OK.

In another class the teacher asked the kids for some good uses of petroleum or oil. One kid said “To burn down factories!” I thought the answer was pretty good since they had been talking about how factories pollute so much just moments before. Go Planet!

Overall, it was a great experience, and I look forward to doing it again in the Spring.

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