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Everything posted by lewelma

  1. Awesome! Well time we moved past the 5 paragraph essay! Have you seen my ds's essay on the accelerated board? Way way beyond the 5-paragraph essay and it was crazy hard for him to write! Purpose and Audience!! Ruth in NZ
  2. When my ds applied to university, I listed "US history in a world context" on his transcript. And in his course descriptions, I described the course from 1840-1970. He got into 3 great schools (CMU, UM, MIT), so it couldn't have mattered that much. Depth vs Breadth. I'm all for Depth.
  3. Oh, someone asked for some NZ content. The best, cohesive, deep-thinking work can be found in the example tasks that NCEA (NZ Certification of Educational Achievement) posts on their website. Internals are large single tasks done during the year and created by schools based on how they taught the set content. Externals are high end exams done on a set day in November that are the same for all kids (check out the 12th grade probability exam and distributions exams -- very impressive!). The links below give multiple examples of each task/assessment that if worked through with care can really increase a student's level. Remember that NZ is not a percent correct system; rather it is a levels of thinking system. So each assessment has 3 levels of work within each task/exam: 1) achieve is regurgitation and understanding of concepts, 2) merit work is relational thinking and applications to real life, and 3) excellence work is abstraction, generalizations, and insight. Work through multiple tasks/exams and you will up your level of thinking. Level 1 (10th grade) Internals (numeracy, measurement, statistics, linear algebra, basic trig, transformation geometry and many others) externals (algebra, graphing, geometry, probability) Level 2 (11th grade) internals (advanced graphing, intermediate trig, coordinate geometry, bivariate stats, multivariate stats, questionaires, experimentation, network analysis, and many others) externals (algebra 2, basic calculus, probability) Level 3 (12th grade) internals (advanced trig, network analysis, conics, time series analysis, multivariate analysis, bivariate analysis, simultaneous equations, linear programming, and others) externals (differentiation, integration, complex numbers, probability, and distributions) --------------- Hope that is helpful! I love comparing the American to NZ system, because I grew up and trained to be a teacher in the American system, but have taught in the NZ system. Fascinating the difference. Ruth in NZ
  4. Precalculus is usually trig, coordinate geometry, and complex numbers if I remember the American system right. Here in NZ, precalculus and calculus are taught simultaneously over 2 years, rather than sequentially.
  5. Aw, thanks! Yes, but just for maths unless I really like your kid and he/she is super motivated. 🙂 And if so, then I have also tutored Physics, Chemistry, Biology, English, Media Studies, Geography, and even Academic PE!!! Haha. I've got a lot of work to keep up with so many subjects and their national exams! I have a couple of families where I'm on their third kid. 🙂
  6. Yes! Completely agree. I'm just going to follow you around this week and say, "what she said." 🙂 Up to age 7, we did 10-15 minutes of handwriting/copywork, and then lots of reading, read-alouds, and playing shop. That was it. I should have gotten a washtub!!!
  7. I think you are right. I also think in addition to a student's learning style, drive, and EF skills, it has to do with speed of intellectual maturity. Some kids take longer to mature. They may end up with a learning style that matches university, and drive and great EF skills they would allow them to succeed, but they might just develop these things later than 'allowed' in our current system.
  8. Well, thanks for the kind words. I'm honored to be categorized with 8, because she inspires me too!! My younger has also taught me quite a bit about deep learning. He is a kid who is completely unwilling to learn without deep conceptual understanding. And this is painfully slow from the point of view of a standard timetable set down from on high. Earlier this year, I decided to start the traditional high school science, starting with mechanics in physics. Because It was going to be his first more 'rigorous' science with a textbook and proper problems (before we had been reading books like The Way Things Work), I wanted to get him used to this style of learning. He wanted to learn physics because he knows he will need it to be a geographer (earthquakes, volcanoes, water flow, etc), so he was motivated and ready to dig in. And I chose mechanics to start because it was so plug and chug, so from my point of view, easy. So I made my 10 week plan, and our goal was 3 pages a day. Read about a new idea, do the practice problem, rinse and repeat. It was a disaster. Mechanics is a massive oversimplification which at a high school level completely goes against intuition because you drop out things like friction. And to this boy it made no sense. I had a couple of really good resources and just kept pushing him through it. Just do 3 pages a day. Do the math. It will make sense as you practice. 3 pages. 3 pages. I just kept thinking that this is *the* way we do rigorous science. I have the national exam, I know where he needs to be, I have set the schedule that will allow him to get through physics and chemistry by university.. But this was a big fat mistake because he did the 3 pages and the math and the practice and finished 10 weeks of learning. He was even getting the problems right, but with NO idea what mechanics was. He told me after 10 weeks "I don't even know what Force is." Um. Well, OK. What the hell have we been doing for 10 weeks? Apparently wasting our time. So during the 2 week break, we brainstormed. What had gone wrong? Why the big fat fail? And we decided that he needed to discover the principles on his own to make those deep connections. I still wanted to get through set content, and not have this a free for all bunny trail exercise, because he is in 10th grade and needs to be getting ready for university. But clearly what we did with mechanics was a bust. So we laid out another 10 week plan. 4 weeks for exploration - anything you want to study on waves (our next physics topic). We got curved mirrors, lenses, lasers, water in the bathtub, etc. He played, he explored. He watched you-tube videos. Then the next 6 weeks, he would follow his own path to get through set content. He had a 6-page summary/notes page, and he would dig deeper into each topic by more exploration, more you tube, but this time also in-context real-life problems, not just drill. He would tick off topics as he mastered them, but the goal was mastery NOT just doing the 'work.' And only he could decide if he had truly mastered a topic. This approach was a mixture of self-directed exploration but with a goal of set content. And at the end of 10 weeks, he had covered about 1/2 of the content he had covered in the 10-week mechanics unit, but this time he actually knew it. And now 5 months later, he still knows it in a deep and meaningful way, but mechanics is completely gone. For me, these two examples represent the difference between rigorous busywork and deep learning. In mechanics, the goal was to get through the content efficiently and in a teacher top-down way with the goal of being about to take the national exam at the end. If it wasn't on the exam, we weren't studying it; and if it was on the exam, he needed to be able to do at the end of 10 weeks even if it made no sense, because I had budgeted 10 weeks because that was how much time I felt we could spend on this one topic. Rigorous sure, but busywork because he was just going through the motions to please me and the test. This led to disengagement, frustration, and at times anger. How had I lost my way? And so quickly? I think it is because we are brainwashed to see information as being *taught* rather than *learned*. We don't trust the student because they don't know what they don't know, and because exploration-style learning covers LESS content in the same period of time, so it is inefficient. But it is only inefficient from a teaching point of view -- how much can I cover? It is not inefficient from a student point of view - how much I have learned? I am OK with getting through half the content of a schooly education, if the half that my boy knows is deeply understood and able to be applied to new contexts in creative ways. So lesson learned. Keep to our long standing path of *learning* not *schooling*. Ruth in NZ
  9. Yup, well said. My older boy only perceived 5 hour days for his homeschool, which would have impossible given what he accomplished and where he is at. It was all the reading, talking, and thinking that led to his deep insights and knowledge. But he would have considered them just part of being in our family and life in general. My younger perceives that he is only taking 3 courses this year in high school - math, chemistry, geography. But he has a full load, they are just interwoven so he doesn't feel constantly pressured and rushed. So I completely agree, minimalism takes work in the background. A relaxed life in a rigorous homeschool takes planning, prioritizing, and thinking out-of-the box.
  10. I think minimalism in homeschooling has less to do with reducing stuff and more to do with doing less. Fewer classes, more complex but fewer assignments, more time to interact with deep ideas. Complexity in high school does require interpreting and synthesizing multiple resources and perceptions. Multiple of anything often feels like it is not minimalism. But I have found that bringing together history, economics, political science, geography, and current events into a single massive project feels minimal because we can go deep into ONE big idea. I do live in a 600sq ft apartment so I do know a thing or 2 about minimalism, but I embrace my 30 books/curriculum on writing because each one offers a different perspective. And complexity breeds deeper learning. Just my 2 cents. 🙂 Ruth in NZ
  11. Oh, I think it is much more deeply rooted. I believe that learning by kids only 'counts' if it can be identified as learning. Just reading. nope. You must either be taking a proper course, or take a test to prove your knowledge, or study something that people 'count' as real. I wrote this up about my two boys last week. I was discussing the feeling that giving time is inefficient and uncertain, and that unless a self-directed activities are recognizable as 'learning', it won't count. We as a society don't trust teens not to squander their time, so we don't give them any. x-post #1 I have come to believe that depth comes from personal interest and involvement. I could have used an AP prep program, or a great books program, or any other sort of humanities/social sciences program, and the results would NOT have been the same. DS had the *time* to have the energy to read. And this has become very clear as his reading has tanked during his senior year in high school when things got so crazy and during his first 1.5 years at MIT. Without *time*, there is no initiative to better oneself. To dig deep into what it is to be human. To dig deep into who you want to be. *Time* is the key. The problem with giving *time* to kids is that they seem to squander it. I had many many sleepless nights thinking that there was so much that *I* could have made sure that he did. Books to read, conversations to have, ideas to cover. But these would have been top down. The problem, however, with giving *time* is that it seems inefficient. What exactly is being covered? Anything useful? Should I step in? Should I check up? What about kids who seem to "waste" it? It just seems so much less assured. But depth requires time. Filling the day with work means by definition that deep thinking can't happen -- kids get into the box ticking mode, and box ticking definitely does not equate to deep learning and thinking. It was only when I went to write the transcript and course descriptions did I realize how much had been accomplished when ds was doing nothing. Nothing was the key to his education. Without screens, there was nothing else to do than think deeply and sleep. What more do teens actually need to grow? I think, however, that I did a good job celebrating his learning. When he would start reading a book, I used that as motivation to go get it on audio and try to keep up. He loved being ahead of me, and he loved discussing the ideas. I also embraced deep thinking about world problems. We had Nuanced discussions about complex ideas with no clear solution. Basically, I supported his independent learning by being engaged but not in any fashion directing or controlling. I think he came to believe that he led me, which in may respects he did. So although he was in charge, I was in the background supporting his efforts through very subtle encouragement and by embracing a life-long learning approach. So I did drive this education in a way, but clearly so did he. Personal connection to his learning was key. Programs for us (except AoPS & science) were a complete fail. xpost 2 Developing interests is a funny thing. I think that many of us have heard the stories about kids with passions, and that homeschool kids especially have the time to find their passions. But IRL I have not found this to really be true. I used to be an unschooler (and in some ways still am), and I remember sitting around with other moms wondering where we had gone wrong, because our kids had not developed any passions. In hindsight, I now know that they were just too young. Most were under 10. But more interestingly, I have come to believe that passions have to be recognized by adults to be considered 'passions'. Kids can clearly be doing something a LOT, but if you can't label it with a NAME, somehow it doesn't count. Sad but true. So my kid LOVES his ECs. Just look at that siggy -- it is NUTS. Nine daily activities each week, many for 2+ hours. For a long time I thought he was just social, but once I labeled it, it became a passion. And once I could call it a passion, my ds was proud of his efforts and could talk about it in a way that led others to be really interested. And he began to see it as a passion. So the name of his passion is Leadership. My ds is trying to develop the skills that are required to be a leader. And as this passion has developed, it has also led him to new interests for careers. Specifically, he is interested in being Mayor. So why am I calling it leadership? Because he purposely continues to go to activities with younger kids (age 12) because he is trying out different techniques to manage them -- manage their behavior but also influence them to work as a group to a common goal. He is also using his D&D group to work on his leadership as he is the Dungeon Master so is in charge of a group of peers. Often after one of these activities, he will ask us about this or that leadership problem. And once he had a name for what he was doing, he started doing it MORE. He started thinking about leadership more, he started trying to purposely lead younger kids more. And once success built on success, he started being more proactive in other areas of his life. For example, he is not very flexible but loves gymnastics, so he decided that his focus would be on upper body strength (required for men's gymnastics) which is why *he* chose to join the gym. And then because I am busy with tutoring, he also has to get to all these activities by himself, which has its own EF challenges. I can easily make these activities into official classes just like I did with my older. Read 1 book and write 1 paper, and I have a practical leadership class and a drama class. And just like with my older boy, *I* facilitate and encourage these endeavors. I am currently reading and discussing the 48 Power Laws book with my ds and dh at night. We discuss how people manipulate others, and pull up examples both positive and negative in our own life. With the amount of time we are spending, this could be a half class in the Psychology of Leadership. Next up, we can read and discuss difference Leadership styles for a course in Comparative Leadership. And for his geography paper right now he has decided to compare how the first leaders in the DRC and Botswana impacted their country even to this day. Basically, it is in the eye of the beholder *what* is academic. And it is up to me to help his interests grow. It could have been so easy to say "oh, he is just really social." And never ask what was happening, what he was thinking, how it was impacting his sense of self. I think for passions to develop you need a parent who can recognize possibility and encourage it.
  12. I have written about this before, but we banned electronics at 9pm. We are in a small apartment and go to sleep at 10pm. My ds was a night owl and just wouldn't go to sleep until 1am or later. So he had hours in our lounge with an electronic piano and lots of books/magazines. So all through highschool he read for 3 hours a night year round - books like Crime and Punishment and 100 Years of Solitude, and magazines like Scientific American, National Geographic, and the Economist. He learned to play the piano and he thought. There was nothing else to do except sleep, which he didn't want to do. Space and Time was all he needed.
  13. I will also say that my older boy has developed deep insight into philosophy/ethics and literature through reading and discussion. He never wrote papers on these topics until his 12th grade year and he never took tests. He just read read read, and then we talked. He has been given very high praise in writing by 2 of his humanities professors at Uni, recommended for a by-invitation-only seminar, and asked to apply for the humanities scholars program. This is WITHOUT tests and only the occasional paper all through high school. We gave him the TIME to read and to think deeply. Space to be. This is critical.
  14. I am reading 'In search of deeper learning.' I like 'assessments that bless.' I think that the best of assessments is the ones that challenge you to come to a high standard. Ones that focus on developing deep thinking and insight. I do not do any testing in my homeschool. But in 11th and 12th grade, my kids had to/will have to take the NZ national assessments. Luckily for us, they are incredibly well designed. But I have worked hard to reduce the assessment load to about a quarter of what school students here have. Enough to drive my boys forward and prepare them for university, but not enough to burn them out or destroy their love of learning.
  15. I have come to believe that the problem revolves around assessment. Continual assessment creates stress and destroys intrinsic motivation. I could take the exact same IB program, remove the assessment, allow motivated students to decide when they had mastered each unit, and create a beautiful learning environment. I have been reading a book that says the best teachers *buffer* their students from the external educational environment. You cannot *avoid* it, but you can be buffered. So my goal with my boys was to learn for the sake of learning, to follow their interests and their own timeline, and then have them take a formal assessment at the end. I did the research to have him take the most useful assessments but also the fewest required. We would not talk about the assessment during the year of learning, and only focus on it for about 3 weeks at the end right before the exam. This kid of buffering allowed my older boy to embrace learning because it was authentic and done for his own goals. External pressure and assessments are just bad bad bad, and IB is full of them. I also think that without the gift of *time*, students never develop a sense of self. They never have time to simply contemplate. The problem is that in our society, doing 'nothing' is considered a waste of time. But it is during the 'nothing' that a person is formed.
  16. My high school was just a desperate attempt to keep my grades up as I didn't read until I was 12, and my parents tracked me into the honors sequence in highschool. My sister was brilliant and my sole goal was to keep up with her, which was a pretty big undertaking. So I didn't exactly waste time, but I definitely focused on doing what I was told in as efficient a way as I could to get the grades I wanted. In contrast, my old ds learned what he wanted, when he wanted, and how he wanted. I'm jealous too. However, I am lucky that I really love to learn. So this summer (that is now for me) I'm going to be focusing on the equivalent of AP Physics and Chem as I'll be tutoring that next year. And have to brush up on my Calc again as I didn't have a calc sudent this year so likely have forgotten it all!!!! Then, it's planning my young boy's 11th grade year, and trying to figure out the NZ national Geography exams. Should be a busy 8 weeks. I had a friend who wanted to know what I would do with all my time now that exams were over and I was done with tutoring for the year. um, hello. Run an entire 10th grade program for my ds who is not done for 3 weeks, and then plan an entire 11th grade year. People have no idea what homeschooling high school is like. Give a kid some workbooks, they'll be fine.
  17. AWESOME! I have had this conversation with students, just not so well!
  18. He has mentioned many times since going off to Uni that he is so grateful for his education. He had the gift of time which led him to be widely read and a deep thinker. The school descriptions from his friends have caused him a deeper and deeper appreciation of what our educational approach gave him. Also, he has had more than one kid who found out he was homeschooled say "your mom must be so smart!" haha 🙂
  19. Are these *your* math notes from high school!?!?!? No way do I have mine.
  20. I couldn't pull that off. I'm starting to think that you just have a better conceptual understanding of math than I do, and perhaps I have a better modelling background than you do (my PhD was in mathematical modelling of ecological systems). Maybe we teach with our strengths.
  21. Well the concept on the front page has me hooked, because my students really really struggle with quadratic inequalities.
  22. I am very lucky that when I take kids in the beginning of 10th grade, they typically will stay with me for 3 years (about 90% have). So I have the time to create the conceptual learning over a long period of time. I find it astounding that they are willing to pay me close to $20K for this help. But I guess a single mentor/coach/teacher can make a life long impact.
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