Thursday, June 7, 2012

Wrapping Up 2011-2012

I finally made it back into my classroom this week. My goal of spending a set number of hours every day working on planning for next year has not been realized as of yet, but I am making some progress. At least the summaries are finished! I also managed to put together our objectives and affidavits that must be filed with our portfolios by the end of the month. All in all, a fairly productive week. I also did a little online shopping for books for next year. Grammar workbooks for each of the boys, Edward Zaccaro's Becoming a Problem Solving Genius and Here's Looking at Euclid by Alex Bellos. I am trying to keep new purchases to a minimum for next year. I'm stocked up on most of our math, history and vocabulary. I need to take a closer look at what we might want for science, but knowing me, I probably already have most of what we will need.

This is the second year I have put together end of year summaries for each of the boys. I go subject by subject recording the textbooks they used, where they left off and detail some of the content. I started doing this because I realized even though our summer break isn't very long, it's amazing how quickly I forget where they each were at the end of the previous school year. I have changed them a bit to make them more interesting for others to read. They are divided by subject and then split up if the boys were working on different things within that subject.

JT used Vocabulary from Classical Roots Level C for his spelling and vocabulary study this year. His reading included many typical selections for his grade level and also a few that I added; like a collection of Sherlock Holmes stories. He also read through the textbook we borrowed from the school district. I feel like his study of grammar and composition were lacking this year. We jumped around a lot through a collection of books including Grammar Voyage, Calvert's 5th grade grammar text, the Harcourt Language Handbook and quite a few online activities. One of my goals for this coming year is to find a good grammar program and stick with it.

EM works right around grade level in language arts. This allows me to put the materials I borrow from our home school district to good use. He used the Harcourt spelling workbook, as well as working through their reading textbooks. In addition, he enjoyed some of the Calvert readers including Famous Legends and Mighty Men. For his grammar and composition I used a basic grammar workbook, Grammar Island and Critical Thinking Level C. He also spent a good deal of time learning how to write poetry using a workbook called Poetry Parade.

JT started the year working through Key Curriculum Press workbooks. He completed books 2 & 3 of the Fractions and the same in the Decimals series. Later in the year, we moved into having math reading to replace two days of regular math assignments per week. He also started working on more computer programming and using Khan Academy more often.

EM completed Singapore Math books 3A and 3B. To wrap up the end of the year, he did some work from a geometry activity set made by Lakeshore.

This was our year to try something new in science. We broke our year up into four large units; entomology, marine science, microscope use and cellular studies, and geology. Some weeks the boys had identical work to do and sometimes I had to split their assignments to make them more ability appropriate. We did a lot of reading and experimenting. We also went on MANY field trips this year. The new format worked so well, we plan to continue with it until JT needs to take a few more thorough high school level courses in a few years.

We spent less time using our map workbooks this year and more time reading about our country and the world. I wrote a post in October that explains in detail how we changed our focus this year.

Our study of history consisted of two days a week world history, two days American history and a seven week unit on Pennsylvania's history. We continued using Story of the World for our study of world history. We are half-way through book 2. Our American history study followed a time-line starting with the ancient Americas and finished with the Louisiana Purchase. We will start with the War of 1812 in the Fall.

This year I took some of the subjects that tend to get pushed to the edges of our school days and made unit studies out of them. Civics, health, and music were each given five weeks of coverage. PA history had seven. This really made it more manageable for me. I think it also helped the boys focus more than if we had just thrown in a day or two here and there for each of these.

Both of the boys took at least one month worth of art classes with fellow homeschoolers. Unfortunately the classes were canceled due to lack of interest. We also tried to do at least one art project per week. We continued to use Calvert's art history textbook. We have completed it now, so I will be looking for something new for next year.

Both of the boys also participated in Upward basketball as part of their physical education.

That about wraps it up. It was a really good year. The unit studies in science made me feel like I could finally offer the depth of study I had always thought should be a part of homeschooling. The unit studies for civics and health went well and will continue to be used next year. Music and art always feel like they could use more attention. Now that I have a better plan in place for the other subjects, maybe I'll finally get around to organization for those.

This year really seemed to fly by. I didn't feel like I wanted to race to the end this year. The boys wanted to keep track when we started getting close to our 180 days of schooling, but I didn't really need to know. I was just busy enjoying the ride.

I'm going to take about a month off from the blogging. Expect me back in mid-July. The boys go to Kids' College during the second week and that coincides with the gigantic annual library book sale. I'm sure I'll have a bag (or two) of books that I have found to share with you.


Anonymous said...

Growing with Grammar may be worth looking into. We tried it this year and we've been very happy with it. Next year we are adding Winning with Writing from the same publisher.


Cyber Momma said...

Thanks for the suggestion. I'll be sure to check it out. :-)

I'm also considering the Write Shop products...but they are a bit pricey.