Thursday, March 05, 2009

It's My Project...

and I'll cry if I want to, cry if I want to.
You would cry to, if this MLA were you.

The MLA, a fifth grade mulit month long project that reduces both students and parents to tears. This post is my MLA. I can't quite get my thoughts around exactly what I want to say, but I know there is a point here somewhere. Perhaps if I keep typing the words and phrases will all work out my fingertips. (Advice I offered in regard to recording 100 facts: just read and write, and they will come.)

As a mother daughter team we are researching the Declaration of Independence. I know this is suppose to be the fifth graders project. My husband keeps reminding me, it's her grade not yours. But the daughter partner came home from school yesterday and stated, "I'm using my homework pass on my Math because my MLA 100 facts are due tomorrow."

"Tomorrow?" I panicked. When did this deadline get passed down? According to my partner -- Tuesday. We hadn't been to the library yet. I suggested we look to the web. And indeed we found some wonderful fonts of information: National Archives, US Government, Ask sombody... homework question answer guru. The bookmarks were placed, I rested easy -- the resources were literally at her fingertips. But instead of reading and writing, the wailing commenced. "I can't read this. It doesn't tell me what I need to know. This isn't right."

I agreed that reading off a screen is not like reading out of a book, but offered the advice to take it a paragraph at a time, and look for your facts. Tears flowed. The partner retreated to under the kitchen table. This was going to be a long night; a long project. I was envisioning monthes and monthes of tears.

"Are you sure this is due Friday?" It truly seemed like a lot of research to be done in two days.

Through the waterfall, the answer, "Yes," came.

So I sat and read outloud the websites, paragraph by paragraph, after which I asked, "What fact can you get from that passage?" The facts spilled out, almost one hundred of them. And with each fact my blood pressure measured towards the moon. Despite learning quite a lot about the Declaration of Independence, the bottom line truth remained: This is not my project.

I sought out the eldest, with whom we had done this marathon 5 years previous. "What was it like?"

"Terrible."

Okay, the second in line was same as the first, but still why have a project that creates this discord, child after child?

I posed a second question, "Was it fun at all?"

"I got to take my dolls into school dressed like Indians of the Southwest."

I didn't think we had dolls or doll clothes suitable for the Committee of Five: Jefferson, Franklin, Adams, Livingston and Sherman. Did you know that Livingston never signed the Declaration? Did you know that when Jefferson wrote the Declaration he stayed at the Graff House on the corner of 7th and Market, which back then was surrounded by pastures. Seventh and Market is now downtown Philly. Talk about urban spread.

For me, the hardest 20 facts to find relate to: What has the Declaration done for us today? I believe this question can be answered with one fact: We have our independence. Now to think of 19 other ways to state this same.

We are going to the library today. We will get out a tower of books. They will be her bedtime stack.

By the way, long after the MLA was put away for the evening and the flute was taken out for some practicing, I noticed the MLA time line on the refrigerator. And on said time line was the due date for the 100 facts: NEXT Friday, not this, not tomorrow. I mentioned this, and without missing a note my partner offered, "Oh, well... I got most of it done."

Yes, we did.

1 comment:

Laura Matthews said...

you are SUCH a good mom.