Oct 20, 2016

October Assessment

So we are now a couple months into the school year. We have taken a day off here and there, so it is hard to tell exactly how many days/weeks it has been (we don't have to track days here in Texas) but I do know that the little kids just finished their eighth week of grammar, so we have done at least 8 weeks of work, I guess.

Anyway, I thought it might be a good time to assess how our year is going so far. And as long as I am doing that work, I might as well share the results with you, right?

We are using Math U See Pre-Algebra, Epsilon and Delta
MathUSee has been our go-to program for so long that we don't even think about it. The kids know exactly what to do and they need less and less help as we go along.

This year, Kaytie and Nate plunged into Pre-Algebra and have done better than any of us expected. Between the videos and the teacher manual and The Awesome Cousin (who is doing college algebra) they have managed to comprehend it all and are moving steadily forward.

Daniel is flying through fractions with no trouble at all. He easily sees patterns and shortcuts in math that the older two (and I) would never have noticed.

And even though she hates it, Abbie has grasped long division more easily and with fewer tears than all three of her siblings. I have even let her skip a couple of lessons and several review pages. She has almost completed Delta and will start Epsilon soon.

We are using Fix It! Grammar books: Frog Prince, Or Just Desserts, Robin Hood and The Nose Tree
Fix It! Grammar is still a huge hit. All four kids are learning so much and enjoying it! It blows me away that my "I hate words" kid who struggles with everything involving language is not only learning grammar effortlessly, but will remind me that he needs to do grammar if I don't say anything.

Kaytie and Nate are doubling up and doing two days' worth every day. I figure eventually they will need to slow down, but as long as they are handling it I will let them set the pace. Fix It! is so inexpensive that I won't mind at all buying the next book in January.

We are using All About Spelling Levels 7, 6 and 3
Kaytie is flying through All About Spelling Level 7. She and I work through the lesson one day, she writes the sentences the next day and we move on to the next Step. She is a pretty good speller, but since she is so close to finishing up the series and since I already owned the last level I decided she might as well go over all the spelling rules. She will probably complete it by Christmas break and is excited to think about leaving spelling (as a school subject) behind forever.

Nate is moving more slowly through Level 6. He struggles a little bit with certain rules and he HATES writing the sentences. I think by the end though, he will be a pretty good speller.

Daniel and Abbie just finished Level 2 and started on Level 3. They have to work harder on spelling than the older kids, but they are slowly progressing all the same.

We are using One Year Adventure Novel, Jump In!, and IEW SWI Level A
Kaytie is loving OYAN. She works at her own pace and emails me her assignments so I can give feedback. She is a strong enough writer that I  just suggest improvements more than actually correct anything. She just needs positive critiquing and a different perspective.

Nate is not loving Jump In! Do not take this as a negative against the program, though. He dislikes writing, especially when he is told what to write. It really doesn't matter what he used he would not enjoy it. It is something he has to do, however and Jump In! is the most painless way we have found to get the job done. He is supposed to work on it on Mondays and Wednesdays, but since he and Kaytie have Spanish class at 1:00 pm on Mondays, he generally just does it on Wednesdays. So he might, possibly, hopefully, finish it before he graduates from college...

Daniel and Abbie are using IEW. They sort of like it. They sort of don't. They are making forward progress, though. So we are going to hang in there a little while longer.

We are using our own thing
And by that, I mean, Kaytie is reading books I assign and writing about them. Nate is reading books I assign and discussing them with me. Daniel and Abbie are reading books that they choose off a list I created.

I'm a little frustrated with Kaytie's progress. It took her FOREVER to read All Creatures Great and Small and she is still working on her essay for it.

Nate, however, has read half a dozen books: Hans Brinker, The Ballad of Lucy Whipple, The Incredible Journey, Around the World in 80 Days, The Princess and Curdie, and is currently reading The Prince and The Pauper. He is having a blast.

Daniel reads easy chapter books and has been discovered reading How to Train Your Dragon in bed at night all on his own hook. That is major progress!

Abbie is also doing well. She loves books about animals, Ivy and Bean, Nate the Great and just finished The Ranger's Apprentice.

Daniel and Abbie are also listening to Magyk on audio book.

We are using Typing.com
The three younger kids all do a lesson twice a week. They are allowed to play a game or two as well. They are doing great but still have a disconnect between lessons and actual typing outside of lessons. I know my kids well enough to know that that will eventually happen, however.

We are working on cursive
Daniel and Abbie do copywork twice a week. Daniel is copying the book of Jonah (his choice). Abbie has just finished learning all the letters and has starting copying words and sentences. I pull most of her sentences out of our spelling books so I don't have to think of them myself.

We use Mystery of History, Discover Texas, and literature books and bunch of projects
We are not doing well with History. Not at all. We haven't even started Texas History yet. And in regular history we are still in the Greeks. I have been reading aloud The Children's Homer and it is... well, bogging us down. I can only stomach reading a chapter at a time and there are a lot of chapters! I would just drop it, but the kids are engaged in the story and making a lot of really great connections so I keep trudging forward.

My original plan was to do projects in the afternoons, but we are rarely all home in the afternoons because of so many outside classes and clubs we are in. Someday we will get around to doing the projects I guess. Or I will get desperate enough to figure something else out.

We are using Apologia General Science, Signs and Seasons and a compilation of resources for Human Anatomy
Kaytie and Nate are trudging right along with their General Science. I still have hope that they will finish middle school science before they need to start high school science. They are acing all the tests so at least I know they are learning something!

Daniel and Abbie and I are having fun with human anatomy. We did a quick overview of cells and such and have been exploring the skeletal system, It's fun. They are kids that enjoy models and games and I have been enjoying doing all the stuff that used to make Kaytie and Nate sigh at me. In theory, we will finish human anatomy with enough time to study geology, zoology and chemistry before the year ends.

Kaytie is also doing Signs and Seasons as a science elective. She does it independently and checks in regularly so that I know she is actually moving forward.

We are using a bunch of different stuff pulled together
This has been fun. The kids are mostly independent on this. They have been drawing Europe, learning European flags with cards I made, learning capitals and countries with Sporcle, and singing songs with Geography Songs. I write the day's assignment on the board and they do it whenever they like (or someone else isn't doing it) during the day.

We are using Bible Study Guide for All Ages
Everybody does this twice a week. They are all getting bored with it, but I haven't found anything to use instead so they are stuck with it for awhile longer.

We are using Duolingo, Salsa videos, and Flip Flop Spanish as well as outsourcing
Kaytie and Nate are taking a high school level class from a homeschool mom friend who speaks Spanish fluently. We are loving it! The kids are learning not just Spanish but how to learn from another adult and how to do so in a class setting. I am psyched that I don't have to mess with teaching anything. I drive them to class and remind them to do homework, that's it. It's awesome. I love it so much that I am strongly considering outsourcing other core classes as they get older.

They are also doing Duolingo on their own because they loved it too much to give it up. They do it daily and are 99% independent with it.

Daniel and Abbie and I work with Flip Flop twice a week. I supplement it with Salsa videos, and, occasionally, reading some easy reader Spanish books that we have collected over the years. Abbie loves Spanish and begs to do it first every day.

We are just practicing what we know and trying not to backslide while we are looking for a new teacher
They practice 20ish minutes a day.

We are using Youtube videos, how to draw books, and outsourcing
Neither boy is doing art this year. Abbie is taking a class from a homeschool graduate and Kaytie is perfecting her portrait and comic book skills.

We are using The Art of Argument
This is our other flop. We dropped Art of Argument because it was complicated and the kids were frustrated. And honestly, so was I. I think it is mostly because we don't have a student book. It is just too difficult for them to write answers without seeing what is already there. I haven't decided on a good fix and we just aren't doing Logic at all right now.

We are using Khan Academy and Scratch
The boys are doing tech instead of art. They work at Khan Academy or Scratch twice a week. I have no idea what they are doing because I simply don't understand it. I do have reassurance (it's a long, complicated story that I won't go into here) that Nate, at least, is doing what he needs to do and learning what he needs to learn. So there's that.

Extra Curricular
Kaytie is taking a for-fun creative writing class with a few other middle school girls. We all go to Chess Club and, occasionally, Poetry and Tea. And we are wrapping up the fall soccer season in a couple of weeks giving us a break from formal PE for awhile. We also have co-op on Fridays.

So there you have it. We mostly manage to finish all our daily allotment of work in under five hours although occasionally there is a kid or two that dawdles around and takes longer. I think so far our year is going great. Well, except for history. We are history failures. But looking at it in an assessment does give me the perspective and motivation to take steps to fix it.

How is your year going?

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