Friday, August 23, 2013

Back to School, Back to Blogging (maybe)

OK, so it's been ages, during which much rain has fallen, the back porch and everything on it mildewed (first tip-off:  back door, usually white, suddenly spotty black. oh no), and the cosmos grown taller than I am. Even as I write this, the sky above Rebecca's roof next door has assumed its glowering look again, and the dog has become very present. I am also eating sunflower seeds, harvested from our garden and roasted by Crispina, who seems pleased with herself.

This week we're back to school. I don't always love starting back, but this year entering into a routine of reading and other work feels very much like settling into a good warm bath at the end of a long and active day. Summer was great, but man, do I love copywork. For other people.

Here are the schedules we're currently following for the primary grades:


GRADE 4 SCHOOL SCHEDULE 2013-14 (CRISPINA)

Follow this routine every day, doing your subjects in the order listed

DAY
MATH
GERMAN
ENGLISH
HISTORY
GEOGRAPHY
RELIGION
SCIENCE
MONDAY
Read your chore chart and do your chores

Morning Prayers


Life of Fred
w/Mom

Grammar w/Mom

Copywork

Iliad
Read 20 minutes, narrate 1



The First
Christians
Read 20 minutes,
Narrate 

TUESDAY
Read your chore chart and do your chores

Morning Prayers

MEP Y4/ Life of Fred
w/Mom

Tuesday
Afternoon:
MathArt on CurrClick
52 Weeks of Family German
w/Mom

Spelling
w/Mom

Copywork

Study passage for dictation

Literature
Read 20 minutes
Cambridge Historical Reader/
Read 20 minutes

Work on Book of Centuries
First Lessons in Geography: read and memorize one lesson, to recite for Mom


Story of the Bible
Read one story
Narrate 

Among the Meadow People/
Read 20 minutes,
narrate 
WEDNESDAY
Read your chore chart and do your chores

Morning Prayers

MEP Y4 page/Life of Fred
w/Mom
German reading/
Read aloud with Mom

Copywork

Study passage for dictation

Grammar/
Diagrams

literature
Read 20 minutes
Tales of the Greeks/
Read 20 minutes, 
Work on Book of Centuries

Tree in the Trail
Read one page,
Narrate 

Great Moments in
Catholic History/
Read one “moment,”
Narrate 
World in a Drop of Water/
Narrate 
THURSDAY
Read your chore chart and do your chores

Morning Prayers

MEPY4/
Life of Fred
w/Mom
52 Weeks
w/Mom

Copywork

Study passage for dictation

Literature
Read 20 minutes
Tales of the Greeks
Read 20 minutes
Work on Book of Centuries
Tree in the Trail
Read one page,
Narrate 
Great Moments in Catholic History/
Read one “moment,” narrate 

FRIDAY
Read your chore chart and do your chores

Morning Prayers

Life of Fred
w/Mom

Dictation with Mom

Guerber’s Shakespeare 
1 act per week
Narrate 


Saint Story
Read 20 minutes,
Narrate 
Online science fun as directed by Mom



GRADE 5 SCHOOL SCHEDULE 2013-14 (HELIER)

Follow this routine every day, doing your subjects in the order listed.

DAY
MATH
GERMAN
ENGLISH
HISTORY
GEOGRAPHY
RELIGION
SCIENCE
MONDAY
Read your chore chart and do your chores

Morning Prayers

Facts/
Life of Fred
w/Mom

Grammar w/Mom

Copywork

Aeneid
read for 20 minutes narrate  


Pearls of Peace/read and pray one mystery

TUESDAY
Read your chore chart and do your chores

Morning Prayers

MEP/ Life of Fred
w/Mom

Tuesday
Afternoon:
MathArt on CurrClick
52 Weeks of Family German
w/Mom

Spelling w/Mom

Copywork

Study passage for dictation

Literature
Read for 20 minutes

Story of the English/
Read for 20 minutes,
Work on Book of Centuries
First Lessons in Geography: read one lesson, memorize, and recite for Mom

Great Moments in Catholic History/read one “moment,” narrate 
Practical Geologist
Read for 20 minutes
Narrate 


WEDNESDAY
Read your chore chart and do your chores

Morning Prayers

MEP/
Life of Fred
w/Mom
German reading
Read aloud with Mom

Grammar w/Mom
Diagramming

Copywork

Study passage for dictation

Literature
Read for 20 minutes

Tales of the Romans/ read for 20 minutes,
Work on Book of Centuries
Charting the World
Read for 20 minutes
Narrate 

Bible read one story from Hurlbut or regular Bible
Narrate 
Geology and Fossils Junior Explorer Activity Book


THURSDAY
Read your chore chart and do your chores

Morning Prayers

MEP/
Life of Fred
w/Mom
52 Weeks
w/Mom

Copywork

Study passage for dictation

Literature
Read for 20 minutes
Story of the English
Read for 20 minutes, 
Work on Book of Centuries
Geography Adventure
Read for 20 minutes
 Narrate 

Saint story
Narrate 

FRIDAY
Read your chore chart and do your chores

Morning Prayers


Life of Fred
w/Mom

Dictation with Mom

Guerber’s
Shakespeare
1 act per week
Narrate 



Great Moments in Catholic History
Read one “moment,” narrate 
Online science fun as directed by Mom

Here's our daily "Lunch Basket" of read-alouds and combined activities: 

BASKET  2013-14

DAY
BOOK 1
BOOK 2
BOOK 3
Book 4
MONDAY
poetry
George Washington’s World
GYM AND SWIM DAY
Afternoon/Evening:  Lego Club/Currclick
TUESDAY
12:30 pm MathArts (online class) – 8 weeks. Then Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain
Picture book
Novel

WEDNESDAY
Penrose the Mathematical Cat (Fibonacci numbers)
Famous Men of the Middle Ages
Usborne Art
Novel
4 pm:  American Girl Club/Currclick
(1x/month)
THURSDAY
Our Island Saints
Young Folks’ Picture History of Music
MASS AT NOON

FRIDAY
Nature notebook:  Fibonacci numbers & Golden Rectangle in nature. Pressings, drawings. Class blog.
novel




 So, you ask, what does this mean that we actually do? This week our days went roughly like this:  

Go to 8 a.m. Mass & Morning Prayer. 
Eat breakfast, make beds, straighten rooms. 
Begin school day with

1. Math 

a. some kind of short drill or facts work;  this week we've done multiplication copywork and an addition table

b. one exercise in the MEP Year 4 practice book

c. one chapter/lesson in Life of Fred, doing the "Your Turn to Play" exercises at the end on individual small dry-erase boards bought at Dollar Tree for this purpose. 

2. German (three days a week -- I forget how I have it on the schedule, but that's what we did this week). I'm using a book called 52 Weeks of Family German, focused on integrating German conversation into the daily life of the household (this week:  "manners words"), plus some little illustrated storybooks I found for Kindle. One of them comes with audio, so that you can read along and hear the story, in a sort of immersion thing. Then you learn vocabulary. Starting next week I'm going to integrate our German into our copywork, about which more shortly. Anyway, we're doing very short German lessons, 5-10 minutes three days a week. And I do them right after math, so we can't possibly forget to do them. 

3. English

a. The night before, I have written out copywork on the whiteboard and in each child's copywork journal, writing on every other line, so the child can copy on the line beneath my own writing. All writing is in cursive this year. 

b. Before children begin to write, we look at what's on the board. We identify parts of speech (this week:  nouns and verbs). On Wednesday we did simple subject-verb diagrams, so now we find the subject and verb, and they tell me how to diagram them on the board. We look at capitalization, punctuation, and any potential spelling pitfalls (i-before-e issues, etc.). 

c. Children write for about five minutes, currently, with nice music on. They also study one day's copywork for dictation on Friday, when I do not give more copywork, but have them write that passage from memory as I read it aloud. (As part of their study, I let them do the good old British thing of Cover-Write-Check). 


I am actually, experimentally, doing a brief weekly spelling lesson, based on this. We're looking at letters and sounds, and how letters work together to make sounds, so that we can notice things in our copywork and discuss them. Dictation, of course, is a spelling test as much as it is anything else. 

4. Reading. We're roughly following the two years of Mater Amabilis Level 2, which encompasses fourth and fifth grades, with some substitutions to accommodate books we already owned, individual reading abilities and difficulties, and so on. Both children, particularly my more reluctant 4th-grade reader, have remarked that for goodness sake this is a LOT of reading, but I think they'll get used to it. I find that I'm buddy-reading with the 4th grader right now, more than I had intended, but I'm hoping she'll get back into the swing of it soon. Anyway, our daily reading covers literature, history, geography, and science. 

5. Lunch-basket reading, as above. In a minute I'll discuss in detail what we did today before lunch. 

6. One online class. This year we've discovered CurrClick, and oh, my stars. I forget now how we stumbled on it, but immediately we did, we signed up for the free online Lego club and discovered a world of fun. You log into the online "classroom," where you can chat with other kids (publicly, so both the teacher and your attentive parent see what's going on), and then the teacher leads you in building something and, incidentally, delivers quite the geometry lesson -- this month's focus is 3-D shapes, for example. Lego club was so much fun that we signed up for American Girl Club, also free, and then registered for an actual class, MathArts, which focuses on discovering mathematical patterns in nature. This week we did Fibonacci Numbers and the Golden Rectangle;  today, to revisit those concepts and come up with some kind of journal entry about them, we watched Vi Hart -- 


-- and then tried some of the same things. Here's my rather spiky Fibonacci-engendered spiral: 


The writing is backwards because we were taking webcam pictures. No visual backwards masking here. "S'moM ralugnA laripS" does not spell "Paul is dead." I promise. 

Here's Crispina's version of the same: 



And here's a sunflower, the number of whose spirals I think I miscounted. I got 48, which isn't a Fibonacci number, so either I'm wrong, or this sunflower did not get the memo that all nature follows a beautiful golden order . . .  Anyway, later Crispina harvested all those seeds and roasted them, and now we're eating them. 



Here is a pinecone


with 5 spirals one way and 8 another. I really liked Vi's glitter glue, but we didn't have any. Must remember this spiral-counting Fibonacci thing at Christmas, when we might want to do crafty things with pinecones.

Meanwhile, my 10th grader has been abroad in the world, by which I mean that three days a week he's been getting up in the dark to make it to an 8 a.m. chemistry class and I don't see him until suppertime.  So, he's taking chemistry and German at the college, and for the rest of his studies, he's doing this.  To keep up with him and his written work, especially as I see him so relatively little, I've set up a blog (private, so I won't be sharing it here) for which he and I are both authors. I've subscribed us both to it via email, so each of us sees immediately -- well, immediately on checking email -- when the other one has written a post or a comment. The idea is for him to use this blog as a course notebook, maintaining an ongoing timeline and writing narrations of his reading. I've also provided some literary-analysis prompts and composition assignments;  all of it goes on the blog, where I can enter into conversation with it.

So, um, there you go. Home Education Year Eleven:  So far, so good.

PS:  The college girly is spending much of her time with Elizabeth Bishop, with whom and whose work she will be on intimate terms by the end of her Junior Poets semester. Her mother, who spent much of graduate school reading and writing about Elizabeth Bishop, and wishing she wrote like Elizabeth Bishop, says huzzah.

PPS:  For the benefit of Micaela's blog readers, who might wander here via her helpful linkup, I should say that although this post isn't about planning, per se, it does reflect my planning style:  loose, general, and flexible. I spent most of the summer changing my mind about books and moving blocks of time, as represented by the blocks on these schedule grids, around in my mind. Now that I have something up and running, I can continue to tweak as I go, but life can go on if I don't. Each child at home has a copy of his/her schedule, in a page protector, slipped into his/her school box (this year, a plastic "in-box" tray, big enough to hold all books and notebooks on end, not big enough I hope to collect all random junk that blows through the room), and I have the same saved in a special folder on my computer desktop. Children are directed to consult their schedules daily, but I also pull up the master copies, so I know what they're supposed to be doing. I can also change things in various blocks as I need to -- I've already axed history reading on Fridays for now, for example, to give us time to do nature study and journaling related to our MathArts class -- print out a new schedule and slip it into the page protector, and my unsuspecting scheduling victim never knows what hit him. Or her.

I also spent the summer planning out an independent study course for my 10th grader. He just came in to tell me that I should specify more clearly that he does not have to read and narrate absolutely every reading on his list for this week -- he did do it, but I'd meant it more as a pick-and-choose kind of affair. I made his day by telling him he didn't have to do all that, but I'd have made it more by telling him sooner.




5 comments:

Micaela Darr said...

Those are wonderful checklists. I'm so looking forward to my girls being a bit more independent.

We too do a lot of reading at lunchtime or just afterward because that is when my two youngest will nap. It's blissful.

Thanks for linking up, and I hope you have a wonderful year!

Sally Thomas said...

Same to you! And thanks for the linkup opportunity, and for stopping in.

Anne-Marie said...

We just made a last-minute decision to use AH1 for the 12th-grader while the 9th-grader does AH2. So I'll be around here a lot--good to see you back!

Chris said...

Oh my goodness...this is awesome! I found you when I ( finally) headed to Micaela to link up my Hs organization post yesterday and with beginning the schl year today, I'm just clicking over now.
Thank you for the oodles of info. I will def be back. We too, love Life of Fred, BTW!

Thanks and God bless


Sally Thomas said...

Thank you, Chris! And Anne-Marie, I'm really glad you're finding AH a good fit for your 9th and 12th-graders. I'm trying to find time to write some posts over there about AH2 as we work through it (example: note to self: be really clear that student does not have to read every single article in every single issue of Christian History magazine . . . ). If/when I do, I'll cross-post them here as well. I really do want to hear what works and what doesn't, how you tweak it to suit your child, etc.