Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Day 1 lesson plan

Today I consider it our first day of homeschool, and wouldn't you know it. No camera! Rob wanted to take pictures of his job that is a new company...so boo. I'm going to start listing my lessons plans by the week, but today is special. :)

Matteo 7th grade

Math: 1 lesson in Math U See
Language Arts: 1 lesson in Rod N Staff English and
read Different Points of View write a summary based on what you read.
Art study:Medieval and Renaissance Art: Botanical Symbol

Teacher helpers:
Rubric for grading summary
Homeschool tracker for keeping grades, records, and attendance

Nicko 3rd grade

Math: 1 lesson in Math U See
Language Arts:Pinneo's primary grammar of the English language: for beginners
Art study: same at Matteo above

The Plan

I always have a backup plan, but this plan is more than that. This is THE plan. The plan I would have done in the first place if we did not need a free curriculum at the time.

Well, that is not totally true, this is the revised plan as my husband and I have made some compromises. My husband had some requests and I am more than willing to implement these ideas. I have always had control and final say as the kids teacher, but his requests are very reasonable.

1) Rob asks that we follow a typical course of study for each age group. He would like this to be a checklist that we do every year. Done! I will happily implement this. This will ensure Matteo is doing what his peers are so that when he enters high school in two years he will have covered subjects most peers his age have. I will follow the typical course of study that World Book offers here. For Nicko we will use the 3rd grade, and for Matteo I will use 7th grade.

Another issue is the decision to keep Matteo back a year. Some might question the necessity of this, especially considering his reading level, (lower college range) but he needs the extra year for two reasons. One thing we learned by the public school experience is that Matteo needs extra work in math. He needs a repeat of the Epsilon by Math U See. Math is the one subject he has not taken to, and needs extra work in. The other reason is maturity. Homeschooling has allowed Matteo not to have to grow up too quickly, and he is not a typical 13 year old. Don't get me wrong, if you meet him he is mature and well spoken. But he is also still a kid. He is still into pretend play and is often outside in some sort of swordplay with Nicko. He's not into the teenage scene, and I can't see him feeling comfortable next year in high school. Not a biggie, especially as a lot of people are held back a year just because of their birthday. He sees this as a plus as it gives him two years to get in great shape.

2) Rob would like us to have more accountability. Before, strictly doing the Charlotte Mason method of homeschooling, I did not keep grades or administer testing. My husband asks that I keep grades, and that I give a unit test after each unit, semester tests, and do end of year testing. He asks this as a way for him to take part. Before, he would ask what the kids were doing in school but he didn't get to look at a report card or praise the kids for a well taken test. Done, and done...

3) Rob also asks that the kids complete unit projects. This was one thing that he did like about the online academy. He has fond memories of science and history projects and this is easy for me to add in. Another done!

4) And the last of the requests was for us to do a minimum of four hours a day during the week. He doesn't care how we spend our time, or if we are doing outside classes, just that we take a sort of attendance and bye bye to our unschooling sort of schedule. Okay.......this one was reluctantly done. :0 But done. :)

So what IS the plan? Well, I can't actually get the kids books until the end of September. So there are things that we will be using in the meantime. Firstly is that the kids are requesting to do the contests for the big Rennisance fair that is coming in October. Both older kids want to enter the poetry, art, and for Matteo the essay contest. The deadline to enter is October 1st so this will keep us busy.

What each kid will work on for now: (things we already have or free on Internet)

Matteo 7th grade:

Math-Math U See
Grammar-Rod and staff (we like secular usually, and this is not heavily Christian. I feel it is VERY comprehensive as a grammar program and love it-the kids do to!)
Copywork-just one of the many Charlotte Mason methods we will keep.
Language Arts-will be poetry, and essay studies to prepare for contest.
Art and Drama-to prepare for contest.
Nature studies-a CM method for studying nature
French-will list resources later

Nicko 3rd grade:

Math-Math U See
Grammar-This is just a gem of a find! I love this website and will use these old fashioned grammar online books until his Rod and staff get here. There is a big list on the right, just scroll down.
Language arts-preparing for contest
Art and drama-preparing for contest
Nature studies

I think I will try to list our daily lesson plan from now on. I will also add what my littles are doing in preschool later in the week.

I am so excited. I'm so relieved, and feel like a big weight has been lifted. I can't wait to show and tell the ideas I found too for each unit we will do and how I will organize it all. Yay! We are HOMEschoolers again. :)

Monday, August 30, 2010

The big D-decision that is...

May be the shortest stint in public school. :)

We made the decision and it's no...we just can't do it another day. I think for anyone who is going from public school to a state virtual academy that it would be just fine. I bet they and their child would do great, and the parents would be happy. I don't want to speak for all homeschoolers, but for us...it just will not work.

The whole reason we enrolled was for Matteo, our oldest. He has a dream. He has a real desire and passion to play high school football. His main goals are to play in the NFL and become a writer. He is a smart kid and is realistic about the possibilities, but he is brave enough to go for his dreams. We were hoping the state virtual academy would get him accustomed to traditional curriculum, and helping get him used to state testing.

The problem is, that as homeschoolers we know there is a better design, and for us, it is homeschooling. We know what works for our family, and we do not want to waste anymore time than we have already taken with this.

Just for the record, I wanted to make sure I say that the kids did well in their schooling. They just took the Leap test (not a state requirement but an academy requirement) and both scored 90% and above, the test was on the topics they would cover this year....so that made me feel great! Both kids were also doing well on the daily work, both had 100% in all their subjects-with the exception of Matteo with a B in math.

My husband and I have made some agreements on how there has to be changes made so that Matteo is comfortable when he enters his 9th grade year. I have everything planned though and I will share some of it tomorrow.

I am very relieved and happy with our decision and I can't wait talk about what we will be doing this year!

Happy schooling everyone...however you do it. :)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

How our first week went

It was crappy! Everything I hate about public schools was brought home to me this week. We had a couple of decent days but not successful days.

First, I'm having an identity crisis of sorts. It should not bother me so much, and is not really about public schools, but I want to get it out. I made the decision to enroll the kids with the support of the hubby. We needed free curriculum and we could not be picky at the time. We have been independent homeschoolers from the beginning, and I am resenting the title of public school at home. I'm not sure why, but I even feel a small sense of shame that we turned to "the system." Silly I know, but I wonder if I will tell my old homeschool buddies that we are no longer really homeschoolers...technically that is.

My biggest complaint. I thought we were going to have flexibility. It's one of the things that appealed to me when I read the website. They have examples on the web page of children who are athletes who appreciate the flexibility that public school at home provides. Well I say bull! You are given the option to set your child's schedule. BUT, they have added extra "classes," and requirements that take up a lot of time. Mostly, they have to do with TAKS classes. I don't mind the kids having to prepare for the state testing since it is new to them, but these two extra classes interfere with real learning time. We seem not to have time anymore for our extra classes like French and Spanish. Also, I resent the amount of time it takes to work on one subject. The way the daily assignments are designed....I have a hard time believing a public school teacher could present and finish the material in an hour. I'm hoping that once we get the hard copies of the kids books that this might help with the time issues. So I'm willing to be patient with this.

The curriculum. It's dry, I expected this, but thought that with my many years of homeschooling I could find a way to make it appeal to the kids. To be fair, there are extra activities the kids could do to make it more interesting, but then there is the time factor. We would be on each subject for more than an hour. I can't slow things down either, because if we do not check off a subject and do the daily assignments then it shows them to have overdue work. sigh.

I resent that I am called the "learning coach," and someone else gets to grade the my kids work. I'm the one who is REALLY the teacher. Not only that, but most of the quizzes and tests have less than 10 questions. I feel it is not showing if they know the material because of this.

My kids are complaining too. For the first time EVER in our homeschooling adventures my kids said they hated school. That was a bad day for me. My kids are the type that would get up early and review their material because they found it so exciting. They are usually highly motivated in their school work. Now, I wake them up to grumpy "is is a school day again?"

With all this said, I'm willing to give it a chance. Even though our circumstances have changes and we don't *have* to do this...I think we should at least try. I've never been a quitter and do not want to set a bad example. I am however going to try and approach it a different way. I used to teach at a private preschool and taught the four year old class and the transitional kindergarten class. I had to use the school curriculum and make it my own. I know how to teach, and I know how to make things interesting. That is my plan for the coming weeks. I am going to sit down tonight and go over the material the kids will be working, and how I can make it work to fit the kids learning style while still meeting the schools expectations.

Hoping to make this work!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I'm a public school teacher now

I'm a public school teacher now, at least to my own kids.

It all started around July. I was in a panic because I realized there was no way we could afford curriculum. Rob, the hubby and I-always said that if we could not afford curriculum, we would put the kids in public school. (I said that, but no way would I actually willingly do it!)

I think I googled "free homeschool curriculum," and came across an ad for two Texas virtual academy's. The K12 site said they were booked for the year, but the Texas Connections Academy was not. I reluctantly started the enrollment process.

This past Monday the kids started their first day of public school at home. The first day was HORRIBLE. We had all kinds of technical glitches, it just took forever for videos to load. And, it was hard getting the hang of online textbooks-we are waiting for the hard copies-the kids were stressed and I was too.

Tuesday was a million times better. Instead of having the kids do school at the same time. I tried helping my eight year old Nicko first, then my 13 year old, Matteo. MUCH better. Wednesday though was back to the blah's. So far it's been a hit or miss.

I feel we have options now though. Rob got a big promotion and after our crappy summer we are finally caught up with bills. I am going to give it till Christmas break (thanks to a friends advice,) and if we just don't like it and it's not for us then I can withdraw them.

I still consider us homeschoolers, and I am finding ways to fill in the gaps I feel are lacking in the textbooks, so check back to see my adjustments!