Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Planning and more planning

I've been working a bit each day on summer plans, as well as school year plans. The past couple of days have been focused on looking at my province's math curriculum and pulling out the useful outcomes for the year, so that I can then make some sort of plan.

Let me tell you, some of the things they put in the curriculum... It just leaves me scratching my head! Why oh why oh why?! There are places where my jaw practically dropped going, "Why is this remotely important to have in there?" Like for grade 9. The ONLY outcome for chance and uncertainty is:

"Demonstrate an understanding of the role of probability in society."

What? This is, what, a 5-minute conversation with them? Something that is probably already understood? No calculation outcomes, no, just "demonstrate an understanding...".

In any case, I now have all the outcomes I want listed and can try to create a plan from that for the year. I know Montessori often separates arithmetic from geometry, so the kids work on geometry all year in addition to their arithmetic. US schools typically put algebra into its own course, too. If I think of the math outcomes as being 2 or 3 separate courses, that could help in terms of giving time to work on a concept and integrating different areas a little more.

Boy, have I got some work ahead of me!

I've also fleshed out a better schedule idea for mornings for next week. I'm not so sure anymore about the weekly themes. Not with the little ones, anyhow. On top of that, I've worked on the 17yo's first day and first week plans, laying out a little more my role, my expectations, etc. I know the more I write it out, the more it will simply become a part of my thinking and I'll be more likely to do it automatically, rather than trying to remember or not being sure.

Let me write some of it out again. :D

First, I have done most of the reading and writing for him, what with his LD label. He was supposed to have been learning to use technology, but he got so behind--and I felt guilty for it, because part of me felt I should have done something different--that I didn't end up pressing this issue. Well, I'm going to press the issue and I've already warned him. One thing he will do on his first day back is work on training his MacSpeech software. I know part of his resistance to this is that he has to talk into it and he feels silly and stupid. That's just too bad. lol. He can lock himself in my den if he wants privacy, so that's not a problem. With the training, it's a little tough because he can't fluently read the passages he's supposed to read aloud. That might require me copying out the passages, we work on the reading of them, then he goes and trains the software. It could take a week or two to get the thing properly trained; that's okay. If it's not properly trained, he will just have to correct the mistakes it will make; it doesn't stop him from using it.

Part of the week plan with him is to first of all, each day be aware of when the deadlines are for the 3 subjects that will have deadlines and see where he is in the work. It's a bit of a shame that it's not worked out what to do day-by-day, but the deadlines are usually every week or two, so it's not too bad. The first day of the week, he and I will look at what is due and figure out a minimum for that week (if the deadline is in 2 weeks) or figure out the daily breakdown. When that is decided, I am holding him to it. This means that he works ALL day long until he's done the allotted work and if he doesn't finish, he has to bring it home with him. Same thing for the weekend: if the week's work is not completed, a list will go home (I might email a copy to his dad, too) of what needs to get done.

One thing I've said to my dd is that I'm not going to let his being behind affect our ability to go out and do fun things. He will have to be on track or ahead to come with us, and if he can't come with us, the expectation is he will be at home finishing his work. The school he's registered with was going to implement a new policy where kids have to go into the school until they finish overdue work; if they aren't still doing that, I am going to ask his teacher advisor if we can set that up.

Something that will have to be decided with him is how he wants his schedule. There can be an advantage to just taking a huge block--like 3 hours in the morning--and just working through as much as you can. BUT he has such a tendency to drag things on. I suppose the worst that would come of it is he would have to bring work home. I'll still let him have some say and provide some schedule options. One schedule will have a large block in the morning and two smaller blocks in the afternoon. Another will be the opposite. Another will have 2 subjects in the morning and 2 in the afternoon. Well, sort of. He's got English, science and social studies as his academic subjects, and then phys. ed. and a health-type class. The phys. ed. and health are 2 separate courses, but I'm thinking them as a single course. One of the subject blocks could be split in 2 and he could work on both a bit. The other option is to have him work on those mainly at home and the final block of the day could be "catch-up" and study time. Yet another option is to focus just on the academic subjects, do 2 hours of one, then an hour of another, lunch break, finish the last hour, then do the final subject for the remaining 2 hours.

Regardless, assuming that he will show up around 9 like last year, this will be the schedule:

lunch from 12-12:30
12:30-3:30 (or until leaving)

6 hours to tackle 3 academic subjects is plenty--if he learns to focus. Setting the above limits will help, I hope! A couple of minutes at the beginning will be taken to tackle some skill building--math, vocabulary, etc. This is one aspect I haven't quite figured out yet. But the above is very solidified in my mind and on paper. I believe it will work well. :)

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