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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: A Year in Review, Part I

April 30, 2007

Chers Amis,

Tomorrow is the first of May and according to my records, we only have 14 official school days to go – just three short weeks.  One week will be overtaken by Caddie’s dress rehearsals for A Comedy of Errors and administration of the Iowa Test of Basic Skills.  That leaves 10 days.  Part of me is ready for school to be over and the other part is wondering "Who’s on First?" Where did the time go, what did we accomplish, and was it enough? Time for some serious evaluation of the "Good, the Bad and the Ugly of 2006-2007."  Maybe I should keep this to musing myself, but I think best on paper. I want this to be productive and not morph into ‘coulda shouda woulda‘  Do you ever do this? I think I will just talk about the Good today. 🙂

The Good –  What worked.   

  • Best Software: Homeschool Tracker Plus A big shout out of THANK YOU to Carolyn at Soaring Wings for suggesting this software to help me keep track of our year.  Carolyn is one of the coolest, most creative, talented, funny and smart ladies I’ve met homeschooling. Her endorsement was key and she came over to help me set it up and show me how it works. HUGS! Yes, it takes some time to enter the data and stay on top of it, but I need this program to keep me focused.  I won’t bore you with all the cool features, check out the web site, but just being able to select ‘Scope and Sequence‘ and see a 34-page report display what we covered and another listing all the resources used, makes me feel better when I doubt myself (which is more often than I like.) With unlimited free updates and a Q&A forum/msg board it was a GREAT investment of $35.
  • Best Monthly Club – Book Club  This was our third year with out monthly book club.  Fabulous literature, interesting activities, super friends for my girls, and a wonderful group of fellow homeschooling moms to talk with – it is my secret monthly support group 🙂 I have a long post pending on book lists,  what we’ve found works etc. One of these days I’ll hit publish 🙂  Here are are books from this year: Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
    Biography of Helen Keller
    Tuck Everlasting By Natalie Babbitt
    A Single Shard By Linda Sue Park
    St. John Bosco and St. Dominic Savio (Vision)
    Trumpet of the Swan By E.B. White
    Catherine, Called Birdy By Karen Cushman
    Little Britches By Ralph Moody
    Introduction to Poetry and Figurative Language Unit

We will be selecting our books for next year this Friday!  Such fun!!

  • Best Coop –Home school Arts Enrichment Coop – Art History, Creative
    Writing, PE (and a free morning a week for Mom)  I have particularly
    liked this program because it is so well organized and the material is
    excellent. Artists studied  have included: Botticelli, Constable,
    Degas, Durer, Ghilhberti,  Da Vinci, Rubens, Gainsborough, Van Gogh and
  • Best Literature Experience – An 8-week course on Shakespeare, The Comedy of Errors, acting and the theater offered by our resident thespian Carolyn. (You are awesome!).  At the end of the class she decided to hold auditions and direct the children in a production of The Comedy of Errors.  Caddie has a small part as the Abbess and shouldn’t quit her day job, but it has been a wonderful experience.
  • Best Ooey-Gooey Science – Adventures in ScienceThis is our weekly science experiment mini-club.  The first semester we concentrated on chemistry and this semester our studies have revolved around Archimedes and the Door to Science, forces, geometry, and simple machines.  Science is our favorite course and this has been terrific.  Our Enrichment coop is adding science experiments to next year’s offerings.  We are going to take it (can’t avoid it) but want to continue our own studies.  Maybe biology? Life Sciences?  I liked the emphasis on experiments.  This was our most hand’s on course.  I want to work on expanding this.
  • Easiest Subject Most Likely to Crawl, Slither or Swoop – Nature Study is our favorite flavor of science.  It is easy for us to do and doesn’t require much planning because of our yard  ( small (2acres) but woodsy and full of creatures).  Our short winter helps too.  Nature Study Highlights: learning to bird by ear, the Great Backyard Bird Count, owl pellet dissection, shitake mushroom kit, our entire late summer early fall focus on fungi. I want to improve on our Nature study next year by purchasing a really
    good microscope and being more rigorous about drawings and
    documentation during our structured nature study.   This would work well if we shift into Bio.  I love what Theresa at Lapaz Farm HL has done. At the same time I don’t want to squelch the kids joy of discovery with classification charts and diagrams to lable.  
  • Best Workbooks: Grammar/Spelling –  I have been pleased with both the Abeka 3 and 4 grammar texts and the Building Spelling SkillsWe also used Daily grams 4 for part of the year, but it was too much book work on top of the Abeka, which, oddly enough, Caddie liked! I found the Building Spelling Skills books really useful as they were organized around a given phonogram and taught the spelling rules too. I bought the Book 1 for Pippin last month because he wanted his own spelling book!  He is a great speller!  I’ll use Abeka 4 for Scarlett next year, I’m not sure about 5th grade grammar for Caddie.  I would need to look at the Abeka 5.  I’ll continue with the same spelling.
  • Best Textbook:  I splurged and bought From Sea to Shining Sea for our American History spine this year and liked it!  We used living books, picture books, biographies etc. to branch off and flesh out different topics.  We are part way through the Civil War  and I do not want to rush through it especially as we are literally surrounded by history from that era. It is certain soldiers tromped through our back yard and there are a multitude of field trips we really should take before switching gears.

Wow! That is a lot of bests and I have a few more to add, but they will have to come in a later edition as a foil for the Bad and the Ugly aka the Mediocre and the Unpleasant or Need Work.  Perhaps tomorrow. 

–Marjorie (Who is too tired for spell check and don’t mention punctuation or subject/verb agreement:-) Oh, and the bolding is all wierd too. C’est la vie.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. May 1, 2007 7:50 am

    So Caddie liked Abeka grammar, huh? I am so up in the air about what to do for grammar around here, especially since my two oldest are SO different from each other. What works for one often bombs for the other, and I have a hard time switching between modes.

  2. May 1, 2007 9:07 am

    Loved this post and can’t wait for the next installment.

  3. May 1, 2007 7:26 pm

    My goodness! Two mentions of me in one post! I am glad I could help with HST. The Shakespeare class and subsequent play has been one of the best things I have ever done. It has truly inspired me and it was one of the things that helped me “get out of the boat.” I am glad that Caddie got something from it as well.

  4. May 3, 2007 7:31 am

    This is a great post. The homeschool tracker looks interesting.

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