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  1. Incorrect, the 4th edition of Saxon math is "a mess". They've expanded the texts by hundreds of pages, removed Geometry (split it into it's own seperate text) and made a mess of things. The 3rd edition of Saxon is mostly identical to the 2nd edition, and it's fine. Absolutely an "open and go" sort of textbook that explains the material to the students.
  2. Yes! I second this! We've got a few months of 8th grade left, so it's little premature for me to chime in, but each year The Boys, really do reap the (compounding) benefits of the foundational skills that were laid early. Obviously, I don't have high school students yet, but it was around 5th grad/10.5 that things "clicked" and they seemed to take off with their ability to want something and to take off after it. YES! The Boys don't balk at anything being "too hard". I love that they are confident that they can tackle anything if they want too. The main thing that I wish was that I'd managed to do a better job with the time, component. We're not quite where I would like them to be with endurance/concentration, but they've still got a lot of growing to do.
  3. As you make your choice consider: 1) Testing Years. Do you want to be responsible for trying to coach and prep a Standardized Test online? Especially since your incoming 6th Graders didn't really have a solid 5th grade education/experience? 2) The number of students per grades (so you might have 10-15 3rd graders, or 15-50 8th graders) Personally, I'd choose those lower grade students. I'd be tempted to take the 2nd grade class.
  4. I recommend intensive support in being neat and painfully high stakes for sloppiness. It's the only thing that works for older students who willfully screw themselves over by being messy, but lack the maturity and self-restraint to do it well without prompting. Ultimately "Take the time to do it right, or take the time to do it over." is the only thing that got the results that I was looking for.
  5. To answer your question: Yes, it would seem that you are doing Read Alouds wrong. While I think it's a good idea to teach kids the essential skill of "Sit Up and Shut Up" (for lack of a nicer sounding term) I think you're just expecting them to be able to SU&SU, without teaching them and that's never a fair dynamic. And I am with the idea of teaching 3+ year old children to sit attentively and calmly in spurts. To my mind it's an important part of Self Awareness and Body Control. Yes, many children crave movement and high-energy activity, but they also need to begin developing self awareness and self control. There is a time and place for various levels of activity or a range of volumes and if you don't teach children how to be still and attentive and control their volume then when it's time for them to be still, quiet and attentive, then of course they're going to fail. In general, you're doing Read Aloud wrong if: 1) you have chosen "essential books" to read aloud. By that I mean if the 7yo's missing anything by not paying attention to every page of that book, then it probably shouldn't be a Read Aloud. 2) you expect kids that young to sit for an hour straight and listen to you read. 3) you are relying on Read Aloud's to do anything besides be exposure for the 5yo and 7yo. --if you feel stressed that they missed out on something contained in those books. You're choosing the wrong books.
  6. Let's take a deep breath. This sounds very frustrating but I think it's possibly an over reaction to look at a 7th grader struggling and begin to panic about what they'll do in 5 years. My first question how long has she struggled this way? What's one topic or skill that she just absolutely gets? How are her math facts? How long have you been doing Saxon? How did you place her in Saxon? How are you using Saxon?
  7. Due to Covid a ton of groups now meet online so even if there isn't anything local why don't you look on MeetUp or Facebook for a virtual meet up of young writers? Also, contact your local library and libraries in your time-zone. Again, a ton of groups have been moved online so if they used to have a Kids Writing Club or anything like it, then it might now be online. There are websites that people publish their original stories on such as WattPad FictionPress ArchiveOfOurOwn (AO3) FanFiction People might review their work. You cant control for the age of participants, but it's naturally self-selecting based on interests. Someone's only reading your Anthropomorphic Animal Wizard story because they're interested in Anthropomorphic Animals too and like Wizards. Novice Writers can also look at Scibophile Writersrelief (Writing Groups by States) for articles, support groups and resources to write more. I'm super picky about my kids being online so I recommend that you create the accounts through your own email so that you can access the accounts that your son uses on these sites just so that you can stay in the loop.
  8. I won't tell you what to do, but I will share that practicing the various layers of LA in seperate, isolated strands would accomplish nothing for either of The Boys--Buddy who is a strong with ELA and a natural speller wouldn't have benefited from the isolated approach, Pal is not strong with ELA, nor a natural speller but grammar doesn't make much sense in isolation. I dabbled with a grammar workbook but the approach didn't didn't make sense to me and it was dropped Instead I taught just 1 or 2 grammar rules at a time and made them write everyday in every subject, and always required that they speak and write in sentences. I tried to never accept phrases and fragments. Every day The Boys had to orally recite the grammar rules they'd been learning just because they were conscious. Once school starteds, each time that they were about to write something (in math, history, science, etc) I would have to prompt them with. "How does a sentence start, and how will it end?" (A sentence begins with a capital letter and ends with a period.) "How do you know when your sentence is complete?" (It'll have a subject, predicate, and make sense.) "How does a paragraph start?" (I have to indent a paragraph.) "Make sure you have a nice healthy indentation to start your paragraph!" (I'll use my thumbnail to make a nice, healthy indentation for my paragraph.) "What should every paragraph have?" (every paragraph should have a theme--all the sentences should be about the same theme or topic.) Trust me, if you spend 2 months just solidifying how to write sentences and paragraphs across the curriculum then you'll be better off. For both boys, I wound up just teaching a couple of grammar rules at a time, and making them use them over and over again. They'd learned contractions and homophones in phonics, and we revisited them once they were fluent to make sure that they didn't mess with their comprehension. "What's a contraction?" (A contraction is when you squeeze the words of a set phrase together to make a simpler, slangier word that should not be used in school or at work) "How do you make a contraction?" (You make a contraction by dropping some letters and using an apostrophe to show that some letters are missing.) For spelling with Pal, I included contractions once we covered the base word. Because the first words that he learned to spell were "I" and "a" I made him say the rule every-single time- there was nothing to sound out, so he had to say. "I is a whole word by itself. I is special because it is always capitalized no matter where it is in the sentence." "a is a whole word by itself. a is not special. It's only capitalized if it's the first word in the sentence." He had to say that over and over again when we started because we started with I and a. When we started doing 2 letter words, he learned to spell "I'd" and "I'm" He had to sound it out and write them using The 9 Steps, but since he knew the rule for creating a contraction, he had to justify the spelling of them by saying (I'm is a contraction--it's a simpler, slangier version of the phrase I am. I'm: Capital-I, apostrophe, m) and " (I'd is a contraction--it's a simpler, slangier version of the phrase I would or I had. I'd: Capital-I, apostrophe, d) and "an" (an is another form of a, used only if the next word starts with a vowel.) When Pal started doing 3 letter words, he learned to spell all the 3 letter contractions (Yes, I used a list.) He had to go through the whole Nine-Steps plus justifying process for them. We did 'tis and it's along with he'd, he's, I've, I'll and all the other 3 letter contractions. As he mastered the 1-syllable words, contractions were the exception to the syllable limit. (ie "would" is 1-syllable, but "would've" & "would'nt" are 2-syllables) Verbs were probably the easiest part of 2 syllable words because it was adding the same handful of suffixes to the same effect. (In hindsight, this should've been a big clue to the whole morpheme approach being a good fit for him, but at the time I didn't know that a morpheme was a thing and it just hadn't occurred to me yet.)
  9. Three years sounds like a dream, *sigh*! We are pushing right on through our 7th year of spelling and there is little sign on Pal taking ownership of His Own Spelling, but this gives me hope! 2 more years and hopefully he'll be too embarrassed to have Daddy hold his hand through spelling for every.single.composition. Admittedly, I probably started Pal on spelling 2 - 2.5 years too early for him. If I'd started Pal on spelling towards around 8.5 or 9, then it might've been better. Buddy learned to spell from learning to read via phonics and going through WRTR at 6/7ish was just fine for him. He spelled pretty much naturally and the going through the 27 rules via WRTR and the practice of making the spelling notebook and bam, viola he could spell. No muss, minimal fuss. Pal, *tsk, tsk*, at least his penmanship was improved by writing all the spelling words.
  10. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaaaaa!!!! ROFL! I can tell you a slightly abridged version of the Journey To Decent Spelling that Pal and I have been on. We did the WRTR spelling notebook when he was 6/7 ish. He was very advanced in language arts so I thought that the "next step" was teaching him spelling. I used the handwriting method in WRTR with great success but making the spelling notebook did not translate to anything other than a notebook he'd made. Covering the 27 spelling rules at that age/stage and writing words in that notebook was essentially a handwriting exercise because for the sake of spelling it's like it went in one ear and out the other. His spelling regressed when he was 7ish/8ish and started having to write more for school stuff. I'm not sure what that was about--but he couldn't spell reflexively and it was like he just could not handle spelling while composing. We were well beneath the poverty level at that time so I honestly don't think it occurred to me to buy "A spelling program". I had taught them to read without a "A Reading Program" and I naively assumed that I could teach him to spell, as well. He could spell relatively well in isolation mind you, but if he was writing something it was ridiculous. I started working on spelling with him via exercises and word lists. Phase One - lasted about 2 months. Phase Two - about a year maybe? This is less-well defined. Phase 3 - This overlaps the end of his time at the BM for a while, but it went on for about 2 years. (Until around mid-6th grade) 9) Use A Freaking Dictionary While Writing I am mean. I make my child use a Collegiate Dictionary--not the internet, not a computer, a good old fashioned, heavy-a$$ dictionary when he's writing to check his spelling. When he's getting ready to write on a topic, he generates a list of vocabulary words he expects to need for the paper and studies the spelling before writing the paper. Phase 4.5ish? Through it all, you've got to 10) Hold Him Accountable When I read his work, I put a mark in the margin of any line that has a misspelled word and he has to figure out what's misspelled using the heavy-a$$ dictionary. The word(s) that he missed gets added to Gils List of Words that he needs to be able to spell so he is incentivized to spell well so as to spare himself having to go through 18 Spelling Steps on words. 11) Be consistent. It was NOT EASY to get a spelling regiment started with him (See "The "ox" Session) When he was a small boy he pitched a fit about spelling. Being my less inhibited child with a penchant for theatrics he cried, he accused me of thinking he was dumber than his brother, he hated spelling, he hated me for doing this too him and just out right hated me! He wanted to run away and he wanted to go to jail instead of do spelling. He made me suffer at least as much as he did. Fortunately, that was an intense but relatively short period. It didn't last past Phase 1, thought it reared its head a bit in Phase 2 but never as intense as those early days. when you consider we've been at this for years now and he can spell many SAT and GRE type words. I felt in my Fatherly-Gut that he needed to work intensively on his spelling and that's what he did. Once we hit upon Meaning-Based spelling it helped a lot in guiding me in which words to chose and how to break words up for him. However, I had to get explicit and involved and come at spelling intensively with a vicious combo of Sound-Meaning-Pattern-Rule tactics to get to this point and consistent and continuous drilling to prevent that ever-present-threat of going backwards. I'm not sure when/if I'll drop spelling with him. (Next year? 10th grade? College graduation? Tomorrow, 😭?) So, the short answer is that we don't use a Spelling Program. At this point, I'm not sure I'd switch to a program or if it's even worth it. I've been teaching this kid long enough to know that Spelling can NOT be an Independent or Casual subject for him if he's to achieve proficiency and long-term mastery of it. If I bought a workbook or a CD, I'd be tempted to take my eye off the Pal-Learning-To-Spell ball and I since I know my kid, I know that would not end with Pal-Learning-To-Spell, lol.
  11. If it's a long-term basis then make the kid wait for 1-2 sessions of early tutoring. My experience has taught me that if you want to do a mediocre job on a long term basis, then do not plan first. For every 15 minutes you spend planning and thinking ahead, you save yourself about a month of start-and-stop, going in circles, backtracking, time-wasting nonsense. Computer Science =/= Programming. If you actually want to teach the broader Computer Science, then it's going to take more intention and design than just teaching a unit in Programming. So, my opinion is that if it at all possible, then the time that you have carved out to tutor this kid, cancel/postpone the first 2 sessions with him/her and instead sit yourself down and use that time to plan. I'm not saying sit down and plan/create the first coding projects--designing a coding project to be used as a tutorial is extremely time consuming in the early days (I know!)--I'm saying decide what your first 3 "units" will be and the best sequence for them. ID the big items in each unit and then ID the sub-items and the skills needed for them. Look for resources that aid in your specific aims. Anyway, that's my premium grade opinion which cost you a whopping $0.00 and 37 seconds of your time.
  12. My poor speller only improved when I, the teaching-parent, got intense, intentional and involved in his spelling on a day-to-day basis. Hopefully my kid was just especially slow with spelling and your kid will take off with a lightly structured approach, but mine most certainly didn't. Personally, I recommend deciding if you think that Spelling is Important. If somethings "Important" for your HS/student then getting and staying involved is typically what works. Sorry, OP, but skipping the "heavy review" is likely not going to cut it for a poor speller. It didn't for mine, but hopefully you'll have way better luck.
  13. I take CS education pretty seriously for my own homeschool and I can say that I was not too happy with any of the CS-for-kids stuff that was out there (when I looked). CODE.org (back when I looked) wasn't too impressive, but some of it is helpful if you want to make use of what they offer. Back when I looked Many of the CS-for-kids stuff was of the same caliber as the Foreign Language for kids type stuff out there--shiny, colorful wastes of time that are utterly lacking in substance. My suggestion--which you paid a whopping $0.00, for by the way-- is that that you first map out your course of study and then look for existing resources that fit what you want to cover and evaluate the existing resource from the point of "Does this help me in my quest to teach ABC topic to the level and standard that I want to teach it?" Back when they were young beginners, I cobbled together all of our IT/CS courses myself. They learned to build computers by going to Goodwill and Yardsales and buying super old computers that were technically obsolete anyway so if they ruined the machine it wouldn't be a big deal. I taught them the basic good habits of thinking the problem through and planning a solution out fully before sitting to the keyboard using HTML5 and CSS3 first. We added in JavaScript once they were proficient with the basics of HTML5/CSS3. Frankly, I didn't do as thorough a job with JavaScript as I should've but it is what it is. Hindisight and all that, you know? Once they were able to reliably make some respectable web-sites and basic apps/features with JS then we went to computer programming. One programming book that we've gotten a lot of mileage out of is Programming Logic and Design -- it's basically an explanation of concepts followed by thinking through problems and planning solutions fully using Psuedocode only. They learn a couple of "mainstream" programming languages as we work through PLaD, using the exact same method that we used for web-coding. It's tedious, but it's been beneficial to have that habit ingrained into them and they're coming along well, I think. We've taken detours into Game Programming using books, online guides and have learned other bits and pieces as they've come up. We also work through various Coding Challenges (you can find them online) Having done an "ok" job with coding, I have some strong opinions on how I will probably sequence coding topics for another full time student. But what I think would've been right for my family in hindsight wouldn't be directly useful to you. I strongly suggest that you spend some time putting together a Scope and Sequence, then look for resources that will serve your purposes.
  14. So, there is the Chinese proverb goes: Following in that vein I figure that the best time to post this thread was 6.5 months ago, and hopefully the second best time is now. 😄 What are the big picture goals for your AL for (the remainder of) 2021? 2020 thread 2018 thread 2017 thread 2016 thread 2015 thread
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