Thursday, August 25, 2011

And They're Off!

Year number four in our journey has begun. We started the week off with a field trip to Millbrook Marsh Nature Center in State College. Considering my plan to make this our most unstructured year yet, an afternoon of casual traipsing in nature seemed like a perfect beginning.

JT has enthusiastically jumped into his new English program. I picked up copies of K12's Level 8 Literary Analysis and Composition Teacher Guide and Student Pages at a library book sale this summer. At first, I didn't think I could use them for much more than an outline for a reading course. I quickly realized I would only need to purchase copies of the reader, English skills book and the vocabulary book the course uses and I could do everything except the online portion of the course. I picked up two of the books, second hand, for pennies. The vocabulary book used in the course is the Level C Vocabulary from Classical Roots, which I already own! This course is a perfect fit for JT. There is a great deal of depth in the lessons. The reading assignments are right on target for his level of comprehension. The composition portion of the work will be challenging. Even though he has resisted composition assignments in the past, he says he is excited by the way it is presented in this method.

EM will be spending more time this year developing his writing style. When it comes to writing, he only believes in giving the vital information. He is a math-man all the way. Today we had a good discussion about expression in writing. Together we wrote up several possible topic sentences for a paragraph he was composing. I tried to show him how changing the order of the words, adding more detail and imagery would make someone want to read the rest of the paragraph. I don't know if writing in this way will ever come naturally for him, but he will at least understand why he should try.

Both of the boys are really enjoying our new way of studying science. We currently have two Monarchs in their chrysalides and one white-lined sphinx moth pupa in our classroom. Both of the links for those insects come from the website Bug Life Cycles. This site is an excellent resource for our entomology study. The vivid photographs have helped us identify more than one of our specimens. I am getting a lot out of this study...maybe more than the boys. It has been a great refresher for my rusty taxonomy skills.

The highlight of the week came early. While we were walking around the marsh, EM came up to me and said, "Mom, I'm so happy you brought us here today. I love school!"


Annie said...

Sounds like a fantastic start to the year. I am finding that I also love used K12 texts, too. I'll be curious to see how the lit goes for you.

Steph said...

What a wonderful thing to hear!! I can't think of any greater confirmation that what you're doing is working.