The Plan for Christian

I want to thank Typepad from the bottom of my laundry basket.  After I spent hours very early yesterday morning and carefully saved a draft of this post, Typepad published it for me, complete with all kinds of technical glitches, and then it was utterly inaccessible all day.  The house is much cleaner and I had a heaping, helping dose of humility as you all got to see a very raw post.  I'm trying again and hoping that the formatting and the links work this time.

This summer, I'm looking carefully at each child and planning specifically for them in detail.  While we will certainly study lots of things together, I'm beginning with individual plans this year.  The exercise has been good for me.  I really enjoy considering each individual and marveling in his or her uniqueness. Because he has been so much on my mind, I started with Christian, who is fourteen and technically an eight grader.



Turbo Twist handheld --nothing like a nifty gadget for boring car trips!

Christian will work his way through the Touchmath upper grades program.  This is a program that is used extensively with children who have visual processing disabilities.  Though it’s been primarily limited to schools heretofore, the learning disabilities experts at Touchmath were extremely helpful in working with me to create a wholly appropriate program for Christian. I promise much more on this in later blogs.  I just watched the training video yesterday and I'm pretty excited about the concept and thinking I might use it for my little ones as well...

We will also provide a talking desktop calculator. Auditory cues will help reinforce keystroke accuracy and correct mistakes.

Processing support/improvement

BrainBuilder is a "neurobic", computer-based training program that is designed to assess and build auditory and visual sequential processing abilities. In an intensive series of adaptive, interactive exercises, BrainBuilder trains the brain to expand its ability to sequentially process auditory and visual information.

When working independently, Christian will listen to “Music for Concentration.” (He's not thrilled about this but he does want something to screen the outside noise and the research on Baroque music and concentration is really compelling. This CD uses streamlined baroque masterpieces to sharpen focus and enhance mental endurance.

Language Arts

Handwriting:  Christian will continue to use the Handwriting Without Tears series and the AVKO keyboarding program (a program for dyslexics that reinforces word attack skills and spelling patterns while teaching keyboarding skills). 

Spelling:  Because spelling is traditionally presented in a visual manner, Christian will not use a traditional spelling program to strengthen his spelling skills.  Instead, we will draw upon his strength in word attack and phonics skills to teach spelling from an auditory perspective, using The Phonetic Zoo, a phonetically based auditory spelling program.  When Christian looks at a word, he sees it as a whole. But spelling is sequential, and the correct sequence can be missed when seen as a whole, particularly because he cannot rely on visual memory to retrieve the word. Spelling the word out loud, letter by letter, will convert the input to auditory input and aid in accurate storage of the correct sequence in the brain.

We’ll continue using AVKO spelling as well.

Literature:  Christian will study literature and grammar typical for the eighth and ninth grades using videos to help comprehension. 

To Kill a Mockingbird and 24 More Videos is a program that will enable him to watch video productions of great books and still get the literary nuances. Videos are democratic in their range and depth. Most, if not all, students can understand the focus, the message of a video even when they might not pick up on the rhythm and nuance of the written language. That doesn’t mean the written language is not important - but a well-made movie based on a classic work of literature can make that literary work accessible to children for whom reading is a struggle.

The extension activities will include short answer questions, vocabulary activities, true and false, comparisons, essays, paragraphs, fill in the blanks, songs, writing fables or short stories, basic grammar concepts (homonyms/antonyms etc, adverb phrases, verb tenses)  symbolism, inferences, character analysis. Most of that I expect to do with him orally.
He will read high quality picture books aloud daily to his younger siblings for no less than a half hour, broken into fifteen minute increments, to increase his oral reading fluency and build his confidence. He really likes to spend time with the little boys in particular and they idolize him. I'm noticing that Stephen (7) is really struggling to read, despite being a very hard worker.  I want him to have lots of read-aloud time.  Christian can get practice in oral expression and he can help me to provide more story time. This will be good for everyone.

Composition: Writing is very important to Christian.  He has spent hours writing a novel on his own. He chooses to write for pleasure, as long as no one has assigned it and no one is watching. While the conventions of punctuation and spelling are missing, the story is amazingly complex and beautifully written. We spend time together daily proofing and editing.  He is publishing it in installments on his blog.   He has a regular audience of enthusiastic readers which is really increasing his confidence and helping to hone some of those interpersonal skills.

Science:  Christian will study Life Science this year using Lyrical Life Science .This multi-sensory program, which has a core audio-component, will allow him to memorize typical eighth grade science facts more easily. Mostly, though, he will do nature rabbit rails with the rest of us. He will also continue his extensive gardening projects and the maintenance of a family nature journal on the computer (using the camera and writing to record his observations ). His goal this year is to build several different wildlife habitats and to have our yard certified as a Backyard Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. He is registered with the NWF and has set up a planner specific for our yard on their website .

Religion:  Christian will listen to saints’ stories on CD and narrate them orally to me to record and save the summaries in a notebook.  He will continue to memorize the catechism and to participate in all our family-centered Catholic Mosaic projects.

History: Christian will continue to pursue his love of history, reading historical fiction and listening to it in audiobook format, as well as watching the History Channel. He has chosen the subject matter for this year because he considers it “research” for his novel. Together, we will work through a complete ancient history course to include the audio version History of the World, the classic D’Aulaire’s Greek myths on audiotape, and Odds Bodkin’s stunning rendition of The Odyssey on audio.

He will read the following books and narrate the chapters orally.  Because Christian brings a great deal of background knowledge and an intense interest to this subject matter, I have little doubt that he can handle the reading material. These are all in our personal collection and he has heard many of them read aloud. This familiarity will aid the silent reading.

D'Aulaire's Book of Norse Myths

Beorn the Proud (Polland)

Sword Song (Sutcliff)

Nordic Gods and Heroes (Colum)

Brendan the Navigator (Fritz)

Archimedes and the Door of Science (Bendick)

Between the Forest and the Hills (Lawrence) 

Black Ships BeforeTroy(Sutcliff)

Ides of April (Ray)

Fingal’s Quest (Polland)

Foreign Language: While the requirement for a foreign language has been waived, Christian will continue to build his repertoire of American Sign Language vocabulary with the rest of his family, using the Signing Time DVDS, a multi-sensory approach to sign language.

Much to his relief, Latin study will be limited to the memorization of roots.