Thursday, January 10, 2013

Out With the Old, In With the New

new composition books
Even though my boys kept their computer use to a minimum during the holiday break, I decided we should have a little laid-back schooling this week to keep the extended vacation time from turning into a week of slug-like activity.

Because I wanted to continue my planning work during this week, I came up with a list that allowed the boys to work independently most of the time.  I put daily assignments on separate index cards for each subject for each boy.  As they completed their work they placed the cards into the work basket.  Most of the days, they worked quickly without my help.  I limited the subjects to reading, math, computer programming, book club project, and educational videos.  I chose most of the videos for the week with each boy being allowed to make one selection.  They also spent time playing outside in the snow, visiting the library, trying out new board games they received for Christmas, and reading their new books.

While they were occupied with learning, I started some planning for the remainder of our school year.  I picked up a few new books over the summer that I haven't incorporated into our schedule yet.  Don and Jenny Killgallon's books Sentence Composing for Elementary School and Sentence Composing for Middle School are looking like a good alternative to a more traditional method of teaching composition, especially for JT.  I am also considering using Dandy Lion's Advancing Writing Skills with JT.  As always, I have too many good choices and am struggling to choose the best one.

a few math choices
This lightly scheduled week also allowed me to test out a few new ideas with the boys.  EM just finished Singapore Math 4A prior to our break.  Before I start him on 4B for the remainder of the year, I wanted to see what he could do with Henry Borenson's Hands-On Equations Learning System.  He flew through the first several lessons, immediately understanding the concepts.  I think I will be incorporating this product into his learning.  I also pulled out a fun logic book by Mindware, Sequencers, and found that JT excels with this kind of thinking, while EM needs more help.  JT also did a free trial on ALEKS math and decided he would like to use it for the rest of his pre-algebra studies.  I will also be opening an ALEKS account for myself.   I signed up for an algebra class with Coursera as a review for my old skills before JT starts it next year.  The professor highly recommends that all students have an ALEKS account to use for the work.  So now we'll both be using ALEKS math.

technology to conquer
My final project this week will involve learning how to use my dad's telescope for our astronomy unit.  It is a Meade Polaris 114DS.  Once I know how to use it, we will be able to link it up to a screen and stargaze from inside the house!  The rest of the unit is coming together fairly well.  This will be the first science unit where the boys will be working most of the time on separate materials according to their ability level.  I have the Our Night Sky lectures DVD from The Great Courses for JT.  EM will work through a fifth grade astronomy unit.  Both will use Janice VanCleave's Constellations book.  Plus, both will put the telescope to good use throughout the rest of the school year.

I feel like things are really coming together for the upcoming months.  It's hard to believe we are already half-way through this school year.  As always, time flies when you are having fun!

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