April 22, 2017 by Courtney
This week has been a productive one. Karis now starts school at 9:00, takes a break at noon for lunch, gets back to work at 12:30, and finishes at about 1:30/2:00. So that’s about 4- 4 1/2 hours of school work per day. She’s being challenged in new ways, and I’m thankful that she hasn’t complained too much.
We started this week reading Esperanza Rising and she hated it. She dreaded reading time (not at all like her). So, I decided to let her finish the week reading what she wanted and using the reading menu to respond to it. She has to write 3-5 sentences. She’s usually pretty good at responding to novels.
I started reading while she reads. We sit on the porch and enjoy the beautiful weather.
For science we studied Venus. We read and took notes; she answered questions, did copywork (cursive), and did a crossword with vocabulary. We were going to do the project but we needed newspaper and didn’t have any, so we will wait till we go to the store Sunday.
She is working through 5th grade spelling menus through the end of this year (we will start Spelling Workout in the fall). She seems to enjoy this. It gives her some choice.
We’re moving through this math pretty quickly so far, but it will slow down in a few lessons when long division is introduced. Like I’ve said before, I started her behind so that she could learn things well that she never really understood. So we’re moving quickly through it and will continue through the summer. The goal is to get to the next level in the fall (which may or may not happen), and it’s still a “grade level behind.” But I really want her to understand! I feel like with working through the summers she will eventually get caught up!
She’s working on prepositions still, and will be doing review next week. We have worked on prepositions for several weeks. I love Easy Grammar! LOTS of review and it digs deep!
We also use Khan Academy to teach some concepts. She loves that. It also really helps her understand on a deeper level.
We haven’t done history the past few weeks because I wanted to save it for if we brought the boys home. But since we decided not to, we will pick it back up next week.
I ordered this Usborne Encyclopedia of World History to go with it!
Now on to writing… I am so happy with what we are doing. It has been a game changer for her. She has always hated writing… she dreaded it. She struggled with coming up with anything to write. It brought on tears every time. Then I found out that she didn’t really do writing at school, which made her further behind.
We started this year trying out some units that I bought on Teachers Pay Teachers but she had tears about it immediately. Then we tried the writing that my neighbor uses (Writing with Ease), and tears again. Now, I don’t think she’s going to like everything that we do, but it’s different if she is super anxious and in tears. And since I can change things, I feel like it’s my job to help her be her best.
A few weeks ago I bought the online streaming course of Teaching with Structure and Style. It worked the first day I bought it, but it wouldn’t work anytime after. I’m not sure why. I chatted with them online and they told me that they could send me the DVD’s for the price of the online streaming course. That’s a $60 difference! And the online streaming only lasts a year; the DVD’s are forever.
I received them yesterday! It was like Christmas!
I have watched a few of the videos and so far it was just review for me (I actually watched all of the DVDs a few years ago when I taught at a private classical school, but I only used it for the first 3 out of 9 units and I forgot most of it). We are working very closely within the second unit for a while to get a good grasp of the concept.
The way it works (for unit 1-2) is you take a passage (could be fiction or non-fiction) and make a keyword outline using 3 words or less for each sentence. Numbers and symbols are free. So far she hasn’t used any numbers or symbols… just words.
She then writes the paragraph(s) from the keyword outline (unit 2 starts the writing). Next, she revises and edits. Then she publishes by typing it out. For now, we do everything together (well, she does the keyword outline by herself and she tells me what to write). Eventually the goal is to get her to do everything on her own, but the founder of the program says you can’t help too much. So I’m helping her a ton. Through this, I’m building her confidence to be able to be successful at it on her own.
For the first time ever, she says that she likes writing. We have tried almost everything out there! Writeshop, Writing with Ease, units on Teachers Pay Teachers, Classical Academic Press, and Essentials in Writing.
Pretty much everything else was too open-ended for her. She needed something to tell her what to write (to start out).
Now through the summer we will be doing units 2-4.
Then starting in September we will be using Ancient History-Based Writing Lessons. There are some units that don’t have much practice in this book so I will add various source texts to expand.
Over time, the goal is to get her to be able to write original works. Next fall she will write from a story, a one source research paragraph, writing from pictures, multi-source research paper, creative (inventive) writing, essay, and finally literary analysis. It’s a long process.
Another part of this program is that the students use “stylistic techniques.” The first ones that we are using are called “dress-ups.” Right now the dress ups that we’re using are an -ly adverb and a because clause. They are starting to get easy for her, so we will move on to another one soon.
Other techniques include using figurative language, sensory words, creative sentence openers, etc.
He teaches that everything is about process and not product. The dress-ups are to learn and practice a technical skill to become a better writer. For a long time, she will have to include all dress ups in every paragraph. Once I feel that she has them down, she can start using them as she wishes.
He also says that the writing will be awkward at first, and that’s normal until they get the skills down.
I feel like I’ve finally figured out all of the curriculum that I want to do and feel confident in my decisions. She’s thriving for the first time ever, really (it’s at least been several years). The last time I homeschooled her I was still trying to figure out curriculum. Now I’m just investing in what we’re using!