Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Braggin' on my babies!

Lots of brags here, so hold on tight!

Savannah first!
Savannah has been an amazing reader since she was 5. She stunned her Kindergarten teacher by finishing entire Junie B. Jones chapter books to the tune of 1-2 per day. She took AT LEAST one trip to the school library daily. As soon as she learned how to really write, she began doing that really well, too. A few years ago, she got a journal & never kept up with it, so last spring I challenged her. I gave her a new journal & told her that if she could keep it going for 1 month, I'd buy her a milkshake. She did it (and got her milkshake) and she's never looked back. She began writing stories several years ago, but she's gotten really good at writing since then. So good, in fact, that she began publishing stories online last year. So good, that she's begun writing to publishing companies & seeking out someone to publish her first manuscript. She has gotten a few responses, but so far no one is willing to take her on without an agent. Oh well, we'll keep trying. It'll be fun to see if she can get a book published at 13!

Samuel next!
Early in 3rd grade, Samuel & his buddy, B, began a club at school called "Trash Men". It really began as a response to a club some girls started called "Green Girls". The idea of both clubs was to pick up trash, encourage recycling, etc. Larry and I, as well as Samuel's teachers, figured it would fizzle out within a couple of weeks. Most third grade clubs do. But these guys were serious about their trash pick-up! Months later, Samuel was wanting to create "Trash Men" Tshirts and buy a van to haul trash in. (I know...I giggled about that, too.) I loved his ambition, but still thought the enthusiasm would die soon. Surprisingly, at the end of school, Samuel's teachers presented he & the other little boy with an award for organizing & maintaining a service-oriented club. We were pleased to see them stick with something all year long, especially something for a good cause!

Throughout the summer, Samuel talked about his plans to improve Trash Men when school began. Sadly, about a month after school started, his coleader moved out of state, so he was left as the sole leader of the group. Since he decided to let girls join him, he had to remove "Men" from the group's title & the club became (wait for it.........) TP. That stands for Trash Patrol, but the first time he told me I busted out laughing. He had no idea that other people would think TP might stand for something else! Anyway, TP has continued this year & blossomed. He's added quite a few more boys to the group and has been trying to get me to print up a 'test' he could give to the other kids to determine who will be able to lead TP when he's not at this school anymore. (I know...it's comical....how exactly do you test someone? Hey you, see that trash? This is a test. What do you do with the trash? Hooray..you picked it up! You're IN! ha ha)

A few weeks ago, one of the PE coaches approached Samuel about having a representative from a local environmental organization come meet with him about the club. He came home, all excited about that, but really had no clue what they'd meet with him about! On Thursday, the coach sent home a note saying that the group's rep would be at the school on Monday to meet w/ Samuel. He stayed after school to meet them & then excitedly told us how they'd asked a lot of questions to enter him into a state contest where they award young people for making efforts to do things that are good for the Earth. The prize is $100. He's super excited & already has plans for the money if he wins! We're proud of all he's doing and for the ambition & initiative he's putting into all of this, even if some of it sounds kind of silly. Way to go, Buddy!

And now Sarah:
Every year, the schools in Texas administer a test. One of those awful standarized tests where the kids are forced to sit in their desk all day long & stare at little bubbles with their pencil in hand. The test is called TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge & Skills). It's pretty brutal, too. The teachers hate it too. There are so many rules & regulations they must follow, it's insane. At the 3rd grade level, the math portion of the TAKS test is HUGE. And I don't just mean lengthy. It's super tricky, but it's also one that carries a giant weight. If the kids fail this part of the test, they fail the 3rd grade! They're allowed a couple of tries to retake it, but if they still fail it in the end, they have to call a big group session with teachers, principals, counselors, etc and decide whether or not to allow the student to pass the grade. It's an enormous pressure on the teachers to make sure the kids know every little detail of the information...and it's an enormous pressure on the kids to pass. Such a scary, stressful time for these little ones!

Today was the Math portion of the TAKS test. Samuel & Sarah's grades both took it. Sarah's in 3rd grade, where the kids feel the most pressure to pass. Sarah's always done great in school, but she's also a very anxious kid who stresses over things. I was SO pleased to see her NOT stressed out today! And when she got in the car this afternoon, I asked her how she felt like she'd done. She said "I think I may've missed one problem. But that's not a big deal!"

I love that confidence! Way to go, baby girl. ROCK the TAKS!

Tomorrow, Samuel & Sarah's grades will each take the Reading portion of the TAKS. This will be the hardest part for Samuel. He struggles in reading, so if you see this before Wednesday, April 28th, I'd appreciate it if you lift a prayer for him. Savannah's grade level will take the TAKS test on Thurs & Fri of this week.

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