Monday, September 28, 2015

Thoughts on Capsule Night--and a Wish

Capsule Night--not sure where the name came from--in some schools it is called Curriculum Night.

First of all, it's fabulous. Fabulous to see the teachers. (I kind of wish they did it each semester.) Fabulous to get a sense of my child's day, and at least create a mental map of where he is in each class. How many stairs does he climb every day?

Second of all, it's fun to see the parents--the ones I know, the ones I don't know. It made me realize I miss a lot of people whom I used to see regularly, back in elementary school. Next year, can we pair capsule night with some social time for parents at a coffee shop or bar? (Or in the school...)

Third of all, even though the classes are, like, 12 minutes each, I felt like I was sitting all too long! (Which is really funny, because mostly, I sit at a computer in my day job...)

Fourth of all--I was struck by how much access to computers teachers are requiring. And I wondered--if we didn't have more than one computer at our house--and/or if we had more than one child in high school now--that could potentially be a big problem. The technology divide seems to get bigger. And it's a lot more computer work than I remember from my two older kids. Which really makes me wonder--how much of that is necessary? Because exacerbating a technology divide is not a good thing.

Last, but not least, a wish:

Every year when I walk into the math class at Capsule Night, it reminds me that I wish the school district would offer a free evening class in every middle school and high school for parents, on how to use a graphing calculator. I'm sure it's not hard, but we didn't use them back when I took Algebra...or Geometry...or Trig....or Calculus. You know, back when the dinosaurs were alive.

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  1. Good points all, Ruth!

    Have you read the recently published study which shows that all the additional technology the U.S. is incorporating into school curricula has not resulted in the academic achievements hoped for? It shows that countries which are "ahead" of us academically (another debatable statement, given that U.S test scores are as high as those of the top countries, once you take the effects of poverty into account) use far less technology than we do. I'll find the study - it was reported on the BBC one night last week.

    Also, your point about the graphing calculator is a good one! I'd take that class!

    See you after next capsule night for "social time"!

  2. Pioneer and Community had theirs at the same time. Hard to be in two places at one time when you've got a kid who didn't "win the lottery" (and that kid is a senior, and there's a semi-mandatory senior parent meeting as well) - how were split enrollee parents supposed to do it? We made it work by me skipping the latter part of Pio's and M skipping the early part of his OTHER commitment. A single parent would have been out of luck.

    Someone once told me capsule is because they encapsulate the day...

    I would take the graphing calculator class!

    1. And iirc, the time in class in shorter at Pio, because they have to give parents more passing time. Barely enough time for teachers to say their name and give a URL or so it seems.

  3. We are new to the district and I had a similar reaction to the technology and monetary requirements after our 6th grade capsule night. Two of my daughter's classes have online textbooks. There was no mention about accommodations for those who don't have adequate access at home. I assume there is an alternative, but parents or students will have to seek it out, which is even harder if you are new or don't speak English. I was also surprised by a friend at another middle school who was told by their music (band or orchestra, I'm not sure) teacher that if they hadn't played the instrument before, they would have to hire a tutor. Sixth grade seems too early to cut access to instruments. I'm especially surprised since Ann Arbor has actively recruited students from outside the district then punishing them because they weren't here earlier. What if an Ann Arbor student wanted to switch instruments after 5th grade. (I was told they couldn't). This student opted out of music.

    1. That's a shame, but yes, they do it. I remember way back 20+ years ago when my oldest started neighbor told me he would never be able to play in Pioneer's orchestra if he didn't start private lessons NOW. Really pissed me off. And she was later on the school board...we didn't, and he did in fact play for Mike Grace in Community High's Jazz Band. FYI, the AAPS music teachers do a summer "camp" music program, that specifically includes about a month-long class for kids who want to switch instruments. That is one way to switch after 5th-6th grade. My kids all did the summer music camp at one point or another, not to switch instruments, but just for fun, it's a good $$ value and well taught.