Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Updating/Changing Some Plans and Continuing with our New Project

I had been working yesterday evening on the new LAH Academy Blog.  I ended up finding a way to create a post template so that whenever I have the daily/weekly assignments I will be adding (  I am thinking at this point of adding the whole week. Two reasons; one, it is easier than creating a post for each day - even though at times I may want to do this, but not very often, secondly, it will be a good way in case we don't get to something or finish up on a particular lesson they can go back to look at what they had the day before instead of having to go and look at the "past assignments" the weeks work will be all right there, and even thirdly, it can help with time management and act for my teen more of a syllabus so that if we know we have a gym day or teen club coming up he can go and jump ahead and do a bit more lesson assignments if he chooses.

It is taking shape since working hard on it yesterday and it also helps me in going through links I had saved in their folders for future assignments. Now everything will be laid out nice and orderly and having these things on hand might help us to use them much more.


This past month we had started our "new year" pretty much~ especially for our teen. He shifted his studies more toward his abilities and how he can learn more in-depth and  more toward his interests and fine-tuning of his study skills. This all sounds really tricky and clinical but it really isn't.  I spent the month stepping back and looking at what we had outlined and decided on which was going to work and which will not work out as well as we thought.

In home learning we can do this.  Learning at home gives us the flexibility to make these changes and tweaking as we need and not be afraid to make changes in the beginning or mid-stream- as long as we are moving forward with concepts and skills. 

Our changes at this point are in the area of Mathematics and in US History.  In Math, we are doing a switch-a-roo ~ we are setting aside the Horizons Math and moving into Saxon Math for some time to see if that works a bit better.  I always hesitated staying away from Saxon just because of all the groaning I would often hear and reviews I would read about it.  I thought it might not be a fit.  I decided to look at the books in-depth and compare it to Horizons. BIG difference here.  Horizons is an accelerated math program that runs approximately one to two years ahead depending on a few factors.  It has a very short explanation for new skills but is wonderful if using it as a review.

We found working with Horizons as we have that while my son needs the spiral method it provides, the rest was not as helpful. He isn't a puzzle person when it comes to math anyway and often would skip over those and we also found the new skill explanations to be lacking for his style of learning. He just needs more direction. Horizon wasn't giving him that. I grew tired of constantly having to dig resources up for teaching a new concept/skill and with me attempting to help him ( and him wanting to be more independent in his learning) it was just not working.

I decided to sit with him and check out a Saxon Math book and we were both pleased.  He sat the other day for the Saxon Placement Test and I saw some gaps but overall I pretty much knew where he was at ~ He is going to work through quickly pieces of one Saxon Book and then advance to the next possibly working chunks of that one also.

It isn't my intent to make his already learned skills redundant so in this case I am picking and choosing what problems and concepts he will work.  We are going to fly through some things, skip others and just keep on going... Saxon is spiral so it is nice because the new skills he did learn, he can practice by me making sure I assign these for further practice.  I suppose you could say we are using Saxon as our spine and then going from there if we need videos, games etc.. I think it will work nicely for him.  And I also think it will be a lot less work for me~

photo link & info on book
For history, we had been planning on him continuing on with his Lifepac's and then moving toward the Susan Wise Bauer book for Ancient World History. I ended up sitting down last night and reading some of her work. I really love it.  I talked about this with my teen and I really have found that he enjoys just reading fine literature and good books and discussing them.  He did this much of last year and in my haste I thought to perhaps re-introduce him to a more formal approach to learning this information. But I can see it is taking the enthusiasm away from his love of history.  He does his reading and answers his questions and for the most part does rather well. But I did notice that he often answers the questions very differently than the answer key shows.  He sometimes goes into more detail ( he explains from something else he had read or how he interpreted the questions) or he may answer it correctly because of the way the question was presented.  It made me scratch my head.  I realized that he has great insight and that I don't want to squash that kind of thinking and so I decided that he would go back to his way of learning history through many, many books, videos, field trips and such.

A little story that happened this past week or so~
I think I also realized this when he had taken a tour of our local highschool. We decided to go check it out to see if maybe he would like to take a couple classes there. We walked into an AP WWII history class, my son LOVED it!  He sat looking at everything explaining to me and our tour what he thought about things. He also had observed how the class desks were set up~ and showed our tour guide and asked if she knew why the teacher had set up the desks that way~ she had no idea. He explained how the desks were lined up in such a way that showed the symbol of a WWII private.  She and I were both really surprised he noticed this and was going to go back to the teacher because she didn't think anyone had picked up on that one~! :) He is unable to take this course till 11th grade but I promised him we would look at some classes at our local community college. He felt satisfied with that I think. :)

So I realize now that I do not need to have him work a more traditional approach ( reading and answering the questions) in college he will be basically doing much the same as he is doing now~ reading great reads on topics of study and writing essays on them.  I think we are on the right track, finally. I no longer am going to fret about how other children may work from workbooks and have so many papers. When I do I may just go ahead and print out his written narrations like I did for his neurology unit and sit back and he can sit back and see all the hard work that went into all of it. :)We will be using as our main spine "A Patriots History of the United States".

I plan on picking up another copy this week so that we can read it together for discussion and written narrations questions  and projects etc.. I like having the two books. It helps me keep better track of his work and we can work much better together.

I really think because he learns so well this way he will do great on essay tests. ~ ! Perfect since we are working on our Essay Course now and he is really seeing just how easy writing an essay really can be~ :)

So with a few changes we are back on track and enjoying things even more.  In observing these things I have seen  in him I am not going to abandon this idea for his science either. We will continue on with Lifepac Science as a Spine, but I realize I need to be mindful of adding in literature when we are learning the topics as well, just like we are in our history.

Our younger son is happily doing his studies we had plan with no troubles at all I did end up looking at Saxon for him just because I liked how they introduced topics and was fortunate to find his grade available for us to try. He is happy with his programs and what he is doing and often reminds me of this. Although I will not be at all surprised if he decides he would like to sit in and listen to the history and "include himself" in some of our discussions. (grin)

4 comments:

Cindy K. said...

So are you using both the SWB book AND the US History book (one that is on MY reading list for high school!)?

AND, you are going to add in other reading, too? Wow, that will be a lot of history! But maybe not intended to be all done in 1 year?

So does your teen like the SWB book, too? I know I thought they might make a good spine for high school history, but does that mean the boys will like it? ;)

Learners at Home said...

I am using SWB book as our spine this coming FALL, right now we are concentrating on US History. ( these were used with the Lifepacs that I talked about) ~ I recently asked Chris about how he liked them and he is very easy going and said they were fine, just not as much detail as he would have liked so that made me realize I needed to use the US History book that you added to your list. ( Just picked up my other one I needed for ME today, lol )
So he will only be using the US history book for right now as our spine for History. But that doesn't mean that he won't be reading other things online, links, videos or even a short read if he wants. I let him read below grade level too if he chooses and is interested in something in particular like a particular battle etc.. he gets into the battle formations and such and this book has some of that in there. ~ And from him reading the US History intro and first few pages he was easily hooked, but he IS a history guy too.
With the SWB he has not read yet, I just know how he is and he will love it since he liked the first SOTW book she wrote just wished there was MORE. lol
hope this answers your questions.

Tracey

Gerkin said...

Are you opening your Academy blogs up to subscriptions? I thought I saw that on Facebook. The blogs sound great so far. Would love to see more middle and highschool! Thanks.

Learners at Home said...

I am for subscriptions~ it is going to be a closed blog but open to those who I invite. I would only need your email address ( if you could send it to me at nhhomelearning@gmail.com) I can invite you and you can unsub anytime - just let me know and I will take you off the viewing list. :)

tracey

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