Saturday, February 23, 2013

Some New Things

W started going to a media lab in a museum once a week for stop-motion animation instruction.  It's for 6th-9th graders, there's a couple of instructors, and the kids get to use the equipment.  He likes it so far and I'm glad he's making movies again.  He is making them at home, too, using some new clay, the video camera he got for Christmas, and some free software he downloaded on his computer.  I love coming across these kinds of educational and fun opportunities around town.  

I went to the Scholastic Store the other day to get W a couple of bridge workbooks (we love these and the Scholastic ones are wonderful).  I found a 6th-7th grade one and a 7th-8th grade one.  I also grabbed a couple of books for W to read:  War Horse & Farm Boy (which is the sequel to War Horse).  W loved the movie, so I figured he'd try reading the book.  Scholastic gave me a FIFTY PERCENT educator discount on the workbooks and a 25% discount on the novels.  I couldn't believe it.  I am so going back there for more stuff soon.

I'm not crazy about Story of the World at all.  It's boring.  We started using The Story of Mankind instead (from our Ambleside stash) and we like it a whole lot more.  We just read it together and he narrates.  It's fun to use the chapters as starting points for further study, too.  We're also getting a bit tired of Apologia.  It's ok and the experiments are great, but we're just falling asleep reading it.  I think it would be better if we use our own books/websites/documentaries/trips that pertain to each subject in order from the Apologia book and do the corresponding experiments.  So we'll still be using the book and experiment supplies mainly because I really hate wasting money.  We do love Sequential Spelling (although I'm also thinking about trying All About Spelling since it's much more multi-sensory).  I've pulled out a few of our Basic Series books as well.  These are for the "middle grades".  The pages look terrible, but the activities are actually fun and thorough.  We have one for World Geography, one for Government-Economics-&-Citizenship, and one for Map Skills.

I was doing some research on the Common Core curriculum that NY state will now be using in all the public elementary and middle schools. It seems a lot more advanced than what they used to use.  The tests that W will have to take at a school in 7th grade will be using this new format.  I checked out some samples and I really think that many kids are going to have a hard time with this.  The ELA part is not so bad.  It uses a lot of critical thinking skills rather than black & white answers.  That's what W and I have been doing since he was in 2nd grade via the CM method, Ambleside books and creative narrations.  The 7th grade math samples looked a bit overwhelming.  It's not that they are particularly difficult, but they take so many steps to get the answer.  The 6th grade samples looked a lot more reasonable and pretty much align with where W is right now.  If we keep on the way we are with math, W should do ok on the test next year.  I don't like this kind of stressful testing at all, but if W chooses public high school, he needs these grades.  I swear, as I discover more and more of the amazing things NYC has for teens, and what a wonderful education W would get outside school walls, I truly wonder why we would even consider anything else.

Math:  Adding & subtracting mixed numbers, Review of ratio, percent, fractions, average, perimeter, GCF.
English:  Helping verbs, Sequential Spelling, Independent reading (War Horse)
Social Studies:  Story of Mankind chapter 1, Hemispheres, Continents, Oceans
Science:  Review of scientists (names, years, beliefs, findings, etc) from Ancient Egypt to the Renaissance.


Casa_DeArtes said...

Thank you for this post...seeing the sampler is very helpful to me. I agree. My children are in public school now. They are going to take these test soon. My 12 yr. old is so stressed..but is doing excellent in school and has some how with all the stress brought his gpa up. My other children aren't doing as well. they are 7,10,15 and 17.
I look forward to the day they are home schooled again. The NYC ideal is ... I have no word for the public school system and the chancelor and how they think. I can only say insanity in motion. It really doesn't make since to do this to kids. Even children with special needs are taking these test.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering if you plan on having your son take the 7th grade state tests in preparation for admission to high school?

NYCitymomx3 said...

Well, I *was* planning on it, but now I'm thinking no. If he were to attend public high school, the ones he wants to go to do not require this test (e.g. Charter or Specialized). He's on the fence about it all, leaning more toward home education for high school. If mainstream public schools were on our list then yes - he would have to take the 7th grade tests (math & ELA) because admissions looks at that.