Sunday, June 24, 2007

Last Week Before Summer Holidays!

This is my last week of work before a month off. Youpi! We're doing some cleaning tomorrow and having lunch out somewhere, doesn't look like we'll be going to park day since the weather's supposed to be crummy, so maybe we'll rent a movie on our way back from lunch (although, I do have to stop at the bank and at a carpet place to return some samples and maybe quickly look through stuff to see if I can find another sample I like). Tuesday, the 13yo has a dentist appointment in the morning, not sure what the rest of us will do, then we're out on a field trip with our French club to the zoo to speak to the French-"speaking" tiger. :) Wednesday, I don't think I have the two oldest, but I will have my niece. Dd has been DYING to go skating and ds just wants to go to MP, period, so maybe I'll take the 3 kids to MP. Thursday, a park day in the afternoon. Friday, I'll have my nephew and we'll have to figure out something fun to do--maybe go out somewhere.

My school plans this week are to work on planning. :) I want to develop a list of sorts, or a routine of sorts, for July. What do I want on the list? Hm, let me write down some of it now and see if more ideas come as I write:

*cursive workbooks--even just a letter each day would satisfy me! I just want them in the habit of using them. Dd tries to be too perfectionist about it and gets frustrated (her handwriting is better than mine was at age 13 and she's only 9!)

*reading time together--read a book to/with ds, read a book with dd (taking turns reading); this'd be in French

*math--dd wants to master her times tables, so I have to figure out what we can do each day so that she'll have them all mastered by the end of Aug. I'm thinking of only tackling maybe 2 facts at a time, added to what she already knows. I don't know--different ideas just popped into my head in a muddled mess. One idea is to have a sheet of maybe 20 questions, but just the 2 facts, have her do them once through, then the same sheet again but timed. Then the next day, do 2 different facts, the same way. Third day, mix the two together. Although, she'd probably be fine with the traditional way of memorizing one table at a time. Maybe do it orally with a visual support. One table a week (x3 through x9) would be 7 weeks--she'd know them all for sure by Sept. For ds, I just want to find ways to have him practise writing his numbers--playing Yahtzee or some other number game, for example.

*physical activity--I want an exercise time each day. Dd wants to increase her flexibility and strength for skating in the fall, plus it was her lack of strength and endurance this past swimming session which has caused her to have to repeat the level. She also has flat feet (and horrible posture!), but this is tied into muscles that are too tight in the wrong spots (so, tied in with her lack of flexibility). She does have an arch in her foot, but it disappears when she stands! So, different things would be specific exercises to help feet (from one of Pete Egoscue's books), yoga, callisthenics, jump rope, races outside...

*other--I'd like to have on the list just other things we enjoy doing but don't always thing about, like music, playing board games, pulling out pastels/paints, etc. I'd also like to include in this "other" things like science activities we could do.

As for my own personal list, school planning will be a big focus. I believe I mentioned before that the 16yo's school year this year was too focused on the schooling and not enough on her education. So, I need to develop some plans so that she is really getting an education and not just working towards the outcomes. French is one I totally have to design because of where she's at in her oral French, what she's already covered, plus we want her to be able to challenge the French 30 exam next June. But more than that, she wants her French education to be more than just the French 30 outcomes, so I've got to tie that in, too. I need to figure out specifically a plan for CALM so that she has an assignment each week to work on (we already know that covering exam anxiety is definitely going to be a part of her coursework! she gets so stressed before and during exams, it practically makes her sick and she doesn't do nearly as well on exams as she could). Admittedly, there's not much I'm going to be able to plan out for Bio 20 since I know nothing about it. We'll be following the school's course but on our own. For Math 20 Pure, she's got her basic materials (The Learning Equation cd-rom plus we'll be borrowing the MathPower 11) and I'll be adding in extra practice worksheets here and there for her weaknesses. I actually think I may give her a daily quiz in math, just to help her keep her skills up. Some things from the past were never mastered at all and it's really affecting her math work now. The other subject for first semester is Social Studies. I've actually already somewhat worked out what I want her to do, kind of combining what is online with other things I want her to do. Other than that, I'm going to propose to her that she work on at least spelling/phonics/syllabication throughout the school year and perhaps on essay writing, since she has to write essays for Social Studies. (Also, strongly encourage her to be reading books on the side!)

As for second semester, she has French, ELA 20-1, Chem 20 and Physics 20 scheduled (and finishing CALM). So, my French plans from first semester will continue, I've got to work out a little more what I'll have her do for ELA (I don't want to rely completely on the online course, plus there's extra that'd be good for her to do: spelling, grammar, vocabulary/etymology...). Chem and Physics will be dictated by the online coursework, with extra practice as needed here and there. There may be some things I decide she really needs to know for Chem and Physics that aren't covered or aren't stressed much in the coursework.

For the 13yo, my focus is to get him up to an acceptable gr. 8 level. Can it be done in a year? I think so. And if not, he'll still be better off for us trying! He's jumped over a little hurdle for both reading and writing and I think he can really take off. He's even said he wants to be challenged more and I'm going to hold him to it! What I'm thinking right now is to kind of keep up some of the routine we were doing with the phonics and spelling, hold him to silent reading and be able to prove to me he's actually read something (we're reinstating our after lunch silent reading time), for oral reading and for writing expectations (ah, not really, but let me finish my thoughts here), here's my idea:
  • for September, use gr. 3 level reading material for oral reading and give him an idea of what's expected from a typical gr. 3 student for writing and help him get to that point again. He was writing all kinds of stuff in his gr. 3 class in school, but it stressed him out so badly (I think it was mainly copywork of words he'd said rather than his own writing) that he didn't really touch writing for a while. And to be honest, the stuff he's started writing this year has a quality about it that is above a gr. 3 level, but he doesn't write *enough*, and it limits the evaluation. Giving him a target amount to work towards will hopefully help.
  • for October, use gr. 4 level stuff and have him work on gr. 4 writing expectations.
  • for November/December, use gr. 5 level materials and writing expectations.
  • for January/February, gr. 6.
  • for March/April, gr. 7.
  • for May/June (?), gr. 8

Writing that, I don't think only May/June will be enough time because June is our wind-down time. So, maybe gr. 5 for Nov., gr. 6 for Dec./Jan., gr. 7 for Feb./Mar., and gr. 8 for the rest of the school year. At the same time, I don't want to limit him or get so focused on meeting levels that he's pushed too hard during a time he might need to go slower. My personal focus is to just keep working on improving, improving, improving. He, however, needs more explicit information on where he's at and how he's improving. This general guideline, I think, could be helpful. His math will be a combination of Ray's and the TLE. Social studies... not sure. Probably combined with dd. I might have a look at the APS topics and cover them, but in our own way. Last year I'd wanted to do that because it was on Canada, but the darn textbook turned us both off studying it, so maybe we'll try again this coming year--but WITHOUT a textbook. :D For science, he has his chemistry that he wants to work on, but I also have "Science for Young Catholics 7" which has some actually fairly high level science stuff in it, but not done in too complicated of a way. I think if he hears that it'd be great preparation for high school science, even giving him an edge over other students, he'll be keen to use it. (Which reminds me, I have English for Young Catholics 8 that I want to try on him for English, but maybe in the latter half of the year.) I also need to develop a French plan that I have to make myself stick to! His oral is quite good--there's a LOT he understands and a lot he can say. But I would like him at the gr. 9 9-year level French by the end of his grade 9 year. That means six years of topics to do in 2 years. That's not so bad. I can focus on the elementary level stuff this year, then do the jr. high stuff next year. Okay, that'll work! The challenge will be to get him writing the stuff!!! However, in the end it will mean he'll be able to take the last 3 years of French in high school, if he wants, instead of doing what would be an intense 3-year French course trying to cover 9 years of topics in 3 years. Of course, he might actually decide to do a different language! The school he wants to go to offers Spanish, Chinese and Japanese, as well, I think.

As for my 2, I've already shared my idea of going through the elementary science topics. For social studies, I'll have to think about that a bit more. We didn't finish Story of the World vol. 1 as I'd planned and while part of me would like to do the second volume, I'm wondering if we've hit a point with it where we'd be better off just using a timeline and filling in things as we go. I have another source that kind of has historical stuff in order, so it's not like I'd be flying totally blind. For math, we've got Ray's and Montessori curriculum. I think I'll be keeping the 13yo's math text this coming year as a supplementary resource and some of the stuff fits in with the Montessori upper elementary curriculum, so I could start dd on some stuff. But I also want to make sure to take care of the basics, which I think Ray's does fantastically. I'm going to keep working with dd on her French reading and writing and maybe start some more specific lessons on punctuation and the like. French grammar will definitely be started more intensely with her! There's a lot she'll be able to do with the two oldest. Ds just needs to keep working on those basic reading and writing skills.

Whew, what a long post! That's enough for tonight.

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