Friday, May 23, 2014

Assessments 2014--M12

Language Arts:
M12 did copywork and dictation from Spelling Wisdom Book 1.  For a time we had very formal lessons in which I pre-tested her by dictating the passage, helping her find the errors, practicing specific spelling words, having her copy the passage a few times, and doing a final dictation "test."  That got cumbersome and also held all 4 older girls to working at the same pace.  After a few months I just handed them the books and said, "Copy it until you feel that you know it.  Test yourself if you feel inclined.  You'll know when you've got it."  And I think it began to work.  M12 moved through the passages at a moderate pace of 1-2 per week. Each day I checked her copybook to see where she was and find any errors that she might have missed on her own.  I also checked for efforts at best handwriting.  She's not an excellent speller, but she has made great strides this year.  I think this program is working because she is a conscientious child who looks carefully over her past mistakes and tries not to repeat them.

Because M12 does copywork when she reads from the scriptures, this system feels redundant in our homeschool.  Next year we'll be dropping this activity in favor of a Language Arts program with more direct grammar instruction.  In addition, after giving both E14 and M12 a pre-test from the Words Their Way spelling program I've discovered that they are at approximately the same skill level in spelling.  I think I can call them a "class" and have them work together in direct spelling instruction.

Math:
M12 started the year in Life of Fred: Edgewood and moved through the elementary series until she got to Life of Fred: Honey  Along the way she got so frustrated with the open-ended thinking that she was in tears each lesson.  It wasn't too hard for her--she just hated never being sure of what she was doing. Life of Fred math is all about playing with numbers and figuring out solutions on your own, then applying those solutions to "real" math problems.  M12's brain does not work well that way.  (And truly, I understand, because I'm not much of a puzzle fan myself.)  We changed her over to Saxon math 5/4.   We only have the textbook--no "meeting book," no answer key, no test book.  Each day she'd read the lesson and do the math.  She began to thrive.  Math changed from a nightmare to a pleasure.  It is now one of her strengths.  She doesn't feel stupid anymore, and she can really solve math problems!  Eventually we realized just how much review there is in each lesson, and I began to sort through the problems, assigning her 2 lessons each day, and only doing selected review problems.  Sometimes she even did 3 lessons at a time.  She finished all of Math 5/4 in about 4 months, and she knows her stuff.

We don't have Math 6/5 in our current math library, but we do have Math 8/7.  I spent some time studying a Saxon intermediate math scope and sequence and found out that not very many new topics are introduced in Math 6/5 that are not already covered in Math 5/4, and any that are will be covered again in Math 8/7.  After looking carefully over our Math 8/7 book, we've decided that M12 is going to to straight to Math 8/7 this fall. 

In addition she practiced daily drills at mathisfun.com.  (This is the only site I could find that actually drilled kids on a 12 X 12 grid instead of only up to 10 X 10.  Other features I like are how the kids can set their own time limits; it gives them a statistical breakdown of how they're doing; if they input a wrong answer it gives them the correct answer and immediately asks the same question again; and it doesn't waste time with goofy game graphics.)   She successfully passed off 300 questions answered correctly in 15 minutes after about 2 months of practice.

I also enrolled the four oldest girls in Khan Academy.  M12 took the "pre-test" (one of the most random things I've ever witnessed) and got to work. I don't require M12 to work at Khan Academy, but sometimes she does just for fun--reviewing old concepts and being introduced to new ones.

Literature:
M12 read and kept a journal (a summary of each chapter read) on all seven Chronicles of Narnia.  Her reading journals were detailed and a joy to read because she picked up on C.S. Lewis' writing style and began mimicking his way of phrasing and describing scenes.

There ought to have been more, but we had quite a gap in our school year because of the move.  M12 fell in love with Harry Potter and the Percy Jackson books this past year.  She's read each series at least once, and some of the books 2 or 3 times each.  She's a voracious reader of fantasy.  She also read the marvelous book Wonder; I consider it a life-changing book of phenomenal beauty, and I hope my children read it again and again (even if the 10 year olds in the book seem a lot closer to 14!).  In addition M12 worked hard at reading Little Women.  She's a slow, careful reader (like her dad), and the book had to go back to the library before she could finish it, and then her momentum was lost.  I think I'll put it on her list for next year.

In addition M12 participated in our family read aloud list for 2013-14:
Beatrix Potter: The Complete Tales
Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield
Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink
Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan
Mathematicians Are People, Too by Luetta and Wilber Riemer
The Remarkable and Very True Story of Lucy and Snowcap by H.M. Bouwman
The Complete Peterkin Papers by Lucretia P. Hale
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle
Milly-Molly-Mandy by Joyce Lankester Brisley
Mama's Bank Account by Kathryn Forbes
Caroline and Her Kettle Named Maud by Miriam E Mason
Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie
Cappyboppy by Bill Peet
The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace
The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes
My Father's Dragon by Ruth Gannon Stiles
Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Usborne Stories from Around the World retold by Heather Amery
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin
Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski
January's Sparrow by Patricia Polacco
Daniel Boone by James Daugherty
The Blue Fairy Book by Andrew Lang
The Moffats by Eleanor Estes
B is for Betsy by Carolyn Haywood
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Socks by Beverly Cleary
Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Wyss
Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

Science:
M12 participated in Explorer's Club--our homeschool science club.  I'll post details about that when our year is over (late June)

At home science took a back seat, and the only formal instruction we had consisted of beginning The Storybook of Science.  The older girls and I met around the kitchen table to read, discuss and journal interesting things we read about.  I think M12 might have been a little too old for this book.

We also took some nature walks, watched some interesting videos about animals on YouTube, and checked out library books about astronomy, earth science, and animals.  M12 got quite passionate about guinea pigs for a time and read and journaled about (along with her sisters) almost every guinea pig book our library system owns--which is why we now own a guinea pig.

M12 had a season of preparing herself to be a babysitter.  She checked out every book and video about infant/child CPR and first aid that was available to her.  She spent countless hours studying them and taking notes.  I'm confident that she knows how to deal with medical emergencies.

In addition, M12 gets to attend the church girls' camp this summer.  She's had to learn and pass off several basic first aid skills (a repeat of what she taught herself), wilderness survival skills, and campfire cooking skills.

We've already begun our summer study of botany, and we've taken a nature walk and a field trip to a botanical garden to kick off our studies.  We're going to really have a great summer of science to make up for the dearth of science fun in our past school year.

History/Geography:
M12 participated in our brief family map studies--we practiced reading map keys and especially pored over a state road map of our home state, studying it's most interesting (to us) geographical features.

We discovered www.geoguessr.com this year.   At least once a week, we play this super fun game as a family, and along the way we've learned lots about the similarities of various country climates across the world.  We've also begun to learn about architectural differences on different continents and about different alphabets the world over.

Formally M12 has participated with her older sisters in reading and discussing The Landmark History of the American People.  We only got up to just before the Civil War, but we'll continue with this one in the coming school year.

Religion:
M12 participates in family morning devotionals in which we work on memorizing The Articles of Faith (she knows them cold), memorizing Moroni 7:45-48 (she knows it fairly well), and listen to and discuss inspiring scriptures, stories, and general conference talks.

In January we took up a Book of Mormon reading challenge, and along with her sisters and me,M12 reads and copies a favorite verse from her reading each day.  This challenge will last through the summer and into the coming school year.

The older girls and I read and journaled The Stories of the New Testament.  I used the scripture references to organize how we read the stories, but we actually read them from the KJV of the Bible. 

M12 attends church each week and now that she is 12 has graduated from the children's program to the youth program.  She loves participating in the weekly youth lessons and activities.  She is most faithful about working on her Personal Progress.

She also participates in our evening family prayer and scripture reading/discussions.

She prays with our family and on her own.

Before church, during choir practice, M12 is trying to run a nursery for the choir members' children.  We haven't found a room for her to use regularly, so she's stuck with the foyer or sometimes the overflow section of the chapel, but she comes prepared each week with small toys and books to share with the children.  Sometimes no one brings their children, and sometimes her hands are full with half a dozen or more, but she is faithful in her service.

Handicrafts:
M12 loves, loves, loves handicrafts.  She has a collection of darling baby flannel and faithfully sews baby blankets for every expectant mother we know.  It is one of her greatest joys to see the new babies wrapped in the blankets she makes.  She's worked on weaving with a simple lap loom, knitting, crocheting, and knitting with a circle loom.  She's made hats and scarves that we use throughout the winter months.  She's knitted dolly clothes that are a treasured part of little A7's and H4's collections.

For the most part, M12 is a faithful assistant in keeping our home.   She knows how to do a job right--from cleaning the kitchen to vacuuming a floor.  She sometimes gets lazy in the implementation, but if I tell her to do it right, she can and she will. 

M12 is also very capable in the kitchen.  She intuitively understands recipes, and rarely makes a mistake in cooking.

Music:
M12 loves music!

She took formal violin lessons weekly until we moved.  She was making good progress and even performed at our homeschool group's January talent show.  It broke both of our hearts to have to give up those lessons, but she has picked up the violin often on her own, and at our local homeschool conference I bought her some "teach yourself at home" books to tide her over until we can find an affordable teacher again.  She's used the new books to help teach A7 some early lessons as well. 

Because she reads music she can sit at the piano or pick up the recorder and play them, too.  She uses a simplified hymn book, the children's songbook, and a simplified book of songs by Mozart.  She practices several times a day on all 3 instruments.

The older 4 girls and I attended a performance of La Boheme this school year.  It was a joyful exposure to classic opera beyond that of The Magic Flute.  M12 loved it and wants to hear more!  She was also able to watch video recordings of The Magic Flute and Handel's Messiah.  She's talked and talked about the music for a long time after each experience.

Art:
M12 is an artist at heart.  She does not draw as much as she did when she was small, but she sinks her heart into creating tangible art in what she sews.  She has an artists' eye for creating cute outfits, hairstyles (she faithfully checks out hairstyling blogs), party decorations, and handmade cards.   

Physical Education:
M12  hasn't gotten to participate in any organized sports this year.  She seems to like going running with me, but as that has been hit and miss, she's been stuck without much PE.  

She was a member of our American Rhythm dance group this year.  She was in the "oldest" group, and as such did some of the hardest and most physically demanding dances.  Her rehearsals were 2 hours long or longer, and those clogging numbers are high energy!

She also completed a 5K run/walk in May, and she does go with us on nature walks and hikes with Explorer's Club. 

Foreign Language:
M12 needs to learn a foreign language.  She's a natural at ASL.  She's grown beyond the early instructional videos we have, though.  I'm trying to find an affordable class situation for her.

In General:
I think that if M12 took a consumer/stewardship math class so that she knew how to manage a bank account, she'd be ready to run a household of her own.  She's so good at childcare that new mothers at church hand over their fussy babies to her for calming.  She can cook, sew, clean, organize, and love.  She's not terribly academically inclined, but she's bright and capable.  She takes joy in learning.  She has a heart of gold.  She loves to make beautiful things.  She's faithful, diligent, and obedient.  She's a glowing gem in our home!

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