Confession: I'm not really sure I used "shakedown" in the proper context up there. I think I meant "shakeup". Up, down....it's not like they're antonyms or anything.
For most of the week, we did nothing interesting with our school. The realization of this only confirmed my decision to change curriculums.
Oh! We did do one cool writing project....that had nothing to do with our current curriculum....but it was awesome and both kids were very interested in it. I brought Diary of a Worm and Diary of a Spider home from the library last week and Toa of Boy and I read them together. This week, on the way home from the library, a spontaneous conversation began about these books. The kids and I started speculating on what other sorts of small creatures might keep a diary, and what they might write about. We talked about Diary of a Snail and Diary of a Squirrel (yay! said Mommy) and Diary of a Possum (which would include a lot of phrases about "hanging out being a possum".) The kids decided that they would like to write and illustrate their own Diary of a ______. So, in the school closet, I found an empty Draw and Write notebook for Toa, which he titled Diary of a Koopa, and he happily set to work. He decided he wanted to write one page a day. Each day, he'll think of something a koopa might have done that day, and then write a sentence or two and illustrate. I told him I thought this was a great plan. Sweetling, sadly, is still laboring under the yoke of k-12, and hasn't had a chance to start hers yet (which will be Diary of a Punie.)
Here's his first page:
Thursday was co-op of course. Some irresponsible Mrs. Crazy Teacher Lady (that would be me, if you're wondering), let the 6th graders go exploring on the wooded slope behind the school after we wrapped up comp early. That same person was teaching science. We defined the terms of an experiment (independent and dependent variables) and talked about the important components of a good experiments. Then we decided we need to try some of what we learned, so we did a quick, improvised hands on with paper airplanes. Which we then had to test outside, in the light drizzle. Back inside, the model which proved to fly the farthest was quickly made by all the students, and 8 sixth graders were flying airplanes down the long hall outside the cafeteria. This same Mrs. Crazy Teacher Lady let her first grader bring a giant bouncy ball into the cafeteria to play with before opening session...which of course became a giant, somewhat roudy game of monkey in the middle. Surprisingly, instead of a stern leccture from the leadership, Mrs Crazy Teacher Lady has been personally invited by the leadership to continue in this curriculum driven co-op despite the fact that our family wont be using the same curriculum.
Flattered as I am, and as much as I've really enjoyed this co-op, I had to decline the offer. Instead, I'll be teaching an Intro to French class for middle schoolers at another co-op. I turned in my class confirmation and description Wednesday night. "Students will learn and practice some simple French vocabulary. We will complete simple picture books or picture dictionaries as well as practice very basic conversations in class. We will also explore the art and culture of French speaking nations around the world. With each culture or country we examine, we will engage in one arts, craft, or “cooking” project. This will not be a “French 1” class, since we will not be studying grammar or learning conjugations of verbs."
As part of our new approach to schooling, I've made a rather radical change with how we do Toa's math. I've mentioned in a previous post that when his second grade math book came, he was super-excited. He started looking through it, and asked where the new stuff was. I had trouble finding it, cause so much of every unit in the book was review of first grade. We're not going through that page by page. Instead, I told Toa that he could pick any page he wanted each day and we do that page. He was thrilled and excited again. Wednesday he picked a page that had a concept he hadn't mastered. So, we'll spend a few days on that concept, and then he can go back to any page he wants. I think its going to be a good system. He'll learn what he needs and he'll have fun doing it.
The Case for Teaching Less Math in School.
Lastly, on Thursday night, I announced that starting with tomorrow (Friday) we would be trying a full day of our new school approach. We did this last week too, wrapping up our day with a nature walk. My announcement was immediately met with concern that our nature walk might be rained out. I promised that if our nature walk was rained out, we would still do a nature study, maybe making some sketches and drawings of Ohio wildlife from photos. So far today our morning has gone great, and the day is bright and sunny....even if we did wake up to a quarter inch of snow and I had to chisel Mama's car door open so she could leave for work.
If you're interested, here's what our new Friday schedule looks like:
9:00-9:40 Bible (we read from Exodus in preparation for a Passover Seder we are going to next Saturday), Geography (today we read some interesting facts about Antartica from Sweetling's library book Ask Me Anything), and Memory Verse.
9:40-10:00 Sweetling--Vocabulary OR Journaling. // Toa of Boy: Sequential Spelling
10:00-10:30 Sweetling--K-12 Science. // Toa of Boy--Guided Reading
10:30-10:50 Independent Explorations--This time is set aside for each child to pursue a topic or a project that interests them. Today Sweetling read more from Ask Me Anything and Toa played some learning games on PBS kids. Mommy ignored the dishes in the sink and blogged.
10:50-11:20 Sweetling-Literature // Toa of Boy--Math (during which time Toa checked the clock and said, "We're on schedule, Mommy!" So, that tells you how rarely that has been happening the past few weeks.)
11:20-12:00 Sweetling-Algebra (we are now off schedule. Sweetling is still reading literature. I poked my head in her room, and there she was...sitting with her feet propped up on her desk, sucking on a green lollipop, reading from Classics for Young Readers. How do I interrupt that?) // Toa of Boy--watching Word World on PBS
12:00-1:00 Lunch and Recess Break
1:00-1:20 Read Aloud. We're currently reading from Winnie-the-Pooh.
1:20-1:40 Sweetling-K-12 History. // Toa of Boy--free choice.
1:50-3:00 Nature Walk or Study
3:00-3:20 Nature Logs--journaling or further research online
And truly, truly lastly---I've been so thrilled with the number and kinds of responses I'm getting to my Acts of Kindness birthday challenge. Check out the full collection so far.