Monday, July 22, 2013

A shameless plug!

My post today has the sole purpose of reminding you that I have a page on Facebook now for this blog! You can see every time I post a new entry, and sometimes I'll just post pictures or tidbits about our day directly over there!

Please click HERE to be taken directly to the Facebook page so you can "Like" the Black Pearl Academy!


2 weeks left until the first day of school!!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

This is more like it..

Today's productivity was much better!

1. Printed off all the maps we need for geography - my kids aren't going to graduate until they can correctly identify the 50 states! LOL Actually we're doing the Western Hemisphere this year and maybe Europe if they are quick studies!

2. Printed off the first 20 or so exercises for each kid in Spelling Wisdom, which will be our Spelling/Penmanship/Dictation/Vocabulary curriculum from here on out. Each of the kids will be working in a different level book.

3. Printed off the Ambleside Online guide for Plutarch's Life of Publicola/Poplicola. Plutarch is always the first thing to go when the schedule gets crazy. Hopefully this won't happen again this year. It would be so nice to make it through a whole life!

4. Ordered a Picture Study Portfolio from Simply Charlotte Mason. I usually pull that all together myself but I wanted to see if it was worth the $15 not to have to! I ordered the one one of Turner, partially because he fits in our time period, and partially because I'm going to have a blast calling him "MISter TURner" all term! :)

5. Finally opened up the Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization that I got in IEW's big half price sale last year to see how complicated it will be to implement. It won't be at all, so that will be an "open and go" sort of thing. No planning required! YAY! I did not get the CDs so I will have to read it all aloud. The poems are somewhat juvenile - at least in Level 1- so we'll see what Austin and Riley think of them.

6. Reworked our calendar. I've been thinking about our schedule that I was so excited about a few weeks ago and I think it will all have to be changed. Riley and Austin both want to work next summer, and Riley loves to volunteer for VBS and do ballet intensives. That will be easier if they don't have a full load of school work still in June. So I took out some of our break weeks, and we'll finish up at the end of May. It's a little nerve-wracking to think about it, but we're going to have to do it next year anyway so Austin can graduate in May with our homeschool group! I guess this will be good practice! I will finish tweaking the schedule this evening and maybe tomorrow.

So that was my productive day! Tomorrow I would really like to get working on a new format assignment sheet for the kids, something that they can start to fill in themselves as they take ownership of their planning and schedules! I am just not that adept at designing things.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Productivity slump

Today, instead of actually doing anything productive, I have done the following:

1. Watched "The Help" after having read the book this summer. It was fantastic. I sobbed!

2. Took the kids to the pool for 4 hours - lots of sun finally and beautiful day for the pool. I am developing a sunburn.

3. Getting ready to watch the All Star Game on TV!

Yesterday could be counted as slightly productive because Austin's new math books came and I first talked myself down off the cliff and then talked him down when he saw them. And I learned that I have to buy a protractor and compass and a scientific calculator for him to use with this. @@

Tomorrow, I will be productive! School starts in less than 3 weeks and I REALLY want that week off before we start!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

"You purchased ANOTHER math curriculum?"

Yeah, you probably guessed it... that's a reference to a line from a movie. Can anyone guess what it is? Well, anyone except my husband, since there's no way he doesn't know!

And the answer would be "Yes. Yes, I did." (That part is not from the movie LOL).

As much as I was determined to stick with Math U See for high school, I changed my mind. It started innocently enough when Austin's ITED (the high school version of ITBS) results came back and the kid scored highest on math - practically on grade level despite the fact that he is only finishing up MUS Algebra 1. Is MUS to credit for that? I'm not sure, and I'll reserve judgement. Austin has been through way too many math curricula to level credit or blame on any one curricula. Poor kid.

Then I decided that this will be the last year that I teach Riley math at home. Despite my love of math, and the fact that she and I have done a much better job this year with getting along, it's time for her to move on. There is an amazing math teacher in Atlanta who is used by many of my friends, and you can take his classes online. I think that is a valuable skill to learn in this day and age as many of my friends' kids who are taking college classes (and even some high school classes) are doing so online. This is just the nature of 21st century education. A friend familiar with these classes told me that MUS Algebra 1 doesn't cover everything that is covered in the Derek Owens Algebra 1 classes, so I may want to have her get a copy of another Algebra 1 book and fill in the gaps. Well, I have the Jacobs Elementary Algebra book that I like so much and gave up on with Austin. So that should work.

Then I looked at what Geometry text Derek Owens requires and it's the Jacobs book, which is no longer easily obtained online. I was able to find a copy of the text and the teacher's book on ebay so I purchased it - not cheap, but not overpriced. Amazon's copies were in the THOUSANDS of dollars, and even Alibiris was listing copies in the $200-$300 range. No way!

When the book arrives, I will take a look at it and see if I'll have Austin complete it this year instead of MUS Geometry. One thing I've learned with Austin is that ANY curriculum is going to be challenging for him, but he does seem to be capable of learning with the hard work that he has given to his Algebra the last year. So if it's going to be hard anyway, and I have the book I need for Riley for next year anyway, I may as well just use what I have. Saving money and all, right?

I'll be sure to update when I get the book and get a chance to look at it! Now I need to decide if Riley will finish MUS Algebra 1 or if I'll go ahead and have her work through Jacobs Algebra this year instead of just having her go through it to fill in the gaps. She is about 1/3 of the way through MUS and that's most of the graphing section, which is a lot of work. I guess I should get out the Algebra book and take a look at it again.

Oh, and guess what?? Austin will finally finish Algebra 1 tomorrow!!! I think I may take us out for ice cream or something! It's been a long two years! :)

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Smarter Scheduling!

Austin had his wisdom teeth out on Monday (he's doing really great - the sensory part has been worse than the actual physical recovery) so we've been staying close to home this week. Also, the weather has been horrible with heavy, heavy rain and some thunderstorms. So I've been making good use of this time at home to get lots of our scheduling done.

What I mean by scheduling is dividing the books and curriculum that we are using into weekly chunks. It can be as simple as taking the number of chapters or pages and dividing by 36, if it's a resource we're using for the entire year, or dividing by 12 if it's a resource we're using for a single term.

But this year, I'm finally doing some smarter scheduling.

First off, I am going to implement end-of-term exams for all of the kids this year. We did it once or twice in the last couple of years, but this year I have scheduled exam weeks into our school year. So this means it will be more critical to finish each term at a natural ending point - the end of a book or  the end of a chapter or a unit in curricula that is divided that way.

Also, since I have broken our school year into weeks on, exam weeks, break weeks, etc. and I don't know which days exactly we may take off for an event with our new homeschool group, I need to build in some "catch-up" time this school year. I too often find that we're at the end of the school year and we've gotten behind, but the end of the year is the craziest time with standardized testing (which I built into our schedule as well) and recital (built in time off for that as well!). So instead of building a schedule that's full and crazy, I've built a schedule that allows for some catch-up time if we need it. And if we don't, then we'll end up with a lighter schedule come the end of each term.

Knowing that we have this catch-up time scheduled helps me to feel a little easier about all we have to accomplish this coming year. Granted, we will be doing school from early August until June, but we'll have nice, week-long breaks every 6 weeks or so, and I think that's going to be much nicer in the long run. And the exam weeks will be busy mornings, but not all day long events each day. And having a full 36 weeks of lessons, plus the 3 exam weeks, allows us to have slightly less busy days because we have MORE days. Normally we would have "Sun and Fun", but I think with the kids' ages and the more intense nature of their work, I think this is going to be a better way to approach our year now. But if it doesn't live up to my expectations, I'll change it around next year! (And I'll have to change it up a little bit next year for Austin anyway so he's done by graduation - ACK! Graduation??? Next school year?? NOOOOOOO!!! LOL).

I am finding myself really looking forward to this school year for the first time in several years! We got our first book order yesterday, and tomorrow I'm going to place a few more orders! If I keep working this way, I'll definitely be done planning in time to take a nice break for myself before the first day of school! :)

Monday, July 01, 2013

Give Me Liberty...

Yesterday at church, our pastor was talking about Patrick Henry. He said that most people know who he is, but that the younger people had probably never heard of him.

Riley made eye contact with me (she sits one section over from us, with other kids in the youth group) and she winked and nodded.

Of course she knows who Patrick Henry is. I read his "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death" speech out loud to everyone this school year. (Or I tried to... these older speeches are not easy! LOL)

It made me proud that she acknowledged that she did indeed know who Patrick Henry is. I hope that helps her realize just how unique and special is this classical education she is receiving!