Sunday, September 1, 2013

2012-2013 school year review ~ The Professor

Hi all!  I know I've been promising a review of our school year for a while and I keep procrastinating.  Sorry.  Life's busy and I'm tired by the time the kids get to bed. goes:

The Professor ~ 4th grade
Math: Math-u-see level Epsilon (fractions).  As in the past we continue to love the math-u-see program.  It's fairly easy for me, since the kids watch a dvd that teaches the concepts.  And it's not difficult material that I still remember how to do it.  That may change in a few years and Matt will need to become more involved ;)

Religion: Faith and Life.  This is an awesome program for learning the faith.  They take a spiral approach that breaks everything (the bible and the catechism) down for the younger set, starting in 1st grade, and incorporates more meat each year through 6th grade.  They may go higher, I'm not sure.  We also read devotionals, stories of the saints and celebrated the liturgical year.

Science: Exploring Creation with Anatomy and Physiology.  The authors have a whole series that covers each of the days of creation, about one each year.  They're very well written and go very in-depth into the subjects.  It's written in a Charlotte Mason style, very conversational.  It's broken down for elementary level students without talking down to the kids.  My only complaint about the series is that the author follows the young earth philosophy, believing that the earth was created in 7-24 hour days and is about 4000 years old.

Geography: We finished covering the last of the 50 states and completed our scrapbook!  And it only took just over 2 years :)

Map Skills: He completed level D this year.  This is another series I like a lot.  It spirals through reading maps, keys, globes, atlases, different types of maps, etc.  Comes in handy when the GPS isn't working ;)

American History: We covered the 1700's this year.  We spent a lot of time on the Revolutionary War.  The kids did some projects and a lot of reading.  We made some period recipes, made some tri-corn hats and made some games kids in those days played.  We even made a lapbook (large book made up of lots of smaller books).  They really enjoyed that.

World History:  We covered the age of the Apostles.  Actually we didn't even finish it, we have 4 more units to complete, which we'll work on this year.  We discussed the Apostles, the early Popes, the church fathers and the early martyrs.  We learned about ancient Rome.  They really enjoyed learning about gladiators.  We did several projects as well.

Grammar: Level D.  He learned more about diagramming sentences and the less known parts of speech.

Literature/writing:  We started using a new program this year called Writing with Ease.  There are 4 levels and the author also takes a spiral approach (notice a theme here?).  There is narration/dictation, handwriting practice, listening comprehension and more.  The first level has the instructor reading a passage from a book/story.  Then asking questions of the kids.  They then need to remember one thing from the passage and write it down (or the teacher writes it and the student then copies it).  The idea is to gradually work up to the student finding the main idea in a passage and summarizing stories.  The Professor has issues with doing this, so I'm hoping that starting so basic will help him to develop the skills.  I'm also hoping that the others don't have the same issue and that this will catch it before it becomes a problem.

Vocabulary: We've been using a series called 240 Words ___ Graders Need to Know.  We completed the 4th grade level.

Art: We started using Drawing with Thomas Kincade from Alpha Omega.  It's a good program and he finds it challenging.  He's learning more about perspective and shading and drawing faces.

We had a good year.

Best discoveries:
I spent our last summer break (4 weeks or so) making copies and print outs of everything I would need throughout the entire year.  In years past, I would do this during our weeks off.  Usually on Sunday night before starting school Monday morning :)  Doing everything in advance really worked well.  That way I knew it was all done and didn't have to stop what I was doing to make a copy or print something out.  As we all know, when you need to do something in a hurry, you can't find it or the internet is down or the printer is broken or something.  It also made less to do during the weeks off, which made life easier.

I also changed the way I do my lesson plans.  In the past I would lay out exact page numbers, worksheets, etc to do on specific days.  Every week off I would do the plans for the next 3 weeks.  This was time consuming and would get thrown off when someone was sick, or there was an appointment or we just decided to scrap school for the day.  This year I just planned each subject and what would get done on a daily basis.  Example: 1 page per day for math, 2 pages per day for grammar, x many weeks per unit for history, 1 state every 2 weeks for Geography, etc.  Then I made a checklist for the kids with their chores and their school work so we could see what had been done and not done.

Hardest part of the year:
A growing toddler.  That likes to climb.  And get into everything.  It's amazing how much harder it's been keeping Pumpkin out of things than it was with the other three.  He's been an easy baby and a pretty easy toddler and he's such a happy boy, but he is a toddler.  So our routines got shifted around a lot and lots of things got put off to nap time when ever possible.

All in all it was a good year.  We all learned a lot and got a lot done.

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