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Gil

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About Gil

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    Supreme PooBah of Learning at G.I.Z.M.O.S

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  1. I'm really sorry OP, but this whole thing leads me to think she's been allowed to be sloppy and moved along because she "gets the idea" when she should've been made to master the idea, pay attention to detail, scaffolded and supported as she showed her steps, mastered simple techniques to keep her work neat, and been practicing for accuracy as well. It also kind of sounds like she's doing math unsupervised...is she? To me, the central question isn't whether she should use a calculator. The question is whether she a- understands what task she's asked to perform AND b-knows any method to accurately perform that task. There are a number of ways to break that problem down and solve it but if it's taking her 1 hour to solve 1 problem of this caliber, then it seems like she doesn't know any single method to accurately solve that problem on her own. Which is a slightly bigger worry than whether or not she knows her times tables well. Multiplying by double-digits shouldn't take a kid in the 6th grade an hour, it just shouldn't.
  2. Gil

    What next for typing?

    Once a person knows how to type (posture, placement of the keys, etc) it quickly boils down to developing muscle memory. We just went at it directly, I covered up 4-6 keys a week with electrical tape and had mine do typing to 10-15 minutes at a time, 2x a day and within months they were typing rapidly and accurately without looking at their hands. We use a keyboarding book that is spiral bound across the top and said "Keyboarding" or "College Keyboarding" or something on the front. Not really sure why its called "college" keyboarding. The material itself is NOT advanced, it's a sequence of typing drills and exercises that progresses from keys > words > sentences > paragraphs and finally letters. I know that it covers basic spelling rules/commonly misspelled words, teaches the proofreading symbols. It worked like a charm.
  3. In your situation I'd advise French, and I swear by a Functional Language approach, teach kids the phrases that THEY use, and words that logically go with those phrases first. Since I teach with functional language I always go with the language that can be used in home or with dear family/friends first. "Practicality" is governed by the actual relationships in the kids lives. Realize that it's not an either-or situation, but a "which first?" and since mom has studied it and there is a fluent grandfather and uncle in the kids lives, then there is no way that I'd go with my head in this situation--follow your heart all the way.
  4. There is still a lot of work to do before we reach our ultimate language goal with Spanish, but it's getting difficult for me to support and direct their Spanish language education properly. On the surface, they know a lot, but in truth we have so much farther to go: Their vocabulary, while larger than mine, is both imbalanced and still very small compared to a typical Spanish speaking/educated 6th grader. Even I can tell that their written grammar is only "fair", and their reading comprehension has improved a lot, but still lags behind their age/grade. They still make many common Spanish-language-learner mistakes, they misuse common/similar words, even now when speaking Spanish, they'll Spanglicize an English word because they don't know the correct Spanish word off hand. But at this point, their spoken grammar is more automatic than mine, they understand spoken Spanish conversation way more fluently than me and converse in Spanish with native speakers much more readily and more fluently than I can, and their real Spanish vocabulary is still larger than mine. Primary objectives for Spanish this year are: bring their vocabulary more into balance help them master several of those SLL mistakes regularly take time to work on retention get their reading comprehension closer to their age/grade level help them to learn, use and internalize more Spanish idioms improve their conversation skills by having them spend time regularly conversing with fluent language models. get to the point that they can internalize and use definitions of new words given in Spanish. I'm a little worried that Japanese is going to get in the way of Spanish, but that's probably my paranoia talking. (Hopefully)
  5. Gil

    Gap year or Unschooling year

    I would do it and in a heart beat, the middle school years are ideal for this sort of thing in my opinion, and I don't just think it is ideal for ALs, but even many kids who are learning at the usual pace. However, I recognize the effectiveness and benefit of a taking a "gap year" or even "gap years" during middle school are somewhat anchored by how much money or time the family can invest in enabling the childs interest, what level of access the child will have to a mentor, what kind of coaching/support they can get on an in-depth project, etc. Depending on the childs maturity and ability to self-regulate, he may need more/less parental support to make any progress with a particular project, no matter how interested he is in the field/subject in theory. Depending on the richness and value of other opportunities available, I'd even be willing allow my kid to pause in the regular study of Reading/Writing and Math.
  6. Gil

    school plans for 2019

    We're in the US, but our school year runs Jan-Dec so we'll begin 6th grade in 2 days! I prefer to keep the schedule more streamlined, but they have insisted that they want all 6 classes on the schedule for 6th grade, which for us is....new. We're probably going to be tweaking our schedule until April or May until we find a rhythm that fits our needs just right. For 6th grade they're going to be doing Japanese, Math, Social Studies, Physics, Tech Ed, and of course Spanish. Japanese Language I don't teach this, I just make sure that they have time in their schedule and tell them to sit and do it. They are going to continue using the same Japanese program and hope to finish level 2 this year. Good luck to them. Math is in 3 strands: Directed Independent Study -- Choosing a topic from a stack of math books/magazines to read and research more about on their own. Math Clinic-- I sat with them and went over their notebooks and textbooks from the last ~18 months quizzing them and spot-checking until we found any and (hopefully) all topics that they feel iffy about. This year, each boys math lessons will be focused will be working through their individual list of topics/concepts that they feel iffy on. Daily Review and Practice for Mastery -- Exactly what it sounds like. We do this to every.single.day. Social Studies is a self-study course this year since I have one who is more interested in the Humanities side (World Religions) and the other who is more interested in the Social Sciences side (Economics). I went nuts for a while trying to figure out how to balance this in the schedule but finally realized that it's better, simpler, easier if Social Studies remains an at-will subject, so I ordered a cheap introductory textbook in World Religions and Macro Economics, and I've given them the Dewey Decimal chart bookmark so that they can find more on their topic if they're interested. I'm going to encourage them to read and study in their area every week, but I'm not going to require it or monitor it. I simply don't have the time. Physics We started (and re-started) physics in 5th grade and hope to complete the course in 6th. I teach Physics on an "every-other-day" basis, so that they have time to work problems independently between classes a Technology Education Is going to be intense this year. We're coming out of a big programming year, and so 6th grade is going to be project-heavy. We'll continue to have our normal programming class on the days that I'm not teaching physics. Buddy has a short list of projects that he'd like to try, but Pals project is laser-focused, he is going to make a collection of (simple) games for Nintendo from scratch. He's really excited about the idea so I am too. Intensive Spanish We're trying to achieve fluent (non-native) bilingual status, but we have no ties to Hispanic culture/language, so we take a very unorthodox, but comprehensive and systematic approach to learning and using Spanish. We'll continue with our multi-tiered approach to Spanish. In 2019 we will have: Not Really Sure What to Call Our Approach to pseudo Language Arts (kinda) -- I work with one of The Boys and listen to him read a passage from a story of his choice. We pick a short passage from his story and go over it with a large-toothed comb. The next day I do the other kid Reading and Studying the Encyclopedia -- Each day, we sit down as a group and deep-read through an article from the Spanish children's encyclopedia. We stay with each article for one week and (usually) by the end of that week, they can (usually) discuss or explain something about the topic in their own words. Weekly Presentations -- Are something we've done since 1st grade, but now they have to be given in Spanish. They can research on their topic in English, but they have to present in Spanish and the Q and A after has to be in Spanish.
  7. Well, don't go by just the course names. Look at the descriptions for the individual courses too--there are like 18 of them. I don't think that you'll find a ton of options for discrete math or calculus taught in an engaging enough manner to hold a young childs interests. They don't teach a course called "calculus" or "Discrete math" but the only other online provider for challenging math enrichment that I know of, besides AoPS and EMF is Russian School of Math (RSM). They have an online program for grades 4-10, so you might check that out. But I don't expect that you'll have a lot of options if you want a quality course that is administered online, graded and engaging for your 7th grade son. It seems like EMF, AoPS or RSM would be your options. The Prealgebra Pack (courses 1-9) sold by EMF covers more than enough niche topics that it might be worth revisiting, even for a child who has taken precalculus. It's $360 bucks but, you get a lot of proof writing, discrete math/abstract algebra taught in an engaging and interactive fashion, and it's all graded for you. The way I look at it: in math you can always learn something new, gain insight into something you already knew, deepen your understanding, discover a new connection, refine your skills through practice, grow as a problem solver or just widen your circle of like minded people. Frankly, if I had the money, I wouldn't hesitate to enroll them and have them complete the online programs offered via EMF, RSM or AoPS. To date I have taught my kids math the way that I know how, using the means available to me at the time, but that doesn't mean that there isn't a better way out there. As far as online programs go, Russian School of Math, Elements of Mathematics and Art of Problem Solving each offer an online class that, based on their reputations/samples are excellent programs that are NOT standard, run of the mill math programs so I don't expect that my kids would be bored or underwhelmed by the courses. Currently, your son is on track to complete single variable calculus by ~13 years old--what do you plan for him to do next?
  8. Clarification: I'm only considering splitting them in SOME areas, but that is proving more difficult to schedule on paper than if I just split them in ALL areas. As for fixing what isn't broken-it's less a problem of our current system being broken and more of a "we're outgrowing this model". At this point The Boys have the academic basics (3Rs) mastered and a good foundation in the studying from a book basics (reading, outlining and/or notetaking, summarizing, short-essay writing) down packed, but they lack the executive function, which will obviously come with more time and experience, but in the interval they need the support of daily parental involvement to get through the day-in/day-out mundane bits of learning a new subject or applying and mastering a new skill. Now that they have good Book-Reading and Book-Study skills, the various strands of the Humanities and Social Sciences are accessible to them. They can't do a course independently but so long as I'm present to tell them to get started, refocus their attention, monitor their learning and to generally keep them progressing through the material, they'll do fine. I'm young and set in my ways--so I really don't want to give up the security blanket of a "class-based" system that works, but arranging our time to give them individualized 1-on-1 courses feels like the next best step towards them gaining academic and scholastic independence. Even if it's not, I can better support each boy with a lot more time/attention/help in the tackling of project or the study of a subject that he's personally excited about or interested by, even if he can't do muddle through all of it his own just yet. I've noticed a lot of growth in how they tackle and 'stick-with-it' in their hobbies in the last year or so, and I hope that if they can experience similar success and satisfaction from school projects and course that interest them, it'd go a long way. I know that I could make them pick smaller "more doable" projects, or I could even make them pick a single project so that I can coach them through doing roughly the same thing, but I think that it'd be better for me to find a way to let them each pursue (within reason) their "big projects" and preferred "subjects" because it's what has them excited currently. So I guess that I have a scheduling/logistics problem more than anything else.
  9. Elements of Mathematics offers a variety of math courses. I can't remember who posted on them, but I know that I've read a really good review or 2 of them here on WTM forums, but I've never used them.
  10. To be clear: I'm not particularly looking for an on-screen version of Sherlock that'd be acceptable, I'm looking for (male) characters that are (1) known to be really smart. (2) are going to be considered cool (from my adolescent sons point of view) and (3) behaves in a way that wouldn't be a bad influence on my adolescent sons. (4) doesn't confirm to the stereotype: "really smart (male)" = "social idiot" OR "loser" OR "weirdo" OR "autistic" OR "something *off*" <--this one upsets and annoys The Boys. and are in shows that don't violate my 3 basic criterion for media in our home: a-gory violence, b-drug & alcohol abuse, and c-sexual violence . I don't know kids shows so the characters that I thought of first: Charlie Eppes, Malcolm (from Malcolm in the Middle), Sherlock Holmes, Mike Ross, etc, aren't good fits. Hence the thread. Thanks everyone for the suggestions. I'm ordering DVDs from the library and will begin vetting shows soonish.
  11. With your 10-13 year old? For those of you who do 1-on-1 teaching/tutoring with kids this age. I need ideas for crafting a new schedule for 2019. How often do you do 1-on-1 teaching with your 10-13 year old? How frequently? What is the prep time like for you? What is the prep like for the kid? How do you scaffold/guide them to being able to reasonably prepare for their 1-on-1 class with you? Do you give "home work" or other assignments from these sessions? If so, how do you schedule them? If you've come up with a clever way of organizing your time for 2 kids, please share. I only have 2 kids, but if you've done it with 3+ kids, still share. Does your kids subjects being a mix of classes with sibling /1-on-1 with parent/independent on their own help you get through/successfully balance all the subjects on the Wish List, or do you usually have to drop a subject or two to keep things going in the right direction? What does the other kid do during their siblings class time? Academically and skill-wise, we're in a good place to experiment with a new routine and school-structure. But heck if I'm not struggling to wrap my head around how I can make it work for us. Pretty much since preschool The Boys have been "a class" that I always taught together. Until they were 7-8ish and I had to split them for writing/composition. They're 11ish and to this day the only thing they're taught separately is writing/composition. Everything else has been taught as a "class" and it's been just fine for my purposes. Lately, I've been doing Spanish Language Arts with them 1-on-1, on an every-other-day basis and it's working pretty well. Each boy enjoys having a "day off" in that area and I enjoy that when I'm working with one, I'm focused on only that one and I don't have to dread "the next round" of LA when I'm done. I was going over the List of School Things for 2019 earlier and was trying to decide what to cut and where, when it occurred to me that it might make sense to split The Boys on some subjects now so that they get more individualized support in their academics, and have more support in their studies. Ideas?
  12. We're huge fans of Avatar the Last Airbender! Its a phenomenal show in many ways.We knew better than to watch the live action movie and thought that the Korra sequel was a flop. The Avatar the Last Airbender comics are met with mixed reviews, but the original Avatar the Last Airbender is still a favorite. I heard that Netflix might do a live action adaptation of the series and I'm cautiously waiting to see how they do.
  13. I'll have to check out Doctor Who, I've never watched it, but have been hearing about it for a long while. BBC Sherlock is out because he's a cocaine-abusing jackass who never has to deal with the consequences of his behavior. I'll have to check these out. They look promising and even without a "smart" guy character, they might enjoy the shows. Thanks. Personally, I can't wait for The Boys to be old enough for Numb3rs, the main problem is the crimes/villains can be a little explicit and gory. The series opens with a serial-rapist who has killed his latest victim and they flashback to the murder in clips, show a person smothering in a plastic bag. I remember an arc with a teacher seducing her underage student, them murdering the students parents and going on a killing spree? Something wonky like that. Either way, too mature for mine but I might re-watch Numb3rs myself...I never did finish the series but made it pretty far along. Sexualized scenes don't stand out in my mind as much as the crimes. Honestly I am confident that The Boys would LOVE most of it. They'd love to see math depicted as a super, useful ability in the "real world". Plus the dad-and-2-sons family dynamic resonates with our family as that's us: A dad and 2 sons. If I could dial-down the crimes/gore/some of the villians, I think that the show would be perfect. They would love that Charlie is a "normal" cool-guy, he has friends who get and encourage him rather than belittle him or pick on him when he talks math and I have one who would probably identify with Larry and like the questions that he posits and how he talks through things with Charlie and they'd love some of the stuff that Charlie and Larry like to spend time pondering They wouldn't find the math over-simplified. I saw a book abut the math used in the show, so some of the math may or may not be technically correct, I am sure that they took some creative liberties with how it was applied. I'm waiting on introducing the book and the show until they're older but I might have to re-watch Numb3rs myself.
  14. Thanks for the suggestions. I'll begin previewing shows and ordering DVDs within a couple of weeks. If anyone can think of anything else, please share. I know it may seem like I'm shooting down a lot of ideas, but I'm specifically on the hunt for a show that does NOT feature sexual violence/victims of sexual violence/ or makes light of sexual violence. drug abuse/alcohol (and the less social drinking going on in the background, the better), making light of drugs/alcohol abuse gore/graphic violence and features a "smart" (male) character who acts and behaves relatively normally among peers and in their society. Ideally someone who is cool and not a social dunce/loser and whose intelligence is a good thing and a 'normal' part of them and not a license to bully and belittle everyone within ear-shot just because they can get out more sassy comebacks and fire off more one-liners than anyone else in the room.
  15. I've seen Numb3rs but I'm saving it for when they're a little older. Charlie and his friends are smart + kind, but some of the villians/crimes are a bit much in the gore department.
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