I have really fallen off the wagon as far as recordkeeping is concerned. December and January passed by in a blur of colds and teething baby. February promises more of the same, I'm afraid, but I'm hoping to get my act together somewhat. As with our learning life this year, I'm not looking for perfect, just "good enough".
Gareth: 8th/9th grade
Gareth's been using Seton's Confirmation Prep, in addition to our family time with the Baltimore Catechism (No. 2) and the CCC.
We had been stuck in chapter 4 of Life of Fred: Beginning Algebra for almost two months. (The holidays didn't help.) Chapter 4 is one giant word problem. It is really, really, really hard. It is a whole chapter full of the kind of problems that Jacobs in Elementary Algebra gives as "Set IV" (meaning: if you're a math whiz, you might want to try this, but otherwise don't worry about it) and divides into two or more chapters. We battled to the end with me wondering how the heck I was going to give him a grade for something I suspected was far more difficult than your average algebra book, and then I pulled out Jacobs. My suspicions were confirmed, as Gareth is whizzing through Jacobs chapter 5 with very little help. So now my problem is: do we continue to try to struggle through Fred, going to Jacobs for explanation and review, and in essence, completing two algebra textbooks for Algebra I? Or do we just switch back to Jacobs? The cartoons may be funny, but Gareth's right; the problems are much more interesting in Fred. They're just exponentially harder.
On the bright side, I think Gareth will have a much better understanding of algebra when he's done than I ever did, and I took honors classes. (As a bonus, I know that I will also understand algebra much better, too!)
Still using First Form Latin. But we've also managed to find a tutor to help Gareth with ancient Greek. Andy sent an email to the classics department at the local liberal arts college, and the end result will be that beginning next week, Gareth will meet with a junior once a week at Andy's office.
I'm trying to give Gareth a writing topic or two a week, and it seems to be working fairly well. These writing assignments usually have to do with his reading in science and history, and I generally let him choose from a list. So far he's done short papers on plate tectonics, the president's State of the Union address, and the Mongol invasion, and some creative writing about the Crusades. That's in addition to his writing on his novel.
Earth Science/Physical Science:
Gareth finished up Rocket Boys , Homer Hickam's memoir which inspired the excellent movie October Sky (which we also watched -- or tried to watch anyway, as the DVR cut off the end.) In discussions we focused more on the science of building rockets than on literary themes... but really, I think this was just a good read.
After he finished Rocket Boys, he picked up Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything and started reading again where he'd left off.
He's also read many magazine articles over the past few weeks dealing with science -- from National Geographic, Smithsonian, Astronomy, and Natural History (which I would link you to except that my mouse has gone haywire) -- not assigned, just strewn. And, as ever, television series remain a pillar of science learning around here: currently, Mutant Planet, How the Earth Was Made, The Universe, and NOVA and NOVA Science: Now! . (Farmerboy and Katydid also like Meteorite Men, but Gareth thinks it's boring.)
Oh, and a couple of weeks ago he earned the Boy Scount Engineering merit badge.
Not too much reading here, as science has been more of a focus. He's meandering through medieval Japan and China right now, The Story of Ancient China and China's Later Dynasties, as well as The 47 Ronin Story (Tuttle Classics) (I think). He has a few books about Japan and the samurai in his basket, but I think he's been more focused on China lately.
We're not pursing art in a terribly organized fashion, but Gareth has been messing around with Artistic Pursuits (High School) and a "how to draw manga" book we picked up at Hobby Lobby the other day. He just has to visit an art museum to get his Art merit badge.