Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Tuesday notes

Today and yesterday went a good deal better than last week. We added our math curricula; writing in the forms of copywork, dictation, and Diamond Notes (for Austin); and history (Monday) and Science (today), which is just reading and discussing.

I had to get more structured than I had planned. I started us out last week with no structure/schedule and it was a disaster. I don't know if it's very RDI or not, so I'll have to work on that. But basically I laid out our morning "Before School" routine, which consists of getting up and dressed, breakfast, and chores. Then I also printed off a School Day routine, which shows sort of a 'What comes next and what do I do while that's happening?" sort of thing. So we start our morning with our Bible Study, then I move onto Reece's lesson. On the sheet, it shows what Austin and Riley can be doing while I'm working with Reece: math drill, reading assignment, book basket reading, copywork. The only thing that has a time is recess, because that's a mid-point of our morning. Everything else is more of a 'next subject/activity' sort of thing. Like I said, I'm not sure how RDI friendly it is, but it surely makes our morning flow alot better.

The big kids' reading is not working out like I had hoped it would. I'm still trying to give it time, but it seems like we're not doing enough. Riley tells me all the major and minor details of what she has read, and of course, she is far ahead of where I assigned. But it doesn't take very long so I'm not sure if I'm doing enough. I mean, she reads, we talk for a few minutes. Is that how it workds?

Austin's is a bit different. I gave him a notebook to write down words he doesn't understand, and then he writes a 1-2 sentence summary of his daily reading. But he just doesn't get much out of what he is reading at all. And I don't know how to help him with that. I try to talk to him about it, not asking direct questions, but he's just not interested. One time yesterday he replied with, "Well, how am I supposed to know what they're thinking? It's just a story!" Also, he is not getting the subtle language, and I don't know how to help him with that either. His summary yesterday was, "The compass broke, and Columbus was very mad about it." Sounds OK, unless you've read the story and realize that they were all wondering if the compass could have stopped working because they hadn't seen land, and they thought maybe Columbus was mad as in crazy. I tried explaining this to Austin, and I got the 'no idea what you are talking about' look. I even tied it to a use of mad as crazy that I knew he has heard before. Nothing. And if I try to elicit more out of him with questions, then I'm totally getting away from RDI/Declarative language.

The same is basically true with history. I read a section of our history spine yesterday and everyone just sort of stared at me. I tried commenting on some things that I found interesting, but got no response. I finally asked the review questions at the end of the section to try to see if anyone had listened, and they could answer them. It's just frustrating.

Reece's reading is also quite frustrating. She has to keep sounding out 'is' even though it's on every single darn page in every single darn sentence. She acts like she's never seen it before, every time!

Math is going fine... Riley is doing well with the textbook, writing her answers on paper. She just dawdles because other things are more interesting. One of these days she'll figure out that if she moves more quickly, it will be done faster. Austin started on the division with remainders in Math U See, and that's been a fairly simple thing for him. So far, so good! Reece is still working in her Calvert K workbook, and I'm keeping her to 2-4 pages instead of letting her do a ton of pages at a time.

Copywork/Dictation going well... glad I purchased Spelling Wisdom to use for that! I don't have to hunt for good things to copy! :) Austin liked his first lesson of Diamond Notes. Hopefully learning to write a paragraph by basing it on a baseball diamond will make it hit home (no pun intended) for him!

We're getting everything done, with a minor amount of wailing and gnashing of teeth, so I guess that means it's successful! If I could figure out reading, I'd feel so much better!


lisaquing said...

Your structure sounds effective to me.

The big kids reading is not working? You've been doing school for ONE WEEK. :-D Giving it more time sounds like a VERY wise idea especially since it is a change from the way you've done it before.

The reading structure you described also sounds effective. "Is that how it works?" Well, it sure can work that way! What are your goals for reading? Mine are that my kids will love reading and will be able to comprehend the material. Sounds like what you described with Riley meets MY goals anyway! Does it meet yours?

I like the notebook for reading idea. I think I will use it this year. I have been EXTREMELY unstructured with my kids' reading assignments, but since I am not always here, I have felt the need for something 'more'. Perhaps this will fit the bill. Gracias!

From what you've written, you're off to a great start! You've even got ME all excited about school starting, and it's still a month away!

The Glasers said...

Re: Riley

Remember that oral narration is very different from a teacher asking a bunch of reading comprehension questions. When a teacher ask questions, she does most of the thinking: to think of a question, the mind must process what is read and organize ideas. Oral narration requires Riley to process and organize, so it might help to start where she is.

She is great on details, but is her narration organized logically? Does it flows well? Is she simply reciting stuff mechanically or does she add her own flair (like telling how it reminds her of another story or an experience in her life or being the drama queen)? When she does that, you know it is becoming part of her!

To avoid feeling guilty about "not working so hard", remember she is the one who needs to labor over the book and really think about it. Your role as teacher is to listen with sympathetic ears and to help her improve her narrations and maybe point out interesting thoughts that hit you. So, for example, when David (NT, 14yo) narrated the chapter in The Iliad in which Hector dies, Hector begs Achilles to let his parents have his body and not let it be eaten by the dogs. I asked David, "How does that remind me of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire?" Immediately, David thought of Cedric wanting Harry to take his body back to his father. Then we compared views of the afterlife between the Greeks and Trojans and Christians to see why having the body back was so important to Hector.

One of my favorite sayings of Charlotte Mason,

Teachers shall teach less and scholars shall learn more!

The Glasers said...

Re: Austin

I know how hard it is! We have struggled with this for years. I try to look at where Pamela is now and take her to the very next baby step. Not to where her peers are. I would crumple into a wet tissue if I had to think of that.

Is there one book that really captures Austin's interest? If so, that is the book where you could place all of your attention in helping him to put the pieces together. Once he has the skill with one book of strong interest, then he can generalize it to other books later. It might be helpful to read that one book together, having him narrate a page at a time and perhaps having him predict what might be happening next.

For example, yesterday, Pamela was reading the chapter in which Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher are lost in a cave. The first few pages describe the cave. So, before we read the first page, I reminded her that they are in a cave and that she could think about what they might see in a cave. After one page, she gave some generic Tom and Becky narration. Bleck!

So then, we looked on the page for details about the cave. I covered the page and she narrated what she found. This is not Charlotte Mason, but it was very RDI because we were interacting in discovering what the page said about the cave. The next page was better, especially the part about the bats.

Then, I focused her on their actions, "I wonder if they are walking or resting." Then, "I wonder what they are going to do about food." Then, "I wonder if they are still lost." After she tells me what she thinks after each page, we go back and find the clues that gave her that idea. So, she ends up correcting herself without direct questioning from me.

I am still discovering how to do this in an RDI and CM friendly fashion myself. That is where we are right now for narrating challenging books. Austin may not get something as completely as you or Riley, but, if he is making progress in what he can do, that is what counts.

I am still doing the Go! Chart for narrating her speech therapy primers orally and in writing as described at my blog.

Niffercoo said...

Lisa, I guess I just need to make sure that I'm doing the things with the kids that follow up on the reading. I know that Riley loves to read and that she comprehends. I know that Austin doesn't love to read but I think his comprehension is better than I thought. I think he just doesn't know what to DO with what he's read. I posted just now (Wednesday) about this book that I've been reading about comprehension, and it has dawned on me that, like many other things in life, he doesn't know how to process what he is happening. It's almost like I have to help him Spotlight (RDI term) what he could be getting from reading a book. He may not get it all, like Tammy said below, but maybe he doesn't realize he should be getting anything?? Maybe he is just being very instrumental with reading, something to be done to mark off the list of assignments for school.

Glad you like the idea of the notebook! I wish I could give credit to where the idea came from, because I don't think it's an original one! LOL

I'm glad you're getting excited about school starting, and I'm glad to have helped. This has been the first year where I have been more overwhelmed than excited, and it's been quite a letdown. I wish I could figure out a way to make everything seem to flow better.

Niffercoo said...

Tammy, re Riley:

Her narrations are definitely disorganized, very much like her whole being! LOL

Today's narration is very clear in my mind still so I'll try to recap it. She just finished "A Lion to Guard Us" by Clyde Robert Bulla. I had planned to assign 2 chapters per day, and that would have taken about 3 school weeks, but she 'got carried away' and finished it today. When we sat down to talk about it, she started by saying, "They found their dad in Jamestown!" and I commented a bit on that. Then she said, "They didn't talk much about him because it was the end of the book. Is there another book after this one, because I want to know more about the dad." I told her I'd check, but that I didn't think there was another book about these children. She said, "Well, I would write another book and tell more about the dad."

That was all she had to tell me today. I'm just not sure what else to do with that. Do I leave it alone? Do I prompt her for more details?

I am currently reading The Lightning Thief to the kids for a read-aloud that we should have finished over the summer! It reminds me quite a bit of Harry Potter, and when I told them that yesterday, she was able to tell me somethings that reminded her of HP, and also some things that were different. And she made a little joke about the funnier differences.

So how can I refine her narration process? Are we on the right track anyway? I'm just not sure how much to expect or require.

Niffercoo said...

Tammy, re Austin:

I have not found any book that really catches Austin's interest, at least not for a long time. He will appear interested, because he knows that I want him to be, if that makes sense. Like, he told me about Pedro's Journal (his current reading assignment), "This book is getting very interesting" but when I tried to talk about it more with him, he couldn't explain how that was.

I think whatever book I have him read next I am going to read with him. I posted today about using the 7 Keys to Comprehension, which is alot like your chart, at least at first glance! I'm not even sure he is ready to do some of the steps you outlined in your chart. He couldn't give me enough details of what he has read to even try to put them together.

I do think (and I posted about this today, and reading your reply just serves to reinforce), that I'm going to have to get in and read WITH Austin again alot more. I'm going to have to do some modeling and 'guided participation', if you will, of what I do when I read a book, from creating the mental images to the reflecting on past books/experiences and all in between.

I know that he can 'get' stories because he has always seemed to enjoy having me read-aloud, and I can't imagine that he would like that if he didn't get it. Maybe instead of a comprehension problem, this is more of an expressive language problem? He can't do anything with what he has read or listened to? Any ideas on that?