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Everything posted by KAR120C

  1. I don't think it's complete, but it might be enough for the disinterested student who just needs a language on the transcript..... It is definitely travel-oriented. We've only done Spanish, but it's heavily weighted toward lengthy discussions of beer. Whether you'd like a beer. Is it a cold beer? How much for two beers? I left my wallet at the hotel. Would you pay for the two beers? And the grammar is really minimal. Plus no writing. I think you can get a guide to go with the audio that's meant to provide a little reading, but not a ton. The real reason I like it is that it does an excellent job at quick recall of basic phrases -- an absolutely wonderful job of it. We don't use it as our main program, but it's a very very good supplement to speed up response times and keep important bits and pieces at the front of your mind. And I've found that the phrases they've chosen work rather well with random other vocabulary. So once you've learned "I don't like beer" you can apply that form to anything else you do or don't like. It sounds silly, but it really does work out rather well. I think if I wanted to do Pimsleur as a main program for a first year with a language, I'd add in a little supplement of extra nouns and verbs, and take time to expand from the dialog they provide. And then I'd add in some reading at least... and a little writing. On the price... I have no idea. LOL I know the library here carries the basic set for a dozen languages and the full set only for Spanish.
  2. DS was seven when he took the Explore, and had never used a calculator for regular classwork before we signed up.... so I had him do seven problems a day with it as practice. We used the TI-30X IIS, mainly because it has a two-line display so it's easy to see what you typed in after you've hit the enter key. (Also it's only $15.) The math is fairly easy, IMO... I found that Singapore 5 was an almost perfect match.... but much of what I had him do with the calculator was just the seven problems: one each of adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing whole numbers, one percent, one fraction, and one with decimals. Nothing terribly fancy. (ETA: I barely even checked them -- the point was only for him to get comfortable with the calculator and what the buttons looked like and where they were.) And I did give him bubble sheets to try... There was a test prep book... don't remember the company, but the questions were just hideous -- really completely pointless for practicing content, but it had bubble sheets. If you'd rather make your own, there's a website... http://www.catpin.com/bubbletest/ I don't know that the timing is going to make any difference... At least when DS took it (in the heart of Duke TIP territory), he was by far the youngest there - a month or two wouldn't have changed that at all. I think back then Duke TIP allowed you to enroll as a fourth grader but didn't actually test until 5th-6th, so it was my tiny 7 year old and a gazillion gigantic 10-12 year olds. The only issue was that we picked a location in a school that was entirely rectangular and symmetric and grey... and he got lost on a break. LOL They found him and he was fine, but all the rooms looked alike and he hadn't thought to remember the room number on his way out the door!
  3. And I was being REALLY GOOD and not reading DS's notes on the Great Awakening which are right here on the table with me. :D
  4. We don't do a ton of reading aloud, but I think it's a good idea for lots of reasons. Checking pronunciation, as another poster mentioned, and checking that nothing is skipped or read carelessly... And I think I mentioned in the other thread, working on their ability to interpret as they read, and read with good expression at a good pace. One thing I notice is when DS is having trouble with something, even a math problem, having him read it aloud is usually all it takes for him to figure it out. When he reads silently I think he tends to skim more than he ought, and sometimes that means he misses a small-but-vital piece. (Like the word "not"... lol)
  5. I might just finish the series as planned... not because it's challenging but because there's a certain feeling of accomplishment in setting out to read the whole series and then doing it. In general? I like to challenge. But when you have a goal, and it won't do any harm, go ahead!
  6. Yes and no.... For 90-95% of DS's reading, he reads at a comfortable level -- not challenging. This has been true all along since he learned to read... most of his reading has been reading to learn (or just because he enjoys it). However... I do think it's useful to stretch that, even once reading is entirely fluent. For us that has meant either texts that were challenging to decode (when he was a new reader), or that had challenging comprehension issues or particular subtleties... There were a couple things that struck me along the way. When he first started reading books where characters weren't honest, even to themselves.... it required a different kind of understanding, and although he didn't have trouble with it, we went slowly through that first book and double checked that he was picking up the little clues along the way. When he started reading scientific papers with his robotics team project it was definitely a different kind of reading, that some kids "got" much more easily than others - getting the big picture from an abstract, going straight to the section that has the relevant information - and my favorite bit... there was a difference of opinion between two scientists whose articles we were reading, and some very pointed comments in both directions. It never said "he's an idiot" but it was in there. Picking up on that was a challenge of its own. Not specifically for test prep, but it goes right along those lines... the comprehension exercises where everything depends on having not missed the word "not" (or a more subtle implication of a change in direction) Speed and reading aloud. Not "speed reading" but checking fluency and increasingly difficult vocabulary, being able to interpret dialog on the fly, read with good expression and pronunciation and pace. We're a long way from any kind of challenging decoding, but I do like to keep raising the bar just a bit for a small portion of DS's reading. It's a bunch of little things, but I do think a little challenge is good exercise.. if that makes any sense.
  7. ...which coincided with my inlaws visiting. Now we're in Ohio, driving up to see the inlaws in Michigan every other month or so... and my whole system is screwed up! LOL Late September seems to be a good time to get the winter clothes out here though.... and I'm starting to put the shorts and swimsuits away.
  8. If you don't already have Netflix, could you get an Amazon Prime account for free video streaming on a laptop? We didn't have a television in the bedroom when I had HG, so it was my big goal for the day to get down the stairs by 4pm so I could watch Lois and Clark. Some days it took longer than that... :glare: but that was long before the days of streaming video! I would have loved to have a portable bit of entertainment for when I was just stuck somewhere inconvenient (in bed, halfway down the stairs, etc.) and knew that it was going to be a little while before I could get it together to move on. ETA: for $100 (how generous of them!) you could get a Kindle. It's not TV, but it's very portable....
  9. We're starting from two so completely different perspectives that I don't know that I can explain why this just isn't going to work for us. But I did want to point out for the sake of clarity: 1. While Ohio does allow PSEO, nowhere is it required to meet all the needs of any one student. There is an allotment of funding, and a hierarchy of who gets first dibs, and any number of college policies that can prevent any one student from taking advantage of the program in any useful way. 2. You're restricted in the number of credits - even if you're paying yourself. That may be college policy, but it's true for all four we have access to. So while it's lovely that Ohio has a law in place establishing a means for high school students to take a college class, that's really all that it is. Not a guarantee that you can take the class you need or any means for taking more than one or maybe two. If the funding is there. If the seniors don't take all the allotments. 3. Calling the College Board? Really?? You have no idea how many phone calls and emails I made to the College Board to get the list of eventually a DOZEN schools to contact for AP testing last year! Good lord it was practically a full time job for a week making phone calls, leaving messages, following up by email, and ELEVEN schools had no room, or didn't offer that test, or were an all-girls school (??) I called the College Board. It doesn't solve everything. The ONE school that could accomodate us is in a different county, an hour away or more in rush hour traffic. Thankfully they're fabulous, and rather than going through all that telephoning again we'll be doing all our AP testing there this coming May. You know... it doesn't bother me at all that you or anyone else may opt not to accelerate. All I ask is that you realize that I really do have a pretty good grasp on what we need and what is available here. And I know my own kid. I have not made decisions lightly or without investigating all the possibilities. I'm still holding out hope that we can find a perfect high school that really can keep him out of college until much closer to the usual time. But nothing you've suggested is even remotely what we need. It just isn't. And nothing we're actually considering is widely available. There's no way I could say to another parent that they don't need to accelerate because there's this other choice. There might be another choice, but it's not a matter of gifted mandates and AP tests and dual enrollment solving every problem. There are absolutely situations that those just won't help, and when you make a blanket statement that "leaving for early college isn't necessary" you are, in essence, telling another parent that they don't know what their kid needs. That's what I object to.
  10. One local one I mentioned - BC Calc, DiffEQ, Linear Algebra and a reasonable (but not amazing) math team for problem solving - AMC, AIME, etc. Honestly a really good math team would trump the coursework for me. Really what I want is a good peer group of kids who really love math and science... and that's not universal even in college. My point is, though, that some situations really do call for fairly drastic measures. Grade skipping and early college is a possibility, looking at prep schools if that's in the budget (but goodness knows that's not a reasonable suggestion for everyone). Even enthusiastic high schools don't have unlimited options. Dual enrollment isn't always the right choice, especially if the colleges involved aren't ideal situations, and AP and CLEP don't go on forever.
  11. Sorry - I misunderstood. It sounded like you meant we who have opted for grade skipping think there's a prize for speed. Here's the problem. I'm not having trouble finding schools who will work with us; they're all very enthusiastic, and you're right that test scores open a lot of doors. What I'm having trouble with is finding schools who have anything available that we could reasonably use for more than, say, one year. If we drag our feet (like seriously slow down on purpose, not because we need to but because we're actively avoiding a few topics to keep from ending the course), I could save some of BC calc for next year. That would give DS one year of semi-new high school math before he absolutely ran out of what is available at the local PS. Then what? We have PSEO, but of the four possible colleges here, one has specifically ruled out Calc 3 as a PSEO option (it's always full), as well as DiffEQ. So that's a two-class gap we'd have to find somewhere else. The community college, which has over 150 sections for a class that covers the first half of Algebra 1, has exactly one section for 25 students in Calc 3. No DiffEQ. Also it's not offered on the main campus but rather an hour away from us, and at night. Two other colleges are involved in the regular PSEO and an alternative the high school is working out (which honestly looks great for a lot of kids - I don't fault them for it) might have a class or two we could manage, but I've looked at their admissions data and DS had the test scores for regular freshman admission (even the honors college) when he was ten. I don't really hold out hope for the challenge of their courses. Really. Yes, they're perfectly good colleges, but they are not going to be appropriate placements for this kid. And even the "good" one isn't quite what DS is looking for. If he were college-bound right now he wouldn't be applying there at all. So what do we do?? There is one high school moderately nearby that might work out because of their independent research/science emphasis. It's a heck of a commute, and the math isn't all that but it would do for a while. That's where the grade skip comes in. There is no way we could get four years out of them. There just aren't four years of work to do. But it might tide him over long enough that early college wouldn't be so early as if he had just the PS. I'm not really worried about early college. I'd like him to be as close to the regular age as he can be so he doesn't spend his whole college time being "the little kid". It has nothing to do with needing my guidance to navigate it -- he's got a good head on his shoulders in that regard. But I'd much rather find a solid high school that he can get a few years out of and then go to a really really good college where he's not out of place. The problem is finding that really solid high school. (And affording it.) What we get with a lot of the "how to stay in high school longer" suggestions is early college courses (PSEO/ dual enrollment) where he would absolutely stick out, not just because he's young but because these are colleges that are not attracting students who love math and science and language and history and want to explore all the possibilities each new idea opens up, as much as they are attracting students who need to get through this stupid class with at least a C- so they can get on with whatever they need the degree for. I've tutored long enough to know exactly what he'd be walking into, and it would not help. Not even to stretch out high school one more year.
  12. We're not choosing grade levels to get a "blue ribbon" :001_huh: The private schools we've talked to really do care. A LOT. Even at the high school level. They don't all agree, but so far they all care. Proof hasn't been an issue, but I wouldn't call it a "little kids game". We haven't seen as many options as you have, either. Well... lots of options... but not lots of good options. Nothing that would keep him out of early college if we didn't find a really challenging high school. Dual enrollment in particular is not very promising - I'd much rather find a high school with four years of math he can do, in classes, with other high school kids... and not four years of trying to piece together college math classes online or with adults. AP and CLEP aren't going to be enough. All to say... there really are situations that call for skipping, even at the high school level. I'm glad you've found something that works for you, but I wouldn't dismiss the possibility that some of us really do need something different, and not just for bragging rights.
  13. We're in the middle of looking for high schools for DS to finish up his schooling, and for the most part no one is questioning what I say about his grade level. He has been homeschooled all along, and only in states that didn't officially require a declared grade level for homeschooled students... so the only thing anyone is looking at is his transcript and test scores, and how they holds up to the school's standards in general. The public school doesn't seem to care much at all.... the private schools are variable. A few are very much against grade skipping (they'd want him to repeat his current grade there, which we're up for if they can provide sufficient challenge at that level). One was entirely opposite... they won't let students "undo" a skip (or hold their kid back for any other reason in the year before applying) out of concern that parents might be trying to game the system and enroll and older kid who has had more time to make a good application... I hadn't expected that! I haven't asked every school we're looking at, but I will. It's part of our decision-making in choosing a school. How they want to place him is going to be a major factor.
  14. If you're my FB friend, it means that if you're too drunk to drive you're welcome to crash on our sofa. Anyone not that close and I'll call you a cab. It keeps the numbers low. ;) There are a few exceptions - I have spouses of friends on FB that I'd more than likely send home in the test situation, a couple ex spouses of friends that I have on minimal settings but didn't want to unfriend during the more dramatic periods of the divorce process... And I have a few teenagers on there (former students/ math team members) who I'd better not ever see drunk, and then a bunch of relatives and inlaws of various degrees of actual friendliness. As far as who I'd really call to vent? Actually a pretty good number of friends, plus siblings, but none of them in town. We moved this past spring, and virtually all of my really good friends are in NC. So for me, social media (punctuated by phone calls and direct emails when there's something big going on!) is a very nice way to keep up with them.
  15. I voted that they're outside of school time - not because they're not school but because I generally don't drop other assignments... A lot gets done over the summer, and on Christmas break... and evenings and weekends. However, there are times when I let up a bit on other assignments knowing that he has a lot of work to get done by a deadline (and knowing that he learns plenty from the projects - not like he's slacking off here). I've scheduled a week or two where we drop an entire subject (like physics) to catch up on whatever he needs to do with a related project (science fair) He really has to want to do the projects or we'd never make it -- they're an awful lot of work, and way more intense than his usual assignments. I can adjust other things a bit, but really what gets the work done is the fact that he really wants it done. This year he's doing the science fair, USAMTS, the Medusa exam, Latin convention, and probably NaNoWriMo, and he's working on a second science project (not a competition, just a project) that takes up every Wednesday almost completely. For the Wednesday project we do let up a bit on schoolwork (since we're out of the house all day), but only by moving it to M/T/Th/F. It's actually a very heavy workload. I should clarify... you really could do a whole year's worth of schooling entirely in projects. I don't see anything wrong with that. We don't -- there are non-project areas that he is interested in, and subjects that have project-related aspects for part of the year and regular lessons and practice for the rest. But as others have said, the projects themselves are extremely useful settings for learning and applying the basics. You really could make a year out of all that.
  16. DS did the National Mythology Exam several times using only the syllabus and D'aulaires (Greek and Norse). Pay attention to the Greek and Roman names; I think there's always a question on that... and then just a good familiarity with the stories is generally sufficient. If you do the other sections, make sure you're using the books they suggest - folk tales come in so many versions... you'll do best if you know which one they're referring to.
  17. Had to track this down for you.... http://electroncafe.wordpress.com/2011/05/04/scientific-process-rage/ :) (warning - there's a bit of cussing in the link...)
  18. I'm not going to be terrifically organized here... apologies in advance! We've done tons (TONS) of science. Like crazy people. I generally hesitate to go on about it because I really can't make it sound accessible... it's not accessible. I'm not saying it can't be done - just that what we've done has been the science education for geeks who have gone off the deep end. ;) I don't think less of anyone who doesn't go this way, and unless your kid really is devoted, I would think you were nuts to do as much as we have. So I won't go on about that... lol Suffice it to say we've done a lot, but nothing that I thought wasn't worth our time. I've been very picky about curriculum, and textbooks have made up less than half of what we've actually accomplished. On labs, observation/exploration, experiments, demonstrations, etc. I think they all have their place -- observation is a first step before experimentation. Like the statistical fishing expedition, it can give you ideas, but they need to stand up to a well designed, controlled experiment. Demonstrations and re-enactments of previously established procedures and results are good for practice, and actually I don't have anything against the Mentos/Diet Coke stuff in the right setting (and not too often)... But those should be subject to the same discussion as the less entertaining labs. What do you know (or what can you find out) about Mentos and Diet Coke? What could you test to find out what quality of each of them is causing that particular interaction? For this part: I was really happy with Singapore science. There was a bit of that in elementary and middle school books, but a ton in high school, as "practical quizzes". Generally it was an open ended question with several mystery samples provided and free access to the lab materials (some specified, most not) - like "here are four marked vials with different contents. What order would they have come from a human digestive system? (meaning like mouth, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, or whatever) and how do you know?" It relied on knowing what was digested at what point and how to test for each of those things (starches, sugars, fats, proteins). It wasn't entirely independent, since it came at the end of a chapter on digestion and a series of labs with procedures provided, but for the practical quizzes there were no procedural instructions, and the student was expected to report all the relevant data appropriately and refer to it in the explanation. DS has done both science projects and engineering projects... For science projects he started with a question (decided on after lots of reading) and a hypothesis (also informed by that reading), designed an experiment to test that hypothesis, collected data, analyzed the data, and reported whether the hypothesis was correct or incorrect. Engineering projects have a lot of similarities to science projects, but they cycle. So he started with a goal (decided on after lots of reading about things that aren't working quite right) and an idea of what would work (like a hypothesis - he believes that x will meet the need), and then a procedure to build the model and test it, collect data, analyze, and judge whether it worked. Where they deviate from science projects is that when you've judged the results, unless the first model met all your goals you go on to make changes that you believe will improve the design, test them, collect the data, analyze, and judge... and cycle through again. Both versions require identifying and controlling variables, testing one thing at a time, and analyzing results, but the engineering project isn't done until the goal is met. On the question of when... I don't know that elementary vs. middle school vs. high school matters very much for science experiments specifically. I agree with whoever said that the attitude was the important part. It's hard to take a high schooler who has spent their life believing everything they hear, and get them to take doubts and questions seriously and think about what makes a well-designed experiment and what kind of data is reliable evidence of a conclusion. But that's skepticism more than experiment practice. DS has always had science questions, and we've always followed up on them with experiments... and I do think that our history in that regard has really fed his interest and ability, but again, we've gone way overboard. For a good solid science education, I think the skepticism and the interest are the key. Now... I do think there's a certain fluency you get from having done the steps over and over, but the ones that need fluency aren't necessarily the experiment part -- each experiment takes a different procedure anyway, so your mad skills with the flow meter in ecology aren't going to make much difference when your question requires soldering. But knowing how to do a solid literature review (finding good resources, reading critically, following up on questions) and how to narrow down a question to something that requires testing, how to use the literature to inform your hypothesis, how to identify and control variables and write a testable hypothesis, and how to write a procedure to test it... those I think take practice. But basically any field where you have to read critically, argue from evidence, analyze and conclude... all of that will make you a better scientist, even if you never looked in a microscope. Writing procedures is more science-y, but it could be done elsewhere. As I wrote somewhere else in this thread, being able to write a clear explanation of how to make a peanut butter sandwich is much the same skill. One thing I would add to all of this... I think scientific literacy is very much tied up in statistical literacy. Knowing how repetitions change your confidence intervals and knowing how many is "enough"... understanding bias and sample selections... thinking about what and how you're measuring and what it represents... knowing that an average is not always the best summary of a data set... Honestly I would make a statistics class mandatory for high school graduation, if it were up to me. Not just for kids who are going into the sciences, but anyone who needs to understand current events, advertisements, etc. Anyway - sorry to be long and rambly. I could go on for days and days but I think it would just serve to prove that I really am a little nuts, without helping anyone else. :lol:
  19. I would add, at all levels, some work on communicating instructions and observations. Long before the high school lab report, you can work on writing instructions - how to make a peanut butter sandwich, how to change the batteries in the TV remote, how to get to the library - and writing them with enough detail that someone could replicate your procedure without asking you any further questions. Toward middle school I'd start getting picky about accurate measurements and diagrams. Similarly, I'd want to work on communicating observations - and again with accurate measurements and diagrams at some point. The first stab a kid takes at writing either of these too often comes out as, "put sample under microscope and look at it" with results, "I saw the onion cells."
  20. For the first round (at the local Mathnasium) they contacted us later. I think there was some combining of groups - like five different times you could take the test and they'd figure it out when everyone was done, or something like that. When he was at the state level, the first year they had a ceremony, but the room was much too small for the audience... So bad parents that we are the second year we actually dropped him off, picked him up at the end of the test and skipped the ceremony (with polite apologies). They contacted us later.
  21. When DS was little and flying through math at an alarming rate, it occured to me that I should work ahead and make sure I was up to speed on everything before he got there. I wasn't actually worried - I've worked as a statistical analyst and database programmer, I had A's in three semesters of calculus, I'm a math tutor for Pete's sake! But actually, I hadn't done long division by hand in forever... and when I sat down to work that *&^%$# fifth grade Singapore exercise, I honestly couldn't have remembered how to do it to save my life. I'm not saying it's not a sorry state of affairs; just that I wouldn't judge a kid by long division. I might have some pointed opinions about the curriculum... If kids are taught procedure by rote (as I know I was a billion years ago in elementary school), it is hard to keep those steps in mind if you're not practicing. It may be hard even if you understand the reasoning, but you should be able to hack your way through. At this point, having all the background I already had plus several years of math competition coaching (much more problem solving than I ever had to do before and much more creative hacking-your-way-through), I doubt I'd ever forget long division again. But ask me in twenty years when I've (with any luck) gone back to statistics and databases, and long division is a relic from a former life. ;)
  22. And of course there was no problem at all.... but what it took to get that to the top of the list? My other choice was calling to schedule a root canal. So principal's office is less stressful than dental work... but only just. ;)
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