Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Geometry test

All week J has been preparing for a geometry test with his (rather strict) Friday teacher. His definition of preparing is reading through the 11 sentences describing shapes and then reinterpreting the German in his own words. He knows it all in English and knows what he wants to say, but I suspect his own definition is not what’s needed here. Apparently (this is news to me) the first test he did for her, he didn’t do very well. In fact he won’t tell me what mark he did get, so I’m assuming that means a 0.

Overall, he has settled into working extremely hard, and I’m both very pleased with him and also desperately trying to support him as much as I can without doing the work for him. Additionally, he’s had a rotten cold this week and has clearly felt quite rough.

Thursday night I check his geometry with him and I can’t make head nor tail of what preparation he’s done for the test. I suspect that the teacher was expecting them to learn the definitions by rote and then regurgitate them on paper in the test – but this is really his first experience of this kind of learning. I tell him repeatedly that I’m really pleased with and proud of him for working so hard and I don’t care what he gets in the test (this is true) because I know it’s hard for him, he’s working harder than ever before, and he’s at school in another language. I could never have done that. I’m not sure whether he takes any of this in, but it’s true and I repeat it several times.

I send him off to school on the Friday morning, fully expecting another disaster with the test, and I’m not entirely wrong. He has to redo the test next week. So we have a long chat about what was expected here – and it seems that the teacher was expecting rote learning, and for the children to literally write out 11 sentences exactly as they had been sent home with to learn the previous week. Deep joy.

So we agree that he will learn the sentences by writing them out, each sentence 10 times, 2 sentences per day. So far it seems to be working, and I’ll let you know next week if this approach has done the trick. Fingers crossed. I hate rote learning, but OH pragmatically points out to me that it will also help J’s German. It’s just such an unimaginative way of teaching.

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