Monday, May 17, 2010

Open thread

What's on your mind, APP parents?


Anonymous said...

too much homework? too little? we seem to be just right. how about you?

Methylgrace said...

How does APP handle hyper-focused kids who have a sustained interest in only their projects (like build a robot) but no interest in doing worksheets? I have an incoming first-grader who is tired of doing busy work.

Anonymous said...

Too little homework! My 5th grader at Lowell had not had to bring homework home all year!

Anonymous said...

Goodness, which teacher is that?!

Shannon said...

By contrast with all the drama over school assignments under the new SAP, Lowell and our continued place there is relatively low stress.

I'm planning on coming to the Open house as a continuing family - not sure if many others do that?

Also, was wondering if anyone can tell me about the 4th Grade teachers. From student numbers it looks as if we will have three full classes and curious who may teach them.

Also, not sure if we have information on whether lowell will have a counsellor / full-time librarian / math support next year. I know it was all up in the air and then some money came back. Now, I am curious.

Other than that I am wondering what the school will look like with the higher numbers (if all turn up as anticipated).


Anonymous said...

The too much homework discussion at the last APP AC meeting was not about elementary school but for 6th and 7th graders. My 6th grader is talking about quitting her sports next year because of too much homework. This is not a choice a 6th grader should have to consider. They are advanced learners in school; this does not mean that they should have homework piled on! I embrace the APP elementary schools philosophy of little homework!

Anonymous said...

One issue we've run into is kids who don't know how to budget time -- including not knowing what amount of time is *excessive* to spend on homework -- and teachers who don't know how to counsel a kid in that situation. I once asked a middle-school teacher how much time a particular assignment was supposed to take. He said, oh, two or three hours. My daughter had spent at least fifteen. The teacher could not see why that was a problem; she'd done a really good job, hadn't she? isn't this what you want? I said hell, no, she's burning out, she's getting no sleep, who wants that?

Central Cluster Mom said...

The middle-school math teacher at WMS has told the kids that they should only work 45 minutes on homework each night -- which she was leaving to their discretion. She recently started asking that parents sign-off on that -- so I'm not sure if she didn't believe the kids, or maybe they were taking too much advantage of the out?

Otherwise - we have had conversations with friends through the year re: the project work and have found that some kids spend an inordinate amount of time on the very same project that other kids spend just a couple of hours.

I'm not sure that is an issue that the teachers can fix.

I'm also not sure that more time necessarily results in better grades - I think it just depends on the individual kid's work process.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure that is an issue that the teachers can fix.

What? Teaching time management skills is something teachers can't manage? That's a major cop-out. They could at least NOT have the dysfunctional attitude that more is always better, even unto burnout.

Anonymous said...

My daughters class was given an assignment at Lowell that seems designed primarily to budget and prioritize time. They are given ~ 6 hours to complete the project. They are asked to chart the days that they do things and leave a bit of a buffer of time to complete items. I really appreciate this as it does seem like a valuable life lesson.

Going forward we will ask our kids to as the teacher how much time to spend on these varied projects and use this model to make it sane!

Central Cluster Mom said...

I certainly didn't mean the "teacher" comment as a cop-out -- of course teachers can and should teach time management. Many of them do with specific timelines for the projects, check-in dates etc.

What I meant was that I think that there are some kids that just inherently spend extra time on things because maybe that is the way their brains work - or maybe they are hyper-perfectionists.

I know many APP families that are dealing with this issue.

Parents, teachers etc. can tell them over and over what is required and what is necessary - it doesn't seem to make a difference.

hschinske said...

Many of them do with specific timelines for the projects, check-in dates etc.

That's not teaching time management -- it's assessing time management, and not necessarily very well.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

A comment is on the saveseattleschools blog about APP getting split at the HS level and the Hamilton kids would go to Hale.

Anybody think this idea has any traction?

ArchStanton said...

Traction? Hmm...

I think gavroche's comments are spot on regarding an APP split at HS level.

In general, I don't think it's a bad idea to create North and South APP sites if the demand is there and it improves access to the program.

That said, I expect that any plan by current SPS administration to further split APP will not be done for the benefit of APP students, but instead as part of a shell game to shuffle kids/money/numbers and ultimately further weaken the program. In that regard, I wouldn't be surprised at all if there is serious talk about splitting HS APP.

hschinske said...

Hale is a really odd choice, if it's true. Ingraham would make far more sense.

Helen Schinske

Ozpav said...

I would personally welcome a split at the high school level, especially since the cohort is already split at the elementary and middle school level. The trek to Lowell is already nearly an hour on the bus from Greenwood, and getting to Garfield with a metro pass sounds daunting. We're already thinking about alternatives even though our child is only in third grade now. If there was a north end path, and suitable class offerings were available (a big "if" I know), I think it would be a great idea.

Anonymous said...

As ArchStanton said, though, the problem with any further splitting of APP is that it weakens the program.

I think what would make the most sense is to undo the split at the elementary and middle school level, but that will never happen.

If there was a split at the high school level, and the goal of that split is to reduce travel times, it seems to me it would have to be coupled with a north-end elementary APP (shutting down Thurgood Marshall APP, using Lowell as the south-end APP instead, and then opening a new north-end elementary APP that is actually in the north-end). That would shorten everyone's travel times and is closer to what many in the APP community suggested if a split was to be forced on us.

However, I and I am sure many others would far rather see a self-contained APP program in its own elementary, middle, and high schools with a district-wide draw -- just like some of the alternative schools, and as was explicitly recommended in the APP review -- than this trend toward splitting the program into little pieces scattered all across the city.

hschinske said...

Oh, Metro is always a pain unless you have the luck to be right on one of the bus routes that goes quite near a particular school (the 48 goes near Roosevelt, Garfield, and Nova, for instance). Ingraham and Hale aren't either of them especially easy to get to on Metro.

The Lincoln building isn't bad at all to get to from where I live (in Ballard). Personally I'd love it if they'd put north-end APP there, and it might even be possible to send middle school students over there from Hamilton to attend advanced math classes, as long as we're dreaming.

Helen Schinske

Charlie Mas said...

I would certainly hope that if the District places some part of high school APP in the north-end that they would do the same for elementary APP.

gavroche said...

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Greg Linden said...

The Bellevue Gifted Education program is excellent and has been expanding. More information here:

gavroche said...

As for the best locations for APP, I feel the elementary school split has been a failure. It has done nothing positive for the APP kids or the gen ed/ALO kids.

Nice work, Supt & Board.

It also didn't solve any of the District's alleged concerns about "access," "equity," diversity, the IDEA law or whatever else was on that ever-changing list of bogus rationales for breaking the school apart.

Also, the District has redrawn the NSAP boundaries around Thurgood so tightly that before long very few neighborhood gen ed kids will be able to get in anyway. Will that make Thurgood an entirely APP school? I have heard/read (from DeBell) that that was indeed the intent.

But that won't happen if the Thurgood APP cohort shrinks. I have heard that a number of TM APP families are leaving the program as a result of this year's problems.

Meanwhile, at this point, the total projected enrollment for elementary APP next year is something like 592. If you stop for a minute to think about that, it's potentially good news. It means the elementary APP program is growing, despite everything the District has done to it these past two years.

But that size cohort wouldn't fit into Lowell even if it were the only program there.

So what elementary APP really needed was a bigger building.

I don't see the District moving APP elem out of Thurgood because it serves their ulterior purposes too neatly -- filling an under-enrolled school, infusing a struggling school with top achievers thus creating the appearance of a "turn-around," and making full use of a fairly decent building.

But I am wondering about all those under-enrolled north-end schools the District is opening next year for that $48 million. McDonald, for example, has only attracted about 67 kids total. So it is going to be effectively merged with Queen Anne Elem (current enrollment 46 or so) at the grade 3-5 level, at least for the first year when the two school are co-housed in the Lincoln high school building.

But once McDonald and QAE are in their own buildings, who is going to fill them?

Could either of these be a location for north-end APP?

I too would love to see south-end APP returned to Lowell. For one thing, it's a smaller cohort and will fit better in Lowell (while north-end elem APP is growing). There are also a lot more north-end APP qualified kids who are not choosing the program, so maybe a closer location in the north-end would make a difference.

The south-end elem. APP families got a seriously raw deal in the split.

As for the middle school APP split, I think the jury is still out on that one. A smaller cohort poses certain problems. Hamilton canceled an Algebra class for this year, I believe, because of this. Does anyone know how Washington's music program has fared this year? Is it still strong? How is Hamilton's new music program coming along?

Another concern about the middle school split is that Hamilton now houses about five different programs -- APP, Spectrum, Immersion, SPED, Gen Ed. That's a lot to ask of any one school.

(p.s. Should we all move to Bellevue...?!)

hschinske said...

Hamilton's new music program is doing very well, from all I hear, both band and orchestra winning awards recently (see The orchestra teacher just went on maternity leave, but I think she's supposed to be back in the fall.

Helen Schinske