10 March 2015

italian education :: 25 :: fifth grade update

:: Five years with the same teachers is getting old. Previous thoughts of the greatness of this "looping" are being reconsidered, strongly.

:: The fifth graders recently took a field trip to the mountains where they frolicked in the snow along with their teachers while wearing rented snow shoes. Young One's teacher opted out of that adventure. One child broke her arm but it was great fun otherwise. I know, I saw the pictures.

:: I've just had a great review of the Punic Wars thanks to the fifth grade curriculum. Or wait...did I ever learn about the Punic Wars?! I found some great videos by Extra Credits to reinforce the kiddo's learning & to introduce the associated English vocabulary.

:: Fifth graders in science are labeling the parts of the eye and ear. I haven't addressed the English versions because...well...I just haven't. I mean...she'll figure it out...or forever be cursed with the inability to recall the words "eardrum" or "cochlear." But she knows all about Hannibal and his elephants, in two languages.

:: I'm just thankful that there was no requirement to create a model or diorama or cereal box or poster-sized drawing or any other rendition of any of it. Hallelujah.

:: I had no idea that the recorder could be taken to such heights.

:: English as a foreign language is all about grammar rules and not anything about verbal communication. I kid you not. It is a broken system but it is not being ignored by leaders, as is evidenced with one reform after another, which is strikingly familiar to my American reality.

:: Sex education is being taught over a series of eight lessons from Don Somebody or Another. (Don = priest)   After the first lesson, Young One reported only that she already knew all of it. Phew! We've been working on that. You might remember that her introduction came from Sara, when Sara, too,  was in fifth grade. I love this series of books recommended by a friend, by the way.

:: Every middle school open house we attended included sharing standardized test scores. (We did not like the school with the best scores: too stuffy.) Young One has been doing test prep for the fifth grade version of this test throughout the year; it's the only time she is faced with multiple choice questions, and it's been a bit of a learning curve for her, this child who has grown up in a classroom where verbal interrogations are the preferred form of assessment.  The test is soon; kids in this region of Italy perform exceptionally well...or so I learned from those middle school visits.  Sigh: "My students aren't standardized."

:: I'm finally starting to see just a bit of that "Catholicism is the one and only true religion!" mentality from one of the adults in the school, likely my least favorite person. He is obviously not listening much to our beloved Pope Francis. Time to transition, no doubt!

Disclaimer: I hate generalizations as much as you do, probably more. This is my limited experience at my fifth grader's tiny primary school lost in Northern Italy. If you have a different experience with this, please share!


  1. I could see advantages and disadvantages to having the same teacher; however, I know for my oldest son who was a very figity child would have been probably a nighmare as he usually wore out his welcome by half way through the year. Today he is a normal and pretty brillant 10th grader that you would have never known had such a rough start. In his k-5 grade experience we had only 2 teachers who really saw his full potential and one of those was a 70 year old substitute who he had for three months while his teacher was on leave for her baby.

    1. I always contend that there are no "good teachers" vs "bad teachers," that the match, the connection, between the teacher and student is what matters most. And some personality types are just difficult to match up. Of course, this is the teacher in me talking.

      I am happy to hear that your oldest is shining!

  2. good luck on the middle school choice!

    1. fingers and toes crossed, but it's looking good.