Friday, March 25, 2011

Weekly Update: March 21-24, 2011

We made it through a wet and dreary week of spring by hanging out on the couches under our blankets in PJs.   The majority of the week was spent in a writer's workshop--that's a fancy term for mom working one on one with each child.   That took up a ton of time, therefore  history and science took a backseat.  Also, I had everyone work a bit more independently on other things than usual.

Writing:  After reading several threads on the Well-Trained Mind Forums about how writing and  basic skills are so important to cement before moving on to high school,  I decided to revisit our writing from last week.   E-R and I-E  started over with taking notes from an article about the Hagia Sophia.   I sat down with each one individually and read the article paragraph by paragraph.  After each paragraph we discussed what information in that paragraph answered the questions they were looking for, and they wrote those down in note form.    After we worked our way through the article taking notes, we organized our notes into outline form.   I introduced another level to the outline so now we are working with a four point outline.   Then I sat down and worked on making interesting, varied sentences with those outlines.   Student wrote a sentence on the white board.   I wrote a sentence on the board covering the same point.    Student wrote a different sentence on the board covering that same point.   We then looked at the sentences, discussed what made them interesting or not so interesting, how we could change them, or even combine parts from different sentences to come up with a good sentence.   Both I-E and E-I tend toward subject verb direct object sentences--with a subject verb direct object comma conjunction subject verb direct object thrown in for good measure.   This was a good way to help them change their sentence form up.   We didnt' do this with every sentence, but about six sentences.    Then student wrote the paper, and we revised and edited  it.   Then it was typed up--final draft done.   This process was spread out over the whole week.   

Ethan's paper compared the Magna Carta to a strike, arbitration, and general election.  I didn't need to help E with the note taking.   He had researched for his paper well.   We had to dig down deep to get his thinking going though.   He had a hard time coming up with ideas of his own.   E loved learning about the four sentence paragraph back in third grade.   He's loved the four sentence paragraph so much, he's fought me ever since about writing anything but a four sentence paragraph!    It's gotten to a point where I have to tell him exactly how many sentences must be in a paragraph, or I get a four sentence paragraph from him.    So he approaches his outlines as if he is writing a four sentence paragraph--Roman numeral I and A, B, C--,  and he writes his outlines in full sentences so he can just transfer the sentences into paragraph form.    So we  worked on writing the outline in note form--and moving beyond (you guessed it) the four sentence paragraph.    I made sure each of his paragraphs were outlined to at least three points.    It was quite difficult for him to think beyond reguriating back facts and come up with his own thoughts about the subject--which was the point of the assignment.   I must admit that towards the end I let some things slide without pushing so much.   After his outline was complete, we worked on writing sentences just like with the girls.  He is still working on writing his final draft.

English:   E's worked his way through punctuation in Rod and Staff and took his test today.   E-R and I-E are working their way through a chapter on adverbs and adjectives.    This week they covered degrees of adjectives and using good, well, and negative words.   After completing the lesson on good, well, and negative words I realized I had accidentally skipped four lessons!   Oops!   So, I suppose next week we will be going backwards in the book!

Literature:  E worked pretty quickly through the chapter on figurative language.   It was mostly review.   E-R and  
I-E started reading The Shakespeare Stealer and working in their lit guides.   

Math:  E worked on applications of real numbers and linear equations, solving problems using linear equations, functions and systems of equations, and graphing a linear inequalities.    I-E and E-R worked on averages in their Singapore books.  

History: We continued learning about the Byzantine Empire. We read about the Iconoclastic Controversy and discussed icons in our culture. We skimmed the other articles in :

so that next week we can move on our study of Native Americans.

And we added important dates from the Byzantine Empire to our timeline books.

That was our week.  It doesn't look like a lot, but I'm determined to slow down and really get the important skills down pat.    

Be sure to check out what others are doing at:



  1. Good for you on the writing. I'll be checking out the hx mag!
    Rebeccas (prev post) always cracks me up and is one of our fav poems!

  2. Sounds like a great week! Don't you love *The Well-Trained Mind*? Such a great resource!

  3. I don't know, that looks like a very busy week to me! I read a lot of those WTM forum posts too. They were great. Backing up and really working over the basic skills like that can be extremely time consuming and rather frustrating. Good for you for biting the bullet & actually doing it.


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