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For people who experience learning as a gradual, sequential building up of knowledge, like constructing the foundation of a building one course of bricks at a time, it may look to them as if our kids will get to college and suddenly realize that they're missing that crucial foundation, because they didn't build up those layers one by one, adding a bit more complexity each year in each course.

I just wanted to add something to this... I think gifted kids frequently have a similar problem with the gradual, brick-by-brick approach to education, because often they see the first few bricks in the layer and immediately know what it's going to look like, so they're sitting in class thinking "yeah, yeah, that's obvious, can we please get to the next thing?" Even if they don't need to see the big picture first, in order to retain the information, they're often really impatient to get to the point at the end when it all comes together. When you have a child who is both gifted and a VSL/whole-to-parts learner, the brick-by-brick approach is not only ineffective, it can seem like torture.

 

Making them endure that torture, just because that's how other people learn, is not only pointless, it means they will actually miss out on the kind of deep, challenging education they could have had, had they been allowed to learn the way their brains are wired.

 

Jackie

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I wondered the same thing. It's not making a batch of cookies one day and then claiming your kids 'get fractions.'

 

I almost feel the world has become so artificial and constructed that it's now suspicious to use real books and explore the actual world instead of using a workbook or other processed item.

 

Well that's the kicker! If we say we want to ditch the history textbooks and do things a different way, no one even blinks an eye. There are plenty of options for guides and ways to structure it. Nuts, I don't think ditching them entirely people think you're doing a bad job, depending on your background. But when you say science, whoa, the earth shakes and fire comes down. I think it just reflects our own insecurities, which frankly are stronger for most people with science. I've just tried to imagine what it would look like if I gave myself as much permission to be out of the box with *science* as I do with history.

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Even if they don't need to see the big picture first, in order to retain the information, they're often really impatient to get to the point at the end when it all comes together. When you have a child who is both gifted and a VSL/whole-to-parts learner, the brick-by-brick approach is not only ineffective, it can seem like torture.

 

Interestingly, I have one of each kind.

 

My daughter is very much like your description above. Parts-to-whole works well for her, but she needs to go quickly and have the freedom to jump ahead once gets it.

 

My son, on the other hand, doesn't seem to absorb any of the parts until he can see how it all goes together.

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I've just tried to imagine what it would look like if I gave myself as much permission to be out of the box with *science* as I do with history.

Well, we're pretty out of the box with science, and my DS is planning on a double Biology/Geology major, followed by a PhD. If these kids learn by seeing and doing, then that's how they learn. The fact that we've dropped science textbooks (or any science "curriculum" really) in middle school doesn't mean he'll never ever be able to use a science textbook. You know how spiders build a web by setting up the framework first, and then adding the sticky parts? Well, that framework doesn't have to be created by outlining textbooks in middle school; our kids can build that framework through seeing and doing and poking and researching things that pique their interest. They can also learn "using a textbook" as a skill, separate from content, by using a textbook in a subject where they already know most of the content. Then once they've constructed the framework in their own way, from content that's meaningful and memorable to them, and they've learned the skill of extracting information from a textbook, they can set about the task of adding the sticky bits to the web. Does that make sense?

 

Jackie

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Jackie, you bring up a really interesting point about the prior information of the student making a difference in how he handles the textbook. I hadn't thought of it that way. To me it was just reading a textbook. Well hmm! I definitely think you're onto something. My dh said that was the case in college, that he spent a lot of time his first year or two just going huh, not knowing ANYTHING of what they were talking about.

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Jackie, you bring up a really interesting point about the prior information of the student making a difference in how he handles the textbook. I hadn't thought of it that way. To me it was just reading a textbook.

 

There have been studies showing that what a kid gets AND RETAINS from reading non-fiction depends more on prior knowledge -- that is, at least some basic exposure to the subject in whatever form that may have come -- than on lexile level or reading "difficulty."

 

The way the author of one article I read demonstrated this quite vividly was to print a paragraph from a British journal describing a cricket game. Let me tell you, unless you had watched cricket or played the game, you would have NO CLUE what was going on in that paragraph. You couldn't hand this to an uncomprehending adult and expect them to be able to outline the paragraph or pick out main and supporting points (unless they guessed that maybe the first sentence contained the main point because that is a fairly conventional place to put it).

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There have been studies showing that what a kid gets AND RETAINS from reading non-fiction depends more on prior knowledge -- that is, at least some basic exposure to the subject in whatever form that may have come -- than on lexile level or reading "difficulty."

 

 

Well see there you've nailed it and why she keeps getting this blank look like it's greek, lol. I can get her over that hump by going through the material ahead and outlining/notetaking (nan's trick), which works. But it makes it take so disproportionately long in our day. So I tried making study guides with the terms and questions and letting her research online, but that took even longer. We could do children's books, but that's not making it any more efficient either. They don't really connect well to what the textbook wants to cover. And if, to go back to your illustration, you read about cricket when what they really want to do is PLAY, and play soccer, not cricket, then you really aren't anywhere, are you?

 

That's why I've gone in circles about these equivalent things, because I look at these options and keep finding stuff that's NOT equivalent. The only answer is to go at it a totally different way. That's all I can figure.

 

Well something will come together for us. I'm less worried about it than I was, which is a good thing.

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I skimmed some of this, but I don't have time to read it all. My building flooded AGAIN and I was without water and power all day and I'm still catching up. Thankfully at least my apartment is virtually untouched this time.

 

Elizabeth, sometimes people stop talking directly to the OP and just start engaging in GROUP discussion about the TOPIC. I don't think ALL comments were directed at YOU. Some definately were, though.

 

Today, I remembered going to a lecture, last year, on "Wild Urban Plants in the Northeast". I am FASCINATED by urban ecology. Many of the other people attending just wanted to learn how to kill these plants so they could help their more fragile imported plants survive. The author and I and just a few other people were on a whole different planet than the others there. This had nothing to do with difficulty of instruction or method of instruction, it was all about the topic covered. There is just a shade of difference biologically from studying imported roses to studying wild flowers, but there was a world of difference to those of us attending. I don't give two hoots about growing roses and they actually despise what fascinates me.

 

And with elementary vs middle school vs high school science topics the gulf is even wider. It goes so far past level and methods of instruction. The TOPICS change and their CONTEXT changes. And the rewards of studying oftentimes become less and less meaningful.

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And with elementary vs middle school vs high school science topics the gulf is even wider. It goes so far past level and methods of instruction. The TOPICS change and their CONTEXT changes. And the rewards of studying oftentimes become less and less meaningful.

 

I'll have to ponder that. You're saying that at some point it gets so abstract, so disconnected from her reality that she just needs to sit down and memorize it? I don't know. I'm thinking through the AP high school classes I took (physics, chem), and they were inherently do-able, observable. The text was there to shed light on the reality that you could do and observe. So I'm not sure it's entirely nuts to say more labs, with reading to fill in the cracks, couldn't work. And I'm not sure that even more of those cracks around the labs couldn't be filled in with biographies or the interesting topical news articles Karen keeps trying to point me to. Janice had mentioned in another thread a lab kit that attempts to do this very thing, letting the labs drive rather than the text. And my thought process is very much in the spirit of what CynthiaOK had asked a year ago about her ds who needed to get out of the box.

 

So I'm not thoroughly convinced that I can't give her a good education in the sciences in a different way. And frankly, if I flub up on one of them (I'm not likely to flub all, haha), it's not the end of the world. I had such a SLIPSHOD biology class in high school, learning zip-po, squat, zilch, that literally we could only go up. I know that's not the standard.

 

Actually, what I think is most interesting about your whole ecology, roses, AP enviro science, etc. kick is that it captures the idea that someone CAN love something or have a connection to at least part of what they're studying, and that we're teaching them what to love when we do it right. I've always been concerned about this. When she was little (3 and 4) we would go for nature walks with guides and look for wildflowers, birds, etc., because I wanted her to love those things. Somehow, when things got busy, and I was worrying about "doing a good job" (an insanely common worry of mine), I lost that. So honestly, I think if we stressed a little less and loved something we're studying a little more, I'd be happier.

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You've had lots of good suggestions earlier in the thread about the history of science; what occurred to me as possibly equally interesting might be the science of history: what scientific tools/techniques play a role in historical inquiry? This to me seems tremendously exciting, and full of potential for a keen young historian!

Oh — there's a Teaching Company course like this! It's called The Physics of History, and it's a bit more "Earth history" than human history, but it does include some lectures like:

From Detecting Forgeries to the First Art

Watching Plaster Dry—And Dating It

We Are What We Eat—The History of Diet

A Plant Is What It Eats—Tracing Agriculture

Tree Rings—Seasons of the Past 12,000 Years

 

Jackie

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Well how interesting Glossop! You're taking it in a direction I hadn't thought to take it! For that book, maybe it was "The Seven Daughters of Eve" by Sykes? That's what I turned up with a quick search, and it looks right.

 

My mind is whirring with the potential here...

 

Well very interesting. Thanks for sharing! :)

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I'll have to ponder that. You're saying that at some point it gets so abstract, so disconnected from her reality that she just needs to sit down and memorize it? I don't know.

 

No, the opposite.

 

All the wealthy, highly educated people at the lecture who didn't want to learn anything more about the role of invasive plants in urban ecology, simply giggled about the "weeds" and ate the cookies, and then went home and studied about the types of botany and ecology that THEY found USEFUL.

 

I think urban ecology is USEFUL. I don't live in one of the neighborhoods with small yards. I live in a high-rise. I enjoy sitting down on a sidewalk and observing a plant's desperate attempt to survive in a crack of asphalt or going to a certain park and observing the squirrel population which is mutating into different colors.

 

What is USEFUL to one person isn't useful to another. We are able to engage in a higher level of study of this things we find useful. I don't want to learn about imported roses. They don't want to learn about "weeds" and "bushy tailed rats".

 

As you wrote in a previous post, TWTM does not advocate a typical textbook highschool experience. The workbooks suggested did not work for us, because they moved too quickly through too many topics, instead of presenting fewer topics. I am in complete agreement with the TWTM goals for the use of the suggested workbooks, but fail to see how they will accomplish them, unless the workbooks have been rewritten and improved over the years, since I last looked at them.

 

I think you should move ahead with confidence about what your gut is telling you. Be as confident as all the doctors and lawyers and CEOs that giggled, poked each other in the ribs, and ate the cookies. I think it's a shame that they are not more intersested in the incredible phenomena that is happening in our city, but don't think the answer is to shove it down their throats. They are working HARD at SOMETHING and they are developing and growing and that is what is important.

 

Some day one of them might just join me at a sidewalk crack, and maybe someday I will join one of them in their rose garden, but for today, we each study what we find useful today, and don't feel inferior for doing so.

 

I'm not advocating a child led education here. Everyone knows how much I am in favor of the teacher teaching with HER strenghts not the child's. But I am in favor of the teacher being aware of the reality of the environment that her student population lives in (even if that student population is just one) and creating an appropriate curriculum for that population.

 

When you look at a geography textbook, you see a variety of elders teaching younger members to survive the realities of their unique culture. The USA is a huge country made up of many subcultures. Our goal as parents is to prepare our children for our own subculture and if possible give them oppurtunities to self-study to prepare for another subculture if they are driven to do so. That's it. We are not required to do more.

 

Whether it is roses or weeds or something else entirely, teach with YOUR strengths to YOUR population; and leave the eskimos to teach THEIR children about blubber.

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She could look at things like chemical dating of paper and inks for document verification (not to mention looking at invention of various printing technologies and typefaces), and she could do a really interesting study on famous faked documents, for instance, or coming up with good approximate chronologies of undated documents (I'm a musician, and this kind of thing interests us with regard to things like composers' sketches and drafts, but it would be useful in the history of many other fields, too).

 

 

This is a wonderful idea. I wrote on another thread about my dd's interest in an 18th-century Shakespearean forgery and the various directions in which that sent us. One of those was an interest in the way the forger (only a teenager) stole old paper and then experimented with different recipes for ink that would look properly aged. It was also fascinating for us to consider the ways that people tried to determine authenticity in this particular time period when the scientific method was not full-fledged nor widespread.

 

A chemical forensics activity would be a good accompaniment to this, I would think. GEMS has a good one: http://www.lawrencehallofscience.org/GEMS ... but I've seen a few other kits in toy stores.

 

I also really like the speculative autopsies idea. There are also a lot of biographies of major literary figures in which hindsight diagnoses are suggested. I find them fascinating.

 

This train of thought makes me think of one of the plays dd and I saw last summer: The Madness of King George. The whole play revolves around his peculiar mental state which historians speculate was caused by porphyria. Your dd might enjoy the movie: there are competing doctors offering different theories and promoting completely different diagnostic methods. It's terribly sad in parts, but the play and movie end on a note of recovery or at least remission.

 

One thing to consider is that although there are many who adamantly believe otherwise, there is no compelling reason for a junior high science year to resemble what goes on in a typical public school. There are so many ways to approach and learn about science. I know your dd has been doing lots of activities and lots of more traditional learning, Elizabeth; a year doing something completely different is not going to ruin her life prospects, her prospects for getting into a good college, or her ability to deal with a more conventional high school curriculum, if that's what you choose.

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When you look at a geography textbook, you see a variety of elders teaching younger members to survive the realities of their unique culture. The USA is a huge country made up of many subcultures. Our goal as parents is to prepare our children for our own subculture and if possible give them oppurtunities to self-study to prepare for another subculture if they are driven to do so. That's it. We are not required to do more.

 

Whether it is roses or weeds or something else entirely, teach with YOUR strengths to YOUR population; and leave the eskimos to teach THEIR children about blubber.

 

You know, I think that is the thing that disgruntles me most about science textbook education, that it is so disconnected from reality. Or maybe I'm the only one who could have that happen? For instance, I read about the different types of rocks in earth science in 8th grade and wondered WHERE I could find those. They were this distant, theoretical idea. I didn't realize if you dug in the yard, one (or more) of them would be there! And fossils, well mercy fossils were this distant idea too. Tundra, read about that. Then when we went to Alaska and SAW tundra and were surrounded by it, we didn't even know what it was! We drove around thinking how ugly the state was and trying to figure out what was wrong, lol. All we knew was the textbook definition and the small snapshot of snow-covered open spaces with a wolf stalking a mouse. That's it.

 

So if you interconnected geography and science, you would see how closely they are connected. That's what the Runkles geography attempts to do, right? And there are people who let it cross-over and be both. I looked at it, and it was still too textbooky.

 

But as you say, science surrounds us. With the life science we've been doing, I strongly think that if I could connect the concepts to the REAL around us, we'd have no problem. But, in our case, we'd need to start from real and go to concept, rather than the other way around. You get that at the lower levels, but it's harder to find something that's trying to do that for say high school biology. And I guess in that sense our "out of the box" is different from someone else's.

 

Hmmm, I was just realizing my ladybug larvae didn't come yet. I'm trying a new technique with this next chapter, which apparently we won't get to until after the holiday. I thought I'd do all the labs and hands-on, with a little cheat sheet of the terms, and see if there was anything left we hadn't covered by the time we did that. THEN go back and read the book.

 

I found a lab on how to catch and do things with planaria, but we never got that done. It was for the last chapter, and it was one of those things we came across as we were reading online. If I had found it ahead, THAT would have changed things, lol. We have a pond nearby, and apparently it's possible to catch them. So I just keep trying, sigh.

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So if you interconnected geography and science, you would see how closely they are connected. That's what the Runkles geography attempts to do, right? And there are people who let it cross-over and be both. I looked at it, and it was still too textbooky.

 

But as you say, science surrounds us. With the life science we've been doing, I strongly think that if I could connect the concepts to the REAL around us, we'd have no problem. But, in our case, we'd need to start from real and go to concept, rather than the other way around. You get that at the lower levels, but it's harder to find something that's trying to do that for say high school biology. And I guess in that sense our "out of the box" is different from someone else's.

 

Hmmm, I was just realizing my ladybug larvae didn't come yet. I'm trying a new technique with this next chapter, which apparently we won't get to until after the holiday. I thought I'd do all the labs and hands-on, with a little cheat sheet of the terms, and see if there was anything left we hadn't covered by the time we did that. THEN go back and read the book.

 

I found a lab on how to catch and do things with planaria, but we never got that done. It was for the last chapter, and it was one of those things we came across as we were reading online. If I had found it ahead, THAT would have changed things, lol. We have a pond nearby, and apparently it's possible to catch them. So I just keep trying, sigh.

Elizabeth, something you might consider would be to get a copy of a basic biology, chemistry, physics, and earth science text, and make a list of the major sections in each table of contents. For example, the major sections of biology would be something like: cell bio, genetics/heredity, evolution, ecology, botany, zoology, human A&P. Earth science might include earth history, tectonics/volcanoes/earthquakes, rocks & minerals, rock cycle, water cycle, biomes, oceanography, climate & weather, etc.

 

Then instead of trying to find an alternative way to teach everything in the biology text in one year, look at trying to organize related topics from different sciences into meaningful groups, look for resources that cover those topics (especially in interrelated ways) and add in some activities that relate those topics to "real life" and your DD's interests. For example, you could combine ecology (bio), biomes (geo), water/soil/marine chemistry (depending on the biome you were looking at), zoology, climate & weather, etc. You could even integrate it with a year of world geography and do either world literature or literature that relates to the land/environment (I actually have a book list for this). Another year, you might combine earth history, tectonics, evolution, genetics, carbon chemistry, and a course like The Physics of History.

 

You can then "chunk" each year into units, and look for ways to relate each unit to "real life" and personal interests. For example, if you're doing a year of world geography/ecology/biomes/etc., you could study South American geography, rainforest biomes/ecology, maybe soil or river chemistry?, and botany. Then combine geography of Australia/Oceania with marine ecology, marine chemistry, and marine invertebrates; dissect a starfish and a squid, make the barnacle model from EllenMcHenry, collect some seawater and look for microorganisms, visit an aquarium, read fiction/nonfiction/history about the Pacific, etc.

 

Jackie

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An elementary level book that might interest is you Science in your own back yard by Elizabeth Cooper. I posted about it here, giving the table of contents and a couple pictures.

 

I also think the Brown Paper School books are really good at making things 'real.'

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There's nothing at all wrong with taking a non-textbook approach to science through the middle school years. In fact, I prefer to save science textbook work till high school for the most part (unless the kid is begging for a text!) We did Rainbow Science which is light reading, but lots of hands-on experiments, at that age. I didn't expect it to be everything or even the best science then; but an overview only. Mostly my kids learned through hands-on experiences at our science museum, nature study (drawing from nature for my artsy girl), science and nature magazine subscriptions, and lots of science books & encyclopedias & experiment kits which we kept stocked on our shelves for their "fun" time. Don't discount learning through board games, either. One of our faves was National Geographic's Global Pursuit (not sure if it's still available, but we learned a lot & had a great time with it).

 

One terrific resource that hasn't been mentioned yet that gave our kids a lot of mileage at your dd's age is the Boy Scout merit badge book. It's not just for boys! It's chock full of hands-on and investigative, non-textbooky ideas that would work for creating various science modules or 'chunks' as Jackie described above. You could pick up a copy inexpensively at your local BSA service center shop and let your daughter browse through the topics. My son learned what could 'count' for an earth science course one year by completing the oceanography, geology, weather, space exploration, and soil & water conservation badges. It was not only fun for him, but the knowledge stuck.

 

Just leafing through my copy, I see everything from environmental science to animal science to space exploration to bird study and gardening. And there are the more typical topics like chemistry, too. But they're all treated in a very age-appropriate way, with lots of suggestions for what to research, draw, build, what to investigate and report on, people in the community to interview, etc. Lots and lots of project suggestions, most of which can be done inexpensively at home.

 

Just a thought!

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I had one more idea, Elizabeth--I had a quick peek at a few of your other posts, and it looks as though your daughter enjoys crafts; I was wondering if she might enjoy finding out about the science involved in textile conservation? She could learn about the chemistry of dyes and mordants, some botany and zoology when looking at different fibres, more biology when examining what insects and molds present a threat to textiles, more chemistry (and biology, I think) when learning about different cleaning methods, some physics when thinking about the effect of temperature changes and sunlight on fabrics...and then of course all of the interesting history surrounding the manufacture and use of various garments--sounds fun to me! Maybe you live near a museum where she could speak to the textile conservator? Or even quilt guild people might be a useful resource.

 

I'll stop now (this is fun, though!).

 

Best,

HG

 

Living history groups go in for some of this stuff. There are yahoo groups and I can make other suggestions of crazily enthusiastic contacts if you like.

 

Rosie

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I had one more idea, Elizabeth--I had a quick peek at a few of your other posts, and it looks as though your daughter enjoys crafts...

Thank you for that reminder!

 

Elizabeth, you could also look into crafty ways of modeling or presenting scientific information. Ellen McHenry has a lot of free projects on her website for things like that (e.g., periodic table pillow case, t-shirt with body organs). The Instructables website has step-by-step instructions for an awesome cell model that's a pillow. I posted that link a while ago and I know someone on this board had her son make one, because I remember she posted pictures of it, but I haven't been able to find the thread. Maybe she'll see this and chime in!

 

I'll keep my eyes open for more things like that, too, if you think that kind of thing would appeal to your DD.

 

Jackie

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Elizabeth, I forget whether or not your dd enjoys fantasy/science fiction... but some of dd's favorite science when she was your daughter's age came from three books that combined fantasy with real science in alternating chapters; Ian Stewart, known for his math and science writing, is one of the co-authors with Terry Pratchett the satiric fantasist.

 

Just more stuff for you to track down and investigate...

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You know, I think that is the thing that disgruntles me most about science textbook education, that it is so disconnected from reality. Or maybe I'm the only one who could have that happen? For instance, I read about the different types of rocks in earth science in 8th grade and wondered WHERE I could find those. They were this distant, theoretical idea. I didn't realize if you dug in the yard, one (or more) of them would be there! And fossils, well mercy fossils were this distant idea too. Tundra, read about that. Then when we went to Alaska and SAW tundra and were surrounded by it, we didn't even know what it was! We drove around thinking how ugly the state was and trying to figure out what was wrong, lol. All we knew was the textbook definition and the small snapshot of snow-covered open spaces with a wolf stalking a mouse. That's it.

 

 

I grew up in Hawaii (volcanoes) and near Seattle (volcano), visited Crater Lake and Mt. Shasta (more volcanoes), and took a helicopter flight over Mt. St. Helens after its explosion. All my textbook-based, public school study of volcanoes AND a college course on plate tectonics left me unable to understand why they are where they are, why they're shaped like they are, why the rocks around them are the type and color they are... on and on.

 

Then in the co-op class I taught using GEMS, all this came together in one of the biggest "aha!" moments I've had in my life. The kids made a Ring of Fire map, we looked at rock samples from various volcanic eruptions, modeled different types of volcanic eruptions, did experiments with viscosity and timed various batches of "lava" flowing down their homemade volcanoes, looked at photos of volcanoes around the world and matched them with their location on the Ring of Fire map, went to a museum exhibit on Pompeii, etc. This was a leisurely and extended study; we spent about ten weeks on it. All of a sudden it clicked for me in a way a textbook chapter on volcanoes never had. I was ridiculously excited. Although I earned a PhD (not in science), this was probably the most thrilling intellectual moment of my life. If it sounds totally geeky and weird, I'm sorry -- but that's the way it happened.

 

When I wrote the GEMS offices to to tell them this, I was kind of embarrassed -- I felt really stupid that I'd not only read the textbook and failed to really understand, but lived beside these things for all my life in utter ignorance. They told me it's not at all uncommon for people to have this experience. I shared the disconnective experience with textbooks you described, Elizabeth, and I wanted to tell you so we could either not feel alone or at least feel stupid together.:D

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Elizabeth, something you might consider would be to get a copy of a basic biology, chemistry, physics, and earth science text, and make a list of the major sections in each table of contents.

 

Jackie, I just wanted to tell you I've been thinking about this all day and have gone back to read some of your posts from last fall, etc. Things are clicking, and now I get what you mean. At this point I'm fiddling around with what I have and where this could go. In any case, thank you very, very much. :)

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Karen, were all the activities you described prescribed in the GEMS unit, or were they extra things you thought up?

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I had one more idea, Elizabeth--I had a quick peek at a few of your other posts, and it looks as though your daughter enjoys crafts; I was wondering if she might enjoy finding out about the science involved in textile conservation?

 

HG--If you want a good laugh, my mother and stepfather both do this for a living. :D Yeah, when they get together, I'm so seriously outnumbered. I went on a vacation with them, and they wanted to do history all the time. One day out of 4 I got them to agree to split up for two hours and do a science museum instead, whew.

 

So you're right that there are a lot of practical ways for this to play out. But remember, right now she's only 12. I posted on this board, because I wanted the expanded perspective and hindsite, not just an immediate, only for this year, answer I could have gotten on LM. I'm seeing so many ideas here, and I think some are more appropriate for later, some for sooner. It's all good. It has actually been fascinating in that sense, because I NEVER would have seen so much science in history. Y'all have totally opened my eyes.

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Kathy, I remember you suggesting Rainbow Science to me some time ago! We decided against it, and right now I'm not even totally sure why... If I get to a stage where I need open and go, we could look at it again. Until then, I think I might pursue some of these integrated ideas, just because they are so amazing. Now you'll laugh, but I *have* a BSA book!! I got it at a used sale last year, super cheap, just because it was so cool. We like to look at it for fun ideas (games, etc.), but I hadn't thought to dig further and let it influence our science. Hmmm! Well thanks for the ideas! :)

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Karen, were all the activities you described prescribed in the GEMS unit, or were they extra things you thought up?

 

The Pompeii exhibit just happened to be in town at the time we were doing the activities, but the rest I describe, plus a few more, were in the Plate Tectonics GEMS unit. They recommended buying a Ring of Fire map, but I had the kids make theirs, and use pictures cut out from old library discarded National Geographics to add to the map as well.

 

I also made a very simple "shake plate" (found instructions on the web) and the kids had a contest to build the tallest Lego tower that could withstand shaking.

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The Pompeii exhibit just happened to be in town at the time we were doing the activities, but the rest I describe, plus a few more, were in the Plate Tectonics GEMS unit. They recommended buying a Ring of Fire map, but I had the kids make theirs, and use pictures cut out from old library discarded National Geographics to add to the map as well.

 

I also made a very simple "shake plate" (found instructions on the web) and the kids had a contest to build the tallest Lego tower that could withstand shaking.

Oh I love the shake table idea! I'll definitely add that to my Pompeii/volcanoes unit. Assuming I ever get to do it. :glare:

 

I've been impatiently waiting for DS to get the heck out of Ancient Greece (where he has been blissfully parked for more than a year now) because I've been saving the tectonics/volcanoes/earthquakes unit until we got to Rome — I have the TC course on Pompeii; more than a dozen documentaries on volcanoes taking up space on the DVR (there was a great series where each episode focused on a volcano in a different part of the world); numerous DVDs; a book of paper models of all different types of volcanoes and faults to build; visits planned to the local (extinct) volcanoes and a nearby caldera; Pliny the Younger's account of the eruption of Vesuvius; two Roman Mysteries novels about the eruption; and a ton of books.

 

Two days ago, he was talking to me while I was reading email and he saw that the Teaching Co had a 1-day sale on all ancient history courses, and he persuaded me to order the only two courses on Ancient Greece that he doesn't have yet. (But in return, he's going to clean out the chicken coop, fix the coop door, and build me a compost frame. :D)

 

So I'm still waiting to use all my volcano resources. :toetap05:

 

Jackie

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Oh I love the shake table idea! I'll definitely add that to my Pompeii/volcanoes unit. Assuming I ever get to do it. :glare:

 

The kids loved the shake table and we spent days and days on it. Not only were they experimenting with different kinds of structures, but they also wanted to try different ways of anchoring buildings. This led to a discussion of the "ball bearings" idea -- where buildings are built so that they can move and rock on large metal balls of some kind -- and to how museums anchor down fragile statuary and glassware.

 

I brought a big big shallow tray so they could experiment with setting their Lego buildings on different materials -- dirt, sand, cornstarch and water, play dough, etc.

 

I really desperately wanted to be able to tour the building-sized shake table at UCSD right down the road from us; but while they allow selected public schools to have a shake day competition with Lego buildings, that was over and we couldn't get any kind of tour or access.:sad:

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I object to the idea that one is abandoning serious science simply because one is doing it differently.

 

 

 

 

Take the aortic arches in worms. I studied them in 7th grade, never heard about them again, and remembered them perfectly well, um, and embarrassing number of years later. Why? The term interested me. But she, even after dissecting worms multiple times, outlining, studying, doing worksheets, etc., etc. is going to have that info pour right out of her brain, never to stick. It didn't matter in her world. At some point you have to stop the insanity of making her spend multiple hours a week sifting through information that doesn't matter to her, isn't going to stick, etc. etc. 

 

 

Any time that one of the dc has had less-than-active interest in a required subject, we have responded low-key, but matter-of-fact. ...

 

I sure hear you about an intense love for college-level reading matter on the part of high school dc. We still are joking that DS received his scholarship from SMU because they were hypnotized by the unexpected transcript of a student who spent an entire self-designed credit on "The History of the Ottoman Empire with an Emphasis on Ethnicity" ! :001_huh:

I noticed someone was reading this thread and thought I'd reread it myself.  This is AMAZING to me, 2 1/2 years later, how prescient y'all turned out to be!!!  Indeed where we ended up is a mixture of a very trim, matter of fact spine (this year the GA PBS chem videos online with their worksheets), labs that I pick, and a pile of history connected with chem lit.  It has totally resolved our issue of disconnected facts with no interest/engagement/retention.  She works very hard on this mix, is learning good study skills, and is, to all appearances, connecting and retaining.  

 

What's even more striking to me though is that the posts in this thread that I *least* understood at the time were the ones that *most* forecast where we were going to end up.  This, I guess, just goes to show why we need a variety of voices on the boards!  :)  So anyways, thanks for a great thread and the reminders!

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The plan is for us to sit down together before our academic year begins and brainstorm a long list of ideas for "output" for the four subjects he'll be doing informally. (That's not a good word, but it's the best I've thought of so far.) There are four of those "classes," and he will be required to turn in something for one class each week, on a rotating basis. (First week, history. Second week, science. Third week, geography. Fourth week, religions. Repeat the cycle.) He may choose any one of the project ideas from the list each time around, except that he may not do the same kind of project for the same class more than once each semester. (Edit: And, of course, if he comes up with an idea that really lights up his eyes but isn't on the list, he's welcome to do that, instead.)

 

So far, we've thought of things like:

 

- Write a summary or review of one of the books read for the subject.

- Make a model.

- Do an art project based on a style or technique of a time or place.

- Draw and annotate a picture.

- Do a presentation board.

- Write an essay.

- Research recipes and make a meal. (Works for history and geography.)

- Make a PowerPoint presentation.

- Make a costume (of a literary character, historical figure, etc.).

- Design a travel brochure. (Again, works for history and geography and maybe, with enough imagination, science.)

- Write a "you were there" newspaper story.

- Make a scrapbook about a fictional trip to somewhere or somewhen.

 

We're still trying to think of more ideas. We hope to have a list long enough to make it easy not to repeat too often.

 

 

Bumping this up to save this idea for my kids!

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