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Everything posted by Steven

  1. I did Earlybird with my daughter. In retrospect, and after learning these Singapore kindergarten books were created for the American market, I would have just waited until first grade to start, or used something like Right Start. The first grade Singapore book repeated the things from Earlybird. There just doesn't seem much point to it for the average child.
  2. Personally, I love KISS Grammar. No chanting of definitions, just short explanations and then right on to analyzing sentences. Virtually every lesson is like a test, since when a new topic is added, it is just one more element that the student must identify in the sentence. We are quite far into the program, but I think any student could easily and quickly master level one, which states that: "By the time they finish this book, students should be able to identify most subjects, verbs, complements, adjectives, adverbs, coordinating conjunctions, and prepositional phrases in almost any text that they read or write." And Level 2 addresses "most of the complexities of S/V/C patterns and of prepositional phrases," plus it covers nouns used as adverts, interjections and direct address. My daughter is well into level 3.2 and knows far more grammar than I ever learned. And it is free.
  3. Volume 1 was definitely our favorite. I found the other three volumes lacking. Was there really nothing positive that could be said about the pre-reformation church in the middle ages, e.g., the rise of universities, the construction of the grand gothic cathedrals, the role of monasteries in preserving and spreading learning after the collapse of the Roman empire in west? And in the modern era, the treatment of the Cold War is very poor: no mention of Churchill's speech about the Iron Curtain, NATO, the Warsaw Pact, no discussion of the Soviet invasion of Hungary. The U.S. fear of the Soviet Union comes across as irrational because the real threat posed by the Soviet Union is deemphasized or ignored until much later in the book.
  4. I have been very impressed with my daughter's results from KISS Grammar, which I find to be very hands-on oriented: one practices the meaning of subject, verbs, direct objects, subordinate clauses, prepositional phrases, etc. by finding them in real sentences, not by memorizing definitions. We have been using it for several years now and my daughter can analyze very complex sentences, surpassing anything I was ever able to do even in high school.
  5. Switching was a major problem in our house. In kindergarten, my daughter started Getty-Dubay Italic. But in her Saturday morning German school, the instructor had started teaching a basic ball and stick approach using a German phonics workbook. For years my daughter complained about how much harder italic was and wanted to know why couldn't she write using the other approach. I wish preschools would just stop teaching handwriting--most kids are simply not ready. Even in the early elementary years my daughter had trouble with the manual dexterity needed for handwriting.
  6. Four years later, our chicken is normally in its sarcophagus in our living room (temporarily banished over the Christmas holidays). We spray painted a small wooden chest from the craft store gold and have kept the mummy in that ever since. Because we are late finishing up book 4, we have not started the cycle over again. I am planning to give Pharaoh Poulet a proper internment in our garage when we get to Egypt, however.
  7. The Sequential Spelling web site generally recommends starting with level 1, but there is a link to a placement test. See this web page: http://www.avko.org/shop/sequential-spelling.html
  8. Our latest volume of the Sequential Spelling revised edition. In any event, in the back it has answers to various word puzzles and and other assignments. The foreword to the book says that each level "now has a coordinating student workbook, complete with a daily "Using Your Words" activity." Apparently I did not buy the matching workbook--we are still using an student response book that just has spaces to enter the words. So my response is, yes, the new edition has what could be described as more busy work, but there is no compulsion to do it. We don't. We have continued using the Level 4 book just like we did levels 1 through 3. After writing the above, I took a look at the Sequential Spelling web site. Although the teacher's book has the answer key to the supplemental activities, there is a separate work book (different than the student response book) that you would need to buy: Engaging Language Kit. There is one for each level of Sequential Spelling. The web site describes this series as being "supplemental" to the Sequential Spelling books.
  9. I am coming a little late to this discussion, but better late than never. My wife and I are native speakers of English, but both speak German reasonable well. So we taught our daughter German beginning at about 18 months, and she became quite fluent. We decided to teach her to read in English first on the theory that English is harder to read (we used a pure phonetic approach--Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading) when she was just over 4. We spent about a year. Then a couple months after finishing OPGTR, we began introducing German, also using a phonetic system. It went very quickly since she already grasped the concept to blending the sounds of the written letters together to make words, especially since written German is very phonetic. I would discourage a sight-word approach, especially in a language in which the child is not yet reasonable competent. I would go ahead and teach English (phonetically) and focus on oral use of the foreign language. Of course, as the child reads English, he may begin to sound out the foreign language words that he sees in books, which would be great. As the child gets order, I would think it would be relatively easy to transition to reading the foreign language when he knows a higher percentage of the words in the text. For the foreign language, I suggest as many CDs (both songs and stories) as possible--we spent a lot of time driving so that was easy for us. Since, like you, we were not native speakers of the foreign language, we tried to say it in that language if possible, and if not then we used English. We tried not to mix within a sentence, but within a conversation, we mixed a lot. I would also recommend trying to link up with any French speaking families you can find. And make learning French as fun as possible. I started a play group with the German families that I glommed onto and bought special toys (a small bounce house, a parachute, etc.) that we really only used at the play group.
  10. Well, since virtually everyone else's favorite math programs have been mentioned, I might as well recommend Singapore Math. We have really liked the Standard's edition, which is quite colorful. I am not quite sure how to interpret your term "structured," but I found that Singapore moved along easily with ideas building upon one another. Although not completely open-and-go for the parent (you need to read to Home Instructor's Guide to make sure that you are presenting the material in the actual Singapore fashion), a strong math student could easily work very independently in the workbook after covering the material in the textbook with the parent. And for a really good math student, I suspect the presentation could be pretty brief. Plus the instructor's guide has extra suggestions for enrichment.
  11. I voted Yes since in most years, we did them regularly. This year (we are in 5B) we have not done any. I always allowed her to look at the written problem (either the original or a photocopy), as the publishers says the calculation of the answer is a mental exercise, not the initial grasping of the problem.
  12. I completely agree. Unfortunately, I believe that the author was indeed trying to form a question which results in the answer 72 and would mark an answer of 36 as wrong. And as I have already pointed out, any (positive) multiple of 36 correctly answers the question as written. I think the very first response to this question showed the thinking of the author: the author is (in my opinion) thinking of elapsed time, the trains leave at 9, 18, 27, etc. and 12, 24, 36, etc. He observes the train leaving together at 36 minutes of elapsed time and foresees that they will again leave together at an elapsed time of 72 minutes. I am not saying that this is the only way to read the problem, so an answer of 36--or any multiple of 36-- is (in my opinion) not wrong. But I do not think it is the answer the author is looking for and I do not think that the author would acknowledge an error in the answer book. But, I tend to be cynical.
  13. Yes, it is true that zero is a multiple of every number, but zero is not a positive number, so it is not a positive multiple. At the 6th grade level, we are really only dealing with the positive multiples, not the zero-multiple or the negative multiples--otherwise the least common multiple of any two numbers would be zero (or some infinitely large negative number). Can anyone cite a grade school level book that specifically teaches zero as a multiple in its coverage of multiples and least common multiples? Or even mentions this possibility? Personally I would be surprised it there is. For example, the glossary in Singapore Math defines lowest common multiple as "the smallest number that is a common multiples of two numbers. It then list the multiples of 2 starting with 2 (not zero) and of 4 starting with 4. Finally it identifies 4, 8, and 12 as common multiples and 4 as the lowest common multiple. Do not mistake me--I am by no means defending this poorly worded problem. I think it is an example of the poorly constructed and test materials being pushed on students in the name of Common Core. But it think it is reasonable to point out that with the restricted level of mathematical information typically given to 6th graders, 72 is a feasible answer for this problem and could realistically be the answer the author intended. When we covered multiples in Singapore Math, for instance, the book did not include zero as a multiple. Nor did the book go into a discussion of why zero is not the least common multiple of any two numbers. Rather the book assumes that the student is dealing with positive multiples. I think the author of this problem is making the same assumption.
  14. Why am I not surprised that this is a problem written by the Pearson for the Common Core?!! On her blog, Out in Left Field (http://oilf.blogspot.com), Katherine Beals has been noting numerous badly worded problems in Common Core math materials. For those interested in Common Core math issues, I highly recommend her blog.
  15. Actually, any multiple of 36 would correctly answer the question as you have formulated it, since the problem does not ask when the trains will next leave together, but simply when will both leave the station together. So it would be true to say they will both leave together in 72 minutes (or 108 minutes). The bottom line is that the question is poorly worded and open to many interpretations. I don't know, but I am guessing that the problem is intended to teach about common multiples (not just least common multiples). Based on that assumption, I offered an explanation of how the authors could come up with 72 as the answer. If I were explaining this to my daughter, I would do as MamaD4 did by creating a number line: Train A will leave at the 12, 24, 36, 48, 60 and 72 minute marks; Train B will leave at the 9, 18, 27, 36, 45, 54, 63, and 72 minute marks. I would not include trains at zero minutes because zero is not a multiple of 12 or 9. If the student wants to have the trains leaving the station together at zero on the number line, just say: "Oh, the station just opened, so you need to give the passengers time to get on the trains, so no train leaves at zero minutes. Thus, if we have just seen the two trains leaving together for the first time of the day, we must be at the 36 minute mark, so the next time they will both leave together will be at the 72 minute mark. This will probably satisfy most students, but If it does not, just admit that the wording of the problem is not very clear and that there are many ways to answer this question correctly. You could note that the trains will always leave together at any number that is a common multiple of 12 and 9.* Then you could say, "Here is a better version of the problem with only one correct answer: The train station opens its doors at 6:00 AM and Train A leaves the station at 6:12 and thereafter every 12 minutes. Train B leaves the station at 6:09 and then every 9 minutes thereafter. If both trains have just left the station together for the first time, how many minutes after the station opened will both trains next leave at that same time? (72 minutes)" *Actually this is not necessarily true. Let's assume that the train station opens at 6:00. Train A first leaves at 6:12 and then every 12 minutes. But Train B first leaves at 6:04 and then every 9 minutes after that. It is still a true statement to say that Train A leaves every 12 minutes and Train B every 9 minutes (thus meeting the condition of the original problem), but their first common departure will not happen for hours. But once they do leave together, then they will continue to leave together every 36 minutes.
  16. Well, I agree the question is poorly written. But the question does not explicitly state that both trains first leave the station at a given time (e.g., 6:00 AM) and then every 12 and 9 minutes thereafter. I am guessing that the problem is trying to illustrate common multiples, and because zero is not a multiple of 12 or 9 and because multiples are not cyclical, but continue to every higher numbers, we don't assume both trains leaving at 0 minutes nor do we keep resetting the elapsed time to zero every time the two trains leave together. The question would be better formulated if it stated something like: A train station opens its doors at 6:00 AM and Train A leaves the station at 6:12 and thereafter every 12 minutes. Train B leaves the station at 6:09 and then every 9 minutes thereafter. If both trains have just left the station together for the first time, how many minutes after the station opened will both trains again leave at that same time? (72 minutes) Or they could have asked: Passengers Mark and Debby are madly in love with each other and will not leave the other alone on the train platform. Mark rides Train A, which leaves every 12 minutes. Debby rides Train B, which leaves every 9 minutes. They arrive at the station just at both of their trains are pulling out. How long do they have to wait until they both catch a train at the same time? (36 minutes)
  17. No, the answer is 72, assuming that no trains left the station at 0 minutes. On one track the train leaves at 12, 24, 36, 48, 60, and 72 minutes. On the other track, the trains leave at 9, 18, 27, 36, 45, 54, 63 and 72. But the problems states that "both trains just left on parallel tracks." So the current time is 36 minutes, which is the first time that both trains leave at the same time. The question is "when will both leave the station together again?" The next time they both leave at the same time is at the 72 minute interval.
  18. Definitely use Anki. It has made all the difference with my daughter and me. We are doing Latin and Spanish. We use to look up Spanish words and promptly forget them. Now we have added several hundred words to our Spanish vocabulary, and all the vocabulary from the first 9 chapters of our Latin book (Familia Romana). I am teaching a German class to adult beginners and am strongly encouraging my students to use Anki, as well.
  19. When doing KISS Grammar, it is important to do the analysis in the recommended sequence. The author actually recommends training the student to first identify all of the prepositional phrases, since any noun or pronoun that is the object of a preposition cannot be a complement or the subject of the sentence. So in the sentence "So they both hopped out of the house," since house is the object of the preposition "out of," it cannot be a complement. Once the student has put parentheses around the prepositional phrases, the student should identify the conjugated (finite) verb and the subject. At this point, many of the nouns and pronouns in the sentence will be eliminated from the possibility of being a complement. To find the complement, ask a what/whom question using the subject of the sentence and the verb. For example: The dog is big. The dog is what? The dog is whom? If there is an answer to this what/whom question, there is a complement, and now you have additional questions: First, does the verb essentially mean that the subject equals the complement (in such cases the verb will most often be a form of the verb "to be," e.g., is, are, am, was, were.) For example: Example 1: "The dog is big." The dog is what? The dog is big. "Big" is the complement and the verb means that the dog=big. Now you have to ask is "big" and adjective or a noun. Since big is an adjective, this complement is a Predicate Adjective. You can stop here because you have identified the complement. Example 2: "The dog is a beagle." The dog is what? The dog is a beagle. "Beagle" is the complement and the verb means that the dog=beagle. Now you have to ask is "beagle" an adjective or a noun. It is a noun, so this complement is a predicate noun. Ask the what/whom question. Does the subject equal the complement? If the answer is yes, then ask if the complement is an adjective or a noun. If the answer is no, go on the next step. Example 3: "The dog bites the boy." The dog bites what? The dog bites whom? The dog bites the boy. There is an answer to the question so there is a complement. In this case, the subject does not equal the complement (dog does not equal boy"), so the complement cannot be a predicate adjective or a predicate noun. So it must be a direct object. But sometimes there may be yet another noun or pronoun that is still unaccounted for, so now ask the question, for whose benefit does the subject do the action: Example 4: "The boy gave the dog a bone." The boy gave what? The boy gave a bone. The boy is not equal to bone, so Bone is the direct object. But the boy gave the bone for the benefit of the dog, so dog is the indirect object (the last of the four types of complements). Do not be confused by adverbs or prepositional phrases that answer the question how, when, or where. These are not complements. Complements answer the what or whom question. Going back to your example: So they both hopped out of their warm house. First find the prepositional phrases: Out of there warm house is a prepositional phrase. It answers a where question, not a what question. It is not a complement. Find the verb and the subject: hopped and they. Ask the question "They hopped what?" They hopped whom" There is no answer to this question, so there is no complement.
  20. We have done two years of KISS grammar (before the author published his Ideal Sequence). My daughter is now 5th grade and we are starting Level 3.2. We did not use anything else for grammar, but we did start CAP Writing and Rhetoric last year, and we also study several foreign languages.
  21. The author of KISS Grammar recently reorganized his website to show an Ideal Sequence for KISS Grammar by grade level. This makes it much more user-friendly than it used to be. (We have been using it for 2 years, and I see that according to this sequence, we are a year ahead of the game). In any event, in first grade, the recommended sequence starts with --Identifying simple subjects and verbs --Identifying simple complements --Identifying compounds --You Understood --identifying simple prepositional phrases --Nouns used as Adverbs Here is a link to the website: http://www.kissgrammar.org/kiss/wb/LPlans_Ideal/Ideal_G01.html
  22. Don't waste your money on the Minimus CD--it is very poorly done. We enjoyed Minimus, but the recording was not at all helpful. It was so bad, we have not listened to it for a long time, so I can't make a good description of its flaws. I'll try to pull it out and listen to it again so I can post an update on exactly why it was poor.
  23. I have also been puzzling over what to use for 5th grade. By the end of the summer we plan to finish SOTW 4, so we will be ready to move on in the fall. Since we are Catholic, I was looking at Connecting with History (http://www.rchistory.com), but I like the approach laid out in TWTM, even though it sounds like a lot of work for the parent and perhaps a method that is prone to get bogged down.
  24. I tried FLL with my daughter but after the first year switched to KISS grammar and really like it. It is not a writing program, but it does effectively focus on learning to identify the grammatical function of each word in a sentence using real sentences from children's literature. After two years, my daughter knows far more grammar than I ever knew in grade school (or high school). I have been very happy with, especially since it is free and is easy to do in small bites. We often take 2 or 3 days to analyze the 10 sentences that typically comprise each exercise. You would easily be able to use the same materials for both daughters.
  25. Our answer book came included with the teacher's book when we bought through Christianbook.com But it certainly isn't necessary. We did not use it the first year, when my daughter preferred writing on a whiteboard. But it is handy if you have to have a portfolio that shows the student doing work day-in and day-out.
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