Thursday, April 29, 2010

Week 17 2010

I putting up our week in review a little early. Tomorrow we are leaving for a weekend soccer tournament at the beach. Yes, we have a hard life.

Trying to wrap up everything this week before being out of town for a WHOLE weekend made it a pretty busy week. We haven't seen much of dh this week since he has had to try and do his weekend jobs during the weeknights. I have had the full-time cab driver role.

Last week a number of readers asked for a review of Time4Learning. I don't do reviews until after I have had a chance to use a program for awhile. But, I figured I would give a run down this week of what Katie and Mary did on T4L.


~ Completed a review of prefixes and suffixes in her vocabulary work for the week. Each lesson has a tutorial section and a quiz/practice section.
~ She completed the Spelling Unit 1 section and practiced the words using SpellingCity and printable worksheets.
~ She continued her lessons on reading strategies and focused on how to read texts, newspapers, and other nonfiction. She also had a lesson on recognizing Fact or Opinion and completed an offline worksheet.

Each day she had scored activities and is carrying a 95% average across her language arts. Yes, she still really likes being graded.

I started her at the beginning of 4th grade and figured the review would be helpful for her. It is pretty easy at this point, but I love the instruction on reading strategies. It is nice that something else is telling her the same things I have been...but she gets it now.

Once she gets past the reviews she will have daily grammar, vocabulary/spelling, and literature/reading activities.


~ activities with ai/ay words and high frequency words both, tell very
~ vocabulary exercise
~ timed reading exercise for building fluency
~ read a story and completed comprehension questions
~ wrote her own story using vocabulary from the week

LA Extension - Week unit on Bees
~ read background information on bees
~ completed Venn Diagrams comparing bees with ants and butterflies
~ worksheet on bees
~ read online story about bees
~ comprehension and sequencing questions about story
~ blending phonics focused on tw/tr words
~ completed quiz on the week's unit

Math - has daily lesson, worksheet & quiz (Math is used as a supplemental review to her Math Mammoth lessons)
~ More or Less
~ Cardinal or Ordinal Numbers
~ Different ways of writing numbers

Social Studies
had her complete lessons on Geographic tools (maps, globes, atlases) as a supplement.

I am still really happy with what the girls are learning so far and how it has freed us up to really concentrate on the more 'fun' content areas of our day. One of my concerns about the program, based on some other reviews was that T4L would hit topics and then move on. But, I'm finding plenty of review when I use the quizzes and printable worksheets. Some of the reviews out there are older and before they re-worked much of the material.

Mary is spending about an hour total on T4L doing her language arts. That will probably become greater when writing activities are added. Katie is spending about 1 1/2 hours online (not all together) since she also does one math lesson per day as a supplement to her book math.

This week we added our other subjects back in for full days. Without all the other 'paper' language art lessons which were replaced by T4L, I found that the girls actually enjoy Writing With Ease. Which, to me, is a great supplement to T4L. We also completed one lesson each in Primary/Intermediate Language Lessons (respectively). Katie read aloud The Army of Two by Polly Curren as a companion to our study of The War of 1812. Mary read aloud "The Dog of Flanders" from her Elson Reader.

In Math, Katie completed lessons on adding and subtracting by 10s. Mary is breezing through her review on multiplication in Teaching Textbooks.

For history we read about Napoleon and The War of 1812. The girls completed the map work and we listened to "The Star-Spangled Banner" and "The 1812 Overture" online. Mary also completed Chapter 6 in "The Story of the USA" Vol 2, on The War of 1812.

In science we finally completed our solar systems.

Still need the girls to complete their notebook pages on Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. Then we can mark off science for the year.

Outside of school we've had soccer, softball, and more soccer this week.

Mary's team is going to a tournament this weekend, so we've had mandatory practices to get her team ready. There has been a lot of dropping off one at practices and going to pick up the other one, and vice-versa.

Katie also had her final drama class for the year on Tuesday where they presented their play "The Big Orange Splot."

So, here it is 2:00 Thursday afternoon and I think we are done for the week. Now, I need to finish the laundry and start getting everyone packed up. Hoping for a couple of hours of downtime on the beach this weekend between games. I think we have all earned it.



Friday, April 23, 2010

Week 16 - Changes

Week 15 was the week that a lot of issues with curricula and personality came to a head. After struggling with many different problems since the beginning of 2010, we had to make changes. I had kept trying to push through with several programs that all required a lot of one-on-one with my children. And, I was so stressed with trying to plan it all and not leave out the little ones...and nothing was working long-term.

In addition, there was a nagging voice in the back of my head that Mary really, really need to be able to do more of her work independently. She could do it, she just didn't want to. Part of the problem is that Mary (1) lacks confidence and (2) is an auditory learner and needs the material presented to her. It took most of my time and energy everyday just to keep her working.

When we had a several-day-long meltdown in Math over division it came to a head that she was using me to sound out her frustrations. To emotionally engage me in the battle. By the time the battles were finished nothing else was getting done - We were worn out. I hate to jump ship on Math Mammoth. I love the program and feel like it does a really good job explaining math so students really understand, but we had hit a wall. I needed to step away from Mary as her primary teacher for Math. I opted to go with Teaching Textbook 5 for her and ordered it. It arrived the beginning of this week and we started right into it.

I also went back and looked at Time4Learning again as an option for the children to use during the day. They have really upgraded the curriculum in the last couple of years, especially LA, and I have decided to give it a shot. Thanks to my mom, I enrolled all 4 children at their various levels.

So, our new plan for the time being is such:

Mary -
Time4Learning - LA and LA Extension
Intermediate Language Lessons (2x week)
Teaching Textbooks 5 - Math
Math Mammoth 4B - Math supplement
Writing With Ease (2x week)
Blend Phonics/Websters Speller Review
SOTW 3/US History
Astronomy - Science
Independent Reading/Read Alouds

Katie -
Time4Learning - LA and LA Extensions
Primary Language Lessons (2x week)
Math Mammoth 2 - Math
Time4Learning Math - Supplement
Writing With Ease (2x week)
Blend Phonics/Websters Speller Review
SOTW 3/US History
Astronomy - Science
Independent Reading/Read Alouds

Emily -
Blend Phonics
Time4Learning - Phonics and Math Activities
Math Mammoth 1 - Very slowly
Getty-Dubay Handwriting
Folk/Fairy Tales around the World

This week has been the trial week. I didn't make any big schedule and only did handwritten to-do lists for the girls. I wanted to see how time would fall and different options for getting things done. Going into next week I need to focus on making sure we get our pencil & paper activities completed more regularly.

We've had a really good week overall. We resurrected an old laptop that needed a keyboard plugged into it for Mary to use, and it gave us three computers to rotate the children through. Everyone seems really pleased with T4L and ask to get on it first thing. I am really, really pleased with the LA program - it is much more comprehensive, incorporating spelling, phonics, vocabulary, grammar, writing and teaching reading for information skills. Things I was having to use multiple programs. Plus, I know that they are doing grade-level work and getting graded on it daily. Both girls are averaging 'A's this first week, and realizing that Mary can read and work independently (when she has shown me otherwise) has been HUGE!

Mary loves Teaching Textbooks for math. She likes the immediate feedback as she is working the problems and enjoys being able to go through it at her own pace.

Using the computers have also given all of us time to work on other things during the day. We've finally gotten around to doing our Solar System models.

Which we will be finishing up today.

We read SOTW this week discussing Lewis & Clark's Expedition and Tecumseh. Were able to complete the map work, and do narrations for the sections. As an add-on we've also read about half of Holling's Minn of the Mississippi.

For myself, I managed to clean the bathroom and empty the refrigerator and wipe it out. I'm finding that I have more time for me and the things that just need to be done around the house.

I really felt guilt about using so much technology, but as the week just kept getting better that guilt has really dissipated. Now, I just hope that it continues to work so well...I'm already researching some other 'computer-taught' options for language arts down the road.



Saturday, April 10, 2010

Week 14 Back from Break

I have not updated in a couple of weeks. Our second week of Spring Break saw Mary visiting with friends three states away and the public school kids out on their own Spring Break. The weather was wonderful and the children spent most of their time outside enjoying it. I spent the week catching up on housework and paperwork that had fallen behind. I also had time to enjoy pleasure reading and taking a little break of my own.

It was tough getting back into the routine on Monday. Over Easter weekend we noticed that our old dog was beginning to fail, which clouded our days with trying to make the decision when we needed to take action. Wednesday night we decided that it was time, but then she passed away, peacefully on her own that night. We feel very blessed that we got to spend those last few days saying good-bye.

We did get back into a routine and I have a handy new schedule on the wall. One that reflects our actual routine. Robbie and I spend time together in the morning doing some pre-school stuff or just reading before the others get up and are ready to go. Then I just rotate between the four of them in 15 min periods until we are done. The three days we followed it this week seemed to work really well.

Mary -

Worked through dividing whole hundreds and thousands in math. Seemed to understand it instinctively.

Covered subjective pronouns in grammar and paragraphical rules in Language Arts. We worked through Week 9 in Writing with Ease. She read the story of 'Cher Ami', a homing pigeon that saves 180 men during WWI in the Elson Reader and completed an oral narration.

Katie -

Continued working on subtraction facts to 20 in Math Mammoth. Some days she really seems to understand math, and other days it is a foreign language to her. This week was filled with those 'other' days.

Finished working on irregular plural nouns in grammar. Covered correct use of is/are in language arts and completed daily copywork from both Primary Language Lessons and WWE. She also began reading the story of 'Lucky Hans' in her Elson Reader.

Together -

Read about the Haitian Revolution in SOTW and completed mapping exercises and colored in a picture of the Haitian flag. For US History; Read biography of Sacagawea, read a picture book about Lewis & Clark, and watched a National Geographic video on Lewis & Clark.

In science we read about Jupiter and watched the Universe program on Jupiter. The girls still need to finish their page on Jupiter for their science notebooks. I told them they could finish it over the weekend.

In phonics/spelling we reviewed digraphs that make the long a sound and the 'ar' phonogram using Blend Phonics and the Webster Speller. The girls also continued practicing sounding out multi-syllable words.

Emily -

She completed a few pages of handwriting this week and began slowly working through Math Mammoth 1 after wanting 'harder' math than what she was getting from MEP.

I really need to get back to phonics work with Emily, we've kind of taken a break from it while she has been spending her time reading lots of the Bob Books and other 'easy' readers.

On Thursday, the day after we lost our dog, I didn't feel like I could 'teach' as well as I needed too and Mary was not going to be able to focus, so I decided we needed a day away from the house. We made a library run, picked up some lunch and went to a park/playground until it was time for Robbie's nap.

Friday, we decided to just sit down and have reading day. One of those days that we just make a pile of books and start to read through them; independently, aloud, together.... Those are really relaxing days :)

Katie had a Brownie meeting and two softball practices this week. Plus, her drama class is only a few weeks away from their end of class play. Mary had two soccer practices this week and skills training on Friday. On Sunday we will be traveling out of town for a day-long tournament. Emily had soccer practice this week and her first game today.

Mary's literature passages in WWE this week were from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which meant that the kids wanted to watch the movie again, and again...

Mary has been alternating some of her extra time this week between reading The 39 Clues and working on the puzzles on the cards, and playing on the French site of Club Penguin. She has made a bilingual friend on Club Penguin who is teaching her some French already. She is so excited to start learning French.

Katie has discovered the Cowgirl Kate books and has been busy reading and re-reading those. She, and the younger two have also spent a huge amount of time outside just enjoying the beautiful weather (even with all the pollen).

That has been our week in a nutshell. Busy, busy, busy, which it will be until summer. Then it will just be busy in a different way.



A family of six living and learning. You might catch us outside in the mud or working on crafts. We always seem to be on the go, come on and join us.