Friday, October 26, 2007

Week in Review: October 22-26

I continue to be impressed by the readings in Ambleside's Year 3, and also by my children's ability to comprehend the complex language. Also, I personally enjoy how the readings seem to line up. Last week we read about Martin Luther, and twice this week in Our Island Story, Luther was mentioned. I'm not sure if the kids were as excited as I was by that little bit of coincidence!

This week we also read a story by Shakespeare from Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare. I know very little about Shakespeare, so reading The Merchant of Venice was new for me as well. I chose to read this outloud, because I was as interested in it as they were! The first day, I stopped about halfway through, and both of the kids protested. Come on, what home educating mom doesn't secretly long for their children to get excited about Shakespeare?! I was so excited! We finished it the next day, and we all enjoyed it very much!

I am finding the amount of reading to be manageable, so I take that to mean that I chose a good Year for us to start with. Nobody seems to be overwhelmed by their daily reading, and I am able to pick and choose what I want to read aloud (typically history and science). We are finishing in plenty of time to allow for free play outside, and the learning of new handicrafts like knitting! :)

I am also starting to see some changes in narrations from Austin. They are still not very detailed or very long, but I am careful to praise all of his narration efforts. I know it is a difficult skill for him. But I am really anxious for his narrations to move from a basic summary of the events of the story (which is what I think I 'trained' him to think was required) into what the story means to him. Once he starts that, then I know that the comprehension and the self-checking for meaning is there. And that's what I've been concerned about most when it comes to his reading comprehension. Today, I got a little hint that this may be starting to happen:

Austin's narration from the Princess and the Goblin

"Irene found her grandmother again. And mom, I bet I know what the grandmother is making. I bet she's making something for Irene!"

I do realize that may not seem like much from an 11 year old 5th grader. But to me, it's just amazing! He is connecting to this story, and is making a prediction based upon what he is reading. That has never happened before. I have tried to prompt that sort of thinking. We've tried to fill in workbook pages that discuss making predictions. It just never worked. In the 4 weeks that we've been using Ambleside and following a more CM method, I have instead been modeling out loud these sorts of predictions from other books. It's so cool to see that it's working! And the Princess and the Goblin is not an 'easy' book. This is a book that inspired Tolkien! It's full of complex language. So he's 'getting' that as well!

Riley seems to be making strides as well, with her attention. Some days are better than others, for sure. She is currently reading Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, having finished A Little Princess. I never have to worry about what she is reading! :)

Reece had a bit of a struggle with this week. I have backed off her academics completely, but didn't really plan other things to occupy her time. And with being busy with Austin and Riley, plus her generally onry personality recently, she made messes and got into trouble. So I need to make sure that I'm keeping her engaged as best I can while the others are working, so I'll try to compile a list of great books to read to her. I'll probably pull them from the Sonlight Core B list (what used to be called PreK... I own it from back when we used it to do a trial run of homeschooling all those years ago). I really don't want to start Ambleside Year 0 with her until next fall. She loves to be read to, and there are so many books that are great for this age. I think I should be able to keep her happy until the fall!

The only thing that still gives me pause about CM/Ambleside is the lack of writing. The lack of 'stuff' to put into their school binders. We have our copywork and dictation, but we're not really making notebook pages, and the kids don't seem to be jumping up and down begging to do that! ;) I'm not going to panic. But it does make me nervous!

So there you have it - week 4 of Ambleside at the Black Pearl Academy!


The Glasers said...

I am so excited for you that your children are doing so well with AO! Yeah!!!! I think Austin's narration is great because of the prediction he made. It means he is THINKING about what he is reading and is ANTICIPATING what may happen next.

On the "lack of writing", oral narration is the foundation of written narration. Think of it as a developmental step. CM broke down language arts in developmental steps. In the pre-writing stage, children do the following:

* SEE and THINK about good models of writing (living books).

* COMPOSE a retelling mentally before saying it.

* PRACTICE neat penmanship and ATTEND to mechanics, spelling, etc. during copywork.

* SPELL and USE CORRECT MECHANICS during dictation.

* If you do spelling and grammar lessons on any dictation errors, then you are address what they need to know when they need to know it.

You are doing all the building blocks they need so that, when they are ready to write, they will take off and not get stuck on spelling or composing their thoughts or have nothing to say because their minds lack examples of wonderful literature.

JamBerry said...

What an awesome update!!
And as far as having things to put in a notebook for them or by them, well, your blog alone is pretty nice documentation!
And I think there's heaps to be said for just taking snapshots of whatever yall are doing too, occasionally.
And for Austin and Reece, you also have RDI videos and write ups and feedback for that end of things.
You're doing terrific!!!

lisaquing said...

It sounds like Ambleside is working out very well for you. Once you decide to do so, I am sure it will be easy to integrate some writing.