Friday, August 15, 2008

Week 2 (T1) 2008

This week I'm actually going to try to get this posted on time (without giving up sleep and while maintaining all other priorities, right? *snortchucklechuckle*).

Our 2nd week of school went as smoothly as the 1st and I must admit that I am excited to be back into the structure of school! I tried to plan activities and daily items for us all over the 7 weeks that we had for summer, but it still was just too long without school. I don't know about anyone else, but I tend to get less done, be less focused, and less organized when I don't have a well-defined structure in place. I'm assuming that the same goes for my kids since I could see their behavior slide as the weeks went on.

This week had no hiccups (or fishbones) and with no homeschool co-op yet started, we took Thursday off to visit the dr and then some friends at a campground (you'll note however, that even though said campground was 0.1 feet from my sil house, that we did NOT visit her. Apologies have already been made and relationships mended with future assurances that such a slight will never occur again! *snickersnicker*).

Jefferson - 2nd Grade

Bibletime is actually going quite well! I think that Explorer's Beginnings II is going just far enough in depth for Jefferson to make him think and also stretch him to remember. This week he worked through the 1st 3 days of creation in his lessons, colored one timeline sheet and colored 3 pages of his Creation booklet. Dh is a little further along at our lunchtime bibletime (since this is just reading and prayer)- they read about Cain and Abel here.

RightStart Math C - Jefferson is still reviewing a few things from last year. We went over 3 different method to add 1 and 2-digit numbers in his head (complete the 10, adding by 9, two 5's method). One lesson was just a practice sheet (as will every sixth lesson be) and games (Corners this week - his favorite). He also finished up his Addition Chart and learned to read an outdoor thermometer. Over the next month (actually this starts September because he cannot stand to start charting something mid-month! Oy - he is just like me...) he will check the outdoor temp each day and graph it. He loves tasks like this and wanted to know "What time of day will we do it?" I was surprised that he realized this on his own!

Language Arts

Grammar was a bit of a struggle as again I faced the fact that the definitions of a noun, pronoun, and verb were not at all sinking in. This is frustrating to me, having taught nothing but these all last year, but at the same time - understandable. I'm realizing that he just doesn't understand the concepts well enough - so it doesn't matter if he can spit the definitions back out at me. This is where only practice will help him at this point. So we started just copying sentences and labeling the N, P, and V so he could visualize and start strengthening what he learned about them last year. FLL is such a typical left-brained auditory book! He enjoys the LLFY much better and we may just move on over to that as the year goes -we'll see.

Phonics was all about the modified vowel this week. Another example of "I haven't a clue what that means, Mommy, even though we went over it plenty last year and last week!" Now... I know that he can read these just fine, so someone tell me why does he need to know the definition of a modified vowel? We are also working on the definition of a homonym and analogy right now. He seems to be fine with reading, spelling, and phonics but struggles when it comes to fishing words out of his brain (whether it be vocabulary or narrations). Hmmmm.....I seem to have always had the same problem myself. Don't quite know how to help him here - I just try to give him starting words, suggestions, verbal cues and encourage him to use more descriptive words.

Spelling covered some suffixes and the two /oo/ sounds (book, tool). This is all from SWB, which we completed last year, but are reviewing a bit to start this year. He is doing well here and it is showing in his dictation.

Reading - his reading is becoming more fluid although it is still common for him to run right through periods and commas only to stop at the end of a line of words instead. He does very well figuring out longer or difficult words phonetically or through context. He finished up "I Wonder" from the Reading to Learn series of Christian Light Publications (I love these books! Great for new readers and full of character lessons).
For our read aloud time we began "Arthur High King of Britain" by Michael Morpurgo. This is a FABULOUS book for read aloud! I was so into it the 1st day we read it, that I had to read ahead after he went to bed! The author presents this well-know myth in a wonderful manner that draws the reader in and holds us tightly. The illustrations are beautiful. I send a thanks out again to Jennefer at Smooth Stones Academy for her suggestion of this author! Jefferson "snuck" it up to his bedroom tonight and will most likely begin reading it on his own in the morning. He narrated it back to me without even realizing that he was narrating! Even Reagan was captivated with Arthur and Merlin today (and that's saying something since her attention span is so short). Next week we'll do a narration sheet with illustration.

Writing - Our Veritas Press Classically Cursive copybooks just arrived but we didn't use them this week. I dictated 4 sentences for Jefferson to put in his "Journal". This booklet has space at the top for illustrations so I ask him to draw something nice for one of the sentences each week. I have noticed that he is writing faster and more sloppily but does better with the 2nd grade lined paper (1/2 inch) than he was doing last year.

Memory Work - reviewed "God's Beautiful World" and started reviewing the Days of Creation. I forgot to start work on our house rules this week (each on has a scripture verse with it).....

History - we read the 1st chapter of SOTW2 on the end of the ancient Roman Empire. Jefferson worked on a map and coloring sheet after looking through our DK Eyewitness Ancient Rome book (I love these books - eyecandy and great info) and a couple library books. I'm not in project mode yet, so we didn't do anything further this week.

Science - Continued to work on our plant lapbook. Although Jefferson enjoys this, the information seems to be getting to him in a piece mealed way and I wonder how effective is this method. But then again, I'm not too focused on it and we've already exhausted the books I'd planned on reading for this topic. It'll look nice when they are finished!

Spanish - Goodness, does Jefferson love this! He is learning that he needs to speak more clearly in order to enunciate in this new language. He discovered this week that he could go back to parts of the lesson and repeat them until he did better (mostly he did this with the verbal lessons). Somehow he figured out that a 100% is the best thing to get and that practice is how he can get there! Ahhhh... the joys of self-motivation! I let him know how it pleased us that he wanted to do better. I also sat down this week and caught up with him in his lessons so that I know how the Rosetta Stone program works and so I can learn Spanish too. Of course, it was much easier for me, having had a couple years in high school but I expect it will get harder soon. At least my background can help him in pronunciation and with any grammar that he just isn't understanding.

Reagan - Kindergarten

I am so excited about teaching her phonics! Again this week I was surprised by how much she already knows and how ready she is to read. I barely even had to explain to her how to blend a consonant with the vowels - these seemed easy to her. I did notice as she read, the directionality difficulties she tends toward (switching b/d, p/q etc). I will have to teach her some verbal or visual cues to fix these but I'm not concerned. We reviewed our vowel flashcards each day, read a blend chart (short a), and worked on her 1st Christ Centered Curriculum lesson (hadn't planned on using this but she seems ready!). She gets frustrated easily with her penmanship - seems to think that every letter must be perfect and holds her pencil very tightly, causing her hand to tire easily. I don't push her at all here since my focus is to get her reading, but she likes to have something to show her daddy!

RightStart Math A
Another good week for her. Lessons are still very simple as I get a feel for how long she can focus and where her strengths are. We finger painted 1, 2, 3's, reviewed dot cards, read 1 to 5 on the abacus, and worked on one tracing sheet. Below I've shown the "Mr. Thumbkin" sheet that we used last week to teach her a visual cue for writing her numbers in the correct direction. We start the 2 at his head, go around down to his feet, and then "Run away - they're stinky!" And we start he 3 at his head, go around to his "Smelly armpit" and down to his feet. She just eats this silliness up and it totally sticks in her head! The key with her is to keep it light and fun (not that Jefferson doesn't need the same thing, just that his behavior is more predictable so I never felt I had to work so hard to make it fun!)

I am thankful that we've hit the ground running this year! The Lord has blessed us and I am more than thankful! I need to tweak our schedule around a bit and be very diligent about my own sleep. I look forward to the week to come!


Mary@notbefore7 said...

Good stuff girl!

What rules of the house? Is that the same thing Momma Roar used? What was it?

Love the rightstart worksheets - looks like fun and looks good.

Keep it up!

Sharon said...

Congratulations Andrea on a great week.

If you are asking yourself "I know that he can read these just fine, so someone tell me why does he need to know the definition of a modified vowel?" you might need to step back and think a little. What is the goal of phonics instruction? To teach our children the skills they need to read. if your son can read these graphemes already, then he doesn't need lessons from a phonics text book on them. Learning this stuff might just frustrate and bore him! Why don't you skip ahead *shock horror* to a phonics lesson that teaches him a skill he doesn't already have but is ready to learn? I think the answer to your question is that if he can read "modified vowels" already, he doesn't need to learn the definition. I certainly have no clue what a modified vowel is, and I read comfortably at a very high level. Always remember, the curriculum is your servant and not your master!

On the other hand, you also said that "I faced the fact that the definitions of a noun, pronoun, and verb were not at all sinking in." Maybe J is not ready for formal grammar? Could you instead focus on punctuation, capitalisation etc? These more practical grammar matters can lead to formal grammar instruction as you, for example, teach that proper nouns have capitals but common nouns do not - and then show him several examples in his reading and copywork. Contextualisation of the facts might help him to understand them better and retain them for longer. On the other hand, perhaps you just want to review, review, review so that he has the definitions memorised for the time when his brain is ready to use them. You are right that approaching the challenge of grammar with a different method will be of use, I am sure.

I saw another Michael Morpurgo book favourably reviewed recently as well (can't remember the title). He seems to be one of the few authors who is able to write adaptations of the classics which are a positive alternative when the original is just too difficult.

Joshua loves J's Roman soldier.

I am glad you have found a hands on method for teaching the formation of numerals to R. I have been thinking that my maths teaching is not explicit enough. Somehow, despite having at one time been a maths teacher, I forget that the kids don't already know as much as I do, with my BSc in Maths! Silly me!

~ Sharon from Equip Academy

Sharon said...

I remember now, the Michael Morpurgo book was Beowulf. You might want to check it out while you're studying Britain.
~ Sharon