Wednesday, July 12, 2017

2017-2018 School Year

Plans for Rabbit
Rabbit is enrolled at the local community college to take English Composition 1, College Algebra, and Music Theory 1 with Lab. She will take Spanish through our co-op. This will be a totally hands off semester for me, except for any help she needs with math or English. She is also a company dancer and dancing in competitions this year for her dance studio. I hope she can keep up with it all. In the spring, she will be starting at a local university.

Plans for Pooh and Tigger
This year we are repeating 1850 to Modern Times from My Father's World. Last time through they were third graders, so they just did the 2nd/3rd grade supplement. This time a lot of the information will be new. We will not be doing the Bible memory, as the boys participate in Awana. We will read the other books under the Bible section though, as those are good. They will also be doing Apologia's physical science curriculum with labs at co-op, rather than the science in 1850 to Modern Times.

Language Arts will be looking a bit different this year. I am adding in vocabulary, using Vocabulary Cartoons. We'll just do one word a day, 4 days a week. There is a quiz in the book after every 10 words, so we'll even do the quizzes. It will probably take us 2 years to get through a book, and I do plan on continuing them through high school. I feel like the boys are lacking in vocabulary. They don't like to read as much as Rabbit and it shows in the words they choose when speaking and writing. We are doing Easy Grammar as recommended by My Father's World, and continuing in Sequential Spelling as Pooh needs more spelling. Pooh will continue in Writing With Skill 1 this year, but Tigger will be taking a middle school writing class at co-op. I think it will be very good for him.

I'm going to continue with VideoText Interactive for the boys for Algebra 1 this year. Rabbit has done really well with it, and I like the way they teach it. I did briefly consider Shoremann math, but I think I like to be more involved with math, especially with Pooh's dysgraphia. This will allow me to keep up with what they are doing and not hand off a topic completely.

Apologia's Exploring Creation with Physical Science is recommended for 8th grade, so we are doing that. Our co-op has a teacher that offer's labs to go along with this text. I've already talked to her about Pooh's dysgraphia and how to go about handling that. The teacher really loves science, so I think this will be good for the boys.

For Foreign Langauge we are going to try a Spanish curriculum I picked up for $5 from the Build Your Bundle sale (if you consider I bought 5 things for $25, it was $5). I had OfficeDepot print out 2 copies and spiral bind them. It is written as a one semester course, but we will spread over the school year. Mostly I want to expose them to it before taking Spanish at the co-op in 9th grade. I might also add a little DuoLingo to it as well.

Art and Music we'll continue as part of the 1850 to Modern Times curriculum. We usually don't do the art projects. We read the art history and technique, but the boys aren't really interested in doing the art projects, so I let it go. We've got enough on our plates already.

There are also some really good read alouds this year that the boys didn't listen to last time. I'm looking forward to reading those with the boys. The books have longer chapters, so I don't know if I'll be doing those during lunch. Hopefully I can find some audio to go with the books so I don't have to do all of the reading myself. I did manage to get audio for Sargent York last time, though I ended up reading it because the audio seemed slow with the southern drawl. I know I got Across Five Aprils audio from the library last time, and that was helpful. 

Tigger is also taking acting again at our co-op. Both boys take music lessons. And Tigger is planning on hip-hop, flag football, and basketball this next school year. Oh, and we'll be doing P.E. classes as usual. I suspect our days will be much longer. History will take more time due to outlining each chapter (but that will be good for them). And I suspect science will take longer, as the co-op teacher said part of the homework is not only writing up the lab, but watching related videos and such. And, math too. But, I like to use a timer, and when we hit a maximum time for a subject, we stop for the day.

Preparation
So, I've read through the introduction section of the teacher's manual a couple of times. I went shopping for a few items we need. I've printed the first few weeks of the Student Activity pages (bought the PDF this time) that we'll need and the timeline pieces. I cleaned out their history notebooks from last year, bought new binders, and put all the page protectors in the new binders. I've also put lesson plans for physical science, vocabulary, the Progeny Press guides we're doing this year, and Easy Grammar into my Homeschool Tracker Plus database. 

What's left? A little more organizing the bookshelves, ripping the CD's for music to my phone (because the cars no longer have CD players, and I plan on listening to the music in the car on the way to co-op), reserving books from the library (that needs to wait until closer to our start date), and finishing lesson plans to go along with our Awana program this year. We start in a month, so hopefully I can get it all done.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Successful Homeschooling

So, my oldest completed her junior year. This fall she will be taking classes at the local community college, I will graduate her in December, and in January 2018 she will start as a freshman at a local university.

What We Did in Elementary School

We have used My Father's World since she was in 3rd grade. And, we used all their recommendations except for Spelling and Writing in the elementary years. (For spelling she used All About Spelling. For Writing, we started with Writing Strands and then used Essentials in Writing for 7th and 8th - this was before My Father's World started recommending Writing with Skill 1 for 7th and 8th). Singapore math was very good for her. 

What We Did in 9th Grade

For 9th grade, we used My Father's World Ancient History and Literature, as written. I did have a friend who was willing to help me with improving and grading her writing. That was very helpful. For Math, we used Saxon Algebra 1. Science was Apologia's Biology, doing labs at a co-op. For Foreign Language we used My Father's World lesson plans for Rosetta Stone. This included writing  a report about a Spanish speaking country, watching videos with Spanish language and subtitles turned on, and reading children's books in Spanish. We also did the Logic books and she had dance classes approximately 7 hours a week. Since our local high schools have "Performing Arts" classes with credit, I gave her credit for that. She also volunteered every week at our Awana program and helped set up and tear down at church on a 2 week on, 4 week off rotation. She also did the Awana Journey program, which I used for her memorization, rather than any memorization in My Father's World Bible component.

What We Did in 10th Grade

For 10th grade, we used My Father's World World History and Literature. For Math we used Math-U-See's Geometry. Since she did Apologia's Chemistry this year, I needed to make sure the math program was not too hard. For Chemistry, we were able to take labs at our co-op, and those took her 3 to 5 hours a week to do, much of the time due to her struggles with math (related to her dyslexia). Our co-op began offering Spanish 1 classes this year, so she did that, while doing Rosetta Stone level 2. The combination really helped. She also did the Health program sold by My Father's World. I did have her read Boundaries in Dating, as I disagree with the premise behind the I Kissed Dating Goodbye book. Add in her dancing, Awana, volunteering, and church volunteering and you have a full year.

What We Did in 11th Grade

Again, we used My Father's World US History to 1877 program. She did like the BJU textbook over the Notgrass from previous years. The section quizzes and tests take it up a notch. We switched to using VideoText Interactive for Math. She has worked hard to complete all the videos. And, we did Apologia's Advanced Biology for science, as I didn't feel she could handle the math for Physics. We have a microscope, so she just did the microscope labs (no dissections, but she did those in Biology). I let her take pictures through the microscope with her phone rather than hand drawing what she saw. At co-op, she took an ACT/SAT prep class that uses John Baylor Test Prep to prepare for taking her ACT and SAT, and Spanish 2 (which was really Spanish 3 on her transcript). We dropped the Personal Finance class, as it was too much with the ACT/SAT prep, and I felt it was more important. This year she did a one week missions trip to Honduras, as well as her usual Awana, volunteering, and dance. We did have occasional tears and had to adjust schedules and expectations.

At the end of the school year, she took her ACT and SAT. She had above average scores, but not super high scores, which I expected based on her dyslexia and math challenges. I had her take the Accuplacer test at the local community college, and she placed into Freshman Composition 1 and College Algebra. Those are the only two classes she actually needs to meet the minimum admissions requirements to get into the university. So, she will be taking those, and a Music Theory 1 class with lab. 

She is actually studying to take the College Composition CLEP, and if she passes, she will take Freshman Composition 2 instead, since the target university accepts the CLEP and we have guaranteed transfer on the Composition and Math classes. She is also studying for the US History 1 CLEP, which makes sense after studying that time period. Other CLEPs are on the horizon.

What We Might Do Differently

So, now that I've done this once, I have twin boys to follow (they will be 8th graders this fall). Here are some things I might do differently the next time through.

Since the boys do Awana, and worldview is in the program, I'm seriously considering *not* doing the Bible part of the 11th grade year. We might do something like watch The Truth Project once a week just to cover it, but not have it be part of our homeschool classes. I have one boy who is more of a STEM kid, and would like to open up a slot for programming or extra science. He also is dyslexic, so I don't want to overload him. Also, the other boy likes music and acting and sports, so I want to have room in his daily schedule for him to do those things.

We've already started and completed VideoText Interactive Module A, which is pre-algebra. We will do it for our school the next 2 years. I have their Geometry program, too.

I want to do more PSAT/SAT/ACT prep earlier. Maybe just a little each week using a book or something. So again, I need to make sure we don't overload. Mostly this is because the schools my boys are thinking of attending will cost more than the one my oldest is attending and will need scholarships. Good test scores help with scholarships.


I'm also thinking of doing the Accuplacer at the end of 10th grade. If they place into Freshman Composition 1, then we will direct more of our English time onto CLEP preparation. I am also considering how to use Writing with Skill 2 (and maybe 3) in conjunction with the My Father's World writing. I really like the way Writing with Skill breaks things down.

I'm sure there are other ideas tumbling around in my head, but these will get me started.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Preparing for a School Year Using MFW Curriculum

So, one of the common questions I see on the Facebook My Father's World group is: How do you prepare for Exploring Countries and Cultures? (Or whichever year the person is using.)

I've never used MFW's Kindergarten curriculum, so I really can't advise for that one, but I'm pretty sure detailed instructions are in the front of the teacher's manual.

So, here is how I prepare each school year.

First, I just briefly flip through all the books that come with the curriculum just to be a little familiar with them. Sometimes the books are Usborne books and have lots of text or columns of information or sidebars and I just want to be familiar with how the books are laid out.

Next, I get a pencil, notebook, small sticky notes, the teacher's manual, and all the books, and find a quiet corner, or spread them out on the coffee table. Do whatever works. If you have littles, you may need to wait until nap time, and spread this next part over several sessions.

I read through the front introduction section, underlining anything that jumps out at me as important. I might make a little note or put an asterisk there. If I really don't want to write in that particular TM, then I'll use a sticky note. I use the notebook to make lists of things I need to do to prepare, supplies, etc. So, if I am reading the Rome to the Reformation TM, and I see that I need certain page from The Body Book copied, I'll make a box and then write "Make Body Book copies." (I like having all my copies done at the beginning of the year. You may not feel like you need to do it in advance. Only write what you need to do based on how you like to prepare.)

I also think about what supplies I already have, and then write down any other supplies I need based on the list in the front of the TM. Some years, like Explorers to 1850, it suggests spiral bound 4x6 cards for the memory work. That's something I probably wouldn't have on hand, so I write it down and then watch prices in the Sunday sale ads. 

I usually read through the introduction section more than once, trying to become really familiar with it. I want to remember when we use narration and when we use copywork and dictation and such, so reading through it several times helps me. (One big tip I have is to read through that introduction section about once every 8-12 weeks, as a reminder. I often forget things.)

Next, I go to Week 1 in the TM and look over the grid and see how it is laid out. I pull out all the books that are used that week, and as I go down each day, I find the book, read what the TM tells me to read, look at the student sheets to make sure I understand which one and what the kids are suppose to do. I might write "narrate" in each Bible and History box on the grid for the first two weeks to remind myself to do that when we actually start. Then I read all the Notes after the grid to make sure I didn't miss any important information. The grid will say "see notes" if there is information there. 

If all the books aren't used the first week, I will go through the weeks until I find a week where it is used, and then read the Notes about the book and read the pages assigned for that day. The idea is to feel comfortable using the books and TM together.

I might be able to do this process in one day, or I might spread it out over several days. Then, I go ahead and read the grid and Notes for every week of the year. Yep, every one. I have that notebook handy and will write things like, "Week 7, Make boats - supplies needed. . ." This really helps me get an overall view of the year. (The second time through a year, I don't go into nearly as much detail, as I'm already familiar with the books and topics.)

Finally, I read through that introduction section again. Just trying to cement all those little clues in my mind.

After that, I have my list in my notebook to work with. I put the student sheets for each student in a separate hanging file folder. We pull them out of the folder, complete them, and then they go into the appropriate notebook in a page protector. Two sheets per page protector, one facing forward, one back, unless the sheet has a backside. It took a little bit of training to teach my kids how to do the sheets in the page protector, but now at the end of the year, I can take the sheets out and have them bound at my favorite office supply store. Then I go through my checklist and do all the prep work from that.

Preparing a high school year is similar. I read through the Daily Lesson Plans, get familiar with the books my daughter will be using, and try to get a feel for the flow of the year. Then, I go over it with my daughter so she and I are on the same page. I do use Homeschool Tracker Plus to track assignments and grades, so that is a big part of my preparation for high school: entering the assignments into HST+. 

So, that's is basically how I prepare using a MFW TM. For 1st grade, I did laminate things that were used frequently: the reading chart, the math place value cards, and a few other things. For that year, I also made several skip counting charts, calendars, and other daily repetitive things and put them in a notebook for each boy, and then would go through them with each boy separately. And, for first grade I added in memorizing home phone, address, and their birthday.


Enjoy your year in My Father's World!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Finding Your Kids' Interests

As I now have a child halfway through highschool, and Tigger and Pooh are starting junior high this fall, I thought I might change the direction of this blog. I know. I haven't been that good about keeping it up anyway, so might as well change course.

This fall, my oldest (Rabbit) will be doing My Father's World U.S. History to 1877. I've read through it, and it looks like a good, challenging year. It also looks like it is going to take a good deal more of my time - especially teaching Thinking Like a Christian. It looks like great material, but with our weekly co-op, we may have to do the parent-led teaching on Saturdays. She is also doing Spanish 3 and Apologia's Anatomy and Physiology for science. We're going to try VideoText for math. I think she needs to relearn those foundational algebra concepts. 

Tigger and Pooh will be doing My Father's World Explorers to 1850. The last time through the boys were second graders, and only did the second grade supplement. It will be interesting to see how they like it. They are also doing Apologia's General Science (they will be doing the labs at our co-op), Saxon 8/7 for math, and My Father's World seventh grade English recommendations. We have already started Saxon 8/7 this summer, to get a head start.

One of the things about heading into junior high and high school is to start focusing your kids on their interests. Seeing where God might be leading them. Rabbit is pretty easy. She loves dance and music and teaching. She is thinking about perhaps a Music Education degree, some how tied into dance. We'll figure it out. 

Pooh is pretty easy. He's very much the engineer. So, we have gotten him Mindstorm Lego kits and he's learned to build cars and program the remote control. I also plan on adding in some programming somewhere. (Finding the time is the challenge.) His dream is to eventually run a car company - he wants to design and build cars. 

Tigger has been more challenging. He can build things with Legos, but it's not his number one favorite. Mostly, he has been into sports - baseball, flag football, hip hop, and basketball. But, he is also very small, and though he wants to be a professional basketball player, i'm not sure he will be big enough. Two things about Tigger caught my attention: one is that he likes doing things that get other people's attention - dressing super nice, cool hair cut, asks if he can get his ears pierced; the other is he perseveres. I also noticed he was writing lyrics to "rap" songs and other things. Then, he wrote up an "article" on a NBA team, on his own. So, I set up a blog for him. This allows him to write, and when people read it, he gets the attention. It's all about his thoughts on the NBA. I also saw an ad in our newspaper for a "Journalism Day" - they learn how to interview, photograph, etc. So, I've signed him up for that. The nice thing is, if he does this one day camp, he may decide he loves it or hates it. If he hates it, we can move on to something else. But, I'm thinking we're on the right track for his future.

Let me just say this: I'm not really worried about their futures. God has a plan for their lives. He will guide them, and use their experiences (or lack thereof) for their futures. I will give them the best foundation I can, but God's got this. 

So,that's where we're heading this next school year. I'll try to keep posting about different things. How our days are going, our co-op, and then maybe thoughts on more "general" homeschooling topics.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

CTG: Week 4

The boys got tired of the shofar every day and the "Awake you that are sleepy..." reading. But we did it. We didn't fast at the end, but we did read about Yom Kippur in our Jewish Holidays book. The boys already know the books of the Old Testament from AWANA, but we sang our Old Testament song each day for fun.

The boys did fine on their first Vocabulary quiz. So far they have had no trouble remembering the meanings of the roots, and they've remember all the words we learned from the back of the cards. I've been making trees to put up on the wall with the roots and then the words on the branches. I don't know that the boys are really looking at those, but they're up.

Math is going pretty well. The boys like alternating Life of Fred and Singapore. I think it gives a good mix of activities. Life of Fred really makes them think, too.

In History we covered the unification of Egypt. Here are the crowns we made:


Then we just nested them together for the unification:


After we were done, I taped them on the wall above the timeline as a big reminder:


Science is the study of pyramids right now. We couldn't get sticky-tac to work to hold our straws together. We ended up using tape on one, and clay for the other. And of course, the boys had to build one using Legos:


Pooh wasn't satisfied with a four-sided pyramid, so he spent some time finding pieces that would allow him to build a three-sided pyramid:


The boys are taking an art class at the co-op we're going to, so that means moving stuff around on the schedule. We are listening to the music scheduled in the car on the way to co-op. And then we move the God and the History of Art to one of the other days. Foreign Language is moved too.

All in all, not a bad week. We didn't make the reed boat. And we didn't go all out on the feast, but that's okay. I will say they are asking for Science in the Beginning already. They really like that book.

AHL: Week 9

Well, school is just flying by. This week's highlights:

Rabbit finished the Fallacy Detective. We went through a couple of magazines and identified what kind of propaganda they were using. It was really interesting going through a homeschool magazine and deciding what propaganda they were using. She is beginning to see that you need to be careful what you believe in the ads. And, when we watched the football game, we talked about it with the commercials. A good activity.

She is doing well in the Ancient Literature Supplement. Sometimes her answers are too vague or short, so I have to go back and have her tell me what she meant or more details. She seems to be keeping up just fine.

I think Spanish is her easiest subject. For her Real Life Activity this week she watched a Veggie Tales video with Spanish subtitles and took notes on a few word meanings that she could figure out. She is also still working through the verb workbook.

She is flying through All About Spelling level 7. We are already on step 10. She really tries to have fun with it. She really likes the new Writing Station Prompt Generator. She pulls out strips of paper that make a complete sentence, and then try to use the vocabulary words for that step in writing. So, she pulls out something like, "Write a post-card to a master candlestick maker who is trapped on a deserted island." She does great with these creative writing prompts. (And, when Writing Strands gets old for my boys, we use these for writing, too. Lots of fun!)

I am still way behind on the Old Testament Challenge. Rabbit is keeping up. And, she is being thoughtful in her answers. I really appreciate the effort she puts into it.

Our co-op started this week for Rabbit's biology labs. That has really forced us to adjust our days. She is going to have to do some school on the weekends to stay on top of things. It is about a 1/2 hour trip to the location, then 1 1/2 hours of class, and then a 1/2 hour home. She reads in the car. And then she only does Spanish, Logic, AWANA, Spelling, and Piano (plus 2 hours of dance classes in the evening) the rest of that day. And she can use the time to catch up on any other work. This is why we started so early with AHL - so she doesn't have to do AHL on co-op days.

Math is still her nemesis. But, she plows on. Saxon 8/7 was good preparation for Saxon Algebra 1. A lot of stuff was already covered. Sometimes I think the Algebra 1 explanations are more complicated - like some of the ratio problems. Rabbit still solves those the Saxon 8/7 way (which I am fine with). But then, there are explanations in the Algebra 1 book that make so much more sense than the 8/7 book (like range, mode, median, average).

Days are long. Sometimes we don't finish until 4:00pm or so. But, she is doing well.

Friday, August 22, 2014

CTG: Week 3; AHL Week 8

Okay, so with the boys liking pulling the paper strips out of the jar, I thought I'd make something a little more durable. I wrote all their subjects on craft sticks. (On the back side of some of them is what the other one is doing if it is a one-on-one subject.) I also lined the jar with black construction paper so they can't see the writing on the sticks. I only put in the subjects in the jar that are to be done that day.



At the beginning of the week, when I see a feast day coming up, I always get a bit nervous. But, I am determined not to let these feasts get the best of me. These are to glorify God, not stress me out.

Monday really seemed to be a long day. Then Tuesday I figured it out: we had a bunch of writing on Monday. There was a notebooking page in History, a notebooking page in Science, and writing out their Vocabulary. Tigger writes most of his stuff, but sometimes I scribe for him. And then I scribe for Pooh for most everything, so that made it take long. Plus there was the map work. 

Tuesday went much quicker, and the boys really liked the subjects on craft sticks. They worked pretty diligently and got done.

The rest of the week went smoothly. I took pictures of our timelines. Here are the ones on cardstock that we fold up and put in the front pocket of their history binders:




And then here is the start of the timeline on the wall. I am reusing our timeline figures from the first time, so some of the images are different than what is in the student packet.


Friday night we did our Rosh Hashanah feast. It was lovely. Here is our table setting:


The boys made the crown and we made 4 shofar horns - one for me, and one for each of the kids. We just put the one on the table. I just used packing paper because I didn't have a grocery bag to use. The ladder on the bread is a Lego ladder from the boys. Dad has been great this year in reading his parts for the feasts. It is really neat how they all point us to Christ. I missed lighting the candles, but that was okay because the crown kept falling off. The boys wouldn't try the apples dipped in honey, but the rest of us did. And the loaf of bread is just from our local Kroger store - it is called a sheepherder's loaf. It was very tasty.

With AHL, I started the week behind in the Old Testament Challenge and ended behind. But, I love how what we're doing in AHL can tie into CTG.  We're in Leviticus where Aaron's sons are killed for offering a foreign fire to the Lord. And the note in my study Bible compares it to Ananias and Saphira being killed for lying about the money they offered. Anyway, the conclusion of the note said that the people needed to know that the community existed for God, not vice versa. And that got me to thinking about the feasts. I often look at them as burdens. But God did not intend for them to be looked on that way. They are to bring Him glory. To remind us that we exist for Him. And it reminded me of a line from The West Wing (a TV show about the president of the U.S.): "I serve at the pleasure of the President." Just change "President" to Lord, God, Jesus Christ, or Holy Spirit and I think that is to be our attitude. Now, I'm not saying I have to do 100% of what the TM prescribes to do for these feasts, but I do think I need to have an attitude check and make sure I'm serving at the pleasure of God.

Adding in Biology made Monday go until 5:00pm. Whew, a little long. It has made for very long days all this week.

Rabbit is getting the literature subjects, but I've told her she needs to give more detailed answers in the Ancient History and Literature Supplement. Sometimes she just barely describes a person or situation instead of naming it. 

We've been going over her work daily. I skim through the books and ask questions of things I see, and then go over her answers to questions if she has any. She's doing pretty well.