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The Homeschool Mother's Journal - 19

In my life this week...
Funeral for a friend, and then I had to stop crying. Getting back into homeschooling helped in that process. Even though I'm not drinking (Dry July), I kinda felt like I had a hangover all week - sore throat, tired. But I finally picked up my act and did some swimming laps yesterday. Oh, and it would seem National Parks don't appreciate my talents as much as you do, because I have yet to hear from them :-(

In our homeschool this week...
We actually did some homeschooling! Term 3 started this week (we follow the Australian school terms) and "theme" is rainforests/interconnections.

But first, we had to finish off last term's Energy lapbooks

We got Life of Fred Pre-Algebra + Biology during the holidays and both kids have read that. We are naughty, naughty homeschoolers who don't follow the instructions, didn't do the "It's Your Turn" or "Bridge" exercises and just read the story! He, he, he. What rebels!

We started on algebra - in Australia there are number patterns (the precursor to algebra) all through the syllabus and indeed algebra threads its way through all the high school years instead of being a "separate" maths course. But this week we started on "rules" and using pronumerals for inputs and outputs and expressing rules in pronumerals.

Do you remember Winnie from the Wonder Years??? I got Wombat Girl (who is our maths nut) Hot X - Algebra Exposed which is written by Danica McKellar who played Winnie, but also has a maths degree and is an advocate for maths education. Well, Wombat Girl loves it and we have had several interesting dinner table conversations about the slope-intercept form of linear equations and factorisation.

We started on the rainforests topic by researching all those "ecology" terms - biosphere, biogeographical region, biome, habitat and niche. We then coloured in all the places in the world that have rainforests in them on a map and also complete a climograph template on Excel.

PS: don't you just love the "Pink Hat of Power" as it's
affectionately known in our house?
We are trying to finish Anne of Green Gables, before we move onto a whole heap of rainforest books and the audio-book of Tom Sawyer that my friend Jane sent.

I am inspired by...
The Geekling Herder and her blog The Learning Experiment. This week she talked about Raising Critical Thinkers and problem based learning and shared this video of Dan Meyer, who wants to change the way we teach maths (or "math" as Americans like to refer to mathematics as). The take-home message is that the way maths textbooks (and probably most maths homeschool curriculum) are structured, takes all of the interest and curiousity out of maths.

So I am inspired to find (new) ways to make maths challenging and relevant in our homeschool, rather than just learning formulas and finding the stuff to input in them.

Places we're going and people we're seeing...
Before the funeral, we met our family on my husband's side at the park for a "birthday" catch up. It was cold, but we enjoyed chocolate cupcakes and strawberries (I'm sure there was other food too) and each other's company. Grandma LOVES getting to see them and catch up with all our news and she is very supportive of us homeschooling (aren't we lucky ducks?).

err...that's me on the right!

We also braved the cooler weather and went swimming! Don't panic, we have an indoor Leisure Centre (sounds so much more Big Time if you put it in capitals) where the water is heated to a lovely 27 degrees (celcius).  

It was time for Video Boy to head to the dentist - he has teeth falling out all over the place! The good news is no decay, the bad news is he has "chalky" teeth and will need sealant to make sure they stay OK.

What's working/not working for us...
Forcing the kids to do worksheets and formulaic maths - it results in tears and much fridge-visiting by Video Boy. I might have to start getting "creative" a la Dan Meyer.

I'm reading...
Re-reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (have you seen the movie yet? LOVED it!!) and started on Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr - from wizards to faeries (the real world is over-rated).

I'm cooking...
Slow cooking...after-school tutoring meant that dinner is a rush (or takeaway) so I got the slow cooker out of the shed (we have a tiny kitchen) and came home to the smell of a beautiful chicken korma. Cous cous coated salmon had our Omega 3 intake for the week bumped up.

I'm grateful for...
Coming home to my beautiful children and being able to hug them and kiss them and tell them how much I love them.

A photo, video or link to share...
While I'm on my maths rant, we LOVE Arthur Benjamin's "Joy of Math" series from Great Courses/Teaching Company. So I'm sharing another TED video (loving TED too):


  1. We're so excited that you linked to us!! Thanks! Aren't those "maths" videos awesome?!?! It totally changed how I viewed teaching mathematics (why do we Americans say math yet pluralize mathematics?). I'm hoping the Geekling will see some of the videos and want to create his own. If you're on Facebook or Google+ (can send an invite if you'd like) my name is Stephanie Marushia, I've so enjoyed your blog I know we would be fast friends! :) Thanks again for the post, you made my day!

  2. Don't worry, Ingi, if it's any consolation to you, I don't think the ABS appreciates my 'talents' either (I missed out on two jobs with them and haven't heard any news on the other job application I had with them also). The story of my life (because it is alot harder for me to find 'better' jobs with a career path, than it is for other people :/)

  3. Hi, I have a Gifted underacheiver... any tips? And .. did I add? A TEENAGER... UGH. :(

  4. Mmm Green Girl - I don't mean to give the impression that we are doing marvellously or I have all the answers! I'm still working through things - some days are better than others.

    I do have a stack of books about gifted underachievement, but my thoughts about it at the moment are these:

    * Is there something "else" going on? Dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD, autism spectrum - these are all going to impact on a gifted kids ability to "achieve".

    * Focus on the positive - the giftedness needs feeding! Kid loves quantum physics? Read and watch as much as you can. Kid loves maths? Forge ahead! Kid loves doing writing stories? Create, read and write (together!).

    * Carefully support the negatives - limit handwriting, support executive functioning (use scaffolds, reminders etc), don't expect huge volumes of written work, discuss, argue and have conversations about important things.

    * Spend some time together doing fun stuff that they like (video games, board games, walking, reading).

    That's just my take on it. They may never be "top of the class" but they will be learning at their level and happy. They have to be two good things!


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