More on the fabulous teacher

Ok, so this is fourth grade. Today for homework they had to read a short story called "Planting Things." It was about the old man who loves to garden. "Mr. Willis was not a practical gardener, so it did not matter to him whether or not he could eat what he grew, or even if what he planted grew badly or not at all. Mr. Willis just enjoyed planting things." His wife is ill, and has lost her zest for life, but he cares for her tenderly at home. One of the plants on his porch is a Swedish ivy, and it is a wonderfully hardy, healthy plant. One day he discovers that a robin has built a nest in the ivy plant. ("He was glad he was on good terms with God, in case it should be a sign to him!") He is amazed and delighted, and tries to persuade his wife to get out of bed and come to the porch to see the nest with its eggs. She is pleased to hear about it, but too tired to get out of bed to see it. All summer long, Mr. Willis watches over the birds and the eggs. At one point Mrs. Willis does get out of bed to see the nest. Watching the eggs, Mr. Willis remembers what it was like when he and his wife were expecting their child. "The world had slowed down for them, and the days had been long and full of conversation." Fall comes, the baby birds fly away, and Mr. Willis carefully removes the nest. In the spring he will put the nest in his apple tree because he is a man who enjoys planting things.

They also had a short article, "All About Baby Robins," detailing the life cycle of robins; size, color, number of eggs, incubation period, typical diet, etc.

The assignment: first, three multiple choice comprehension questions (Q: How are Mr. and Mrs. Willis different from each other? A: Mr. Willis is interested in life and in all sorts of things. Mrs. Willis seems to have given up on life.) Then, "write a paragraph explaining how the title of the story tells us about the kind of person Mr. Willis is. Be sure to show examples from the story." And finally, an essay question, with two pages of blank lines for the answer: "Write about the two passages. Tell about connections that show how the two passages are alike and how they are different. Also discuss the ways in which an informational article is different from fiction. Be sure to use examples from each text."

Now is it just me, or is that a pretty sophisticated assignment -- and a pretty sophisticated story -- for nine year olds? I am just so delighted. We'll make English majors out of them yet!

And a little addendum: Joey zipped through the assignment with no parental help. But clearly he needs parental help in the Inappropriate Humor department. He finished his essay with this paragraph:
The difference between FIC and Non FIC is that non fiction is true, and fiction is not. If you wanted to learn about sheep, you wouldn't read "Larry the Lovesick Lamb," you would read "All about Sheep," or something like that.


  • Wow, what an exciting does seem a bit advanced, but as you noticed, Joey went fine with it. I liked his final paragraph, humour and all. It shows that he has a good grip on the subject. Go the bookworms!

    posted by Blogger Mummy/Crit on 8:55 AM  

  • Hooray for dedicated teachers! I've sometimes thought about pursuing that, but I've had enough Sunday School experience to know that while kids like me, they also walk all over me. And I'm not very good at coming up with assignments. That teacher sounds great - and doesn't it seem like kids are learning more and more earlier and earlier? I swear my brother did stuff in third grade I didn't do till fifth...

    posted by Blogger Erin on 11:56 AM  

  • Wonderful to read about good teachers. My ESP worked again. I just *knew* you had a new blog look in the works. Nice!!! :D

    posted by Anonymous SilverMoon on 12:03 PM  

  • I'm really thrilled you have such a great teacher for Joey. And what a fantastic assignment. It just shows how much thought the teacher has put into the project.

    I hope you let him keep the Inappropriate Humor in there. That was great.

    posted by Blogger SuzanH on 4:13 PM  

  • Hehe, I love it. So, which parent claims Joey's humor genetics?

    posted by Blogger mrsd on 10:46 PM  

  • I loved the bit that Joey added at the end! Those were the things I lived for when I was a classroom teacher - the little bits of personality coming through.

    posted by Anonymous Nixie Knox on 8:56 AM  

  • That assignment would, unfortunately I guess, challenge my seventh graders. You must have quite advanced schooling out there, much better than us hicks out west.

    posted by Anonymous Laura on 12:18 PM  

  • Crit, heh heh, glad you liked it.

    Erin, welcome. Actually, around here it doesn't feel that way at all. We have no talented & gifted program in our district, and bored bright kids are endemic.

    Silver, you are too cool with your ESP.

    Suzan, let him? No choice. He can't help it. Inappropriate Humor oozes out of his every pore.

    Mrsd, uh, both? Hubby and I are birds of a feather in the humor dept. Though my puns are WAY better than his! :)

    Nixie, thank you for that. I worry that the teachers will think he's not taking the assignment seriously.

    Laura, not really. See my response to Erin, above. This is a happy fluke.

    posted by Blogger Julie on 7:53 AM