Saturday, June 27, 2009

First order is in!

I guess technically first *2* orders. :)

I was talking to dh and he was telling me how great the new math program is. I had already been planning on using it for dd, but he gave me even more info. He'll be teaching gr. 7 math next year and will have all kinds of teacher resources available that I can use. Plus, he said I should get the workbook. I didn't even know there was a workbook because Learning Resources Centre doesn't have it. Went to Chenelière and found the workbook; also added in a gr. 4 workbook of the same program for ds AND found grammar workbooks for each of them. My orders for both places have gone in. Woo hoo! I'm so excited already to start the next school year. lol

I still need to decide what to do about science and social studies. I may head over to Montessori Research and Development for at least a starting idea. The same topics can be presented to ds and dd, but just have dd go further. I've looked at some middle school Montessori sites but nothing has really clicked for me.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Almost done!

The school year is almost officially done! It's nice, yet at the same time, kind of funny, since I'm restarting working with my 2 on Monday and am planning on doing more Montessori with my nieces and having educational/fun activities (maybe science-based) at least a few times a week for my nephew and ds! I have decided to do some inner preparation and have taken out 2 Montessori books I saw at the library tonight: Montessori in the Classroom and Montessori in the Home: the Preschool Years. Of course, I have something like 10-15 other books out to read, not including recipe books...


Bob's schooling for next year is somewhat falling into place. He seems at peace with what he's decided and the plan for him to take 4 or 5 years to finish what is normally 3 years of high school. He's also kind of "getting it" that he chose not to work to his ability this year and his report card will show that. So, for next year, correspondence through a homeschool school (yes, that's right; Albertans most likely know what I mean ;) ), with him taking 26 credits instead of the typical mandatory 40 credits for in-school students. Frankly, *I* find it a relief that he will only be doing part-time essentially. He's doing math (one course each semester), science (one course each semester), ELA (will probably take all year with me supplementing for his basic skills work and to prep him to be able to move up to a higher ELA level) and a course that deals with photography and other types of media (all year course, although only 1 credit, so very light!). I am confident that a rule can be easily instituted and followed, without him feeling overwhelmed, that he do his science, math and English every morning and can have the afternoons free for us to do more project-type stuff (like his media course), more "homeschooling" stuff rather than just coursework. The correspondence is just part of his education; he needs more than that!


Dd has chosen to NOT do the APS science 7. She thought she *had* to for some reason. I said no. So now I have to figure out what to do with her for science. I have picked out her German resources for next year and have an order form ready for that and her math. Still need to make a more specific plan for ELA, French, and social, and now science.


Ds is a little reading machine. I can't believe this is the same kid who, in September, really wasn't reading at all. He read aloud more than half a book on spiders to me tonight. Almost no errors, great fluency. One of the pages he read to me (p. 16 from "Spiders" by Nic Bishop):
A spider does not have a nose or ears, at least not like you do. Even so, it has extraordinary senses all over its body. Take a close look. You will see this spider is covered with hairs. Many of these sense touch, vibrations, and sounds. Hairs on a spider's legs can sense the sound of a flying insect. Other organs on the feet can smell and taste things just by walking on them. A spider can even recognize the taste of its own silk by touching it.
What I want to know is this: HOW THE HECK DOES HE KNOW ALL THOSE WORDS??? Like extraordinary and recognize? I had spent the previous months only reading to him in French, so it's not like he was seeing words like that as I read them. Which begs the question: how does he know ANY of those English words? The only two words out of all the pages that he asked me how to read were enough and chitin (which even I didn't know--it's pronounced ki-tin (kind of like kite-in)).


With summer approaching and me being woefully bad about recording stuff that the kids did this past year, I decided I would use Homeschool Tracker and train myself over the summer to use it, at least for my 2. I discovered, however, that it's not compatible with a Mac unless you install some program that allows you to access Windows (which you install separately). Seems like kind of a pain. I might just try to get used to using the laptop for it all. Although, I think I need a journal that I keep out and write in, and then plug everything into the computer in the evening. At some point, start switching over the responsibility of recording to them--like in many Montessori schools and like the 3 oldest used to do!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Next year thinking

Don't I do this every year? Start planning out next year before this year is even done? :) I actually started a few weeks back. Decided to take it up again this evening and am looking specifically at dd's gr. 7 year. (OMG! Did I just write that?? GRADE **7**!)

She wants her papa to be somewhat in charge of her math and French, which will basically just mean that he says, "Do this," and then she shows him. Because he no longer teaches grade 7, he might not be able to set up quizzes and tests for her (yes, she WANTS to do that!), but I can always put things together and he assigns them to her. ;) Although I think we do have a test bank for the science program from when he was teaching gr. 7 science. We're hoping he'll be able to borrow some textbooks from the school, but if not, it turns out these 2 texts aren't too expensive. She will be doing the new grade 7 math program using the French text and the French science text used in schools here.

I've looked at authorized resources for our public schools here and think I've picked on a program that actually looks good and that isn't too difficult for me! ;) She wants some structure and doing more stuff and this particular program comes with a text, a workbook and 2 audio cd's--which means she won't have to rely on my pronunciation. My pronunciation isn't bad, but it's certainly not the "real thing".

She's doing so well in terms of the amount she reads and her writing... I don't know that I would want to encourage her to do much more other than perhaps spelling and grammar. And show her how to do an essay. I could also give her the link to the recommended jr. high/sr. high books for schools here and she could find some books to read.

Now that's a toughy. I want to do more formal spelling and grammar with her but not sure what approach to take yet. 

For reading, I thought about finding out what texts they use in schools here, but that was hard to determine and I decided probably not worth it. My idea is that we can find 2 copies of French books from the library and choose a title to study together. We can do it as kind of a reading group format. We could also keep a vocabulary journal for the words we don't know. I'm discovering that children's French literature has a whole ton of words I don't know, especially the translated-from-English books. It's truly atrocious how difficult the translators seem to want to make the books. A gr. 2/3 English book can end up being a gr. 5 French book after translation! 

For writing, I'm thinking of reinstating Writing Workshop with her and including ds and my niece into it. I think it would be a good collective, relaxed approach, with no pressure, which is what both my kids need right now in terms of making progress in writing in French.

Social studies
I haven't a clue. I keep saying I want her to learn world geography, but never follow through. I should maybe find some sort of program/curriculum, even if it's just for ME to be able to say to her, "Go do a project on this." I'd like her to have a sound knowledge of world geography. I'd like her to know a good deal about Canadian history. Other than that, a general knowledge of history, big events and people... I think I need to find some sort of a sequence somewhere I can follow instead of trying to think up in my head who knows what.

Other than that, I guess there's art (she might take art classes; we also have some good art instruction books; could also do art appreciation; I've got various resources on seasonal and holiday crafts), music (she doesn't want to be told to do anything in this area; however, I could still plan a sort of music appreciation and I know she always plays more instruments when *I* start playing again), phys. ed. (she might do gymnastics again, but she wants to try karate or other martial art), health (do I really need to do anything? actually, I've got an A Beka health book I could encourage her to look through)... 

What else does someone do in jr. high? Home ec.; she already does sewing on her own and has been doing more cooking with me. I'd really like to encourage her to do typing, but I think that will only happen if she sees me doing a typing program, too. There's also other computer learning, but she already usesFor the Montessori aspect of it, I'd really like to find a way to have her volunteer or otherwise be involved in the community. I'll need to look at some Erdkinder ideas. I actually had some great ideas a month or so back when I was reading something and now the ideas are totally gone. *sigh*

Monday, June 01, 2009



At a time when only seven in 10 American students are leaving high school with a diploma, President Barack Obama is demanding that the nation lift its educational sights by asking all Americans to commit to at least one year of education after high school. 

My initial reaction is: So what?! 

Followed by: Why is there such a focus on a diploma instead of on an education?

Frankly, I've reached a point where I couldn't care less if my kids get a high school diploma. That may come across as shocking, but a diploma, at least here, means covering some very specific things that the government has decided upon. It's not so much a high school diploma as a provincial diploma for high schoolers.

There is a mistaken notion that a diploma *means* something more than it actually does; that by having a diploma, you are somehow better educated than someone who doesn't have a diploma.


Thomas Edison never had a diploma. He was probably better educated by the age of 12 than any of our students today graduating with diplomas.

Having a high school diploma provides an indication of having done certain coursework required in your area. It speaks nothing of the actual level of your education.

Not to mention the fact that you can barely pass the courses (which is 50% here) and still get your credits and your diploma. How does that mean you are educated? And what about the fact that so much of the school work is cram, cram, cram for the exam, and forgotten about shortly after? Somebody did a very small study here a few years back taking students who had done very well on their diploma exams. I think it was 4 months (it wasn't more than 6 months) after they did the exams, they were asked to redo the same exams they had done. They had no prior notification and were therefore not able to study. Needless to say, they did not do as well. Most of the exams were barely passed or were failed. What had those students actually learned? Their transcripts said they'd learned the stuff well; the follow-up exams disagreed.

And then, the actual content of the courses can be somewhat pitiful. It's so focused on cramming as many diverse topics as possible within a course that often it doesn't go into deeper detail to provide true understanding. I can't count the number of times the 18yo has asked me some deeper question about her biology. She's got to try to remember a ton of different things, yet would she not actually be better educated if she had the opportunity to really go in-depth on fewer things?

It feels somewhat like the diplomas of today are reflective of our materialistic culture: more, more, more.  It doesn't matter these days if things are true quality (remember how TVs and toasters and toys were QUALITY and lasted for years and years and years?); the focus is that a ton of stuff be covered so that surface-wise, it can appear that our students know oh-so-much, what the government of Alberta calls on their website "high quality curriculum".

Yeah, whatever. Especially since to be grammatically correct, it should be "high-quality curriculum".