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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Crash course in science

28 May 2010 - Since taking the assessments JD and I have been taking it easy. The only school related things we did today were history and science. JD was held up in my room since his invasion at 12:53am after his night terror episode. He slept in my bed last night and I FINALLY moved out to the couch at 2:15am because he moved and kicked so much.

I was tired in the morning and let him hang out in my room watching the history channel. While I gardened and perfected the edges of our lawn. Then I came in a took a much needed nap.

I covered the “history” portion, but not the science. Later in the evening while sitting near my the flower garden I heard a very LOUD frog. While on the hunt to see this frog I noticed a mid-sized ecosystem happening in our very small pond. There were TONS of tadpoles!

Sometimes as parents we make mistakes with our children. Sometimes we have control over those mistakes and sometimes they are out of our control. Here was one of those times I made a mistake that had a chain reaction of events.
Mistake #1 - Telling JD about the tad pole infestation (I mean ecosystem)
Mistake #2 - Not being there to monitor his every step (and apparently his every thought)
Mistake #3 - Staying inside to do the dinner dishes while JD “played” outside.

Do I have your curiosity yet? WHAT HAD HAPPENED WAS…JD thought it would be fun to….or I could give them more room if…or I don’t know what he was really thinking…but I saw him dipping a small vessel into the pond and walking away to take the unsuspecting tadpoles on an “adventure.” I’m saying out loud, more to myself really, “Now what his he up to?” (CODE RED!) To spare any misfortune to the tadpoles lives I quickly change into my “Super Mom” costume and rapped on the kitchen window and saying while dramatically motioning, “No! Put them back!” (Whew…averted a disaster of massive proportions.) Earlier before dinner and while watching him he was pulling them out with his hand and into the fresh air to “name them.” (and I’m thinking…REALLY! Because one of the questions on the assessment only two days ago was…What does a frog do in stage two that it does not do in stage four? Um…breath air through it gills! I quickly refreshed JD’s mind on how they breath!

I finished up the few remaining dishes I had and promptly went outside. I asked, “How many tadpoles are taking swimming lessons in our pool.” I can’t really explain the look on his face. Maybe it was the “I’m busted” look or more like a cartoon face that you can see the bubble of thinking over their heads and he was quickly scrambling for a lie. His response was, “Two.” I sadly reported to him, “Well, those two will die. Because they are swimming in chlorinated water.” He genuinely looked distressed. Earlier, when I told him to drop the tadpoles from the kitchen window he was forced to change his mission from tadpole Navy Seal training to hunting the elusive pool bug. So after a couple of seconds of silence over the loss of two tadpoles he jumped to the pool and asked me to help him catch the pool bug so he could show daddy. (Just for future reference…the pool bugs are called Water Boatmen.) I dipped the pool net into the pool to catch a Water Boatmen when I saw a very small black thing swimming. Good thing I still had on my Super Mom costume. This enabled me to rescue the still living tadpole and return it to its birthplace. One down…one to go…was my motto from that point on. I’m not sure how many gallons are in a 16 foot by 42 inch pool, but searching that pool was terribly difficult with all the other things floating around in it. The saying “Like finding a needle in a haystack’ comes to mind. I enlisted the help of the bystanders to assist in mission Tadpole Rescue. My team included Jeff who can spot a four leaf clover in 10 seconds and JD who was already waist deep in the pool. Just when we were going to abort the mission JD spotted the remaining tadpole. And yes, it was still alive. MISSION COMPLETE!

After a brief lesson about ecosystems and different water types and a lecture about how to treat God’s creature’s JD promised to leave the tadpoles alone. Did you know in T-84 days it will be like the frog plague in the bible, right here at our house.

Time to wash the Super Mom costume. After all summer is just beginning and I will surely need it again.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Just relaxed

The school days are dwindling down. We did not to a school related thing today except to photocopy the answer sheet and mail it back to the assessment company for scoring. They say it could take up to 12 weeks to get results. Gosh, I hope it doesn't take that long.

I tried to nap today, but my body wanted to Go, Go, Go! So I went outside in the 90* weather and mowed our lawn today in sections. And in between each section I floated around in our pool.

So today was good...tomorrow will be better.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The final day of assessments…day 3

The devotion today was about daring to be different. There was a dare devil named Daniel “Spider Man” Goodwin who enjoyed the thrill of scaling huge buildings. Why in the world would he do that? Some people enjoy notararity and fame. Sometimes they just dare to be different. As Christians we are expected to be different from the rest of the world. We’re expected to be different in the way we act toward others, but more specifically the way we show love to others.

We read two chapters from the book of Exodus. Chapter 13 was the dedication of the first born humans and animals to God. Then the Israelites started their long journey of following the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night all the way to the Promised Land. They camped where God told them to. Chapter 14 is where Pharaoh changed his mind yet again and went in hot pursuit to catch up to the Israelites. What do you know God saved his people by opening up the Red Sea and letting them safely cross. But when the Egyptians tried to cross the waters swallowed them up and killed all of them. Leaving their bodies to rest on the shores.

Today was the final day for assessments. (THANK GOODNESS…I wish those aliens would abduct me for a week.) It was a HIGHLY distractible day. Socks went on hands like mittens, lots of mouth noises, and tags were ripped out of shirts today. Now for what JD did…just kidding…that was all him. The break down of today’s assessments are as follows: There were only 84 minutes of assessments completed today. (It‘s the shortest day thus far.) It took 24 minutes for study skills, 30 for science, and 30 for social studies. We did study skills before lunch and did a science review and social studies review and both assessments after lunch.

The study skills assessment. These are questions asking the student to read and interpret different sources or types of information. Basically, it is to gauge a students “school street smarts.” It includes the following sources: table of contents, map and key, dictionary, graphs, outlines, library catalog cards, and schedules and posters. He did better on this than I thought he would. He only missed 2 out of 30 questions for a possible score of 93%.

The science assessment. This was basic 5th grade Science questions about landforms, weather, force & motion, ecosystems, and the solar system. To the best of my 5th grade science knowledge I recognized only 3 questions as incorrect out of 40 questions. So that leaves him with possible score of 92%.

The social studies assessment. This was basic 5th grade social studies questions about Native Americans, important documents, studying and interpreting crop charts, and other history type questions. Again, to the best of my 5th grade social studies knowledge I recognized 4 out of 40 questions as incorrect leaving JD with a possible score of around 90%.

Test 1 Vocabulary -4 of 40 = 90%
Test 2 Compreh. -4 of 50 = 92%
Test 3 Spelling -13 of 30 = 56%
Test 4 Lang Mech -5 of 36 = 86%
Test 5 Lang Express -4 of 48 = 91%
Test 6 Math comp. -1 of 44 = 97%
Test 7 Math concepts -3 of 50 = 94%
Test 8 Study skills -2 of 30 = 93%
Test 9 Science -3 of 40 = 92%
Test 10 Social Studies -4 of 40 = 90%

Missed 43 questions out of 408 for a composite score of 89.4% WOW! I know I have less hair than Monday…too bad only the gray ones didn’t fall out.

Now we start out relaxation time…school is not “officially” over until 7 June. That will be 180 days of school for this year. But I will still have him working on a few things next week. Things I noticed during the assessments. (Bummer I know.)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Day two of assessments

The devotion today was about Sarah Josepha Buell who wrote Mary’s Little Lamb. She was a self-taught teacher who lobbied for the establishment of Thanksgiving holiday on the last Thursday of November. Mary’s Little Lamb made its way into school books and is easily recalled verse for verse by millions of children and adults alike. That seemingly small poem has had a lasting impression around the world. The same can be said of a mustard seed. Jesus used it to illustrate how faith in God can make God’s kingdom grow.

Today was another “give me more of the bible day.” We read four chapters from the book of Exodus. Chapter 9 continued with the plagues against the livestock, the festering boils, and the hail storm. Chapter 10 was the plague of the locusts and the three days of darkness. Chapter 11 was the death of all the first born sons. Chapter 12 was the instructions for the first Passover and the exodus from Egypt.

Day two assessment breakdowns are as follows: There were 118 minutes of total testing done today (4 minutes longer than yesterday.) It took 36 minutes for language expression, 38 for math computation, and 44 for math concepts and application. We did language expression and math computation before lunch and math concepts and application after lunch.

The language expression assessment. He did very well on this assessment. He easily identified the errors in each of the sentences, selected sound topic sentences, and developed good paragraphs. However, he was distracted and polishing the table with his shirt in a rhythmic way. When he missed questions # 19 and 20, I stopped the assessment and told him to take a five minute break “to get that energy out.” I then asked, “Are you sure you took your pill this morning?” Yes he did. Even though he was “busy” he only missed 4 out of 48 questions leaving the final tentative score as a 91%. JD was

The math computation assessment. This was a simple assessment to see if the student could add, subtract, multiple, and divide. In public school 75% of the EOG is calculator active. Which means they can use their calculators. I assumed this assessment was the same. It did not say on the test page for JD that a calculator could not be used so I let JD use a calculator. But then about half way through the assessment I pick up the teachers instructions and saw “Do not use calculators.” (What!? Oh man now what?) I told JD what the instructions said. He was extremely upset and you would have thought I sacrificed his dog Tater right in front of him. It was a awfully slow process to get through the rest of the assessment. JD was highly distracted from the very beginning of the assessment. Instead of focusing on the correct answer to the first addition problem he pointed out that there was not an answer for the letter “I.“ One question offered choices “A, B, C, D, or E,” to the next question offering choices “F, G, H, J, K.” (Where’s “I”? Who would notice that but my son?) JD moved around so much during the math assessment I got dizzy. At one point he even turned backwards in his chair after finishing a question. I had to ask him to turn back around to start the next question. Throughout the assessment I was constantly reminding him to “focus and settle down.” There was even tapping and humming for my entertainment as well. Despite all the “distractions” …to the best of my 5th grade math education I saw that he only missed one question out of 44 for a final possible score of 97%. (And in the process I pulled out so many of my hairs…literally. I kept having to swipe them off my papers. Oh well that assessment portion is over.)

The Math Concepts & Application assessment. This was the portion of the math assessment with word problem type questions that may or may not require addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. He did well during this test, but it was still like trying to give an assessment to a kid jacked up on candy who just got of “the wildest roller coaster ride EVER!” The best I can tell he only missed 3 out of 50 questions for a possible score of 94%.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Day one of assessments

The devotion today was about “A Penny Saved” is a penny earned. Trivia time…did you know that 300 billion one-cent coins with 11 different designs, have been minted since 1787? Edge to edge, those pennies would circle the earth 137 times! Then it transition into the pennies given to charities and how much pennies can add up to. The very fitting bible verse to day was from 2 Corinthians 8:12 and it says, “If you are really eager to give, it isn’t important how much you are able to give. God wants you to what you have, not what you don’t have.”

We only read chapter 8 of the book of Exodus. It was about the plague of the frog, gnats, and flies.

Now onto the second most important part of the day. It’s assessment week and I have a breakdown of the testing we accomplished today. There were 114 minutes of total testing done today. It took 20 minutes for vocabulary, 50 for comprehension, 16 for spelling, and 28 for language mechanics. We did vocabulary and comprehension before lunch and spelling and language and mechanics after lunch. I scored the assessments the best I could, but never revealed the final possible score to each test. I just praised him for “rocking” each individual assessment. I encouraged and praised him the whole day and I most certainly never said “awe” or “bummer” if he answered anything incorrectly. I have to say this is a huge eye opener into JD’s mind, learning method, and focus areas for 6th grade.

The Vocabulary assessment - The five sample questions at the beginning of the assessment started the anxiety wall and JD was tapping his head on the table moaning like he was in trouble. But once I told him to relax that this was only practice he overcame that mood. This portion of the assessment went well and he tentatively obtained a score of 90%.
- The word answer again to JD means the same thing as the word agree.
- He also had trouble with the word reluctant. Is it to be watchful, unwilling, unreliable, or neglectful? He answered unreliable.
- He couldn’t pronounce essential. Once I pronounced it he easily picked the right answer.
- He thought the driver of a glider plane was an astronaut, but finally changed it to aviator when I read the four choices.
- Is a venous fly trap is specially organized or adapted. JD struggled with this because the word he wanted was not in this list. He then said, “If choice “A” was fit instead of unfit I would choose that. He finally picked organized. (bummer…the plant files things…)
- What word means the driver acted before he had time to think about it? There were two tough choices. JD picked quickly instead of instinctively. I later asked him what instinct meant. His reply, “Something that doesn’t live any more.” (Ok…extinct)
- What does the suffix “ous” mean in the words glorious and joyous? I had JD say full of joy/glory, always joy/glory, less than joy/glory, and similar to joy/glory in order for him to finally pick full of.

The Comprehension assessment - JD was trying to rely on his memory of the passages instead of rereading them for the accurate info. He also gravitated to selecting the first answer that seemed right instead of reading all four possible answers. I reminded him about both potential pitfalls and short cuts. He only missed four out of 50 questions that I’m aware of so that gives him a potential 92%.

The Spelling assessment - There were 30 8+ letter spelling word questions, but a total of 46 spelling words to look at. Only two of the 200+ words we studied this semester were on the assessment. So I was hoping he wouldn’t get easily defeated. (And he didn’t) His final score was a 56%, but I’m thrilled. I thought he would only get less than 20%. I offered two approaches to finding the correct spelling of the words. One was try to remember how it looked while reading it somewhere during your hours of reading. The second method was sound out all four options and narrow down your choices. His method of choice was neither of these. Instead he said, “I choose the one I know I would not spell like.” (Meaning he spells phonetically and if a word is spelled phonetically he knows it’s incorrect.) That little boy is so smart about figuring out his own methods. I had to look up three words in the dictionary to see if I was right. I’m super proud of that 56%!

The Language mechanics assessment - This assessment focused on capitalization and punctuation only. Because I did not spend too much time on these this year we I did a quick review on the basic’s of punctuation like: exclamation mark, question mark, period, quotation marks, comma, apostrophe, colon, and semi-colon. Then, we did a quick review on about 20 different rules for capitalization. This worked well because he only missed 5 out of 36 questions for a possible score 86%.