Young Morgan (aged 8) and I are learning all about punctuation. I am learning, it turns out, almost as much as my grandson is.
lessons these days, especially those taught on-line, take a good deal of mastering. Not only by the pupils, but by the parents (and grandparents) who find themselves charged with the responsibility of overseeing the submission of completed work. To start with,
I had to find out what an LO was. I thought perhaps the teacher meant to set everyone off in a happy mood with a cheery LOL. But no, Morgan informs me, loftily, that an LO is a Learning Objective. As in, I ask, what we are going to learn today? Morgan
dons a massive pair of headphones (complete with flashing lights) and shrugs expressively.
I have always considered I was a reasonably dab hand at punctuation
so I couldn’t imagine I was going to have too much trouble - until I read the work sheet and discovered that one of the tasks was to highlight the “reporting clause” in each of a number of sentences. Dear reader, I had to resort to Google
to find out what a reporting clause was to make sure I didn’t show myself up in front of my grandson. I was somewhat comforted when I later asked various family members, all of whom have qualifications in the Use of English and nobody aged twenty and
above had a clue. It’s obviously all part of the Brave New World of Education in the 21st Century.
As well as getting to grips with the terminology, I also
had to acquaint myself with a few more words in the Welsh language. Morgan was required to choose which of three “learning zones” he felt he should be in - was it Hawdd, Canolig or Annod? Can you imagine my confusion? Was his learning zone the
living room in his Cardiff home? Or, at a pinch, my living room from where I (dutiful grandmother that I am) was FaceTiming him? It turns out that hawdd means easy, canolig signals of medium difficulty, annod means difficult. It is good that I have added these
three words to my Welsh vocabulary which up until now has been limited to “nos da, teulu” (good night, family) and my own pronunciation of good morning and “cheers!” The Welsh boys did once teach me the names of the colours but I seem
to have forgotten them.
Morgan dismissed the idea of trying the difficult worksheet but plumped for canolig. I felt almost as accomplished as my grandson when
he pressed the submit button...
Another day, another lesson on punctuation. The LO was the same and we still had to choose which Learning Zone we were in. The
task, however, was a little more exciting. First we had to listen to someone reading the first chapter of The Iron Man by Ted Hughes in which a giant man (made of iron, just in case you need further explanation) steps off a cliff and smashes into pieces on
the beach below to the consternation of two sea gulls who heard the crash as he fell. Morgan’s task - to write a dialogue between the two gulls, ensuring correct use of speech marks (66 to open, 99 to close - that was new to me, too) and, of course,
a reporting clause in each line.
We spent an inordinate amount of time discussing what names we should give the two gulls. Gary was arrived at pretty easily
but we had a serious disagreement over the name of the second gull. I suggested either Gareth or Gethin which I felt scored well on being (i) Welsh and (ii) alliterative but Morgan finally settled on George which didn’t fit either of my criteria. I rather
think I am getting far too involved in the whole business of home schooling...
Morgan was going great guns with his sentences and I particularly liked the put
downs he made up between the two gulls - the dialogue sounded like the kind of brotherly arguments that go on in his home from time to time. He had but one more line to write when disaster struck! Somehow he had managed to delete all his work! I don’t
know who was most upset, him or me. At a distance of more than 200 miles, I couldn’t even give him a comforting hug. Distress calls, first to his older brother then to his home-working father brought no success in remedying the situation so there was
nothing for it but to type it all out again, between us trying to remember what he had written first time round. He still hadn’t finished when he had to log off and leave me so that he could join in a well-being session with his teacher.
I worried about him all afternoon, then sent him a message asking if he had managed to complete the work sheet and submit it to his teacher. Back came the answer: “Yes, I did,
Nanna. My snowman is still standing!” The message was accompanied by six emojis of snowmen, six rainbows, five stars, three chocolate doughnuts and six puppies. Clearly Young Morgan, unlike me, had had absolutely no trouble moving on.