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Everything posted by lewelma

  1. Yes, I have definitely struggled with motivation and with being very discouraged, and yes, I so has my ds. But I think in the end we feel like we are in this together, and we remind each other that bad attitude is not ok. He reminds me as much as I remind him. The most important thing I think I did was to let his strengths run. This approach convinced him that he had skills and talent. So all the stuff I talked about in my previous post was only a small part of his day. We did high-end math orally; he read difficult science books every day; he learned to play the violin; I scribed for him his amazing stories; and his dad read and discussed complex books on numerous topics. Most days he felt like a smart, accomplished kid who had the world in front of him. For the remediation part, I did everything I could to make him feel empowered. I found techniques to try, but I encouraged him to decide what was working and what was not. We focused on metacognition - how does he learn, how can he use his skills to shore up his weaknesses, how long should he work, when can he identify that he is becoming less effective, how can he use the Charlotte Mason habit of "The Way of the Will" - if you don't like a thought, then change it. He was empowered. Everyday. And on days that he could just not do something, we just didn't do it. But we always made a plan to do it later. When he mentioned his older brother and wondered why he had things so good, we would discuss the idea that you cannot be some hybrid person - the best of you and the best of him. You are either ALL your brother or you are yourself. Do you really want all the negatives that your brother has in order to get the positives? The answer was always no. So we focused on him being him. We celebrated what he offered the world that others can't. He has so much charisma that I made sure that he was in lots of activities with lots of positive interactions every day, just check out my siggy. And these activities were not in academics, so he was focusing on *life* not academics, focusing on what he was good at. Basically, I've made sure that his life is 90% positive and uplifting, and 10% remediation and long, difficult, sometimes discouraging work. I also followed his lead on what he needed, and in the end he needed *me*. For a long time, he could not do *anything* on his own. I think there just was a fear of failure, but also simply the inability to write. So for all remediation work, we did it together. I never assigned him something to do on his own that would be hard, because he just wouldn't do it, or couldn't do it. He could write his math, but I had to sit with him. He could read his books, but I had to sit with him. I had to do the dictation, I had to scribe, I had to help him outline. I had to hold his hand all the time. I read posts from people saying 'what can your 9 year do independently?' And I laugh, because only at 13 could my ds play the violin and read his science independently, every single other thing he needed me for. Luckily for me, I only had two children. So I worked 4 hours with my younger before doing 3 hours with my older, then tutoring for 2 hours. If I had had many kids, I'm not sure how this would have played out. People talk about helicopter parenting, and doing too much for a child so they don't become independent. But I have decided those people can just stick their comments where the sun don't shine, because they don't know me and they don't know my kid. As for me, I very much have felt that every day I have to put on my big-girl panties and get the job done. I have found the last 4 years very difficult and draining. But when I signed up to homeschool, I signed up to work. I despised tying-dictation as much as he loved it. And every morning, I would get my cup of tea and my chocolate, and find it in myself to tolerate 30 minutes of correcting word for word his spelling. I just did it because I had to, and I put a smile on my face and joy in my voice no matter what I was feeling inside. And luckily for me I read posts early on from some of the old timers on this board who discussed how kids pick up speed in high school, and how a 13 year old is a very different learner from a 17 year old, which helped me trust that he would pick up speed as he matured. I focused on keeping track of the very small improvements that I saw over the months. It is easy to lose track of incremental change when you have a project that you have broken down into 1000 pieces for 1000 days. Can you actually see 1/1000th of an improvement each day? Well, I tried to. And whatever I saw that was positive step forward each day, I would tell my ds to let him see his improvement, to help him believe in himself and in the work we were doing. I kept a journal with ideas and success stories, reviewed every term what we had accomplished, and then made a plan for the next term to build on our successes. Once a year, I would make a huge list of everything we had done, so although the daily improvements were small and often hard to see, the annual improvements were huge. When I got blue, I would remember how far we had come the previous year, and trust that my incremental daily program would produce similar results in the current year. Some days, I kept myself going by thinking about the boy my son would have been had he attended school. The boy who would have failed everything, who would think he was stupid, who likely would have dropped out by now. This is the alternative reality that existed for my son, and I remind myself that it is through my hard work and dedication that it is a fate he avoided. Ruth in NZ
  2. Thanks for that. Very few people in my life really understand how difficult this has been and how hard I have tried to do well by my son. But luckily for your dd, you are starting 4 years earlier than I did. This could make a world of difference.
  3. Both of my kids have struggled with spelling, but for somewhat different reasons. My older boy had auditory processing problems which caused him to mispronounce most words because he could not actually process sound well enough to repeat it. Unfortunately, he learned to read before we got his speech cleaned up with a speech therapist. This meant that he actually mapped the wrong letters to the sounds. So he might write 'dot' for cat, because he would be saying 'dot' and knew that the d sound was coded with a c from his reading. When I realized this, I was horrified. It wasn't that he couldn't spell, it was way worse than that. He had mapped the wrong letters to the sounds. So I did the research, and chose SWR - Spelling to Write and Read. It is in the family of AAS but more of a linguistic approach perhaps. He used it for 4 years, and I considered it nothing short of a miracle that this program could clean up the mess that was my ds's spelling. Younger Son. I did not know that younger ds had dysgraphia until about the age of 11. Before that I think I was just scaffolding so much that I simply couldn't see it. I finally had him tested at age 12. His dysgraphia falls into 5 categories: 1) Spelling: When ds was first learning to spell in primary school, I didn't realize he had dysgraphia. Because I had already used SWR with my older, I used it with my younger to made sure that his phonological skills were excellent, that he knew every single letter combination, that he knew every single rule for adding endings. All of this was like the back of his hand. SWR is a powerful program. But younger ds could still not spell. What was lacking was automation. So after 3 years of SWR, we tried 7 other spelling programs! Clearly, my head was end the sand, as I never even considered getting him tested. At the age of 12, he was still sounding every single word out. The problem was automation. I think 'cat' and write 'cat' without thinking, this was not true for him for any word except 'the.' And while sounding out every single word, he would completely loose what he was trying to say in his writing. He would also spell the same word three different ways in the same paragraph, all of which followed the rules he had learned so were valid combinations. And he still struggled with recognizing that words he was using in speech were a base word with an ending. So "hiding" was just one thing, not the word 'hide' with the ending 'ing' that he would know the rules for. So if you asked him to add an ending to a word, he could, but if you spoke a word that already had an ending, he would not know how to spell it because he could not see that there was a base word inside it. 2) Punctuation: In addition, at the age of 12, he still had no sense of what a sentence was so was completely unable to add periods let alone commas. We had done grammar with MCT and another program whose name I forget, but he still could not identify a subject or even a verb unless it was an exercise in a textbook. And his language was so complex that it was not easy to show him in his own writing, but practicing punctuating simpler writing never translated into his own because his structure was way more advanced. 3) Physical handwriting: Even today at age 15, he can write numbers, but cannot write words. Basically, his brain is not automating the creation of letters. So an 'o' is an a-stop as he calls it. A's are automated, so to make an 'o' he has to make an a, and then remember to stop the motion to make an 'o'. But interestingly, his brain is fine to make a zero, it is not an a-stop, even though it is the same exact shape. Most of his letters are a combination of 2 strokes that he must recall. Once again, nothing is automated. This means that to physically write a word, not only must he sound it out, he also must recall how to form each letter. Currently at the age of 15.5 he can write very legible handwriting at a top speed of 9 words per minute. 4) Organizing ideas: He has always had beautiful adult-level creative writing, but his report and argumentation writing was impossibly difficult for him. We used IEW for a while, hoping that it would help him with the basics of structure, but he just couldn't implement any system. He couldn't seem to get his thoughts into a set structure. He couldn't remember that he needed an intro sentence and then supporting points and then a conclusion. It wasn't that sentences were jumbled or unclear -- as I said, he has adult-level style with participle phrases, clauses, noun absolutes, advanced vocabulary etc. And if he was on a 'roll', he could produce amazing non-fiction writing. But if ever he was uncertain what to write, he had nothing to fall back on. He could not get anything down. The web of ideas could not be structured into linear form through intellectual effort or outlining. Either he had intuition and flow, or he could write absolutely nothing. There was nothing in the middle. 5) coding mental math into written form: explained in previous post. My solutions: 1) At the age of 11, we decided to do a big push with handwritten work for a full year. The goal was to increase speed. I dictated to him sentences that he had written in previous work. We set timers, we charted progress, we celebrated every small success..... This was an absolute waste of time. He never picked up speed, there was no way to rush him, his spelling did not improve, and all it did was create stress. At the age of 12, we decided to abandon handwriting with the exception of math, and I only wished I had done it sooner. During that year, he had concurrently learned to touch type, but because he could not spell any of the words, he could not go faster than 10 words per minute. People would tell me that spell check would be his friend, but he still had to get the general idea of spelling 'helicopter' for spell check to recognize it. He still had to sound out every. single. word. Words like cat, with, boy... let alone all the big words. He could type 30 words a minute if he was copying, but only 10 if he was having to spell the words. 2) At the age of 12, we abandoned all spelling programs (we had tried about 8 by that time) and switched to typing dictation. I had considered Speech to Text at that point, but my ds and I decided together that we were not ready to go that way as a permanent solution. The goal of typing dictation (as we called it) was to automate the basic words. This dictation was not SWB's dictation where the kid is supposed to hold the sentence in her head; nor was is studied dictation like Spelling Wisdom (which we also tried). The goal of our dictation was automation of spelling. We started to 'Cat in the Hat' because he still could not spell the top 100 words. I would dictate a phrase of like 3-5 words, (I kept to the language groupings to help him begin to hear them), and as he typed I would correct word for word. During this time, I taught him 'think-to-spell' where you purposely mispronounce a word so that the spelling becomes regular (he knew all the rules); we created sounds for all schwas in words; I would help with spelling by simply breaking the words into syllables; I would remind him of basic ending rules, etc. Not a lecture, just as we went with a few words as possible so I didn't break the flow. We worked like this for 30 minutes per day 5 days a week, 45 weeks a year, for 3 years. He loved it. Go figure. Basically, I came to believe that he just needed to put spelling in context of writing, and that he needed immediate feedback when the word was spelling wrong, and that he just needed to do this for many many sentences. Over the years, we slowly moved up the book level to Frog and Toad, then older readers, then Narnia, then other fantasy novels he liked. By the second year, I started punctuation study. I would tell him after a clause "add a comma because its an introductory clause." I would use official grammar words, and not make a lecture, just something quick. But over and over and over. What had been lacking in spelling was automation, and what had been lacking in punctuation was both real world application and drill drill drill. This process worked! It worked beyond all my expectations. And best of all, he loved it. During these years of typing dictation, we also trialed every possible combination to help him organize his ideas (#4 above). We tried a dictaphone, mind-mapping, list making, speech-to-text. We tried me scribing; we tried me scribing only every other paragraph; we tried him verbally saying what he wanted to say 3 times before writing; we tried funny speed games "why is this item the 'best'"; we tried easy topics; we tried hard topics; we tried research; we tried studying other writing; we tried outlining other writing; we tried Ben Franklin's approach of rewrites. We we tried Every. Single. Thing. I could think of. And I just felt like we got nowhere. It was very discouraging for me, although I was very encouraging to him and he never knew that I thought we were spinning our wheels. We were making progress, but it was very very slow. 3) At the age of 15, we quit the typing dictation because I felt that we had made very good progress. He was typing now at about 25 words a minute, he was spelling 80% of words correctly even in difficult books, and could mostly punctuate complex sentences. This was huge given where we started from!! And best of all, ds was feeling good about himself and the progress he had made. Thus, we moved full focus into writing his own content. We started this new focus 6 months ago. Because he is interested in being a geographer and studying complex issues, he wants to be able to research and write up creative solutions to complex problems. He has a goal, and this has been very motivating. We decided to go after deep complex topics with high interest and work with engaging questions which required research and processing and organizing. This seems like a backwards approach, going for difficult writing projects when we had had little success with organizing ideas, but the high interest was the key to the motivation. I figured we would get further with lots of scaffolding for hard projects, than focusing on independence for easy projects. I will admit, however, that I was nervous about taking this approach, because I knew it would be difficult to tell how much of the work was his work vs mine. Now 6 months later, he has written 3 research papers: 1) The causes and consequences of the 2004 Tsunami in Ache Indonesia from a cultural and environmental point of view. 2) An analysis of why the population demographic transitions of Maori vs Europeans in NZ were so different over the past 180 years. 3) the cultural and environmental causes and consequences of the 55-year Wataki Dam Scheme in the South Island. It is hard for me to overstate the success we have had with these 3 projects. Massive massive success. It is as if the three years from 12-15 where we separated out all the skills and worked on them individually, have all come together in a cohesive whole. All those years of working on organizing his ideas that felt like a waste of time, were not. It was seeping in, just not showing up because he could not yet write it all down. I am still scaffolding, and I still have to sit next to him sometimes when he writes, and I have scribed for him a few paragraphs in these reports when he is just too tired but wants to keep the momentum up. However, the scaffolding required for the last paper has been way less than the first paper. And with 2.5 years to go until graduation, I feel that we are finally on track. I will still be remediating and accomodating, but now we are doing this *at level* rather than years behind. 4) The future: we will continue with these large-scale, high-interest projects. I will continue to be highly involved with the research, outlining, writing, and editing -- strongly scaffolding where needed, but slowly ever so slowly backing off and encouraging independence. At this point, we are going to start 2 new ventures into the world of dysgraphia: 1) trying to write up chemistry and physics explanations which he will need to do for his national exams. Scientific explanations are a different type of writing, with different language that he has to learn, but I think he is ready. 2) We are going to actually try to get him to physically write again. He has been writing his math all this time, so his hand is reasonably strong. We are going to start by drilling letters (we did this the other day with lots of giggles given he is 15), and we are going to see if he can write a sentence each day, and see where this leads us. No pressure, but he wants to try. Now, I know I have written a book here. I have done it for two reasons. 1) once I got going I really wanted to document our path as I have never written it all out before. 2) I am hoping to give you a realistic vision of what remediating dysgraphia looks like over the long haul. There is no way around it, dysgraphia is a bitch and impacts all aspects of a child's education. Remediating it is long hard work for both teacher and student, but it can be done in a way that is positive and good for a child's self-esteem. I have never regretted the time and effort I have put into this project. And I had a friend just yesterday say to me that it is amazing that ds is so proud of himself, that he doesn't feel stupid, and that I never discuss him in a negative way. DS does not mind me talking about his dysgraphia because he feels it is a part of who he is, and overcoming its is a testament to his hard persistent work over many many years. I also want you to know that you will likely make many wrong turns, and that you will be wandering in the dark, wondering if your approach is the most optimal. This is just the nature of the beast. As I tried to show, there were things that I did that I shouldn't have done, and there were things that at the time seemed to make no difference, but then later were shown to be incredibly helpful. Good luck to you and your dd. Slow and steady wins the race. Ruth in NZ
  4. Hope it is ok that I quoted this tiny piece of the OP. I have not read all the responses, but wanted to respond to this one in particular. I am a math tutor, and my ds15 has dysgraphia; and writing out proper workings is a hill I am willing to die on. It has been a long three year process to get to where we are now, which is about half of the progress we need by graduation. Slow and stead wins the race, and I put on my big-girl panties every day and get the job done. I wrote this up back in October, and thought I couldn't probably say it as well again, so I've just copied it. Hope that is OK. An event 3 years ago really impacted how I perceive of showing your mathematical workings. My younger son was struggling to write, so we took him in to get tested for dysgraphia. They worked him through a battery of tests that took 2 days and about 5 hours. I was in the room because he wanted me to be. He was 11 at the time. For the math section, the final question was something like you have 5 oranges and 8 apples costing $20, and 8 bananas and 6 oranges cost $18, and 9 applies and 3 bananas cost $21. How much does each fruit cost? (this is not the question, just something like it). I got out a piece of paper and simply coded it as three equations and three unknowns, but then realized I was going to get fractional answers. Yuck! Well, my ds had not started algebra certainly had never done simultaneous equations, had never seen a problem remotely like this, plus he could not write. Although he was allowed to use paper, he did not touch it. It took him 15 minutes to get the answer. He did it in his head. To say that the examiner and I were flabbergasted, would be to undersell our response. Neither of us could figure out how he did it. It was an amazing display of both raw intelligence and memory. When we got home, I was really curious about how he did it. So we talked. I pulled out a piece of paper so I could actually write down what he did since he could not write, and what he explained made no sense. Clearly, he was using ratios in some way. But we had not yet covered ratios, so he had no words to describe his intuition. His 15 minutes of insight could not be coded into standard mathematical language. At least not by me. I was at a loss. Because my ds could not write, he did all of his math in his head, and had for years. I often scribed for him, but it was more me showing him what to write down rather than just writing verbatim what he told me to write. So that week during math, I tried to scribe for him by just writing exactly what he told me to write, and it became very clear that he had no idea. None. He could get the answer because of his mathematical insight, but he could not code it. Over the next year I came to understand that this was a piece of his dysgraphia. He could not *code* his thinking into mathematical language of expressions and equations. He thinking was web-like and based on intuition, it was not linear or really logical, and certainly not structured in a standard way. And I came to believe that this was going to be a bigger and bigger problem as he advanced in math. Given his amazing mathematical intuition, it would be sad for him to be limited in math because he could not write it down. His mathematical insight needed a strong linear, logical foundation of writing to be put to great use in higher math. This was the beginning of my journey to *teach* him *how* to show his work. It was absolutely not about showing *his* work because *his* work was a jumble of insight that could not be written down. It was about rewiring a piece of his brain so that he could take that jumble and code in into linear logical steps. This took 3 years. But this process showed me that there is more than one reason why students don't show *their* work. My son had to be trained not just which steps to write, but how to *think* like a mathematician. Intuition is a wonderful ability to have, but it simply won't get you far in math without proper mathematical thinking. And writing is thinking made clear. If you cannot write it, you are not thinking it. My point is, to ask a student to show *her* work, is the wrong approach in my opinion. You need to train a student to write the workings in a certain way, and that certain way when repeated day after day, year after year, will train a student to see math differently. It is no different than practicing scales in violin, over many years you train the ear to hear if notes are out of tune. Drill is what is required. So for my son, he had to drill proper workings to be able to train his brain to think linearly and logically. To do it the other way -- show your jumbled workings so I can see what you are thinking -- is to miss half of what teaching kids math is all about. Ruth in NZ
  5. When PreA first came out, I was quite critical of its very wordy approach. It took many many more pages to cover the same content as the first 5 chapters of IntroA. However, I backed off of my negative critique given how many people here love the book, but your comments make me think of my original impressions. My son took a full year to get through 4.5 chapters of IntroA, basically the same content that PreA covers in the algebra strand. But it was much more compact. This allowed him to spend more time on discovering the math and less time on the reading, and it meant that he really did not have to read much each day. I don't have the book in front of me, but he did about 2 pages a week I think. We school year round so he would have spent 45 weeks, 2 hours per day, and I think the first chapters are about 90 pages. This felt very doable to ds as little kid, whereas the same content presented in PreA would not have been. That book is LONG and most kids cover it in just over a year. If they are reading it independently, they are reading way more than my son did every day. My impression from reading here is that most parents do the book *with* their kids, so will often read the text to them. The skill of reading math is definitely a skill that must be developed slowly over time. DS taught himself (which I think is unusual especially given he was 9), and I think most kids need guidance and encouragement and clear goals to master it. I am still working with ds15 to help him be able to read a math text. Out of all the students I have tutored, there has really only been 1 who could do this. The rest relied on explanations by me, their teacher, or a video. I think that the availability of videos now really undermines learning to read mathematical text.
  6. Well, this goes back to a conversation we had a few weeks ago. In my experience, there are 2 types of learners. My ds is concepts first, algorithms second learner. I'm an algorithm first, concepts second learner. When my ds uses the discovery approach to learn math, it takes him way longer to get through even just a few problems. He has to try this, and that, loop back around for a different tactic, wait a day, try something new, ruminate, and finally solve it. With that much work, all from the ground up, he really *knows* the concepts, and rarely needs to do more than just one related problem just to make sure. In contrast, I can't learn anything that way. It is like wandering blind in a dark room and bumping into things. Instead, I get direct teaching of the concept. I then do problem after problem after problem (drill) and over time start to notice patterns, The patterns I can then confirm when I do even more problems, and eventually I get to the point my ds has gotten to and understand the concepts deeply. And it often takes about the same amount of time. Both of these approaches can fail. With the discovery approach, if you are told how to do the problem at first and don't fight to figure it out on your own, you don't internalize the concepts because you didn't discover them and thus deeply understand it conceptually. Then with very few extra problems, nothing sinks in. This is what my ds noticed with some kids who were trying to do AoPS with way too many hints. My direct teaching approach can fail if the student only drills and never looks for patterns to confirm so that she can develop a deep understanding. This is where metacognition comes in. Do I actually deeply understand this algorithm? or am I only able to manipulate numbers and equations? This is what teachers often worry about with direct teaching programs, and what people were discussing in your thread a couple of weeks ago. And apparently my inbox is full, so I'll go clean it out!
  7. It does take time to learn how to learn math in a discovery style. I think this is why my ds took 3 years to get through the Intro A book. During this time, he was learning so much more than algebra, he was learning problem solving, technical reading skills, requirements for mathematical proof, metacognition, effectively learning from solutions, etc. This plus time management, attention, persistence, etc. Once he learned all that, he was ready to move very quickly. You asked about his ages, and this is what I remember 9-12 Intro A - self teaching with textbook 12-13.5 Intro Geomentry, Number Theory, Combinatorics - self teaching with textbooks 13.5 - 15.5 Intermediate combinatorics, intermediate number theory, intermediate algebra, Olympiad geometry, and precalculus - done through classes. His impression at the time was that there a number of younger kids who were quite braggy about their young ages who really couldn't do the work. There was more than one kid who stated on the board that he was going to loop back around and do all the classes again. It just made me think about the pressure to move quickly through math as a goal. The race to calculus and all that. But here it was the race through AoPS, like that was somehow the goal, rather than actually learning the content. Get an 'A' because you had a ton of help, move on to the next class. But this only works for so long, when it catches up with you.
  8. 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
  9. 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.
  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. Duke also has full ride scholarships for leadership, which your dd has in spades.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. "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
  18. 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.
  19. 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!
  20. 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!!
  21. The only person I have ever seen who has made tests for AoPS is Regentrude.
  22. 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!
  23. Nice overview of MacKensey basin's braided river - ecology, geomorphology, biogeography, history etc. alpine habitats:
  24. I should also add that my younger ds has dysgraphia, and I can't see how it could ever work in a school for him. And although typing is clearly the answer, at age 15 we are still working to make it work as the problem is *encoding* not typing skills. 2E for dysgraphia is basically an impossible ask for a school to accommodate, as he can't take notes, take tests, or write papers in any subject. But yet right now we are doing an awesome, university level project on the sustainability of Hydroelectric power in NZ, including topology of the area, civil engineering of dams, impact of dams on river hydromorphology, glacier processes, maori history of the area, the welfare state, ecology of the braided river system, endangered species, sustainable practices, impact on hydro to global warming, impact on tourism, and future best practices. All this while concurrently working to write "find the area of ABC" in less than a minute. No way around it 2E is tough.
  25. When I was teaching younger kids, I sent them to holiday programs 4 times a year for a week each (NZ has year round school). I have a friend who has hired a nanny 1 full day a week and after school care for the other 4 days. At some point, being with your kids all day long every day is a very big ask. I got burned out once, and it was not pretty. It took me a full year and starting my part-time tutoring business to pull my way out of it. If you pull them out, set out an annual plan to make sure you stay sane. Ruth in NZ
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