Sunday, March 27, 2011

Lisa's Logbook - March 27

Current Mood: Exhausted but Satisfied

Outside: Way colder than it should be. And why does SE Michigan have snow when Lansing doesn't? Hmmm?

: Pj's, wool socks, robe, Hair in clip because it's WILD

: Listened to the radio for 8 hours in the van - switched the channel every time I didn't like a song. Begged David to play me Adam Lambert's If I Had You because it's on his iPod and it never came on the radio.

Kids Are
: 3 are sleeping, 1 has been up for hours cuddling, playing video games, etc....

Hubby Is:
looking on craigslist for cars and getting frustrated with the slow computer

Made Me Laugh:
Giggling in the car with my children and Alex

Made Me Sad:
Bought a camera and I'm not all that happy with it. Maybe I just need to learn how to use it.

Made Me Drool
: A whole ballroom full of people in Regency costume! Oh my!

: Being able to attend the Regency Ball with such a wonderful group of people!

: still - Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell and Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution by Michelle Moran

Flipped, several episodes of Psych and Castle.

: furniture purchases

Working On:
recruiting an Uniform Coordinator for AYSO

: Planned a successful weekend trip to another state for more than 20 people including costumes for 3 of us.

Back to the routine this week

: Working 5 hours M-Th, karate, Co-op, End of the year Program

Stay tuned.....

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Lisa's Logbook - March 20

Current Mood: Happy

Outside: Cloudy, WINDY, and 43.

Wearing: jeans, pink shirt, grey sweatshirt, yesterday's socks, makeup (and my hair looks GREAT - must have been Christy's water!)

Tunes: listened to Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell again this week

Kids Are: 1 is on the computer and texting, 1 is playing PS2, 1 is upstairs, and 1 is at a birthday party

Hubby Is: resting and talking about going to work on the yard

Made Me Laugh: Picked up Suzy from a friend's house last weekend and told her I had missed her. Her response? "I didn't think about you!" LOL

Made Me Sad: listening to a sad song and realizing that I have made someone feel that way

Made Me Drool: an abundance of tasty food this weekend - so much we didn't even get to try it all!

Blessings: Found a framed Monet print of chrysanthemums at the thrift store; learned to crochet through the kindness of my sister's friend; spent the weekend with my mom and sisters.

Reading: Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell and Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution by Michelle Moran

Watching: Castle Season 2, Secretariat, Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story, and part of Ocean's 11

Considering: buying a better camera off craigslist instead of getting a Kindle

Working On: getting back to counting calories and exercising

Accomplishments: Regency outfits are DONE! (well, there'll be some tweaking here and there); Also, I learned to CROCHET!

Lessons: Spring Break this week

Agenda: Working 5 hours M-Th, karate, movie day, soccer meeting, portrait session, REGENCY BALL

Pic: Pictures from the gymnastics gym. We are done there for the time being.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Lisa's Logbook - March 13

Current Mood: Bleary

Outside: Cloudy and 33.

Wearing: long johns, wool socks, robe

Tunes: listened to Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell this week (20 chapters out of 61), Daft Punk Tron soundtrack

Kids Are: 2 are asleep (I think) and 1 is upstairs playing and 1 is at church with a friend

Hubby Is: listening to the radio

Made Me Laugh: watching Psych with David. (Thank you, Netflix Instant and Xbox Live!)

Made Me Sad: My friend has had a very bad week. Her ex was mean to her. But worse? Her sister said things that were just plain cruel.

Made Me Drool: The grinder I had at Mancino's. DELISH! And I wish I'd eaten the chocolate cupcake I saw in their dessert case. It made me drool too.

Blessings: David has his Level 1 learner's permit! And the boy can drive!

Reading: Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell and The Sherlockian by Graham Moore

Watching: Psych, The Adjustment Bureau, Morning Glory

Considering: purchasing furniture (craigslist) and how we'll get it home

Working On: the last parts of our Regency costumes.

Accomplishments: The yearbook is done, proofed, and ordered! Made David a waistcoat and a cravat (such as it is), Trimmed Em's dress with pearls and added the second skirt. Just a little bit left for her dress.

Lessons: Nothing new this week, I don't think. We're pretty much in a groove.

Agenda: Lessons, working 5 hours M-F, gymnastics, co-op, Sister Weekend!

Pic: David in most of his costume. Still need the waistcoat, cravat, and steampunk accessories. We're getting there. I'm almost ready to photograph me and Emily.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

How We Do... History

Here is the third in a series of posts on how we do each of our academic subjects. (The first was on Bible study and the second was Math.)

I never liked history when I was in school. I didn't see the big picture until I was in college. Until I took a History of Civilization class, I didn't see any of it as connected. Because of this, I always wanted to teach my children history chronologically.

But for a long time, I couldn't really find a curriculum that did this, so we floundered around in Ancient Egypt and the American Revolution. I figured that at least if we had an interest in some part of history, that the love of learning about it would carry over to history in general. And I actually think that is a fine approach.

But, a few years ago, when a friend showed me her brand new copy of Mystery of History, I knew in a flash that was what I had been waiting for. Currrently there are 3 volumes in the series, with a fourth (and final) volume being finished

Why? Well, it's strengths are:
  • Chronological
  • Christian
  • Conversational
  • Creative

We have worked our way through Volumes 1 and 2. For those two volumes, I led the lessons, reading them aloud to my children, and then doing a project once a week or so to extend the learning. I don't really pay any attention to the tests. For those volumes, we did a timeline and we did the learning cards for volume 1 only.

As we progressed, I stripped the history lessons to exactly what we wanted. I don't want our history to be a bunch of memorization. I want it to be something that whets the children's appetites for learning more about history, as well as something that allows them to see each event in relation to a larger picture. It's learning a worldview and a context, rather than memorizing dates and names. (Note: I am not opposed to memorization. I just want more than that.)

For Volume 3, however, I needed to do something differently. As I have mentioned before, since I am working 20+ hours a week, I need to streamline our curriculum. So, David is "teaching" history this year by reading the lessons aloud to his siblings. He is gaining practice in reading aloud (which is something he needs to work on) and in teaching. Is it the most ideal way to teach history? Probably not. Are they continuing on toward my goal for them? Yes, they are.

What would I like to change or add? I would like to return to doing the projects. For MOH3, I would need the teacher book. The publisher changed the format for Volume 3. Instead of one volume with the info and the resources, the books were separated into a full color textbook and a separate teacher volume. I should probably order that and add that back into our history lessons. I think that adds a richness we have been missing.

Volume 4 (the final MOH) will probably not be ready in time for us to use it when we finish Volume 3. So, we will probably take the time in between to do an in-depth study of American History. Or maybe we will do a year of Geography since David already did a survey of American History. Our options are open.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Lisa's Logbook - March 6

Current Mood: Tired

Outside: Dark, icy and cold

Wearing: Jeans, black long sleeved tee, short sleeved striped sweater, slippers, and a big grey sweatshirt

Tunes: listened to Persuasion by Jane Austen this week, and David played some music for me from his new fav band - Abney Park (steampunk sound)

Kids Are: 3 are asleep (I think) and 1 is banging around upstairs working on some computers

Hubby Is: Asleep

Made Me Laugh: Bowling with Emily and her friends

Made Me Sad: hearing of the tragic accident Friday morning that took the life of a local high school girl and injured two more.

Made Me Drool: Sally posted the "It's Raining Men" video. Yes, that always makes me drool. :-)

Blessings: My daughter is FOURTEEN. And Bob bought me a sewing machine.

Reading: Jane Austen Ruined My Life by Beth Pattillo and Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell

Watching: Blast from the Past, Ice Castles (the new one; but the DVD messed up so I missed the end), Psych

Considering: Regency hairstyles for all of us. Em and I will wear our hair up. Emily will probably have pearls in hers. David is gonna need a haircut but he's resisting. He had agreed to Mr. Elton's haircut, but conveniently "forgot" that he did so. (That's Mr. Elton in all these pix. And if you have forgotten, David's hair is that same color now.) And no, neither Emily nor I will be wearing our hair like Harriet Smith, the girl Mr. Elton is advising on her painting. lol What do you think of Mr. Elton's hair? The Austentatious girls like it a lot and are turning the screws in hopes of pressuring David into honoring his promise. lololol

Working On: the last parts of our Regency costumes. And the yearbook. Still.

Accomplishments: Driving home tonight - it was the worst winter drive I can remember. And I was not even expecting bad weather. Thankfully we made it home safely.

Lessons: Going to start Suzy on Draw-Write-Now just to give her something to practice writing and drawing. She needs something independent she can work on when I'm busy. I bought the 8 volume set from someone online for a song.

Agenda: Lessons, working 5 hours M-F, support group, field trip, dentist

Pic: This space heater is the reason we didn't freeze while waiting (2 weeks) for our furnace part. It keeps the downstairs pretty warm, actually.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

How We Do... Math

Here is the second in a series of posts on how we do each of our academic subjects. (The first was on Bible study.)

For several years, we used Math-U-See, which we all liked very much. However, my work hours this year required that I pare my schedule down to the bare bones. I found that grading four math papers every day was one thing that I would like to be able to delegate somehow.

So, I went looking for a curriculum that would grade the children's work for me and keep track of their scores. After doing a little research, I settled on Switched-on Schoolhouse for several reasons. First, it is affordable, especially when found used. Second, it keeps grades and allows me a lot of leeway in how I assign the lessons and set the parameters of the program. Third, it is a computer-based program and the kids enjoy that.

For the most part, the program has worked as expected. Because we moved from Math-U-See, which covers topics in a less traditional order, the three younger kids had never done certain topics, such as fractions. Because one of those three children struggles a lot with math, that child is not working at grade level. (I think this child could be diagnosed with dyscalculia, if I ever thought that was necessary.)

My oldest has always found math quite intuitive and he is doing Geometry (Math 1000) this year. I gave him a lot of input on deciding which curriculum to use and he told me it didn't matter to him. He has found the adjustment to SOS quite easy and basically teaches it to himself. If he is stumped, he usually looks for a video on youtube to learn the concept.

The other three need a lot more help. A lesson does include a written explanation but none of the 3 read it carefully as a matter of course. I often have to go through the lesson with the student, or re-explain the concept after many problems are wrong. Because Math-U-See has a video that explains each concept, I think the children are used to that visual approach. It's not really fair to expect the children to teach themselves their math, I suppose, no matter how much I would love that. So, I've reconciled myself to the necessity of explaining math concepts. But don't expect that most children will teach themselves math with SOS because I don't think that's going to happen. For me, the tradeoff in having the grading done for me is worth it.

My youngest is not reading fluently, so the transition to SOS has been the hardest for her. She is in 3rd grade and is doing SOS Math 3, but the reading is beyond her especially when she is trying hard to figure out math. This difficulty requires that someone be near her to help her with the reading, or else she'll just get the problems wrong. She doesn't find the math difficult, just the reading. She has recently asked to go back to her math book (which I assume means MUS) but this is not going to happen for her.

Oh, and the spelling! That's a problem for everyone. If the user doesn't enter a word like SOS expects, it's wrong. The teacher can (and I did) set the spelling penalty to be more lenient, but it's still more strict than I would be on a workbook page. That's good though. They're learning to do things to the standards of others, which they will have to do at some point.

Now that the kids and I understand the intricacies of the program, they are doing better with it. I have been too lax about requiring the amount of time needed though, so they are not as far as I would like. Add to that the fact that I require at least an 80% score (70% for the student with math difficulties); anything lower requires a do-over. So, they have had quite a few quizzes and tests to retake.

Lately, I've been requiring 2 lessons per day (with at least an 80% score, though I allow some exceptions for the student with the mathematics disorder). Since we have a 4 day week, this works out well for us in making up for past laxness and redoing lessons that are not acceptable.

Is this a perfect way to teach math? No. I freely admit that. However, this is the least stressful for me - a working mom who homeschools. I doubt that whatever method was used in a public school would be perfect either. So, if they are progressing, and they are, I am pleased. I actually wish I'd switched several years ago, when it became clear that being a homeschool mom with a job was my reality.

And what about Math-U-See? I still like it very much. If I were the mom who didn't have to spend half her day in other commitments, I would not have switched.