Week 19 – Getting back to it

This has been a week of ups and downs.  I was on my way to a fun, craft swap when the Columbia Mall shooting occurred.  It put a damper on an otherwise bright spot.  I have not discussed it with my kids yet.  When Sandy Hook happened, I made sure to talk to L before he played with any of his friends because I assumed they would know and he’d hear about it.  Since then, I’ve learned he and his friends don’t really talk, so maybe not.  Still he is likely to hear, and I really ought to say something.

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Otherwise L has had a good academic week.  We’ve continued our Rats of NIMH unit and the coordinating Simple Machines unit.  It’s becoming more and more obvious how the two connect.  L was very excited to do actual experiments this week!  Unfortunately we had a spectacular failure.

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This was the experiment sheet showing how to set up the ramps.

My first hint of a problem was reading through another experiment the text mentions something about unfolding the inclined plane to make a longer one. Well, the inclined plane that came with my kit isn’t unfold-able. It’s just two pieces of 25cm particle board.

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This is what I received in my kit for this experiment.

Well, we went ahead and tried anyway. For the first part of the “It’s Just Plane Easy” experiment we just used one piece of the board. When I went to double-check our work, I noticed that the amount of force we measured was different than the answer key. The key said .55N for the first set, and we got .7. Our spring scale wouldn’t accurately measure to the 2nd decimal place, so I’m not sure if it’s just that we have a different scale than the writers used to test the experiment or if our technique was off.  I figured it was close enough, and went on.

When it came time to do the second half with the long ramp, I tried taping the pieces together with clear packing tape, but it was not straight and had a tendency to give in the middle. And then when we tried to measure the force, it was only slightly smaller than the first part of the experiment [.5 or .6 instead of .7]. There was no way we were going to show that the amount of work was the same since the force needed wasn’t half.

I double-checked that our height at the tall end was 10cm for both. I tried holding the spring scale at a different angle to see if that made a difference.  After talking with several other people, we tried the experiment again with just the 25cm board, but at 5cm and 10cm heights.  But the force needed still wasn’t anywhere close to the key, and the 5cm ramp didn’t require half the force of the 10cm [at least as measured by our scale].   At one point, we even tried using a different ramp. I’m stumped.  L seems to understand what was supposed to happen, so we just went on.

As these units are less intensive than the Civil War units we did before [these are aged 8-10, the others were 10-12], I’m finding time to fit in other things.  This week we did a lie-lay worksheet, and we continued working in Paragraph Town.  We are almost done with it.  It’s getting into other considerations like theme words to tie an essay together and formal diction.  For the latter, they use the example of a lot vs. many.  I wanted to add avoiding “very” and instead using more complex vocabulary.  Robin Williams had a nice little speech about that in “Dead Poets’ Society”, but I can’t seem to find that clip anywhere on-line.  Just stills with the text overlain, or at best GIFs.  Harumph!  L wasn’t impressed.  He says he hates “fancy words”.  Well, we’ll see how it plays out in an actual assignment next week.

I realized today that L is about to finish Beast Academy 3D!  We’ve been working through these books slower than many probably do.  L can’t handle doing more than 2-3 pages in the practice book at a time, depending on how dense and/or complex they are.  So here it is almost halfway through his “4th grade year” and we’re just finishing up the 3rd grade level.  But it is a very complex curriculum, so I don’t truly feel behind.  BUT, I don’t have 4A yet!  Ack!  I quickly placed an order, but it could take 2-3 weeks to arrive.  They usually don’t, but…  Hmmm…  Well, we have at least one more week in 3D left; we’ll see how long that takes us.

On Thursday, we were supposed to participate in our co-op’s Winter Showcase.  C was going to be in a little puppet show, L was going to display some art, and I was going to dance with my other belly-dancers.  Unfortunately [?], there was no heat in the building, which is cold on the best of days, so Showcase was cancelled.  That left Thursday free to do nothing.  T had taken the day off to make up for MLK Day which he worked, but it was so cold none of us really wanted to do anything.

C has been enjoying his preschool class.  He was excited both days to go to Lunch Bunch, and looked forward to his Spanish class today.  He earned two stickers today for demonstrating that he’d practiced his songs this week.

Wednesday he was trying to name a custom level he’d created on his iPad game, Gravity, and suddenly I saw he’d done this:

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In case you’re not used to reading “invented spelling”, this says ghost.  What’s really notable about this [for a 4 year old with little experience writing] is that he included the vowel and got both elements in the consonant blend.  This is not small matter; I had kindergartners who couldn’t do this in June.  He has a great phonemic awareness, and is very strong in phonics.  Since I don’t work with him nearly as much as I’d like, I have to give credit to two apps:  the Logic of English phonogram app, and their Doodling Dragons app.  We have done some work in their Foundations A text, but really, not that much.  He has the ability to learn to read, but not always the motivation, and I refuse to push him.  Childhood is a journey, not a race [who said that?!].  He’ll learn to read; he doesn’t have to do it now.

But sometimes I worry that preschool is a waste of time for him.  The other day they practiced counting objects 1-5.  He’s been able to do that since before he started there a year and a half ago.  But, he enjoys his teachers and his friends and the projects even if sometimes the academic objectives are not the most appropriate.  For now, it will stay.  What we do in the fall is still up in the air.

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