Thursday, January 31, 2008

Week 19 in Review

It has been so COLD! One day our in-house temperature was down to 60 almost all day. We got a lot of snow during the weekend but none recently.

Our main expedition out of the house was yesterday, when my 15 year old had his follow-up visit to the orthopedist (for a torn hamstring over the summer) and my 8 year old had his normal monthly labs. We did some shopping and that took out the better part of the day, so we didn't have any formal academics.

This is for a Year 9 and Year 6 student (just turned 15 and 12 this January) with a bit of reference to 2 Year 0/Year 1 students (developmentally delayed 8 year old and very active just -5 year old).


Our new method of doing Algebra seems to be working.

  1. First, I am trying to slow down. This is difficult for me. But if he gets a chance to percolate he is much better.
  2. Secondly I am assigning a limited time to do the work (literally, “you have to stop now because it’s been 25 minutes”).
  3. Thirdly, I am going over every problem set beforehand. I go over the first three or four and then set him to work. If he gets done I go over the next two. I am trying to slowly shift the work over to him – right now teaching him to pay attention to verbs like “simplify” and “rewrite” and “put in order”.
  4. Fourthly, I am correcting and grading after he is done rather than checking them as he goes. He likes the more objective feedback. “Like” is not the right word. He sweats it and makes negative self-evaluations, but he values it.

For Year 6 Math, I am working differently too in math too, for different reasons. I am planning a “focus” for every week based on the material in MCP math for that week – and then winging it. This works well for me and seems to be paying off for him too. We are working on multiplying decimals and he is getting the essentials and it isn’t really taking me any extra prep time.


We are using Henle Latin 1. We started up with Latin again but I realized that they have gotten rusty on some of the grammar during our hiatus. So, here are the changes:

Daily Quia – we found this Henle 1 site for Quia Quia worked for us beautifully with Latina Christiana last year so I’m glad there is a Henle site as well. They are OK on vocabulary actually but you can never have too much reinforcement and this is easy for them.

Work together – I sit them both down – this is one of Sean’s last subjects and one of Kieron’s first in the morning. Yesterday I did a practice quiz in the format suggested by the Memoria Press syllabus. You take a problem or so from each exercise. Then you note where there were problems (at least this is what I did) and work to target your review there.

When I did this practice test orally I found that both of them were rusty on the S/DO/V. So yesterday and today I worked on that. First I had them say the singular accusative for each noun in the vocabulary. Then today I had them recite all the nouns they could remember from the first declension. Then I had them decline one on paper. Then I had them make up their own sentence with proper order and stem endings. Sean had to write his while Kieron said his orally.

So I am prepared now to teach them at least 2-3 times a week (I can probably get by with assigning them written work and card drills on the other days).


Kieron has some fine motor issues and had learned to write some of the letters the “wrong” way. So I have started using Spell to Write and Read for him AND for the two little ones. So far I am having Kieron and Aidan both draw “C’s” every day as a paradigm for all the “2 o’clock” letters. Aidan is making progress! Kieron starts with the “c’s” and then moves into the other letters – d, a, g, qu, etc. He does a bit each day as a warm-up.

Then I started him on writing the phonogram “th” but found he needed some remediation with top to bottom directionality. So he spent the rest of the lesson working on that. I think we will just process through the phonograms like this – he is a good reader so obviously he knows the phonograms receptively but learning to write through practicing them will also draw us towards spelling proper lessons. He is on grade level with spelling so I am not too worried about that, it’s just a matter of writing fluency and the SWR “habit of mind”.

Meanwhile I drilled Paddy and Aidan on the phonogram cards. They were building with blocks and it was cute to see their little heads go up every time I asked them. This made it less intense for them which was good and let me be doing something while Kieron was working.

Sean and I discussed writing. He said that his top priority was correctness. He wants to be able to write something without worrying about making a fool of himself. I decided that this was quite a legitimate goal and it suits his concrete personality. And guess what method came to mind as the best way to reach this goal? Dictation, of course. I used to dictate to him back when he was in 6th grade but had let it lapse recently. So I pulled out one of his books and dictated a passage to him. I told him that this way he didn’t have to “invent” anything (that can come later and if I understand Sean’s learning style, it may actually work well for him to do those boring methodical copia exercises ). But he could find out what his “issues” were by dictation and then we could target his language lessons towards those.

Greek and Vocabulary continue for Sean, and he is acing the spelling tests I give biweekly on his vocabulary words. Plus, he didn’t make a single spelling error in the dictated passage.

Reading and Conversing across the Curriculum

Sean is progressing through Family that Overtook Christ and Plutarch’s Lives. Book of Discovery and Earth Science have correspondingly lapsed a bit. This is something to address when the other things are going smoothly. I am devoting this weekend to revising my history and science plans for the two boys.

Kieron – I am reading to him aloud from Hidden Treasure of Glaston and “Discovery of New Worlds”. But this week we did a lateral from DoNW over to Our Island Story to fill out the story of the invasion of England just a bit better. After I read to him and we talk about it, I usually assign him some supplementary reading from Core Knowledge, or the Kingfisher History Encyclopedia, or from Famous Men of the Middle Ages. This is going well. For Religion, we discuss Faith and Life – I stopped having him read the text, since it wasn’t sinking in, and instead we do a sort of Ignatian recital/disputation which is a bit more dynamic and memorable.

Practical Life, Motor Skills and Extra-Curricular

  • But Aidan and Paddy have been playing with a new creativity, and TOGETHER. This is new. Right now they are playing a complicated game with dropping marbles into a jar. Earlier they built with blocks for quite a while together. Furthermore, when Aidan hurt Paddy’s feelings this morning he came out a bit later and said spontaneously, “HEY Paddy I LOVE you!” Breakthrough moment! Ah! We were touched!
  • Brendan, Sean and Clare have been weight lifting and exercising. Clare rides the exercycle and Sean walks with Kevin to the Post Office and back (quite an endeavour pioneering through 2-3 feet of snow).
  • We have all been shoveling lots of snow off our deck.
  • Kieron has been designing comics and animations on the computer.
  • Recent Movies – High Noon, Sherlock Holmes, Tom Brown's Schooldays.
  • Games -- they got the complete Lego Star Wars Saga for their birthdays so have been spending quite a bit of time on that.

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