August 12, 2013

Twin School: 7th Grade

These girlies just turned 12-years-old this summer and will begin 7th grade work. I'm not sure where the time has gone. They were 2-years-old when we moved into our house so they've spent 10 years loving the natural surroundings and entertaining us the way only twins can.

Over this past decade, as their personalities have developed, I've concluded that they are do-ers. Not readers--heaven help them if they have to stop long enough to pick up and read a book--but kids who DO. So this year I plan on making learning easier for them and teaching simpler for me by filling their year with no-fuss projects and activities that let all of us thrive.

Don't get me wrong, they will have to read. And they need to continue to develop their writing abilities (which equates to torture because they are auditory learners and must talk.about.every.thing.) But reading and writing become bearable if they get to DO something, too. The plan is for every unit study to be heavy on a Read / Write / DO process.

For language arts (which includes literature and composition) I pulled out my trusty Beyond Five in a Row manuals. Over the past few years we've covered most of the first two volumes, so this year we're mainly focused on volume 3. We started the year with a study of The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright.

It's full of fine art activities, as well as history and science it's practically perfect for the girls. The will keep a notebook of all of their projects and writings. I'll post more on that later. 

As for math, we are using Oak Meadow's 7th grade math and making our own math journals. I wanted to be easy this year so that we could focus on writing and research skills. Journaling our way through general math also shores up any gaps that they have due to past frustrations of doing math.

They will colorfully write out the lesson and then complete the skill sets in pencil. I also have a math journal that I write in while I teach the lesson. This way they can see how I would present the information. They can choose to copy my way or format it their way...either way they are learning notetaking skills. I'll post more pictures of their journals as our year unfolds.

Executive function skills are also a focus. In their math journals they will keep a running table of contents so that they can quickly locate any lessons they need to review. They are also keeping an assignment planner. Every morning we have a Morning Meeting where we go over everything that I expect from them that day. They update me on what they have done or how their reading is going. We touch on due dates for school subjects, chores, extracurriculers (twirling, piano or violin) and family field trips. They have to write it all down! Then we break it down in manageable parts by discussing what they should do each day to make sure they are prepared for the final due date.

Bonus: This planner that they write in doubles as my record of assigned work for the year!

We also utilize lots of technology. I keep many files in Evernote and email assignments or websites to the girls as necessary. Since I work outside the home in the afternoons, they will email me their writings or pictures of their on-going projects so that I can give them immediate feedback. That way they don't get distracted or lose interest while waiting on me to comment, encourage or redirect when I get home in the evenings.

We're two weeks into our year and I can tell a huge difference in these girls over last year. By focusing on unit studies of interests and keeping the love of learning alive through projects, these girls--and me!--are excited again about getting back to academics!

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