Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Highlights from Year 2, Term 2 Exams

Last week Thursday, SA(7) finished Term 2 of Ambleside Online Year 2. Since we had one day left in the week, I decided to do just a few exam questions over the rest of Thursday and Friday rather than carrying the exams over into this week.

He answered two exam questions on Bible, one from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament. For the New Testament, I asked him to choose a parable and tell it to me. He chose the parable of the sower.
"There was a sower that sowed seeds on the path, and they got picked up by birds and the birds ate them. The ones that fell on the rocks sprang up, but then because they had no water and no roots, they withered away. The ones that fell where the weeds were got choked up. When they started growing, they got choked up by the weeds. The ones that fell on good soil were just... they didn't have any problems. They didn't get eaten by birds, they had roots and water. They just grew."
"Do you remember anything about what the parable means?" I asked.
"The seeds that fell on the rocks was one that Satan snatches the Bible. They read the Bible but it means nothing to them. The seeds that fell on the good soil are the ones that read the Bible and it meant something to them. I don't remember the ones that fell among the weeds or the ones that fell on the path."
I was very pleased with how well he remembered the parable, which we read about six weeks ago. He didn't remember Jesus' explanation very well, just some tidbits and interpretations of our discussion afterwards.

SA also recited our Bible passage for the term, Colossians 3:12-17. Normally we try to learn two or three passages per twelve-week term, but this time we had some Sunday school memory work leading up to Christmas and we only started with this in week five of the term. He began well in his recitation, but things fell apart a bit when he missed verse 16 and mixed a little of verse 15 into verse 17. He recited verse 16 when I pointed out his omission.

Picture Study

I did a picture study exam question on the spur of the moment as I was nursing the baby. "Close your eyes," I told SA, "and think about the Tom Thomson pictures we studied this term. Choose one and picture it in your mind's eye. Describe it to me, but don't tell me what it is. Then I'll see if I can figure out which one you're describing."

He willingly did this (It's the willingness that amazed me... picture study might be his least favourite thing.) and described "The West Wind" well enough for me to figure out which one he was telling me about. He started with the hills in the background (hills are very common in Tom Thomson's paintings), then described the rocks in the foreground with their reddish tint, and the wind in the sky. He didn't get around to the pine tree in the foreground until the end of his description, but I already could see the whole painting in my own mind.

"Was that your favourite painting?" I asked him.
"I don't know. I didn't know I was supposed to choose my favourite," he said.
I quickly reassured him that he didn't have to have a favourite, and the one he chose was fine. :)

I asked SA two questions about literature. One was from Pilgrim's Progress, Part Two, and one was from The Wind in the Willows.

"Tell me three things Christiana saw at the Interpreter's House."
-"The fire which was burning. On the side you could see, you could see water, but on the opposite side was oil. The water was the evil one, and the oil was the 'good one.'
-A robin with a spider in its mouth. Christiana didn't like them anymore when she knew robins ate spiders. When they are roaming, they are nice. When they are by themselves, they eat spiders.
-A tree that was rotted out in the middle, but it still grew and bore leaves. The leaves were for the devil's tinderbox." 
"Tell me your favourite part from The Wind in the Willows."
"The Barge. As he was walking, there was a barge woman, and he said he wanted to go to Toad Hall. And he asked the barge woman, 'Is Toad Hall near where you are going?' And she said, 'Yes, it is near.' He said, 'because my girls might be smashing the glass.' She said she thought they were horrible hussies. He said that he wanted to do the steering, but the barge woman told him to do that laundry that he was fond of. She saw that every moment he was getting crosser, and that he lost the soap for the fiftieth time. And then he untied the rope to the barge and mounted the horse and rode away."

I had time for only one exam question in history. "Tell me about the Seige of Calais." As he thought about how to answer he was frustrated to tears because all the details of all the stories we've read were blurring in his mind - he wasn't sure which details belonged with which battles. There were several King Edwards in a row and that didn't help, either. It wasn't my intention to frustrate him, so I tried to help by listing the people involved in the story:

Edward III
Governor of Calais
King Philip of France
Eustace de St Pierre and five other prominent men of Calais
Queen Philippa

Happily, he remembered which story this was when he heard Queen Philippa's name. Even so, he started somewhere in the middle of the story.
"They asked if they could be free people. And then the king said they could be free if they bring him the keys of the city and six men. And they told the king that they wanted to be free six times. They brought him the keys of the city and asked the king to let them live. Then Queen Philippa begged him not to kill them and he finally let them go without killing them and then he had a feast."

I had SA copy "The Badger strode up the steps." His copying wasn't as neat as I know he can do it, and I made a mental note to emphasize that he must do his best work as we go forward. However, overall he has made great progress in his writing skills this term. At the beginning of the term I was having him copy my model line by line, and he was copying word by word directly beneath the model. We continued to limit our time to five minutes, but the amount of work he could do in five minutes increased from less than one to more than three lines. Towards the end of the term, I began to have him copy paragraph by paragraph. I modeled three to five lines at the top of a page, and he copied them at the bottom of the page. His neatness suffered, which I assumed was due to him copying more line by line rather than word by word. (I do want him to do that...it is what will help him exercise his visual memory and begin to learn to spell.) However, the fact that this one-line exam question was also not very neat made me think that perhaps he is getting into bad habits and I need to keep a closer eye on it.


SA did his final Review for Singapore Primary Math 2B. We will begin grade 3 next term. He continues to do well with math. I rarely have to teach him anything...he simply absorbs whatever comes his way in the daily exercises. I have been considering how to spread more of a feast for him in math. I begin every term with the intention of doing math activities and games one day a week. I have wonderful resources for this, but somehow the planning involved and the little ones underfoot have meant that I did this maybe six times in the twelve-week term. Somehow I need to streamline a process, or perhaps have more of an open-and-go program that emphasizes the problem-solving/puzzling/pattern side of math. I have been thinking about supplementing his Singapore Math with Beast Academy (a big decision because it's so expensive to get here in Canada), or perhaps doing some beginning algebra with Hands-on Equations. I also continue to be periodically tempted by Right Start Math (also very expensive.). I know I have a good thing for him in Singapore Math. It progresses in a methodical way that makes sense to him. It's just that when his daily exercises usually take him about five minutes and seemingly no challenge or effort, I know I need to be doing more for him. He needs more "captain ideas" coming his way to really feed his mind and inspire him.

This week I am thinking deeply about math and history before we jump into our third term next week. I expect I'll have a post or two about those subjects before long, too.