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Michigan, United States
a registered yoga teacher, and a Thai/Yoga Bodywork practitioner.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Alternative Ed--2nd week, October

It's the most wonderful time of the year--for me. I could sack all the holidays in favor of that handful of golden-lit days in October when the temperature hangs between 55 - 75 degrees and the trees are radiant with fiery hues. According to The Weather Channel, this week was to be That Week. So we had an alternative education week.

Nate asked, "Is that 'alternative ed' like our Uncle Ed?" (He was joking; but I do have an Uncle Ed who's always infused every family gathering with playful attitude, board games, and other alternative activities of juvenile frivolity like making up skits, commercials, singing "Froggy Went a Courtin'" etc.) So in that spirit, yes, it is alternative ed/Alternative Ed Week.

We took Baxter to the park, hitting the tennis ball for him every day as leaves fell like confetti around us, the sun brilliant and the breeze, refreshing.

For math: arcade math games (Arcademic Skill Builders). Nate provided a public school carry-over lesson he still uses: multiplication songs. I couldn't find them online, but two years later, Nate has them intact (thanks for teaching these, Mrs. Butler!). Madelyn needs to learn her times tables, and singing is more fun than worksheets for us:

Row, Row, Row Your Boat (4’s)

4      8      12    16

20    24

28…        32…        36…        40…

44    48

Yankee Doodle (6’s)

6      12    18    24

30    36   

42 and 48 and 54 and 60

66 and 72

Now you’re done, go take a poo (We added this line to fill in for the music.)

Sing your Yankee Doodle-doo

And now we’ll start again…

She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain (7’s)

7      14    21    and 28

35    42    49

56    63

70 now you see

We can count by 7’s easy as can be

 Old MacDonald (8’s)


40    48   

56 and 64

72    80



Eights are the way to get your kicks


40    48

Take Me Out to the Ballgame (9’s)

9      18    27   

36    45   

54    63    72   

81    90

You know that it’s true

Let us root, root, root for our nines now,

If we don’t learn it’s a shame

‘Cause it’s 9, 18, 27

to start again!

One day, Nate and I watched a TED Talk about math education: Teaching Kids Real Math with Computers. It's an argument against the busy work of computation and for the creative processes of math: asking the right questions, applying the right formula, letting the computer handle the messy computation (per its name) and applying the answer back to reality. There's an interactive site where you can play with real life scenarios: http://www.wolframalpha.com.

For reading, I took a suggestion from the blog Departing the Text , and read Frindle by Andrew Clements. I read it aloud, and then we discussed/dissected each chapter. The kids loved it; we finished the book by the third day. They were begging me to "keep reading!"

Using the white board and markers, I drew pictures and plot trees to show how one event lead to another.
     We know that a story needs a character[s], a setting[s], a problem[s] and a solution[s]. What are those elements in this story?
     What does this chapter do (does it enhance the character, the setting, the problem, or the solution?)
     What if Clements had started the story with chapter 3--diving right into the crux of the story, without introducing us to the two main characters first?

We didn't do science or history; rather, we watched a documentary about Pixar (thanks, Netflix streaming). I stopped it a few times to point out:

  • When people are making something, they change their minds a LOT (erasing is good). The original Buzz and Woody of A Toy Story did not look like, act like, or sound like the versions in the released movie. 
  • Sometimes you can get a project almost done and have to start all over.
  • An IPO (Initial Public Offering) is how a small company gets enough money to start or grow its business
The kids recognized Steve Jobs and remembered that he had just died last week.

We also progressed in our drawing, doing a few more exercises out of How to Draw from the Right Side of the Brain. Here's one that we did:   Vases/Faces

I had one home-school apologia moment. A man at the gym asked how my kids were getting properly socialized (egads, this again). I'm new enough at this that it's hard not to feel defensive. I'm still practicing a concise, effective reply.

I said that the classroom was not ideal for socializing, that it was more akin to a prison situation.

"But that's how the world is," he exclaimed. "They have to get used to it."
"So we should put you into prison to toughen you up, is that it?" I replied, verging on incredulity at his response.
At this point, his table mate guffawed and the conversation went elsewhere, mostly with me moving toward the door. The very next day, I found this comic, drawn by a fellow homeschooler:

Teacher is asking: "But how will they be socialized?" Thank to http://curiositycat.wordpress.com
I may print out copies and hand them out, like tracts for home-schooling.

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