Cooking up a Perfect Solution

February 8, 2008 Kyron No Comments

Ah it’s Friday evening and I have a smile on my face. I got my grade back tonight on my project from Family and Consumer Science that Katherine helped me with and I/we got a 110!! (10 points were awarded for projects handed in ahead of the deadline) Yup by now you’ve certainly noticed my sarcasm. I do tend to have a dry, sarcastic sense of humor.

I wonder however how many of you have faced my very same situation.

Katherine is in what they call a “self-contained” classroom. Basically the majority of her day is in with other children who have similar classifications. However, one time a day she goes out for what our schools call connections classes. These are what in my day (yes I’m old) were called electives – music, art, typing, accounting, theater, home economics, wood shop etc. Some of Katherine’s other classmates have taken these classes for some time and she has been dying to join them. As her behaviors have improved and she’s stabilized some we decided it might not be a bad idea to give her the opportunity.

These classes are mainstream classes. Katherine has an aide who goes with her. Her connections class for the first part of the year was art and it was a smashing success. Katherine loved the class, did well with a variety of lessons (with aide assistance at certain parts) and felt incredibly successful! Who could ask for more right? Well each connections class lasts 2 marking periods (⅓ of the school year) so we needed to move to another class. Well, given the success of the first one I was open to that and when Katherine told me she wanted cooking I thought well heck that’s a good skill for her work on, let’s do it! Family and Consumer Science (FACS) here we come!

Overall I think the class has been ok. Then we get this assignment. It’s a family dinner project that the entire 8th grade FACS class got. I guess that’s where the problem comes in. It’s the EXACT same assignment that all the mainstream 8th graders are beingkat facs Cooking up a Perfect Solution expected to complete given to a child under an IEP (Individual Education Plan) with the functionality of a 2nd -3rd grader.

In different situations I have approached this type of situation in different manners. In the past, I have gone to some teachers and discussed how we could accommodate Katherine specifically according to her IEP. If most of it was within her range I might just do a small part because it wasn’t worth the whole go around to get an accommodation on one tiny piece. As she has been completely in self-contained classrooms the past few years, it’s just hasn’t been an issue. Obviously, now that she’s doing mainstream classes it’s an issue again. Because she’s aged it’s a bigger issue now.

The differences in Katherine’s academic abilities from her chronological peers becomes more disparate as they age. Certainly they become more apparent as she ages. The challenge becomes how much do I go after and how much do I just cave and do. Because of some other personal factors I just caved on this project. I don’t necessarily feel good about it (as proud as I am of the grade – never did that when *I* was in school) because I think that the school has a responsibility to make these projects accessible.

In my opinion, this project would have easily been modified to accommodate Katherine and her particular needs while still having her complete the primary objectives within this project. Should I have spoken up to the teacher? Maybe. It seems certain to me that looking at the finished product the teacher could in no way believe that Katherine was responsible for at least ¼ of the required pieces of this assignment.

I know some people will read this and suggest that I’m just whining because I didn’t want to help Katherine with the project. On the contrary, I want Katherine to do the project like everyone else. However the reality is that the project was based upon skills an 8th grader had. I just wanted the project to be based on skills Katherine possessed.

Katherine made the dinner (with assistance as there were physical issues and safety issues to assist with) and set the table and as the project directed we all rated her performance on cooking and table setting and the outcome of the meal. We took pictures of her shopping for the ingredients, cooking and cleaning as well as her beautiful table setting. I am very proud of the incredible effort this took for her on all levels. She worked incredibly hard – physically and mentally. And I might add made a lovely meal for 5 of us (Grandpa ate with us at her behest)

However, Katherine is not capable of figuring out the cost per person of the meal she fixed. The instructions called for her to figure out the cost of the ingredients she used, meaning if she only used 1 teaspoon of something out of an entire container what was the cost of that. So not only would she have to figure out how many teaspoons were in a given container but then what the cost per teaspoon was – HECK took me a bit to figure it all out and I have a high school diploma. I can’t imagine the teacher actually believes she calculated these things.

In any event, because of stuff going on here at home I decided that I just didn’t have the energy to go up against the powers that be on this project and I did the parts that Katherine wasn’t possibly capable of and assisted where necessary on the other parts. The core pieces of this project she did to the best of her ability and I think performed admirably!

Maybe I should have addressed this with the school. Maybe it wasn’t worth the effort. I sometimes feel I need to pick my battles with the school just like I pick my battles at home.

The reality is there was probably no “right” answer to this but I wonder how you all would have handled this? Would you have just helped with the parts that your child couldn’t complete. Would you have gone into school and dealt with the teacher on this? Would you have another solution altogether? I’ll be interested in hearing your thoughts.

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Categories : Education, General, Strategies

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