Friday, January 29, 2010

Education Update January 25-29,2010

This is the final week of semester 1.   A-M had finals this week for all her classes except PE.   She's excited to be done and have a long weekend without any homework!   She's missed swimming all week because she's still feeling a bit under the weather.  :(    N is happy his semester is over.   He starts playing tennis next week and starts a new class schedule.   Although he's taking a light schedule at El Camino, because of his college classes he will complete 48 credits this sememster.  

History:   Ancient China stretches on for us.  The two week study I had planned has stretched into three and will continue into next week.  Everyone has completed an impressive three point outline that covers Chines history from the Shang Dynasty through the Hans Dynasty.  We've also added an invention page to our notebooks and worked on our timeline.   E-R drew a great wall of China with the layers of society embedded in the bricks.   Although, the study of China was scheduled for only two weeks, I really feel that the study of Ancient China should be as in-depth as a study of Ancient Greece or Rome.   China has survived as a nation much longer than either Greece or Rome did.   And considering we have a Chinese last name, I feel its appropiate!   My kids were alarmed that we ended our study at the Han dynasty.   Perhaps, we'll return to China this summer to study it more in-depth.

Art: This week we learned about negative space.

Language Arts:  E has completed chapter 2 of Rod and Staff which covered: compound subjects and predicates, simple and compound sentences, avoiding comma splices and run-on sentences, sentences that begin with that is or there are, combining choppy sentences, and adding variey in paragraphs.   E-R and I-E have been working through a test-prep book.   This week they covered metaphores, similies, personification, and context clues.   In spelling we continued on with Sequential Spelling.   We started narrations in Write Source.  

Swim Team:   This past weekend was the first swim meet for the kids.  They did great!   I-E placed second in the 200 freestyle relay, E-R placed third in the 100 freestyle, and E placed FIRST in the 50 breaststroke!

Science:   We started reading the Story of Science.  We read the first chapter which explained how science began with questions.   Then we each wrote five science questions we would like to answer this coming sememster.   We watched a Schlessinger DVD on fossils.   I thought it was well done, but my beloved children said that the aliens made it cheesey.   Ethan continued on with his physics.   This week he made a really neat ramp with a friction element. 

Math:   E-R and I-E concentrated on their Key to Fraction book.   E continued on with Teaching Textbooks and worked in Life of Fred also.   We started our math bulletin board this week.

French:  E and I have given up on Calvert French.   It is too cumberson for us, and the spoken component is not strong enough for my brain that has slowly jettisoned my french vocabulary over the course of the last twenty years.   I am hoping to purchase Power Speak.   A friend's son is using it with his K-12 curriculum.   After investigating this program a bit, I realized it is a new form of Power Glide.   I used Power-Glide with  A-M and N long ago before it was an online class.   In fact, I still have the workbooks and tape cassettes that made up the program!   So, I'm excited to see how it is in a more interactive format.  This week E reviewed what he had covered in Calvert and utilized Discovery Streaming to watch Tops! and Standard Deviants French.  Standard Deviants covered seasons, months, days of the week, greetings, adjectives, and how to conjegate verbs.  He also watched a video about French food!   After learning about French pastries, we all decided France would not be such a bad place to visit!

Spanish:   This week we began using Elementary Spanish on Discovery STreaming.  Senior Roberto taught us about cognates and saludos.  E-R and I-E drew comic strips using some of those saludos.  Youtube came in handy for practicing the Spanish alphabet.

Hasta luego! 

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Education Update January 18-22

Sick week

Our week was filled with various members of our family feeling sick, but life continued!

Studied hiaku

Finished reading Number the Stars

Continued studying Ancient China
focusing on Confucius and Inventions of China

E-R wrote a paper on the theory of evolution
I-E wrote about the eras of the earth
E wrote about Justinian, the emperor of Constantinople

Continued with spelling

E watched Tops Gameshow in French
this was very engaging and fun

E-R and I-E used their flashcards to review Spanish vocabulary

In art we learned about Cubism

In math, we continued with our geometry units.  

New Fact of the Week
I didn't know that the Chinese invented toilet paper and kleenex several thousnd years ago!
What new fact did you learn this week?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Where I live Wednesday

So You're Under the Impression Poinsetta's Look Like This?

Not where I live.   It's poinsetta season here.   Here are some plants from around the neighborhood.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Write Source Review

This review is in response to the many inquiries I have recieved since mentioning Write Source on Painted Lady's thread on The Well Trained Mind's Curriculum Forum.

Write Source is a language arts program published by Great Source Education Group.   This review will focus on the writing portion of the program as I have no experience with the Skillsbook, Assessment Book, or the Daily Language Workouts.   The part of the program that concentrates on writing is the Pupil Edition which is  written directly to the student.   I am writing about the 2005-2007 edition, specifically the Write Source 7 with this review.  My experience is that levels 4,5,6,and 7 follow this format with small variances.

Write Source is divided into several sections.  The first section, The Writing Process, introduces the student to the five steps of writing: prewriting, writing, revising, editing, and publishing.   It also introduces the concept of evaluating one's writing using a rubric.  Next, this section introduces the six traits of writing :  ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, and conventions.  This section is a brief introduction to these ideas as the ideas are reinforced within each form of writing.

The next section, The Forms of Writing, is the meat of the program and covers the forms of writing taught in Write Source: descriptive, narrative, expository, persuasive, response to literature, research writing, and creative writing.   Each form of writing is introduced  by way of creating a paragraph.   Next detailed instructions on following the steps of writing are given for constructing an essay.  Each form of writing focuses on a specific trait of writing, and a rubic is included in the book to allow self evalution.   After the essay comes writing across the curriculum.  This provides more practice using that form of writing in social studies, math, science, and standardized testing.

Speaking to Learn follows the section, The Forms of Writing.   This is a brief section which addresses listening in class, participating as a group, speaking in front of a group, and delivering a speech.

The fourth section, Writing to Learn, is a short and yet informative section on how to take notes and tests.

The final section, The Basic Elements of Writing, is a section that reviews parts of speech, constructing sentences, and a proofreader's marks.   This section is meant to be used as a resource when writing.  

The strength of this program are the steps of writing, the traits of writing, and the rubrics.   Each of these enable the student to know exactly step by step how to complete a well constructed piece of writing.   The rubrics allow the student to own his work.

This program is not written for the homeschooler.   It does include things, such as standarized test prep, that many homeschoolers will not wish to utilize.    The progam is full enough that without using these portions of the text most will not be able to complete the entire program in a school year.   This is a full program that can be used for more than one year's instruction.  

Creative writing is very briefly covered.   This area almost seems like an after thought thrown in at the last moment.   If creative writing is to be a focus in your writing instruction,  this program is not for you.

Write Source uses models to teach.   Each book is crammed full of examples of paragraphs, essays, stories, reports, ect written by real-life children.   This was one reason I was initially drawn to this program.   I did not know what a fourth-grader's paragraph should look like.   I didn't know what was a reasonable amount of writing to expect of my children.   Throughout the writing process the models show mistakes.   The first draft written by the model student shows the mistakes he makes along the way.   The final drafts aren't always perfect.   This may bother some people.   Also, occasionally some models may use topics that some wish to shelter from their children.   I am a Christian and have not found anything that bothers me, but I can not speak for any other Christians in that regard.  

FairProspects made a point on an excellent thread on The Well Trained Mind Forums that this program does not follow the writing suggestions for grammar students that are espoused in The Well Trained Mind.   I agree.   I would not use this program for younger children.   I think this program is wonderful for the late grammar/logic stage student, but would not use it for younger children.   I have not looked at any of the books lower than level 4, so I can not comment on the lower levels.  

Write Source is a program that I am comfortable recommending.  With its step by step teaching and many models,  it fits the bill for the moms out there who are not comfortable teaching writing.   It impowers the student to understand the writing process.   I grew up thinking that one had the talent of writing or one didn't.   I'm glad to have found a program that proves that belief wrong.

Be sure to check out tons of other reviews at Homeschool Curriculum Review Round-Up

Sunday, January 17, 2010

My Journey to Write Source

Last week on The Well Trained Mind K-8 Curriculum Board  Painted Lady started a thread Name a curriculum you use & love that you think is underappreciated .   Very interesting thread that you should check out if you homeschool.   I declared for all the world to see that I feel Write Source is an underappreciated curriculum.  In the past, I have refrained from talking about Write Source  because as a program written and marketed to the public school market  many classical homeschoolers seem to skim right over it.   So, I kept my opinion about it to myself.   I've tried a lot of the programs aimed at homeschoolers--IEW, WriteShop, Writing Strands, Sonlight, Winter Promise, Shurley, and Rod and Staff (just to name a few!!)---and while they all had their strengths, I just didn't feel they did the job for me.   The exception in the above list is Rod and Staff.   I have used Rod and Staff's writing portion of their English program for my older kids and I really think it is a great program.   It is an incremental "slow and steady" approach to writing that follows the classic model of teaching writing.   And yet, I am using Write Source with my younger kids because I have decided not to use Rod and Staff English all the way from K--8.   After my guinea pig (aka N), I decided to settle on the progression of First Language Lessons 1 and 2, Shurley English 2, 4,and 6,  Rod and Staff 6,7,and 8.   First Language Lessons include all the writing really needed for that young age.   Then comes Shurley English--great at teaching parts of speech however, horrible with writing instruction!!!  

My oldest son took a correspondance course for his 3rd or 4th grade Language Arts.   An older version of Write Source was one of the books used for the class.   I remembered how he loved his Write Source book (at the time it was called Writer's Express).   Additional, we somehow acquired Writer's Inc.-- the high school version of an older edition of Write Source.   We referred to Writer's Inc  a lot as I struggled to make all those other curriculi work for us.  

 Wanting something to hold my hand as I taught my kids to write, WriteShop fit the bill in that aspect, but I just didn't think it required enough of the student.  At the time, I had one student working on his ninth-grade year and one on her 6/7th- grade year.  I really felt I should be working towards more than developing a paragraph with that age level.   I wanted to work on papers!   I had already taught my students how to fashion a paragraph using Four Square(a story and curriculum for another day).   So, WriteShop as a curriculum really frustrated me.  

Not to long after my dismay with WriteShop began, I was purusing my Rainbow Resource catalog( I think it was the year it got really big--like a phone book---I remember because I couldn't read it in the bathtub anymore!--anyway--back to Write Source) when I happened upon this review .   I think this review in and of itself answers so many questions about thecuriculum and should be required reading for anyone thinking about buying Write Source.  

 In a really big nut shell--my journey to Write Source.

Be sure to look at my complete review of Write Source.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Education Update January 11-15, 2010

We got back into the thick of things this week.   Did pretty well with our new schedule.

A-M is in the thick of getting ready for finals and is currently reading Frankenstein.

N started his two college classes--Japanese II and Statistics.   

We continued our poetry study.  We studied rhyme, meter, and feet this week

Read several more chapters of Number the Stars.  Discussed symbols and created our own symbols.

E finished chapter 1 of his Rod and Staff English

I-E and E-R concentrated on reading comprehension

All three kids are focusing on geometry in math.   E-R and I-E practiced measuring angles.  E practiced figuring out area and perimeters.

We continued with both levels of Sequential Spelling.
Some of E's spelling words:
Some of I-E and E-R's spelling words:

Sayings we discussed this week:
Every cloud has a silver linging
Eleventh hour
Eat crow
Chip on your shoulder

We started a study of Ancient China.
Dynasties covered:
Spring and Autumn Period
Warring States Period
Qin Dynasty!
We outlined info from our history encylopedia, added to our timelines, and made maps of China during the Qin Dynasty. We used this faboulous book:

to learn about cities, architecture, some of the inventions, warriors, and weapons in Ancient China.  We also completed a project suggested in the architecture chapter.
Yurts created by E, E-R, and I-E:
First we created a foundation.

Then we framed it up.

Next came the roof support.

Some came out better than others!

Next came the outside coverings.

of course some had more fun than others

This week in art we learned about 2-D and 3-D shapes.   We made collages in the style of Matisse.

Good Week over all!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Education Update January 4-8, 2010

Back from Break

I must say that our first week back from break was pretty slow and laid back.  


UUUUGGGGGG must drag selves out of bed after spending two weeks staying up late and sleeping in every morning!!!!!!!!   Poor A-M and N were up at 5:45 to make it to Seminary.  
Note to self--next break should not be an all-out exercise in excesses of all kinds.

We met with Anne our ES(Education Specialist)
Completed two art lessons
     learned : lines indicate light, texture, and shadow
                  the basic steps involved in print-making
     And ended up with several orginial prints of our own




Next we watched an interesting video about Tom Everhart.  Mr.Everhart paints incorporating pieces of Peanuts cartoons into his paintings.   So, we drew our own pictures incorporating different cartoon characters into the pictures.

I-E practices drawing Odie and then ends up this:

E-R went Manga style.

E practiced all different characters and completed a colorful drawing of Lucy.

E started Rod and Staff English Level 5.  So far it was all review--subjects, predicates, and verbs.

We started a month long study of poetry.  
       What is poetry?
       The structure of poetry
             line, couplets, stanza, and strophes
       What is a limerick
        Rhyme schemes
 We enjoyed reading poems and writing a few of our own.  

The masterpiece that demanstrated line, couplets, stanza and strophes:
Shelly, Shelly,
Really loves jelly.

Yuppy, Yuppy,
She really loves raspberries.

Shelly Bearn
Needs to learn many things in life.

Like going to bed on time,
And not to mime.

Like not braggin about her car
She has to learn so many things
that cannot be told today.

A mouse
usually lives in a house.

When a mouse lives in a house you hear
eeeek and

Friday we all happily got up early to get on the road in rush hour traffic heading to Los Angles.   We went to see three tapings of Wheel of Fortune!   It was so informative and just plain FUN.   The set was much smaller than expected and everything ran so smoothly.  The show has been on air since 1975.   Vanna and Pat Sajak have been with the show for 27 years!    

We didn't fit everything in this week, but overall it was a good week back from a long break.