Magical Moments: Writer’s Block - SLO Classical Academy
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Welcome to Down Home, San Luis Obispo Classical Academy’s blog! We are a classical school offering several options to make our education work for families with infants through high schoolers. Our signature hybrid program, which is part-time classroom and part-time home instruction, provides an engaging education for preschool through middle school (with full time options available). We also have a university model high school. This blog is meant to support and encourage on the home front because, in so many ways, the heart of what happens at SLO Classical Academy happens down home.

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Magical Moments: Writer’s Block

Thomas Jefferson (Christopher Dahl) telling Lewis, Clark, and Sacagawea to head out!

{photo by Maren Milligan}

Happy Monday to you! This is a busy week here on campus – tonight we are hosting a Parent Preview Night and our High School Open House (invite a friend!) and then we have Grand Days and our Preschool Open House happening on Wednesday and Thursday. It’s a big week of sharing our wonderful school!

Here at Down Home, we have a Magical Moment sent in by Wendy Dahl. Wendy, her husband Patrick, and son Christopher (Intermediate) are a Track A family in their second year at SLOCA. 

Mrs. Milligan’s Intermediate classes recently completed their “Crayon People” assignment: each student was given a famous person from history, and they drew an almost-life-sized picture of their person on butcher paper with a hole cut out for the face. They also researched their historical figure, wrote a paragraph, and gave a presentation to the class. Wendy writes to give us a peek into their very real yet rewarding school day centered around this assignment:

Q: What is worse than having Writer's Block?

A: Teaching paragraph writing to a 4th Grader who has writer's block.

Crayon Person. Thomas Jefferson. Pressure to do a good job because he is assigned to a Founding Father. We had finished everything… except the paragraph. Reminded him before the Holiday Break. Brought it up the week before school resumed. Asked about it the week school started. They're Fourth Graders right? Supposed to be more independent/responsible with schoolwork- yes? 

Finally Tuesday before it's due Wednesday it cannot be procrastinated any longer. There was anger, groaning, more procrastination, lying on the floor, wailing, “I don't know!”  He did have a KWO written and a 'paragraph' which consisted of many sentences made from the KWO. Ignoring my disappointment and instinct to lecture, perhaps inspired by George Washington with the volunteer patriots, I looked at the good facts he had written. I typed them into the computer in large point, printed and cut out each sentence as a strip of paper. We laid them on the floor (since he was there already!) and I asked him to put the sentences into two groups. We made a group of Jefferson as a politician and another as an inventor/scholar. 

I showed him how the groups are now paragraphs each with a common idea/theme. Yes!  We ordered the sentences by moving the strips around. Progress! When we were satisfied, he read the sentences aloud while I made the changes in the computer.  I had him tell me where to add indentations, and punctuation. With that printed out, I had him add the dress-ups on the print out. A thesaurus was introduced. (more time! It's already past 1 pm now. No math done. No reading.) Grammar was reviewed as he worked on '-ly' words. At long last every point on the checklist was completed and he wrote everything in his best writing to be turned in. It was 3:30 pm. 

After extracurriculars and dinner at a friend's home, at 9 pm I re-read the evaluation checklist and discovered he did not have a topic sentence for the second paragraph. I dreaded breaking the news. (can't wait until they can use word processing!) We discussed options and he chose to add the topic sentence in tiny writing. We were tired, satisfied and proud when we went to bed that night. Hard work paid off- his teacher approached me after flag salute this week to say what a great paragraph he wrote!

Christopher Dahl as Thomas Jefferson

Whew! Thanks for sharing, Wendy! It’s great how you turned what could have been a disaster into a victory. Those crayon people were so amazing and cute. Here are a few more photos:

Track A: (1) Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton, not getting along!

(2) Dolley and James Madison

(3) Mrs. Milligan as Seaman the Dog (4) Abigail and John Adams

Track B: (1) Group shot! (2) Hamilton, Adams, Washington, Madison, Jefferson, Franklin

(3) The Corps of Discovery

Do you have a magical moment to share with our community? Please email it to [email protected] and let’s celebrate those victories together!

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