Thursday, October 31, 2013

School Year 2013-2014: Term 1 Exam Week

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, exam week has been a lot of fun! These aren't the sort of exams that most of you are probably used to. Charlotte Mason-style exams are designed to allow the child the chance to tell what they KNOW, rather than what they don't know.

I hadn't really mentioned it to the kids in advance because I didn't want to stress them out with something new. So I brought it up casually last week. They were less than enthusiastic. But then on the first day, they started and just ran with it! It was so exciting! Their answers weren't quite as detailed as I was hoping, but maybe next term they will be a little more so because they will know what to expect over the term! Regardless, we had a lot of fun and the kids ended their exams feeling proud that they had learned SO much over the course of 12 weeks!

I shared the link to the Ambleside Online website Exam page that will give you an idea of the sort of questions we used. Reece is doing Year 5 and the big kids are doing Year 10 Lite. I did have to modify some of the lessons because I made some book substitutions. I thought I would share some of my own exam questions. Let me know what you think! I tried my best to model them after the AO suggestions!

Reece -

English Grammar
Parse and diagram the following sentence - “I see above me the snow-covered mountains.”

Describe the attributes of an atom. 
1. What fraction of a meter is 7 decimeters? Answer in hundredths and tenths)
2. Multiply twelve-thousand one hundred eight by seventy-six.
3. Write these fractions as decimals: 52 7/10, 11 6/100, 7/1000. 

Riley -
1. Solve: 5(x – 2) = 30
2. Solve: 8(x + 5) = 7(x - 7)
3. Give an example of the commutative property of addition.
4. What is the inverse operation of division?

1. Translate:

Christus est Rex Regum.
Christiani veritatem Christi laudant.
The leaders of the Romans are in Gaul.
The general sees the dangers of the war. 

Austin - 
1. Describe the Industrial Revolution.
2. How did the Louisiana Purchase change America?
3. Give an account of the last days in the life of Abraham Lincoln. 

1. Describe the following triangles: scalene, isosceles, equilateral.
2. Is an obtuse angle smaller or larger than 90 degrees?
3. A line is bisected by another line. Each segment is now _____ to the other.
4. If two lines are perpendicular, they form which kind of angle?

Foreign Language
1. Name the 4 definite articles in Spanish (these tell “THE”)

2. Name the 4 indefinite articles in Spanish (these tell “A/AN”)
3. What are the subject pronoun for “I”, “you (familiar)”, “you (formal)”, “he”, “she”, and “they”?


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

She's a Deep Thinker!

Well, it's safe to say that Exam Week was a huge success! I am so excited, and I plan to do a more detailed post about Exam Week tomorrow. But this evening I want to focus on Reece! She is showing some new levels of thinking, or perhaps the thinking has always been there, and she's just now able to express it? I'm not sure, but it's got us all completely amazed!

The first thing happened during our first day of Exams. Since we do Bible together, I decided to have the kids do their Bible Exam together. The question was "Describe the Fruits of the Spirit and what they mean to you personally." We had just finished the book of Galatians so I figured this would be something they would be able to answer with ease, especially since we had memorized the Fruits of the Spirit verse a long time ago.

I began with Austin and then we moved in order of age. The big kids' answers were nice and thoughtful. Then I turned to Reece:

"I think of the Fruits of the Spirit as being like a puzzle. You really need to have all of them in place working together. If you are struggling with one of the pieces, then you really can't get the whole picture of who you are in Christ."


::jaw drop::

Riley was the first to speak. "Just get out of here, Reece. You make the rest of us look bad!" LOL

The other thing happened later that evening after dance. Her teacher came out to tell me that Reece had had a problem during the class. Apparently the girls weren't very focused. It's costume week, and that is very common - the kids are all dressed up and it's Halloween week and it's a little crazy! So the teacher got serious with the girls. Reece does NOT do well with any sort of correction (even if it's not directed towards her) and she takes a small raising of the voice and a serious tone to be "yelling".

On the way home, I talked to her about the class and what happened. She had remained very upset for a good 30 minutes after the class.

She said, "I don't know why adults think that yelling works with kids. All it does is show that the adult is as out-of-control as the kids!"

Wow. Color me convicted. I DO yell, unfortunately. Way more than I want to. It's something I have been working on and praying about. And she's absolutely right! It's just me being completely out-of-control!

She really is amazing me each and every day! She thinks so deeply and is so full of emotion and love for others. I wonder if she would like a diary to write down her thoughts?!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Our first Exam Week!

We finished Week 12 last week so that means this week we will wrap up Term 1 with our first official Exam Week! I began by using the Exams listed on the Ambleside Online website that coincide with the years plans we are using, but then I had to modify them a bit to account for the materials I have switched out. Regardless they gave me a great starting point! I was a bit unsure what sort of things to expect for a Charlotte Mason-style exam, so this was very appreciated!

Since this will be our first time doing exams, I think it will probably be a little rocky this time around. My main goals are for this week to be a fun time of reflection on what we have learned this year so far, and also to get the kids to focus on retaining a little better what they have been working on. Of course, they may surprise me by retaining more than I am thinking!

I will be sure to keep everyone posted on the results! Most of the exams will be oral this time around but I'm hoping to record at least some of them for posterity!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Post-PSAT Report!

Yesterday was the big day for Austin! In case you don't have Facebook and/or a teenager, then you may not have realized that yesterday was the PSAT day in the US! I signed up Austin to take the test at a local private school that offered a whole room for homeschoolers to take the test! It's very kind of them, and I greatly appreciate this service.

Austin has spent the last couple of months using a Kaplan PSAT prep book and taking practice tests. I decided not to get accommodations for Austin for the PSAT. One reason was that I figured it was unlikely the private school would be able to hold a special arrangement just for him. That would leave our option being testing at a local high school and those are all huge around here, and I figured that would be more intimidating. But really, the bottom line for not getting accommodations is that they really weren't going to help anyway. In Austin's case, extra time or a quite place to take the test wouldn't affect his scores dramatically. This sort of test does not really match up with how his brain works. There is nothing that they can offer in the way of test situation accommodations that will help that.

One thing I've got to remember is that God has a plan for Austin's life, and no test that man can make is going to affect that. God will make a way for him! It's hard to keep that perspective because we have all been trained to believe that these tests are the be-all/end-all for the future of our children, but there is nothing that God cannot do. And nothing that He does not control. So with that in mind, I told Austin to relax and do the best he can and to play the PSAT game.

So yesterday Austin had to wake up at 6:15 and be at the school at 7:20. This is crazy early for this homeschooled teenage boy! But, like always, he rose to the occasion! I was running around like a mad woman trying to find a working pencil sharpener for his #2 pencils and couldn't find a single one! So we left early and stopped at the grocery store so I could get a pencil sharpener! Crazy!

We got to the school and he showed his official ID and went into the room. I sort of watched him for a second as he walked in. Amazing what that kid has accomplished and persevered through! He's amazing!

I had 3 hours to kill so I decided to go over to the park and ride my bike. My bright idea being that I would ride my bike and that would distract me from thinking about him taking the test. In reality, I got 90 minutes of peace and quiet to fret and worry. @@ Then I went home to clean up and get the girls started on their work. Time was flying and I could pick up my boy!

They were running late and I waited patiently. Hee hee. Finally, I saw all of the kids come out - including the kids from the school. Austin was talking to a couple of guys that he knew, which was cool. I wish I could have gotten a picture of him! He didn't see the car right away, but then he found me. I did get a picture of that! :)

He seemed happy and not overwhelmed, which was the important thing to me. It was a fairly positive experience (as much as any 3 hour standardized test can be! LOL). And now, it's done!

Well, not ALL done... the ACT is coming up in the spring! :D

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Amazing Reece

So, I hinted about the class Reece took on Monday - and now I've got the time finally to do a fitting blog post. She was simply amazing, and I'm not sure if I can express it properly. But I will try!

This is the first class of this type that I have ever signed her up for. But the older kids had taken a class from this group last year, and I wanted to give it a shot. She has made such great progress this year!

I was a bit nervous when I got the schedule and realized that her class was in the afternoon. So we would have to take the big kids, wait around and have lunch, and then she could go to her class. Yeah, I probably could have Austin drive him and Riley but going to the mall is a little far, and well, just not ready for that! LOL

So we got there and took the big kids to their class. Then Reece and I went to Starbucks with some other moms and she drank a hot chocolate. She also rode the carousel and texted with my Mom! LOL

Then we picked up the big kids and came back to the food court for lunch where she ate Subway! YUM!

At last, it was time. We got back to the room (inside Bass Pro Shop) with PLENTY of time, and then 3 minutes before it was time to start class, she tells me she has to go to the bathroom! WHAT?!?!? NO!!! Not NOW!! So we run over to the restroom.

And she goes. And goes. And goes. And I'm checking my phone for the time. Riley comes in and says, "Class has already started! I told them there was one in the bathroom!" OMG I get into a panic - she's walking in to a full classroom and the class has probably already started.

This is NOT GOOD. Yikes.

So she walks in and it's completely crowded. I had volunteered to stay in the room so I snuck in the back. She sits down at the table in the back by herself and the class starts. The teacher apparently didn't have much experience with little kids. It was a bit rough and I was afraid that Reece was going to get upset. But she started raising her hand hesitantly.

Not too sure of herself!
She answered the questions that she was called on to answer correctly, and that inspired her! Soon she was raising her hand confidently! The teacher asked her her name - and then went on to misunderstand it 3 times. This is a BIG deal to Reece and I was freaking out completely. I just knew that Reece was going to flip out - she hates people messing up her name. She finally spelled it out for her, and I may have said her name, too. I don't really remember - I was too busy plotting our escape! LOL But that ended, and she turned around and looked at me and rolled her eyes about the teacher! WOW!!

One time the teacher asked a question, and the teacher said, "Does anyone besides Reece know the answer??" That cracked her up!

They finally got into the experiments (the 'cool' part of chemistry for kids LOL) and Reece got to help by answering a question correctly! She really enjoyed that!
Reece, the helper!
There were other experiments and demonstrations and then the class was over. She LOVED it! And she was engaged and really participated. I hadn't had to intervene - or tell anyone she had special needs. She was truly 'mainstreamed' and it was incredible!

So that alone would have been amazing, right??

But wait - there's more!!

She had dance class that evening - 3 HOURS worth of dance. Only an hour or so of rest before she had to get ready. And she didn't have a meltdown or anything during dance! After such a crazy busy day! Absolutely, positively incredible!

But wait - there's more!!

Later that evening, after dance, we were waiting for Riley to finish dance and I was bragging on Reece to the Studio Director. I was telling the part about the experiments, and I said, "I was thinking to myself, 'You better choose Reece - she answered all your questions!'" and Reece interrupted and said, "But Mom, I would have understood if they didn't pick me. They may have wanted to give someone else a chance to participate!!"

I looked over at her - MIND BLOWN! She just took someone else's perspective!! WOW WOW WOW!!

But wait - there's more!!

The icing on the cake to this whole experience - Monday was the 8 year anniversary of Reece's diagnosis of Autism. 8 years to the day that I was told of the MANY things she would NEVER be able to accomplish.

And look at her now! 

Selfie for Nana