Monday, February 18, 2013

Siri is my new BFF

We have homework issues, we have them bad.  By the time Alex gets home from school, he's exhausted, his mind is taxed and he desperately needs a break.  When he gets home I quickly put some food in front of him and let him decompress.  He immediately goes downstairs to his new love:  Minecraft.

MINECRAFT

It is our new thing but it's a whole other post.  Trust me, it's a whole other post.

So anyway, by the time I can get him settled down from school we have to work on homework.  But it's hard.  School takes a lot out of him and most days we do what he can and we leave it at that.

One part of his homework is doing research for each state, a weekly assignment called Spell Across America.  It's the bane of our existence.  He needs to gather information for a particular state and each week the state changes.  He needs things like: the current population, the state bird, state nickname, who the current Governor is and all sorts of other boring and inconsequential material.

He can't stand it.

I can't stand it.

Each week has been horrible.  For both of us.

For him, I've tried bribery, candy, extra Minecraft time, staying up a few minutes later and skipping showers.

For me, I've tried drinking a little, then a lot, meditation, deep breathing, cursing under my breath, counting to ten, then twenty, walking away and coming back.

Nothings worked.  For either of us.

Trying to sit down at the computer and researching each state has been an exercise in futility.  Every time I get an, "Uggghhh....this is soooo BORING.  Why do I have to do this?  If I really want to know this stuff, I'll just look it up when I need it.  Uggggghhhhh......"

And I have to tell him, "You have to do some homework, you have to at least try.  You don't have the plan.  Your teachers and I have the plan.  We expect you to learn about each state.  Don't you want to know about Ohio, where I grew up?"

"Uggggh, Mom, I highly doubt Ohio is that much different than Kansas."  

Damn it the kids right, Ohio and Kansas pretty much suck equally.  "OK, fair enough.  Lets just get this done."

Look, a  pile of pads!

And then one day I was watching him with the i-pad and he was laughing his ass off.  I mean, the kid was literally laughing his ass off.  Snorting, giggling, rolling around on the floor, the works.  I thought he was going to puke from all the laughing. 

And I watched, I just watched...

"Siri, what is the state population of Arkansas?"

"The state population of Arkansas is approximately 2,673,400."

"GAHAHAHA, snort, Oh My God this is awesome!"  More laughing, snorting, rolling around on the floor.  

"Siri, what is the state bird of Arkansas?"

"The state bird of Arkansas is the mockingbird."

"Aghahahgahaha!!!  Oh My God, this is so awesome....SO AWESOME."  Again, more laughing, snorting, rolling around on the floor.

"Siri, what is the state nickname of Arkansas?"

"The state nickname of Arkansas is The Natural State."

"OMG, OMG, OMG, this is awesome!  SO AWESOME!"  More laughing, snorting and rolling around.

Siri was doing his homework.  He was getting Siri to look up his homework and he was writing down the answers as fast as he could.  For the first time since September he was doing his homework and laughing.

He was laughing.

It was unmitigated joy.

No way in hell I was getting in the middle of that.


Note:  I've talked to his teacher and we've worked out an arrangement so that he can use Siri, in moderation.  The key for us is that he does what he can, within his capabilities.  His teachers this year really get him and for that I am grateful.   

34 comments:

  1. Siri is pretty cool and my son hates homework too. Homework became such an issue that Jacob doesn't receive it any more. The school day is long enough and the extra work only made Jacob anxious, which mean poor behaviour. Now he's much more behaved in school, so you should look into maybe changing things up.

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    1. We're getting to that point too---where its getting more manageable. We do homework day by day and only do what he thinks he can do. It seems to work better for us.

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  2. That must have been a wonderful sight and sound!

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  3. I seem to be reading a lot of homework posts of late! I understand the reasons behind having to do homework, although I do think allowances should be made. I mean, really, it can all be a bit over the top. I love Siri, but Siri doesn't love me.... she doesn't understand my accent so our working relationship is pretty non existent!

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    1. Siri and I have a love/hate relationship. She can't understand a word I say.

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  4. What a great idea! Who cares if it's Siri? He is happy. There is no reasearch that says homework has any benefit prior to middle school, anyway.

    Glad Alex's teachers 'get' him!

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    1. Yeah, I told his teacher Siri was helping us and she just started laughing! Couldn't believe it.

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  5. I think it would be more work to listen to a computer tell you the answer then have to remember it to write it down. That said, what difference does it make where he gets the answers from as long as they are correct?

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    1. Well, we were having a hard time looking up the information on the computer---too much information for him to pare it down. The main reason for homework for us is to help with his fine motor skills and executive processing---trying to find the appropriate answer. It can be hard.

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  6. Can Siri write papers? Wishful thinking I am.... (sigh)

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  7. Okay I am the only person reading who was thinking, "what the hell is siri?" I had to google it. Oh it's the woman on Iphone/ipad's etc. I am not an apple person so I was totally clueless.

    So was it cheating if i had to look that up?
    I'm with your son - who cares how WE got the answer - we got it.
    :-)

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    1. Peg---I got all freaked out when I heard a woman talking to him---in his bedroom! Not cheating at all, its just not been done before. His teacher laughing and said she should have expected it sooner. ;)

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  8. I think that is creative problem solving!

    I am so not looking forward to the days of homework. When she was in preschool she was so fried by the time she got home that she didn't want to color or be read to or anything that they did in school even though it was supposed to be fun stuff!

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  9. ...I had to google Siri..now I get it though Siri is an app but it is also a perfectly decent norwegian name...took a while to seep through...I thought you might be getting an au pair ...who knows :)

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  10. We struggle with homework, too. Luckily my 3rd grader gets accommodations for it so it is reduced. We use Google Now for similar projects--he gets a hoot out of it. Maybe it's the age?! As long as it's working, though, I don't care!!!

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  11. Okay. So I started to freak a little when I noticed you posted. I thought you'd given up blogging for good. But after I scoped out your blog a little more, I realized I haven't missed too many posts. Thank goodness! Glad you're back. :)

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    1. I'm back but got horribly sick (again) and trying to get back to normal.

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  12. Okay, I guess we can share her... because Siri is MY BFF!

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  13. Okay, I guess we can share her... because Siri is MY BFF!

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  14. OF COURSE HE CAN USE SIRI. Education really needs to catch up to the 21st century. I'm a (unemployed) special ed teacher and I agree completely that by and large, the things kids are required to "learn" is a bunch of useless crap. Unless you're going to compete on Jeopardy. Then of course you need to know the state bird of Arkansas.

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    1. OMG I know, right?!? I'm so glad his teachers think it's awesome.

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  15. I just had to read this out loud to my husband (he's playing xbox lol) You have an amazing kid!!! That is ingenious. He'll never forget Arkansas lol

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  16. Really, what is the point of an assignment that results in locating and recording that information for 50 states (or however many you get done in the school year)? I guess one point could be figuring out how to find the information or distill it from a lot of other information -- but it doesn't take 50 states to do that, so maybe Siri every other state? Or maybe the point is that states have things that are the same and some things that are different, then getting the information from Siri works. If it has a fine motor component, then writing down the info from Siri satisfies that goal

    Sounds like your compromise of Siri sometimes works really well for you and the assignment and is a lesson by itself. Great job.

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  17. But it doesn't matter how he learns once he does! I SO believe in using Siri/iPad/Apps WHATEVER to get the homework done. After all it's the way of the future that our kids are heading towards isn't it? A future in which our kids will shine ;-)

    Oh and Minecraft a HUGE hit here too!

    xx Jazzy

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    1. That's just it, I don't care how he's learning as long as he is learning. We should get the kids together for a Minecraft party....

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  18. Well, if the point of the assignment is getting the information, he's getting the information. If the point is learning how to look it up, he's looking it up. And since his teacher doesn't mind...

    Glad he's having a good time! I remember some old-fashioned teachers refusing to allow students to turn in papers typed on a computer because, "He's not writing a paper, he's just having the computer do it!"

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    1. I remember those days too! I'm just happy his teachers get it and understand.

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  19. Oh dear is it really bad that I would have LOVED this assignment, as someone who used to learn all this kind of information off my heart! Mind you, I would have liked Siri to feed it to me easily too :)

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