What we are using

16 June 2012

2011-2012 Wrap-up and Evaluation

I spent some time reading over my reports from this past year.  It's funny how you kind of forget the details as you go along.   I started out the year with a lot of ideas and plans, but I don't really think the year turned out the way I imagined would. I think next year I need to write down my goals instead of just my plans so that it will be easier to evaluate how I did.

First Grade:

LB started out the year able to sound out words but not read because of her lingering vision problems.   Her eye doctor had said she'd outgrow it around the age 7.  He was spot on.  She recently read Blueberries for Sal and Caps for Sale.  She's currently reading Stink.  We started with the McRuffy Readers, but dropped those in favor of the reading assignments in Memorial Press Grade 1 program.  She felt much more accomplished reading real books instead of readers.  We also started reading the CLP Nature Study 1 book daily.  I like it.  It gives her some terrific reading practice along with some interesting science content.

We completed ETC3 and 4 and started 5.  She still loves the ETC books, and we plan to use the whole series.

We started the year with Saxon 2 and Math in Focus 1.  A few months ago, I realized that it really wasn't working for her.  It finally hit me the day she had completed a timed worksheet of +9's without ever seeing the pattern.  We'd worked on the pattern and talked about the pattern and demonstrated the pattern,  but she finished the worksheet without ever relating it to a pattern.  I quit doing math with her.  After a couple of weeks, we started the Life of Fred elementary series just to do some math while I figured out a direction.  After a while, I added in Monopoly (specifically Dogopoly) and decided that was enough.  She can now add the dice in her head as well as add up money and make change. Thanks to LoF, she can also tell time to 5 minutes and spell Wednesday.   I'm happy with where we are even if we dropped math.

At the beginning of the year, she started working on cursive with Jan Brett's cursive letter printouts.  Right now, she has pretty good cursive.  We're more than half way through the McRuffy First Grade cursive book.    We also added Writing With Ease 1 which she's enjoying.  Her copywork is terrific and so are her summaries.

For our history studies, we did a great job with the dinosaur unit, but kind of fizzled after that.    I've learned that I need something more structured next year.

Other things - I had started adding more memory work, but fizzled at that too.  However, while watching her practice for her dance recitals, I realized that she has an amazing memory.  She performed 3 dances this year with 2 of them being solos.  Her most recent tap dance was 3 minutes of complicated steps that she performed by herself on stage with a big smile in front of a full auditorium.  I had to admit that dance is much more complicated than the memory work I had planned.

This wasn't my first time teaching first grade.  I expected the math problems and the agonizing  pace of a new reader.  Experience made me much more patient and flexible that I had been the first time.   Reading is my biggest priority for first grade, and she exceeded my expectations in that area.

Fifth Grade:

I made great plans for CC this year which changed immensely.   She read all the books I had planned this year in the first month.  She also read the shelf of books I'd saved from when BB was in school.  It was the historical fiction from the old SL Core 6+7.  She'd done all of that before Christmas.  She read a ton more books and discovered Horrible Histories which she devoured.

We started the year writing summaries for history.  After a few weeks, she hated that.  We eventually settled on fictional news articles based on historical events.  She'd spend the first part of the week researching then a day or two writing.  It was a great way to encourage her to research and write.

She told me she didn't learn much in science this year.  I pointed out that the purpose of the science we used wasn't to teach her science, but to teach her to think through an experiment and learn to do a lab report.  She was shocked that I had used her friend and science to teach her something like that.  I had thought it was pretty clear.  She did enjoy the non-fiction reading I required her to do each week - except for the fact that I required it.

Math.  I need to talk about math.  We started the year in LoF Decimals which we quickly dropped in favor of AoPS Pre-Algebra.  It was hard, and she struggled, but it was good.  At the end of January, she was awarded a spot in a classical charter school which doesn't do "tracking."  It will be two years before she is in Pre-Algebra so we dropped AoPS.  We worked through part of RS Geometry and MM5 and a lot of pages of long division which she has loved since BB taught her how to do it years ago.  Last month, she had to take a placement test to see if she'd need summer math remediation for her new school.  She did very well once she got used to the test format.    She's hoping some of her skills get rusty so that she won't be bored when school starts in August.

I never did get around to replacing Shurley grammar when CC changed enrichment schools.  I did work with her on punctuation in  writing.  I gave her a spelling placement test that showed she could spell at a 7th grade level so I didn't even attempt to teach spelling.   With our lack of attention on grammar, I was shocked when I found out that her new school would be giving a grammar placement test.  I was more shocked when I was told that she had passed and was "well-prepared" for their 6th grade grammar program - they use Hake.

I think the biggest success of the year has to be cello.  She started last fall and loves it.  She practices everyday until her fingers are sore.  She memorizes her music.  She stretches her brain like it has never been stretched before.  She's always had an amazing memory, and this is the first thing she's done that leaves her mentally exhausted.

Her year didn't turn out at all the way I had planned; it was better.  This was my first time teaching fifth grade.  My biggest priority was research and writing.  I wanted her to learn to find information herself, summarize it and write about it.    She has exceeded my expectations in that area.

The Teacher:

This was a hard year for me.  My work changed dramatically over the year as I became much busier.  If I were being ungracious with myself, I'd say that I did a terrible job this year.  Many days, I just barely made it to the end of the day.  I didn't spend nearly enough time teaching either child.  I slacked-off with expectations, accountability and direct instruction.  I was thrown into a tail-spin by my mother's heart attack, my husband's accident and my own health challenges.   Good thing I'm not ungracious.   Homeschooling is hard, but I worked hard, and the kids succeeded.

Overall, I guess I passed this year.  At least I survived it.  Now I need a few weeks to relax and get my bearings back again.


LetMeBeClear said...

You are a phenomenal Teacher,Mother, Wife, Friend and worker. And that you fit all that into a 24x7x365 days is just amazing.

Karen said...

:) you are very sweet. You know I couldn't do nearly as much without you. It is teamwork and family that makes it all work.