Tuesday, August 17, 2010

First Day of School 2010

Yesterday was the first day of school and I'm exhausted. It has nothing to do with school or Pamela. For the past ten nights, I have had to be somewhere and the one night "off" I stayed up late to wait for David to come home from hanging out with friends. Tomorrow night will be my last night out!

On top of that, technology is wasting every precious drop of time. The new HP printer came with two official HP cartridges (black and color). After only a quarter of the black ink was gone, the printer gave me cartridge errors because the cartridge was clearly an inferior non-HP product. The problem was it WAS an HP cartridge! The printer must be conspiring against me because Sunday night, when I needed to print just a couple of pages for the first day of school, the color cartridge went on strike and it was only half full!!! ARRRRRRRRRG! Both times I tore into the HP techies, and I must be gracious: they sent replacement deluxe cartridges the very next day.

But, wait! There's more!

My laptop, which is near the end of its warranty, needs a big time overhaul. The sound died when the jack broke three months ago. The left shift key is sticking. The plug in the back is loose so it no longer charges the battery. About six months ago, the DVD burner stopped working but oddly enough the CD burner still worked. That is, until the CD ROM died two weeks ago. Unlike Steve, I did not back-up over my laptop and, except for the cracked screen on his, mine is far more useless. To prepare for going without my trusty friend for a few weeks, I have been trying to find a way to edit my RDI videos on my desktop. I have been staying up until the wee hours of the morning searching for a cheat to make it work. I guess I'll resign my commission as household geekmeister.

And who is the genius who said, "Yes" to meals on wheels on Monday as well as teeth-cleanings booked six months ago for David and I plus signed up to cook the meal for Bible study on Wednesday night. But, I digress! (Oh, I rebooked the dental visits but my conscience prevented me from rolling out the others. I think I need to have "just say no" tattooed to the palm of my hand . . .)

Click on any pictures to see a larger version! Now, I can turn in my geek badge until I redeem myself.

Pamela loves mathematics like her momma and daddy, so she requested that subject first thing. She needed some careful scaffolding in managing to draw with the t-square and 30-60 triangle. However, she picked up on the concepts once we worked with the ruler and t-square to illustrate the difference between parallel lines and an intersection. The author gave concrete examples based on roads, something very familiar to Pamela, who completed the lesson in only thirty-five minutes. Since she loves art, learning to use graphic design tools is a major plus with RightStart.

One thing we did too little of in years past was drawing, especially because it is one of Pamela's strengths. The scenes best suited for drawing is an exciting scene, book of centuries, maps, diagrams, architecture, science beyond nature study, etc. This year we remedied that issue on day one! Pamela draw a birchbark house for a book by that same name as well as a thatched house for the architecture reading on Friday when she will also draw a log cabin for contrast. Here are two drawings and short notes for Pamela's book of centuries based on what we read about presidents (on the second day of school, Pamela made an interesting comparison, "The king wears a crown, but the President wears a suit"):

Pamela cut out the pattern and one piece for her pincushion. When I noticed that the cardstock circle turned out disastrous, I heavily scaffolded her with cutting a felt rectangle and decided to cut out the flowers and circles for her. Recognizing when to step in with handwork and let her work independently will enable Pamela to feel proud of her work. To teach her a new sewing skill, she is going to sew a button to the flower for its center directly onto the top of the pincushion rather than glue it.

The part of our curriculum most altered is science. I plan to rotate through different topics during the week and spend more time doing and drawing rather than reading. Today, we created a spreadsheet for Pamela to learn Excel and make calculations for what we need for gardening (and, with my black thumb, I pray the book is Tammy-proof). We did a real- fast weather experiment and started our weekly weather observation chart. For nature study, we started observing and experimenting with pears from our tree in the backyard, adapting the apple tree study from the Comstock book to suit our purposes.
You may be wondering how we fit meals on wheels into our busy schedule. Thinking on last year, I realized how much car time interrupted school for one reason or another. For every week this year, I plan to make an audio disk that holds everything we need from store-bought Spanish stories to homegrown ones, from classical music to folk songs and hymns, and even a few librivox books. We knocked out twenty-five minutes of schoolwork in the car including reciting the version of "The Lord's Prayer" that our church uses! At home, having everything on one disk means I can pop it into a CD player and take advantage of the remote commander rather than having to get up and change disks six times to get through all of our recorded stuff.

Before our walk, we worked on the section in geography on relative directions (left, right, back, and front), which change depending upon your position. I adapted it to sitting in the kitchen and moving to a different side of the table. This activity dovetailed nicely with working on the changing perspective objective in RDI, which we are doing without much film to show for it because of my cranky, soon-to-be-shipped-off laptop. As God would have it, this week has several opportunities. Pamela cracked up at how different the colonies looked in 1783 because the colonists were fairly clueless about geography past the Appalachian Mountains (time). Later in the week we will draw the top and bottom of the pear and will see how to make vertical lines horizontal (and vice versa) by turning the page ninety degrees (orientation of an object).

We ended the day on a high for both of us. We took a half-hour walk and, when we hit the streets, I remarked with an air of mystery, "We are going on a Swamp Fox hunt." Our county, proud of its connection to Francis Marion, has sponsored murals in our city and several others that depict scenes from his life and from the Revolutionary War. Three are just around the corner from our house. Pamela especially loved searching for the animals hiding in the swamp among the cypress trees with their cypress knees (a Glaser inside joke)!

It is getting late and tomorrow I must be up early to make basghetti noodles and sauce for fifty people. I was going to include the narrations which I plan to record and type up every so often to get an impression of Pamela's thinking and language development. That will have to wait until tomorrow!


Happy Elf Mom (Christine) said...

Hope you have a restful night and a great school year! :)

Steve said...

Impressive work....Pamela's progress is evident.

Nancy Kelly said...

Thank you for this colorful description! It was fun to see many of the books we are using in our school.

Phyllis said...

Wow, that is a lot of work! Pat yourselves on the back.

walking said...

Thanks everyone! It looks like more work than it really is. Some things come very easily to Pamela and some subjects are pure pleasure. Other things are challenging, but worth pursuing. The surprises along the way keeps us going.

I did put a lot of planning into it to make sure our days hummed along smoothly!