Saturday, January 14, 2012

Week 16

Pics from the Week:


I started out the school year doing boring lessons on grammar complete with boring worksheets. Soon, I realized that just wasn't working and decided to quit doing grammar for a little while. Our days were too full as it was & something needed to give. Grammar was the thing. Now, after the Christmas break, we're starting it up again. We are using the book Caught 'Ya Grammar with a Giggle. It takes no more than 5 minutes each morning. I write one sentence from a story in the book on the white board & then give Capt. N the chance to find all the mistakes in the sentence. When he's done, we go over his corrections and any others that he missed. It's great because the story is fun, it's quick & there's no worksheets. It also gives me something to refer to when we're discussing something he has written.

Here's a sample sentence that I write. This particular one doesn't have many mistakes, but overall this book seems to cover a variety of grammar errors.

The sentence with Capt. N's corrections. I was pleasantly surprised to see Capt. N knew that starting the sentence with and was wrong - especially because he sometimes makes similar mistakes in his own writing.

I also changed the way we go about spelling. We used to do the typical thing where you get new words on Monday, do worksheets, review the words & test on Friday. That wasn't working well. I didn't feel like we had enough time to review the words & I felt weird moving on to new words when he wasn't passing the test on Friday. So... we're basically doing the same thing, except he gets 2 weeks to learn each group of words. I can add in more review time this way. Early in the first week I will give him a pre-test to see which words he already knows & which words he needs to work on. I had him do this twice - once on a piece of paper, once on the white board. He tends to make weird mistakes at different times & this seemed to be the best way to know for sure which words we really need to work on. In this case, he misspelled the same 2 words during both prestests: baseball (bassball) & barefoot (baerfoot). So, I wrote those words on index cards. The letters he got correct I left in black ink, the letters he got wrong, I wrote in colored ink. (I will try to remember to take a pic of this next week) These are the cards we used for review. Then on Wednesday of the second week, I asked him to write all the words on these yellow laminated cards to see which words we needed to work on before his test on Friday. This time he got baseball & barefoot correct, but spelled popcorn wrong. He spelled it popcone. I noticed he had done this on his worksheet from the day before, too, but hadn't had the chance to talk to him about it. Friday, on his test, he got all 12 words correct!

This is a real milestone for Capt. N. He got this chapter book read in three sittings. I realize the Magic Tree House books aren't difficult to read, but in the past Capt. N only wanted to read one chapter at a time. It seemed to be all he could handle & it would take him awhile to read that one chapter. His reading aloud isn't improving at the rate I would like it to, but I think his quiet reading has improved tremendously! And, not only that, he WANTED to read this book - which makes me hopeful that it means its getting easier for him to read.

At Capt. N's old school they would test the kids periodically to see how many words per minute they could read. In second grade, Capt. N never did very well on this - which eventually led to me making the decision to homeschool him & find the reason why he did so poorly - which led me to vision therapy. I still want to keep track of this. My biggest obstacle was finding appropriate material to test him on. What I came up with was using stories that Super Teacher Worksheets uses for comprehension. They have them grouped by grade level - I was/am hoping their grade leveling system is similar to the one our school uses. I now see you have to be a member to get most of the worksheets, but at the time I printed them you didn't. The first time I did this was last year, using a second grade story called Dave's Beans. I have since used a few other stories.

Dave's Beans (gr. 2)
1/31/11     64 wpm
10/10/11   71 wpm
1/6/12       87 wpm

Rock Collecting (gr. 2)
7/18/11     48 wpm
8/11/11     66 wpm
10/11/11   78 wpm
1/6/12       85 wpm

Emily's Harvest (gr. 2)
7/18/11     63 wpm
8/11/11     66 wpm
1/6/12       86 wpm

Robot Fun (gr. 2)
7/18/11     58 wpm
10/11/11   68 wpm
1/6/12       86 wpm

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (gr. 3)
1/6/12       78 wpm

I am happy to see his words per minute continuing to go up. I was especially glad to see he read 78 wpm on a 3rd grade story. When he was tested at the end of the last school year & at his reading class over the summer he was reading about 63 wpm. By the end of 2nd grade the goal is 90 wpm, the end of 3rd grade is 120 wpm. So, the way my brain works, it seems as though he's maybe a little less than a year behind. Last week he was reading 2nd grade level stories at about 85 wpm. He still has some work to do, but I'm pleased to see his scores are still going up even with me as a teacher. And, I feel his silent reading has improved a ton.

Along with the chapter books he reads, he also reads leveled stories from Raz-kids.  I really like this program. I generally have him read these stories during his independent work time on Tuesdays & Thursdays. He reads aloud & the computer records his voice. When I get home, I can listen to what he read earlier in the day. He also takes quizzes that test his comprehension on each story. Overall, he does well on the comprehension questions. My only concern or dislike about the program is the words per minute testing. Or quite honestly, maybe it's not the program maybe it's Capt. N just reads much slower when looking at the computer than he does a book. Or maybe the text is more difficult on Raz kids - even though I have him reading at a 2nd grade level. The words per minute testing is not done on every story, just on the benchmark books. There are 2 per level. His scores have been: 53, 44, 80, 57 & most recently 52 wpm. Hmmmm... I'm not too sure what to think about this. But, his accuracy is high & his comprehension is good - which I think are probably more important than speed.

Like I said in my last post, I've been giving Capt. N a few extra math activities and worksheets to work on. One of the sheets I gave him this week was out of a cheapy multiplication workbook. He did great on the math problems, but why, oh why, are his 3's backwards? He doesn't always make his 3's backwards. I can't seem to find a pattern as to when he makes reversals. On the positive side, at least now when I point it out to him he realizes right away his mistake, where before he sometimes wouldn't even notice anything wrong. When he did his vision testing over the summer, he scored less than 1% on reversals for his age. You almost can't do worse than that. He has definitely improved since then - enough so that his eye dr. thinks he's where he should be on this & doesn't work with him anymore on it. But, he does still make reversal mistakes so I may send her an email asking if there's something else we can work on to help this.

I think teaching government/American history to our kids is very important, which is why I'm doing it. But, when I was in school, I thought it was the most boring, awful subject & I was afraid my thoughts on the subject would rub off on to Capt. N.  Thankfully, I've tried to keep it fairly interesting & I don't think he's too bored.
Capt. N received this book from my mom for Christmas. It couldn't have come at a better time - right when we were about to start a unit on government. My boys & I all give this book 2 thumbs up, 5 stars. It's a mix of history & a lot of funny. It's perfect. My boys remember who these important men are because of the funny parts in the book. At the end of the book is a true/false section telling which part of the book were true & which were not.

This is one of their favorite pages: the townspeople yelling at Benjamin Franklin. Their other favorite is when Paul Revere is yelling about a womans large, extra large underwear. I can't say enough about it. The illustrations are great & the text is memorable. Of course, it also helps if you yell at the appropriate parts in the book.

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