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Teaching academic and organizational skills to your logic stage student

organization organization skills nan\'s words of wisdom jane in nc\'s input logic stage responsibility study skills life skills

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#1 swimmermom3

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Posted 31 January 2010 - 09:38 AM

There was a recent thread on scheduling and encouraging excellence on the accelerated board where Nan in Mass wrote the following:

"I should add that one of the focuses of middle school was academic and organizational skills. There comes a point (and if your children are accelerated, it will come sooner) when the child needs better writing skills, needs to know how to study, how to take notes, how to keep a calendar, how to organize his materials, how to do research, that sort of things.(continues)"

As always, Nan got me thinking and wondering what you all do to systematically teach study skills, note taking, researching and the other skills that Nan mentions above to your logic/dialectic stage student. If you have favorite resources, please share those as well.

#2 brightside

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Posted 31 January 2010 - 09:52 AM

I just got my son, the Superstar Student DVD from the Teaching Company. I do not know if it is any good yet.

I also got him the 7 habits of Highly Effective Teens book.

We followed the advice of someone on this board (I forgot who) and we learned outlining with his Halloween candy.

Other than that I am :lurk5: to see the other responses.

#3 Nicole M

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Posted 31 January 2010 - 01:15 PM

...systematically teach study skills, note taking, researching and the other skills...


What? It's not good enough that we make it through our weekly work, now I have to do all this, too?! Good grief, woman! Your questions are too hard. :D

Honestly, I haven't thought about it much. I have been so focused on the college application process with my oldest, basically trying to survive high school, that I haven't thought out my youngest's stuff very well. But I am beginning to, with the help of Rose's question about 5th - 8th sequence, and you, Lisa.

(My youngest just asked what I was doing, I told him, and he said, "Get a curriculum book about it! That's what you always do!")

We do have the Teaching Company lectures about how to be a superstar student, checked out from the library and gathering dust and probably overdue, as I speak. I will dig that up and plug the little men in.

Maybe others are more organized about this? ;)

#4 amtmcm

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Posted 31 January 2010 - 01:33 PM

What? It's not good enough that we make it through our weekly work, now I have to do all this, too?! Good grief, woman! Your questions are too hard. :D


:lol: Too funny!


I am struggling with this with DD13. I did have a little breakthrough last week. She outlines her history reading each week, and she basically copies the subheadings and a 1-2 key points under the subheading. :glare: So, last week, without speaking, I went through her outline and added all of the notes I thought she should have included. I left it in her book to find it. She got the hint and wrote a better outline this week. She came to me 3 times to tell me how great her outline is and that she was able to complete her review questions and study for the quiz with just the outline.

Starting in the fall we will watch Superstar Student and I plan to model notetaking for her when we watch BJU Life Science on DVD together.

Organizational skills and time management is a whole other issue. One thing at a time...

#5 Colleen in NS

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Posted 31 January 2010 - 01:38 PM

wondering what you all do to systematically teach study skills, note taking, researching and the other skills that Nan mentions above to your logic/dialectic stage student. If you have favorite resources, please share those as well.


Study skills...so far, to me this means continuing to progress in reading (and beginning analysis - I like the WTM way of doing this) and writing skills (for us, outlining and continued narrations - next year, rewriting from outlines). I figure this will help my kids to study more in depth material later on.

Note taking...we've had a few lessons on this in R&S grammar/writing - I will probably incorporate this regularly at some point, when my kids are ready to start making their own outlines/rewrites of their own material. Read, take notes, make an outline, rewrite, voila - essay. Well, it's probably not that simple, but I think it's the basic formula, and then I can incorporate other writing/rhetoric concepts into it.

Research...I have to constantly tell myself not to be the answer book anymore and to say, "See if that's in the encyclopedia" or "let's try to find a library book about that." I'm also trying to shift the library search load somewhat off my shoulders. At the library, I give my kids a list of categories (that I found in WTM - Jessie used to give it to her kids) and tell them to go search for a book in each category (they can pick as many as they like, but at least one), and I *try* to remember, if we have time, to tell them to go ask a librarian for help in finding something, instead of me. The librarians know way more about it than I do. And, I said somewhat off my shoulders, because I still reserve other books that we definitely need (like from the lit. list, or current interests in history or science), because they come from several different libraries.

#6 Colleen in NS

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Posted 31 January 2010 - 01:44 PM

Organizational skills and time management is a whole other issue. One thing at a time...


Same here! But we're working on it slowly :lol:. It basically takes me backing off somewhat, and asking questions instead of just doing things for my son. This takes effort from me. "Mom, where is my assignment sheet? I just had it." (Instead of pointing to it) "I left it on top of your books, assuming you'd take it with you. What did YOU do with it?":lol:
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#7 creekmom

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Posted 31 January 2010 - 06:10 PM

:lurk5: What a great idea for a thread!!

#8 HSDCY

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Posted 31 January 2010 - 07:34 PM

Thank you for this thread, Lisa. I always take out my homeschool notebook whenever I see this kind of thread, ready to jot down anything that's helpful.

We have not done any "formal" teaching on study skills because I think it will be more fruitful if I wait a couple of years. But I do plan to use How to Become a Superstar Student with ds when that time comes.

For note taking or researching, we haven't done anything except following IEW's way to do key word outline and doing research for reports or essays. But according to my homeschool notebook, there were more than two people recommended this book called Note Taking and Outlining:
http://www.amazon.co...64984322&sr=8-1

#9 swimmermom3

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Posted 31 January 2010 - 08:26 PM

Thank you for this thread, Lisa. I always take out my homeschool notebook whenever I see this kind of thread, ready to jot down anything that's helpful.

We have not done any "formal" teaching on study skills because I think it will be more fruitful if I wait a couple of years. But I do plan to use How to Become a Superstar Student with ds when that time comes.

For note taking or researching, we haven't done anything except following IEW's way to do key word outline and doing research for reports or essays. But according to my homeschool notebook, there were more than two people recommended this book called Note Taking and Outlining:
http://www.amazon.co...64984322&sr=8-1


Thank you for responding. It's been a crazy swim meet weekend and I want to post further on this thread when I can shift gears a little better. However, quickly, the note-taking book that is linked is one that SWB recommends as a resource in the new TWTM. I purchased this, used it, and posted some of my experience with one of the exercises. Colleen in NS graciously sent me in the direction of SWB's own directions for outlining. My son found SWB's instructions to much more helpful than this book she had recommended.

#10 Nicole M

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Posted 31 January 2010 - 10:05 PM

Thank you for responding. It's been a crazy swim meet weekend and I want to post further on this thread when I can shift gears a little better. However, quickly, the note-taking book that is linked is one that SWB recommends as a resource in the new TWTM. I purchased this, used it, and posted some of my experience with one of the exercises. Colleen in NS graciously sent me in the direction of SWB's own directions for outlining. My son found SWB's instructions to much more helpful than this book she had recommended.


So you're saying I need to break down and buy the new edition of the WTM?

#11 angela in ohio

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Posted 31 January 2010 - 11:41 PM

I am teaching this not just to two of my own, but to ten other students. I created a "toolbox" graphic, and we are working our way through the different "tools" they need, utilizing information I find online and in a few books I have on the topic (What Smart Students Know, etc.) I'll see if I can get my toolbox into my google docs account and post a link.
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#12 Murphy101

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Posted 31 January 2010 - 11:46 PM

I am teaching this not just to two of my own, but to ten other students. I created a "toolbox" graphic, and we are working our way through the different "tools" they need, utilizing information I find online and in a few books I have on the topic (What Smart Students Know, etc.) I'll see if I can get my toolbox into my google docs account and post a link.


:lurk5:

#13 Amber in AUS

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Posted 31 January 2010 - 11:49 PM

I am teaching this not just to two of my own, but to ten other students. I created a "toolbox" graphic, and we are working our way through the different "tools" they need, utilizing information I find online and in a few books I have on the topic (What Smart Students Know, etc.) I'll see if I can get my toolbox into my google docs account and post a link.


That would be great! :lurk5:

#14 Julie in MN

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 12:18 AM

I think I've taken the opposite approach to most I read about. Instead of pushing ds to do more independently during 7th & 8th, I've spent more time sitting alongside him. I've felt he needs me to model how to study for a difficult science test or how to take notes before writing a history summary or how to think through a literature question that is beyond simple comprehension.

I haven't found any magic materials, but I have seen progress over the last 1.5 years based on "just doing it." Here are the things I've been working on:

- Taking notes, so there is more detail in at least some of his history summaries. We do a notebook approach; I tried the SOTW-4 outlining for more than a semester and finally let it go.

- Thinking more deeply about literature, instead of just recalling a series of events. I'm hoping this translates to thinking deeper in general. Two Progeny Press guides in 7th really set the stage for this, although I'd say the easier one was the most fruitful. The gentle LL guides this year have also been fruitful, since I've seen him use the terms and ways of thinking in other areas. Cramming too much just caused dislike of the whole thing.

- We've worked on higher quality work. Not capitalizing or punctuating was a serious problem, reinforced by texting and such. But I found that over the last 2 years, ds is starting to read, write, and speak at a level where sloppy sentences became nonsense. He even became annoyed by friends who didn't use punctuation -- wow! The MCT paragraph on "no elementary school errors" here
http://www.rfwp.com/downloads.php#10 was really a turning point for this. (Under #10, About Research Papers," the first full paragraph on page 2.)

- Vocabulary and re-starting spelling came into play. Ds never needed spelling in elementary school, but he's starting to use some words he doesn't know how to spell, and he's starting to read some words he doesn't know the meaning of. In 7th we started some casual spelling with science words & in 8th we love Caesar's English. I'm not sure if this is in one of your categories, but it's been important these 2 years.

- Studying is also something new. I haven't pushed it with everything, but for example, one science test this winter was very difficult (plant taxonomy, which he insists doesn't use logical word roots!). We spent weeks on that test. Each time he fell short, I'd discuss strategies for facing it again. I had him try notes once. Another time, I created a study outline. Then he did a bit of note cards, and I tried reading aloud (he's very auditory). The lesson wasn't the taxonomy, the lesson was studying. We talked a lot about different study methods for different folks, and the personal responsibility to figure out what works for you. He's not made miraculous progress, but I think he's closer to being ready for high school.

- Organizing his writing is just a personal challenge I have long identified in this casual, youngest child. "Organization" has been my mantra, with hand gestures and the whole bit. MCT's Paragraph Town has appealed to my son's goofy nature & has produced more organization than anything else I've tried to pound into his head. But identifying your student's personal challenges is helpful during this stage (my dd's challenges were totally different than ds's)

- My new goal I'm working on is getting ds to correct only "part" of something (especially math). He's always just done a re-do, even retyping whole paragraphs, since things have been easy for him. Well, that's just not going to be realistic with high school level work. The only method that's helped so far has been the one day where I gave him the math answer key; then he was interested in seeing where he went wrong, rather than just rewriting the whole problem. I need to figure out more on this.



The biggest lessons I've learned are (1) you have to just dig in and try stuff, (2) kids hear "modeling" better than "lecturing" (I've tried both :) ), and (3) smaller is more successful than bigger. ETA: (4) It's a very gradual process and ds didn't totally change on the first day of 7th grade just because I said so.

Julie

Edited by Julie in MN, 01 February 2010 - 02:29 PM.

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#15 elegantlion

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 07:48 AM

My ds is in 6th and we slowly working in the skills. My biggest challenge is knowing that in order to teach him organizational skills *I* need to be well organized.

I'm a fairly well organized person and my school stuff is no different, it learning how to translate that to someone without the years of experience I have.

How to be a super star student
actually helped me and even at 12 ds picked up some tips. Our library only had a few episodes though. :glare:

There are many days where I am frustrated. DS is mildly dyslexic and 12 and some days I'm not sure if it's the dyslexia and him being 12 that causes the disorganization. That is when I remind myself that it's a journey and we still have a few years to build those skills.

Great thread. :bigear:

#16 angela in ohio

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 08:12 AM

I am teaching this not just to two of my own, but to ten other students. I created a "toolbox" graphic, and we are working our way through the different "tools" they need, utilizing information I find online and in a few books I have on the topic (What Smart Students Know, etc.) I'll see if I can get my toolbox into my google docs account and post a link.


I made it in PrintShop, and I can't get it out of there, so here is the list of skills (picture the toolbox and tool graphics :001_smile:):

Time Management
  • Scheduling
  • Goals
  • Habits
Organization
Communication
Listening
Note-taking
Reading
  • Strategies
  • Marking text
  • Outlining
Study Skills
  • Learning styles
  • Memorization
  • Test-taking
Group discussion
Public speaking
Writing
  • Reference materials
  • Research

Here's a sample of how I am teaching them:
Time Management: I started the school year giving them a complete weekly schedule with what to do each day. They are required to have planners. We talked about finding out your families' schedule and planning around that. I gradually am working toward them making their own daily plans. First I stopped handing out the schedule and wrote it on the board for them to copy into their planner, then I stopped telling them and had them come up with it as a group. Now I periodically "forget" to help them schedule out a subject or two. We have had great conversation about habits. I haven't worked on goals yet.

Reading: They outline a chapter each week. I started them out just picking out an important or interesting fact from each section of text. I have since taught them how to use chapter and section headings as clues to important information, and they summarize each section in one to two sentences, attempting to include key words from the headings.

Test-taking: I talk about the different ways you can study or get information into your head and encourage them to figure out which way works for their brain. I give different type sof tests and require different forms of study (notes, flashcards,) so that they try out different things. They all seem to be figuring out what works best for them.

Public speaking: We started out reading from papers each week. Then I moved to note cards, then to note cards with a limit of ten words, then to memorization. We have also given one speech from someone else's notecard. I talk about proper speakign skills and illustrate with bad examples (really, really overdone; they love this and really remember it.)

For writing, we use IEW and I pull in some other materials. My focus is on talking through all the possible assignments they might ever get in high school and college and teaching them how to attack each, applying skills they have learned in one of the IEW units. We talk about evaluating research sources, and I require properly formatted papers.

I get many of my hand-outs for them by just googling the topic and modifying a resource I find. So many high school and especially colleges have study skills resources online, I always find something. I also use How to Study from Christian Liberty Press along with the previously mentioned What Smart Students Know.
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#17 Nan in Mass

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 08:59 AM

A few resources that I've found helpful. I tried watching Superstar Student and couldn't get past the first lecture. I think I need a less wordy source. That first lecture did make a good point, though: the student has to find some way to make themselves want to learn the material. Roughcollie just recommended a resource that works on that and organization. It is meant for public school students, but it is going to be perfect for getting my son ready for community college/college, one of goals. (We use community college classes in high school as a transition between homeschool and college.) If you are looking for a system of organization, this one is good. The only suggestion I would add to it is colour coding the material so that each subject has its own colour. The title is That Crumpled Paper Was Due Last Week. It has sections on special considerations like single parent households, illness, and learning differences, also. I applied a little of the book this weekend, and it is helping us already. I have been trying to implement some sort of organization for years now and only been partially successful, so I am going to try this. Enough of the author's conclusions and suggestions match my own experience that I am hoping that most of the rest will work, also. We did two books from Remedia (?) publishing, one on outlining and one on proofreading. Those were mildly helpful. I think the trick is not to do them too soon or the effects wear off by the time you get to middle school and really need them GRIN. The best description of how to study that I've seen is in the very short book (short is good, right?) Going Back to School. It is meant for adults going back to college. There is a web-page on Cornell notetaking that is helpful, too. If you put that together with outlining and speed reading, you should have what you need for notetaking. A search should find it. There are some threads on setting up an accordian file review system on this board. We went to the library and asked the librarian to explain how to use the library to do research. I think that grammar and vocabulary are the secret to raising one's reading level.

-Nan


In case it helps anyone:
We are still working on this, although I can see from this list that I made awhile ago that we are making progress. (This is for my youngest. The older one is in college now.) My son manages to do this list most of the time now. I'm just listing it so you can see how far we've come GRIN. This list is something that most ps children learn in 3rd grade. That is why there is a pretty big step up from 2nd to 3rd. (My oldest was in public school.) I made this list in 7th grade for my youngest. Oops!!! Big oops! The perils of homeschooling...

Punctuation at all times, even in a subject that isn't English, like Latin or science
At least some words have to be spelled correctly if I am ever going to have to look at the paper
All papers have the holes on the left and the big space on the top and are whole
Use the next page in his math notebook and keep the cardboard in the back so everything is the same way up
Put any finished papers in the box awaiting filing
Use full sentences
Show the steps for math problems
Write the basic equation first, then rewrite it with the numbers filled in, and THEN write the answer for science problems
Take a few notes now and then
Actually go back and review those notes now and then
Make flashcards and use them
Actually memorize the stuff for Latin rather than just relying on what seems right
Have a topic sentence for reports
Write a report or story or something each week, about a page long
Write the report on something that he doesn't know, taking a few notes as he looks up the info
Write down any experiments he makes up in a lab notebook in something vaguely resembling lab report form

Now (9th grade) we are working on a different list:

Textbook notes – SQ3R
Lecture notes - Cornell
Rewriting notes
Outlining
Rewriting from outline

Accordian File for Flashcards
Assignment notebook daily and cross things off
Assignment notebook weekly
Assignment notebook monthly
Planning/scheduling work
Syllabi
Colour coding materials
Recording grades
Filing work and handouts
Research in the library
Persuasive paper
History paper
Science paper
Literary paper

Book report
Book review

Proofs in math
Rule Book of Argument
Power point presentations
Excell for tables of data
Use reference books
Design an experiment
Use lab equipment

Lab notebook
Lab report
Technical paper
Current events
Cursive, grammar, and spelling for anything in French
Memorizing efficiently
Outlining
Questions
Research on the internet
Research paper
Writing notes in books
Literary terms

Here is a different one (no time to correlate the two now, sorry, so I'm listing them both.)

Timed essays
Outline a textbook
Study sheets from a textbook – SQ3R
Memorize
Review system
Notes from a lecture - Cornell
Write from an outline
Research
Persuasive essay
SAT essay
5 para essay
Book review
Lab report
Book report
Literary analysis paper
Science report
Technical paper
Precis
Spiders
Assignment book daily
Assignment book weekly
Assignment book semesterly
Syllabus
Getting help
Signing up for classes
Course catalogue/contract with college
Test prep
Experiment design
Literary terms
French grammar
Basic history
Government review
US history review
Powerpoint
Excel
Graphing calculator

Edited by Nan in Mass, 01 February 2010 - 11:30 AM.

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#18 LunaLee

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 12:23 PM

This is a great thread...

With dd, I knew she might be going back to ps for hs, so the three things I focused on with her were: outlining (because they had not been taught that at school), summarizing, and note taking.

Outlining was pretty simple- I used the WTM examples and the Remedia Publications outlining book. I also had her outline KF a couple of times per week. And when I had her write an essay I made sure that after she did her prewriting she turned it into an outline.

For summarizing, I used the IEW key word idea. I would have her highlight 3-4words per sentence in whatever the assignment was and then she would summarize it.

For notetaking, I knew the hs she would be going to requires the students to use Cornell notes so that's what I taught her. I would have her watch The Teaching Co. lectures, or videos from the library and have her take Cornell notes on it.

I checked out the SuperStar Student by TTC, but because the style of note taking he suggests didn't match with what I had already taught her, I didn't make her watch it. I liked the concept in general, but would have found it difficult to implement because there were no textbooks for the lectures or vice versa.

I also, made sure she knew how to copy down an assignment. I know that sounds really silly, but when she was at school, it was an issue. So I would make her re-copy her printed up weekly assignments in her own planner; teaching her typical abbreviations as she went.

I think having kids keep notebooks is a great way to teach organizational skills too. It took dd a while, but she's gotten to where her school binder is really neat, clean, and organized. One of the biggest problems she used to have was the black hole of paper in the bottom of her backpack. Oh, ya color coding really helped too. Each class has a different color: so the assignment sheet, divider and Cornell notes paper are all the same color for each class.

She went back this year and she's doing really well, so I guess what we did worked.
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#19 swimmermom3

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 01:50 PM

Brightside, I have not seen either of the resources you suggested. Has your son been able to implement the contents of the Covey book?

Nicole, you know that I lay awake at night thinking, "What twisted, torturous, teaching question can I perplex Nicole with next?" BWHAHAHHAHA! Stop whining here and buck up, woman. Someone I know pointed out that this is not the glamorous stuff like curriculum. Research skills, note taking and outlining skills, organizational skills, better writing skills- all of that is really the foundation of the middle school years, imo. Unfortunately. the UPS man does not deliver them.

Over the past few months, I have written numerous threads asking questions about history, literary analysis, output and excellence. I have occasionally lamented on what an unsettled year we are having. After 18 weeks into the school year, it dawned on me that part of the problem is that Swimmer Dude himself is changing so much intellectually-more so than in previous years. Curriculum that I chose or developed 6 months ago isn't always appropriate for where ds is now.

Paula (elegantlion) is spot on. Our most frustrating days come when I try to distill study skills that I learned over 18 years of education down to an 11 yo's level.:tongue_smilie: It's also difficult to know which skills are appropriate to teach when one minute you are delighting in a discussion over the dharma of characters in The Iron Ring and the next minute despairing over the fact that the boy is breaking all science lab rules and blowing bubbles in a test tube using a glass pipette-and he does it for 25 minutes.

What I want is a plan all laid out for me: what skills to teach what years and how. Delivered by UPS, of course.

Edited by swimmermom3, 01 February 2010 - 01:51 PM.
errors

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#20 swimmermom3

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 02:14 PM

Amtmcm - Ann, what a great idea about the outlining. I have just been asking a few questions when I look at ds's finished product and then let him make adjustments. I also like the idea of modeling note taking. Not enough "modeling" going on here, that's for sure.

Colleen in NS - You mentioned a skill that we haven't mentioned:self-sufficiency. I am the "answer book" here too often as well. Thank you. That is something I can start working on today and it won't cost me a dime.:D Did I mention that I am grateful that you always seem to talk me down out of the trees.

Creekmom - thank you for the nice compliment. Unfortunately, these questions often come to me in the middle of the night-in a cold sweat-after I read a post-usually from Nan- that causes me to think too deeply. It's painful.

#21 Nan in Mass

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 02:39 PM

Teaching abbreviations is a good idea. Little things like this are what make public school students so much faster. They've had years of being forced to do things in a rush.

#22 Nan in Mass

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 02:44 PM

Ak! I'm sorry. Please believe, though, that I have had my own share of panic attacks after reading posts by some of the super-academic people here. Often it is a casual reference that makes me say, "Most people do what?" My posts are usually the way they are because I didn't know whatever it is and thought others might not have thought of it, too. I'm sure many people read my posts and think, "Who wouldn't do that? Isn't that obvious?"
Anyway, I'm sorry.
-Nan

#23 mom31257

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 02:47 PM

What a great thread! I am going to a Mom's meeting tonight that is about this very topic. I can't wait to share some of the ideas here. I really needed to here some of them as well.

#24 swimmermom3

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 02:58 PM

Nan, your posts often serve as a good, swift kick in the mediocrity for me. They inspire me to dig deeper, think harder, flip the problem on its side and upside down. Sometimes you touch a raw nerve. Good. Then I have to ponder some of the gritty, hard stuff that doesn't come in pretty boxes. I think a little anxiety and questioning about the monumental task of teaching our children is healthy. Complacency on the other hand, worries the heck out of me.:grouphug: and thanks for your willingness to share your insights and experiences.

Julie, Nan, Angela, and Luna - your responses are really appreciated. I have printed them out and will have a chance to go over them more closely this afternoon while middle child is getting 8 teeth pulled.:tongue_smilie: Thanks again for being willing to tackle a hard question.

#25 elegantlion

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 03:36 PM

After 18 weeks into the school year, it dawned on me that part of the problem is that Swimmer Dude himself is changing so much intellectually-more so than in previous years. Curriculum that I chose or developed 6 months ago isn't always appropriate for where ds is now.


Where is the V8 head smackin' smiley? This has been a huge year for physical growth in my ds, his biggest ever. The academic growth has been there, but it's all over the board. You're so right. I've been trying to find the balance, feeling like I'm on a teeter-tooter, but the balance shifts on a daily basis.

I've always felt very confident in what I was doing with him, education wise, it's weird to feel so unsure of what I'm doing. Thanks, I needed the reminder that this has been a big year for him too.

#26 Colleen in NS

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 07:46 PM

It's also difficult to know which skills are appropriate to teach when one minute you are delighting in a discussion over the dharma of characters in The Iron Ring and the next minute despairing over the fact that the boy is breaking all science lab rules and blowing bubbles in a test tube using a glass pipette-and he does it for 25 minutes.


:lol::lol::lol: Ditto over here in my house.

Did I mention that I am grateful that you always seem to talk me down out of the trees.


:lol::lol: "Hey! Hey, Lisa, up there!! Come back down here! It's much nicer down here by the tree trunk. It's sturdier! It's safer, feels more secure or something...."

these questions often come to me in the middle of the night-in a cold sweat-after I read a post-usually from Nan- that causes me to think too deeply.


Aren't her posts wonderful? I've read them (and tagged them on these "new" boards) for years. She has helped me to understand a lot of ideas about learning, esp. ideas from the WTM book. We even talked about learning art skills systematically with the recs in WTM, and how they tie into other skill areas - something I never see discussed here! That was fun.

This has been a huge year for physical growth in my ds, his biggest ever. The academic growth has been there, but it's all over the board. You're so right. I've been trying to find the balance, feeling like I'm on a teeter-tooter, but the balance shifts on a daily basis.


My son will turn 12 in a few more weeks. I'm so glad I've been able to read posts about 11-15 year olds so many times here, or I wouldn't have a clue as to some of the behaviour sometimes. Yesterday, there was a major outburst that left me feeling like a really mean mother (until I had a few hours to think it all through), and then a couple of hours later there was a really nice, apologetic conversation (on his behalf, yay!).

I'm working on my wit and humour, as two tools to help us through these next few years.:D

#27 Murphy101

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 07:55 PM

Just has to be said.

You gals are awesome.

:cheers2:

#28 Nicole M

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 09:48 PM

Nicole, you know that I lay awake at night thinking, "What twisted, torturous, teaching question can I perplex Nicole with next?" BWHAHAHHAHA! Stop whining here and buck up, woman. Someone I know pointed out that this is not the glamorous stuff like curriculum. Research skills, note taking and outlining skills, organizational skills, better writing skills- all of that is really the foundation of the middle school years, imo. Unfortunately. the UPS man does not deliver them.


No joke. This is what I keep coming back to, again and again. The perfect curriculum is not out there. I must be a slow learner, because I keep thinking that if I buy the right product, the product will do the teaching, et voila! The cold truth is that I have to teach the little blighters.

I was so very relieved to read Julie's thoughts, especially: "I think I've taken the opposite approach to most I read about. Instead of pushing ds to do more independently during 7th & 8th, I've spent more time sitting alongside him." You hear over and over that a middle school aged child "ought" to be able to work independently, but that is not the same as a child teaching himself. Trying to navigate what to help with, what to expect from my son, who is also changing and growing like nobody's business, intellectually and physically (and needing to eat every two hours) -- it's hard to keep up!

I guess, too, I am a doubter about the "foundation of the middle school years" in that I do not understand the why of outlining, summarizing and notebook pages and all that. I was a natural writer, and developed my own systems for committing material to memory and of structuring and developing a paper. Those systems do not look anything like the Cornell system, or like a standard outline or summary. I would not deprive my children of tools that they need, and so I do teach all that stuff, but at the back of my mind, I continually ask, what is the point of this? Why are we doing this again? And then I go shopping, hoping the UPS man will bring me the magic bullet. Okay, not really. I've stopped buying new stuff. But you see what I mean.
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#29 Nan in Mass

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 10:00 PM

Well, if it makes you feel any better, I pulled out our box of Beatrix Potter books today and wrote a paper for my son about how Peter Rabbit wasn't stupid, just naughty, and how he made quite sensible decisions once he was in the garden. Tomorrow, he'll write one on Jeremy Fisher. Then it will be my turn again. I tried and tried to explain how to write a paper that isn't all plot summary and quotes and failed so I finally just threw in the towel today and reverted to Beatrix Potter. This isn't the first time I've explained writing using those books LOL. There is a proper story in them so it is fairly easy, and they are short enough that you can look back and forth quickly, unlike a full length novel.
-Nan
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#30 elegantlion

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 10:31 PM

Well, if it makes you feel any better, I pulled out our box of Beatrix Potter books today and wrote a paper for my son about how Peter Rabbit wasn't stupid, just naughty, and how he made quite sensible decisions once he was in the garden. Tomorrow, he'll write one on Jeremy Fisher. Then it will be my turn again. I tried and tried to explain how to write a paper that isn't all plot summary and quotes and failed so I finally just threw in the towel today and reverted to Beatrix Potter. This isn't the first time I've explained writing using those books LOL. There is a proper story in them so it is fairly easy, and they are short enough that you can look back and forth quickly, unlike a full length novel.
-Nan


You're brilliant! :D I know that was apparent to many of us before this post, but it bears repeating, you're awesome.

#31 Kareni

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 10:48 PM

Thanks for the recommendation of the book That Crumpled Paper Was Due Last Week, Nan. I see it also has some rave reviews at Amazon. I've put in a purchase suggestion at my library.

A great thread overall -- thanks to all who have posted.

Regards,
Kareni

#32 Nan in Mass

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 07:58 AM

If I were brilliant, I wouldn't have to resort to Peter Rabbit with a fifteen year old; my fifteen year old would be whipping out nice five page papers in all his subjects. If I were brilliant, I wouldn't have had to read multiple writing sources to figure out how to write about Peter Rabbit so I could teach my son how to do it. If I were brilliant, I wouldn't be having to show my son how to write backwards, turning the events in the plot into the more general statements that you then pretend to have thought of first. Sigh. The posts that wake me up in a panic are the ones about the number of papers students are writing and the amount of reading and the high level of science. Those, and the ones about the wonderful projects they are doing. The very worse are the more nebulous ones about educational strategies like the ones Colleen posts, ones that do things like compare food to education and point out that if you always feed the child ample, balanced meals, they will never be hungry. Well, that one bothered me until I realized that the idea of me consistently enough feeding anyone that they never went hungry was laughable.
Sigh.
-Nan

#33 Nan in Mass

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 07:59 AM

Roughcollie found that one.

#34 Colleen in NS

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 09:01 AM

If I were brilliant, I wouldn't have to resort to Peter Rabbit with a fifteen year old; my fifteen year old would be whipping out nice five page papers in all his subjects. If I were brilliant, I wouldn't have had to read multiple writing sources to figure out how to write about Peter Rabbit so I could teach my son how to do it. If I were brilliant, I wouldn't be having to show my son how to write backwards, turning the events in the plot into the more general statements that you then pretend to have thought of first.


No, no, no! See, Nan, this is EXACTLY why we think you *are* brilliant - because you come up with all sorts of ways of getting the point across to your kids, and then you turn around and explain it to us in plain English. It certainly makes *me* feel better to read about your strategies and thought processes, because I sometimes panic, esp. about those intensive science courses I keep reading about and the thoughts of ever having "deep" discussions. You do have a brilliant way of breaking down the scary into little bits that make things doable. You have translated much of the strategy in WTM for me over the years.

#35 elegantlion

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 09:07 AM

If I were brilliant, I wouldn't have to resort to Peter Rabbit with a fifteen year old; my fifteen year old would be whipping out nice five page papers in all his subjects. If I were brilliant, I wouldn't have had to read multiple writing sources to figure out how to write about Peter Rabbit so I could teach my son how to do it. If I were brilliant, I wouldn't be having to show my son how to write backwards, turning the events in the plot into the more general statements that you then pretend to have thought of first. Sigh. The posts that wake me up in a panic are the ones about the number of papers students are writing and the amount of reading and the high level of science. Those, and the ones about the wonderful projects they are doing. The very worse are the more nebulous ones about educational strategies like the ones Colleen posts, ones that do things like compare food to education and point out that if you always feed the child ample, balanced meals, they will never be hungry. Well, that one bothered me until I realized that the idea of me consistently enough feeding anyone that they never went hungry was laughable.
Sigh.
-Nan


Would you accept inspirational? After reading your post I decided to dig out "The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry Bear" for my writing phobic son. We are going to do a short lit analysis on the book and then I'm going to have him write a paragraph (we're still working on those) using one of the following topics, unless he can up with one on his own.
1. The bear never existed.
2. The narrator was kind to look out for the mouse.
3. The narrator was a bully.
4. The mouse allowed his fear to control him.
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#36 Poke Salad Annie

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 09:09 AM

Aren't her posts wonderful? I've read them (and tagged them on these "new" boards) for years. She has helped me to understand a lot of ideas about learning, esp. ideas from the WTM book. We even talked about learning art skills systematically with the recs in WTM, and how they tie into other skill areas - something I never see discussed here! That was fun.




I am enjoying this thread and have already printed off pages. Now, can you direct me to the discussion of learning art skills by the recs in WTM? I won't interrupt further so that all may go back to the discussion at hand.

#37 Poke Salad Annie

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 09:11 AM

Okay, now I'm getting drawn in again by this discussion of writing inspired by simple children's books.

:bigear:

#38 Nan in Mass

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 10:11 AM

I know that story! I think the plot sounds suspiciously like some of the plots of 300 page classics GRIN, especially if you changed it so the mouse slowly deteriorates. Give me children's books, any day. Do you think we've just invented a writing curriculum that actually works? Wouldn't that be amazing?
-Nan

#39 swimmermom3

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 11:08 AM

There is a natural law-at least at my house- that says the more burning question I have, the one that has numerous thought-provoking, insightful posts, the less time there is to spend on it. I was at a 6am pt appointment and look where you all are.:D Thank you again for taking time from your busy days. You are all wonderful!


Ak! I'm sorry. Please believe, though, that I have had my own share of panic attacks after reading posts by some of the super-academic people here. Often it is a casual reference that makes me say, "Most people do what?" My posts are usually the way they are because I didn't know whatever it is and thought others might not have thought of it, too. I'm sure many people read my posts and think, "Who wouldn't do that? Isn't that obvious?"
Anyway, I'm sorry.
-Nan


Those casual references are exactly the type that send me up the tree so to speak. "They do what?" "How did I miss that?" I ask myself the next ten questions that typically go along with that type of internal dialogue-and then the train completely derails. While I am asking myself all these questions, a small part of me is holding itself in reserve and engaging in a small-scale rebellion.

No joke. This is what I keep coming back to, again and again. The perfect curriculum is not out there. I must be a slow learner, because I keep thinking that if I buy the right product, the product will do the teaching, et voila! The cold truth is that I have to teach the little blighters.

I was so very relieved to read Julie's thoughts, especially: "I think I've taken the opposite approach to most I read about. Instead of pushing ds to do more independently during 7th & 8th, I've spent more time sitting alongside him." You hear over and over that a middle school aged child "ought" to be able to work independently, but that is not the same as a child teaching himself. Trying to navigate what to help with, what to expect from my son, who is also changing and growing like nobody's business, intellectually and physically (and needing to eat every two hours) -- it's hard to keep up!

I guess, too, I am a doubter about the "foundation of the middle school years" in that I do not understand the why of outlining, summarizing and notebook pages and all that. I was a natural writer, and developed my own systems for committing material to memory and of structuring and developing a paper. Those systems do not look anything like the Cornell system, or like a standard outline or summary. I would not deprive my children of tools that they need, and so I do teach all that stuff, but at the back of my mind, I continually ask, what is the point of this? Why are we doing this again? And then I go shopping, hoping the UPS man will bring me the magic bullet. Okay, not really. I've stopped buying new stuff. But you see what I mean.


Yes! That is where my small-scale rebellion comes in. "Is this really necessary?" "Or are we doing this because it's the way it's always been done?" "Am I attempting to do this because it's what others with high-achieving children are doing?" One example that comes to mind, is a brief note by Michael Clay Thompson where he talks about the traditional research paper. Like SWB, he's all for doing more frequent, smaller research papers to hone the process. He also points out that computer technology makes some of the traditional approach obsolete. I appreciate the realism in his parting comment:

"...I had so many papers to write in college, I did not have time for such staging. I think a sharp path to writing can focus on the structure and ideas, and not on the hullabaloo."

I so appreciate having a place to come and think "out loud" and to get help sorting the real and necessary tools from the "hullabaloo".

Nicole, would you be happier if I said that part of the foundation of these middle school years is the ability to extract, organize, and use information?:D

Edited by swimmermom3, 02 February 2010 - 11:09 AM.
typos


#40 Kareni

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 12:32 PM

Thanks for the recommendation of the book That Crumpled Paper Was Due Last Week, Nan.


Roughcollie found that one.



Thanks then to RoughCollie! I did some searching and found her recommendation here.

Regards,
Kareni

Edited by Kareni, 02 February 2010 - 12:34 PM.


#41 Colleen in NS

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 12:56 PM

can you direct me to the discussion of learning art skills by the recs in WTM?


I'm pretty sure we talked about this via private messaging. Which of course has all been deleted, because we can only keep 50 messages total and I haven't figured out where else I could save them to clear out my boxes. Although, I can do some sleuthing to see if we talked at all in threads...maybe Nan remembers...

EDIT: There is only one thread I could find...it sort of starts to explain my thinking, but I know Nan and I had more in-depth messages about learning art skills systematically and then how they translate over into other academic areas - start with drawing, which melds into painting, and then you go 3-D with sculpting after learning to "see" through drawing and painting. It has just been so cool to see how seemingly unrelated academic/technical/vocational skills can thread into a whole piece of cloth.

art skills

I ask myself the next ten questions that typically go along with that type of internal dialogue-and then the train completely derails. While I am asking myself all these questions, a small part of me is holding itself in reserve and engaging in a small-scale rebellion.


:lol::lol::lol: This is exactly how my mind operates, too!

"Is this really necessary?" "Or are we doing this because it's the way it's always been done?" "Am I attempting to do this because it's what others with high-achieving children are doing?"


Yep. I feel like I get blindsided weekly with these types of questions in my mind. I'm doing it today, as a matter of fact. "Do I *really* need to have my son write ALL the dates from his Kingfisher two page spread on the timeline?? How will I help him keep up with all the other dates he is supposed to be writing, that I always have him forget to do (like paintings, musical compositions, dates that books were published, birth and death dates of authors/musicians/artists/scientists, scientific discoveries)?? I get the purpose of keeping a timeline, but just how detailed does it *really* need to be, and why?? And I really don't want timelining to take up tons of time - I'd rather he spend that on reading." And so, I'm revamping, yet again. He loathes having to write all those KF dates every week (and the dates from his science "spine"), and I secretly loathe making him do it. And I *want* him to include the other categories regularly because I think they are important to the overall history picture. So I am in the midst of plotting how maybe we could just have one short "timelining session" per week, where I tell him, "OK, take all the reading you've done this week, and see if there are any dates to record in each of these categories. Find things you are interested in keeping track of, but try to pick at least one thing from each category." It's always an experiment around here to figure out what is really important long term and why.

I so appreciate having a place to come and think "out loud" and to get help sorting the real and necessary tools from the "hullabaloo".


ME TOO!!!!!!!!!

Edited by Colleen in NS, 02 February 2010 - 01:10 PM.


#42 Poke Salad Annie

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 01:56 PM

EDIT: It has just been so cool to see how seemingly unrelated academic/technical/vocational skills can thread into a whole piece of cloth.

art skills



Got it. I'll spend this afternoon reading through the art section in WTM. I've got to remember to go back to the source before asking too many questions.

Edited to add: I spent last night reading over Jessie's story in the book of how she perservered, and it really helped a lot with my planning. I need to read that once a week, just for the inspiration!

Edited by Poke Salad Annie, 02 February 2010 - 02:00 PM.


#43 Nan in Mass

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 02:07 PM

So here is my wail. Just so you are warned. I did things the other way around. I began by assuming that we didn't need most of that stuff. Take, for example, grammar. Grammar? Who needs grammar? Then I discovered that I have a knack for picking out grammar patterns without ever having been taught them. And my sons don't. So they can't read things like poetry easily. And of course I didn't figure that out until the oldest was too old to teach grammar. Take most of traditional schooling, almost all of which I found boring or useless or both, and it is the same story. I am working everything backwards. Those timelines? We tried them but the son I tried them with was wired a bit differently and it took him 20 minutes to read the timeline secton of Kingfisher, let alone copy it. This was at the stage where he cried if he had to write a sentence. So we didn't do timelines, useful as they are. What I didn't know was that my two older ones were miles behind where any curriculum assumed they were. I just knew that no curriculum worked. I had to alter everything so extensively that by the time I got done it was unrecognizable. (The routines in TWTM were workable, once I modified them a bit.) It wasn't until my youngest, who was homeschooled with TWTM (more or less) from the beginning, got to be those ages that I realized this, by which time it was way, way too late to do anything about it. I wish someone had told me to back up and work on the beginnings (TWTM beginnings) with my older ones, even though that would make them even further behind in content. They were behind when I got them and I spent all my time trying to catch them up. We paid a pretty heavy price for not doing this with the oldest, too. The middle one has found his own much less academic path to an education. And I'm still reluctantly conceding that we do indeed need to do some of the traditional academic things with the youngest. The places we succeeded the best were the places that I backed up the farthest, and one of the reasons I'm so excited about TWEM is that it allowed us to go forwards even without some of the key academic skills in place. Even better, it built up those academic skills in a pleasant way. I'm equally enthusiastic about TWTM grammar stage science. And Latin. I'm backwards, too, in that I'm not aiming for academic excellence. I am aiming for the least academic excellence we can possibly get away with, so we have time for life excellence, or at least time to apply those academic skills in our own way to learn what we want to learn. We try to use patience and discipline when learning something, but I know that those don't depend on academic skills. Gymnastics is a good example of that LOL. I have regretfully concluded (with Colleen's help) that if my son is going to be able to digest a college science textbook, he needs to be able to outline. He might not use actual outlining when he reads and studies, but he will need the skills that outlining teaches. And to get where my children want to go, they need to be able to survive college. Also, I am a very unoutlining sort of person (I like spiders better), and only did outlining briefly in 4th grade, but I have from time to time over the years found myself outlining a book that I want to absorb and remember. I think it might come in handy. It is definately nice for writing technical things. I have my moments of rebellion about all the school-type things, but I have regretfully concluded that the ones in TWTM really are necessary. Unfortunately, I have concluded this rather late in the game. Fortunately, enough of TWTM worked well that I took the rest on faith and at least tried half-heartedly to do it. Sigh. I am better at altering now, too. If I could do it again, I would have my slow-reading son pick one event from the text of the page (not the timeline sidebar) and put that on the timeline, and not worry about the rest until his reading speed was greater. Hindsight and all that...
-Nan
-Nan
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#44 Nan in Mass

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 02:29 PM

Yes, I'm pretty sure it was messages, and unfortunately, I don't have it, either. I'm sorry. It was a good converstation.

#45 Colleen in NS

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 08:31 PM

I'm backwards, too, in that I'm not aiming for academic excellence. I am aiming for the least academic excellence we can possibly get away with, so we have time for life excellence, or at least time to apply those academic skills in our own way to learn what we want to learn.

Fortunately, enough of TWTM worked well that I took the rest on faith and at least tried half-heartedly to do it.


:grouphug: I'd sure love to meet you someday.

I liked your thoughts about life excellence. I think that's why I have mini-rebellions - I keep going back to why I started homeschooling in the first place - READING and living. So I keep questioning, what are the really important skills to learn, and how do I teach them most efficiently, so that I can still provide plenty of reading time each day, both alone and me reading aloud. But I still worry all the time about not doing "enough." Ah well.

I think what I might do is buy copies of WTM and WEM for each of my kids, to give them in high school or after (well, WEM for high school and WTM for after), so that they can have tools on hand with which to pursue other subjects on their own, in case we can't cover them as in depth as I'd like to - which, according to my reading of many high school posts, I won't be able to. Who does that high school art and music appreciation and art skills study anyway - yet it looks so good to me! The high school part of WTM makes for great adult education, I think! If someone want to catch up on something they didn't get to in high school...

I think I've veered way off track here...

#46 Nan in Mass

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 09:12 PM

I had a less-than-mini-rebellion when I first began to plan high school for my older one. It was actually more like a large combination panic/hissy fit. It looked for awhile like we were going to have to give up all the nice parts of homeschooling. It led to most of my more less-than-traditional ideas. Fortunately, TWTM flexes quite nicely. Those rebellions are really sanity checks, I think. I have clung tight to my vision of homeschooling as doing Latin cuddled up on the sofa in front of the fire with the dog on our feet and chasing fisher tracks all over the lake and trying to change the world and reading Beowulf on the sunny dock while paddling our feet and throwing bread to the ducks. It may be inferior academically, but I don't think it is inferior life-wise. I wish we had time to do all of TWTM, too, but we just have too many other things going on in our lives, like gymnastics and sailing and traveling. Giving them their own copies of the books is a great idea. I've just been thinking (because of this thread : ) ) that one of the differences between public school and home is that everyone has their own textbook. It is a little like who gets to hold the snicksnick while you are watching a movie. Someone here was trying to help me with something recently and suggested that my son was wanting me to do his work. In that particular instance, I'm pretty sure she was wrong, but it did raise my awareness of who is actually doing what. I am usually learning along with the children. If everyone has their own book, I tend to make them do more. When we had one book and two students, it made sense for me to hold the book on my lap and sit between them. Now, we have one book and one student and I am still holding the book. That doesn't make sense anymore. I got him a French dictionary and began making him keep it on his side and look up anything we didn't know, and I began making him do more of the summarizing. It was much slower at first, but he has now sped up considerably. I suppose it was a typical youngest problem SIGH. Most of it reduces to making him hold the book. I've made him do his own writing in his assignment book for a few years now, despite the temptation to do it for him. If I had thirty students, it wouldn't be easier to just do it myself, I guess. I don't know why I didn't apply this to TWEM. I should have bought my children their own copy long ago. Next time I go to the bookstore I am going to fix that, at least for one. The older one will have to wait a bit, probably. He's too busy to need it right now, anyway.

I don't think this is off track at all. Part of what we are discussing is which academic skills to teach and how much time to devote to them rather than to content, right? What use our children are going to make of those skills when they are grown up is all part of that.

It is always enlightening to talk to you, Colleen. : )
-Nan

#47 mcconnellboys

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 09:30 PM

I have the TC tapes, too. We're also using outlining and notetaking workbooks this year to give us more practice in these areas. (I think SWB recommended them in one of her last editions, or maybe someone here recommended them, can't recall)....

#48 Nan in Mass

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Posted 03 February 2010 - 09:24 AM

Notetaking workbooks?

#49 swimmermom3

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Posted 03 February 2010 - 06:10 PM

Notetaking workbooks?

Nan, I don't know if this is the book Regena is referring to: Note Taking & Outlining, Grades 6-8. It is recommended by SWB in the new TWTM on pg. 367. We thought some of the directions were ambiguous and several WTM posters backed up my ds's arguments. Then Colleen in NS directed us to SWB's directions on outlining on pages 297-301. I copied those pages and highlighted key points. My ds keeps this in his clipboard, works from SWB's guidelines, and is much happier making his outlines. I so love comments like, "Why didn't you give me this in the first place? It's really clear." Oh I just love to make you suffer, my boy.:tongue_smilie:

I have probably stated the obvious, sorry.
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#50 Nicole M

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Posted 03 February 2010 - 06:20 PM

Nan, I don't know if this is the book Regena is referring to: Note Taking & Outlining, Grades 6-8. It is recommended by SWB in the new TWTM on pg. 367. We thought some of the directions were ambiguous and several WTM posters backed up my ds's arguments. Then Colleen in NS directed us to SWB's directions on outlining on pages 297-301. I copied those pages and highlighted key points. My ds keeps this in his clipboard, works from SWB's guidelines, and is much happier making his outlines. I so love comments like, "Why didn't you give me this in the first place? It's really clear." Oh I just love to make you suffer, my boy.:tongue_smilie:

I have probably stated the obvious, sorry.


If you'll forgive me a little tangent here, this reminds me of a story. When my oldest was in 5th grade in public school, he had to write a massive report on Jackie Robinson. They'd had no grammar, no instruction on organizing the material, just nothing. They did have a diagram thingy with circles to fill in with information, and arrows here and there -- what do you call those? He was suffering, I was suffering. Finally, I said, "Honey, there's this thing called an outline. Let me show you how it works." He looked at me and said, "Oh, mommy! You're the best mommy in the whole world!" Who'd a thunk it that an outline could earn me so many bonus points!

Good thinking, photocopying the pages! I think I'll do that, too.

Edited by Nicole M, 09 February 2010 - 09:34 PM.




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