Sunday, November 25, 2012

Winding Down Toward Christmas

Four weeks of school left until Christmas holidays!!! I entitled this post "Winding Down" but it's more like "Picking Up"! lol. A lot to get done in the next weeks.

I figure my blog is as good of a place as any to work out some school plans for this coming week. Here's a peek into my planning process (at least the planning process I'm using today lol!):

First, a look at our schedule:

MONDAY: morning is open for school work, online session at 11am (maybe), afternoon is busy with my teaching a French class, evening is partially busy with dd having dance class

TUESDAY: all day is available for school work pretty much, dd has an online session from about 11-11:45, nothing going on in the evening

WEDNESDAY: main school hours open, I have a Stampin' Up meeting in the evening

THURSDAY: my usual crazy day--advanced/older French class girls in the morning, beginner/intermediate class in the afternoon, nothing going on in the evening

FRIDAY: my nieces and nephew have the day off school, which means I will give my son the day off school; dd and I can work on stuff though, dd has dance in the evening

WEEKEND: Nothing specific planned either day, except Mass on Sunday.

Specific items this week not listed above?
*ds and I need to go to this one library to drop off items; could be done Tuesday or Wednesday

15yo dd's to-do's
*MATH: dd needs to catch up in math (easy with this particular unit) and I think she's supposed to be doing a test this week; if she's ready for Friday, might have nieces, nephew and ds keep themselves quiet and busy with the computer or a movie so dd can do her test in the morning. I also can't forget that it would be good to have a routine of working on some basic thing or something she's already covered before she gets into her current class work. Just one question would be something.
*GERMAN: dd still hasn't contacted her one German evaluator to do her first oral assessment
*GERMAN: she ought to finish the 2nd booklet this week and send it in (although we don't have an envelope... they only sent us one and it got used last week)
*ELA: get the one assignment done she was working on last week; my personal goal with this: do everything in my power to help her get it done. It's stressing her out that it's not done and she got a good start last week and didn't get a chance to finish it.
*RELIGION: have a look at the one question from the first unit that's bothering her; get her going on the reading for the second unit; should also have a look at the actual schedule for this class and see how much reading she should have done by now
*ART: She has a personal goal of doing some art each day; would like to figure out a way to help her with that goal (using the MindMap program comes to mind; and/or Homeschool Tracker, which I've just discovered my referral code link doesn't seem to be working properly :() We bought some little things to paint on; finding something to actually paint on them would be good. She does have a course to do, too, but it's not as stimulating as what she'd like to do! She feels like she's not "exercising herself" in this area, if I might use that term, and also feels like she's not really getting any instruction. I wonder if there are any Christmas art camps going on in the area? Or if she would be allowed to take some classes aimed at adults? Something to explore. Could even be a Christmas gift, depending on the cost of a class.
*PHYS.ED.: we really ought to update her physical activity log and she needs to assess how much general physical activity she gets over the course of a day (she's supposed to asses how much she walks to go shopping or walk the dog or this and that)

I think that's it for her. In terms of scheduling, just a look at tomorrow: I'd like to see her get an email off to her German evaluator first thing, work on her ELA tomorrow morning and possibly her math. In the afternoon, she could take her pick of religion, art or even her German. We can assess after I come back from picking up her cousins if she'll work on more then or after supper or what.

12yo ds's to-do's
*MATH: part of me thinks it would be really good to get some question cards going, like the stamp game cards, so he can have questions he can just grab and work on, or I can grab and have him work on. At the same, I think of how much work it will take and wonder if it's worth it. In any case, we had started working on area, so I think we ought to continue.It'll be good practice for his multiplication tables, too. I'll need some grid paper and question ideas. Part of me is also toying with the idea of finding a particular Life of Fred book we have and seeing if he'll work on that independently. Not sure. He much prefers having a kind of "seminar approach" instead of just working alone. Sudden idea: Have a routine of working on some basic facts first, then move into the lesson or practice stuff.
*SCIENCE: I keep forgetting to buy Alka Seltzer to do the next science activity in the manuals (both the physics and the chem have activities requiring Alka Seltzer!). However, I do have The Story of Science which I thought I would start reading with/to him. What about follow up work? Some could be him giving a written recap (I would have to set up the sheet first; he has really done very little written work in all his school years) and others might have some natural work to come out of it: build a model, do further research, try an experiment...
*SOCIAL STUDIES: Have a look at the books we have out and where the start of the science book fits in with their timeline of sorts. It just hit me that we started looking at the history books and their info, but we didn't look at anything covering when the aboriginals came into Canada (I would like Canada to be a focal topic this year with him). Will have to do a slight back track and include that. Starting his own timeline with all this stuff would be useful. It might be more important to get moving on this part rather than the science history stuff right now. At the very least a bit of an overview of how people settled in Canada long, long ago.
-Handwriting. I've dropped the ball on this. I meant to buy a new copy of StartWrite on Friday (my old one stopped working when we updated our Mac sometime ago) because they were having a $15 off sale and I completely forgot. I'll just do something up by hand. Or maybe work with him letter by letter in cursive to see first how things are, where his difficulties lie. Once that's done, then we can focus on specific movements or letters.
-Grammar/writing. I have workbooks still he's never finished. They just feel like busywork as I bring them up. I need to get him writing. The whole writer's workshop idea hasn't worked because I looked at the middle school guidelines and with him, I almost need to go back to the elementary (he really has done almost no writing!!! Maria Montessori would scold me, I'm sure!!). I do have that series, what is it called? Shoot, it's designed for homeschoolers. He doesn't like working from it because it's in English, but I could tell him what to do from the lesson and have him do it in French. Grammar and spelling lessons can come out of what I actually get him to write. At the same time, is some isolated program like this a good match? Yes, says part of my brain. Better this than nothing while you try to figure out what would be better. Okay, wise little voice. ;). He has also expressed hesitation because he doesn't know how words are spelled. While I don't have a French spelling program, I do have a good vocabulary resource which we could use as a starting point for spelling patterns.
*RELIGION: Here and there in the morning, I'm remembering to read to him a section from Faith and Life. Did I ever share that we finally finished the grade 3 book (yes, he's in grade 7 lol). It's good foundational stuff, something Faith and Life recommended we do when I first bought the stuff when dd was starting jr. high.
*READING: I have a requirement from him about reading something other than comics each day. I want him to not only tell me how much he's read each day but tell me a bit about what he's reading.
*OTHER: There's nothing else he has to do for homeschooling here and nothing else I'm insisting on. I could encourage some home ec. (I really ought to encourage some home ec., like cleaning. :D ) I could encourage him to keep working on his comic writing, maybe pull out my guitar sometime and start working through this one kids' lessons book we have (that will get him pulling out his guitar). This thing with me leading is something I did years ago with the older kids and it worked fantastically. I remember one thing I started was a notebook of things that interested me. I would copy/print off pictures and then write notes about them. They all wanted their own notebook. Little things like this I need to keep in mind, plan for. Of course, that was a time when I was journalling pretty much daily, reading Montessori lots. I'm going to have to look at my schedule and manage my time so I can work on my inner preparation. Anyhow, what else in this "other" category? Phys. ed. He's been doing push ups and sit ups in his room fairly regularly, apparently. I really need to get them to a rec. centre sometime. Maybe look at how much a pass costs so we can go each week even, when we have the time.

With the week thought out, what is the plan for tomorrow?

*ds is usually up by 8. I'll read to him from his religion while he eats (that's our routine). After that, I'll ask him what he wants to work on first: handwriting or math. Fit in more stuff where possible.
Actual lessons:
--handwriting: work through each letter of the alphabet with him
--math: use the grade 7 text we have here as a basis for questions to give him; make sure to have graph paper, a ruler and a pencil available, as well as the multiplication table finger chart
--social studies: find websites with information about the migration of the first peoples into North America. If there's something that really catches his interest, go with that.
That'll be enough for tomorrow morning. He'll have the usual reading requirement which he does on his own time.

*dd is usually up around 9am. She's been trying to get up earlier, but with illnesses around us like crazy, it just seems to wear her down more and make school work that much more difficult. My job with her is to keep being there as a support and encourager. And ideally, I'll have a MindMap of just the subjects and some branches to write on printed off. She can fill in what she'd like to focus on. I need to learn to review my plans so that I remember all my little notes to myself. At 11, we're supposed to be online with the advanced girls from the Thursday French class.

-lunch and final prep for afternoon French class

Okay, I feel sort of ready for tomorrow. lol. Fingers crossed all goes well! Then there's the rest of the week to tackle. I think sitting down and blogging daily would be tremendously helpful to me. It's like journalling.


That long planning session out of the way, that leaves three other weeks before Christmas holidays. My French classes go to Dec. 20. During that time, dd definitely needs to keep on top of her math and is hoping to get ahead a bit--otherwise she has to do a unit test almost as soon as she gets back from Christmas holidays. We'll have to keep an eye on the schedule. (Just a thought here: A colour-coded calendar page might be in order for school work deadlines for the next month! Homeschool Tracker Plus) does have a schedule thing, but it's been ages since I've used it. I don't think it gives a printable calendar-style overview for a month, just a week at a time, which might not be a bad idea in itself.) With ds, I just want to get him moving more with lessons. He won't do anything on his own and I need to remind myself of that. Once he gets hooked into something, then he might do stuff on his own, but right now... I need to be prepared to do lessons, have specific work for him to do, etc.

Of course, on top of all that, there will be Christmas gift-making classes and cards to make and send out to family and friends and Christmas shopping to do and birthday gift shopping for my step-dad and everything else that preparing for Christmas involves. Which reminds me that I was thinking about how we can bring in more expression of our faith into our days. I know so many families who have all kinds of practices; we really don't do much. I was thinking Advent could be a very good way to start. That will be something else I will need to prep for!

All right, enough for tonight. With all the typing I've done today - here, on another blog and for NaNoWriMo - I'm sure I'm developping Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. lol (bah, Blogger or my computer doesn't like my Canadian spelling of words like "colour" and "developping"). Time to do some yoga, methinks!

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