Monday, February 14, 2011

What We Have Been Up To Lately~ Part I

We have been really busy~ I suppose you could say busier than most. The month of February is just flying by us and we have lots going on with our learning ~

Recently my brand new laptop that I had gotten in July crashed on me~ We found out that it was my hard drive that just completely crashed and they are now having to re-build it so I am working now without my laptop and all my information I have accumulated. Fun~ ( but not really, I had lots of articles started for posts I had outlined previously that have been lost so I am now having to start all over again and that is going to take some time and patience on my part) :)

As far as what we have been doing it has been a mixture of things; planning for a new year of learning, adjusting a few programs to meet their changing needs, looking ahead toward learning for highschool, making new friends, re-organizing our learning room to fit our new science things and probably a bunch of other things that I am forgetting~

It seems that January and February is more the start of our new year it seems. We now homeschool year round and I found that keeping in  the continuity with the calendar year seems to really work well for us and for our budget since it is tax time with refunds and also birthdays and such. It just fits. We get our new programs around this time, start new methods  ( while still keeping those that are "tried and true" )or try new things.. re-organize, purge/sort our books etc.. ~

I had created an outline of what we are using now and what I am finding are struggles or problems we have been having and then adding notes of things or programs or strategies I may want to consider to help.  

I write down each subject and what we are using now and options/supplements or considerations for each.  It sort of helps me get it all down on paper so that I can look at it often to see what direction I am headed.

Overall, we have most of our programs running very well. With minor adjustments here and there as in any individual education, they are working pretty well.  

photo credit
 A few adjustments are being made in Math~ we are no longer using Teaching Textbooks. While it was absolutely wonderful in the beginning, this was just not a program for my guys. It runs a bit too slow for them~ and even though we could adjust things a bit it still was not a fit when it came to the overall lectures and how they explained certain new math concepts. I thought it best to let this go~ we are changing and have found Key To Series to be a real fit for my teen~ they way they explain things is much better for him and his learning needs/abilities.

Along with using Key To Series, we are going to be using this new site I just learned about~ I just love it and for a very visual and auditory learner like my teen- its just great, its from Free Ed.Net and is a complete course of study in Pre-Algebra.

My younger son will be back to using our Math On The Level program.

And while I had been re-working our Math Notebooks, I realized he still enjoyed working lots and lots of problems that were new concepts he was working.  I remembered he really liked Abeka Math when we had first been looking for a workbook program and so I had picked that up for him to use to accompany us with MOTL.  Both programs can be used alone but for us this works out much better. I love using MOTL to guide me through teaching math concepts with real life learning, and Abeka and also another site The Math Worksheet Site can help us in the practicing of the new skills and concepts.   I had heard about this site from a homeschool mom on the MOTL email loop and how much she loved it so I tried it out and ended up purchasing a years membership.  One other supplement I wanted to share that I was very intrigued with is Math with Larry~ its a great site for learning and teaching the basics in math.  I also am very interested in picking up his books he has but many as you will read on his site are available to read online for free through google books. Very interesting reading and helpful as he explains how math doesn't have to be tons of problems and drilling daily~ there is lots of great info here for you to check out!

There is one area for my youngest that has been a nagging problem as of late~ Spelling. He is a severe dyslexic and while I don't try to hold onto this label as a crutch many days there is just no denying this is a really weak area for him.  We have been using a program that is fairly new to us just this past year called A Reason For Spelling. He liked it very much and actually chose this program to work with after I outlined the two programs he could choose from.  It was fun for a time, but now I am seeing some significant flaws in him using this kind of program.

1. For starters he does incredibly well with his pretests only missing one or two~ if he even misses that. He works through the lessons consistently without errors and for the trouble words we use PG techniques to guide him through.  So your probably wondering what the problem is? Well it is that he gets all 100's on all his tests and work and yet when he goes to use these same words when he is writing stories and sentences he is mis-spelling them.
This tells me that he is not internalizing the information and it is just him going through the motions of just matching the words, doing the word boxes and then taking the test. YUCK.
Nope this isn't going to work.

2. I am seeing him becoming increasingly resistive to doing his spelling lessons and for a child who needs to work daily on these skills that isn't very helpful.

3. Using this kind of program made it quite a bit more difficult to use the ISL ( Individual Spelling List ) method I truly feel helps him to be able to reach, learn and practice trouble spots.
At this point I continue to read all I can about spelling methods, strategies, and programs. I believe I have found a something that will work nicely~ Spelling City.  While I had known about this program since we started homeschooling I just wasn't sure it would help my then much younger son with his spelling. I opted to work through some of the levels of AAS ( All About Spelling) which I am very glad I did~ he really had gotten a nice foundation for his spelling, but yet again, I was having the same issues with writing and spelling as I am with this program I am using.

I think as homeschoolers we have the advantage of working so closely with our children, it isn't always as necessary but can be quite helpful in understanding their processing and learning styles more as we work with them and in turn, helping to have them learn through their strengths. 

My youngest has been working a great deal with a program I had bought called Aha Science. Its an online animated program with lessons, activities and labs~ he just loves it and I really watched and saw how he could internalize and understand the vast amounts of information by being able to see it and hear it at the same time. I really wanted to duplicate this with his spelling just to see if this might work the same way.

Spelling City fit that need for us.  We started working with this just this week, he is enjoying it and I am reading through and considering purchasing a premium membership to be able to track things better and get even more out of the site.

I think this will be a fit for our ISL also. ( Individual Spelling List) because I am able to input the words I need or can use and add to a list already there~  I also plan to continue to do dictation sentences and can make up my own according to his spelling lists we work with from both past and present words.  We are also making a spelling book~ a simple composition book where he can add all his words that he has learned so far and can refer back to if he needs.

Another observation I have made with his spelling is his need to be truly writing every single day~ whether it be in a journal, working on a draft for a story, writing a key word outline or even working on a notebooking page. This really reinforces his spelling and writing abilities and I will be making sure writing happens each day. I actually changed his checklist so that "writing" is now at the top, since he tends to go according to the sequence of the list as it is written, adding writing on the top ensures this will be worked on daily and will not be missed till the next day. 

I found another great resource I plan on reading through, it is an online version of a spelling patterns book which I may use to guide us a bit more~ ( see below)

I am sure I will have much more to share as I sort through my notes ~ and by then our learning room should be sorted and done and I can return to some assemblance ( fingers crossed ) ~ until next time  (Part II) Happy Learning!


Anonymous said...

I have not been keeping up on my reading of blogs or even Facebook as I have been a little under the weather the last week or so, so I just saw this post. It is perfect timing because I am going to write a post on our changes to math for both boys real soon. Thank you for the link to the Free Ed.Net Pre-Algebra program as this is one area we are changing a bit! This may help us out, too!

I also plan to use real soon, but mostly using it for vocabulary. I think if I set it up to use for vocab that the boys will also do some of the spelling games, too, and it will help expand their spelling skills as a side benefit. I did signup for the year since it was so cheap and had a 30-day trial. I better get going on it before my trial ends! LOL!

Thanks again for sharing, as usual! It appears we are once again overlapping in some of our thoughts and tools for learning! LOL!

Learners at Home said...

Hey Cindy~
Yes, we have been under the weather too~ the youngest is really much worse than the older one and I but still, not fun and NOT easy is it?

I started PartII post for what we are up to going through each subject~ and I should have that done soon (hopefully) so I can share more. I am glad you found the Free Ed.Net Pre-Algebra link helpful, another you might really like is the Kahn Academy. Take a run through it because there is some great things on there for Pre-Algebra as well. ( my apologies if I already mentioned it, I'm a bit fuzzy)lol

My youngest still continues to enjoy Spelling City, I think one reason is that is never has to be the same, you can change things up when you want to so that makes it fun. ~

We do tend to overlap don't we? lol I'll be sharing more also about our "new writing program". We completely stalled out on IEW. It is such a great program but for us try as we did we continued to stall out with it. I think this other program that is similar will be much better~ but I will share more about that later :)

Looking forward to hearing about your changes too~ :)



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