Friday, November 14, 2014

Weekly Wrap Up: November 9-15, 2014









We are rounding out our fall study of literature with Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol.  Aunt Kris will once again be reading along with us and we are excited to read this book during the holidays.  From movies to plays, there will be many extensions we can do with this book.

Lilah has always been a reader and this fall she read classics like Rabbit Hill and 100 Dresses on her own.  Grace used to find pleasure in reading, then lost that love for a long time.  I am glad I have been patient with her because I now find her reading every day.  She has her book for pleasure, her book club book and our literature selection.  It often comes down to the wire for her to finish the book club choice, but she always does.  

I count the hours spent listening to our audiobooks towards her language arts credit.  I do not for the books she reads independently.  Why?  Because listening to an audiobook is a shared learning experience.  We always listen together; Lilah, Grace and I.  We always pause, discuss, debate and resume listening.  Some books we love.  Some books we do not.  But we always remember them.  Because we share the experience, they become part of our daily life.  Passepartout is one of our all time favorites.  We joke that his loyalty is like a dog.  When we joke around, we pretend to be him.  Because of this, he is so much more real to us than if we each read the books silently in our own imagination, never discussing the subtleties of his actions, his motives and his character.  

Our reading, including book club and the choices the girls have made independently have been wonderful and our reading this fall has been a success.  I feel that great strides were made in both reading stamina and comprehension.  As we head into the next season of our year we are going to increase the difficulty of our book club books and  attempt to generate deeper conversations at our monthly meetings.



SUBJECT

Math
Lilah: Lesson 19 review of multi-digit multiplication
Grace: Associative property of multiplication.  
Science
Week #10 Earth Science - Oceanology
Language Arts
We completed Around the World in 80 Days!  An 8 hour audiobook.  We have mixed feelings about watching the movie.  We have such a strong mental image of these characters that we feel there is the possibility to be very disappointed with the casting of actors....

The girls completed a 5 paragraph essay in which they chose a character and a specific character trait.  Grace: Passepartout: Quirky  Lilah: Fix: Devious.  They had to cite specific examples from the text that support these traits.  

Vocab: Word Up!  Episode#3 Greek & Latin words for Earth (Geo and Terra)

Our next piece of literature is Dicken’s A Christmas Carol and we will be reading A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote  

Writing Group: memoir

ASL
Private lessons began this week and will last for the next 6 weeks.  The girls meet every Tuesday for an hour with their teacher, the same woman who taught the class they just completed.  They will have a new book that is an increase in difficulty.  
Social Justice
Our family hosted dinner at the homeless shelter Saturday.  
History
BBC recording of Item#4: Swimming Reindeer
Double journal entry
Read aloud #5 Clovis Spear Point 
Double Journal Entry
Riding
This was a tough week.  Their trainer is insisting on attention to details so that they can learn to jump well, and safely.  No cutting corners, focus on finding their line, correct body position, etc.  They were a bit worn out this week!  
Piano
more of the same: recital practice.
Grace purchased The Piano Guys Christmas Book and she is working on this independently.
Dog Training
Crosby attended training class this week (last week was just for humans).  He has mastered sit and down and is working on holding his down for longer periods of time.  He had playtime off leash and was a super happy puppy.  His favorite dog to romp with was a 4 month old labradoodle.
Art Journaling
Pottery has ended.  We are waiting to pick up the fired pieces from the studio.  Since this time was already blocked off, we decided to fill it with art journaling!  We have missed working in our sketchbooks and it is nice to stay connected with our friends whom we will not see much now that pottery and sign language are over.  I am thinking of having the girls do some pieces on thin canvas boards so that I can hang them.  I need some new artwork on our walls....
Life
Aunt Kris and her cousin just returned from a 10 day trip to Sicily.  Our cousin lives in Florida and since she had a 12 hour layover in Connecticut we were able to meet them for brunch Monday.  Grace shortened her volunteer time by an hour to make this possible.  

Crosby had his first grooming.

Cousins from Massachusetts visited Tuesday since they were off for Veteran’s Day.  We have not seen them in months and months so lessons were rearranged to allow time for a visit.  

Much needed haircuts on Wednesday.  Lots of damage to this hair happened this summer between chlorine and the beach.

Friday night at the trampoline jump zone with a bunch of other teens.    
 
A quote Grace really likes.

Taking a minute to admire our surroundings.

Can't wait to read this.

First private sign language lesson.

Jumping

Jumping

Training

Training

Art Journaling

Making algebra fun....sort of.




Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Finding Joy in Our Community

Karen and I love to talk about Gilmore Girls.  We are just beginning season 2 and they are almost done with the series.  One conversation we had that has really stuck with me was about how cool the festivals are in the community of Stars Hollow.  I realize Stars Hollow is a fictional town full of fictional characters, but it drove home the point that I should be celebrating more in my own community.  

Over and over in mass each week, our Priest points out that in order to move through these troubled times we must resist the world view of focusing on the negative.  We need to look to the beauty, the hope, the light.  One way I can do this is by getting off my behind and doing more to seek out the beauty, the joy and the light.  

Friday night was cold.  We were tucked inside our home sharing time with friends.  It would have been so easy to build a fire, put on pjs and call it a week.  I am really tired these days.  The evenings are hard for me.  It is like I go into hibernation mode with the time change.  It happened last year and it is happening again this year.  I shook off the desire to sit and be still and instead we bundled up and headed to the farm where the girls ride to take part in a Lion’s Club fundraiser.  



The money raised will be distributed to military families in the community who will have a loved one away for Christmas.  I remember all to well what it was like to have my brother in Afghanistan for Christmas and while we sat down to a lovely dinner of roast beef, we wondered if he was sitting down to a meal as well or if he was out in the hills of Afghanistan cold and unsafe.  



This night was the start to our holiday season.  There was face painting and card making.  There was cupcake decorating and dog toy braiding.  For the little people there were rides on Lilah’s horse Logan.  



The barn was filled with joy and the spirit of community.  The children were all happy and their smiles were contagious.  The owners of the farm welcomed everyone into their barn.  They welcomed us with hugs and took the time to talk with the girls and make sure they were enjoying themselves.  The spirit of Christmas welled up inside of us.  The hope of people gathering together to spread joy filled us.  The barn was lit up with the power of love.  The only thing that would have made the night more perfect is if Greg could have joined us.  



This was not Stars Hollow.  Nope.  This was so much better.  


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Week of November 2 - 9

On paper this looks like a slow week but in reality it was chock a block full.  Taking an afternoon and hanging out with Grammy is always worth it, especially when we can’t see her during the week.  Taking half a day to make a new friend is always worth it for giggles and smiles weigh just as heavily in our home as notebook pages and multiplication problems.

Lilah asked me recently why I list our work each week.  I do it for several reasons. 1) Every time I think of shutting down my blog,, I receive an email from some person out there who thanks me for sharing how we homeschool older children.  There are hundreds of great blogs of families educating young children via Waldorf, Classical Conversations, unschooling, or Charlotte Mason.  But there are not as many of us who keep blogging when the kids hit 7th, 8th or 9th and beyond.  Perhaps the kids don’t want their lives shared publically.  Perhaps the kids choose school.  Or perhaps homeschooling does not look as interesting without as many craft projects, field trips, coop activities, and park days.  2) Homeschooling middle school and high school is ultimately about providing your children with a education that is equivalent to one they would get if they were traditionally schooled.  You can approach that in a variety of ways, through unschooling, hybrid schooling, classical homeschooling, etc.  By listing what we do I am showing how our style of homeschooling, call it what you will, works for us.  3) I print out my tables to place in the girls’ binders.  I have a summary of every major thing we have to date this year. Lastly 4) I have relatives and friends who read my blog and this is how they keep up with my girls and what we are doing.  Because they are actively involved in their lives, they will ask specific, pointed questions about certain aspects of our unique curriculum.  Some even join in and work on some of the same things we are working on just for fun!

However, a table or a list on a weekly summary is not all that happens during the week.  Some bloggers are very self critical when a week is determined to be light on lessons.  Not everything can be quantitatively defined when homeschooling older kids.  History is blank this week and that is our favorite subject right now.  Science is blank.  We did not do vocabulary this week.  Instead we choose to spend 4 hours making a new friendship.  I have written about our need for new friendships after an almost complete loss of our close friends this summer.  This is more than necessary, this is vital.  To have a new friend that both my girls adore and a mom with whom I can easily talk to is a gift.  No history took place that day, but time was certainly not wasted.  Friday we spent the afternoon with Kim and her kids.  We have not done that in weeks.  So Grace’s essay was not typed up.  Or Monday....my mom was home.  My mom works in Manhattan with Greg.  She is never home during the week.  We spend Monday afternoon with her.  So no science got done that afternoon.  We will make it up some other time.  Perhaps this week we will do two lessons or heck, maybe three!  

When we focus only on what it looks like on paper we can be hard on ourselves.   It is hard to convey the value in the time not listed under a subject heading.  It is hard to show in words the lessons that were learned sitting at a new dining room table making conversation with adults you just met.  But valuable it is.  

I feel confident that we will achieve the goals I have set for us.  We have to really.  Now is not the time we can just push stuff aside.  Credits have to be earned.  Some weeks will look very paper heavy.  Those are good weeks when much is accomplished.  Some weeks will look light on paper.  Those are good weeks when much is accomplished.  Just lessons of a different variety.


SUBJECT

Math
Grace: Lesson 26 Associate Property.  We struggled a bit through this one.  It took several days.
Lilah: Chapter 3 Quiz = 100%
          Lesson 18
History

Language Arts

Lilah finished November’s book club book: The Music of Dolphins.  She did not love it.  She said she likes “beautiful long sentences that make me think.”  She found the style of writing too choppy.   She also read One Hundred Dresses.

Both girls worked on their Around the World Study Guide.  We also made a big push to finish the book.  We are almost there.  Fog is off the coast of Ireland!

Grace completed an essay about her experience at the kennel.  I asked her to do this to round out her credit for her internship.  Next week she will write an essay about what she has learned at her first job.

Writing group switched from poetry to memoir.  We are working with Natalie Goldberg’s book: Old Friend From Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir.

We attended a Marionette Performance of The Wizard of Oz.  

Science

ASL
The girls completed ASL I last week.  Their teacher agreed to issue them a grade and write up a summary of their class participation.  This week was a celebration of their work and a chance to converse solely in sign.  They begin 6 weeks of private lessons next week.  They will join the group class in January and continue for the third session in April.
Riding
Lilah jumped!  Grace jumped!  They love it and I love watching them.  I do have to remember to dress warmer since the sun has long set before we leave and the temperatures on top of that huge hill are much colder than at home.

I asked their trainer if she would write up a review of their progress to add to their portfolios, now that they have been riding 6 months.  She agreed.

We attended a fundraiser at the farm Friday night.  The farm hosted their local Lions Club who is raising money to give to military families whose spouses are stationed overseas.  Knowing what it is like to have a family member miss the holidays, we wanted to contribute to this worthy event.
Social Justice


Read Chapter 1 of Saints and Social Justice: A Guide to Changing the World by Brandon Vogt  From the back cover: “The value of human life.  The call to family and community.  Serving the poor.  The rights of workers.  Care for creation.  The Church has always taught certain undeniable truths that can and should affect our society.  But over the years, these teachings have been distorted, misunderstood and forgotten.  With the help of 14 saints, it’s time we reclaim Catholic social teaching and rediscover it through the lives of those who best lived it out.” 

Lilah and her friend Victoria decorated more wooden crosses for our upcoming dinner at the shelter.
Pottery
Girls completed their pottery class (12 hours).  Finished pieces will be fired and ready to pick up soon.
Piano
Sunday, Nov. 2 the girls visited another of their teacher’s student’s home for a piano get together.  It was fun to play on their new baby grand piano and spend time with other families whose kids are equally passionate about piano.  They had their lesson Tuesday and have made great progress in one week with their pieces.

Lilah expressed interest in longer lessons so we are working that into our schedule.

We purchased The Piano Guys Christmas sheet music book.
Dog Training
Crosby had week #5 of basic puppy training.  We also attended the first class at the training center we visited on Monday.  Despite a horrible interaction with a member at the facility, where we were insulted for purchasing a dog from a breeder, particularly a doodle, after speaking with the owner and receiving an apology we decided to try the first class with no obligation to continue if it is not a good fit.  The rude person we had contact with will have nothing to do with my dog and will have no interaction with my children.  I agreed to try because of their involvement with agility and Grace’s strong desire to do agility with Crosby.  Life.  Hard lessons learned every day.  

Grace and Lilah were given the opportunity to earn extra money sewing dog beds.  Each bed takes about an hour to complete and there are lots to make.....
Life
Crosby had a vet appointment Monday for his shots.   

My Mom did not have work Monday so we were able to have a late afternoon visit with her.  

Finished Season 1 of Gilmore Girls.  Have to say I do not like the cinematography of season 2.  I hope they go back to their original concept of filming the show.  

Grace volunteered Tuesday from 8-11am. I asked her boss if he would be willing to write up a review for her portfolio.  He agreed.  

Lilah used this time to bake homemade chocolate chip cookies for our new neighbors and our neighbors who just had a baby.  We took some fresh cookies to our old neighbor Henry at the assisted living center and spend a few minutes visiting with him.

We had lunch with a new friend Wednesday.  The girls had a wonderful time and we can’t wait to do it again.  It has been a very long time since we took half a day and just spend it in the company of friends.  I am thrilled that a new friendship is forming for both the girls and for me!


 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Is this hard enough?

Do children need to struggle to learn?  

Perhaps it is shocking, but I don’t think they do.  I think they need to be exposed to intellectually stimulating, creative, well written or produced, thought provoking, challenging material.  

When I was in 6th grade we moved from Massachusetts, where no foreign language was taught in elementary school to Connecticut, where Spanish began in grade 3.  I was three years behind and had to catch up quickly.  Every night my Dad would sit with me, my Dad who does not speak one word of Spanish.  I remember tears.  I remember worry.  I remember intense embarrassment when I pronounced the J as a J in class and received no correction from the teacher but a room full of laughs and snickers from my classmates.  I also remember love.  My Dad was the one who took it upon himself to teach me to read when I was 4.  I have vague memories of his flashcards and phonics.  He took it upon himself (I’m sure my Mom had lots to do with this behind the scenes) to teach me Spanish so that I would not be frustrated and embarrassed and for that I am truly grateful.  But you know what?  I never did learn Spanish.  I don’t remember my letter grade that year but if I did not get an A for effort, I was robbed.  My Dad did not recieve any accolades for his work with me either.  He did it out of love.  Looking back 30 years, I learned some lessons from this experience.  I learned perseverance.  I learned about courage.  I learned about the stupidity of a system based on rules.  Why the school could not give me a waiver until 7th grade when I could begin a language in year 1 is still a mystery to me.  But I never did learn the language that my father and I spent so many hours trying to decipher.  

This concept came to me recently as I was struggling with my continual dilemma of “is this hard enough?”  Karen and I were texting back and forth, as we usually do when we are working out an issue related to homeschooling our daughters. 

*http://www.ofthat.com/2012/12/game-design-and-zone-of-proximal.html

I texted:
 "I remember the classes I struggled with, but I did not necessarily learn in them.  I remember a theory (I forget the psychologist) who I learned about when I was in school for teaching who felt there is a space between complacency and frustration where the learning occurs.  Too easy, no learning, too hard, no learning.  So I guess it all comes down to are they learning?....and yes they are."  

The psychologist is Lev Vygotsky (1896–1934) and the term that is used for this is the ZPD (Zone of Proximal Development).  This was pulled from deep within my memory but brought to the surface by some conversations I have overheard or read online.  I have my own theory that the harder the class or course and the greater the level of frustration of the participants, the greater the bragging rights of the parents.  It seems that parents like to claim their child’s achievements whether it is an academic award they won, an athletic trophy, or record they set, and yes, how much homework they do, and how much they struggle to learn.  To me this is akin to adults sighing loudly over working a 60 hour work week or lamenting about how long their commute is or how their lives are spent in cars shuttling their children from activity to activity.  We have become so codependent on the lives of our children that we actually seek validation from their struggles.  We have forgotten the joy in living, so we try to find validation from the struggles of living.

Don’t we think it is time to change that paradigm?  I think we can do better.  I think we can do hard things, things that teach us perseverance and commitment and the value of hard work from actually being in the community and working.  Do you want to learn history?  Go to the source or find a great museum.  Do you want a strong work ethic?  Get a job, or volunteer.  Do you want to learn a language?  Find someone who speaks it and become friends.  Want to learn responsibility?  Get a pet.  Want to learn how to write?  Read great books.  Want a better vocabulary?  Listen to great books.  Want inspiration?  Spend time in nature.  Want more time?  Waste less time.  


Life does not have to be as hard as we make it.  Learning does not either.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Weekly Accomplishments October 26th - November 2nd


SUBJECT
ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Internship

First high school credit completed!
Grace has reached 120 hours in her internship (not counting hours she was paid to work).  This includes her volunteer hours, the time she spend shadowing our groomer, the time she spent learning how to groom and cut nails, time spent in dog training class, time spent watching movies and documentaries, time she spent baking homemade organic dog treats and does not include the time she spent reading as I keep a book list (7 books to date), but find it impossible to track hours spent reading. This also does not include the hours she has spent creating and updating her Instagram account and the time she spent learning how to take and edit photos.

(our academic year runs from July 1 through June 30.  Grace’s internship began July 5, 2014)
ASL CLASS COMPLETED!
Both Grace and Lilah completed what her teacher is calling ASL I but is technically ASL II for the girls.  They completed 100% of their book and both received a certificate of completion.  Their teacher will be grading them and writing a review of their performance in class.  

This class included both children and adults and families of Deaf children who need to increase their communication skills.  It is taught by a Deaf instructor who is assisted by her Deaf husband and fluent teenage daughter.  I am proud of my girls for completing this challenging class in 10 weeks.

They will receive private instruction while the class in on hiatus for the holidays until it resumes in January with an even more challenging text to learn!  
Math
Lilah: Lesson 17: Division in your head
Grace: Lesson 25: More than 2 Operations 

Language Arts
All three of us completed the book for our monthly book club: Summer of the Gypsy Moths.  Book club was held Wednesday at our house.  Our November book selection is:

Vocabulary:  Viewed lesson #2 Word Up!  Scribe and Graph - Greek and Latin for Write.  

Quotes: I have no special talent.  I am only passionately curious. ~ Albert Einstein
Live as if you were to die tomorrow.  Learn as if you were to live forever. ~ Mahatma Ghandi

Writing Group - last week focused on poetry before we switch to a 4 week memoir study.

We need to finish Around the World in 80 Days before Kris gets home from her trip to Italy.  We are 1/2 way done.  Mr. Fog has arrived in Hong Kong and will be embarking the Japan leg of his trip next.  I will be sad when this book comes to an end.  Both girls completed up to page 18 in their study guide.  
History
Read items #1, #2  and #3 in A History of the World in 100 Objects.  Listened to podcast #1 and #2.  Completed a double journal entry for each item.  Visited the Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale to view their mummy and see replicas of ancient tools discovered in Tanzania.

Girls read #3 Olduvai Handaxe independently and created their own journal entry and put a copy of the picture into their journal. We watched Nature Parks:  SERENGETI & NGORONGORO Tanzania 2007 NR http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002QWZ5NM/ref=dv_web_wtls_list_pr_2
and girls filled up the other side of their double journal entry with information they found fascinating from this 45 min documentary which took us well over and hour with all the stopping and discussing.  We also realized that season 20 of The Amazing Race visited the nature reserve and spend time with the Maasai People.  We are going to go back and rewatch this episode.
Science
Grace watched a Hurricane Sandy 2 Year Review on The Weather Channel.
Science Shepherd Week 9: Geology.  Came across theory that Man and Dinosaurs cohabited the earth and looked up verse in Job 40:15-26.  Spoke with our Priest to get his thoughts on this.
Riding
Grace competed in Fox Crossing Equestrian Center’s Benefit Show supporting breast cancer research on Sunday, October 26th.  She brought home two beautiful pink ribbons, but more importantly, she learned some important life lessons about competition, fairness and good sportsmanship.

Both girls worked on walking and trotting with no stirrups.  This is to help them work on their flaws, improve their position, and strengthen their balance. It was hard and they were sore!
Art
Worked for hours with Halloween Drawing Book by Ralph Masiello.  This drawing kept them busy for hours!  

Piano
Grace is frantically trying to finish Secrets for her recital.  This weekend she is playing with her teacher’s piano club for fun.  She brushed up on some older songs to play when they all get together.  Lilah has one song completed and is working to finish Walking on Sunshine.  The girls had an extra lesson Thursday morning for more review.

Grace played at the monthly mass which happened to include a baptism!
Life
Crosby is working on down in his training class (which technically falls under Grace’s internship, see above).  

I am reprising my former job of Religious Education Teacher, this time in 6th grade.  There are big changes taking place at my church and after the departure of two catechists, I was asked to help.  Time was spent researching curriculum and attending a meeting with our priest and other catechists who have come back to help out.

We went to Rockin Jump, a new indoor trampoline park for some PE time.  Two hours jumping, flipping and laughing make for very tired girls!

Lilah sewed herself a skirt and watched an episode of Project Runway and Threads (the kids version of this show).  I hope she find the need to improve her craft and resume sewing lessons for things like sewing a hem, installing a zipper and pleating and draping.  
Related Posts with Thumbnails