Sunday, November 2, 2014

Second Month of 7th & 9th Grades

We spent the first half of October traveling around Costa Rica.  The girls learned a lot about the geography of Costa Rica.  They saw the differences in culture and lifestyle.  They learned about animals and volcanoes.  They had experiences that, in my opinion, were priceless and worth more than anything they could ever learn in a book.  My girls saw monkeys and sloths and anteaters in trees, they hiked through rainforests and cloud forests and learned about the plants and animals.  They held red-eyed tree frogs and baby monkeys.  They conversed with people who speak no English.  They became comfortable speaking Spanish.  They learned to get their point across even if they didn't know the right words.  They faced fears ziplining over jungle.  They experienced the meditative-ness of snorkeling for hours and got sunburned on their backs because they got so lost in the world of the reef that they didn't realize they were in the water for so long.  They tried different foods and learned about different customs.  They saw the difference in Costa Rican farms from American farms.  They saw poverty firsthand.  They experienced what it was like to be swindled.  They understood why it is said that we are lucky to be American.

Piper kept a journal on her ipad while we were in Costa Rica, often writing as we drove, so she has a wonderful keepsake filled with descriptions and transcribed conversations from our trip.  When we got home, both girls completed a project describing our trip and what they learned and the experiences they had.  I have printed these out and put them away with other mementos that I have kept from different things they have done, like dance recital and Children's Choir concert playbills.

After taking the summer off, I was SO motivated in September to start school and we got in a great rhythm and we have been having a very difficult time getting it back.  For that reason, I have decided that from now on we will go on vacation over the summer.

We had a REALLY hard time getting back on track after vacation.  In fact, it took two weeks to get back in the groove.  Part of that was that we were looking at and considering buying a house on 6 acres which meant we had to also get our house ready to put on the market.  Although it was disappointing to find out that house had a toxic mold issue in the basement, it was also a relief to get not worry about touching up paint and deep cleaning and putting up a banister on the basement stairs.  It allowed us to get back in the swing with school and my girls deserve that.

While I was busy spackling and painting and touching up grout and caulk, the girls each worked through another chapter in Teaching Textbooks, they worked through several exercises each in Editor in Chief and Reading Detective.  They did the experiments and worked through American Chemical Society Chemistry for Middle School Chapter 2.  They read When I Dream of Heaven and we met with my mom (who also read the book) to discuss it.

The girls also volunteered at the library.  I am running a Destination Imagination Instant Challenge program for 8-10 year olds this fall and Piper and Allie each have a group of kids they work with.  We change the groups each week, but they have learned how to motivate kids who don't participate or do their part and how to work with kids who have too much energy to sit still and focus and how to inspire kids who just hold a paper clip and stare off into space.  It has been a great learning and growing experience for them.

Not much textbook learning got done this month, but contrary to what the Common Core might state, I think the learning that happened this month was priceless.  My girls learned things you can not learn in a textbook.  Many of the most valuable lessons of life can't be taught, they must be experienced.