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Everything posted by lewelma

  1. Do you want me to as ds if he has any friends who would be interested? He could vouch for your dd's amazingness. 🙂
  2. I did a school profile also. The above extract was from my counselor letter. The school profile had 4 sections: 1) philosophical vision of our homeschool, 2) description of outside vendors we used, 3) approach to each main topical area (math, science, etc), and 4) how I assigned grades. Its tone was very objective. The goal was to show rigor. The counselor letter was about how ds drove his education to achieve his own vision for how he wanted to learn and develop as a person. Its tone was very personal. The goal was to make ds seem more human. Both also demonstrated that his education was unique.
  3. I was told by MIT admissions that they wanted my counselor's letter to describe what ds's nontraditional education looked like. I found this a very helpful way to look at it. Here is the first paragraph of six of my letter, to give you a feel for the approach and tone I used. The last two sentences are basically the thesis for the letter. please don't quote. DS was born in New Zealand to American parents, and from early childhood he has led a dual-national life travelling between New Zealand and America every year. This continual comparison of cultures has made him open to new ideas and different ways of doing things. He considers himself a member of the global community, and if you were to ask him, he would say he is ‘half Kiwi, half American.’ Similarly, ds’s education has been a blend of many philosophies and approaches. He is both homeschooled, which allows him the freedom and flexibility to study as he desires, and traditionally schooled, with the structure and expectations of external classes. He has been educated by American parents, who believe in a broad liberal arts education, but yet has completed his education in New Zealand, which allows students to focus in the last two years of high school. He has assimilated these various approaches to life and education to create a unique vision and culture that is truly his own, but at its core is a commitment to understanding the wider world through people, travel, and reading, and through thoughtful introspection of this knowledge using a philosophical lens. Although ds is a mathematician at heart, he is also a lover of ideas, and he has designed and implemented his own educational vision throughout high school.
  4. I work 20+ hours per week. I am a reasonably high-end tutor, so make sure that I make a top teacher's annual salary in the 20 hours per week that I work (with the same holidays). So they make $60K per year; and I make 60k/year. The way I see it, I have only after school hours to work (which are obviously limited), so they are paying to have me not working another job. So in NZ, this comes out at $70/hour, but I also charge for noncontact hours (typically 12 hours per year). My students typically stay with me for 3 years. For 11th and 12th graders, I require 2 hours per week or they can go find another tutor. Ruth in NZ
  5. She has the compelling story, she just has to tell it! It took my ds and I months of effort to really figure out what his story was. He coordinated his 6 MIT essays to tell the story in full, and then I made sure that my counselor letter filled in all the details that couldn't come out with the prompts and used this letter to describe his education as coordinated whole driven by his very pointy interests. I've never done this before and won't likely do it again, but I will send you his MIT essays and my counselor letter if you want them, so that you can see how both you and she can tell this very important story. We found it a very complex task but very very rewarding.
  6. I can't speak to the schools you are considering, but we were very concerned about academic pressure and competitive culture when my older was applying. We visited the schools with the sole purpose to find out as best we could what it was like to be a student there - was there a collaborative cultured, was it cut-throat, was there heavy partying, were kids interested in balance, was there a one-up-man-ship thing going on? etc. When we organized our tours, we made sure we could meet with 1) at least 2 students at the school (one of which would be in ds's majors), 2) a professor in his department, 3) admissions person, 4) academic adviser/curriculum administrator in ds's major. We learned a LOT from these chats, and looked for reoccurring themes. We also name dropped at other schools where else ds was applying and often got a bit more of a scoop from professors concerning their competition. What we found was that ds's current school had had a big run of suicides about 5 years ago which really woke the school up to mental health and the importance of developing a culture of collaboration and caring. We heard it from everyone, and more importantly heard how they were specifically tackling this - through shared mental health course requirements that were focusing on helping your friends, through academic advisers discouraging the higher course loads as a way of impressing your friends, by encouraging working together on all assignments but then writing them up yourself for the grade, etc. So it was actually the school's earlier failure that led to changes making it less pressured academically than all the others that ds was considering, even though it was equally rigorous. Culture is a tricky thing to try to figure out, and it took us a ton of time an effort from very far away to make sure ds was in the right environment for him. So I would suggest you just keep asking asking asking, and come up with a list of more specific questions than about 'academic pressure' - the devil is in the details.
  7. Same here. No formal assessment in primary or intermediate school. My goals for science are about engaging, questioning, finding answers, investigating, experimenting, dabbling, delving deep, enjoying, etc. I want my kids to be exposed to lots of different content areas of science so they can begin to see the big picture, but I also want them to find something they are passionate about and really go full force into deeper learning and thinking - comparison/contrast, analysis, synthesis, evaluation. I am not super interested in retention at this age. When my kids *want* to put something they are interested in to memory, then we do a unit on that (e.g., memorizing mineral names by appearance was something my older wanted to do, memorizing all the order names for bugs in our yard was something my younger wanted to do). But these were one-off projects. Retention did not drive our science studies when my kids were young. Ruth in NZ
  8. I know! NZ has put half of the national exams all on line, but the 4 my son will take have not yet be computerized (math, physics, chem, geography). So I will have to fight to get him a computer (these are all essay tests, except math) when if he were just 2 years younger, it would be a non-issue.
  9. Congrats! You are almost there!
  10. My councilor letter discussed this fact. DS did all home-based classes in 11th and 12th grade because the local university courses were so easy that he got a A+s in second year math classes as a 15 year old. When the mean and median were 60%, he earned 100% and did this twice. So I discussed how he was more interested in learning at his level and pushing himself, than earning credits from an institution. I felt the need to support his unusual transcript with data and explanations as to why he chose the path he did.
  11. Massive experimentation over here in 9th grade to figure out what worked for ds. In the end, we do 3 blocks per day: Math, science, composition. Notice a couple of things: 1) his blocks are based on different ways of thinking rather than by subjects - he doesn't like to silo. He loves to learn deeply. so this allows him to focus on different ways of thinking rather than on subjects. 2) He does 4 days book learning, 1 day hands on - he really likes feeling like he only works 4 days and the other day is for 'fun'. This helps him enjoy life and thus stay engaged with is learning. 3) He keeps old topics continuing, while moving forward in new ones - he finds that he must keep reviewing or he forgets it all which is really discouraging 4) One subject is done outside of his standard work day - this lets him learn with his dad which he loves So this is his plan: Math is currently 3 days calculus, 1 day algebra 2 revision Science is currently 3 days chemistry, 1 day physics revision. Composition is currently 4 days Geography this 10-week term, and then all English next 10-week term. 5th day is music trio/string group, science labs, and drama At night his dad reads to him 7 days a week on Roman history. ---- So crazy different than what I would ever plan, and it took a lot of trial and error to get here. But it is working for him! His schedule is based what he needs for true engagement, deep learning, retention, and mental health. Lots of metacognition went into this schedule! Ruth in NZ
  12. I was told for scholarships that the schools have their own formulas for weighting, so they have to know the level of the class to put it in the formula properly. So I labeled everything on the transcript with little superscript letters. I doubt they would dig through course descriptions when doing the formula. My superscripts were something like: U: 'university level' if it was a homegrown course that was beyond high school (high end combinatorics or number theory for example, or his music diploma) A: AP equivalent (I'm in NZ so not AP, but at that level) H: Honors VUW: Taken at our local university AoPS: through AoPS Then I put the unweighted GPA on the transcript with the words "unweighted GPA" next to it. DS did get a scholarship to CM, but I have no idea if it mattered how I did it. But it did make me feel better. 🙂
  13. Seems like we have had similar efforts and results with penmanship work. 1) At age 1 1 we spent 30 minutes a day trying to increase his speed. Drill drill drill . He would write the same sentence multiple times (so he knew how to spell all the words, and what he was going to say). We set timers, we made sticker charts, we graphed progress, we kept positive. In all that time, he increased his speed from 6 words per minute to 9 words per minute. It was a COMPLETE waste of time. At that point we abandoned handwriting. Point being, even with huge effort, you can't always increase the speed. 2) Second thing you might find interesting about our experience with letter formation. My ds can write numbers, so can think zero and write '0' with no trouble. But if he needs an 'o' to spell cot, he has told me that he thinks 'a-stop' because his a's are automated. So if he wants to write an 'o', he writes an 'a' and then stops the motion. Same exact shape for his 0 and o, but the brain is perceiving of language differently. Interestingly, this child is currently writing a 15-page research paper comparing the level of development between Botswana and the Democratic Republic of the Congo from the point of cultural, historical, economic, and political differences. And he struggles to write his name. Oh, how we love the brain!
  14. Not my kid. He is a kid I tutor. I doubt his parents will spend the money to get him assessed. He is fine with a calculator, and can switch to qualitative statistics with the quantitative element using a calculator in about 1.25 years. So my goal is to keep him motivate in math, doing well in what he does best at, and remediate his facts. If he doesn't get them, and fails the algebra test, it doesn't matter. NZ is not America. NZ recognizes that all kids need math, but algebra is not the end all be all. He can fail algebra and still move forward in math in 11th and 12th grade because of the way the national curriculum is designed. I helped a discalculia kid through 12th grade statistics with a calculator. This kid at age 17 could not subtract 9-7 with a tally chart. And when she tried it took her 2 minutes to get 3. I got her through 12th grade math because we used the calculator as a tool. So if this new kid I'm talking about can't get his multiplication facts down, I'm not worried. I will make sure that he continues to see himself as a mathy kid who has analytical skills, and just needs a calculator to do algorithmic skills.
  15. Oh, I definitely think there is some serious working memory problems with straight memorization of numbers, but he can memorize the geometry theorems so it is not across the board. But doubtful on getting accommodations. He is only a little below average in maths so not nearly as needy as others. But so far it is not holding him back in a major way. Here in NZ, he can switch to qualitative statistics in 11th grade even if he fails the algebra portion of 10th grade math because he will pass the geometry, numeracy, and statistics portions. The qualitative stats program here is excellent, so that is my goal for him and I have already begun talking it up.
  16. YES, YES, YES. I work with at-risk youth. Get her home, get her safe, get her therapy, get her in charge of her own educational vision. NOW. As an amazing writer and deep thinker, her college essays will shine as she explains WHY she pulled out of a pressure cooker environment to follow her own path.
  17. When I first got my period I thought that if I quit drinking water my period would have to be less. I tried this approach for a full year even while running Track and Cross Country. So very very little water for about 4 days each month. And to state the obvious, NO it did not work. And to state the obvious #2, if I die of kidney disease, I will know why! Ah, the stupidity of youth!
  18. I showed him Times Attack today, and got him to play it a bit. He was very pleased and thought it would really help. So we will give it a go and see where we are at in a few weeks and whether we should switch to Times Tales. I love the factoring idea. I've done some of that, but we are also on a school schedule to keep up with the class. So it is a balance of remediation and pre-set class work. He is a slowish learner but very motivated, so is making steady progress.
  19. Yes! That is what I want. But I think I will give Times Attack a go for a week and see if he is more motivated to practice. I was never completely convinced that he was doing them daily at home.
  20. yup, it was times attack. will go look
  21. He has addition and subtraction facts, slow but there. But I will ask him if he is actually counting up, or if they are from memory. Yes, he has 10, 0, 1, 2, but still struggles with 5s. 10s, 0s, 1s have obvious patter with nothing to memorize. 2s he does by adding. 5s require memory. My kids used to play some video game with kill the monster and multiplication facts. Is that still around? I don't know its name.
  22. Not completely true. My ds's penmanship is beautiful, but the actual formation of the letters and formation of letters into words was not automated at the age of 12 (and still not). So he was still thinking about how to form an 'm' and how to sound out 'mat' so he could spell it. Also, the grammar of sentences and thus all punctuation made absolutely no sense to him, even after years of instruction. Dysgraphia is an *encoding* problem. Our solution to all these cluster of problems was what I called 'typing dictation'. I dictated 'cat in the hat' to him (at age 12 he still had to sound out the top 100 words), and corrected his spelling word for word. I spoke in natural phrase breaks, and taught him how to understand the grammar of language through an immersive approach. We built up book by book using novels he loved - mostly fantasy. We stopped when we hit Titus Groan (very high level). We did this for 30 minutes per day, 5 days a week, for 2+ years. We also abandoned all handwriting except math at the age of 12.
  23. Unfortunately, he is taking an overload this semester, so has no spare time. But thanks for the idea!
  24. I know the terror of a change in plan at the end. My ds decided in March of his Junior year that he was not going to university in NZ, but wanted to go to university in the USA. This was a MASSIVE turn because the entrance requirements are completely different. Here are the questions we had to ask: 1) Deep soul searching and lots of dialogue with us that he wanted it for the right reasons. 2) We discussed how much work it would require to do this, and make sure that he was actually willing to do the hard work to make it happen. 3) We came up with a back up plan if it all went to custard. 4) We had to evaluate if we thought what he gained would be worth the money. (uni here is cheap) 5) We laid out the plan of what he had to do for the year, courses, SATs, applications, and made sure it was doable 6) I had to make sure that I had time to do my half of the applications We had little time to make all these decisions, but we did spend about a month making sure that it was possible, and not a fairy tale. Good Luck.
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