November 21, 2010

Weekly Report, Week 11

Remember these? Weekly reports? Do you like how I actually know what week of school we're on? It doesn't seem like Week 11, though. It seems more like week 92.

My biggest challenge in homeschooling right now is the fact that I am also working part-time. (I think I've said this before.) It's difficult to manage the job, the house, and the schoolwork. The upshot is that the younger children are not getting the academic attention from me that they need. Obviously, I have to fix that.

So, what did we do this week? The younger two worked in Right Start C and D, respectively. I wish I could tell you what lessons we're on, but we have this problem: when I'm at work, they grab the workbooks and do whatever pages they feel like doing. Then I come home and have to flip all around in the books to see what they've done, what lessons we SHOULD be doing, what I need to teach them, and where they're fine.

They're working very nicely through Handwriting Without Tears (Yes, Susie, can you believe it? I gave up and went back.) and their handwriting is improving. Finally.

Griffin and I did a little bit of Writing With Ease. Not a full week.

We did not do spelling.

However, they impressed me with how much vocabulary they remembered from Minimus. They are working in chapter 4 of Minimus, and have the conjugation of "sum" down nicely.

We did learn that we need to be paying more attention to the stories they are reading for Classical Studies. It is not enough to read or listen to these stories; we must review them if they're going to remember them for class.

The older children, it turns out, hadn't done math in the last week. Ahem. This week, in addition to their Latin and Greek work, they had an actual creative writing assignment from their humanities teacher. Connor dashed his off quickly, and hasn't let me see it. Aidan ... well. We have an extension for the Thanksgiving break.

We're reading Herodotus in Great Books, and we've made it up to the Battle of Marathon. I showed the boys a History Channel special on the battle. They were most impressed by the fact that the History Channel used Rome: Total War to model the battle. I'm really not sure that I'm teaching them much in this class; however, because of the class they're reading the works, comprehending, discussing, and moving forward. I keep trying to hang on to a bigger perspective. Yes, they could have a much more knowledgable teacher here and a much better class; on the other hand, the 9th graders have read the Iliad and Herodotus this year. Not excerpts. The real thing. And they understand what they're reading, and can talk about it. This must be good.

And the week was punctuated with lengthy dentist appointments, and orthodontist appointments, and D&D, and mom working, and ... I can't remember Wednesday. We did something on Wednesday. I can't remember what. And Scouts. Thank goodness fall soccer is finally over.

Whew. When did it get so busy?

Posted by lynx at 1:51 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

November 10, 2010

This, This is Good.

I love this life.

It's 9:30 in the morning. I've already been out of the house, tutoring a boy who at first was a very difficult student, but who has come around to being cooperative and fun.

On my way home, I was able to use the miracles of modern technology to listen to an excellent recording of the last concert I went to.

I walked in the door to find my children up, dressed, and fed. Two were setting up a game of Munchkin. Another asked me to help him better understand the piece of Dante he's reading.

The sky is blue and the leaves are brilliant.

This is good.

Posted by lynx at 12:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 8, 2010

New School Year!

April. Really? I haven't blogged since April? That's very sad.

But hey, it's a new school year! Okay, it's nearly halfway through a new school year. I thought I might finally share what we're doing, in this year that includes our first year of homeschooling high school.

This year my co-op has moved from enrichment to running the show. The co-op classes are academic one day classes, with homework to fill the rest of the week. This is one reason we are not currently using TOG - it just doesn't make much sense with our new format.

For his first year of high school, Connor is taking Latin, Greek, humanities (literature, history, and the arts) and Great Books (covers history, literature, rhetoric) with the co-op. And biology, sort of. We do math at home.

I'm teaching Latin, and for that we're using Lingua Latina plus Galore Park's So You Really Want to Learn Latin series. Currently the class is in Cap. 19 of Lingua Latina, and halfway through book 2 of SYR. They'll finish all three SYR books this year. We'll get through as much Lingua Latina as we get through.

I'm also teaching the Great Books class. This is a very experimental class; my main focus is on teaching the students to not be afraid of these works. We mainly read and discuss. So far we've read the Iliad, and are halfway through Herodotus' Histories. We are having a blast with these texts!

For biology, after some false starts and trial and error, we are using the plan laid out at Quarks and Quirks, complete with labs.

For 7th grade, Aidan is taking Greek (Elementary Greek II), Latin (Cambridge Unit 2), humanities and science (Rainbow Science) at the co-op, and we do math and, theoretically, writing at home. (Right now he's participating in NaNoWriMo.)

The younger boys are in 3rd and 4th grades this year - can you believe it? At co-op they have Latin (Minimus), Classical Studies (Rome), art, and science (Singapore). We do math (Right Start), handwriting, writing (Writing With Ease and CW Aesop), and spelling (All About Spelling) at home, plus we are reading through some of the Ambleside Online reading lists. (When the library and I are on speaking terms, that is.)

We're using some Ambleside Online recommendations for the older kids, too such as reading through Plutarch's Lives aloud, as a family, slowly. This is fun. Honest! Try it!

Posted by lynx at 7:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 22, 2009

...And Then The Server Died/ The Co-Op

It looks like blogging ability is back, now. O hai!

People keep asking me, "how's school going?" It's going well, thank you, but let me say that working outside the home makes things challenging. I'm not working that many hours, but still, the fact that I'm working at all seems to affect everything.

My instructional time with the kids is limited to Monday mornings, four hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and all of Wednesdays (except that's also the day we'll have to fit in most doctor/dentist/orthodontist appointments). Friday we have our all-day co-op, and while that is a full day of school it's not my school.

So it's challenging. The kids are having to learn to work more independently.

On the one hand, my lack of direct time with them means that what we're doing is not as rich or complete as before. For instance, the older kids are completing their history readings, but we now lack the time to do projects, or much in-depth discussion. (Although thanks to Tapestry of Grace the older kids always end up with some form of meaningful history discussion.)

On the other hand, our fledgeling co-op is fantastic! We co-op teachers are still learning, and finding our way, but already this is a huge benefit to us. The older two are getting weekly Latin and Greek instruction, plus drama, science and a fantastic Greek history course in which they read "Antigone" and discuss Plato. The younger two have art, spelling, baby Latin, natural history, geography, and science.

All of the kids have weekly recitation, at which we also work on singing.

We pulled all this together based solely on a bunch of moms who have never been involved with a co-op, but who had the same goals and were willing to jump in and do it. I teach the lower-level geography class, and the upper-level Latin (Lingua Latina).

Aren't you jealous?

I have fantasies of this continuing and eventually developing into a cottage school. I haven't spoken these words out loud to the other moms, though, and I don't know if they share that dream, or if they will run screaming at the thought. I also don't know if any of them read my blog. I guess I'll find out.

Posted by lynx at 5:29 PM | Comments (1)

September 14, 2009

Reading Lists

Our 2009-2010 reading lists:

Connor - 8th Grade

Aidan - 6th Grade

This is all subject to change. Nor do I expect everything on these lists to get read. Plus, the boys may be involved in a monthly book club, which would read books like Ender's Game, Childhood's End, Watership Down, etc. and where I find the selections worth it, I will modify their school reading so that they can participate in the book club. Plus, I see that we don't really have anything on the Holocaust ... and Connor would love to read biographies of the people involved in WWII.

Call it a reading list in progress :) But aren't they all?

Posted by lynx at 6:56 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 28, 2009

I'm Back!

It's been a rough year, but we're still here, and still homeschooling. This year I'm teaching 2nd, 3rd, 6th and 8th grade, and we're gearing up for the Great High School Adventure next year (eek).

And we're busy. This year we have a weekly D&D group, Lego League, Scouts for everyone, and a new co-op. Plus, I am working part-time as a tutor for Kaplan. So ... it's going to be interesting.

Our plans for this year include:

2nd and 3rd Grades
Right Start Math/Singapore Math
Writing With Ease 2
First Language Lessons
2 (2nd Grade)
Rod and Staff English 3 (3rd Grade, until I can buy FLL 3 - OR I may go with the incomparable Kathy Jo's Language Lessons Through Literature - just published! Do yourself a favor, and check this out!
History/Literature selections drawn from The Latin-Centered Curriculum

The Writing Road to Reading (co-op)
Song School Latin (co-op)
Song School Greek (co-op)
Geography (co-op)
Science/Nature/Art (co-op)

6th Grade
Latin Prep 1 (plus Cambridge Latin at co-op)
Elementary Greek 1 (co-op)
Singapore Math 5-6
Classical Writing Homer B
Tapestry of Grace Upper Grammar/Dialectic Year 3/4 (modern history 1850-present)
Literature and Classical Studies drawn from The Well-Trained Mind, TOG and LCC
Greek History (co-op)
Science (co-op)
Drama (co-op)

8th Grade
Latin Prep 2/3 (plus Lingua Latina at co-op)
Elementary Greek 2 (co-op)
Dolciani Algebra I/II (he's about 2/3 finished with algebra I)
Classical Writing Diogenes Chreia
TOG Dialectic/Rhetoric Year 3/4 (modern history 1850-present)
Literature and Classical Studies drawn from WTM, LCC, TOG
Greek History (co-op)
Drama (co-op)
Science - Science Matters (Hazen) and The Joy of Science lectures, also by Hazen, from The Teaching Company, plus experiments for a general overview of science.

I think this means we will have no time for drawing, this year, which is irritating. You can't do everything, though. We're going to be in the car a great deal, which is where I will pull out music appreciation and poetry CDs.

We've just finished week 3. So far, so good. The older two are currently reading:

Aidan - Tom Sawyer, D'Aulaire's Norse Myths, Story of the World 4
Connor - Great Expectations, The Odyssey, Abraham Lincoln's World, and This Country Of Ours

I would link more for you, but MT is not behaving, and I just want to post. something.

Posted by lynx at 4:29 PM | Comments (5)

March 6, 2009

Field Trip

We took a little field trip last Friday, to do something I never, ever thought I'd do: take part in a political protest, in front of the White House.

We attended the D.C. New American Tea Party, and had a great time! I will happily go again. Approximately 300 people were there, all energetic, all enthusiastic, and all fed up with the way the government is handling our money.

One of the piggy pork balloons

One of my favorite signs

It is true, and funny, that more conservative folks don't know how to have a good protest. We tried, but it's just not in our natures. We're not good at outraged chanting. We're outraged, yes, but screaming and chanting slogans? It's just ... not us. Or maybe it's just the more libertarian conservatives, because Republicans chanted well enough at their rallies. Either way, this Tea Party group need some work. Yes. Nevertheless, we were all having a good, outraged time, and I hope there are more. I am happy to do this. Thrilled!

And we all had a good laugh at the Wall Street Journal column covering the event (no, I'm not going to bother linking). This columnist described the gathering as a group of zombies, chanting dead slogans from the zombie Right. I ought to go back and count the number of times he used the word "zombies." If he uses the word enough times, that makes it true, right? Plus, if you want to make your point that this was an insignificant, tiny gathering of whiners, you'd do better to ignore us completely. Spending an entire column to proclaim our irrelevance doesn't quite get the job done. Who's whining?

Afterwards, we spent the rest of the afternoon at the Smithsonian. For Friday science (and history) we took in their exhibit on atomic power/bombs. To tie in with history we viewed the flag that flew at Ft. McHenry during the War of 1812, the one that Francis Scott Key was watching when he wrote "The Star-Spangled Banner." That, folks, is an amazing thing to see.

Posted by lynx at 1:02 PM | Comments (2)

February 3, 2009

So ... Whatcha Doin'?

Big things may be happening here, but you get to wait until I know if they're happening or not.

In the meantime, my science post struck a chord with many of you. The lack of decent science curricula is, I think, the single biggest curriculum problem homeschooling has. More specifically, it's the single biggest secular curriculum problem. So I will write more about it, soon.

In the meantime, here's our homeschooling update:

For science, we went to the National Zoo, and learned many things about pandas.

In history, we are doing Tapestry of Grace Year 3, Week 2: "Napoleon: The Man and His Career." Yes, yes, we are still enjoying Tapestry of Grace. Honest. But I'd like to make a note, here: TOG is meant to be an almost all-encompassing curriculum. And, frankly, using it like that gives you your best value for the money. Lately I've been encountering some virtual eye-rolling, and exhortations to not burn my kids out with overkill, by having them do TOG *and* LCC, etc.

Many new homeschoolers start off with an overabundance of zeal, trying to combine every program, every method, in an attempt to give their student that mythical education "without gaps." And then they burn out, because it can't be done. I can see why people who don't know me might look at the program I've worked out for my kids, and shake their heads.

However, every piece of curriculum is a tool, and your homeschooling lives will be much, much more relaxed and productive the faster you realize this. TOG is not all-encompassing for us. We use the parts I like, and we use it within my framework. And as such, it fits in very well with an LCC framework, because I make it do so.

Sometimes I wish we had some kind of universal internet signifier, so that people who do not know you would know to not respond to you as if you are a newbie.

(Selections marked with an asterisk are part our our Latin-Centered Curriculum (LCC) reading, or selections scheduled in Classical Writing.)

Connor's Reading (D):

Aidan's Reading (UG):