We are rounding the corner and Christmas vacation is in sight! Here's what's been going on the past couple of weeks:
Bible: We finished up "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" before Thanksgiving and have moved on to "Come Thou Long Expected Jesus" for the beginning of the Advent season. We are also continuing to read Practical Happiness and work on the Wise Up! Proverbs Bible study. Although the workbook format is a bit tedious without a group to discuss it with, this Bible study covers some really good material for middle school students, 8th graders in particular. So far we have studied and discussed the meaning of wisdom, the difference between wisdom and foolishness, our home life and honoring our parents. Our next unit will be on freedom and responsibility. For Advent, we have been reading Tabitha's Travels by Arnold Ytreeide. I must say that this book is not as compelling as the earlier books in the series, Jotham's Journey and Bartholomew's Passage. I imagine Rocket Boy will have grown out of this type of material by next year, so I am treasuring this family read-aloud with him.
History Odyssey: Japan, China, Vietnam and Korea have been the topic of studies recently. The passages in Kingfisher World History have been very difficult to outline, so I have changed things around a bit by adding in coordinating passages from The Story of the World, Volume 4 by Susan Wise Bauer. These passages are more organized and easier to outline. We are utilizing the outlines in the accompanying activity book, which are partially complete to refine those outlining skills. He is reading The Adventures of Tom Sawyer right now as well. We are woefully behind where I wanted to be at this time, so I am going to skip large chunks of information to get to the 20th century, a time period that Rocket Boy has wanted to study more in depth for a while now. I think his previous studies in this time period will be enough of a foundation as we head into the high school years and revisit them.
Language Arts: Rocket Boy has completed another poetry unit - this one on imagery. Today he began reading A Day of Pleasure. We are skipping Dickens' A Christmas Carol, as we read that last year. In Analytical Grammar, unit 25 had been completed. I had hoped to finish season 3 before Christmas, but that is not to be. He will have about another month of work in the program when we return after our Christmas Break.
Math: We are creeping along with Algebra I - he has finished unit 6 and will take the test on Monday. This program is not striking me as a complete Algebra program - there certainly is not a lot of practice available for the concepts. Unlike the earlier Math U See books, there are no supplemental worksheets available on the company website. I am thinking of pulling out Life of Fred next week to provide some review and refresher before Christmas. We had a fun math lab yesterday, playing "Sink the Ship" and then working on Logic Links and Noodlers.
Physical Science: We are progressing painfully slow this year with science. The good part of that is that I am able to teach Rocket Boy some study skills as we go. He is doing extremely well understanding the concepts as they are presented, although the vocabulary is challenging. I was very pleased to find a flash card iphone ap and its accompanying online site, Quizlet. This is a fantastic study tool that allows you to use card sets that others have created and build your own card decks as needed. Many science terms are already loaded, it's just a matter of picking the best definition for your purposes as you create your own cards. The user can select the way the cards are presented and the program has the capacity to show cards that you have a harder time with at a more frequent rate than those that you have mastered. It keeps statistics, too! I can see this being a tool that will be used all the way through college. This week we watched the NOVA episode "Absolute Zero," which covered cold and all things related, including states of matter and Boyle's Law.
Speech and Debate: This wonderful yet difficult and demanding course for Rocket Boy has come to a close. The practice tournament is being held tomorrow, however Rocket Boy will not be participating. Let me qualify opening statement, however. My student seemed to enjoy going to the classes and the debate coach is phenomenal, she did a great job covering the information. However, Rocket Boy would definitely say that the class was difficult and demanding, and that he did not enjoy at all. The subject matter and the resolution were difficult to grasp and forming arguments has been a true struggle. I fear I have soured him on participating in this venue by having him participate before he was truly ready. I am hoping that if he takes a year off, he will be interested in participating in the future as his academic skills continue to develop.
First Lego League: After a tough season of practice, Rocket Boy's team participated in the regional qualifier last weekend. I am proud to announce that his team earned first place in the Robot Performance category! They have qualified for the state competition and will participate there in January - miles to go before we sleep. Here is the video the team put together as part of their project:
Well, that's the scoop - how are things in your neck of the woods?