24 February 2013

The Next Six Weeks

We just completed our week off from our six-weeks-on/six-weeks-off schedule. Most of what we had planned for the previous six weeks was completed, which made me a very happy teacher!

I still have a few more subjects to finish planning tonight, but I'm all set for the next six weeks.

In history, we will be continuing along with our study of the 17th and 18th centuries. This is one of the subjects that I have yet to finish planning, but we're going to begin the session by learning about King James, Captain John Smith, and Henry Hudson, the explorer. We will also continue reading the story about Ferdinand Magellan that we have been working on as a read-aloud.

In science, we will continue with R.E.A.L. Science and our co-op Apologia.

In math, K is going to be covering almost three chapters of math: Place Value with Thousands, Geometry, and Measuring. H will be continuing on with her MUS Alpha, but she will soon be moving on to Beta, probably in the six-week session after this one. Both girls are also using the Xtra Math website for drill practice.

In literature, H is going to be finishing up her Tornado unit of Moving Beyond the Page (MBtP). Then she will be beginning Sarah, Plain and Tall. After that, I think I will let her take the remaining days and  just read a chapter book of her choosing. K will be doing the MBtP unit of Little House in the Big Woods, followed by a unit of The Sign of the Beaver.

In grammar, K is going to be doing chapter 5 of Growing With Grammar level 3, which is her last chapter of this level. H has just recently begun level 2, so she will be continuing with that.

I'm still working on the lesson plans for both of their writing courses. K will continue with her Writing Strands, but I may choose to add something else into that, since she loves to write. H will probably begin IEW's new primary course, Bible Heroes, but it may not be until the next session.

19 February 2013

Moving Beyond the Page - A Review of the Tornado Literature Unit

This was our first taste of Moving Beyond the Page (MBtP). I really like the format of the program. It ended up being a good fit for both of my girls, who have completely different learning styles. 

On most days, the student reads a chapter of the book, answers questions to verify comprehension, and then makes a journal entry based on the chapter. After that, the lessons vary quite a bit depending on the day. I thought H would be resistant to the journal aspect, but she really seemed to enjoy drawing pictures to summarize what happened in each chapter. 

DSCN2575 001

In addition to reading the book Tornado, the unit also uses the book How the Turtle Got Its Shell, which is a Little Golden Book that contains several myths about why the turtle might have a shell. I was impressed that the program expanded to not only include the student writing their own myth, but also doing a research lesson on turtles. There were also exercises that discussed moods, weather, and what a day on the farm was like.
From a true literature standpoint, the program covered things such as an author's word choice, setting, and plot. There was also punctuation practice. 
Teacher's guide for Moving Beyond the Page
The unit had a nice mix of hands-on craft activities, discussion, and writing exercises. I didn't have any complaints from either child during this unit, which was a tremendous feat. I've had problems finding literature programs that my children accepted in the past. That was not the case for this one!
We did not do the spelling recommendations, as we use a different spelling program, so I am not well equipped to give my opinion regarding that. 
Overall, this seems to be a very solid literature program. H is going to continue on with the next unit, Sarah, Plain and Tall, while K will be jumping up to the next level and doing the unit on Little House in the Big Woods.

18 February 2013

Growing With Grammar - A Review of Level 3

As my oldest daughter nears the end of Growing With Grammar (GWG) level 3, I feel I have enough exposure to the book to write an accurate review.

First of all, I really like the format. It is basically a worktext, written to the student, except that the student manual and the workbook pages are separate from one another, which saves on the cost of subsequent children who will do the same level later on. This is the first level that uses a separate student manual. The previous levels have the instruction on the same page as the exercises, but beginning in level 3, there are more exercises.

The student manual is small and easy to throw into a bag for doing school on the go. More than once, I've packed a few workbook pages, the manual, and a pencil and had my daughter complete her work while we ran errands. The size of the manual actually reminds me of the grammar books I utilized in middle school and high school.

The student workbook has one page, front and back, for each lesson. I really, really like this feature! I love that I can remove the page from the book and have the lesson on one page. Since I divide up work and put them into daily file folders, this is fantastic for me. (It annoys me greatly when companies publish books with perforated pages, but put the lessons on facing pages rather than front and back!) For those who prefer to keep workbooks intact, the spiral binding is on the top of the GWG workbook. This allows the student to write without the spiral binding in the way. We kept level 2 intact, and it really is a nice feature to have.

Now for the nitty gritty: the content!

Chapter 1 covers sentence basics: fragments, run-ons, types of sentences (questions, commands, etc.), subjects and predicates, etc. In the second half of the chapter, sentence diagramming is introduced. The chapter ends with an introduction to paragraphs.

Chapters 2-4 cover nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs. Singular vs. plural nouns, nouns of direct address, nouns in a series, subject and object pronouns, action verbs, linking verbs, helping verbs, verb tense, contractions, direct objects, subject-verb agreement, the different kinds of adjectives, and the different kinds of adverbs are all introduced within these chapters. I believe the next level will also cover them in more detail, but my daughter already has a good grasp of them. In addition, she has also been introduced to alphabetical order; using a dictionary; using bad, good, many, and most; synonyms; antonyms; homonyms; writing letters; and addressing an envelope.

We are just beginning chapter 5, but I can already tell it will be a good one. The chapter is titled Growing with Words and Punctuation. It is going to cover some of my personal pet peeves: set/sit, you're/your, lay/lie, it's/its, they're/their/there.

The exercises themselves are what you would expect in a grammar workbook: A nice mix of correcting sentences, writing your own sentences, underlining and circling the parts of speech and the objects that go with them. Each lesson also has built in review of previous lessons, which has been really useful for my daughter. While she usually does the GWG lessons with minimal help from me, once in a while she will bring me her paper and tell me she can't remember how to do something from a while back. The workbook references the lesson number where the topic was originally taught, so I direct her to that lesson, she rereads it to refresh her memory, and completes the work.

Each chapter of level 3 has two tests: one in the middle of the chapter and one when the chapter is complete. Again, they are in a typical grammar format: Fill in the blank with the correct word, rewrite titles and sentences with correct punctuation and capitalization, tell if each sentence is a fragment or a run-on, etc. They, like the workbook pages, are front and back.

It usually doesn't take my daughter very long to complete a grammar lesson. Some of them have more writing where others have more underlining, but for the most part, she doesn't usually spend more than 10-15 minutes per lesson. This doesn't seem like much, but she aces her tests and has a firm grasp of the parts of speech she has learned thus far. She also never complains when it is time for grammar. (Sometimes she wants to do several lessons in a row!) Some people may prefer a program that has more practice, but  I would imagine you could easily supplement with free worksheets found online. In addition, the company also produces a diagramming workbook that provides extra diagramming practice.

Overall, I think this is a very solid program that is easy to implement. I plan on continuing with the next level once this one is complete. Samples of the level, including a table of contents, can be found here.