Thursday, December 17, 2009

Weekly Report 12/13-12/25

We've not done any formal school this week. We are really on break. But learning continues anyway, because life is learning of course!

  • Saturday afternoon we had our family Chanukah celebration over at aunt and uncle's house. They have a new electric piano which caught everyone's attention. W played his Bach piece on the harpsichord mode. Sounded so cool! I love a good harpsichord!
  • Sat. night S had his little birthday celebration with his two best friends. It was lovely. I made tacos (one of S's favorites), everybody sat down to a rousing game of dreidel (math! They were putting in fractions of almonds!), then we had cake and watched Akeelah and the Bee (spelling!). The movie was quite good except for some reason they felt they need to put in about 5 bad words. Ugh. I don't know why movies do that! It would have been absolutely fine without it. But it really fired up S and B in their quests to become spellers! And they loved all the references to Latin and Greek roots. The boys had a great time. S was happy!
  • S informed me that he is becoming a better speller. He said he'd figured out the different between the i-consonant-e words and the -igh words. He said he'd noticed most igh words end in a -t as well.
  • S had his piano jury on Monday afternoon. He did quite well.
  • W had his final in Music Theory I at the CC. He thinks he did well.
  • W had his piano jury on Tuesday afternoon. Since Rick and I attended his recital last weekend and he was playing the same two songs, we didn't go. The jury was at 6:30 and Rick was still at work and I had to retrieve S and B from gymnastics and get some kind of dinner going. W and I did go out and buy him some suitable clothes for a more formal occasion. He got a nice sports coat, shirt, tie and pants. He looked handsome. He just needs a haircut.
  • J has only done 1/2 a chapter of Alg II this week.
  • J still hasn't gone longer than 2 hours in his brace at night. I'm beginning to panic. Don't quite know what to do about that.
  • J also had his passing Mass for the Catholic Life Community on Wed. He is now a 'candidate' and he got a new cross to wear on a chain around his neck.
  • Mostly we've been cleaning the house. J has been wonderful helping with that. But I don't see how I'll have everything ready by Sunday. So far 52 people coming!
  • W, J and I finished up part 1 of the Archeology lecture series. I've got to return it to the library.
  • S is reading! He finished the Louis Sachar book and is now reading It's Like This, Cat. I remember loving that book when I was young.
  • J read the sequel to Abarat.
  • B continues to work on reading Calvin and Hobbes
  • Rick finished reading Samantha books to B, then went on to a Nellie book (apparently a friend of Samantha) and now they are starting into the Josephina books.
  • S and B have taken to playing Connect 4 a lot.
  • B continues to make all kinds of things out of posterboard and cardboard, though I have put a significant damper on it since I'm trying to keep the house clean. She made her own pin the tail on the donkey game, her own pinata (stuffed with popcorn she made) a big drawing of a grandfather clock. She made a wonderful puppet using a wooden bbq skewer as a stick to move the puppy's ear with.
  • W and J have been reading Game Enforcer magazines and Gilbert!
  • Lots of video game playing and more Wordgirl, Fetch, Phineas and Ferb and Bizkids.
  • I've been reading Down to the Bonny Glen to B some more but we are going pretty slowly through that book.
  • I read more Archimedes but it is into the math section of it and we really don't understand what is going on and the kids are losing interest. I probably should do something to inspire them but I'm too distracted by coming events.
  • Read more Freedom Train. I started crying at one of the chapters and the kids were amazed! I couldn't speak I found the story so touching. I'd really like to finish that read aloud this week.
  • H comes home on Friday! Yippee! She has her last final Thursday and flies home the next day. I hope she can help me with the Christmas party. I truly miss her help. She was the one that did all the decorating for me!
  • Update - Friday we did very little! Got our Christmas tree and picked up H from the airport. Huge snowstorm canceled our big family Christmas party for Sunday. Last night we sat and watched It's a Wonderful Life. I cried some more. B learned what a Savings and Loan is. S spent a long time drawing a series of cartoons to give W for a Christmas present.
  • Last night after kissing S good night he informed me that he knew how to spell 'should'. That kid is so into spelling. I never imagined you could unschool spelling like this!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Ideas for writing

As we have not done much formal writing this academic year so far, I've been brainstorming about how to incorporate more of it into our studies after Christmas. First of all what we have done:

Becky and Sean have been practicing cursive several times a week.

B and S have also been working fairly steadily in workbook for phonic/spelling

S has taken to sending e-mails to his friends and even composing an occasional e-mail to Homestarrunner hoping against hope it will be published! He also wrote a 3 page stand up comedian act! He frequently writes out little cartoon balloons for his cartoons, so in this unschoolish way he's been writing.

B writes all the time! She is always adding captions to her drawings, writing little notes, writing on the whiteboard here or on the wall by her bed.

J has done very little writing so far in his high school career. He's the one I feel really badly about. He truly needs help in this area and I just haven't focused on it at all. Bad mommy!!!! So I need to remedy it. The most writing he's done is answering study guide questions in a our lit studies and writing out Latin/English translations in our Latin class.

W has written papers and such in the past so I know he can write at a high school level, but he's done the same amount as J so far this year. However, he is going to be doing Learn to Write the Novel Way with Writeguide for his last semester in high school. Probably the biggest difficulty there will be getting him to be consistent in sending daily e-mails, but other than that it is kind of out of my hands!

So for the Spring 2010 semester I've been thinking that we'll focus on writing doing the following:

1. Writing with Ease. I've got Writing with Ease 1 for B; WWE 2 for S and I've got the original text with the basic outline for its approach that I could use with J. I'd have to plan that one out though. Will I do that? Not sure. I do like the idea of doing copywork and dictation with J. I think that would be very helpful for him. Or I could purchase the next levels of WWE, I'm pretty such they have 3 and even 4 out now. I'll have to check.

2. Once a week, probably on whatever morning it seems most doable, we'll have a different writing exercise. I was thinking one week we could use Imitation in Writing but what I'd do is have the kids read one of the stories and then rewrite in their own words. The next week I was thinking of doing a picture study. I thought of this because the most successful Socratic Discussion meeting we had was having the kids look at a famous painting and then write a story about what they imagine happening in it. The third week we could do a Free Write and the 4th week the kids could write a review on a book, tv show, computer game, etc whatever.

3. Josh is going to write a paper on the historical references in the Hittite Warrior. I think I'll schedule that for January. Josh will have to write another paper in May.

Addendum - since I don't have a real copywork dictation plan for J I thought maybe we could just focus on a particular author or theme for each month. For ex, G.K. Chesterton quotes for January, Lincoln and Washington for February. St. Francis de Sales for March, Psalms for April, J can pick for May.

Divine Comedy Resources

I really want to study the Divine Comedy with Josh. I'd forgotten about it before when I was planning his 10th year. I think it fits in best when we study Church History so I'm going to have to tweak things a bit. It might be best to stretch it out slowly over the course of the year. Anyway, I've gotten some good ideas from the WTM board so I'm going to compile them here:

Teaching Co. lectures on Divine Comedy

Longfellow's Translation (with spooky illustrations)

Peter Leithart's book on the subject (gotta go look this up)

I was looking things up on Amazon and it looks like Naxos has a good audio reading.

Kolbe has a set of guides for each section inferno, purgatorio, paridiso

I already own Dorothy L. Sayers translations

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Weekly Report 11/7 - 11/11/09

  • We are definitely winding down schoolish stuff to get holiday stuff done
  • B is trying to read Calvin and Hobbes cartoons at night. She was struggling with a word that had the ea vowel combination. I explained how ea can be long e, short or long A. Then the next day she got a kids meal at Chick fil a and it was about spelling bees and one of the words misspelled was treachery so we actually reviewed that spelling rule the next day. Then the next day she read the world 'clean' by herself. She has been trying to read Go Dog Go every night as well until she can read it perfectly, she informed me!
  • Since B and S are interested in spelling I really should remember to netflix Akeelah and the Spelling Bee. I've heard such good things about that movie.
  • S read There's a Boy in the Girl's bathroom by Louis Sachar - this is the first chapter book that doesn't have a picture on every other page, as S puts it. He is very proud of himself!
  • J read two books, Hittite Warrior and Abarat
  • B wanted to learned more capitals of states. For some reason I don't understand she knew the capitals of ND and SD but didn't know our own state capital. So we got a printout off the internet and looked through all the capitals. We also talked about capitals of countries. S and B knew London and Paris and Rome. We also learned the capitals of Mexico and Canada. Then S wanted to know what the smallest country in the world was. Vatican City of course. We looked up a map of it on the web and then read all about the other small countries.
  • Read in Down in the Bonny Glen about how they made dye from graith which is urine. Eek.
  • B has been listening to the Prince and Pauper by Jim Weiss
  • S discovered some new program on the Mac where you can draw pictures, type up captions and then record yourself reading the caption. S and B have been having a blast with that.
  • Hardly did any math at all. B and I did a fun magic math trick we got from clickschooling. We showed it to J and he figured out the trick. B is rehearsing to show Daddy. B has been asking me questions about multiples of 12, I think because she noticed that cookies and baked goods and eggs are sold by the dozen.
  • Read some of the early Latin readers to B and S. And we learned the first verse and refrain for Veni, Veni Emanuel
  • B and S watched lots of Wordgirl and Fetch as well the Phineas and Ferb Christmas special which is the funniest and most clever Christmas special I have seen in ages!
  • J got his scoliosis brace and is learning how to sleep in it! This is a major lesson in life!!!!! He is Mr grouchy-pants as a result. I'm steering clear of him as much as possible!
  • J and W went to CLC
  • W finished up his impromptu study of the Book of Wisdom with his friend on Monday night
  • W has been working out at the gym every night. I admire and envy his drive!!!!
  • Not much to report here. Did our Latin homework. W and J went to Latin class. I stayed home because the van was on fritz and we couldn't all fit into W's car.
  • Read some more Freedom Train and Archimedes to B and S.
  • Went to music lessons on Monday
  • B went to gymnastics on Tuesday
  • Started the unit study on Exploring the Mass then went to Mass on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.
  • J did a lesson in Alg II and then took a test; haven't graded either yet! I've not been forcing him to work because he's sleep deprived due to the scoliosis brace
  • Finished the Iliad! Yoohoo!
  • Watched two more lectures in Archeology - so interesting!
  • Socratic Discussion on Friday - I told the other moms I just don't like doing Socratic discussion with the 3rd through 5th graders. For one thing I think it is developmentally inappropriate. I think kids begin to question soon enough as they grow older. It is a natural process and I feel like this Socratic discussion is forcing them to give up some of their innocence by leaving open ended questions deliberately that really in essence have to do with understanding right and wrong. Also, the Touchstone program is set up for a classroom and we never have enough material to quite fill our hour. And finally I actually find the program rather shallow. So instead, next year I am going to do art with the elementary group based on the Christian Heritage Art Program I got from CHC three yeasrs ago and have never found an opportunity to use!
Tonight is the first night of Chanukah! We've got latkes and chocolate gelt. The kids decided that we'll play for almonds when we play dreidel tonight. I just bought a big bag of roasted almonds. They wanted Reeses pieces but I nixed that idea! Tomorrow afternoon is the extended family Chanukah and then Sat night S is having two friends spend the night for an early birthday celebration. He's order tacos for dinner and butter pound cake for his birthday cake. And he does want to watch Akeelah and the Bee as the traditional stay-up-late-and-watch a -movie activity for his sleepover.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Weekly Report 11/30/09 - 12/4/09

  • S started reading The Toothpaste Millionaire out loud to B. So cute! After he reads a chapter he has her narrate back to him! Hysterical! And he's the one who is always so reluctant!
  • S has also been composing up a storm, writing lots of new music on the piano. He also picked out the Peanuts theme. He really upped his practice because he has jury next week. That always motivates him.
  • S has also been drawing a lot, creating new characters for his comic strip.
  • S stayed up late last night writing 3 pages (!!!!! from the kid who hates handwriting) of a stand up comedian routine he thought up. I kept telling him to go to sleep but he was afraid that he'd forget it.
  • B loved making a big evergreen tree out of poster board for our Jesse Tree
  • B is also the reminder for lighting the advent wreath at night. She loves it.
  • I started listening to Story of a Soul on audio in the car. B is absolutely enthralled with it. S and J have been listening in too.
  • W started working out at a new gym he joined.
  • W also started an informal Bible study with a friend. He and friend went to Mass Mon evening and then discussed the book of Wisdom
  • J read A View from Saturday by Konisburg. Unfortunately he read it in one night (starting it about 9 in the evening and finishing it about 3 a.m. This has turned him into Mr. Grumpy-bear!
  • S uncovered a Christmas present from LAST year that he had never opened! It was hiding in his closet! Anyway, it is a very cool magnetix marble run. He and B set it up in the living room and played with it for hours.
  • Went on a field trip to local park on Wed. morning. We are volunteering to help the park reorganize their bluebird trail and rebuild some of the bluebird boxes that have fallen into disrepair.
  • Since B has been so afraid at night and since R is out of town I let her sleep with me. This makes her so happy. We both sat up in bed last night reading. I'm reading an excellent book on The Old Testament. She was reading Hop on Pop. She sounded out the word 'around'. I think VT is really helping her. She is conquering this reading stuff!
  • S and B have been having fun recording all sorts of things on W's Garage Band demo. S has also been creating music on some game on a website entitled, Sheep Beats.
  • W took B and S to see Fantastic Mr. Fox on Thurs.
  • We had our last cartooning class on Wed. The teacher brought in cells from when she used to work at Disney! She recommended a class she knew of for S who is so interested in animation. I'll have to look into it.
Schoolish stuff:
  • Read alouds: Still working through Freedom Train, Archimedes to both S and B and Down to the Bonny Glen to B. Rick is out of town on business this week, so no read alouds from Daddy. So sad. . . .
  • did Latin homework and studied for quiz. I got a 100% I don't know what J and W got, they didn't get their quizzes back yet.
  • J did lessons 29, 30 in Saxon Alg II. It is hard to do Algebra without Rick here as he is the main teacher.
  • I am determined to finish the Iliad this week. We have stretched this out soooo long! And I want W to get a credit for Greek Lit and I don't want much overlap into next semester. He'll be swamped with music lessons, Comm. Coll. courses, Latin and Writing. So far we've read up to the first half of book 16.
  • B has been working on 'regrouping' or as I was taught it 'carrying' She really didn't get the concept and I realize she didn't truly understand place value. It is such an abstract concept! But she is starting to get into the rhythm of how to add big numbers just by following the formula. S had been reviewing his times tables and doing simple division.
  • Enrolled W in writeguide program for next semester so he can finally get his Eng. Comp and Grammar credit and 'graduate' high school!
  • today we've got Socratic Discussion Group this a.m. (they are coming here and I've got to do a quick vacuum before they arrive!)
  • J and I hope to go to Mass at noon since we didn't make it earlier in the week.
  • Hopefully W, J and I will get through two more books of the Iliad today! I'm determined to finish it by Sunday evening
  • Rick gets back this evening! Can't wait!
  • W has a big two hour piano lesson scheduled with his teacher on Sat. He's got his jury next Tuesday.