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About ClemsonDana

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  1. The practice books each have 100 sentences, intended to do 1-2 each day as practice. It's hard for me to remember the early ones - they were useful at the time - but we're getting a lo out of the later ones because at this point he has the sentences and analysis, and then explains why certain word choices are better than others. I agree with the above poster - his discussion of why writers make certain word choices has been a huge perspective change. I loved his discusson about the idea that an adjective doesn't describe a noun - it modifies it - it literally changes what it means - a fried fish is not the same as a slippery fish or an orange fish. 🙂 I was always a good writer - one of my college literature professors asked why I wasn't an English major - but I've always seen language in a very STEM way and it had never crossed my mind to pay that much attention to the sounds of words. The vocab books are also great. The first is simple and quick, but it introduces maybe 10-20 word roots that will be used later and shows students how certain roots are in common between English, Latin, and Spanish. My kid who absorbs knowledge likes it and has found that it helps in Latin class, and my kid who often complains about school likes knowing the big words. There are also many word use examples taken from classic literature, so that's inspired my kids to want to read some of the books that go with the sentences. The assignments tend to be 'read a chapter about something', with the chapter either being playful in the island level or dense in the voyage level - and then there's a 'you do it' thing. LIke, in the discussion about formal vs informal language how it changes based on the author's purpose, it has you write a paragraph conveying the same information twice, once with each tone. It gave a topic, but I let my child choose. I think my younger chose to describe a friend or a favorite activity. I think that, as with any material, how you use it depends on your goals. My older didn't need to work on punctuation, spelling, or making complete sentences but the part about use of adjectives was helpful and kiddo could probably stand to re-read the part about wordiness on a daily basis. 🙂
  2. The first level focuses on sentences and what goes into a good sentence, and the second focuses on paragraphs. Neither has an onerous amount of writing. It doesn't get too involved until Voyage, where the focus is on essays. I've had no problem choosing to skip occasional assignments, modify the topic, or have my kids adapt the point of the assignment to fit what they are already doing either for history or for a co-op class. I'm not sure how it will work for my younger, but for older it was really helpful. Output was a struggle for this kid, because kiddo spent a lot of time reading nonfiction and absorbing tons of information. Any writing assignment turned into a brain dump - sooo many unorganized facts because, as kiddo said at one point, they're interesting enough to include even if they're only a little related to the topic. 🙂 Working through how to organize paragraphs and then put paragraphs together was fantastically helpful for this kid. We didn't get to that level until 6th grade, so I'm sure the added maturity helped, too. Somewhere in there we went from staring at a blank screen to being able to dash off something decent in an hour. These days we do a mix of shorter and longer, timed and untimed with multiple edits, writing about lit for co-op and history for me.
  3. We use pretty much all of it. This year I'm actually spreading out Voyage over probably 1.5 years - my younger is fine for the grammar and vocab but needs to move more slowly through the writing so we're taking a break. I adapt the writing assignments, skipping some of them. But, he often has students write about Roman history or some other topic. I just adapt the point of the assignment to something useful to us. For middle school we write about history, so if the point is a well-supported thesis, I'll have kiddo write the paragraph about something that we're studying. We have even done some of it orally if kiddo had other things that they were writing - we can work on paragraphs having a main idea and supporting details, or having connecting words to link paragraphs without writing it down. Or, I'd take something that my student was writing for a co-op class or something else and have them pick a paragraph and pay particular attention to whatever the assignment was and then tell me what they did. It might be different if I had kids who liked to write, but they don't, so I try to keep writing useful, minimal, and purposeful through middle school. Poetry is mostly oral, with the occasional 'write a few lines that show dactyl' or something like that. There isn't a lot of writing in the first level and only a little in the second. It gets a lot more intense in the third, and the reading is much more difficult (although useful - I wish I had read some of the example essays in high school history class). My older was fine with it in 6th, but my younger got to it in 5th and needs a bit more time, so we'll stretch it out.
  4. We've worked through the first 5 levels of MCT - we use the whole series. For grammar, there isn't a big increase in difficulty between Island and Town for grammar. At each level the series shifts focus - in Island, the focus is on the parts of a good sentence, while in the next level the focus is on good paragraphs. I'm not sure that it matters if you're just doing the grammar part, though. There is a big jump in difficulty when you get to the Voyage level - I don't remember if the increase is as dramatic for the grammar books, but the vocab and writing is markedly more difficult. Level 4 is different, but the jump in grammar content at level 5 is huge. Voyage is the biggest writing jump but so far 5 has been the most difficult grammar. And, yes, the book is just called 'practice town' or 'practice island'. We buy the whole series because if you want everything its the most economical way to do it (and as a STEM person who might have skipped poetry altogether if left to my own devies, I've developed a new appreciation for language that I wish I'd been taught as a student), but if you are only buying grammar you could probably skip the student practice book and just write the sentence of the day in a notebook or on a whiteboard. We do them orally, with the kid holding the student book and me listening to them call out the information while I use the teacher book.
  5. Our co-op switched to using it last year and has been happy with it so far. It's allowed people to pay for classes using paypal, so we no longer need somebody to process and record so many checks paid to teachers each month. The person who manages the records seems to be happy with it - after the initial learning curve it's reduced her workload dramatically. I manage my class content on canvas, but some other teachers seem to use it for a lot of their class communications.
  6. Vocabulary with Classical Roots? The vocabulary portion of the Michael Clay Thompson series, starting with Caesar's English or The Word within the Word? Both are based around Latin or Greek roots and include analogies, antonyms, etc. The MCT series also includes some history and references to literature.
  7. We are in TN and have a big garden. I freeze a lot - I haven't bought tomato sauce, peas, green beans, etc, in years. We grow corn, tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, summer and winter squash, purple hull peas, lima beans, okra, and green beans every year. Some years some crops don't do particularly well, but usually we get plenty of most things. We eat fresh stuff July-Sept or Oct and are also freezing as we go. At one point I joking asked my family what meat they'd like to go with their squash and green beans (or, at different times cucumbers) - I look for different ways to fix them, but we eat tons of them when we're picking. I did lettuce one year and it did well, and then the next year it got hot too quickly. Sometimes we grow sweet potatoes, too.
  8. We usually take the prescription but don't fill it. I usually tell the doctor that I'll take it but not fill it unless I need it, and they're fine with that. I think that they just don't want you to wind up needing a stronger medicine because the pain got out of control becaus you didn't have anything to take. Even with the same procedure it's hard to predict what recovery will look like. I had 2 C-sections, and with the first I had a 4 day hospital stay and was then in agony, taking pain pills as often as possible, for several days until they drained the incision site. With the second, I was home after 48 hrs and took one pill the first night so that I didn't wake up every time I moved, and after that didn't take anything at all. Since doctors can't predict your reaction to the procedure or your pain tolerance, I think they tend to overprescribe. I wish that more often they gave you 3-6 pills and said that if you needed more there was probably something wrong - with my first, that would have been true, and with my second, I wouldn't have had a whole bottle left over.
  9. I don't know exactly what was in your middle school bio class, but middle school bio tends towards organisms and body systems, while high school biology spends a lot of time on molecular biology (assuming you follow the standard content from state standards - I've compared TN, CA, and NY and they are basically the same). So, other than the idea of cells and maybe mitosis, there is a lot of difference in content. In my class, 5 of the 8 modules focus on various molecular topics, with the remaining 3 being genetics, ecology, and classifcation/evolution topics. My class is designed to fulfill state requirements at the request of my co-op and students' parents, but I could see several otherr interesting biology-related courses. Ecology and environmental science could easily be a semester. Genetics is at least a month long even in a standard course. If he likes psychology, maybe a unit of neurobiology. Botany, marine biology, or other specialty courses could be combined as a couple of 1/2 credit classes. There are a lot of topics that students never cover in a traditional class - prion disease, for instance. The caveat to looking at some special topics is that it may be slow going without a decent foundation in 'the basics' - if you don't know what a prokaryote or a virus is, bit might be hard to understand why a prion is different. But, you could do a bare bones 1/4 or 1/2 credit and then do special topics for the rest. I know that in our state students need 1 credit of life science and 1 credit of either chem or physics, plus a 3rd science credit of any kind. I dont know if that's univeral, though.
  10. At our school, classes are paid for like a gym membership - monthly, 6 months, a year, etc - and you can come as many times each week as you want for classes offered to students your age and level. A 16 year old would be in with adults, and from what I see at our school they are great with beginners. They recommend that students come twice each week if they want to progress at the typical rate, but there are students who come for one class and students who come 3-4 days/week. Classes are one hour, although students can choose to do 2 classes if they do both karate and jiu jitsu. My karate kid absolutely loves it, and I absolutely adore how they work with the kids and how more advanced students are expected to help teach the less advanced students when they work together.
  11. We only use the textbook if I want it to illustrate a concept or as a source for extra problems if we need them. In other words, we use it if the concept is tricky or new, but don't even open the book if it's not. So, we've never done the textbook reviews unless I happened to go back and pull a few problems for us to do on the chalkboard for extra practice or explanation. I wouldn't stress over not copying them if you don't need them.
  12. We do most of our subjects at home, but I teach an outsourced class and my kids have taken academic outsourced classes (in addition to fun ones that are considered enrichment). I see several possible explanations - maybe once you can figure out the cause, it will lead to a solution. The classes could be badly designed or have an excessive amount of work. The class could be a great class but be a bad fit for your student due to a mismatch in abilities - it requires a lot of reading from a slow reader, or is set as an 'advanced' class for a student who wants a regular amount of content. The class could just be designed for students who want to spend a lot of time on the subject, which you don't want to do. Your student could be wasting a lot of time. Especially on computers, it's easy for students to click away for 'just a second' and lose 20 minutes. Some online platforms let teachers see time usage, and parents are sometimes shocked to hear that the student who said he spent 2 hours on an assignment was 'clicked away' from the class page for 1 of those hours, all in short 5-15 minute bursts (there are legitimate reasons to click elsewhere for some assignments, but for others it helps to give an estimate of how much time is actually being spent on work). The fact that it takes a lot of time could be a clue that there's a skill that needs to be worked on. I have my kids take a co-op writing class somewhere around grades 4-6 just so that they can see that it's possible to get words on paper quickly. The beginning is tough, but by the end they're not staring at a blank screen/page for an hour while saying that they've been working for a long time. 🙂 I also often see a couple of things come together badly as students get older. For kids who are used to being done before lunch (which is fine for youngers) it can be an adjustment to hit middle school and have work take longer...and then, when they're still working later than they think they should be, the dawdling gets worse as they get complain-y, which makes it take longer, leading to the drag it out all day death spiral of doom. Not that I've seen this in person, in my own home, in addition to coming from my students. 🙂 I'm sure there are other explanations, but I thought I'd throw these out there. Depending on what you decide the cause it, you might choose to drop 1, 2, or all 3 classes and do it at home while finding other social outlets, use this as the incentive to learn to schedule time and work with more focus, have him track his time while you offer more supervision or even sit beside him for just a week or 2 to see how the time is being used and if there is any particular skill that, if learned, could speed everything up, etc. Good luck sorting it out!
  13. I only have 2 kiddos, but I have found that anything that is set with a 5 days/week, 36 week schedule doesn't work at all at my house. First I have to modify for co-op day (you might not have that but might have some other 'out of the house' day for lessons or field trips). Then I feel like we can't ever take a week, or even a day here and there, to do something different. During the elementary years, we always had math (we love Singapore) and handwriting (HWOT, which, after letters are learned in K is independent). I do phonics for as long as it's needed. We add spelling at some point and do as long as we need it. I have used spelling books but have also just pulled words from vocab or other subjects - even phonics lessons. Grammar shows up around 3rd-4th grade. I've used workbooks (the critical thinking company has some good ones) and the MCT program, which is teacher-intensive but also can be used with multiple ages (and only your oldest would be likely to be the right age right now). In the K-4 years I based our science and history on the Core Knowledge sequence, although there are lots of plans that would work. I did alternating units each year - a month of geography, then a month of world history, then a month of science, then a few weeks of art, then a month of US history, another month of science, then music history. These weren't all strictly a month - anywhere from 3-8 weeks, depending on topic. I would just go to the library and/or raid our bookshelves to find appropriate books about explorers, or early US history, or the human body or the solar system, etc. The kids might be learning about different parts of US history depending on grade (and you could clump your youngers together) but I would just fill a basket with acceptable books and they could choose something to read each day. It could also include coloring pages or we could do a project - it would depend on the kid. We used an Even-Moore geography workbook during that unit for a particular grade (I don't remember which). Exactly how we did these unit varied depending on the kid. One was happy to just read (and was an early reader). For the other, they'd look at an illustrated book or read from 'What your 1st grader needs to know' at the appropriate grade. Then they'd draw, or build a model, work a floor puzzle (we had presidents, a map, the human body, and the solar system) or occasionally we'd do a craft or try a food. In other words, elementary history and science involved lots of looking at books and reading, occasional simulations or drawings, but very little output We'd sometimes watch documentaries or listen to different genres of music. As long as they could do math, write, and read then any content learning was good. Then in later elementary I started having them sometimes write a few sentences, and then we progressed to paragraphs, about what they were learning. In 5th-6th grade we worked on stringing paragraphs together and the MCT writing program that we started in grades 4-5 was a big help with that, although there are lots of ways to work on writing.
  14. There was a stretch of time where my whole family, husband included, did this. The kids were young and i started teaching them that various things were problems that they could solve. But, I realized that I was just as bothered by the general expectation that they would voice a desire and expect me to jump up and fix it. Over the years I've emphasized that I, and the world in general, will likely respond to requests for help but am not obligated to do whatever pops into their head. In other words, if they say 'I'm hungry' I'll respond with a joking 'That's too bad' or 'I'm sure that you can fix that problem if you want to'. But, if they ask 'How long until dinner?' 'Is there time for a snack?' or 'Do we have anything for a small snack? I'm happy to help. Funny enough, this stems from a prof that I had in college. He wouldn't help us unless we could show him what we'd already tried and then formulate a 'I don't understand #4', but 'Could you explain the difference between X and Y?'. We often found that formulating a clear question helped us figure out the answer, or at least something that we could easily look up without help.
  15. I've skimmed this thread but haven't read every single post. During my high school years, we had several exchange students at my school - some lived in my neighborhood and others played on my ball team. In grad school, my lab had more international students than American (although most stayed in the US after finishing school and now have green cards). I heard lots of opinions on Americans, and they were very specific to the culture of the speaker. French students thought we were loud, while Indian students thought we were quiet (and, having interacted with both...they were right, relative to their culture). Scandinavians were shocked by our disposable income because their tax structure and food costs are so different - high school students stopping for a burger or ice cream after a ball game blew their mind. Indian students thought we had to work too hard, because we are mostly DIY - we do our own laundry, shopping, cooking, etc, instead of having paid people to do that. It had never crossed their minds that their cleaning lady went home and cleaned her own house. Everybody thought we were fat, but then were shocked when they gained weight once they got here. All thought Americans were very friendly. Some thought our school system had low expectations, but they were also not placed in advanced classes due to language barriers so it's harder to judge on that one - they were probably right. Friends from India and Pakistan thought that Americans respond rationally rather than emotionally, or at least attempt to come up with a rational explanation for their responses. Based on my own perceptions of my country, I can only interpret this as a conclusion based on relative, not objective, observations. One comment that friends made seems applicable to the 'American confidence' descriptions. I've been told that Americans just expect things to work, because most of our everyday interactions do. When I got married, I got a new social security card and drivers license with my married name. When I applied for a job, I filled out a form, paid the $5 fee, and got a copy of my transcript in 5-7 business days. None of these were stressful things - just errands to run. My friends said that this is not the case everywhere. They thought it strange that we see a sign staying 'Tour at 3' and expect it to leave promptly at 3. I was startled when they pointed it out - I wasn't asking for any special treatment, I just went during posted hours and expected that people would do their job with reasonable competence. It might not be relavent, but their interpretation is that Americans just expect to do what they want on a daily basis because for the most part they can and it carries over to how they act in other places. This isn't to say that we don't have obnoxious jerks - like everywhere, we do - but I had never considered this explanation for how Americans carry themselves until I heard it from my friends.
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