Thursday, September 21, 2006

Nitty Gritter, Grabbers, and Clinchers

Critter raced out of her room. "Come see! Quick! We've got peacocks!" CrafterKat and I glanced up from dinner preparations with what must have been an incredulous look. "Well, okay, pea hens!" she ammended.

Peacocks? Here? I tried to picture these large, proud birds strutting down our paved drive. "Are you sure they aren't pheasants?"

I wiped my hands and followed her back to the room. No sign of any large colored bird outside her window. "You're too late. They went up the street," she informed me.

"Well, take the camera and see if you can get a picture."

A nice diversion from the homework routine into which she is slowly settling. The last diversion was having a Sleepover with Annie May last weekend. I was greeted with a "It's very nice to meet thee," from Critter and a "Yo" from her friend. The fishing hat with LaLa's wedding gown is a nice touch, I admit.

Critter is learning that eighth grade is vastly different from seventh grade. I attended the Open House last week and discovered that she'll be getting lots of homework.

Her math teacher and her science teacher won a grant to have a Smart Board installed in their classrooms. It's a way for them to project websites or pre-written documents (done on their computer) up on a screen. The kids or the teacher can then write on the Smart Board with special pens or manipulate the website by just touching the screen with the fingers. The kids love it and try to be the first to finish in class so they can "write" on the board. Very impressive!

Her block teacher will be covering the beginnings of our government (the jury system, the Constitution, etc.) and the history of America through the Civil War and Industrial Revolution. He is also strengthening their writing skills--encouraging them to backup their position on a topic and pull the reader in.

Science class will be studying genetics this year as well as review of the scientific process. Critter informed us she'd be bringing home worms later this week. "Um, why?"

She grinned. "To see what they do. I'm gonna let them go in the Compost bin outside." I relaxed a bit when 'outside' was mentioned.

They have a new choir teacher this year, a young woman from the high school who will be here exactly one class period each day. Her hope is to build the choir program at the high school by strengthening their skills before they get there. She's playing different music each morning--country to opera to punk--and having the kids discuss it afterwards. Should be interesting...

Her math teacher is teaching pre-algebra plus reviewing basic math skills or The Nitty Gritty. Fortunately, her teacher has a good sense of humor and seems to be a patient man. I've already been informed that I'm the parent that deals with Language Arts stuff, not math... Sigh.

PE isn't too different than last year. The only new routine is that Critter is going to participate in intramural volleyball after school. A sports physical is required now for this type of activity, vastly different from my memories of team sports. Show up, run around the court and then, if you're still breathing, begin training.

I picked her up early, double-checking that she had everything for tonight's homework crusade. She rolled her pre-14 year old eyes. "Yes, I've got everything from my locker except for a pen and some pictures."

"What do you have for tonight?"

"Ten math problems and Grabbers and Clinchers."

My mind raced. Grabbers and Clinchers? What is this, some fly-fishing reference? "Um, what's that mean?"

"Clinchers are really good endings. And Grabbers are really good openings when you're writing. I gotta write a paragraph with a Grabber. You wanna hear it?" She proceeded to read me her Grabber story opening on the ride up the elevator. I agreed, it was pretty good.

And this story's Clincher? Her snapped photo.

"See? They're white pea hens!"

Well, maybe albino pea hens, I conceded mentally. Certainly not pheasants.

CrafterKat laughed. "They're egrets!"

We called LaLa (our bird officianado) and found out that they ARE, in fact, peacocks. White peacocks. Wandering around our neighborhood. How cool is that?!