Thursday, June 27, 2013

June 2013

W went on a wonderful trip out to the Brookhaven National Lab again.  This one was a 3-hour "Engineering Challenge".  There were about twenty-five 11-15 y/os in the class.  In groups of 3 they had to construct a column made only of cardboard and tape that both lightweight and strong.  The efficiency formula is E = load/weight.  Most kids made some sort of triangle shape, some made rectangles, some hexagons and octagons.  The instructor used an "Instron" device - a kind of crushing machine that measures the strength of something based on the load pushing down on it.  Another challenge was to make a structure (truss) using longerons, batten tubes, and string.

Brookhaven National Lab

A design engineer from a different building came in to the class and spoke to the kids.  While the other kids were working, he spoke to W's group.  He shook the kids' hands while introducing himself and then talked to the kids about engineering - really listening to them, their ideas, input, future plans, etc.  He treated them with respect, he listened to them, and in turn, the kids responded eagerly and maturely.  I would never witness that kind of mutual respect from a public or private middle school.  Why don't schools understand that??  This is a main reason why we homeschool.  My son gets to experience everything in the real world, with real people, learning real skills.  I'll never understand the artificial nothing-like-the-real-world hot mess called middle school (and many high schools, too, btw).

W had his final class at the Tanglewood Nature Preserve.  This one was on Paleontology.  The instructor was great with the kids.  He was like a big kid himself and very into the subject.  He passed around casts of big fossils and deer and horse bones.  As usual, the kids were interested and engaged.  At the end of the class they sectioned off a big dirt area with string and popsicle sticks to make a grid.  1 to 3 kids dug in each section and unearthed various bones.  They measured, sketched, and described what they found.  What a fun class!  I can't wait to do more of these in the fall.

Digging for bones at Tanglewood

Also this month, W went to this cool art class at the CW Post campus of Long Island University.  This was a 2 hour class (middle-high school level) about color, contrast, focal points, and theme.  The kids discussed many pieces of art from a local artist and then drew similar pieces themselves.

CW Post Art Class  (photo credit: CB)

The highlight of the month for me was seeing W in his theater group's original play.  It was a teen drama all about, well, teen drama.  W knew all his lines and he really does have a knack for acting.  He did get stressed out about the show.  For a month he was terrified he'd forget his lines.  He got more comfortable with it around the final week when there were lots of extra rehearsals.  I'm not sure if he wants to continue acting, but I'm so proud that he gave it a try and faced his fear.

Other things W did this month include going to our homeschool group's annual End of No School Picnic, getting an iPhone, and playing lots of soccer in the park.  I'm so looking forward to many many more fun things this summer!

We are also getting ready for our summer academic schedule.  Year-round just works better for us, but the summer months are definitely lighter.  So, we've decided on doing 3 days/week (MWF), 2 subjects a day.  It will look like this:

Mon:  Math, History
Wed:  Math, Science
Fri:   Math, English

And since I won't be working outside the home anymore, we can get out and explore/experience the city (and surrounding areas) some more.  I want to see how we do with the 2 formal subjects a day thing.  I'd like to maybe continue doing that in the fall, 5 days/week.  It doesn't look like much until you see how it's only a part of an entire curriculum, which includes field trips, documentaries, homeschool group classes, basketball, parkour, CCD, scouts, consumer math, personal finance, computer technology (gaming, coding, creating, and online courses), typing, film-making, agriculture (gardening, composting), engineering, public speaking, health, nature study, art/crafts, music, map/ dictionary/ library/ and research skills, etc.  I love homeschooling.

Ok, the final decisions have been made.  The curriculum we are going with for 7th grade is:
Literature:  Lightning Lit 7
Math:  Saxon Algebra 1/2
History:  K12 Human Odyssey 1
Geography:  World Physical Geography (Runkle)
Science:  Apologia General Science

I wanted to bring something else up.  Ever since W got his diagnosis last summer of dyslexia and processing issues from the Albert Einstein School of Medicine neuropsych research dept, I have changed the way we do academics.  It seems that now (in only a year) he can read fluidly with hardly any pauses (and those pauses are only on one or 2 unfamiliar large words), he can write neatly, and I see no problems with his processing speed in any area.  I don't think anyone would even guess he has a learning disability if they saw him today.  The difference between where he was at age 11 to where he is now at age 12 is like night and day.  He is now more than a grade level ahead in reading!  The diagnosis spurred me to change a lot of things.  I pretty much met him where he was, yet pushed him at the same time.  We used various methods and tools but no formal dyslexia programs at all.  At least 90% of his reading/writing/learning issues have disappeared.  Any thoughts?

4th Quarterly, Annual Assessment, and Letter of Intent for 7th grade mailed.

J's junior choreography project was absolutely breathtaking.  One of the teachers explained to the audience that this is the first real school performance for most of them (although some have been in the annual musical or the annual Rising Stars talent show) - it's the first time they really "let them out" to show what they can do.  I can't stress enough how talented these kids are.  There are about 60 junior dance majors and there were 21 different dances in the showcase.  One was better than the next.  Now comes senior year where there are even more opportunities and performances.  I can't believe my baby girl is a senior already.

Here's what else J has been doing this month:

  • She danced at the Alvin Ailey Theater for a pretty well-known choreographer's birthday showcase gala.  She was put front and center of his all-star hip-hop team. I wish I could have gone to see her, but I had work and this only came up the week before.  Luckily, B went.  He said she was beyond fierce, lol.   
  • She was called in for a last-minute rehearsal for a show at B.B. Kings Blues Club in Times Square.  She performed as a back-up dancer for Wyclef Jean and Waka Flocka Flame!  I am still amazed at how quickly this came about.  She and several other dancers were sent a video of the dance and were expected to know it before coming to rehearsal, so they could just run it over and over.  The day of the show, Wyclef met with all the kids, introducing himself, and right before the show J got a picture with Waka.  B went to this show, too (I had to  work again..AARGHHH).  There's no way he'd miss his baby girl dance, lol.  I'm really glad one of us was there to see her.
  • She and some friends went to see Maroon 5 perform on the Today show.  They got on line at 3:30am at Rockefeller the rain.  
  • She got some beautiful new headshots taken.  
  • She finished all her school finals and Regent exams.
  • She and B went to see Shaping Sound at the Beacon Theater.
It's going to be a wonderful summer!  


Unknown said...

I live on Long Island and homeschool my 14 year old son. I have been following your blog for some time now. I get inspiration from it. I have 4 children total. My oldest has already graduated and moved upstate, and my 2 younger ones are in public school, for now! I've had 4 heart attacks in the past year and I just couldn't keep up with what they needed. They enjoy it though.

NYCitymomx3 said...

Hi Lauren, Thanks! Hope you're feeling well.