Friday, August 31, 2012

Math Lesson Plans

Soooo.... I did no lesson planning yesterday because I went to a movie set and met an actor! But that's a post for another day. hehe

But thankfully, I can post about MATH since that involves just about no lesson planning from me.

We are using Teaching Textbooks now. The curriculum is self-teaching, and, for most of the levels, also features automated grading. I assign the kids a certain amount of time to spend on math each day; the amount varies depending on grade level. Alternately, they could also complete 2 lessons and then consider the day's work complete. I require at least an 80% score before a lesson is considered complete.

Suzy will be doing Teaching Textbooks 5. She will work for an hour each day.

Emily and James are both working on Teaching Textbooks 7. They've both already started that level. They'll be moving to the Pre-Algebra level sometime during the year. (Our math years don't necessarily coincide with the school year.)  James will work for an hour each day and Emily's goal is 90 minutes daily.

David will be doing the Pre-Calculus level. I don't actually have it yet, so he will be doing a review of Algebra 2 until I obtain the curriculum. David is assigned 90 minutes daily but actually he usually works longer. He doesn't like to stop in the middle of a lesson.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

5th grade Reading - Challenges!

My 5th grader is still a reluctant reader. She has made progress but she still says, "I can't read," or "I hate reading." She CAN read; she just doesn't LIKE to read. It is a lot of work for her and she avoids it.

I'd love for this to be the year where reading becomes easy for her and she learns to love it. I'll be praying that for her. Meanwhile, I am not able to assign her the chapter books I would like her to be reading independently in 5th grade. That's hard for me to accept, but it is what it is.

Last year she read a lot of easy non-fiction readers and wrote about them daily. We'll do the same to begin this year; it's familiar and non-threatening. I give her a stack of books to choose from and let her choose one. The book shown open is harder than any she's read so far, but I hope she'll be up for the challenge.

I have her read aloud to me every day. Last year I required ten minutes (and she used a timer EVERY SINGLE DAY) and 2 sentences about what she read. This fall I will gradually increase the reading time and the amount of writing required, until we reach 20 minutes and 5 sentences. Once she is reading fluently aloud, I intend to add silent reading and written questions.

Any suggestions for easy-to-read high-interest chapter books at probably a 3rd grade reading level and preferably not twaddle? Those may be next for us, hopefully by November.

We will get back out the Reading Reflex book and work on some of the skill-building activities too, especially the multi-syllable management.

7th Grade Literature

James is entering 7th grade. His literature selections will be taken from the following titles:

  • Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls - he chose this to begin with
  • The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford
  • My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
  • 5 Children and It by E. Nesbit
  • The Black Stallion by Walter Farley
  • The Bronze Bow by  Elizabeth G. Speare
  • Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt
  • The Story of King Arthur and His Knights by Howard Pyle
  • Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
  • Adam of the Road by Elizabeth Janet Gray
  • Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

I will let him choose from the list and decide what's next each time he finishes one. Not sure how many of these he'll get through, but I think one a month is a good goal.

We will be discussing the books with the Adam Andrews method. :-) Most of these are books I have read in the past, which makes the discussion easier if I can't read them along with him.

He will also be doing much writing to respond to these literature selections.

American Literature

David and Emily are both taking American Literature at co-op this year, taught by someone who isn't me! LOL

This is a list of what they will be reading:

  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (they are reading this now)
  • The Simple Cobler of Aggawam by Nathaniel Ward
  • Sinners in the hands of an angry God by Jonathan Edwards
  • Letters from an American Farmer by J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur
  • The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
  • The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
  • The Pit and the Pendulum by Edgar Allen Poe
  • The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe
  • Thanatopsis by William Cullen Bryant
  • Homeward Bound by James Fenimore Cooper
  • Civil Disobedience and other selections by Henry David Thoreau
  • The Gift of the Magi and The Ransom of Red Chief by O.Henry
  • Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Whew! That's a lot, isn't it? A number of those selections I have not read before, so I will attempt to read them along with my high schoolers.

I may also have them read The Scarlet Letter to go along with the class. In their spare time. Haha

If the teacher provides assignments to go along with the reading selections, I will require those. If she does not, then I will require writing assignments every two weeks. I am also going to require a reading journal, which is something I've attempted before but not seen to fruition.

"History" Plans Complete

Unlike the LAST subject, I LOVE history!!

That said, I've put "history" in quotes in my post title, because we aren't doing actual "history" this year. This year we are doing GEOGRAPHY!

I wrote last summer about Mapping the World by Heart. But like most of my ambitious summer plans, it didn't happen. So this will be our social studies topic this year. The goal is for the kids to be able to draw detailed world and U.S. maps by heart. So, we'll give it a try!  All of the kids will do this.

If we complete that before the year is over, we will pick back up with Mystery of History 3, which we used last year and got partway through.

David (my senior) has completed his two history credits - American History and World History. The mapping class above will be the "geography" portion of his requirement. He did his Civics (Government) requirement last year. That just leaves Economics. So, we will be doing a book study on Economics using these three books - The Cartoon Introduction to Economics Volume 1: Microeconomics, A Bluestocking Guide to Economics, and Whatever Happened to Penny Candy?. These three books and the accompanying writing I will assign, along with the Financial Peace for Teens class (Dave Ramsey) that David took three years ago (or so) will complete his Economics credit.  I considered having Emily (10th grade) do this work along with David, but I don't think she's ready to master the content.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Science Lesson Plans Complete

Science - my LEAST favorite subject.

The younger two kids (5th and 7th grade) will be finishing up Considering God's Creation - their curriculum from last year. All that's left is the Human Body section. So they will be doing anatomy this year. Suzy is also taking a co-op class called "It's Not Magic, It's Science" and James will be doing a Backyard Ballistics class, which I hope will be more science-oriented than not.

Emily will be doing Biology for 10th grade. I buck the popular trend and do NOT use Apologia. I could probably write a whole post on why not, but suffice it to say, it's just not a good fit for us.

So, she will be using Biology 101, from Timberdoodle, which is a DVD-based curriculum. There is a printable book on one of the DVD's and a set of lesson plans. This will fit our needs nicely. We do have a microscope and bunches of slides to further her learning and I have set up dissection labs with a friend of mine who actually likes Science.

David will not be doing Science this year; he's already completed Biology, Chemistry, and Physics and I will also be giving him a half or full credit (still figuring that out) for Introduction to Robotics. He and I are discussing the possibility of doing a Mechanical Engineering class this year since he is not doing Robotics again. I have a textbook for that on my Kindle.

Bible Lesson Plans COMPLETE

Here is our stack of books for Bible lessons this year. 

Today marked the beginning of Lesson Planning Week here at Cornerstone and I chose to begin with Bible - probably the easiest subject to plan and certainly the most foundational.

 We use the NIV translation in our Bible study time. I chose this for a few reasons - 1 - because it's easy to find so that all my kids can have a copy in front of them every day, 2 - it's not expensive, and 3 - it's fairly easy to read and understand. Now and then, we'll also read from The Message.

I have enough matching hymnals like these for all of us to have our own. That took a few years to accomplish! But it's worth it now. I have a spreadsheet list of most of the hymns and praise choruses we know and we will review all of them throughout the year. This year we will be reading from a hymn devotional that my good friend Jennifer sent me a few years ago - Then Sings My Soul.

The missing component of our Bible time the last few years has been Bible memory, but this year we will remedy that. We used to do AWANA maybe 5 years ago, so David and Emily had some Bible memory there, but James and Suzy haven't had much. I looked and looked for an easy resource and finally found this one - 100 Bible Verses Everyone Should Know by Heart by Robert J. Morgan. The book begins with ten introductory chapters on the power of Scripture memory, which I will read, but not go through with my kids, except by discussion. Part Two of the book contains the 100 chosen verses beginning with Genesis 1:1 and going on through Revelation 22:20. The verses are grouped into sections such as Salvation, Holiness, Faith, and more. We will begin by doing a verse a week and go in order through the first 9 verses. We may skip around after that. Each verse is accompanied by an explanatory section.

 We've been using the Baker Bible Study Guide for All Ages since David was in kindergarten. (He's a senior this year!) I've been very pleased with it. This is our second trip through the series and we are partway through volume 3 of 4. I'd hoped to get all the way through the series twice before David graduates but I am not sure we'll make it. The rest of volume three covers the life of Moses, the books of Hebrews, Acts, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Judges, Ruth, and 1 Samuel, as well as the ministry of Jesus from the Gospels.

We are also going to study world religions using this book - Why So Many Gods? One religion per week is my goal.

One more thing - this year David will read through the entire Bible before he graduates. I printed out a chart for him to keep track.

So, here's our plan for daily Bible Time:

Monday - Wednesday
Monday – 1 -Sing a hymn and read the corresponding story from Then Sings My Soul.
Tuesday – 1 - Read from Why So Many Gods and discuss.
Wednesday - 1 - Sing a hymn and read the corresponding story from Then Sings My Soul.

2 - Prayer Time (what's the best way to do this?)
3 – Read a chapter from the Bible (following Baker Bible Study Guide Volume 3). Students take turns reading aloud.
4 – Discuss the chapter.
5 – Work on memory verse.
6 - Sing a review hymn to finish. (if there is time)

Thursday – prayer, recite verse, and read a chapter with discussion
Friday – just prayer, recite verse, and a song 
(Most Fridays we are not home due to co-op and field trips, but I hope to begin the day with prayer, Scripture, and singing.)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Lisa's Logbook - August 26

Two stripes on our green belt.
1 - eating on the Body for Life plan when other things are going on - ie. camping, movie nights, running errands. I do ok at home, though.
2 - Marriage. 'Nuff said.

1 - Finished three weeks of Body for Life - doing pretty well!
2 - Got the kids working on painting the barn - finally! Have meant to do this all summer.
3 - Promoted to Green 2 in karate.

1 - Lesson plans
2 - Ordering curriculum and/or finding it used
3 - Co-op preparations - we start in two weeks!

From the Library: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (#1) by J.K. Rowling (yes, again, but this time on audio)
Rollicking: will be reading The Help very soon, probably starting Monday.
MI-5 (Spooks)
Netflix: more MI-5
On my Kindle: a game called Every Word

Tasty: I love peppermint creamer in my coffee - any time of the year!

Obsession: trying to figure out where in SE Michigan Richard Armitage is filming on any given day. That's as far as I get though, since I usually find out AFTER the fact. 
Armitage filming in Mich
Oops: Spilled red nail polish all over my carpet. :-(  Nail polish remover smeared it around, but window cleaner and a scrub brush took it almost all out!
Serendipity: found a couple well-written Regency romances FREE for Kindle. I am a sucker for a Regency romance. :-)
Fun Times: Matrix marathon with a couple of friends!
Anticipating: the first soccer games of the season and co-op starting. Also looking forward to having a pile of finished lesson sheets printed out for September

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Lisa's Logbook - August 19

1 - still dealing with shoulder pain and occasional foot pain
2 - Kids, kids, kids

1 - Finished two weeks of Body for Life and lost 4-1/2 lbs so far!
2 - Got through my karate test
3 - Got my writing classes planned; just waiting on approval from the church
1 - Lesson plans

From the Library: Harry Potter's Bookshelf: The Great Books Behind the Hogwarts Adventures by John Granger - still trying to find time to finish this. I haven't had much time to read this week. I do have the first Harry Potter on audio CD sitting here waiting to be listened to.
Rollicking: Nothing! I have not yet started our next book.Netflix: Just watching MI-5 and more MI-5. On season three now! LOL Matthew Macfadyen and now Rupert Penry-Jones! Oh my... 
On my Kindle: Holy Habits: A Woman's Guide to Intentional Living by Marilyn Wilson

Tasty:  Cinnamon rolls for breakfast today! (my free day) S'mores tonight!
Obsession: MI-5 (see above)
Oops: Missed Richard Armitage AGAIN - was filming at Oakland University all week and at least three fans met him there. Dang!
Serendipity: At Jimmy John's for $1 subs (serendipity in itself), ran into a new friend and her kids. We all went to the park and had an impromptu picnic. Fun!
Fun Times: Lake Huron with friends
Anticipating: Camping at Lake Michigan, roller coasters at Michigan's Adventure, and the first drive-in movies we've been to in a long time!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Lisa's Logbook - August 12

Michael Brian Ogden as Henry V
1 - Church attendance (not happening; lack of desire)
2 - Body for Life 12 week challenge
3 - Preparing for karate testing. AM I READY???

1 - Got to see Henry V live in the park after one failed attempt. VERY MUCH worth it!
2 - Went running twice and my foot survived! Running 20 minutes only (with a little walking in there).
3 - Finally made it to the Detroit Institute of Arts WITHOUT children. My friend and I walked slowly, looking thoroughly at everything that interested us. No one said, "I'm hungry," or "I need to go potty," or "How much longer do we have to do this?" Heavenly! (This was a couple weeks ago, but I didn't blog, so it counts, right?)

1 - Mending two sleeping bags with an old flannel sheet
2 - Back to the co-op planning now that it's August
3 - Getting ready to go camping again, just our family this time
4 - Planning my writing classes

From the Library: Harry Potter's Bookshelf: The Great Books Behind the Hogwarts Adventures by John Granger
Movies: all the old Bourne movies, The Nines (with Ryan Reynolds), The Two Towers
Netflix: Discovered Arrested Development and have finally cultivated a taste for MI-5
On my Kindle: Holy Habits: A Woman's Guide to Intentional Living by Marilyn Wilson

Tasty:  I had fettucine carbonara on my day off Body for Life and it was DELISH!!
Obsession: Trying to find out where Richard Armitage is filming nearby. I keep finding out AFTER the fact. Frustrating!
Oops: oh yeah, I have lesson plans to do! Can't skate by forever without doing them!
Serendipity: got to swap something I didn't need for a jewelry box cabinet that I love!
Fun Times: book club in the park - two weeks in a row (one rainy, one not!), hanging out with friends to watch the Bourne movies, 
Anticipating: Lake Huron this week, Lake Michigan next week. 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Midwest Homeschool Convention - Teaching Boys & Other Children Who Would Rather Make Forts All Day

Teaching Boys and Other Children Who Would Rather Make Forts All Day 
Research shows that not only do boys and girls respond differently to similar environments, children in general like to do what they can do, and they hate to do what they think they cannot do. Citing several credible sources, Andrew Pudewa offers insight into specific ways you can create relevancy for children as you teach them academic as well as life skills.

Andrew Pudewa (Institute for Excellence in Writing) is a motivating and inspiring speaker. I've heard him speak before and I bought the IEW curriculum based solely on hearing him speak.  So, I chose this seminar knowing it would be great, even though we had to enter after he had already begun. Andrew did not disappoint.

The beginning of this talk focused on the differences between genders. I took notes on the things that particularly struck me, so my notes may be a bit disjointed. If any of this piques your interest, I recommend downloading the audio, available HERE from IEW for $3.00.

The first thing I wrote down is that boys often don't even notice when they are making sounds or noises. (This describes my second son, now age 12, PERFECTLY.)

Andrew stated that for him, "most of school was about surviving boredom." He recounted that things like counting the tiles on the ceiling or biting his own arm kept him from dying of boredom. (LOL!)

Eyesight - due to a difference in the amount of rods and cones present in the eyes, most women see color & texture with more intensity and most men see direction & speed with more intensity.

Gender-separate schools are a beneficial idea, especially in grades K-2.

Teaching writing - men tend towards verbs and adverbs, while women include more nouns and adjectives. So, when women teachers help boys write, they can ask, "Do you want me to help you add in more ACTION?" (rather than more detail) Mark Twain said, "If you see an adjective, kill it. If it comes back to life, let it live."

Ambient Temperature - Boys learn best at a room temperature of 68-69 degrees (and girls feel cold). Girls prefer a temp of 74-75 (and boys fall asleep).

About annoying behavior - Andrew said, "he's a boy. He's clueless." LOL He doesn't realize he's doing _____. (whatever it is). So try setting up a code signal (with movement). When he sees you do the code signal, he should check to see what part of his body is moving and try to stop it.

Stress - Belief used to be that humans all responded with "fight or flight" but more research shows that males have that response, but females have either a "tend & befriend" or a "hide and disappear" response to stress. Men have an increase in heart rate, etc... and want to stand and walk in response to stress (even just a discussion). It's their sympathetic nervous system kicking in. (I wrote this down, but I don't understand it. lol) Women's parasympathetic nervous system kicks in instead and they have a decrease in heart rate, etc.. and want to lay down or sit down in response to stress.

Males think better when moving and walking. So allowing a boy-friendly environment can have significant results, even doubling test scores.

Don't tell boys to put on a coat.

Pain - In males, pain increases blood flow to the brain, allowing then to think more clearly. In females, pain decreases blood flow to the brain. He made a special point to say that boys think pain feels good. (I starred this in my notes! lol) He said spanking works for boys, but is not so effective for girls. Boys show their affection through punching, kicking, pinching, etc...

Andrew recommended books by Leonard Sax, especially Why Gender Matters.

The second part of the talk focused on the art and science of motivation. He discussed several types of relevancy because things are easier to learn when they are relevant.

1 - Intrinsic Relevancy - It's part of who you are (your special interests) or it is universally relevant (everyone has an interest in it). Capitalize on intrinsic relevancy.

The material learned when young is not as important as the METHOD of learning it.  (Learning how to learn)

2 - Inspired Relevancy - A good teacher can make things relevant. Try making trades with other homeschool  moms to get them to teach your kids what they love.

3 - Contrived Relevancy - This refers to material that isn't intrinsically interesting, so you have to make it interesting by the context. Try creating a game for this material.

Rules for these games: 1 - The child must be able to win. (It's not motivating if they know they will never win.) 2 - Positive and Negative consequences must both be included.

4 - Forced Relevancy (or maybe Enforced?) - Anyway, this is the stuff that is never interesting, but it must be learned anyway. Just make sure that the balance you use doesn't cause a "hate" of learning.

Finding that balance:
Children like to do what they think they can do. "Look at me! Look what I can do!"
If children think they can do something, they will want to try. Conversely, children will refuse to do what they think they cannot do.

60-80% of lessons should be what they can do already - making it easier.
20-40% should be what they think they can do.
0% should be what they believe they cannot do.

Find positive things to say. Affirm them and create trust, then you can correct them.

The power of a smile - It's contagious and powerful and allows you to communicate well.

Andrew ended by telling a story of a time that his young daughter came along to one of the writing workshops he taught for students. He was his usual motivational and cheerful self while teaching other people's kids. But his daughter asked him afterward, "Daddy, how come you're not like that at home?"  Convicting.

Here are a couple other blog posts that sum up this talk. They hit a couple things I may have missed.
Life-Nurturing Education - Motivating Students with Relevant Lessons
Homeschool View - Teaching Boys and Others Who Would Rather Make Forts All Day