Since I haven't done a weekly report in forever, I decided that I should force myself to write something this week. Overall, I'm feeling unusually dissatisfied, and have been since winter break. In particular, language arts (which I've written more about below) and history are distressing me - and distracting me from most everything else. I think I'm only upset about history because I'm working on a plan for next year which is utterly unique and rather brilliant and I'm impatient to get started on it! It's really hard to focus on this year when it seems positively dull in comparison!

Religion
  • We've been shamefully lax about religion this past month, though the kids are still attending religious classes twice weekly at church. I hope to piece together a plan this weekend to get us back on track!

History
Math and Science
  • The kids read and narrated a chapter per day from Isaac Newton and Physics for Kids: His Life and Ideas with 21 Activities. As usual, there wasn't enough time to actually complete any of the activities (nor was there, quite frankly, much interest). J has been doing his own science reading as well lately, studying the topics that interest him.
  • The kids continued with daily lessons from their Singapore Math books. They're currently working on fractions and all is going blessedly well.
Language Arts

Since December, I've been feeling enormously discontented with several aspects of our entire language arts program. With D at public school again this year, and headed to an academically rigorous private high school next year, I've become increasingly aware of his weaknesses in language arts. There are deficiencies that I wish I had seen sooner, so that we could have worked on them during the brief time he was at home. This has made me especially mindful of M and J's education, since they remain home with me. What an enormous responsibility a child's education is! Silly as it may sound, I think the full weight of that has only just hit me.

In analyzing the potential "gaps" in their education, I found it helpful to first compile a list of goals. To do this, I consulted the state's curriculum content standards and the result was, quite frankly, overwhelming (here, for example, are the reading goals). Then, I decided to take a step back and listen to Susan Wise Bauer's excellent audio lectures (specifically those on writing and literary analysis). They're really such a joy to listen to, and very comforting, but at the same time, too simplistic I think.

So, I've been puzzling over all of this for awhile now and, while I still don't have a clear plan in place, I am getting closer. Nevertheless, I expect there will continue to be a slight amount of chaos until everything gets sorted out. With that in mind, here's what we did this week:
  • Daily cursive copywork from the Bible and George Washington's Rules of Civility and Decent Behaviour In Company and Conversation, part of the Time Travelers: Colonial Life unit.
  • In Voyages in English, the kids completed five lessons pertaining to limiting adjectives, demonstrative adjectives, possessive adjectives and the position of adjectives. Overall, I'm quite pleased with Voyages in English, but realized this week that while the books cover a lot of ground, there isn't nearly enough review (and thus, retention suffers). Beginning next week, I plan to resume daily or thrice-weekly review drills. We did this with Rod and Staff English and I found it fairly effective.
  • For spelling we completed four lessons plus a review lesson from Dictation Day-by-Day by Kate Van Wagenen. Misspelled words were written ten times each. Though we haven't been using the book for long, I really like it.
  • From Figuratively Speaking, the kids learned about denotation and connotation, with an emphasis on the shades of meaning a word can have. I stretched the lesson to last all week and supplemented with a few additional worksheets found online (here, here and here). 
  • We took a week off from writing/composition work this week while I assess where we're at and where we need to be. Moving forward, I know that I will continue to use Methods and Material for Composition in Intermediate and Grammar Grades by Alhambra Deming. I'm also expecting Grammar for Middle School: A Sentence-Composing Approach by Don Killgallon to arrive today, and have a few other ideas that I'm working on.
Personal Notes

I feel as though I've been going in about a hundred different directions at once these days! I recently learned that the company I work for may be closing soon and am feeling quite conflicted about that. Since high school, I've never not worked, but at the same time, after working from home for seven years, I think I would find returning to a 9 to 5 office job very difficult! So, it's not likely that I will get another job if/when my present job ends. That would, of course, free up so much more time for me, which would be wonderful. At the same time, my income pays for all of our books and fun stuff. Needless to say, I've been spending every penny on books these days - in a panic for the future!

At present I'm trying to sort out all of our lesson issues (see above), pre-read M and J's books for next year to forumulate ideas (honestly, I think I've got at least two years of books so far!), read books on teaching reading and writing, and, in the time that's left, read for pleasure...Needless to say, I fall asleep every night with a book in hand and am, overall, utterly exhausted. I just finished Kate Morton's The Forgotten Garden, which is quite simply the best novel I've read in a long time - I loved everything about it.

3 Comments:

  1. MissMOE said...
    I also have a hard time finishing this year after I start planning the next. I'm interested to hear how Killgallon's book works out for you. I've hear both good and not so good for it. Let us know what you think.
    Kristine said...
    MissMoe ~ I'm glad I'm not the only one that finds it hard to finish the year after starting planning for next year! I'm not a patient person by nature, so it's really a challenge!

    I'll be interested to see how Killgallon's book works as well. I hadn't been aware of the huge TWTM thread about it until after purchasing it. Ultimately I was convinced to get it by one of the books I'm currently reading, "Reading Like a Writer" by Francine Prose. Though the book is an argument for close reading, I can see how well it relates to Killgallon's sentence composing approach.
    Jesse, said...
    Ah...it is hard to wait. I decided that we aren't going to wait, so we are "starting anew" this month. I'm going to start the kids over in shifts, so I won't completely lose my mind...but my DD is so excited about her new studies and that makes me excited!

    I'm looking forward to Artistic Pursuits, too. It's written to the students, so that is awesome!

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