Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Learning Notes Slacker Edition

Although this blog found its beginnings largely in an envious desire to participate in Melanie's Learning Notes link-ups, I have fallen off the wagon.  Most of this lapse can be attributed to our more hectic schedule due to the burgeoning real estate career. Mealtime chats have revolved around establishing tomorrow's schedule and discussing the day's work events. As a result, the children have not been as involved in the conversation as much as I might like. They find discussing the number of successful client phone calls boring. The nerve! It also means that the discussions about school and subjects and little side tangents of related topics have also fallen to sadly low levels so there isn't a whole lot to report. It is a side effect of relinquishing the majority of their academics to the school system. When things get hectic at home, they carry on, but I don't know much about it. It shifts us into separate spheres which I do not like. But, you know, transitions.

The other half of the problem is two-fold. First, when conversations of enlightenment happen, I forget what we were talking about and how we got there. Even if I were to try to relay it back, it is an incoherent mess in my mind except for that killer line which has no set up. I have complained bitterly to Dave about this problem. He has suggested that I take notes at supper. He is only halfway joking. Secondly, I have fallen out of the habit of typing out what I do remember. My previous routine was to take ten or fifteen minutes at work to write about yesterday. It seems with the stop again, start again nature of our nonbusiness conversation, I don't always remember to write it up while it is fresh and then it is gone, gone, gone. Or I only have time to do one thing, either the learning notes or the post that is eating at me and I have been choosing my own instead the children.

We have, however, had a solid development. After the general advice from this post about homeschooling was to start exploring options now instead of waiting until the stars align, I signed up both girls for Khan Academy to work on their math. Wow, do they love it?! They are both math lovers to start with, but I never thought they would take to this program in the way that they have. They beg to be allowed to work at it. They argue over whose turn it is and who gets more time. They love unlocking new avatars and backgrounds. They strive for the green check marks and the rewarding little songs when they get correct answers and complete sections. They watch their percentage number creep upwards and lament if it isn't moving quickly enough. When they struggle, we have impromptu math lessons. I feel all mothery. It's fabulous.

There are a few pitfalls we have discovered. They definitely need a time limit to keep fresh. They will work and work and work and surpass any ability to think. Olivia spent over an hour clicking away the other day in a session that ended with her screaming at the computer. I'm not sure where she learned to scream at a computer. I think 30-45 minutes at a time is plenty long enough. They will see progress but not become counterproductive. We will have to learn to set the timer.

Olivia was upset about her percentage not advancing as quickly as Grace's so I had to explain that Grace's lessons cover one year of fourth grade math, but her lessons cover Kindergarten, first, and second grade which is three whole years. She was okay with this explanation, but she is definitely competing to keep up with Grace.

The first major hiccup was last night when I went upstairs to find that Olivia's completion percentage jumped 25 points in about twenty minutes worth of work. Of course, Grace was "helping." I have no idea what Olivia actually did and what Grace did for her. I can only hope in the algorithm to double check mastery and return to previous subjects when necessary. We had a talk about how important it was to do your own work because it only hurts the other person. They weren't intentionally trying to game the system; it's only they are not quite clear on the difference between real help and "help."

The most endearing thing about this new program is that Olivia calls it K-H-A-N. Not Khan, but she spells it out every time. When she is angry, when she is begging, when she is happy, any time she mentions this program, she calls it K-H-A-N. I am not exactly sure why except that when I first showed it to her, I spelled it out and showed her how to google search it and click over to the page to log-in. I thought about correcting her, but I decided I liked it too much.

So that's what is going on educationally around here. Not much and a bunch.

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