Tuesday, September 9, 2014

My Opinion. PEACE!: Thanks, Stephen A. Smith

If you didn't know, I am one opinionated chica.  I wrestle with whether or not to include my opinions in this blog.  I've thought about starting another blog and have had this idea for quite some time.  While I work out the kinks and figure out what I'd like to do, I've decided to add some of my opinions here in a series called My Opinion. Peace!  Since this blog is about things relevant to raising my daughter.  I've decided to include this particular opinion hear.  Hopefully, you'll see the relevance, if only indirectly.

At first, I tried to be low key, but after seeing the video, I am even more upset with Stephen A. Smith's words. Actually, not his words, but his one word - provoke. Thinking that maybe he had more insight into what happened, I felt like maybe in this case the woman was inciting her fiance.
We all understood where Stephen A. Smith was going. We all understood his message, but sometimes he's not the most eloquent cat. I've always felt that for the most part intent is more important than what's said- that there is meaning beyond words. So for that, I've always said he may have had a good point, but just included a word that should have been left for exclusion.

PROVOKE (MERRIAM/ WEBSTER): verb \prə-ˈvōk\
: to cause the occurrence of (a feeling or action) : to make (something) happen
: to cause (a person or animal) to become angry, violent, etc.

So what are some of the things that women do that can cause a man to become angry or violent (definiton of provoke)? The answer is it varies with every man who becomes violent toward women. For some men it may be charging and hitting them. For some it might be failing to clean up the house to their satisfaction. "What? I saw you talking to some man at work.? Well this is gonna get you a nice little beating." The actual issues that spark these altercations can vary.
I wished that Stephen A. Smith could have pointed to the specific behaviors that he felt women should avoid, like violence against men. That would have worked in everyone's favor. This is why, to me, Whoopi's statements differ greatly from SAS's.
The one problem that I am now having with the video and Stephen A. Smith is I don't see support for this woman being the aggressor. I do NOT. She doesn't seem scared, but she seems like she's trying to stay away from him. She's walking behind him. He waits for her and then spits on her. She walks ahead of him. He follows her. She turns every attention to those buttons on the elevator ( they can't be that interesting). He's in her face. To me, this man was the one provoking.
In my book Stephen A Smith has apologized.  I'm not angry at him, per se, but those words can never be taken back.  What is a bit shocking to me, is with the release of the video that so many men are now verbally high fiving Mr. Smith for his words, as if he were right all along.

So, thanks Stephen A. Smith. Thanks for reminding us, that it is always the woman's fault. Thanks for making this woman responsible for her own beating. Thanks for helping us to ask the age old question- "What did she do to deserve it?" 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Today I Changed My Tagline

I'm wondering if you caught that very small change- a letter that makes the world of difference in meaning.  Did you catch it?  Probably not.  I don't have a lot of followers.  I'm not sure who really pays attention to what I write, but I'm excited for the changes.

Well, let me start with a little background info.  This summer I was the worst homeschool parent ever.  I was too involved with my own endeavors- my own education- my own interests.  I pray to God that I did no damage to my child.  She's enjoyed every second of freedom.  She's enjoyed every Disney Chanel show, every independent art project, every chance to ride her bicycle inside the house, every crafty outfit whether for herself or her dolls, every computer game, every LPS youtube show- she's enjoyed freedom.

So as I'm getting ready to get in gear for the school year, I began to experience significant fatigue and sickness. I hadn't been eating well, so I attributed the sickness to that, but when it persisted I couldn't help but think about all the deadly things it could be.  I went and got vitamins with iron. That helped a bit, but still, something didn't feel quite right.  Ginseng comes next. A little better, but still not out of the woods.  So after about a week and a half of the bed, as I was getting ready to to set myself a doctor's appointment, I decided that a pregnancy test was in order.  Just the month before, it said no.  I assumed this result would be no different.  To the contrary, it was. I was excited, and left the test on the top of the counter so that my husband would see it when he went to the bathroom. I left it on top of the visual test explanations.

Men!!!!  As he went to wash his hands, he noticed. He asked what it was, and then asked was I pregnant.  Me- "You didn't see the visual clues right there."

Him- "Just tell me."

Me- "It says we're pregnant."

Him- "Congratulations. Good night." And off to sleep he went.

Thinking that there was some kind of mix up, I believed myself to be about 10 or 11 weeks pregnant.  In the clinic they show me two lines, but one is very faint.  This leads the nurse to believe in my timeline.  She thinks the line might be faint because I was a little further along.  Here comes the ultrasound. "Oh, it looks like you're only 7 weeks pregnant."

Oh, was I upset, disappointed, etc. You mean to tell me that I start getting sick at 5 weeks and that I have another possible 7 weeks of sickness?

But since then, I've had a chance to put on my rejoicing shoes.  It's only been a week, but I am happy to change my tagline from "Beecause my busy bee keeps growing..." to "Beecause my busy bees keep growing... BeeYond ABC."

Yes, it's early, and I know many things could happen. My husband and I are both older (he, more so than I), but we are prayerful that things will work out.  Please send whatever prayers, positive energy, affirmations, or whatever it is that you do as long as it's short of devil worship.

Thankful for my busy bees.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

20 Things You Probably Don't Know About Me

This idea came from the wonderful women of the Mahogany Homemakers group.  Because we are more than homeschoolers, here are my twenty answers.

1. How old are you?
I'm in my thirties, and I feel like a grandma...

 2. Do you prefer tea or coffee?
I'll say tea, but I'd rather have water or juice 

3. Are you married? How long?
Yes. I've been married 8 years.

4. What were you doing with life before becoming a mom?
Lifelong student, I was. I was just finishing my masters in music when I learned I was pregnant.

5. What is your favorite color? green, but also any muted color, like a muted beige is the business...I like orange, too.

6. What do you (or would like to do) in your spare time?
I love learning to code for the web and beyond. My first language that I learned in college was Fortran. I started out as a civil engineering major. Then I taught myself HTML years ago. Over the summer I began learning more about javascript, Ruby, JQuery, HTML5, CSS3, and BOOTSTRAP.

7. What are you watching on TV nowadays?
I like reality shows. A lot of the scripted shows I like just don't stay on the air. So it's just easier to stay with reality shows- the ones with longevity like RHOA. Of course there's Scandal, but sometimes they do too much.

8. What was your favorite TV show as a child?
Cosby Show

9. Do you have any tattoos? Do you want any?
Nope. I couldn't think of anything to get while I was young.

10. What is your dream vacation? Any place with a great, clean beach and people with good sense.

 11. Did your husband match the "man of your dreams"? (for example, you always imagined marrying Mr. Tall Dark & Fine but fell in love with Mr. Short Light and Decent Looking)
The answer is a swift no, but he is the most beautiful person I'd ever met.

12. Would you go to an adult roller skating party?
Of course. Are you planning it?

13. As a teen, were you the social butterfly or wall flower?
In between.

14. Have you traveled internationally?
Does Canada and Mexico count?

15. Do you know how to swim?
No, but I wish I did.

16. Do you prefer a bath or shower?

17. What is your favorite movie genre?

18. Do you have any pets?
No, thank the Lord.

19. What is you favorite music genre?
jazz, r&b

20. Would you participate in the "Real Homeschool Moms of Your Area" reality show?
If I can wear a uniform of scrubs and a head scarf, maybe.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Curriculum Considerations

Finally, a post! It's been all of 96 years (3+ months) since I've tended to this blog. I've been working on some things and learning new skills and moving, all of which have lead to me not only neglecting my blog, but my homeschool.
If you don't know, my daughter will be a second grader this year. During my little hiatus she's become very accustomed to watching tv and creating things from paper. She made a whole doll fashion line with paper and glue. She's been playing in water a lot lately, too. She even cut arm-wholes into a piece of fabric to make herself a wrap dress.
Before the school year begins, I hope to do a brief summary of summer. It will be very brief because we didn't do a lot.
Skipping to the nitty gritty. Our homeschool curriculum will be a bit of this a bit of that. I only plan on buying one complete commercial curriculum (math), but here is how we'll move forward. Click each subject to expand or contract.
Reading/ Language Arts
Feeling a bit conflicted about this one. Her reading comprehension level at this point is around the 6th grade level, but I don't want to skip because other things might suffer. For example, her fluency wouldn't be at 6th grade level. She has a great vocabulary, but as we move forward, the vocabulary that she has could be a hinderance to reading higher level books. She is an extremely accurate reader. As it stands, and it really may change, we're going to skip 2nd grade reading (for the most part) and try to work on areas that may be lacking, combining 3rd and 4th grade reading. We'll try to improve her reading level a bit by reading on level and beyond, often. We'll be using our vocabulary log and reading logs to help us along.
The main component to our ELA class will be Lucy Calkins' A Curricular Plan for the Reading Workshop, Grades 3 and 4. Most of the selections are things I already have on hand, given to me by other teachers who no longer needed the materials or bought from 2nd and Charles in Woodbridge, VA. 2nd and Charles was my favorite place to get second hand materials. I haven't checked, but I'm hoping and praying that there is one in ATL.
Reading Workshop
Lucy Calkins' A Curricular Plan for the Reading Workshop, Grades 3 and 4
Poems, Old and New
Lots of books below, on, and beyond her reading level.
Building Frequency, grades 2-5
Fluency Practice, 3rd grade
Teaching the Brain to Read: Strategies for Improving Fluency, Vocabulary, and Comprehension
Grammar, Capitalization, and Punctuation
Free online McGraw Hill Treasures Grammar and Writing, grades 2 and 3
Capitalization, Punctuation, and Spelling, grades 2 &3, by Karen Kallaher
Grammar: Parts of Speech, 3rd grade
Punctuation in Practice, 3rd grad
My own approximation of Shurley English- I pulled the parent guide from offline and that should be good enough for what we need.
Teaching Reading Strategies in the Primary Grades
Short Reading Passages with Graphic Organizers, grades 2 & 3
Comprehension Cliffhangers: Mysteries: 15 Suspenseful Stories That Guide Students to Infer, Visualize, and Summarize to Predict the Ending of Each Story
Reading Comprehension, 4th grade
Vocabulary Building with Antonyms, Synonyms, Homophones, and Homographs
Vocabulary Expanders, 3rd Grade
Word Study Learning Packs: 15 Reproducible Learning Charts with Easy Lessons and Activity Sheets to Build Vocabulary
Vocabulary words encountered through our reading.
Word Study/ Spelling
Words Their Way: Word Study for Phonics, Vocabulary, and Spelling Instruction
Words Their Way: Word Sorts for Within Word Pattern Spellers
Words Their Way Word Sorts for Syllables and Affixes Spellers
Building Spelling Skills, Workbooks for grades 2, 3, and 4
A Curricular Plan for the Writing Workshop, 2nd and 3rd grades
RightStart Math Level C
Here's a sample: Level C Sample.
Looking at the objectives (you can see them in the sample), I'm super excited about the skills we'll acquire. People say that this is equivalent to 3rd grade math. I think it's more like the end of 2nd and complete third, but who really knows. I'm super excited.
We'll supplement with adaptedmind.com
We will also continue with SCRATCH to help her to think like a coder. Once a month we will be going to CoderDojo. Hopefully, she can be a part of the robotics classes, there. If not we'll take the SCRATCH classes. We'll also work on Khan Academy's javascript course, online. I'm not crazy about this one because it's not bare javascript. Once finished, she won't be able to just sit and type and have something without the Processing JS library. I feel the same way about some of the robotics kits. If a child doesn't have a kit, would they be able to make the robots? The kits are valuable. We'll try that approach through classes, but we'll also do our own robotics work without the aid of a kit.
Again, we are trying to combine grades 2 and 3. We will be using GA's curriculum map which has 6 units/ year. For both years, that makes 12 units. We'll do 8 units and will try to cover the other four by linking them to our units or just through our reading. Of course as we get closer, we will find books to support our efforts. Below are our Science units with some of the supports we'll use. We will also continue with SCRATCH to help her to think like a coder. Once a month we will be going to CoderDojo. Hopefully, she can be a part of the robotics classes, there. If not we'll take the SCRATCH classes there. We'll also work on Khan Academy's javascript course, online. I'm not crazy about this one because it's not bare javascript. Once finished, she won't be able to just sit and type and have something without the Processing JS library. I feel the same way about some of the robotics kits. If a child doesn't have a kit, would they be able to make the robots? The kits are valuable. We'll try that approach through classes, but we'll also do our own robotics work without the aid of a kit.
Properties of Matter
Melecularium Teacher's Resource
Ms. Nucleus
Energy for Every Kid: Easy Activities that Make Learning Fun
Ms. Nucleus
Pushes & Pulls
Ms. Nucleus
Night Sky
Digitalis Education
Life Cyles/ Habitats
Ms. Nucleus
Rocks, Soils, & Fossiles
Ms. Nucleus
Pollution & Conservation
Ms. Nucleus
Magnets: Mind-boggling Experiments You Can Turn Into Science Fair Projects
Social Studies
In GA, K-5 Social Studies basically covers American History, along with some civics. Second grade is all about GA, and 3rd grade social studies deals with the setting up of the American government along with the rights and freedoms supposedly given to Americans through democracy. I am going to use GA's curriculum materials found here supplemented with books and maps. I may try to organize both years chronologically, together, or I may just do 3rd grade curriculum first and then come back to the 2nd grade materials. We will definitely supplement with Lessons from History and use iOS apps and Globalmania for geography.
We only made it through 3 lessons of Pimsleur Spanish in our supplemental homeschool last year. It's not super exciting to do, but she sits and repeats. It's plenty of repetition, and even with 3 lessons and very little effort, I'm pretty impressed with what she can do. Click here for the results of lesson 1. We divide each lesson into about 3 to 4 sessions.
Units for each element of art (internet research).
Art based projects (internet research).
Drawing course (from somewher off the internet).
Physical Education
Either softball or soccer with rec league.
Ballet/ Tap.
Youtube Yoga
Introduction to meditation.
Music Theory Objectives
  • Review, quarter notes, eighth notes and reading notes on the treble staff.
  • Be able to define the word interval and recognize a half step and whole step by sight and sound.
  • Construct a major scale.
  • Sing various scales.
  • Baroque music and composers (will probably use The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians)
    Musical Traditions of the Manding (internet resources)
    Just singing and playing fun/ Times to enjoy music.
    Homeschool performances.
    Sight Sing-a-Song
    Kodaly Today

    Saturday, April 12, 2014

    Yellow Tube Dreams at Burger King And Other Frustrations

    With my own eyes I saw tears fall from hers. Mommy instinct in full gear - I run to her, but with just enough pause to wonder what has happened. She's up there. I'm not supposed to be, but I'm on my way, again with pause. What has happened to make her cry? I don't go all the way up, but I'm up in there. Concerned.

    Lyla, what's wrong? Just come down!
    I don't want to come down.
    Then keep going!
    But, I'm scared.

    Story of our lives. Fear.

    My daughter has always been the careful type. There's even a pause before she speaks. She's very careful not to say the wrong things. When it comes to physical things, though, it can sometimes go beyond caution to apprehension.

    So here we were toward the end of our Burger King playdate, and I'm reminded of a time when one of Lyla's friends had a birthday party at one of those places with all the inflatables. The slides were hecka high. She just ran around in the little comfortable bouncy houses until it was lunch time. All the other kids were readying to eat, when there was my Lyla Bug on the top of the slide, coming down. It wasn't until she tried all the slides that she was ready to eat.

    I have become accustomed to this pattern. Play around like nothing's wrong, and then suddenly when it's time to go, there's this big burst of courageousness that springs up inside of her. This is what I predicted would happen this Burger King playdate, but it didn't. Well, maybe it did, but the manifestation of her inner dare devil didn't end in that big accomplishment of sliding down the slide.

    She didn't really want to come to this Burger King. She wanted to go across town where there is an outside playground with non-intimidating equipment. For whatever reason, she doesn't like the inside playgrounds and has never made it to the top of those giant indoor playground slides.

    My Own Shortcomings

    So here we were in Burger King. One rung shy of the yellow tube that leads to the slide. Stuck. What am I to do as a mother?

    In a flash, I am reminded of my own shortcomings as a homeschool mom. I'm sure most of you know by now that this year, we decided to send my little one to public school. I am still very much so a homeschool mom. Mainly because she's learned so little in public school, we homeschool when time permits. I know my strengths and weaknesses. Conveying academic information, cultivating curiosity, research, planning and organizing (not in life, but in my homeschool)- at those things, I am a beast. Encouraging outside time, physical activity, and gross motor skills? Not so much. I've never been the outdoorsy type, and when I saw Lyla was fearful as a young child, I didn't really know how to combat that.

    The funny thing is that when Lyla was a baby she was extremely strong. Her grandmother as my witness, at thirty days old, I saw her struggle and struggle until she pulled herself up into the crawling position. She held on for a little while before she quickly fell over and started to cry. That scared the living day lights out of me, so I stopped giving her tummy time for a while.

    My daughter came here as a baby ready for the world. Am I the one who has reduced that? How many times in trying to protect her, have I actually stunted her growth? So many times I have heard people who have seen me in action, compliment me on my mothering skills, but people need to know that we all have our strengths and weaknesses and that something as easy as taking your child outside and allowing them to conquer and test fear at an early age could be a slip-up for a mom with the highest intentions.

    From Conflict to Compromise

    Here we are at Burger King watching the three and four year olds go through without hesitation. My seven year old? Still stuck. She's crying, and I'm climbing, and I just stop and sit. Conversation ensues. I notice the conflict. She feels that she should, but still is fearful. I'm all coaxing her, getting her to come down. She comes down. More conversation. I realized that she needs some kind of accomplishment for the day, but I'm ret-to-go. She mentions that she's scared because someone said that the slide is really fast. I let her know that it's OK to be afraid, and that today she should just climb to the top and go through the yellow tube leading to the slide. She does. We decide that she can try the slide next time. Compromise in full effect, she gets ice cream. Weeeee... We're' all happy... until next time.

    Friday, March 21, 2014

    Streamline Frustration While Developing and Implementing Your Own Curriculum

    This blog could easily be called The Real Gangsters of Homeschooling. Sometimes its a fight just to figure out what to teach. With all the many options from which to choose and all the competing viewpoints, it all can become a blur. Not to mention you still have to design, plan, and implement lessons without knowing what your child's response will be. It can all be very intimidating, but before you go spend you lottery earnings or your retirement savings on curriculum materials, check out some of these tips on developing and implementing your very own curriculum.

    Run To The Fight, Pick A Side, And Join In

    Developing your educational philosophy can be a fight that you shouldn't avoid. My advice for developing a curriculum is to run to the fight and by that I mean run to the controversies. Find all the controversies and disagreements you can find about how something should be taught. My go to example of course is sight words vs. phonics, or better yet, common core vs. the no-name curriculum from before. Based on your own research, pick a side and start fighting. Get dirty. Go hard for what you believe. Those controversies can point you to what activities to avoid and can guard you when you're developing what it is that you will do. Research, pick, a side. Test your research. Get feedback from your child. How does your child respond to your educational approach/ philosophy? Does it match how he learns. If not, it's cool. Change your mind and jump ship. Go hard for something else.

    Steal or Hijack

    When it comes to developing your own curriculum, you don't have to reinvent the wheel. Every possible way to teach 2 + 2 is 4 has probably already surfaced, and if for some reason, you're going to come up with a new way to teach material, looking at the creativity of others could be helpful in getting your juices flowing. Don't be afraid to know your state's standards and even try to put your hands on curriculum maps. Do the same for commercial curriculums. You don't need to purchase them, per se, but look for a table of contents online, or unit tests. This can give you some clues to or even the actual scope and sequence for each curriculum. You don't have to copy these or even use them for your curriculum, but use the knowledge gained from what others are doing to develop your own materials. Then implement, test, regroup, relearn, and reimplement.

    Before you decide on what to teach in reading (maybe math,too), it may be necessary to check to see where your child is. There are plenty of commercial (some are expensive) products to help you gather information about your child's reading level. You probably can find Fountas and Pinnell testing information in your local library, or try readinga-z.com. There you can find instructions for checking your child's reading level. This access to their online program is about $79/ year, but they offer a 7 day free trial, where you can download daily from their site. They also offer free 7-day memberships during teacher appreciation week and again just before school starts in the fall. For early readers, I really did love readinga-z. I never bought the program. Those free times have been enough for us, but for more than one child or for classrooms and coops, the price would be well worth it.

    I would suggest if that you have a very young reader that you start from the beginning with phonics. Lots of times children who learn to read early basically from memorizing sight words, generally are fluent readers sooner, but also are less accurate than students who learn using phonics. I've asked so many 4 year olds to come read to me and their fluency is great and they gather the correct meaning, but they aren't accurate readers. Without proper guidance this could become a problem later.

    Once you've decided what to teach and in what order, google and pinterest (yes, these are verbs now) away for teaching ideas and activities.

    To help with avoiding frustration:

    Confer With Your Accomplices

    1. Try to include a morning meeting or circle time with your children before you jump into learning. Sing plenty of silly songs (you can make up your own) and/ or include a movement component. For the little ones you could do weather and calendar. Whatever traditions you come up with try to include a talk back time. Now you might want to guard your talk back time because your circle time can get away from you, and sometimes that will be OK, but keep the circle times short- generally, 20 mins tops. A little too short is better than a little too long. Also, once you've gone through it a couple of times, allow the children to run it. During this time you can go over what it is you plan on doing for the day.

      Even now with my 7 year old, if I gather that she's not ready for learning, we do a circle time, or cut away from our work just to sing and/ or touch base. This works amazingly well to get her back on track.

    2. Before each new subject or activity, let them know what it is you're hoping to accomplish and why and how. Once you've completed your lesson or activity, assess immediately to see if they got it. Ask for feedback. How do they feel about what they learned and how they learned it? How would they have gone about getting the lesson across? Your child may be able to articulate a method that works, or they may be aggravated that you're asking so many questions. Either way is fine.

    Provide Visuals

    For the very young? Provide visuals for everything, or almost everything. Try to incorporate something visual at every lesson. For example, your whole lesson might be a National Geographic or YouTube video, or if you're singing a counting song, make a visual representation of what you're singing. When my child was young, our visual representation was mostly magnet board stories. I used them a lot in my music class in public schools, too. It just really adds depth to what you're doing and helps to keep the attention of the little ones.

    For older students, this might look different, though. During the time I taught at a school that didn't have smartboards, I invested in an old projector from ebay. You don't have to project things, but plan ahead and use powerpoint or even free smartboard software to add just the right visual impact.

    For my home I knew that I wanted a magnetic white board, but those were entirely too expensive, but I figured out a workaround. Be creative and try to find ways to make your homeschool environment a stimulating one.

    Cross Reference, Cross Reference, Cross Reference

    Use the theory of multiple intelligences to your advantage. Allow and plan for ideas and concepts to show up across subjects. When I was running my phonemic awareness program, I worked on isolated letter sounds. I did one letter per every couple of days. So whatever that letter was, using lots of visuals, we would go over its sound and words that either began with and/or ended with those sounds. Let's say that the letter was I, for a couple of days my child went over the sounds in circle time, again in read aloud time when we included My 'I' Book from First Steps in Reading, again during our phonics/ reading time when I found or either made I books for us to go through, again in handwriting when the same letter was the focus, and again in art when we made inchworms out of pipe cleaners, yet again in Science when observing insects/inchworms, and lastly in music when we sang made up songs about icky insects. This is easily accomplished with theme based learning, but can be done without any theme at all.

    Keep It Moving

    Find creative ways to incorporate movement into your learning. The movements don't even have to be related to the learning. You can try jogging in place or doing jumping jacks in between subjects, or just playing a song and letting your child jump around after something strenuous. I used to make up games where the idea is that you do something on one side of the room and then run to do something else on the other side. You can set up practice stations outside and have your child run through an obstacle course of sorts where the student would have to show some kind academic knowledge or perform a skill before running to the next station. Time it and encourage your little one to try to beat it the next day.

    Take Instruction

    Let your students show you what they know. Every so often, my daughter likes to play the teacher. I let her teach me the things we just learned. I ask plenty of questions, sneakily accessing any information learned. Allow for talk back times when students can teach the teacher.

    Wear Your "Colors" with Pride

    Congratulations, we are all well on our way to becoming a part of The Real Gangsters of Homeschooling. Ooh- Ooh(please, substitute whatever call you wish)!!! If you use any of these tips, let me know how it works out. Want to add more tips? Leave them in the comment box. Feel free to ask any questions and make any statements, and me? I don't even mind if you disagree. Leave that, too. Thanks for reading. All the Real Gangstas of Homeschooling- STAND UP!!!

    Tuesday, March 11, 2014

    Mental Math tips

    Like most on this blog, this post is long overdue. Last Monday, I wanted to do a mental-math-minute type post about adding 8's and 9's, but after thinking about it, I didn't want to do anything that was a shortcut without addressing how to develop number sense. I thought about all of the background information that I deemed helpful, and this long video became the response.

    In this video, I give ideas on how to develop a good number sense, share where to find some manipulatives, and show some strategies toward doing math mentally. If you want, you can skip straight to the strategies.

    Now, this video is far from perfect. I didn't have a script. I make plenty mistakes and obscure noises along the way, and the volume's a bit of everywhere, so be prepared to turn up and turn down. Still, I hope that the information shared is valuable and worth any adjustments.

    For Even Smaller Sums

    If the things in the video are a little too advanced for your little one find addition tips for numbers 5 and under here:

    For Sums 6 - 10

    At the time of the above video, I was considering making another video for addition sums from 6 - 10. I probably won't, but just briefly, this is the order I would do to get me through.

    1. The info from "Getting Started With Math" video.
    2. Play games (make them up) to solidify addition facts to 5. Use abacus when playing games.
    3. Use your fingers and the color coded abacus to learn your "5 and's..." (5 + 1 = 6, 5 + 2 = 7, etc.) to 10.
    4. Represent "5 and's..." in all possible ways (fingers, tally marks, abacus, sticks, etc.)
    5. Partition 6 into all of it's parts. Use the abacus to begin.
    6. Do the same for the remaining numbers to 10
    7. More addition games using abacus when necessary.

    Thanks for checking out this blog. Hit me up if you have questions or comments.

    Saturday, February 22, 2014

    A Couple of Reading Resources

    In one of my last posts, I talked about what I planned on doing to help my DD along with reading. We've decided to spend a lot of time on vocab, and since she's reading above level, the biggest challenge has been understanding some of the text that's above the 5th grade reading level. Her gaining access to understanding is dependent on her becoming familiar with otherwise unfamiliar words. So I've decided that we're going to read and read and keep reading. In her reading when she encounters a word she isn't sure about she is to log that word.

    I've created two logs as resources. One is for logging the books read, and the other is for logging vocabulary words encountered in those books. During her 30 minute reading, she's to log the words, and at a later time, she is to go back through the book and use context clues toward word meaning. Her instructions are to try to use the clues while reading, but writing them down at that point would take too much time away from reading.

    Info on our featured book for the next couple of days, along with it's lesson plan, can be found below. Below, you will also find vocabulary and reading logs.These logs are two pages each. In case you need more sheets for the month (and you'll definitely need them for vocabulary), please print more of the last page of each document to suit your needs.

    CLICK for Daily Reading Log CLICK for Vocabulary Reading Log
    Author: Andrea Davis Pinkney
    Reading Level: 5.5
    About: The lives of ten amazing African-American women are included in this book about the search for human rights in America. From Harriet Tubman leading slaves along the Underground Railroad to Shirley Chisholm running for the Democratic Party's presidential candidacy, the inspirational acts of African-American women are celebrated.
    Lesson Resource Link: Here

    Wednesday, February 19, 2014

    Two Black History Lessons

    Basically our Black History has been reading books and discussing. Hopefully we'll have time to do more. If you're looking for books to read, then there are 8 on my previous post. Meanwhile, I wanted to share two lessons I found that correspond to two books we've read. I'll update as I find more. Please feel free to add your own in the comments.
    Link to lesson plan.
    Link to lesson plan.

    Saturday, February 15, 2014

    The Last Couple of Weeks In Review

    Since Christmas break, we really haven't been able to get into a groove. We've had tons of frustrating moments, and we've just haven't gotten a lot done. To add to the fire, I'm trying to learn a couple computer languages, leaving less time for lesson planning. Since we're not in our house, we don't have dedicated space like before. We use our bedroom. Thankfully, I decided to change venues, making a break to the living room. Instead of just starting a lesson, I went back to how we did in kindergarten with something similar to a circle time. It was funny because she wanted to sing all our old circle time songs. The change of setting really prepared her for learning. When it's warmer, I may take her to the park a few times a week to do lessons there.

    Here are some of the things we've done in the last couple of weeks. Don't judge! We run homeschool in the afternoons and on weekends, basically whenever we can. I'm looking forward to Valentine's Day. There will be no school on that day. That'll give us time to catch up on lessons, and I can actually do a deep condition on that hair of hers.


    This week we worked on making change. We used post-its to put prices on random items. Using real coins, we counted up from the amount charged using pennies until we got to a multiple of 5¢ or 10¢. Then we would used the appropriate coin(s) to get the original amount given by payee.

    In addition, reviewed mentally adding double digits and +8 and +9 rules (+8,+9 video coming soon). I really want to concentrate on mental math, but like anything it takes lots of review and practice, practice, practice.


    We're supposed to be ending our unit (which began at the beginning of the school year) in personal narratives (See Our Forray Into The Personal Narrative). She's been wanting to write fiction since the beginning. I'm getting ready to move on, but now she wants to write a book about her recent experiences. This week we began chapter one which is about two manuscript pages. For the first time, they don't include any drawings, and I like it better that way. My "bad mommy" thoughts are that I hope she has forgotten or that we can divert her attention and write a book of fiction. We need to move on from this never ending personal narrative unit. Maybe we'll do both. Who knows!



    We haven't done a lot on reading, and honestly, I don't think she's improved that much. Her teacher says it's because she's already so advanced, but for me, I do believe that she should be a year ahead of where she placed at the beginning of the year (5th grade 3rd month). She's just now begun to start reading books at school at the grade level she tested in at the beginning of the year. The only thing that I think would keep her from reading higher would be vocabulary. Her vocabulary is already kind of cool for a 1st grader. I often giggle when she uses words like putrid or abhor. They're not big words, per se. They're just words you don't hear that often from someone her age. She's getting some of the words from her gifted class, but the great thing about it, is that she's actually using these words. I learned the words just for tests, but she's figuring out a way to use them in daily life.

    My reading plan of attack is two fold. First we'll concentrate on vocabulary. I'll present more words, reward her for using them, remind her to use them, and use them myself. We already have a notebook to write down new words, but just haven't used it that much. We'll try to do a word daily and then add these words to her spelling lists. When the word is first introduced, it'll be her job to figure out the pronunciation. Then she'll have to write sentences using the word.

    Secondly, we'll institute a timed reading session everyday- thirty minutes on weekdays and two thirty minute sessions on weekends if time permits. Our library day is Thursday. I'll pick out books at our local library. She'll pick out a book daily at her school library. Some of the books we're reading are above.


    Same beat as here, Non-Drumma Momma.


    Bridges and handstands.

    Black History

    For music and black history, we've been learning "Lift Every Voice." She loves the tune. In addition we've been reading about African civilizations and important figures in African American history. Next week, I plan on using lessons from Jawanza Kunjufu's Lessons in History: A Celebration of Blackness.


    Finding Subject/ Verb, Linking Verb vs. Action Verbs, Adjectives. You can find the first part of our lesson, here.

    Thursday, January 30, 2014

    Scratch Love

    I wanted to add some sort of computer science component to my DD's homeschool time. After searching the internet, I decided to let Lyla learn Scratch. Scratch won't necessarily teach Lyla to program, but the idea is that it will teach her to think like a programmer. Scratch will allow her to put code together like lego blocks. The program can be used online or off with a download. Lyla loves it, and it's super easy to start. I have some programming experience, so it's been easy for me to figure things out, but we've decided to use the free curriculum guide. Click for Scratch Curriculum Guide. To learn more about this MIT project visit it's homepage http://scratch.mit.edu

    Here's our first project. The title of the project is "About Me." You can search the site to see other examples. I think hers is one of the best, but to be fair she had help from her mommy. I'm most proud of the fish. It took some ingenuity to do the tank and to get it to move back and forth in that confined space. To see the animation, first press the green play flag. Then press the fish, the sign, and the ball to get those parts of the animation going. Proud mamma...

    Tuesday, January 28, 2014

    Snow Days Provide Opportunity

    For all of those who aren't familiar with the purpose of my blog, or with me, for that matter, I am a mother of one. I view the role of mother as my most important job in life. Also important is my role as wife to my husband (I have to remind myself of this lots of times), but even the most essential aspect of that role's importance is providing the environment to nurture our offspring.
    I view education as being very important. I've been a teacher on just about every level imaginable, and from this experience I have concluded that a lot of what's done at school is a disservice to some of our children.

    My Goto Example of Education Disservice: Sight Words

    For example, I am a firm believer that not every child needs to be introduced to sight words. Sight words themselves aren't the culprit, but the idea of a list of words for students to memorize, especially when words on that list are decodable, is. I feel that sight words are used because it's easier for the teacher. No real concept is to be taught when using sight words. Sight word instruction, while sometimes inventive, is merely presenting words and helping students remember them by sight.
    I taught sight words to a class of four years olds. My youngest kid of 3 progressed the fastest and within her first week in my class could recite several sight word books. Her mom was so amazed that her 3 year old was "reading." I really wanted to tell the mom that nothing about what this child was doing is "reading" and that I could really teach her 3 y.o. to read if the school would let me bring my own materials, implemented a real discipline plan, and allowed the teacher to deviate from that curriculum and actually gave time for actual instruction instead of going around the building to have useless extra-curricular classes (I love these classes, if done in a systematic way that actually produced a skill- I mean why go to a class to learn that book= libra, but not be able to construct any Spanish phrases) all day, her 3 y.o would be learning to read. But for as long as unknowing parents are impressed by the non-education of our children, these schools will continue to do what they already do.(Please see Some May Call Me the Sight Word Nazi and How I Taught My Daughter to Read.)

    For the Most Part, Teachers Are Not the Problem

    I am not hear to bash teachers. I am in my own regard a teacher at heart. Society has painted teachers as people who enter the field to make money, and while in this economy, there may be some truth to that, I have not met a teacher that did not want his class to do well or her students to master the state's standards. The people aren't the problem, but the approach. The fact is that there is no real way to differentiate to meet every single one of the class' 30 kids' needs. It is my experience that differentiation in the classroom is really for those who underperform. Enough is done to ensure that students stay on level. Often times lots of energy goes to bringing up those low level students, but only if there are a lot of them in the class to begin with. And then higher performing students' parents are coaxed along in order to keep their child in the class/school to bring up test scores.
    If your three or four year old, or even two year old, is ready to learn to read, why wait until age 6 to teach them. Right now, my first grader can add two digit numbers in her head and extremely large numbers on paper. We're beginning to learn times tables, but have I seen any of this work come home? Will any of these skills be nurtured in any way at her school? The answer is a swift "no." On the Star reading assessment, my child tested on the 5th grade reading comprehension level. Her teacher was proud, I guess, because I heard about it from other parents before I was informed by the school. But have I seen any 5th grade books come home? The idea is supposed to be that at the end of the year, or at least at the beginning of next year, she's advanced a complete year, comprehending at 6.3. Will she this year? If so, it won't be because of work she's done at school, or even work that's sent home from school.

    Conventional Schools Are Not Equipped to Meet the Needs of Every Single Child

    What I expect for my child- what every child deserves- is nearly impossible for the school to do as it is set up. First of all the idea of grade levels being associated with age instead of skill or knowledge is ridiculous. The idea that you have to spend all year learning something that you can learn in a month is equally ridiculous, but how else is group education to function? I will admit that in recent years great gains have been made in differentiation with regard to reading, but this is really only on what the students read, not so much on direct instruction. Math, however, hasn't come as far along.
    Everyday I ask my child did she learn anything new in her regular class. Except for one day, the answer has been "no." Now I do admit that she's exposed to different things in the gifted program. Things that I would not think to do, they've done. For that, I'm thankful.

    More About Me and This Here Blog

    I view myself as a part-time homeschooler. Why don't I homeschool my daughter full time? I got to come-up just a bit to do that, and believe me, I've been working on that. Academically, I got her, but some of the other things suffered when she was homeschooled due to her not being around others in her age group, and not having certain experiences. But with just a little more work on my part, I plan to eliminate these issues with my own homeschool.
    My mantra is that no one at any school, public or private, is able to teach my daughter as well as I. I am my child's primary (not only first, but chief) teacher. And it's not that I'm such a good teacher. It's that I know my daughter. I've taken the time to get to know her, and at this stage (and I hope always) I am one of the ones who is most influential to her. She is the clay, and I am the primary molder. I take this job seriously. This blog documents our educational experiences.

    You, My Dear, Are Qualified

    How is it that I am able to teach my child with no teaching degree or certification? I do have an advantage in that I've actually taught in schools. I know how to make an effective lesson plan. Based off of the standards, I can develop my own curriculum and curriculum maps. I can read and understand the maps of school districts and compare and contrast them. I can read testing data. I can develop adequate pre and post assessments. I can ask higher order, open ended questions, basing my lesson on the essential question. I've been instructed on positive behavior and teacher efficacy. I have an advantage, but still I have to research, research, research. I research what it is that my child should know and/ or wants to know and/or what I want her to know. Then I research the best way to teach it. That's all, boo. You are totally qualified to teach your own child. Even if you don't know yourself, you can follow this model- research, learn, teach. If for some reason that doesn't work, then you contract the teaching out. Maybe you can leave that aspect to the schools, loved one, or to a tutor.

    Take Snow Day Action

    So if you have time during these GA snow days, instead of being concerned about the time your learner is missing from school, take the time to fill in the gaps in her education. You as a parent can do more than visit the school to help your child in the academic arena. You can do more than making sure that he gets his homework. I encourage you to take on the role of educator for your children. Work that role, rather it be daily or weekly or monthly. I encourage you to view these "free days" as an opportunity to academically educate your own child. In your researching phase, you'll probably learn that the best way to approach a subject isn't congruent with the school's approach, anyway. Follow the model and the motto. Let's say it together.
    I am my child's primary and best teacher. I honor this responsibility and move through it with gratitude, knowing that I am doing what's best for my child. I am qualified by God for this position, and thusly, I take the time to research, learn, and teach.
    Happy Teaching!!!