Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Home schooling update

I’m long overdue for a home schooling update (the last one was back in May). Since we’ve just reached a harmonic convergence of endings and new beginnings, this seems a particular appropriate moment.

Classically speaking, she’s just finished Genesis, encountering a few lewd concepts in the process, and is starting Exodus as I write this. She’s also just finished D'Aulare's Book of Greek Myths and starts Nathaniel Hawthorne’s retellings in A Wonder Book next week.

She’s also just moved on from The Diary of Anne Frank to The Witch of Blackbird Pond and from Tom Sawyer to Huck Finn. In the wonderful Tween Book Club for Girls run by her much beloved local aunt, she’s moved on from Alice in Zombieland (OK, not exactly a classic; the girls chose it) to The Book Thief (also chosen by the girls). Alice in Zombieland, though pretty trashy, educated my daughter on text message abbreviations (she just got an iPhone as a birthday present) which she’s now enumerated for herself on index card cheat-sheet.

Aside from the creative writing she does on her own, her prose mostly involves daily reading summaries. But now that she’s learned how to type, we’ve factored in repeated revisions. She types out a draft, I boldface stuff that’s awkward or unclear; she goes back and revises. With the ease of revision afforded by word processing (and perhaps also inspired by her earlier work with Sentence Craft), she’s also revising a lot of her sentences before I even see them, producing some quite complex but elegant ones in the process.

In math, she’s still working her way through Wentworth’s New School Algebra, most recently simplifying complex and compound fractional expressions. I’ll post an excerpt as this week’s problem of the week. A first this year was a math proof, the proof of The Factor Theorem. I walked her through the steps every morning, structuring it like a traditional geometry proof, gradually having her do more and more of it on her own. Learning it involved a combination of rote practice and conceptual understanding, two tactics that so many contemporary education experts assume are at odds with one another rather than being mutually reinforcing.

In science, in addition to the activities I blogged about last week, she’s been working through some interactive web-based materials on animal taxonomy provided by a generous curriculum developer, most recently classifying mammals by dental features.

In Social Studies, or, rather, history, she’s now two thirds of the way through Story of the World Part IV, where she continues to outline chapters. Employing the Premack Principal, she’s rewarding herself after each completed paragraph with a problem in Level IV Grid Perplexors. Combined with the summarizing she’s doing in “English and Language Arts” and the chart creation she’s doing for science, she’s now processing information in three distinct ways.

In French, she continues to work her way through ALM Level II and the LuLu series, as well as a few other short French books for young French children. But we’ve just finished French in Action, so now I’m trying to track down French language movies. It’s hard to get ones without English subtitles, so my current strategy is to have her watch the movie once with subtitles, and then do a second viewing with tape over the bottom of the screen where the subtitles appear. So far we’ve only watched one movie, the rather risqué (though not as much so as Genesis) 17 Filles, which, among other things, provides a good lesson in the virtues of nonconformity.

For art, she continues to take drawing and pottery classes at our local after-school arts center. At home, an ongoing, systematic house cleanup has unearthed a number of art kits, including a knitting set with an instructional CD more informative than her non-knitting parents can possibly be. She started that last weekend.

For music, she continues with piano, organ, and violin, including Beethoven’s Piano Sonata # 10 in C minor, Bach’s Little Fugue in G minor, and the Bach A minor violin concerto, as well as various duo, trio, and orchestra pieces.

This summer, she’ll do another two-week stint at our local theater camp, and then off to France for a 12-day summer music camp that will consist mostly of French teenagers and German counterparts wanting to improve their French. The universal language of music will unite them all.


Joy Pullmann said...

This sounds so lovely! It's like a picture of what I hope my kids get when they're older (now all under 4).

Laura in AZ said...

Wow... love the program you've done. So much... but not overwhelming. Hmmm... I'm thinking we need to make some changes. You've started me thinking (always a dangerous thing!) Thanks for the post!