Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I'm A Cheater

I'm doing National Novel Writing Month again this year, for the sixth year running, and hopefully "winning" for the fifth time. But I'm cheating. If you are at all familiar with NaNoWriMo, you know that it entails not only writing 50,000 words in the month of November, starting no earlier than November 1 and ending no later than November 30, but also that you shouldn't have written any part of the novel before, even a part you aren't going to count in your word total. Well, I actually started writing my NaNo novel back in June, and wrote a little more sometime over the summer, and then there it sat: 5,000 or so lonely words. And I often told myself I should keep writing, but did I do so? Noooooooooo.

In the meantime, November approached, and I thought about NaNo and felt quite snotty about it, partly because I flamed out and didn't finish last year, and partly because I didn't have any good ideas for a novel to write and didn't feel like putting the into figuring one out in October, when I had a lot of other crap to do. Of course, being a grown-up, I knew that having not finished NaNo last year was a really crappy reason to not participate this year, but such was my attitude, and so I didn't really give it a whole lot of thought up until the first several days of the month had passed and I realized wait, wait, this is November, and I love NaNoWriMo, and if I don't even try I'm going to be really upset!

And so I picked up the novel I'd already started. I had 5,000 words already written, but on the other hand, five novel-writing days had already passed, and if I'd started a novel on November 1, I'd have had far more than 5K under my belt by November 5. Well, that's always been the case in the past. So I gave myself a pass, on the basis that:
1) I've completed the challenge of starting fresh on November 1 four times before, so yes, I know I can do it following the words, but after all,
2) The point is to get writing, and to get 'er done, as they say (Well somebody says that. I think It might be Larry the Cable Guy, but I'm not sure.)
3) Also that thing I already said above, about how if I started on time I would have had more words than I had when I took up this crazy thing a couple of weeks ago.

And so, sixteen days later, I have added another 27,000 or so words to what I had originally, and am indeed on my way toward getting 'er done. For good or for ill. And I think I am obeying the spirit, if not the the letter, of the law, and that the NaNo gods will, in the end, smile upon me.

And if no, screw 'em.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

I Hate Junior High

Probably not as much as I hated it when I actually attended myself, but I still hate it.

Mermaid had a B in Social Studies, which has always been her most difficult subject, at progress report time. So I was dismayed to learn on Tuesday she will have a D in Social Studies on her first-quarter report card. Her teacher sent home a sheet with a handy breakdown of the grades she earned on every assignment, test, etc for the quarter. It showed that three in-class assignments had not been turned in, that she had received a zero on a pop quiz, and that she got 2 of 14 possible points in "Class Participation."

1) She's not good at keeping track of her work. It very well may be that this is true of almost all 7th graders. Be that as it may, she has a support person in class with her who should be, at the very least, making sure she does and turns in assignments done right there in class, and this happened not once but three times. Not okay.

2) She didn't just fail the pop quiz -- she got a zero. This tells me it wasn't modified for her in any way. If regular tests need to be modified for her, so do pop quizes -- especially those that amount of 3% of her grade.

3) Class participation? Hello? She is autistic. She can barely participate in dinner-time discussions with her family -- she is not going to be able to contribute to things on the subject of ancient civiliations in a class of 30 kids without serious facilitation.

I don't know for sure what the situation is, but all the issues we've had so far this year have related to her Social Studies class, and my guess is that unless the Inclusion Specialist specifically goes into the classroom and discusses modifications for Mermaid (as has been the case for tests and projects), this teacher simply holds her to the same standard he would with a typical student. I would love it if Mermaid were capable of performing to his expectations, but she's not.

Frustration doesn't fully cover my feelings on this subject.