Saturday, May 29, 2010

Thinking About Next Year

Specifically, the approach to take for the 15yo.

This year was a better year than previous years, but he's a happier kid than in previous years. It makes a difference. He's not quite so anxious, so willing to go a step further. I don't know if any of the Choice Theory I had been learning has stayed and helped or not. But I need to go further with him.

My reading list for this summer, well, starting this past week, actually, in terms of preparing for the fall:

*Marva Collins' Way
*Ordinary Children, Extraordinary Teachers (also by Marva Collins)
*Charlotte Mason's Home Education Series
*Various Choice Theory books, and probably Reality Therapy in Action, plus Every Student Can Succeed (by William Glasser)

If I'm going to stick to the Montessori philosophy, I actually have to accept that things need to be more structured, time needs to be more filled up for him. Marva Collins appeals to me because she has used her approach with various ages, and with great success, and it is an approach that is just what I said: time is filled up. Not with busywork, though, with work that matters. That is what Choice Theory asks of schools, too: that the work be meaningful, that it meet students' needs and have a purpose, not just give them work for the sake of working. Marva, too, has a huge focus on telling the kids they are capable, filling them with positive sayings, and she focuses, too, on how they choose to behave. Although she's far more intense than William Glasser probably has in mind--and probably more intense than I can reasonably manage--she's still an excellent model in what to have them work on and how to have them think critically and positively.

Charlotte Mason re-entered my mind yesterday and I've been looking at the method more today. What appeals to me with Charlotte Mason is the focus on basic skills, like Marva, but also the short chunks of time. Now, with an older student, the blocks aren't supposed to be super short, and as I've kind of worked some thoughts out for the fall I've realized that it would be ridiculous to make all of his blocks 15 minutes to start, but there are definite things like copywork, spelling, quick math review before a lesson and things like that that can have a shorter time limit to work on having him focus more and to keep to a time limit. He wants to go to post-secondary in 2 years; he's going to have to gently become more used to time limits. Now, with most kids I'd say, "Oh, kids are adaptable; we don't need to start working on this now," but his history of anxiety and resistance to change he hasn't initiated--or that doesn't "benefit" him in some way, from his point of view--have me thinking I need to take more action in this area.

Another thing I need to do over the summer is to figure out how to approach his school work next year. He is doing APS courses, but he will be registered in such a way that we get to work with the teacher from the school to do something different from the correspondence modules. I'm pretty sure for Math, I want to use SNAP, which means--it hits me now--that I need to order this ASAP because the math program is changing and while he'll be allowed to use SNAP in the fall, most other schools will have a completely different math program, making SNAP Math Pure obsolete! He'll be doing Math 10P for the first half of the year, then Math 20P for the second half. I also plan on building in review, starting from the beginning of math concepts, if need be! He's got such a capable mind when it comes to math, but he doesn't ever do enough practice, so it's like having to start over all the time. I want to make a specific plan this summer with a thorough breakdown of what to review and when. I'm almost tempted to make use of some Saxon lessons for the practice sheets.

His science is going to be a little more complicated. Math is one thing to do from a text; a hands-on kid interested in science needs more than a textbook! He's going to be doing Science 10 first semester and my thoughts at the moment are to make it research-based, tied with experiments (where applicable), possibly notebooking for the main research areas, with the textbook as a support and as a means of giving quizzes and the like. He is not required to do an exam and I honestly think I will ask for Science 10 that he not do one and that we figure out some other final evaluation that covers the course. Exam practice is good for him, but half the course is practically useless to him and will be difficult at this point to get him engaged in learning for an exam. (I can't remember now if he picked Chem 20 or Physics 20 to do second semester. If we can get his work habits down really well first semester, he could do both second semester.)

Other than that, he'll be doing ELA 20-2 all year. That will give him plenty of time to not only cover the APS requirements, but also for me to work on all those little skills of his that are lagging but could be better. I actually think that one of the things we will cover for ELA is the book "Learning Outside the Lines" which was written by two Ivy League students who are LD and ADHD respectively. Part of their stories are in there and he will be able to relate; the other part is about empowerment and skills, which will be instructive. But I've gone off on something I wasn't planning on getting into. Planning, that's what I was talking about. So, for ELA 20-2, that will be easy enough to plan, but I still have to be specific enough for deadlines for the school. I'm not going to do this theme nonsense he had to do with the correspondence packages. Ok, maybe "nonsense" is too harsh a word. It just feels very disjointed when things are split up all over the place, with poetry done in this module booklet, then 4 booklets later, it's showing up again. He and I are alike in that respect: let's just cover it well, maybe review it to remember, but let's get it done and move on!

That's another thing: I want to cover learning strategies, study skills, etc. with him.

But it's now after 10:30pm and I'm feeling exhausted. At least I have some of my thoughts down so I can come back and read them and think about them later instead of having them mill around in my head all the time. ;)

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