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About Florimell

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  1. Florimell

    Favorite "Fun" math books?

    We are working through the Moscow Puzzles and Patty Paper Geometry and both DS10 and DD8 are loving them. We also have This is Not A Maths Book (1 and 2) and Amazing Maths Projects You Can Build, which are fun too.
  2. Florimell

    Ideas of where to move

    Thanks again for the suggestions! I think we're going to plan some trips this spring and summer to check a few of these places out -- Minneapolis and Cincinnati are both on our list, but we have many more to consider now.
  3. Florimell

    Ideas of where to move

    Thank you for all the great suggestions -- some are places we have considered and others are new places to research. I know we're going to have to make compromises. Right now, we live in a great, old house that has been completely renovated and has a ton of character. It is in a decent, established neighborhood in an area with a very low COL, but that's about all the place has going for it. DS plays piano seriously, composes, and plays violin for fun. He would love to find a chamber ensemble. With location, as in most things, it seems that you get what you pay for. I think we're realistic about what it would cost to move into a comparable house in a larger city -- we just have to make sure it's worth it :)
  4. Florimell

    Ideas of where to move

    We currently live in a small city in the upper midwest, but it is no longer a good fit for us and we are looking to relocate to a slightly larger city that has more of what we want and need. We could go pretty much anywhere, but here is what we are looking for: Reasonable COL and relatively easy homeschooling laws Thriving downtown that is walkable and has a nice variety of good restaurants/coffee shops/etc. Opportunities for a very serious young musician (great teachers, concert opportunities, small ensembles in which to participate; more than just competitions) Cultural activities An intellectual environment (i.e. a university with great public lectures and things) Prefer cold/snow to HOT/dry and like to have all four seasons (we like the midwest in general, just not where we are) A nice homeschool community (I would love to find a math circle, running club for kids, and things like that). Great library Nice public parks, access to hiking trails and water of some kind (near lakes, rivers, etc.) Any ideas or suggestions would be appreciated!
  5. In my former life, I was a professor of Renaissance literature and taught Shakespeare, but to college students, not kids. I chose to do Midsummer Night's Dream first with DS10 -- it was accessible and DS found it funny and interesting, through I could walk him through the text and annotate it as we went. Even so, I would say that he got only a very small fraction of what there is to read in the play. He asked to read it, though, and I was willing to oblige. We will go back to it again one day to pick up more pieces. I agree that any of the light comedies would be fine to start with if you are set on having them read Shakespeare. While some kids might be able to work through the intricacies of the plots of the tragedies, they would miss so much of the richness and complexity (and possibly come away not liking them very much) and be reluctant to try them again later when they are ready. If your kids have a strong base of knowledge about Rome and the main figures of Julius Caesar, they might like it, but it isn't exactly a kid-friendly play. On the whole, though, I think that there should be no rush to get to Shakespeare. The language is difficult, the plots are complicated, and the characters are hard to pin down. My kids are precocious, but even so, I don't plan to do any significant work with the plays until they are at least in late middle school and possibly high school, and then we will pick only a few plays and study them in depth. Until then, we'll work through things that are more accessible and relevant for them right now.
  6. How old is your DD? Hobby Lobby has supplies for candle and soap making (boil bags, wax, oils, molds, etc.). It is a fun, simple process and can be done periodically.
  7. Florimell

    Hands on fifth grade math

    Though they don't exactly address the topics you mentioned, my DD, who just started BA5 a month or so ago, is really enjoying Hands-on Equations, Patty Paper Geometry, and various sections from the upper level Gattegno books (she loved Miquon when she was younger, so I was happy to find these books that went further).
  8. Florimell

    Anyone want to suggest schools to visit?

    College of Charleston checks most boxes, though the faculty is more diverse than the student body.
  9. Florimell

    Where to go after Beast Academy

    I think I'm going to have DD do Jacobs Algebra when she is done with BA5. I wasn't sure my DS was ready for Pre-A after BA5 and he started on Jacobs, but it was too lightweight for him and he has thrived with AOPS Pre-A. My DD has done fine with BA, but doesn't love the struggle. I know AOPS really encourages kids to struggle with hard problems and that is part of their deal, but the way it plays out around here some of the time isn't a dynamic that is conducive to a lifelong love of math. I like the fact that Jacobs is not a step down from BA in terms of content, but it isn't as intense either. Also, DD has worked through Hands-on equations and most of the Balance Benders workbooks, so I think she will enjoy getting into some algebra. After that, we might go back to AOPS to pick up a few topics in their Pre-Algebra book or maybe do another pass through Algebra with AOPS. My kids are young for this level of math, so we have plenty of time and I don't know where they will be in a couple of years.
  10. Florimell

    How long to get the hang of AOPS?

    Do you have any suggestions for specific programs? I am not sure AoPS Pre-A will be as good of a fit for my DD as it has been for my DS and I would love to find something equally solid.
  11. We just listened to a great variety of music (everything from Raffi to Vivaldi to electronica) and danced in the kitchen. Music is like a language to him -- something that just makes sense in a deep way. I don't think we could have done anything to teach that or to bring it out earlier, and I think any forced efforts on our part might have had detrimental effects.
  12. No, he didn't, and we were not expecting him to show any real promise, even though he was generally precocious. DS was about 4.5 when we started with piano (I found an inexpensive one on Craigslist and worked with him myself for about a year before he needed a real teacher). He never had any formal exposure to music before that. I am a very mediocre musician and DH never had any exposure to formal music study at all. It is pretty remarkable to witness, though I suspect that it won't guarantee much in the hypercompetitive world of music....
  13. My DS has perfect pitch and it is very helpful with intonation on the violin. It has also become more sensitive over time. When he was about 5, he could identify by sound the names of all of the notes on the piano except the very highest/lowest and the names of 3 note chords. By 8 or 9, he could identify and name every note in any chord in all the major and minor keys (augmented, diminished, etc.), the notes in a random group of 4-5 notes played together, and he could name the key of any piece of music just by hearing a few measures. Now, at 10, he can identify quarter tones as well. He also does a lot of improvising/composing on the piano and he can record what he plays and transcribe it into Finale just by listening to his recording -- he doesn't have to work out or try to remember the notes he played.
  14. I used to have my college students buy Literary Criticism: An Introduction to Theory and Practice by Charles Bressler for a college level critical writing course (used copies are fine -- literary criticism isn't cutting edge enough to justify the nearly $100 price tag for the latest edition). It is an accessible book and one that could work well for engaged high school students. It introduces the major approaches to literary analysis and includes sample essays. Before jumping in to reader response, psychoanalysis, or the others, I would make sure they are really, really good at close reading/new criticism (this is not a book review/summary -- it is critical analysis using the primary text as the only source). I would recommend you start with short poems like Shakespeare's sonnets, which are substantive enough to support a 4-6 page paper, but short enough that they can keep the whole text in mind at once, then move on to longer texts. You might also spend time on annotated bibliographies before turning to actual literary analysis essays. I tend to favor doing more with less, but I think 4 papers is do-able over the course of a year (though I would probably be inclined to assign two big papers and several process assignments, like brief explications of individual sections, outlines, annotated bibliographies, etc.). As far as grading, it's not so different from any other paper. I never just assigned a letter grade (I was a young professor and some students had no qualms about challenging a grade), but used a rubric that was more or less as follows: Focus (25 pts): Had a single focus, strong thesis statement, all elements in essay relevant to focus, etc. Development (25 pts): Included concrete, specific details from text to support points, well developed, organized, strong transitions, etc. Responds to Assignment (20 pts): Actually did what they were asked to do, took an interesting, engaging approach to the topic, actually grappled with the issue at hand Style (15 pts.): Strong sense of voice, clarity of ideas, concern for revision, well integrated quotes, etc. Conventions (15 pts.): Command of spelling/grammar, properly formatted, properly cited sources/quotes, etc.
  15. Do you have your kids doing math seven days per week? And you do pretty high-level math for middle schoolers, too, right? I know every kid is different, but mine would definitely push back at that. Maybe they just need a break.
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