This will be boring. Any even close-to-bloggable thinking I do these days is either about Breaking Bad or home education. Everything else, I can’t even. So I’ll pass on the BB stuff and just scatter these paltry leftovers.
This was the week of many classes. Almost every day, as a matter of fact. Tuesday was the big day – up in Huntsville. In the morning, both did classes at the MindGear Lab, then in the afternoon, J did First Lego League there, and M and I returned to the Rocket Center. In the week since the last visit, we had read several child-friendly histories of the US space program up to Apollo, and studied up a bit more on rocketry in general, and watched the first three episodes of this. So this visit (remember, it’s free because of our science museum membership) was centered on walking through the Mercury-Gemini-Apollo displays laid out there around the Saturn V, and getting a better sense of all that.
Followed by a quick trip – because there was just enough time – to the really good Sci-Quest museum across the road. One of my friends wryly commented, “I thought you hated those places” – and I generally do, since despite everyone’s best intentions, the experience seems to usually devolve into not much more than Chuck E. Cheese with prisms and pulleys. But Sci-Quest, while stuck oddly in a large space in a community college, offers good, basic science with very clear explanatory notes and activity suggestions – not surprising, considering the brain power that lurks in Huntsville.
The next day was J’s first homeschool science class at our own science museum, and judging from his report, it was well worth the time. I had him “teach” us today about what he learned there yesterday. It involved exploring what defines a living thing, examining cells and then dividing into groups to devise tests of various stimuli on earthworms. M’s turn is next week.
But he had another turn at a different class today - at the zoo. He was delighted to find one of his friends from last year in the class, and just as delighted to tell me what he’d seen during the sessions – leeches and a chinchilla, among other creatures. Biomes is the topic for the semester, which he knew ahead of time, and it was stupidly gratifying to hear him ask his brother the other day, as they swam away in the pool, “What is the difference between a habitat and a biome anyway? I don’t get it.”
Speaking of the pool – another teachable moment. We belong to the Levite Jewish Community Center, and, of course, they’ve been closed a lot over the past week, and will be closed on Saturday – so that gives us a chance to learn about the High Holy Days, as well.
One of the things I worry and wonder about are the “study skills” that middle schoolers are learning. How to read efficiently for comprehension. How to take notes and study. How to do all of that independently. This is something we need to be more conscientious about, I think.
But then this happened:
Twelfth Night is our Shakespeare for this month. The process is: read a child-friendly synopsis. Watch the BBC animated version. Maybe read a child-friendly paraphrase. Then watch a filmed version – or big chunks of it – following along with the text. (This part takes at least a week) Maybe write parts of speeches down in notebooks. Then see a live performance.
Earlier this week, we were sprawled on the floor, me reading the synopsis/story aloud. I had prefaced the read aloud by telling them that this might get confusing – that there was some concealment of identity, a few love pairings, and it might take effort to keep it all straight. I’d printed this out and we’d looked at it.
As I read, both, of their own accord, reached for dry erase boards. (These being a staple of home education – you really shouldn’t even try this at home without a whiteboard.) As I read, they started to write. J, who is 12, was writing down the names of characters as they appeared, then writing to whom that person was connected. He was, well…taking notes. M, who is 8, took the graphic route, and drew maps. After we were done, he explained it all to me, “This is Illyria, where Viola was shipwrecked, and this is Duke Orsino’s castle and this is Olivia’s house…..” …and so on.
I still admit that it’s an area that needs attention, but to see them work it out in their own ways, without being told, was fascinating.
Oh, and this.
(Everyone’s talking about their Miley Cyrus cover, which is good, too, but this one is somehow even more fitting/weird, if that’s not too paradoxical for you.)
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