Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Raising The Bar

In my last Weekly Journal, I wrote about the need to push Grace out of her “meteorological comfort zone”.  There is great satisfaction in being able to say that you have been pursuing an independent study for two years, but when the learning plateaus, there is a need for some adult intervention to ensure that the learning moves forward.

Every morning Grace begin her day by viewing 30 minutes of The Weather Channel to see her idol, Stephanie Abrams, get updated on the local and national forecast, and view the top news stories.  She meanders downstairs when I am finishing up my morning coffee and blog updates.  Lilah generally uses this time to read quietly in bed.  

To take advantage of this window of opportunity to work with just Grace, I challenged her to read the Weather 101 book she purchased at the Smithsonian Book Store.  She chose to start on the chapter titled Severe Weather.   She read it aloud to me.  To teach her study skills, I asked her to highlight any information that is NEW to her.  In the margins, she writes key words and phrases for things that she would like to research further.  For example, one paragraph dealing with drought talked about high temperatures being a contributing factor.  She wondered about the Texas drought.  She wrote TX in the margin.  Then she wondered what the highest recorded temperature in TX is.  She wrote, US Map of Temps.  

She took her new knowledge, wonderings and research and began to make a notebook.  Her first two pages are the Recorded High Temperatures and the Recorded Low Temperatures.  I especially love that Karen @ Homeschool Girls commented on when the high temperature in Alabama was recorded.  Grace found this information and emailed it to her, along with the year and recorded low temperature as well!
Also in my last Weekly Journal, I wrote about the need to find a new audiobook.  As luck (or serendipity) would have it, I stumbled upon a book I had never noticed at the library, Dark Water Rising, which is a historical fiction account of the Galveston Texas Hurricane of 1900!  We are only three chapters into this story but we are hooked!
As we have never traveled to Texas, we have no idea what Galveston was like in that time period, although the author does an excellent job of describing a flourishing affluent port city.  Geography played a key role in this hurricane, as it did in Hurricane Katrina (a storm Grace knows a great deal about).  I did a google search for documentaries of the Galveston Hurricane and found a History Channel documentary/biography titled Isaac's Storm, which tells of Isaac Cline, a noted meteorologist who once declared that a tropical storm capable of significant damage would never impact the Galveston area but who realized through his hubris that the power of nature is something that may never ever be completely understood.  
Grace can’t wait to tell her meteorology teachers what she learned this week!  I hope to be able to finish the video and have her write an essay about Isaac Cline so that she may include it in her notebook, as well as her Book of Centuries.
This is the power of homeschooling.  This is why I love our choice.  Through a child’s interest, a multitude of topics can be covered.  In this one week she has studied: geography (she knew Houston and used her knowledge to find Galveston on the US Map, plus we discussed the impact of being only 8 feet above sea level in a hurricane), history, biography, language arts, and science.  
I love that I get caught up in her passion and swept along in the tide of learning.  This time together every day is special. I can give her a gentle push and challenge her in a way that is done through love and sharing rather than through tests and grades.  She is learning this because she wants to.  She is fueling her dreams and desires.  I raised the bar a bit and she rose to meet it.  

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