This week we have really got back to how things should be and how, with a bit of luck and management, they should be from now on.
One good thing about the week is that our new student has started with us (we seem to be a sort of long running emergency family placement for the college now and this is good as a rule); she seems to be a particularly excellent one and the signs are very positive. She’s BTEC, about to go to uni, very organised and easy to be around and she fitted right in. Also, since she’s done all the settings she needs to and just has to build up hours now, she’ll be staying with us till the summer which is also absolutely ideal.
So on Wednesday she got used to us all and helped with the Charlotte’s Web model. This is something we started last year and we read almost to the end but didn’t manage the last 2 sad chapters (my fault, i knew i’d cry and kept putting it off!) However i bought a Read and Respond book on it the other day, which is reasonably good if not earth shattering, but it did inspire me to try and do some extra work around it. As i was caught on the hop a bit (i only found out we were getting S the day before) i thought a good way to start would be to see what they remembered and do something creative. We got them to think about the characters and which ones were major or minor characters and which fell into animal or human groups and then think about a scene they felt would illustrate the book best. Of course, they chose the barn scene and we had a great time working on it. I think they all surprised themselves with how well they did and during the course of it, they talked a lot about the story and could remember plenty. We are planning on making S’s days ones where we do things around the book for the next few weeks.
(Excuse all this, i need to write an LEA report, so am doing a brain dump!)
Max has worked several mornings this week, which may well be a way forward from now on. It means i can get the girls through normals in a finite amount of time and that has really worked. We’ve had a hugely productive week in terms of maths/reading/writing and everyone seems to have actually enjoyed it a lot too, which is excellent. Thursday morning Amelie worked pretty much exclusively with S, which was the point where i knew she’d definitely be good as she was more than capable of keeping her focused. She’s done a few placements in schools, so i was very gratified to discover that she thought the girls maths was pretty fantastic. She and i kind of stared at each other when we realised how quickly Fran had added something up to 188 (correctly) in her head, given it was a sum with 5 numbers in it. Maybe nothing special exactly, but i love seeing it as i know i couldn’t have done it at 9 – in fact, i am not sure i could do it now, i had to write it out to check her!
So Fran has done the data section in 4A (she really likes data, it’s very sweet), revised long multiplication and i’ve taught her to add factions and change them into ones with a common denominator. She’s also covered simplification again and seems to have a total handle on it too. We’ve worked fairly hard recently on the idea of reversing a sum to find an answer and evaluating what info exists in order to work out what answer is needed. It seems to be paying off because she’s got very quick at spotting what number links two denominators. It makes me so proud to see her so confident at it, when it was all such a massive issue for me.
Maddy has been working through 2B at top speed. She’s leaned her 2,3,4,5 and 10 times table and is getting quicker at using them. She loves the methodical nature of working through a book and is thriving on it. In the later half of the week she tackled the fractions section, ordering them, finding greater and smaller and some addition. Easy stuff for her really but enough to keep her going. To some extent, she still requires the practise of reading the questions (mind you, Fran can read them perfectly but just often doesn’t seem to think it worth doing!) so plodding through is no bad thing. Maddy is struggling with getting easily upset at the moment, lots of little things are proving sobbing and hiding, so stretching her isn’t a particularly good idea.
Amelie is pretty simple to keep going. 1B is nearly finished, she is adding and subtracting up to 50 (probably further, but the book doesn’t do it) faultlessly and has figured out the rudiments of times tables too. She likes using Education City, which we started up again this week and came back very quickly with 5×3 is 15 today; apparently she knew it because 3 lots of 5p is the easiest way to pay Stig 15p. I love seeing maths crossing over like that. Tis good.
In an effort to come up with a slightly more interesting set of reading/writing things this week i came up with this. Fran and Maddy did a spelling test (from the ones i linked to before)Â and then picked 10 of the words to weave into a story, which they dictated to me, for ease of speed really!) Then i got them to think about finding the 6 most salient points of their story and draw a picture, with a simple line description for each one. They only did 2 pics a day and had to really work on making them their best work – the results have been good and we completed it, which felt great. Friday morning we redid the spelling tests and they both did fine. Amelie did a similar exercise with S, using words from a recognition type book and her story was fab, very inventive!
We’ve also done some “Stories from round the World” and Fran has been reading a history of Britain. Maddy and Amelie read stuff that appeals to them off the shelves; Maddy is so nearly reading for pleasure now, she is certainly fine with some stuff, but she just won’t quite make the leap.
Best bits of the week have probably been the car-ed, talk-ed bits though. The big two and i had an amazing discussion on the way home the other night. It started with the moon, which was one of those huge and orange ones and then Fran said she had heard there were people going to go to the moon again. This led to talking about whether we had ever actually been at all (i’m a non-believer really, i just can’t see how we went in the 1960’s and managed to land, relaunch a rocket, reconnect and get back home when we were still only just getting used to having fridges!). So we talked about conspiracy theories, which led to talking about the politics of why the Americans might have wanted to make people think they had gone, which led to talk of propaganda, to talk of Cuba and Communism, to talk of Iraq and the WMD scandal, to talk of spin and news twisting and thinking about who is telling the news and what they want you to think. We covered everything from WW1 Punch cartoons to thinking about the different audience of Newsround, BBC news her and around the world and news stations from other places in the world with dictatorships. We also talked about societies where you couldn’t get news from outside your own country and touched on the Cold War and Iron Curtain. It was great.
We’ve also had some great dinner talks on history of various sorts. I’ve just finished Anya Seaton’s Green Darkness and am now reading Alison Weir’s Innocent Traitor, which is about Lady Jane Grey. They’ve obviously seen me reading and have been asking, so we’ve discussed Protector reigns, treachery, secret agendas, heresy, religions etc etc.
Max spent yesterday pm with the big 2, working on a measuring project. They’ve come up with a big table of types of measurement, how they are measured and the units and tools for measurement. All seemed very good and they’d obviously enjoyed it. They happened upon a protractor too and so did a bit of geometry and angle stuff.