The week of Labor Day Duncan started both his composition and his Algebra 2 courses. He has completed his first three assignments in Write at Home’s Middle School Course 1. The first four weeks review the varied sentence structure, strong verbs, and precise subjects. So, I can’t really give a review of the course, because thus far all he has only written sentences. All I can say is that everything is through their website. You don’t use your e-mail. The assignments are in a grid and you do not have access to all of the assignments immediately. Each week a new assignment is released. You can actually see the titles of the assignments, but you can’t access them and work ahead of the schedule.
Anyway, here is a window into the mind of a ten-year-old boy. He had to write a sentence with the subject unicorns. He wrote:
Unicorns gallop through the meadow of colorful flowers with rainbows streaming from their behinds as fart sparkles fill the air.
I told him that it was a little crass and that he probably didn’t need to share with his instructor that the rainbows issued from the unicorns' bums and that the word fart is currently banned in work submitted to Write at Home. The finished sentence read:
Unicorns gallop through the meadow of colorful flowers with rainbows streaming behind them as sparkles fill the air.
I hope the teacher is not too impressed with how in touch Duncan is with his feminine side, because I am certain that the image in his head is vastly different than hers based on the finished sentence.
He has almost completed the first three weeks of Derek Owens Algebra 2. This I really, really like. It is everything I could want for this level of math. The instruction is very clear. There is a workbook that contains the lectures with blanks for the student to fill in, so I know that Duncan is paying attention and engaged in the online lecture. The practice problems are all worked out in the video lectures. Once completed, the homework and tests are scanned and e-mailed to a homework e-mail address. Once graded, the homework is e-mailed back. Progress is kept online in a grid that includes all grades for homework and tests. Woot! Woot!
We changed up history and science. We were using textbooks, A Message of Ancient Days and Conceptual Physical Science, and we ditched them both. After finishing the section on Mesopotamia, I just wasn’t seeing any retention. Duncan is now using a modified version of Tanglewood’s Grade 5 Egyptian History Trimester that I am shortening from 12 to 9 weeks. He has finished week 2.
While he loved the Astronomy section of Conceptual Physical Science this summer, the beginning of the book was just tedious for him. I enjoy Paul Hewitt and this text. I feel like Paul Hewitt’s enthusiasm for his topic really comes through the text, so my goal with this text was to share that enthusiasm with Duncan. However, Duncan wasn’t enthused. He loathed it, so we dropped it.
So, the goal was to find chemistry and physics that the little man would enjoy. He is strong in math so it didn’t need to be so basic that it excluded math, but it did need to be little boy friendly in a way that I have a difficult time defining. Anyway, he started Easy Peasy Middle School Level Chemistry and Physics and read some of the first chapter of CK-12’s Physical Science Concepts for Middle School. He liked Easy Peasy, but Physical Science Concepts for Middle School was wordy in a little boy unfriendly way. This week we tried an electronic copy of Real Science 4 Kids Level 2 Chemistry that I purchased in 2010 for my middle ds who ended up not using it. (It looks like the author is redoing her levels, and this text has been repackaged as Focus on High School Chemistry.) We completed the first chapter and Duncan really enjoyed it. Since it looks like it will work for him, I have e-mailed Real Science 4 Kids asking for a list of errata. Whew! So, it looks like Duncan will be continue reading The Story Science alongside Easy Peasy Middle School Level Chemistry and Physics and Real Science 4 Kids Chemistry Level 2.
We have added our final touches to our schedule and are now ramped up to full load. Some of these final touches I had planned, one was a surprise request from dh, and a couple just sort of fell in our laps.
I had planned to add in artist-composer-poet studies. We added in our artist study on Norman Rockwell whose work will be displayed at our local art museum beginning in November. We added in our composer study on Aaron Copland who was chosen because the Nashville Symphony will be playing Billy the Kid in October. We added poet study on Robert Frost. I actually didn’t picked a poet until the very last minute. When I began considering ditching Duncan’s history, I was looking at Ambleside Year 6 history and happened to see that Frost was the poet suggested for the first trimester. Woohoo, another American to round out our artist-composer-poet studies.
My dh has requested that Duncan study German. Surprise! Yeah, I have no idea where that came from, but he almost never says anything about school, so I am going to put some effort into this. To start, I checked out some Living Language CDs from the library just to get our feet wet. Duncan has listened to lessons 1 and 2. He has written the word lists and read in the book. Anyway, if this is something dh really wants ds to do, then I see a tutor in our future.
Logic and Shakespeare have fallen into our laps. The Fallacy Detective was sitting on my shelf and I just grabbed it as a read-aloud. Duncan is really enjoying our interactive read-aloud time and certainly doesn’t think that we have added another subject. We are reading Macbeth- not a retelling. It is pretty straightforward and with Halloween approaching it seems appropriate. Three years ago we read Macbeth in Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare and Duncan and my friend’s daughter, Mei,memorized the witches chant. This time we are eyeing Macbeth’s soliloquy that begins with “Is this a dagger which I see before me.”