Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Pre-Break Eval

Our Christmas break is fast approaching. Just prior to planned breaks, I assess how things are going. Actually, I assess regularly throughout the year, especially whenever something needs changing. I actually plan to evaluate prior to planned breaks, though. At these times, I look at not just what isn't working, but also what is. I generally do it internally. I don't bother with formal assessment, writing it down, etc. I just do it mentally. That works for me. This time, though, I thought I'd give you all a peek into my thoughts. I don't separate it as what is working, what isn't working, and what needs to change. Instead, I just go through subject by subject, evaluating each program, plan, etc., see how they are working, and decide what, if any, changes should be made.

I'll start with Dea. She is finishing up 8th grade & will be starting 9th when we start back up in January. This will make her schedule even more drastically different from Jay's. There are no major 'moving into high school' changes, since she started high school level work years ago. So, it's just normal year end evaluation.

Schedule: Letting her have full control over her own schedule has obviously not worked. That is why it took her a year and a half to get through 8th grade. So, we have worked together to plan a new schedule for next year. She will still have say in her schedule and will take over more control as she is ready, but she won't have full control.

Grammar: We used Easy Grammar Ultimate series this year. I knew she didn't love it, but figured not many people really love Grammar, so I wasn't concerned that it wasn't her fave. As long as there hadn't been tons of complaints about it, I didn't see any reason to change. Well, this year I got tons of complaints. I guess she finally got tired of it. This is slightly inconvenient, since I had already purchased the next level for next year. We will be changing programs, though. I don't know what we'll be using at first. I won't be getting the new program until I purchase for the next year, which will probably be in February. So, I need to find something to use prior to that showing up. When I purchase for Jay's next year, I will be getting Giggly Grammar for Dea.
Writing: She did two writing classes, through Universal Class, as the Writing portion of her English this year. This was okay. I don't feel the classes are especially challenging or thorough. However, they did have one aspect that was vastly more important this year, someone else grading her writing assignments. She gets seriously overemotional & takes any criticism from me as a personal offense.When someone else critiques her writing, she is fine & accepts whatever they say with grace. I would prefer a better Writing class, so next year she'll be doing one at Saylor.
Spelling/Vocab: We didn't do anything formal for these this year. In fact, we tend to go back & forth between formal study & life for these. Next year, we'll be putting a little more focus on Vocab. I think it will mainly be through games, and continuing to look up unknown words when she comes across them, of course. For Spelling, we are going to start working through All About Spelling, but only reading the lessons together & reviewing with the cards. I think she needs a little refresher on Spelling rules, and AAS will giver her that.
Literature: She typically loves Mythology, which was the theme of our Literature selections this year. So, I thought she'd enjoy the choices. However, she really did not enjoy reading The Iliad, The Odyssey, or The Lord of the Rings. I don't know if this was her natural dislike for anything she is being required to read or if she just legitimately didn't enjoy the books. She helped to pick out the books for next year, so hopefully there will be no issues.

Math: This year, she used the book my sister had from the Algebra course she took for college. That worked fine for her, though we haven't had a lot of luck with textbooks in the past. For Geometry next year, we're sticking with the more traditional textbook approach, which will hopefully continue to work. Maybe she has finally gotten past the desire for her Math to be fun and is finally more appreciative of thorough & understandable.

Science: She had planned to do both Anatomy & Physiology and Intro to Psych this year. However, she never even got started on Psych. So, we're moving that to next year. She hasn't been doing well with the A&P. In fact, I told her it was not going on her transcript because of the total lack of effort she has displayed & the lack of work she has to show. So, she has decided to take an A&P class on Universal Class instead of finishing the planned course. If she finishes before we start up again in January & finishes with an 80% or higher, I'll put it on her transcript. I think the problem was mainly that she was expecting it to be a lot more fun.

History: I think the main problem here was the schedule. If she had been forced to stick to a strict schedule, I think she would have done better work. Luckily, that will be changing next year.

Latin: She has, again, started Oxford Latin. I don't think there is anything wrong with the program, and I don't think it is a bad fit for her. I think her only problem is that she did not specifically choose Latin as a language she wanted to learn, so she does her best to not learn it. There really isn't anything we can do to fix this, unless I let her drop Latin. I really want her to study Latin, though.

Well, that's really all that she was supposed to do this year. I think the most important thing is for us to take care of the scheduling problems.

Okay, now onto the eval for Jay's school year. He still has a few months left to his 3rd grade year.

Math: Mastering Mathematics has worked for him for years, and this year has been no exception. Of course, he'll be done with it before we take our Christmas break, which means I need to find something to fill the gap.
I was pretty sure he'd like LOF. It moves fast. It doesn't waste time on massive amounts of review & repetition. It's fun. I figured he enjoy it. Luckily, I was right. He has done quite well with LOF this year. As with Mastering Mathematics, it will be done before our Christmas break, so I need to find something to fill the gap for it also.
The Key to series has worked great for measurement & metric. He will continue with these books until he has finished them, which won't be before Christmas break.
He had asked for more story problems, which was why I bought the Tall-Tale Math books. He isn't really enjoying them, though. The first section is review & has no actual story problems. The rest of the books, while there are some story problems, aren't really interesting to him. He had taken a break from them a little while ago. I thought about having him do more from them after Christmas break, to help fill the gaping hole finishing 2 programs will leave. I might do that, but am still unsure.

Language Arts:
Writing: We've been using the Check the Deck series, and he really enjoys it. I like that it is thorough and incremental. It is a program we will definitely continue with. Unfortunately, we'll be taking a break from it for 4th, due to budget cuts.
Spelling: He has been really enjoying using AAS. We will definitely continue with it.
Grammar: He has been using Easy Grammar. He seems to enjoy it, and we will not be making any changes to Grammar after the break.

Latin: He is still enjoying Latin for Children, and we will not be making any changes here, either.

ASL: He has finished all the Signing Time DVDs, as well as a few others we found at the library. I hope to continue using DVDs we find at the library to finish out this year.

Logic: He has enjoyed all the logic books we've been using this year. We'll continue using them to finish off the year. The Logic Safari book was too easy for him, but we will still be getting the next one anyway. He really enjoys the Logic Safari books, and since we only have one more, I figure it won't hurt to let him finish the series.

Muisc: He is still practicing drums & NAF, though not as often as I'd like. He hasn't yet started the music theory program. I will likely have him wait until next year to start that.

Art: He has been enjoying his Art this year. He likes all the materials I got for art work, and enjoys studying works of art. I see no reason to change how we are doing this.

Geography: He has been doing fine with Map Corner. Though, we haven't been very good about doing a state study. We need to work harder at doing the state study, or we'll never get done.

Science: There have been no problems here. He still loves the semi-formal, hands-on, fun way we do Science. There will be no changes to this after the break.

History: Again, there are no changes to make here. He truly enjoys the way we do History, and has enjoyed the subject matter greatly.

So, that's more or less what I've been thinking. There are only minor changes to Jay's schooling that need to take place to finish off this year. For the most part, everything we're doing & using has been a success.