Thursday, October 27, 2011

Quote of the Day

Random made-up quote of the day by Shannon:
I was giving her spelling test, and used the sentence, "Whatever floats your boat..."

She immediately hit back with, "Whatever tickles your peach!"

I laughed, and said I'd never heard that phrase before. She laughed as well and said she hadn't either, she had no idea why she said it. I don't know why I found it so funny, guess you had to be there.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Technology woes

It figures, doesn't it, that as soon as I make the mental commitment to blog more that my laptop would break down? Indeed, my hard drive on my main laptop has crashed. I have a friend trying to recover all that is saveable, but I'm most likely to end up reformatting or replacing the drive there. Ah, well. There go all my bookmarks, I've saved a LOT over the years.

During this, I had a really bad run of technology luck. I was sans computer for several days, but at least I could read email on my phone. I even set up my "other" account, the one that I use for more official things like girl scouts and just about anything else that really doesn't need to know I use "helltygr" as an alias. ;) But then, of course, my phone suddenly decided to stop syncing my email. I can browse the internet, use the Facebook app, read the news, but no more email. Then Sean brings his laptop home for me to use, and I crashed it. Luckily, it wasn't really crashed but out of battery due to miscommunication on where to plug it in, so that crisis was averted, but I thought it was serious. So I'm currently using the backup computer from his work. It's only about 7 or 8 years old, running Windows XP, and faster than my "real" laptop. I should have clued in months ago how slowly my computer was running. Ah, well!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

So, what are we doing?

Shannon's last homeschool unit was on "Little House in the Big Woods" by Laura Ingalls Wilder. It was fun, she liked it more than the last time we attempted to read that book a year or so ago. The corresponding science unit was fun as well, if poorly timed. We studied dirt, plants, trees, photosynthesis, pollination, and all kinds of other planty stuff we could stuff into three weeks. fThe biggest drawback to that unit was half of the experiments involve "Plant this in a cup and watch it for the next 3 weeks. Have the student write in their journal what happens." Um, the first problem with that is that.... have you ever tried to buy a small packet of grass seed or veggie seeds in September? Nearly can't be done (conveniently) ... I'm willing to go to about 2-3 places to try but after that, the experiment is abandoned. The second problem is that by the time anything interesting actually happens, we've moved on. Slow experiments do not catch a 3rd grader's attention. Ah well.

This week we're starting "The Sign of the Beaver" by Elizabeth George Speare, with a corresponding unit of social studies on Native Americans. I'm really looking forward to this unit, as it gives us an excuse to go to Tillicum Village next weekend. :) We have a basic overview of 3 or 4 basic cultures of Native American life in different parts of the continent. Sadly, the prepackaged curriculum does not spend a closeup on Pacific Northwest cultures, though the book we're starting with does. This is the joy of homeschooling, I get to do my own research and see what supplemental materials I can find for local flair. Yesterday's introduction to the topic she was most fascinated by Southwest tribes... the clay houses of the Hopi with ladders and no doors particularly fired Shannon's imagination.

So far, I'm still loving this literature-based curriculum. As much as I'm normally in the "you can't tell me what to do!" structure camp, I really need daily lesson plans spelled out for me. I find it's all too easy to slack off when we don't have a specific list of things we want to do. We're writing (well, I say "we" loosely) a lot more than last year, she has a book journal where she answers questions independently. Each unit I add just a little more structure to how she performs a task, so I haven't gone straight from no writing to formal book reports.

We had a bit of a breakdown on spelling a couple of weeks ago. I've been using the AVKO Sequential Spelling units where, instead of providing the student with a list of words to study for a week, you actually "test" them every single day on a group of related words. The next day you begin to add suffixes to the words. So you might start Monday with steam, gleam; Tuesday is steams, gleams; Wednesday is steamed, gleamed; and Thursday is steaming, gleaming. You give the word, they write the word, they spell it orally for you, you make corrections if necessary right away. Then move on to the next word. 20 words per day with variations. I love it because it teaches patterns instinctively instead of teaching "rules," you make corrections along the way, it appeals to "Audio, visual, kinesthetic, and oral" styles of learning. Unfortunately, what works for the teacher does not always work for the student. Shannon cannot STAND to get things wrong, ever. Whenever she made a mistake, she would get very angry, no matter how many times I explained that this wasn't a "test" and she was getting it wrong.... this was a necessary part of learning, it's better to try and fail than to never make the attempt. But, after a few weeks this year (plus much of last year) ending in tears, I decided that a more traditional "study these 15 words for a week" approach would have to be tried. We'll see how this goes.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Back in the saddle!

So hi there again!!! Curious if I have any subscribed readers at all... though it really doesn't matter.

Second post this year I see. Ah, well. I'm going to try to write more, such as while Shannon's doing her reading and writing. It's a good habit for me to get into, plus Shannon and I have a deal that I won't play computer games (Bejeweled, Pogo, things like that) while she is in "school" because it's not fair. I agreed readily, but if I do housework while she's trying to have quiet time reading or writing in her journal, I've noticed it's very distracting to her... so I need a project that keeps me in my seat as well. Then I remembered the blog!!

Later, I'll post pictures of my new office. The office in this house has been used as a storage room for the past... well, 5 years, really. It was an office, too, but I had a path to a desk and the rest was unusable. So, this August and September I emptied the room thoroughly, sold off the desks and bookcases, and spent a ton of money at IKEA getting new desks, wall cabinets, and a bookshelf. I still have a little more junk to get rid of (about 4 more boxes to go through one item at a time), but I think the final product is going to be SO worth every penny, an office and functional school room. Shannon picked out her own desk instead of having a fully matching desk to my own. I think it looks great, and she definitely has "pride of ownership" over her half of the room.