The horror of Valentine’s Day cards

Before she had kids, Mrs. Lipstick thought assigning kids to make Valentine’s Day cards was a great way to encourage handwriting, basic literacy, creativity and parent/child bonding. Now, after helping her preschooler make and sign 25 cards, she thinks it’s parent torture.

Her daughter “discovered you could make a butterfly if you put a popsicle stick on top of a heart with a pom pom for a head,” writes Mrs. Lipstick. “That was a great idea if she wanted to make ONE valentine. But we needed 25.”

Once finished, her preschooler had to write her name on each card. It took “three evenings after school encouraging, cajoling, begging, demanding that she write her name in a legible fashion,” writes Mrs. Lipstick. “She may never write her name again.”

Mrs. Lipstick has taken a vow never to sneer at store-bought cards.

Arts integration — or just arts and crafts?

Four Philadelphia elementary schools are testing whether arts instruction improves math and science learning.

When teachers try to integrate the arts — music, visual art, creative writing, dance, etc. — in their classrooms, they risk sacrificing academic content, warns Susan Barber on Edutopia. She suggests five guidelines to prevent arts integration from becoming just arts and crafts.

Teachers can find arts-integration lessons with an academic focus that are aligned to Common Core standards at sites such as the Getty, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Kennedy Center, Barber suggests.

Where does the time go?

Wasting Time in School is seeking examples of time-consuming, learning lite assignments.

For example, a Houston parent thinks memorizing a rap about pronouns is a waste of time for gifted eighth-graders who’ve mastered pronouns in elementary school.

Sit down learn it,
you don’t need a permit.
Memorize it, do it now:
Pronouns take the place of nouns.

The SUBJECT list—
It’s nothing new:
IT, WE, THEY, and WHO.

And it goes on. And on.

Some 80 percent of elementary teachers are women, notes the blogger.

Imagine that 80+ percent of elementary teachers were male, and that they were constantly assigning girls to design football plays or battle plans for assignments putatively related to math or social studies. Would no one raise the complaint that men were being insensitive by assigning so many projects that most girls didn’t actually enjoy or identify with, and that were barely related to any legitimate academic objective in the first place?

I was just visiting my brother’s family in Oregon after attending our sixth wedding since May. (Yes! The wedding marathon is over!) Their girls love to sit and do arts and crafts projects. Their son wants to run, climb and destroy.

Here’s Simon and Garfunkel on time:

Hazy Shade Of Winter lyrics

Rebel writer

Lefty’s second-grade daughter faced the “dread diorama.”  After sacrificing every shoebox in the house, parent and child rebelled:

. . .  this morning, my daughter walked into school empty handed, her depiction of her favorite scene of her favorite book rendered not in 3-D cardboard, but in words on two sides of a sheet of paper tucked neatly into her backpack, along with a note from yours truly.

The males in my family have problems with small-muscle coordination: For my brothers (or my father), building a diorama would have been frustrating and tedious, a real turn-off. Writing a book report? No sweat. I’m a little better at arts and crafts, but not much. Do teachers really believe that all students must master the cardboard diorama to be useful citizens of the 21st century?