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lewelma last won the day on April 8 2014

lewelma had the most liked content!

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About lewelma

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    Hive Mind Queen Bee

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  1. I enjoyed Classics in the Classroom by Michael Clay Thompson. He makes a strong case for not just classics, but a LOT of them. Very slim volume, very interesting read. I have also enjoyed Engaging Ideas, which discusses how the best way to learn is to develop high level papers that require deep critical thinking to write. You don't have to read the whole book, just the first half to really understand the importance of this approach to all humanities, social sciences, and sciences. It is basically writing across the curriculum, but focuses on how to design well-designed prompts to develop critical thinking. Ruth in NZ
  2. The problem with the compression of the class, is that some of kids don't learn all the content. My ds said that he knew certain students who could only do the work with hints, and once the hints were given, the course became like a standard course rather than a discovery course. In his experience, a discovery course makes you work longer on problems so that fewer are required to master the content; whereas a standard course requires less thinking and more drill to master the content. He said that when he was taking AoPS, that he knew a number of kids that were going to retake multiple courses because they knew that they had not mastered the content with the first pass through because they had converted a discovery based course to a standard course by needing multiple hints on all problems. And because a discovery course does not offer a standard amount of drill, they did not master the content. He got the impression that some of these kids were very young, and it was a status symbol to be doing high level AoPS courses. Basically, he felt like kids needed to put in the time to keep a discovery course a discovery course. DS spent 10 hours per week at least in each class, and he is pretty high level. As for the text based format, my ds loved it. He had no interest in staring at a teacher, or listening to kids talk. He just absolutely loved the courses and took intermediate algebra, number theory, and combinatorics; olympiad geometry, precalc, and calc. He never ever felt that the text format was old fashioned. Rather, it allowed him to work at his own pace. If he got things way faster than everyone else, he could either do another problem, go to the bathroom, chat with me, or whatever. He didn't have to sit there listening to a teacher go at too slow a speed. It is a brilliant format for what they are teaching for the range of students they are teaching.
  3. We are in NZ, so the time zone is in our favor and ds could attend the classes real time in the middle of the day. However, if he did miss a class, trying to read through the transcript was not much fun. It was the class that was fun, because it was a race to get put on the top 5 responders. He definitely enjoyed the classes. But he also did the entire Intro Algebra and Intro Geometry books on his own, and loved them too. Ruth in NZ
  4. square_25, my older ds is on the extreme end of concept driven. I'm a science person, not a math person, so when he was little, we just played shop. I had no grand visions or pedagogical opinions, I just taught him about money, made up funny word problems, estimated stuff, played multiplication war, etc. Then, at the age of 6, having never been introduced to the concepts, he invented algebra, reasonably complex algebra. I had no idea that these thoughts were in his head, none. We had been playing shop. That is when I started reading up on how to teach him. But interestingly, he was extremely computation adverse. He *refused* drill, completely refused to do it. He seemed to only be able to practice his numeracy skills through complex 10 step word problems. It was at the age of 8 that he decided that all teaching was cheating, in fact, that all textbook explanations were cheating. I'm actually not sure how he learned fractions - he must have had insight and just confirmed his method by checking his answers in the back of the book, because he *refused* to be taught how to do it by me or by any written explanation. At the time he was working his way through the word problems in singapore math intensive practice. Over time, I came to believe that his mathematical skill was so high, that drill of any sort was the equivalent of proof-reading a phone book. You might have good intentions, but there is just no way you can actually *do* something so boring. However, this boy then took 3 years to get through AoPS intro algebra, and this slow speed just about gave me a heart attack. But he had to do it on his own. And he had to do it at his own pace. And he had to *derive* every. single. concept independently. But you know what, he was on the NZ IMO team at 15, and now is taking grad level math classes at MIT as a freshman. So his very strange path was apparently just right for him. My point is that you are mathy and your child is mathy. Perhaps there is just NO drill in her future. I remember my son memorizing his subtraction facts while concurrently working through AoPS algebra independently. Conceptually, he was far far far ahead, but when it came to *computation* he was very average. I've often wondered what would have happened to him if he had been forced to do math in school. My guess is that it would have drained the passion right out of him. I'm so grateful to be able to have offered him another path. Ruth in NZ
  5. Duke also has full ride scholarships for leadership, which your dd has in spades.
  6. One of the best interactions we got on our college tour was from the Math department at the University of Michigan. U of M is huge but we had an hour and a half with the head of the department, 30 minutes with another professor, and then the department head had one of his students take us out to coffee on the department's dime to answer questions from a student's point of view. DS simply e-mailed the department, told them when he would be visiting, and asked who was available to chat. With this approach we were able to talk to professors at all universities except Harvard (who told us to piss off), and we also met with a number of the academic advisors for the math departments. Most schools also organized for us to meet with one of their math students. We visited universities in July, so were warned that no one would be around, but the departments made it happen.
  7. I have been hired to attend IEP meetings in support of a student. Make sure that you are well informed, or the school personnel will try to push your child into the box that they want to create, rather than the one that would be the most useful. You would not believe some of the stuff suggested at these meetings that was totally inappropriate for the circumstances, and some of the easy-to-implement ideas that were never offered which I had to drag out of them. You must be informed -- you must know what is on offer and what are your rights under the law. Bring an educational consultant with you if you think they will try to manipulate you into accepting less than your student deserves. And yes, I have definitely seen manipulation (and threats of expulsion). School staff typically believe that the way their school does it is the *only* way, but since I work with many schools, I know that there are many ways to work within the law, some clearly better than others. School staff seem to want to make the parents and me feel stupid, like what we are asking for is ridiculous. You must stand firm. They manipulate your emotions, they really do.
  8. The only way my ds could keep to his potential was to have me as a private tutor for 4 hours a day. For a child who cannot write, it is a long hard slog through most content. I scribed for him in the early days (an even occasionally now), and then over the period of 4 years, worked with him to develop a system where he could keep track of what he wanted to say and get it down by himself. This took an hour a day for 4 years to accomplish. Dysgraphia is no small thing. We tried mindmapping, dictaphones, typed lists, speech-to-text, etc. We tried every combination possible. The goal was independence, but how do you get a kid excited about content that is learned at a high level, when he can only write down his ideas at a low level? The key ingredient is personal attention of a dedicated tutor, which was me. At the age of 11, we started daily dictation of the Cat in the Hat, because he had still not mastered spelling the top 100 words. People would tell me that "oh that is what spell check is for." And all I could think was " you have no idea." I have gotten so many really obvious, really basic suggestions from people who mean well, but seriously don't understand dysgraphia. I have spent hours upon hours brainstorming *how* to help my ds, and I'm not stupid. The problem is just intractable, which people with only a little bit of knowledge just cannot get their head around. But now, at age 15.5, my ds is typing at speed because he can mostly spell 90% of the words, understands where a period goes, and can generally organize his ideas. These are feats of great effort, worthy of deep respect for both the time and persistence shown. And they are due to one-on-one tutoring. If my son had been in school, I'm sure that he would have dropped out by now. Failure is a hard thing to swallow for a gifted kid. My point is that I have never regretted putting in the time to keep my ds from failing. Every morning I feel like I have to put my big girl panties on, but I do it. And now after years and years of struggle, we have success.
  9. I don't think my grading system applies to your situation in a direct way, but I wanted you to think a bit out-of-the-box by looking at what I had to do. Homeschools are not schools, and we don't have to collect grades like they do. Here is an x-post I wrote last month about our grading system. My son was admitted to MIT and won the top merit scholarship to CMU with this grading system: I'm feeling like the only unschooler among everyone here. 🙂 I never gave grades and never considered grading anything, ever. There were three reasons for this. 1) I just wanted to teach the love of learning and was very unstructured in my approach to the point of no clear cut courses even in high school, 2) NZ is an exam based entrance university system, so homeschool courses would NOT count for anything so there was no reason to give grades, and 3) he did not decide to apply to American universities until April of his Junior year. So as I went into making an American style transcript of our homeschool journey, I had to both create courses from what he read and wrote about, and I had to create grades out of thin air for courses that were years in the past. I will always remember the generosity of some members on this board for taking the time to sort through my often belabored descriptions of what we had studied over the prior 3 years, make sense of it, and recommend how to organize it into courses that admissions folk would understand. Basically for grades, I retro-fitted what seemed appropriate given all his standardized testing. 1) Excellences in NZ national math exams, NZ IMO math team for 3 years = all prior math courses earned As 2) Excellences in NZ national writing exams, 780 in SAT verbal, 20 on SAT essay = all prior English and humanities style writing courses earned As 3) Excellences in NZ national physics and chemistry exams = all prior Science courses (including Bio) earned As 4) ABRSM distinctions on music exams - all prior music courses earned As 5) Courses created from his 3000+ hours of reading (Contemporary World Problems, Philosophy, Comparative Government, World History, and Economics) -- All As because he put in way more hours than required for a standard Carnegie credit and read content above high school level (War and Peace, Capital, Godel Esher and Bach, etc). I made it very clear in my course descriptions that grades were based on readings and discussion. We had no output whatsoever for 2 of them, which I stated clearly on course descriptions. And for the 3 of them that had a small amount of writing, grades were also based off the of the composition exams he took #2 above. Basically, they required grades, and I had none. I did what I could to make clear the effort put forth and the knowledge and skills learned, and I made this clear in the only way they could understand which was grades. No school questioned the grades I gave. My counselor's letter discussed how these unstructured courses emerged over time through his own interests. Hope this helps, Ruth in NZ ETA: I included Regentrude's approach of high mastery = A (down to F of unsatisfactory) on the transcript in the grading box.
  10. "Chance favours the prepared mind" -- Pasteur You have to know what you are looking for. You have to be primed to see it. Nothing falls in your lap, ever. I research all the time on topics my children are interested in so that I can advise when they ask. Currently I'm studying condensed matter physics and physical geography. Chance favours the prepared mind. When I see something important, I will actually now recognize it and be able to pass it on. Ruth in NZ
  11. The person you need to talk to is Gil. He has co-learned spanish with is boys for a number of years to a high level.
  12. PeterPan, I just want you to know that I hear you. Younger DS is gifted at math and has dysgraphia which means coding his thinking into recognizable mathematical statements is crazy difficult. Slow and steady wins the race. You can do this!
  13. My ds's best friend has just accepted a full-ride leadership scholarship to Duke!!! Tuition, room, and board. I am so excited for him!! DS was his extra letter of recommendation for the Common App, so he is feeling that he helped in some small way. He wrote about all of his friend's soft skills of being a leader without using the word leadership. DS and I really studied leadership during the application season, and what it means to be a leader, and right now we are feeling like we nailed it. DS got the leadership scholarship for Carnegie Mellon (although he didn't take it), and then passed on to his friend how he wrote his "why this school" essay from a leadership point of view. And now a second leadership scholarship. This is just sooooo coooool!!
  14. The only person I have ever seen who has made tests for AoPS is Regentrude.
  15. Ah, this thread just has me living in the past. Application season is so emotional. I looked at that big LONG list in the first post and was just amazed at so much success, combined with all these students' hopes and dreams. I work with teens for a living as a tutor and mentor, and get so involved emotionally in their first adult decisions -- almost like they are my own. This thread is my favorite of the year. Congrats to everyone!
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