September 21, 2012
Casia is a huge, huge, HUGE 'Doctor Who' fan. Grammar.... not so much.
We've started a new grammar course by Glencoe/McGraw-Hill, and although it seems to be a good fit, it's not something that gets Casia excited. In fact, she kind of has a grammar-face; a pained look that only crops up on her face when grammar is in her near future. When it comes to a new topic, a worksheet or especially a test, she gets this look on her face.
In an attempt to put a smile there instead, I wrote this week's entire test using 'Doctor Who' quotes. It was a bit more time consuming, but it was so worth it when she started reading the sentences aloud and squealing with delight. Plus, it was fun getting to make up questions that include such things as "bow ties are cool," and "wibbly, wobbly, time-y, wimey stuff."
Posted by Eryn at 9/21/2012
September 18, 2012
At the start of the school morning, while I'm trying to get Garrett onto the bus and off to school, Casia likes to read the news and send me links to articles she would like to discuss over 'Second Breakfast'. Being part Hobbit, after breakfasting with her brother at 7am, she likes to join me and breakfast again at 8am. This morning she sent me a link to a CNN article about the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest day in U.S. war history.
This was a very serendipitous article and although I wasn't surprised that it caught Casia's attention, (we are in the midst of studying the Civil War) I was pleasantly surprised by the timing. Sure, CNN posted it today because it's the actual anniversary, but for me, it's also the day that I had planned a history lesson with just this topic and involving a newspaper.
We started history this afternoon by watching the third episode in Ken Burn's The Civil War. The Battle of Antietam, as well as the Emancipation Proclamation was covered in this episode. The movie included many of the photographs by Alexander Gardner showing images, some of them very disturbing, from before and during the battle, as well as the aftermath. In conjunction with the Ken Burn's series, PBS has some classroom activities that it provides: The Civil War Classroom Materials. I ran across this a couple months ago while planning this years curriculum and even though I have to adjust it for a classroom of one, I still thought it had a lot of cool and exciting activities I could incorporate.
Casia is using Gardner's picture, "Confederate Dead Along Hagerstown Pike". After analyzing the photo (there are more available on the National Park Service website), filling out the worksheet, and a discussion of the battle, Casia is now writing a newspaper article about the Battle of Antietam. Her assignment is to be a journalist from either a Northern or Southern newspaper and she has been given the photo and she has to write a story to go long with it.
I love how this assignment combines video, primary source analysis, writing, a bit of creativity, and corresponds fortuitously with a current event (anniversary celebration). She's pretty excited about it, as excited as she ever gets about writing assignments, and I'm looking forward to see what she produces!
Posted by Eryn at 9/18/2012
September 14, 2012
I've recently noticed a negative attitude from Casia regarding math. She's been grumpily heading to the computer at math time and groans about doing it most of the allotted time. In the past, she always loved math and would list it among her strengths, but today Casia actually told me that she thought she wasn't good at math. I was stunned. How could a ten year old child taking Algebra II with Trigonometry NOT know that she's good at math?
After trying to reassure her, reason with her and questioning her, her father and I came to the conclusion that the source of the problem was that she isn't able to get the answer quickly and can't do it all in her head. For a kid that has always prided herself on being fast at mental math, she feels disappointed in herself.
Since starting homeschooling, I've struggled getting Casia to write down her math. Even when she does put pencil to paper, she doesn't adhere to standard formats and she skips so many steps (because she does them in her head) so when she enters the answer into the computer and it's wrong, she can't find her own mistake; I can't find it either. She calls me to take a look and I'll ask her to explain what she did and the concept is there; she knows HOW to do it, but somewhere in the process she makes a mistake and to her, that means she isn't good at math. In algebra, it's so easy to drop a negative sign, drop a term or any number of little mistakes that make a huge differ in the final answer. I've shown her time and time again how to proceed, step by step, but it's something she fights me on constantly. I've been trying to show her that even though it's a little slower to do it this way the first time she tries a problem, it will usually result in a correct answer and she won't have to sit there getting more and more frustrated. I don't think I've convinced her.
As a student, I did well in math and even took Calculus for science majors in college (though admittedly, I don't remember most of it) but I always learned how to do the required problems and never really cared about the why. Casia is a why-kid. Usually, if I can't answer her, I direct her to her father, whose math understanding far exceeds my own. They see math the same way. Sometimes they will discuss advanced math concepts and honestly, I usually start to tune out. When Jacob asks Casia to answer questions, she almost always get there faster than I can figure them out.
I guess I can see how hard it must be for her to have to slow down the thought process and write each step when in her mind I think it goes by leaps and bounds. But even Jacob has explained to her that when doing these types of problems, he uses paper and pencil, too. I really wish that she didn't see this as a failing. I hope that as she moves on, she will regain her self-confidence and her love of math.
Posted by Eryn at 9/14/2012
September 7, 2012
I'm sitting here, drinking tea, and feeling lousy. We are four days into the new school year and Casia and I are on our second sick day. I don't know if it's because we're sending Garrett back to school and he's bringing more than just his homework, or if after months of a lax schedule, we are allergic to the rigidity of the school day, but this isn't the first time we've started the school year with a couple of days feeling under the weather. I'm looking forward to the weekend, but I am a little disappointed that we'll be starting out next week behind, especially since for two whole days I managed to stay on schedule.
Posted by Eryn at 9/07/2012
September 4, 2012
We had a marvelously relaxing summer and today was our first day back. Garrett hopped on the bus and headed off to second grade at the local public school and Casia started her first day of seventh grade back in the house.
|Garrett and Casia with our dog, Moo.|
|The kids pose for their annual 'First Day of School' photo.|
|Garrett, ready for 2nd grade.|
|Casia, starting 7th grade.|
It's our third year homeschooling, so I was feeling pretty confident starting out this year. But still, getting back into the swing of things after only a minimum amount of work accomplished over the summer, you never know how things will go. Overall, I was happy with how smoothly today went. We had a schedule and we almost stuck to it!
I wanted to make sure the year started on a good note, so I included a science lab to make it fun. Casia and I waited until Garrett was home from school because he loves science and didn't want to miss it. Casia is studying waves this week, and I found some great resources online. I found this idea in a video on the National Stem Centre on how to make a wave and decided to recreate it. It was really easy, required only a few supplies and the kids were able to do most of it themselves. They really had a blast with it.
The first thing we did was gather all the supplies. I used cool, blue Hawaiian-looking duct tape, roughly 20 wooden kabobs, a couple of clamps and some Swedish fish. I also needed scissors, a ruler and two hand towels, but I didn't realize until after I'd taken the photo below.
I used the towels to protect the backs of the chairs as I clamped the piece of duct tape.
Once it had enough tension, the kids placed the kabobs three inches apart. I then helped them put a second piece of duct tape on the top to keep the kabobs in place.
They finished it off by putting a Swedish fish on each end of all the kabobs.
Then the kids took turns lifting up an end and starting a wave. Casia went first.
We played with the wave for a while. After which, I asked the kids several questions about the wave including:
- How does the wave move?
- How do the fish move?
- How do you change the amplitude?
- How do you change the frequency?
- How do you change the speed?
In the end, they got to eat all the gummy fish and had a lot of fun!
Posted by Eryn at 9/04/2012