Thursday, October 12, 2006


I just re-wrote my Song of the Trees 4th grade lesson plan for the third time based on another list of comments from my boss. I'm a bit frustrated by this process, and certainly not because my boss's comments are unjust (quite the contrary is true, in fact). I'm frustrated rather because the mistakes I'm making are stupid and asinine: not matching tests on reading passages to what actually happens in those passages, using the passive voice, writing 9th grade questions for 4th graders, etc. Pay attention!

It will take time to get used to this. Basically I've been given templates and texts to fit into them, with little guidance. My boss says relax, it takes a while. I get twice as much deadline space as veteran developers to finish my projects. On top of learning the ropes I'm confronted with the 9-5 thing for the first time ever. I've never sat at a desk in an office before, all day every day. Today I fled up to the Towson Farmers' Market and walked around looking at fruit and people-watching just to clear the clutter out of my skull. Then I had a yummy buffet lunch at the Kathmandu Kitchen. The first time we ate there (during the Grand Opening) it SUCKED, but the lentil saag and chicken tikka masala I had today were The Bomb.

Once my lesson plan gets past my boss the editors take it (gulp), and then the production staff (who've already informed me they will beat me with galley proofs if necessary). I could get it back again, and again, and again. I already hate Song of the Trees, and have re-read it more times than any other book in my entire life (this afternoon it surpassed the previous record-holder The Haunting of Hill House).


Anonymous said...

Man. You know, I gave up writing the teacher guides freelance because it was kind of like torture - and she never gave us any feedback except "Great, here's your check." The writing is so frustrating!

And, Mildred Taylor. Overrated!

I will say that after I was doing it for awhile I could knock out a tg in no time flat. I mean a curriculum is obviously more sophisticated, but you just get get a feel for the questions/content that are appropriate. - Em

geoff said...

Just finished Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes--it's only a bilion times better than Song of the Trees. Of course now the day is tinged with misery.

Writing questions is the fun part of this gig. Trying to find skills to teach from very slight texts is HARD. I have a 15-page book called Grandfather's Journey that's 90% illustration and I have to do a 4-day lesson for it. Ugh.

Anonymous said...

Are you permitted to ah, get inspiration from the work of others? Because, if you google search on either of those titles you get all these activities teachers have done on them. E

geoff said...

Ha--I'm raiding past years' curricula like a mofo. They're stored on the servers here.

If teachers didn't want me to steal their idears, they wouldn't post 'em online.

I guess.

Anonymous said...

UG...I feel for you bro. It does get easier and Em is right about looking on line to get yourself started. Go to under your specific age group (or a close one) just to stimulate some ideas.

Grandfather's Journey is in our school age before and after school curriculum but we only have one day's worth of activities. Four would be rugged although we allow the children to expand on any lesson and take it as long as they want. Private sector freedom rocks!

Lil sis

geoff said...

It's a skimpy little book. Fortunately I can pad it out with a different Listening Comprehension text, but most of the in-class activities are based on reading Grandfather's Journey daily. Not much there to work with.

Silenus said...

I was unconvinced that I would make a good bellboy at first.