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7th grade and pondering work load


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We’re about 12 weeks into our school year and while I feel I have a handle on work load for my girls (grammar stage), I have always struggled with my ds’ workload. After listening to a few podcasts from SWB and BW, I’d kind of like to get a better handle on it. My goal has always been to raise kids that learn how to learn while also being capable writers, having a solid math foundation, and with enough background information about culture and history to give them a good base to build on.

 

The math bit is the piece that I have that works really well as does what we do for art, music (appreciation and piano), and science (outside classes and RSO). Once a week he reads the newspaper (local, state or international focus) and we talk about it.

 

The rest? Sometimes it just seems like it takes him longer than it needs to. So, here’s what we’re using. Care to talk this out with me?

 

Vocab from Classical Roots - I *like* this, but I’m torn on usefulness. He’s my natural speller so he doesn’t need a spelling curriculum. I had hoped that this plus his own natural love of reading and literature selections would help give him a broader word base which would then translate into slightly more interesting writing. So far? Not so much. Drop it?

 

Writing - We’re using WWS2 and while it works well (really well) and gives good scaffolding, it also just plain takes him a long time. He’s definitely in the “Faltering Ownership†stage ala BW. Some of this is better if I act as scribe and he verbally “writes†his papers. We can talk about what he’s going to write and he uses far more interesting sentences, but when he heads off to type or write them all of the interesting bits disappear. So, continue acting as his scribe? Work through WWS2 at a slower pace? No dysgraphia, but he is a slower typist (we’re working on that). We also stick CW1on the fifth day of the week and treat it like a freewrite - words out and on paper, no editing. If he gets backed up on the rest, this is among the first pieces to drop so that the WWS assignments are completed.

 

History - We’re using HO level 2 (Middle Ages). I have split out the literature so we spread it out over the year and take longer to read the books. This is the piece I wouldn’t change because he really likes it. In the content area of history, he likes the subject matter and enjoys the reading, but the output (a combination of outlining, summaries, timeline, and map work that varies depending on the lesson) can really eat up time. Sometimes there are short papers which we may or may not do.

 

Of all the three, part of me feels like history is the biggest candidate for refiguring. Less output? I feel like there’s no time for him to follow his interests or head off on rabbit trails, and part of the summarizing and outlining assigned feels like busy work. But we’re also not doing Latin (not enough retention and we needed a break) or logic (lack of use it as written secular choices, though we do cover some of this when talking about current event sources) so then I wonder if there isn’t “enough.â€

 

He’s not complaining and keeps on plugging away, but I can tell it’s more of a struggle and can be overwhelming for him. I’d like it to be better.

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I think if you are doing WWS 2 you could lower the history writing output. Or drop the WWS 2 and apply the techniques to the history program and write across the curriculum. Doing both is probably where you are feeling the overkill.

 

I haven't used WWS2 but I imagine you could tweak some of the assignments to coincided with his history? Or just have him discuss with you some points he learned in history and save the writing time for WWS 2. He could still do the reading, timeline and map work and just drop the summaries, outlines and reports. Don't they already do a lot of summarizing and outlining in WWS 2?

Edited by CaliforniaDreaming
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In our house i recently decided that WWS2 was just going to take as long as it takes. We were already extending some assignments to two weeks, but I realized that it was just too much. We'll work through it and level 3 and Terry to be done at the end of 9th grade.

 

Can you challenge him to "use 3 vocab words on this paper"? You could suggest some likely options.

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Hi there,  

 

I agree with Calfornia Dreaming, dropping the outlines and summaries for history may be the way to go.  Over the last couple of years, I had my daughter do both and this year it's finally become too much.  Like your son, she hasn't complained but I want her to enjoy learning as well as have time for other things. The other thing I recommend is not following the WWS schedule but instead assigning the number of steps you feel is reasonable for your child to complete in a day.  Ever since I started doing this,  my daughter's work has improved in quality and she finds it more manageable.  I don't think I would drop WWS and do all of the writing through history because WWS covers a lot of skills that your son wouldn't learn if he was simply outlining and summarizing through history.

 

One last thing, I still have my daughter write short narrative summaries (1 or 2 paragraphs) of her history readings to round up her history study but we do keep them short. Hope this helps.

 

Lily

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How far along are you in Vocab from Classical Roots? If you've done 2-3 books and aren't seeing results, I'd feel free to drop it. Does he like it?

 

On the WWS2 front, have you thought about capturing your discussions in a recording and then let him use those recordings when he writes? Keeping all those interesting bits in his head is what the whole goal of dictation in the younger years attempts to capture. This worked well for one of mine who just wasn't a fast enough writer to get everything down on paper that was in her head.

 

I agree with several of the previous posters on the output in HO Level 2. There is a *lot* of writing. I'd keep the mapwork & the timelines. I'd probably drop the summaries & outlining. I'd decide on papers as you came to them. For rabbit trails, I'd think about asking for a written summary occasionally (once per month??) on what he found out. I'm assuming he probably talks about what he learns about on his rabbit trails - so that would be a type of narration.

 

I try to focus on the end goal - the eventual skills & knowledge I want them to have. Then, I decide on workload & activities from there.

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I'm not familiar with HO but I agree that WWS is enough writing by itself that you don't need heavy writing assignments in other subjects. I also agree that the training in WWS is more valuable in advancing skills than to continue writing summaries and outlines. I'm not sure I'd recommend dropping them, though, because I wouldn't think maps and timeline are enough for any retention. Are there any worksheet options? Or maybe do the outline but not the summary?

 

Also WWS is a LOT of work. My ds gets to set the timer for one hour and whatever gets done, gets done. Often it takes him several days to complete one "day" of work.

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I think if you are doing WWS 2 you could lower the history writing output. Or drop the WWS 2 and apply the techniques to the history program and write across the curriculum. Doing both is probably where you are feeling the overkill.

I haven't used WWS2 but I imagine you could tweak some of the assignments to coincided with his history? Or just have him discuss with you some points he learned in history and save the writing time for WWS 2. He could still do the reading, timeline and map work and just drop the summaries, outlines and reports. Don't they already do a lot of summarizing and outlining in WWS 2?

 

 

I think you’re right in that there is overlap and that is contributing to the work load imbalance. I’m not sure that I feel comfortable dropping WWS altogether, but maybe I need to loop through the writing between the two. I could probably stretch WWS2 out over this year and next which might help. We have used one assignment from WWS as a paper for history this year. Part of the problem is that WWS2has shifted towards science writing which doesn’t really lend itself to overlapping with history now.

 

In our house i recently decided that WWS2 was just going to take as long as it takes. We were already extending some assignments to two weeks, but I realized that it was just too much. We'll work through it and level 3 and Terry to be done at the end of 9th grade.

Can you challenge him to "use 3 vocab words on this paper"? You could suggest some likely options.

 

I decided to take this route this week. I cut him off based on time this week when I was confident that his pace was related to quantity of work and not due to inattention. It is nice to know that the quantity of work is a common thought.

 

How far along are you in Vocab from Classical Roots? If you've done 2-3 books and aren't seeing results, I'd feel free to drop it. Does he like it?

Just one book so far so I will admit that it’s maybe premature. The activities seem like busy work tbh. Maybe I need to rethink how we use it. He seems to enjoy it mostly, but I can’t tell whether it’s the book that he likes or just the somewhat low key change of pace. The appeal was the ability to stock his word bank for the long term is a worthwhile goal so perhaps I am judging it too harshly at this point and need to hold out for further down the road. A part of me also feels like for this kid, I could also accomplish the same long term goal by just continuing to encourage him to read widely.

 

On the WWS2 front, have you thought about capturing your discussions in a recording and then let him use those recordings when he writes? Keeping all those interesting bits in his head is what the whole goal of dictation in the younger years attempts to capture. This worked well for one of mine who just wasn't a fast enough writer to get everything down on paper that was in her head.

This was generally what I was thinking of accomplishing by acting as his scribe, but we could mix it up with recordings too. I gave up on dictation after about halfway through WWE3 because the number of times he required me to repeat the passage began to really discourage him. We did some dictation with longer passages last year that was somewhat more successful. I think we’ll continue with some mixture of me acting as scribe with further discussion and see if I can’t help him develop his ideas more fully.

 

I agree with several of the previous posters on the output in HO Level 2. There is a *lot* of writing. I'd keep the mapwork & the timelines. I'd probably drop the summaries & outlining. I'd decide on papers as you came to them. For rabbit trails, I'd think about asking for a written summary occasionally (once per month??) on what he found out. I'm assuming he probably talks about what he learns about on his rabbit trails - so that would be a type of narration.

 

I try to focus on the end goal - the eventual skills & knowledge I want them to have. Then, I decide on workload & activities from there.

 

 

I appreciate the perspective on HO. At first it seemed doable, but you’re right, it is a lot of output. I did keep the outlining from KFH this week, but told ds to think of it more as note taking practice and gave him the choice to choose a different note taking style if he didn’t want to outline. I have given him exposure to multiple styles and I feel like the chance to practice that skill is important. We kept the maps and timeline. I think I’ll drop the other papers altogether again this year.

 

Good suggestion on the rabbit trail linked summaries. I’m going to have to ponder and experiment making space for that. I think that would be preferrable to an arbitrary assignment. Maybe instead of a summery altogether we can use it as an opportunity to develop a research paper question without actually doing the paper just to further develop that skill/thinking process.

 

I'm not familiar with HO but I agree that WWS is enough writing by itself that you don't need heavy writing assignments in other subjects. I also agree that the training in WWS is more valuable in advancing skills than to continue writing summaries and outlines. I'm not sure I'd recommend dropping them, though, because I wouldn't think maps and timeline are enough for any retention. Are there any worksheet options? Or maybe do the outline but not the summary?

 

Also WWS is a LOT of work. My ds gets to set the timer for one hour and whatever gets done, gets done. Often it takes him several days to complete one "day" of work.

I do appreciate you saying this. I have found the feedback of workload in WWS reassuring.

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