Out of the Zone ~ Lesson Plan Blog

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I have been meaning to share this for SO long now and finally remembered!  Pac Man and I have had something new going on for several months now and we both really enjoy it.

His lesson plan blog!

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For safety reasons, I will not be sharing the link of his blog as it is just for us, but I am going to share several screen shots to give you a tour and tell you how it works for us!

I still write paper lesson plans, basically the same way I have been doing all year long, now I just transfer them to his blog so he can see them on his computer.  I have changed the exact how I am doing the blog plans but it has evolved into a method that works for both of us.

Currently his daily plans look like this {except this is a finished day so they are crossed off}

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His favorite part about the blog posts-my notes.  He thrives on words and loves notes from anyone.  Knowing this is a love-tank filler for him, I write him a small encouraging note each day on his plans, here are a few…image

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Before we went to the straight lesson plan list shown above, I gave him a more structured list, like this:

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I no longer have to tell him what is with me and what should be done independently.  He is capable of figuring that out on his own and our new daily routine works well supporting his independence in this area.

With Calvert, students are assessed every 20 lessons, so when it is time to review, I write him review posts for each subject so he can glance over and we can work together on anything he has forgotten.

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I also utilize the blog sidebar and put any vocab words/spelling words up at the beginning of a new 20 lessons period so he can see what words he will need to know by the end…

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I created a link list for him of different website he goes to periodically, this is also on his blog sidebar. *Starfall is on there since he plays it with Ladybug ;-).

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I use Windows Live Writer and this method would be very frustrating without it.  I compose his posts in Live Writer and schedule them for the day they are to publish.  As his day goes on I can go in and mark things off-he really likes this {although sometimes I am really slack about it}.

Technical Details… We used a basic Blogger blog template: “Awesome Inc.”, I only switched colors and that’s it, everything else about his blog design is very simple-I just added in his favorite colors-green and blue!

To be honest I am slack sometimes and there will be weeks I don’t put his lessons up on his blog, they are always on paper but he LOVES when I put them on his blog.  I need to be 100% consistent with this because I know it is very motivating for him.

See more Out of the Zone posts here!

Out of the Zone ~ Alternative Spelling Practice

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Recently my husband and I caved on an issue we have held strong about for 4 years.  We are very open to change and just because we decide something doesn’t mean we can’t change our minds!  Our son has been begging for a Nintendo DS for about 4 years now and we finally felt it was an OK thing to have around.  We are a video game family-for sure, but we enjoy them together and were afraid the DS would hinder this.  So far, so good…we feel we made the right decision.  He loves it but it hasn’t been a “problem", in fact it has been VERY helpful with a bit of homeschool motivation!

We got him the DSi and it has a feature called Pictochat.  At first I thought this was ridiculous but have since changed my mind.  Not only has this been a fun way to write silly notes to each other {yes, Krash got a DS also-mainly for the bonding we knew it would bring them, and it HAS!!}, but I also found another use…SPELLING!

Yup, we are now using the Pictochat feature to practice spelling words together!!!  He thinks this is just GREAT and I love it!  IMG_5035He sits at his desk and I sit at mine.  I call out the words, he writes them and “sends” them to me.  I send back either a check or the corrected word.  Fun, simple, and I am happy to have found an extremely educational use for these new contraptions in our home!IMG_5031

I certainly don’t recommend buying your child a DS for this feature, but if you happen to already own 2 in your household, I thought I would share this fun use for them!! 

Mario Kart is also a VERY fun use…listening to them link up and play together is hilarious!!!  Total brother bonding!

See more Out of the Zone posts here!

Out of the Zone ~ Lessons 11-20

out of the zone2 We have completed 20 lessons of Calvert’s 3rd grade and we continue to like it a lot. Things are going MUCH better now that we are this far into the groove.

3rd grade math continues to move fast and Pac continues to love it. He is confident in math and catches on quickly to everything being taught so far.

For spelling, he has continued to score perfect scores on his post-tests, which truly amazes me. He comes up with strategies on his own-I guess he is a better speller than I gave him credit for!! He continues to use “Calvert Mastery Spelling” and I think it really helps.

He continues to use and love the cool computer programs that are integrated into Calvert.

I am BLOWN AWAY with his writing. Seriously, this kid has went from a VERY reluctant writer to begging me to write MORE than required!!!! I think it is due to the fact that he is more confident in his handwriting now and doesn’t have to think as much about handwriting and spelling. His thoughts and ideas can flow faster and more freely now. He is really impressing me! His story called “City Kid” really touched me. I don’t have a photo of it, so here it is {copied exactly}…

“We live in the inner city because we are missionaries. God called us to the inner city so we can help people.Our neighborhood is noisy, crowded, and busy. There is a lot of people. We live in a row home at __________ Ave. Our home is made of brick. A good thing is that I have friends and a great church. But a bad thing is a lot of crime, drugs, and trash. Sometimes I wish I didn’t live in the city. But I know God called us here.”

For reading he read “The Waterfall” and we explored the story in many ways. He continues to do well with comprehension, although I did notice the questions and depth of what is required of him is shaking him up a bit! image

Science is a favorite this year, for both of us. We studied living things, focusing on plants. It was fun to get out his Flowers & Plants Lapbook and relearn things we already spent lots of time on a few years ago!

Geography is coming SO easy for him, our USA PowerPoints have really helped. He is an awesome map reader ;-).

We have decided to stop Mythology, his instructional supervisor with our cyber charter school said this is fine-as it is optional. He can learn about it later, it just doesn’t feel right to me now for him…way to graphic for what we are comfortable with.

We are both loving the Famous Americans book! During this school period we have studied these people: Nathan Hale, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson.

He completed his assessments which I send into our cyber school. He is tested in each subject, which gives me a great picture of where he is at with everything we have covered. I am not allowed to look or talk to him while he takes the tests, but of course I peek when I prep them for sending. He did really well, scoring perfectly on several items{spelling, math, science, SS, geography, phonics}. He had to write complete sentence answers for some questions that were really thought provoking and struggled with those a bit. I think that section really caught him off guard as he is used to multiple choice or one word answers!

See more Out of the Zone posts all about teaching Pac Man here!

Out of the Zone ~ Lessons 1-10

out of the zone2 We have completed 10 lessons of Calvert’s 3rd grade and I am loving it so far.  I am wanting to keep more of a journal for Pac Man {which I neglected to do for 1st and 2nd grades ~ bad mommy}, but better to start now than not ever!  I did well with journaling {privately and on this blog} for his PreK and Kindergarten year and want to do better for him.  Honestly I am learning new things right along with him now {relearning most} and it is fun!  I am enjoying 3rd grade so much more than I thought I would.  I also think the grandparents {and maybe some of you} will enjoy reading specifics about what he is learning.

 

I am amazed with how fast 3rd grade math has moved.  Pac Man LOVES math though so this is fun for me since I hate math!  He is very easy to teach so far.  Daddy also loves math so he casually teaches the boys lots of math skills before we even get to them in school!  Pac Man has flown right through many new math skills so far with no trouble at all.

For spelling, I still would choose to do All About Spelling, but for now Pac Man is doing well with the spelling book we are using with Calvert, I will be adding in AAS lessons as needed down the road as needed..  For his first 2 pretests he got 9/14 correct and then finished both with a perfect score for the post-test!  Calvert has an awesome online program called “Calvert Mastery Spelling” which gives Pac a simple activity each day to work with the words.  He loves this and I think it really helps.

Speaking of the computer, he has some cool programs that are integrated into Calvert.  The technology lessons are wonderful and he really enjoys them.  He is currently learning typing and has already learned many word processing skills.  IMG_5303 Daddy actually walked in and saw him working and said, “man, I don’t even know how to do some of that!”  Pac loves the computer {like me} so this is really fun for him!  Calvert also has daily check points online, which are brief review questions for each subject taught that day.  He logs in and takes the checkpoints and I can easily see his scores immediately to see anything we need to review.

He doesn’t usually like Calvert writing lessons, at least he didn’t for 2nd grade.  But, this year he has more freedom to construct his own stories and he is really enjoying it so far.  Once I got him over the “I hate writing” attitude, he was good to go for the most part.  His first story assignment was “School at Home” which I think he did really well on!IMG_6469

My favorite line… ”I am excited because my mom is going to keep the little kids away from me.” ;-)

 

For reading he really enjoyed his first stories, “The Lost and Found,” and  “The Ballad of Mulan.”  Would you believe we have never even seen the Disney movie Mulan, and I was unfamiliar with the story myself.  Not only did Pac enjoy it, but he also read the story aloud to Krash one day!  Pac’s reading comprehension is amazing, and we rarely have to review anything. 

Science is fun, but not as fun as it will be when we begin to actually do the experiments.  I have put those on hold until we are in the new school room ;-).  We have been studying living things, and really enjoying the science book.

Nothing too exciting in Social Studies or Geography yet, but it has been GREAT to see how much P already knows.  The basic geography that has been taught is just a review for him so far.  I can already see where our USA PowerPoints have come in handy!

Neither of us are really enjoying Mythology, it is just so far fetched and I am not into it-never really was when I learned it in school either.  He struggles with it, I believe at the heart level a bit.  He doesn’t really understand why he has to study “fairy tales” as he calls them.

We are both loving the Famous Americans book!  So far we have learned a lot about the American Revolution and studied these people: Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry, John Paul Jones, and Molly Pitcher,   I am reading this aloud to him and it becomes a nice cuddle time for us.  I decided not to have Pac do the written pages included {they are optional via Calvert} and we go over them orally together.  I think he is really enjoying the laid back approach to this subject and in turn really enjoying it.  He has actually asked to read additional stories each day!  I am researching some supplemental activities for us to do about the American Revolution, probably a lapbook ;-).  We’ll see!

 

Overall the first 10 days have been a success.  He really struggled for the first 5 days or so with the amount of work and the difficulty.  He breezed through school until now and is finally having to put real thought into things.  This was a very hard adjustment for him but I am amazed that he has handled it well for the past 5 lessons.  He really turned a corner and the excitement about the new schoolroom keeps him going!

We are still not in daily school mode yet, just getting a bit of a jump start before we go on our 2 week trip in September. We will be officially staring our every day school year when we return mid-September.  Pac is working hard now so he won’t have to take any schooling with him when we travel!

~I asked Pac Man if he was OK with me publicly blogging about him and school, he is very interested in my blog.  I have promised him I will never write anything about home online without him knowing first {things that could possibly be embarrassing.  He was fine with it and excited to be featured! ;-)  I hope this will be a neat thing for him to look back on!

Out of the Zone ~ Our Current Zone

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We are in a major state of “WAITING” around here.  We are waiting for our wonderful new schoolroom to be complete so we can move in and set up!  I have chosen Pac Man’s new desk {table and shelves} and have designed the space on the Ikea Planner ;-).  I have the furniture picked out the $$ saved to buy the items we need to buy, and a family eager to move in!  We are so close now I can taste it, but we still have a month or so before we can set up shop.

In the meantime we are in our current schoolroom, which is completely fine, just very messy and crowded right now.  This room worked fine for the past several years, but we have slowly outgrown the space now that I have a 3rd grader who really needs to be able to focus, a wild preschooler, and an all-over-the-place tot.  If we wouldn’t have been blessed with the new schoolroom {which I will share about in detail soon}, I would have had to come up with some other plan.  Us all being in this small room {approx 9×10} for school just isn’t working.

Kirsten was home and walked in one day and snapped some pictures of Pac and I working.  This is how we are set up right now..IMG_4228

My command central is right there on the right and Pac’s is on the left, we share the table.  It is very hard now that his books are bigger and he needs more space to spread out.   We have had to remove his Workboxes for now due to space, but plan to get a version of the system back up and running when we move in to the new room. 

 

We make it work though and it just makes us both more thankful for what lies ahead in the new room!!!  Currently he and I do his schooling al together here.  IMG_4230 Teaching 3rd grade is so much different than 2nd and below.  It requires so much more out of him, and out of me!

How do those of you who school in a small space deal with this?  How do you handle an older child who needs to focus but won’t stay on track if sent to work alone {easily distracted}?  I can’t send Pac Man out of the room to work or something that should take him 20 minutes will take 2 hours ;-).  But, when L and K are in there, he has such a hard time focusing…plus he just talks to me a lot, sitting right next to me!  I am hoping the new {way bigger} schoolroom will really help with this.  Those of you with more experience, do you think it will?

 

I have written a few other school room posts, but it has been awhile.  I promise I will share in great detail as we move into the new room!!!!

If you are wondering where K and L were…K was watching a movie {that’s how we roll around here these days-so I don’t lose my sanity} and L was napping.