My daughters were stuck in my office the other night.
Beanie takes violin lessons at Local U. on Wednesday afternoons (they run a program so the music education students can get some hands-on experience teaching real kids). Usually, I drop her off and Punkin’ and I head to my office, where I grade papers and prepare for class and she does her homework. Mr. Chili, who works literally two doors down from the building where Bean’s lessons are, picks her up, swings by my building to get Punkin, and takes everyone home while I teach my evening class. It’s an imperfect system, but we’re workin’ it.
This week, though, Mr. Chili was stuck in an endless meeting, so I went to get Miss Bean after her lesson and brought her back to my little cave of an office to await Daddy’s release from the sixth circle of meeting hell. The girls had finished their homework and were left with “nothing to do” (of course, Chili women are never without a book, but I didn’t press that point). Bean noticed a stack of papers on my desk and asked if she could read one.
I considered this request for a moment, then felt a little light bulb go off over my head.
“Sure!” I said, “you can read them, but you’re going to have to do more than just read. Here; take a piece of paper and write the author’s name on it. Then, when you’re done reading, write a little bit of something to tell me what the “big idea” of the paper was, okay?”
Bean had enough time to get through two essays before Daddy came and collected her. This is what I found on my desk when I came back from teaching the class. (I can’t get my scanner to send a copy of this to my computer, so I took a picture.)
I haven’t read the papers in question yet, but I remember from conferences that Andrea’s paper is about her junkie brother and that Nathan’s is about his decision to continue with his family’s nursing home business. It’ll be interesting to talk with Bean about these essays, to see if we come to similar conclusions about them.
Do you think my students would appreciate getting these little notes back with their essays, or is it best they don’t know that a nine-year-old has been reading their work?