Wednesday, September 15, 2010

More help for planning & working with EverNote~

I admit I had gotten a bit sidetracked this afternoon after our studies. I had learned about this new tool from over at an email loop I am on for science.
You might recall I had been talking about Microsoft OneNote and how wonderful it is and for us it is just a perfect fit for my teen to use for all of his school work. We use it for all his writing, including written narrations~ we add graphs, cite web pages etc.. it is wonderful.

On two of my home computers we are not able to use OneNote since we do not have the software. I really would have like to be able to have OneNote on my other two computers to collaborate their lessons and allow my teen to not have to work only on his laptop but we could not afford at this time to purchase yet more software.
I just recently heard about EverNote, the poster mentioned that this can be used for MAC users as well as Windows so I was very interested. I took this afternoon to play around and check it out.

I ended up downloading it. There is a free version~ and tried adding a few things on here for my much younger learner to see if it might work for him since he uses the desktop we have in our den very often.

I love this! It is quite simple to use it doesn't have as many bells and whistles as OneNote has but you are able to do primarily the same things. You can create Notebooks (without tabs however) for things; cut and paste links, graphics, videos ~ and even use a notebook page to draw freehand and make designs for artwork. It can be downloaded and used on all computers since you create a user name and password to sign in.
I can certainly see my younger son using this and as he become more accustomed he can then begin using OneNote OR just stay right with EverNote and I may look at getting the Premium if he does really like it.

I hope you have a chance to check it out~

A teens day~ Working through our Studies

I thought about sharing how our days have been looking lately with our new schedule and new lessons so far this year. It has been going increasingly well and so  I thought I might share what is working,  in order to encourage and give others ideas on how they might be able to tweak and explore new ways of doing things for their teen/middle school aged learner.

We start our mornings at whatever time he wakes up. I don't set alarms or have a real rigid schedule because I think at this age my son (now 14) needs as much sleep as he can get. I have seen some growth spurts over this summer and now another coming again for this Fall. ( I can tell because when he eats a TON and is not sleeping well this usually indicates that his body is preparing for a growth spurt) Often everyone thinks that when children are eating a ton they are growing it is just the opposite. When they eat very little ( like a bird or much less than normal) and are very tired and sleep much more they are actually doing their growing at this time.

Anyway getting off track here~ we don't have an exact time with when we start school. I tried to follow a schedule thinking an external structure would help but it didn't seem to matter with my son. (I do realize this helps with other children, it just did not with mine).

Over breakfast we have our morning "chat" or "morning meeting"~ this is where we take out his checklist of things and just read over what is up for today~ it helps bring things together and answer any questions he may have on something.

I let him start off his day with whichever subject he wishes to start of with actually. I feel at this point at his age and development he needs to find his own way to how he learns best. We have talked at certain points about focus and attention and how starting off and doing the harder things for him first might be best.  At this point he really doesn't look at things as harder or not, he explains that some he would want to do first since they might be the most "boring" so he sometimes will choose to do those first. Regardless I think this kind of problem solving is helpful in more than just learning your studies.

Today he started off with his Literature reading. This is really the first year I am requiring him to read good, classic literature where before I would read it aloud to him now he is reading this on his own. He is right now reading The Swiss Family Robinson and through that he is doing dictation exercises from passages from the book and also learning grammar and word usage through the dictation exercises.  ( explanation of how I do dictation exercises can be found here

I collaborate Spelling Work into these Dictation exercises along with some work with word meaning ~ I found this to be much more effective since all his spelling/vocabulary programs we had tried he would get 100 on and it was just busywork and seemingly a waste of time.
I found he needed a more individualized program whereby he needed practice in writing words "he" needed to work on, not from a list that someone else made up for him to study. This just makes much more sense and he is enjoying his spelling much more.

I also work off of the Learning Language Arts through Literature Teachers Manual with him I use it as my "guide" to incorporate specific LA skills I may not have thought about for example today we worked on changing singular nouns to plural nouns and what the rule is for doing so when a word has an "fe" or "f" in it.

We worked a great deal this morning with a re-introducing semi-colons and commas. These were introduced again since our dictation passage had these both in the passage. Tomorrow I plan to work again with looking back at the ideas behind semi-colon and commas and plan to use these resources to help me~


I have learned a few tricks along the way with my teen. I used to ask him to read a number of pages, for example I would write down "read two chapters or one chapter of ...." I found that this was fine, but noticed it wasn't exactly challenging my twice exceptional kiddo :) I changed this and now I require a time period for reading instead I now write down for example "read 30 minutes from Swiss Family Robinson".( We are starting off at 30 minutes and I will be adding on time as we go along very slowly. So that eventually he is reading a solid 60 - 90 minutes. )
After he finished his reading he then decided to jump onto his Grammar Revolution. ( this is the new grammar program I am using) He absolutely loves it and continues to tell me as he is working through it.

[I should mention briefly before going further that "before" he begins his new lesson with GR, we go over again what he learned yesterday and how we do this, is he pulls out his OneNote Grammar Section and explains back to me what the lesson was about, what he learned and any questions he might have. Then he moves onto the new lesson.] 
At this point is working on part of speech per day~ he was on Adjectives today ( as he mentioned EASY) where yesterday he worked on Verbs ( this introduced not just "verbs" but also included "kinds of verbs" - linking and helping and the difference between them) He filled in his workbook page from the printed out E Book and then (to reinforce) then went back to his OneNote, dated the entry and explained what information he had learned about Verbs and gave examples.

This may seem quite redundant to some, but I have found with my son that when learning information he processes the new skill or information better when he can go back and jot down what he learned about it. ( I suppose many would call this written narration, either way this works for us) This kind of exercise helps to internalize the information.  He has been very successful so far in really now understanding the concepts in the parts of speech through this kind of instruction.

Another comment I would like to make is that this program doesn't cover just the basics. It is more comprehensive and I remember one of my readers "Cindy" asked if I was concerned about him getting overwhelmed. I think this is an excellent question and I would like to address that more formally here for a moment because grammar ( because it is so abstract ) can be quite overwhelming. I had seen this with my son in other programs we had tried and that had failed us.

This program seems to make much more logical sense to my son. He is as I said, "twice exceptional" and is very right brained in his learning so he tends to need to be able to see the "whole picture" ~ many grammar programs will only work on "parts" of a particular part of speech. (For example with verbs, many will show that verbs show action ~ my son would always question this since he would see other words in a sentence ie., like the linking or helping verbs to be a part of that "verb family". He would get very confused and frustrated. By seeing the "whole picture " when it comes to something like this really is very beneficial to him.
It doesn't mean we may have to go over it again and review certain things but for him this answers many "unanswered" questions.  (I hope this made sense)

With Grammar out of the way he then started his Math which is now working through Teaching Textbooks. This usually takes him about on average 20 minutes or so.

A short break to check his emails and finish straightening his room, check the news and then Mum calls him back for more studies :)

Typing practice and then possibly lunch~

Weekly/Daily Block Schedule Checklist ( on right you can see where I add notes for assignments that might change)
After lunch, since we work on a block schedule (shown here "Weekly Schedule/CM) today was History~ so he worked further in his Oak Meadow program learning about Ancient Persia. ( I use this program probably very different than most people I am sure) He reads a section of a lesson and then in his OneNote does his written narration on (again) what he learned.
I also supplement quite a bit on this ~ since OM lessons are short overviews of topics but that is quite fine we use them as a jumping off point and move forward from there with videos ( I have these listed according to lesson for him to use) and good living books among other projects and crafts to do if I find something really neat to do. OM usually has wonderful craft things to do for example we are going to be doing marbling I think very soon so he will love that.

In an effort to collaborate his learning a bit more for a more deeper meaning I also incorporate Art and/or Music Study into his History. The other day he researched Ancient Persian Art and had learned about the different kinds of art they had done and had taken graphic images and added them to his OneNote narrations. ( all the time learning even more skills at the same time, - ie., computer/technology at the same time)

I like the block schedule since it helps to condense things quite a bit. The only thing I am considering doing is possibly later on adding a science study to it like I do with the art/music because again, I can see this brings more deeper understanding on a topic.

I am so pleased to see how things have been going so far this year with him. ~ I look forward to sharing more as time goes on.. 

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