Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Rendering Unto Caesar

We're taking a break from college level history and high school science to do something tedious but necessary. I'm teaching my kid how to take a standardized test, as it is the year of required state sponsored stupidity here. If I had my way, we would never ever waste time on this, but I will grudgingly render unto Caesar... I'm just glad homeschoolers are still free to mostly avoid this nonsense. I know what my kid knows, and what he needs to work on. I don't need a test to tell me that. But if it will keep TPTB out of our hair and leave us free to work at Mikro's level the rest of the time, I guess I can spare a week or two for this frivolous and inane dreck... Bah, Humbug!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Fifth Grade: Second Quarterly Report

SECOND QUARTERLY REPORT

SCHOOL YEAR: 2014-2015
HOMESCHOOLING STUDENT: Mikro
GRADE LEVEL: Fifth
THIS QUARTER COVERS: 10/17/14 to 1/16/15
DATE SUBMITTED: January 20, 2015


Generally:

Mikro is progressing at a satisfactory level or above in all subject matter.

We have had instruction in all the following areas, as per Section 100.10 of the Regulations of the New York State Commissioner of Education and Mikro’s Individual Home Instruction Plan (IHIP): Reading, Writing, Spelling, Language Arts, Math, History, Geography, Science, Health, Physical Education, Music, Visual Arts, Patriotism and Citizenship, Fire Safety and Prevention, and Traffic, Bicycle and General Safety.

Mikro had no absences from instruction this quarter, and has exceeded the required hours of instruction (225).

Highlights for the Quarter include:

Reading/Language Arts:

Mikro reads at a high school or college level. He is currently focusing on science fiction and fantasy and mythology and folktales. He participated in the National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo) Young Writer’s Program again this year and met his word count goal, working on a sequel to a story he wrote in a prior round of Nanowrimo. He has more to write before it is finished.

Mikro is participating in the Book Club for 3rd to 5th Graders at the Croton Free Library. So far he has discussed Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer and Wonderstruck, by Brian Selznick.

In his debate and mock trial class, and at debate team practices, Mikro researched various topics for debate, including evolution vs. creationism, whether volcanoes caused the extinction of the dinosaurs, whether homeschoolers should be able to play on public school sports teams, etc., and delivered opening statements, rebuttals and closings. He researched logical fallacies and prepared examples to present in class. He also researched courtroom criminal procedure and common evidentiary objections. He prepared opening and closing statements for a simulated murder trial in which he acted as the prosecuting attorney. He continues to practice delivering the St. Crispin’s Day speech from Shakespeare’s Henry V, and other passages from Shakespeare.

We continue to work on grammar and spelling using a variety of workbooks and online lessons, and through journaling.

Some of the books read independently by Mikro (in addition to those listed by subject matter in other categories below) include:

Eager and the Mermaid by Helen Fox; The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson; Mister Max: Book 1: The Book of Lost Things and Book 2: The Book of Secrets, both by Cynthia Voigt; Emperor Pickletine Rides the Bus, by Tom Angleberger; What We Found in the Sofa and How It Saved the World, by Henry Clark; The Place My Words Are Looking For: What Poets Say About and Through Their Work, poems selected by Paul B. Janeczko; A Foot in the Mouth: Poems to Speak, Sing and Shout, by Paul B. Janeczko; A Poke in the I: A Collection of Concrete Poems, by Paul B. Janeczko and Chris Raschka; City of Wind, Ring of Fire, Star of Stone, and Dragon of Seas, all by P.D. Baccalario; Tales of the Black Widows, by Isaac Asimov; Ulysses Moore: The Door of Time, The Lost Map, The House of Mirrors, and Isle of Masks, all by P.D. Baccalario; The Book of Dragons by E. Nesbit; The Story of Dr. Dolittle, by Hugh Lofting; Seeing the Blue Between: Advice and Inspiration for Young Poets compiled by Paul B. Janeczko; The Blood of Olympus and The Kane Chronicles Survival Guide by Rick Riordan; School’s Out Forever, Saving the World, The Final Warning and The Angel Experiment, all by James Patterson; The Search for Wondla, A Hero for Wondla, and The Battle for Wondla by Tony DiTerlizzi; Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer; Dante’s Divine Comedy, adapted by Seymour Chwast; Seigfried, by Alex Alice; Melonhead and the Big Stink and Melonhead and the Vegelicious Disaster, both by Katy Kelly; The Slime That Would Not Die, by Laura Dower; Wonderstruck, by Brian Selznick; Have Spacesuit, Will Travel and Space Cadet, both by Robert Heinlein; An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments: Learn the Lost Art of Making Sense by Ali Almossani; A is for Armageddon, by Richard Horne.


Math:

Mikro learned about sine, cosine and tangent and the geometry of triangles and used this in labs for Earth Science, where he calculated the height of various landscape features after measuring the horizontal distance and the hypotenuse with a 100 foot tape measure. He is learning to use a scientific calculator. He also worked on calculating the epicenter of an earthquake using triangulation, and time intervals between p and s waves, as well as reading charts, graphs and statistical tables related to earth science. Mikro also learned about exponents, and in particular, powers of ten. He continues to practice multi-digit multiplication and division, beginning algebra, percents, fractions, decimals, and money skills, using real life math, books, workbooks, games, drawings, original word problems and manipulatives. He is beginning to construct his own algorithms for solving problems when his recall of math facts is imperfect. Mikro uses online math resources such as BrainPOP, Khan Academy, Lesson Pathways, and Dreambox.

Books: Common Core Connections Math, Grade 5.

Videos: Vi Hart videos on YouTube; Khan Academy videos.

Music: Multiplication Mountain by Hap Palmer; Division Unplugged.

Field Trips: National Museum of Mathematics: Family Fridays: Creature Cuts program with computer science and math instructor Kevin Lee: the math of symmetry and tessellations, negative space, and creating an Escher-like tessellation of lizards; American Museum of Natural History: Scale of the Universe (powers of ten).


Science:

Mikro’s focus this year is Earth Science, at a high school level. He is taking an Earth Science Regents Lab Course and using Barron’s Let’s Review: Earth Science: The Physical Setting, as well as a Great Courses video lecture series, entitled How the Earth Works. He has explored the American Museum of Natural History’s extensive earth and space science related collections.

Mikro and his dad are learning to design and build 3D objects using software packages such as Tinkerbot and Blender.

Mikro is also doing The Great Courses: How the Earth Works, a 36 lecture course featuring Professor Michael E. Wysession of Washington University (St. Louis, MO). We are up to lecture 18. Topics covered included:
Geology's Impact on History; Geologic History—Dating the Earth; Earth's Structure—Journey to Earth's Center; Earth's Heat—Conduction and Convection; The Basics of Plate Tectonics; Making Matter—The Big Bang and Big Bangs; Creating Earth—Recipe for a Planet; The Rock Cycle—Matter in Motion; Minerals—The Building Blocks of Rocks; Magma—The Building Mush of Rocks; Crystallization—The Rock Cycle Starts; Volcanoes—Lava and Ash; Folding—Bending Blocks, Flowing Rocks; Earthquakes—Examining Earth's Faults; Plate Tectonics—Why Continents Move; The Ocean Seafloor—Unseen Lands; Rifts and Ridges—The Creation of Plates; Transform Faults—Tears of a Crust.

Mikro is also very interested in engineering, and we have been doing Understanding Greek and Roman Technology: From the Catapult to the Pantheon, (a 24 lecture engineering course featuring Professor Stephen Ressler of the United States Military Academy. (This course is also listed hereinafter under History, as the content is relevant to both subject matter disciplines.)
Technology in the Classical World; The Substance of Technology—Materials; From Quarry to Temple—Building in Stone; Stone Masonry Perfected—The Greek Temple; From Temple to Basilica—Timber Roof Systems; Construction Revolution—Arches and Concrete; Construction in Transition—The Colosseum; The Genesis of a New Imperial Architecture; The Most Celebrated Edifice—The Pantheon; Cities by Design—The Rise of Urban Planning; Connecting the Empire—Roads and Bridges; From Source to City—Water Supply Systems; Engineering a Roman Aqueduct; Go with the Flow—Urban Water Distribution; Paradigm and Paragon—Imperial Roman Baths; Harnessing Animal Power—Land Transportation; Leveraging Human Power—Construction Cranes; Lifting Water with Human Power; Milling Grain with Water Power; Machines at War—Siege Towers and Rams; Machines at War—Evolution of the Catapult; Machines at Sea—Ancient Ships; Reconstructing the Greek Trireme; The Modern Legacy of Ancient Technology


Mikro finished the Dinosaur 101: Introduction to Dinosaur Paleobiology class on Coursera that he was taking with his mother. (He is too young to have his own account, according to Coursera’s terms of service.) The course was offered by Professor Philip John Curie of the University of Alberta. Topics covered included:
Lesson 7: "What is a Species": the different ways of defining what a species is; Lesson 8: "Evolution": the basic theories of speciation, and how these different methods of speciation may have occurred, including both hypothetical and empirical examples; Lesson 9: "Stratigraphy and Geologic Time": basic stratigraphic concepts and the scale of earth history, understanding the evolution of dinosaurs through time, including which groups evolved when and where; Lesson 10: "Palaeogeography and Plate Tectonics": basic concepts in plate tectonics and the evolution of the earth’s surface; Lesson 11: "Dinosaur Origins": the evolution of dinosaurs from non-dinosaurian archosaurs; Lesson 12: "Dinosaur Extinction": the end-Cretaceous extinction event, and examples of vertebrate groups that both persisted and died out during the event.

Mikro also took Evolution: A Course for Educators, a Coursera offering from the American Museum of Natural History, taught by Ornithology curator Dr. Cracraft. Topics included:
Week One: Darwin’s First Great Idea: The Tree of Life: Charles Darwin’s revolutionary concept of a “tree of life” depicting the evolution of all life from a common ancestor; how evolutionary trees depict relationships among organisms; and how new species are formed; Week Two: Darwin’s Second Great Idea: Adaptation via Natural Selection:
Darwin’s second breakthrough: that adaptation via natural selection is the basic mechanism of evolution; how evolutionary biologists use the Museum’s collections; Week Three: The History of Life: the role of extinction in evolution, and what the relatedness of major groups of living things reveals about the history of life; Week Four: Human Evolution: the rich variety of hominids on the tree of life, along with how and when different human species - including Homo sapiens - migrated around the world.


Books: The Pterosaurs from Deep Time, by David M. Unwin; Fossils and “Deep Time” in New York, by Ed Landing; WTF Evolution?! A Theory of Unintelligible Design; by Mara Grunbaum.

Textbooks: Earth Science: The Physical Setting, by Edward J. Denecke, Jr.:

Chapter 4: Earth’s Coordinate System and Mapping; Chapter 10 Origins of Earth and Its Moon; Chapter 17: Volcanoes and Earth’s Internal Heat; Chapter 16: Earthquakes and Earth’s Interior; Chapter 9: Theories of the Origin of the Universe; Chapter 6: Tools of the Modern Astronomer; Chapter 7: Stars, Their Origin and Evolution; Chapter 8: The Solar System.


Videos:

Mikro uses Discovery Streaming Education Online’s extensive collection of science videos. Particular areas of study at the moment include geology and earth science topics, as well as evolution and marine biology. Mikro also watches TED Talks on scientific topics of interest and other scientific programming online, such as Bob Ballard’s Nautilus Live website, with live video from remotely operated submersible vehicles, videos and webinars from the American Chemical Society, Discovery Streaming Education Unlimited, and various websites including PBS, Project JASON, and Amazon Prime Instant Videos. He also has a subscription to science videos and experiments online by Robert Krampf, The Happy Scientist and Supercharged Science.

Classes: Earth Science Regents Lab with Jen Seron. Labs included rock identification, triangulation, finding the epicenter of an earthquake, identifying constellations and building peg board models thereof; and others.

Field trips: American Museum of Natural History: Hall of Planet Earth, Hall of Meteors, Hall of Minerals, Hall of Gems, Hayden Big Bang Theater, Heilbrunn Cosmic Pathway, Scales of the Universe, Hall of the Universe, Spitzer Hall of Human Origins, and the following special exhibits: Pterosaurs: Flight in the Age of Dinosaurs and Nature’s Fury: The Science of Natural Disasters.

Projects: monitoring bird feeders, maintaining a compost heap, caring for and observing a growing collection of pets including two bearded dragons, a Chinese water dragon, and a Red Eared Slider turtle; building simple Arduino circuits, building electronics kits, designing objects for 3D printing; maintaining a Certified Backyard Wildlife Habitat.


History, Geography, Social Studies & Patriotism and Citizenship:

During this quarter we have continued our study of Ancient History and the Dark Ages and Middle Ages, focusing on “the Other Side of History”, i.e., the poor and otherwise marginalized people from prehistory through the middle ages, using The Great Courses , and other books and videos.

Mikro also took a One Day Seminar entitled Ancient Empires: Focus on Assyria, which was taught by Professor Wendy Raver of Hunter College, using the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the From Assyria to Iberia visiting exhibit,. Topics included the Assyrian Empire and its beginnings, its competition with other Mesopotamian nations, and its mysterious fall from power; understanding the Assyrian world, its Egyptian, Greek, Phoenician, Israelite and Urartu neighbors, and its fascination with violence and beauty.

In The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World (a 48 lecture series, featuring Professor Robert Garland of Colgate University), topics covered included :

Taking on the Other Side of History; Being Paleolithic; Living in Mesopotamia; Being Egyptian; Belonging to an Egyptian Family; Practicing Egyptian Religion; Being a Dead Egyptian; Being an Egyptian Worker; Being Minoan and Mycenaean; Being Greek; Growing Up Greek; Being a Greek Slave; Being a Greek Soldier or Sailor; Being a Greek Woman; Relaxing Greek Style; Being a Greek Refugee; Being a Sick or Disabled Greek; Practicing Greek Religion; Being an Old Greek; Being a Dead Greek; Being Persian; Living in Hellenistic Egypt’ Being Roman; Being a Roman Slave; Being a Roman Soldier; Being a Roman Woman; Being a Poor Roman; Being a Rich Roman; Being a Roman Celebrity; Being a Roman Criminal; Relaxing Roman Style; Practicing Roman Religion; Being Jewish under Roman Rule; Being Christian under Roman Rule; Being a Celt in Ancient Britain; Being a Roman Briton; Being Anglo-Saxon; Being a Viking Raider; Living under Norman Rule; Being Medieval; Being Poor in the Middle Ages; Being a Medieval Woman; Being a Medieval Christian or Heretic; Being a Medieval Knight; Being a Crusader; Being a Pilgrim; Relaxing Medieval Style; Daily Life Matters.

In Experiencing Rome, A Visual Exploration of Antiquity’s Greatest Empire (we are over two thirds of the way through a 36 lecture course featuring Professor Steven L. Tuck of Miami University), topics included:
Rome—A Spectacular Civilization; A Brief Survey of the Roman Empire; Power, Conquest, and Romanization; Triumphal Processions—Victory Parades; Imperial Palaces; The Roman House—Space and Decoration; Roman Houses as Greek Palaces; Pompeian Houses and Greek Myth; Ritual, Sacrifice, Vows, and Prayers; Sanctuaries, Temples, and Religious Ritual; Roman Elite Funerals; Forum Romanum—The Core of the City; Death on Display I—Amphitheaters; Death on Display II—Gladiators; Death on Display III—Gladiatorial Combat; Death on Display IV—Animal Hunts; Death on Display V—Prisoner Executions; Death on Display VI—Christian Martyrdom; Small Town Spectacle—Games at Pompeii; Aquatic Displays; Roman Circuses—Arenas for Chariot Racing; A Day at the Races; Theaters and Plays; Emperors as Performers; Imperial Forums—Power and Policy in Rome; Imperial Arches, Columns, and Monuments; Imperial Baths in Rome—Spas for the Masses; Roman Engineering—Linking the World; Roman Military Forts and Fortifications; Images of Warfare—Roman Military Monuments.

Understanding Greek and Roman Technology: From the Catapult to the Pantheon (a 24 lecture engineering course featuring Professor Stephen Ressler of the United States Military Academy) covered the following topics:
Technology in the Classical World; The Substance of Technology—Materials; From Quarry to Temple—Building in Stone; Stone Masonry Perfected—The Greek Temple; From Temple to Basilica—Timber Roof Systems; Construction Revolution—Arches and Concrete; Construction in Transition—The Colosseum; The Genesis of a New Imperial Architecture; The Most Celebrated Edifice—The Pantheon; Cities by Design—The Rise of Urban Planning; Connecting the Empire—Roads and Bridges; From Source to City—Water Supply Systems; Engineering a Roman Aqueduct; Go with the Flow—Urban Water Distribution; Paradigm and Paragon—Imperial Roman Baths; Harnessing Animal Power—Land Transportation; Leveraging Human Power—Construction Cranes; Lifting Water with Human Power; Milling Grain with Water Power; Machines at War—Siege Towers and Rams; Machines at War—Evolution of the Catapult; Machines at Sea—Ancient Ships; Reconstructing the Greek Trireme; The Modern Legacy of Ancient Technology.

Mikro also took the Great Courses 15 lecture course entitled Discovering Your Roots: An Introduction to Genealogy, featuring Professor John Phillip Colletta of the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research at Samford University. Topics included:
Interviewing Kin and Mining Home Sources; Genealogy Online—Gems and Junk; The Library—Shelves Full of Family History; Military Service and Homestead Records; How to Build Historical Context; Your Ancestors in Ship Passenger Lists; Your Ancestors in Naturalization Records; The Genealogical Proof Standard; Your Ancestors in the County Courthouse; Your Ancestors in State Records; How to Write Biography; Dos and Don’ts of Writing History; Searching in Your Ancestors’ Backyards; Assembling an Account of Your Discoveries; Extending Your Family Tree Overseas.

In American History/New York History/Patriotism and Citizenship, we have discussed Colonial America; the colonial economy; the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, the Constitution, the function of governments, the Bill of Rights, rights and responsibilities of citizens, immigration, slavery, racism and the Civil Rights movement, and current events involving constitutional questions.

In his Applied Social Sciences class, Mikro researched the federal judiciary system, and helped write a position paper advising the “President” on how to handle a hypothetical future scenario resembling the Cuban Missile Crisis. He wrote a speech for his character, the “Secretary of Energy”. He also acted as the “President” in responding to the ISIS crisis.

In Civics class, he debated the issue of women’s suffrage, and researched the Constitution, the structure of the federal government, and the system of checks and balances engineered by the Founders.

Field Trips:

Mikro accompanied his parents to the polls on Election Day . Mikro also visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Greek and Roman and Egyptian collections, as well as the Arms and Armor exhibit.

Books:
Rome: Roman Places by Sarah Howarth; The Buildings of Ancient Rome by Helen and Richard Leacroft; The Romans by Wil Mara.

America: For Home and Country: A Civil War Scrapbook by Norman Bolotin and Angela Herb; The Dark Game: True Spy Stories from Invisible Ink to CIA Moles, by Paul B. Janeczko.

Other: Usborne World History: Medieval World, by Jane Bingham.


Music:

Mikro continues to experiment with an electronic keyboard. He attended several musical performances, including Liberty! at the Theater 80 St. Marks and A Celebration of Charles Strouse by Broadway Playhouse, featuring information about Strouse’s career and music from his shows, including Annie and Bye Bye Birdie. He enjoyed an evening of Italian opera and a lecture about medieval Italian music manuscripts and the history of the development of musical notation at the NYCHEA Music Meeting.


Art:

Mikro’s artistic efforts are centered on his fascination with maps and outer space. He creates detailed maps of imaginary worlds, and draws their inhabitants. He also enjoys designing spaceships. He is working with his dad to design a spaceship in the Blender program, which they will print using a 3D printer. Mikro is also making a visual art journal and a journal of collages and drawings in keeping with the spirit of Keri Smith’s “The Imaginary World of ______.” He saw the Matisse: Cutouts show at the Museum of Modern Art.

Videos: Civilization: The Complete Series: A Personal View by Kenneth Clark.


Phys Ed:

Hiking, park days, jogging, mock combat as part of an ongoing role playing game created by Mikro and his friends from our homeschool group.


Health:

We have discussed puberty, good nutrition, safety issues related to food allergies, basic human needs, vision and eye safety, maintaining adequate hydration, personal hygiene including dental hygiene, why drugs, alcohol and smoking are unhealthy, HIV and AIDS, and the perils of drunk driving.



Traffic, bicycle and general safety:

We continue to discuss the importance of always wearing a bicycle helmet, of looking both ways before crossing the street, obeying traffic signals, watching cars for signals, safe and appropriate behavior on public transportation, seatbelts, car seats, not distracting the driver, what exit signs and emergency instructions (e.g. on the trains) mean; gun safety; strangers, staying where mom and dad can see you, what to do if lost or separated from family, how to avoid getting lost in the first place, how to ask for help. Mikro knows his name and address including zip code, and his parents' full names. Mikro has a cell phone and knows how to use it to call for help, or contact his parents, in the event that he becomes lost.

Videos: Eddie Eagle Gun Safety program.


Fire Safety and Prevention:

We have discussed what to do in a fire emergency, including formulating a family escape plan, stop drop & roll, get low and go, exiting the house immediately and not returning, trying to wake family members, but leaving if unsuccessful, telling firefighters if family and pets are still inside, using a cell phone or going to a neighbor to call 911, and waiting at a designated location for family members. We talked about fire prevention strategies.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Homeschool Update

Mikro started some new classes in September. He is taking Debate/Mock Trial, Applied Social Sciences and Earth Science Regents Lab. (He may or may not take the Regents exam this year. I'm leaving it up to him. He still doesn't much like timed tests, and his handwriting (and lack of stamina) are issues. His knowledge of science is not... It will be his call.

In debate/mock trial, he has done a few challenge debates, and he is working on his public speaking skills. He is memorizing the St. Crispin's day speech from Shakespeare's Henry V, and already has a poem memorized. He's also working on other Shakespeare bits. For mock trial, he is working on putting together opening and closing statements, learning common courtroom objections, and he can finally answer what Article III of the Constitution does. (Back when he was 5, he decided that I was an imbecile because I did not know all the dinosaurs. In an effort to illustrate that people have different sorts of knowledge, I quizzed him on legal minutiae, which left him getting that there are more ways than one to be intelligent in this world. He just reminded me of this as he was researching Article III!)

henryv challengedebate

In Applied Social Sciences, the kids role played forming a society after beig stranded together on a deserted island. Their next scenario has been to act as cabinet advisors to the President, advising him on a hypothetical crisis (which resembles the Cuban Missle Crisis...)

On his own time, he's designing a prehistory board game.

designingagame

He's also intrigued by my art journaling, and has started a little daily cartoon journal.

In Earth Science Lab, he has been doing rock ID labs, using tools like scratch plates and a mineral testing kit that comes with various specimens of known hardness on the Mohs Scale. He worked with a team to learn how to use an altimeter, and some trigonometry, to calculate the jheight of the waterfall in the Central Park Ramble. He gave an oral report on plate tectonics and the Indian subcontinent. He has learned about superpostion, intrusions, folding, minerals, plate tectonics, volcanoes, etc. and is really enjoying the class. He isn't enjoying writing up lab reports, because of his fine motor issues... But he is equally hating learning to type, so I'm just leaving it to him to decide which process is more odious...

earthsciclass922 earthsciclass922a earthsciclass922b

earthsciclass922c hallofplanetearth hallofplanetearth2

atomicbonding hallearth1 hallmeteorites

hallofmineralsclass waterfall2 waterfalll1

mikkroaltimeter trig

He was really intrigued by the cast members from iLuminate who appeared at Maker Faire, and I was lucky to be able to get discounted tickets to see their show.

withiLuminatecast

We also saw a show at the New Victory Theater:

oldmanoldmoon

Both of these performances got us into a discussion of visual storytelling, and Mr. Verbose is thinking of how to retell the Prometheus myth visually. I am eagerly waiting to see what he comes up with. (Last night, he informed me that The Phantom of the Opera was the story of Persephone...)

We continue to do all our other academics at home, and although I designed this year's history study as dark ages and middle ages, we have gotten obsessed with Roman Architecture over here (I am doing a Yale Open Courseware class.) So we are taking a little detour and revisiting Rome. We are almost done with a Great Courses offering entitled Understanding Greek and Roman Technology: From the Catapult to the Pantheon, which is an engineering class! Mikro and I are both fascinated. Kev has not had much chance to watch with us, but was intrigued by the bits he was able to catch. We are also doing the Great Courses' Experiencing Rome series. We're a third of the way through that one. (And I have the Great Courses Vikings class on hold at the library for when we are done with Rome...)

Mikro is working on his UFO models. Here is his latest creation:

mikromodel1 mikromodel2

And since it is November, he's once again signed up for the Nanowrimo Young Writers Program. He is working on a sequel to his story "The Boy and the Egg." I can't wait to see what he does this time.

First Quarterly Report, Fifth Grade

FIRST QUARTERLY REPORT
SCHOOL YEAR: 2014-2015
HOMESCHOOLING STUDENT: Mikro
GRADE LEVEL: Fifth
THIS QUARTER COVERS: 7/1/14 to 10/16/14
DATE SUBMITTED: October 20, 2014

Generally:

Mikro is progressing at a satisfactory level or above in all subject matter.

We have had instruction in all the following areas, as per Section 100.10 of the Regulations of the New York State Commissioner of Education and Mikro’s Individual Home Instruction Plan (IHIP): Reading, Writing, Spelling, Language Arts, Math, History, Geography, Science, Health, Physical Education, Music, Visual Arts, Patriotism and Citizenship, Fire Safety and Prevention, and Traffic, Bicycle and General Safety. Mikro had no absences from instruction this quarter, and has exceeded the required hours of instruction (225). Highlights for the Quarter include:

Reading/Language Arts:

Mikro reads fluently and at a very advanced level. At the moment, his favorites are in the science fiction and fantasy genre, although he still enjoys nonfiction, particularly in the biological sciences. He still enjoys making up rich and detailed stories, world building, and creating new mythologies.

He is taking a debate and mock trial class, for which he is required to research issues and prepare arguments, including opening statements, rebuttals and closing statements. Mikro is a member of our homeschool group’s newly formed competitive debate team, and hopes to be ready to compete during the 2015-16 school year. He is memorizing and reciting poetry and famous speeches, including the Gettysburg Address, the St. Crispin’s day speech from Henry V, and others.

Mikro is getting good practice in spelling, composition and grammar in connection with his fiction writing and cartography pursuits. He keeps notebooks of ideas for stories and games. He is slowly improving his keyboarding skills.

Some of the books read independently by Mikro (in addition to those listed by subject matter in other categories below) include:

Wildwood, Under Wildwood and Wildwood Imperium, all by Colin Meloy; Tunnels, Deeper and Freefall, all by Roderick Gordon; Eager and Eager’s Nephew by Helen Fox; Minn of the Mississippi by Holling C. Holling; Things Not Seen by Andrew Clements; Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer by John Grisham; Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things by Cynthia Voigt; Rules of the Road by Joan Bauer; The Book of Beasts by TH White; How to Write Poetry by Paul B. Janeczko; Effective Speeches by Valerie Bodden; Science Fiction (Stories Well Told) by Valerie Bodden; The Kids Outdoor Adventure Book: 448 Great Things to Do in Nature Before You Grow Up by Stacy Tornio and Ken Keffer; The Sierra Club Summer Book by Linda Allison; Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods by Rick Riordan; The Ring of Fire by P.D. Baccalariao; Ghost Hawk by Susan Cooper; Survivor II Field Guide by Mark Burnett; The Ninja Handbook by _Douglas Sarine and Kent Nichols; The Dragon Keeper’s Handbook by Shawn MacKenzie; The Vampire Book by Sally Regan; Vampires by Martin Jenkins; Unicorns and Other Magical Creatures by John Hamilton; The Singing and the Gold, poems selected by Elinor Parker; 2095 by Jon Scieszka; Count Draculations: Monster Riddles compiled by Charles Keller; The Funny Side of Science by Melvin Berger; Flash Gordon: On the Planet Mongo by Alex Raymond; Scary School: The Northern Frights by Derek the Ghost; Vampire Hound by Jim Kraft; Knuckleheads by Jon Scieszka; My Teacher is an Alien by Bruce Colville; Jim Henson’s Tale of Sand; Irish Fairy Tales, edited by Philip Smith; It’s Raining Pigs and Noodles, poems by Jack Prelutsky; Noah by Darren Aronofsky and Ari Handel; Emperor Pickletine Rides the Bus by Tom Angleberger; Wing Nuts: Screwy Haiku by Paul B. Janeczko and J. Patrick Lewis; A Poke in the I: a Collection of Concrete Poems selected by Paul B. Janeczko

Videos: Debate Can Change Your Life (TED Talk by Lucinda David); Where Does Creativity Hide? (TED Talk by Amy Tan); Four Lessons in Creativity (TED Talk by Julie Burstein); Taking Imagination Seriously (TED Talk by Janet Echelman); Tales of Creativity and Play (TED Talk by Tim Brown.)


Math:

This quarter, we have practiced multiplication, division, percents, fractions, and decimals, including adding and subtracting fractions and decimals, using real life math, books, workbooks, games, drawings, original word problems and manipulatives. Mikro uses online math resources such as BrainPOP, Khan Academy, and Lesson Pathways He also uses Teaching Textbooks 5.


Books: On the Job Math Mysteries: Real Life Math From Exciting Careers by Marya Washington Tyler; Fractions, Decimals and Percents by David A. Adler. Life of Fred E, F, and G.

Videos: Math Challenge: Equivalent fractions and Mixed Numbers (Sclessinger Media); Solving for X: Pre Algebra Volume 1 (Bill Nye). Donald in Mathmagic Land; Bill Nye: Probability; Colonial Williamsburg Electronic Field Trips: The Amazing Trade Shop Math Race (circle math, area and perimeter, multiplication and division, budgeting).

Music: Multiplication Mountain by Hap Palmer; Division Unplugged.


Science:

Mikro remains fascinated with geology, astronomy and biology, and has been taking Coursera classes with his mother (because he is too young to have his own account), including: Emergence of Life; Dinosaur 101; Introduction to Forensic Science: Learning How to Learn Math and Science; and Dynamic Earth.

Topics covered included: Emergence of Life: Geological Time, Nature of Science, The Tree of Life, Early Earth Environments, Fossilization, Precambrian Life-Earth Interaction, Paleozoic Life After the Advent of Skeletons; Paleozoic Plants, Reptiles, and the Transition to Land, Mesozoic Reign of Dinosaurs, Development of Flight, Cenozoic Mammals, Global Environmental Change, Astrobiology and the Search for Life in the Cosmos; Introduction to the Science of Forensics: Introduction to Forensic Science, Locard’s Exchange Principle, Chromatography and Spectroscopy, Fingerprinting, Polymers and Fibers, Ballistics and Gun Shot Residue, DNA analysis, including gel electrophoresis, PCR, and STR analysis, Narcotics and Toxicology; Dinosaur 101: the diversity in dinosaur appearances, how fossils form, how we interpret the taphonomy of skeletons and bonebeds, possible biases taphonomic events may create in the fossil record, the variety of food types, feeding habits, and feeding adaptations amongst the major groups of dinosaurs, the general modes and styles of locomotion in the major dinosaur groups, a generalized life history of a dinosaur, from birth through adulthood, including reproduction, behaviors and structures that may have served for attack or defense through the lifetime of a dinosaur; Dynamic Earth: Radiometric Dating; Reading Rocks; Writing Lab Reports; Formation of Earth’s Atmosphere; Banded Iron Formations, Stromatolites; Learning How to Learn: Focused versus Diffuse Thinking, Chunking, Procrastination and Memory, Renaissance Learning and Unlocking Your Potential.

He is also taking an Earth Science Regents Lab class, and is interested in possibly taking the Earth Science Regents test this year.

Field trips: Mikro spent a full weekend at Maker Faire at the New York Hall of Science. He participated in several workshops offered by Cognizant, including building a mechanical hand, making a diorama with a cam shaft to provide movement, making an assemblage, and making a light up pillow with LEDs. He attended lectures on topics including Young Makers and Maker Educational Initiatives. He also explored the Physics Bus, made a light-up finger knit bracelet, tried a 3d printing pen, made a tiny drawing under a microscope, played a Mars Rover game, learned about automated evolution, designed a tote bag, and did a design challenge.

He also enjoyed a full day of marine science at Submerge, hosted by the New York Hall of Science, at Pier 26. He handled the controls of a submersible robot ROV, designed new species of plankton, learned about buoyancy by constructing a 3 dimensional plankton model that did not sink or rise to the surface, but floated in the middle depths, He measured the salinity of water samples taken from various locations along the Hudson River, using a refractometer, and found that the levels dropped as the samples moved further from the harbor. He observed plankton under the microscope, learned about the hazards of marine debris, saw a solar cooker in action, and did countless other fun, science-related activities.

We have made several family trips to the American Museum of Natural History, concentrating on exploring the Earth Science related material in the Hall of Planet Earth and the Hall of Minerals. We also did the Astronomy Grand Tour, and enjoyed the Poisons special exhibit (where Mikro assisted in the toxicology demonstration.) We have also made several visits to the special exhibit on Pterosaurs.

Mikro also attended the Animal Embassy Zoology Program at the Croton Free Library, featuring turtles, lizards, frogs, snakes and a chinchilla, and the Paper Airplane Workshop at the library.

Books: Let’s Review Earth Science by Edward J. Denecke, Jr. (chapters 13, 14, 15); The Mad Scientist’s Notebook: Warning! Dangerously Wacky Experiments Inside! by Elizabeth Snoke Harris and Rain Newcomb; The Technology Behind Robots and Artificial Intelligence by Nicholas Brasch; Cool Science: Robotics by Helena Domaine; Rise of the Thinking Machines: The Science of Robotics by Jennifer Fretland Van Voorst; Robotics: Robots Through History by Jeri Freedman;
Videos: Bill Nye the Science Guy: Architecture; Probability; the Science of Music; Rocks and Minerals; Earth’s Crust; Safety Smart Science: Renewable Energy. Environmental Science for Children series (Schlessinger Media): Air Quality; Water Quality; Green Energy; Sustainability in the 21st Century; Global Climate Change; Howard Hughes Medical Institute: The Beak of the Finch: Speciation of Finches in the Galapagos; We Hear With the Bones that Reptiles Eat With; Speciation in Anoles; Lizard Olympics; BBC Animated History of Physics; World Science Festival: Einstein Hated Quantum Mechanics.

Mikro watches TED Talks on scientific topics of interest and other scientific programming online, such as Bob Ballard’s Nautilus Live website, with live video from remotely operated submersible vehicles, videos and webinars from the America Chemical Society, Discovery Streaming Education Unlimited, and various websites including PBS, Project JASON, and Amazon Prime Instant Videos. He also has a subscription to science videos and experiments online by Robert Krampf, The Happy Scientist and Supercharged Science.

Classes: Earth Science Regents Lab class.

Projects: collecting and observing bugs, monitoring nest boxes and bird feeders, maintaining a compost heap, caring for and observing a growing collection of pets including two bearded dragons, a Chinese water dragon, an Italian Wall Lizard, a hermit crab, and various insects; building simple Arduino circuits, building electronics kits, maintaining a Certified Backyard Wildlife Habitat.


History, Geography, Social Studies & Patriotism and Citizenship:


During this first quarter we have begun our study of the Dark Ages and the Age of the Vikings, using Susan Wise Bauer's The Story of the World as a spine, as well as maps, videos, nonfiction and fiction concerning the cultures studied.

Mikro is also taking a Coursera class called A Brief History of Humankind, which tracks our species’ development from the cognitive revolution, through the agricultural, industrial and socio-political revolutionary eras.

Mikro is taking a class in Applied Social Science. In the first module, the students developed a society in a scenario involving being stranded on an uninhabited tropical island. They brainstormed and agreed on necessary tasks, division of labor, and a rudimentary government consisting of a President and an Island Council. They drew maps, designed shelters, developed a security plan, and designed a flag for their “Island Republic.” Afterwards, they presented their plans and organizational scheme to their parents and teacher.

In American History/New York History/Patriotism and Citizenship, we have discussed Colonial America, including the triangle trade, the colonial economy; colonial currency; the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Civil War, the Constitution, the function of governments, the Bill of Rights, rights and responsibilities of citizens, legal systems, courts, lawsuits, service of process, commencing suit, defending a suit; immigration, slavery, racism and the Civil Rights movement. Mikro can draw an accurate (but not to scale) map of the United States from memory.

Books:

Vikings/Dark Ages: The Real Vikings: Craftsmen, Traders and Fearsome Raiders by Melvin and Gilda Berger; Step into the Celtic World by Fiona MacDonald; Great Medieval Projects You Can Build Yourself by Kris Bordessa; The Hammer of the North by Magnus Magnusson; Usborne Illustrated Guide to Norse Myth and Legends by Cheryl Evans and Anne Millard.

Other: People You Gotta Meet Before You Grow Up: Get to Know the Movers and Shakers, Heroes and Hotshots in Your Hometown by Joe Rhatigan; The Golden Age of Maritime Maps: When Europe Discovered the World by Catherine Hofmann, Richard and Emmanuelle Vagnon; Candy Bomber: The Story of the Berlin Airlift’s “Chocolate Pilot” by Michael D. Tunnell; The Orphan of Ellis Island by Elvira Woodruff; M is for Majestic: A National Parks Alphabet by David Domeniconi.

Videos: Colonial Life for Children series (Schlessinger Media): The French and Colonial Quebec; Jamestown; Plimoth Plantation; Roger Williams and Rhode Island; William Penn and Pennsylvania; The Dutch and New Amsterdam; The Spanish and Colonial Santa FE; Settling the New World; St. Augustine The Vikings (Schlessinger Media); A History of the Middle Ages (Schlessinger Media); Colonial Williamsburg Electronic Field Trips: The Amazing Trade Shop Math Race (provisioning the Continental Army); The Bill of Rights; The War of 1812; Harsh World, This World (slavery); Women of the Revolution; Balance of Power; Civil War Ironclads.

Field Trips: Pierpont Morgan Library, Mythical Creatures program (exploring the history, geography and mythology of ancient Mesopotamia, cuneiform and cylinder seals); Ellis Island (immigration); National Archives in New York (using primary source documents to understand the immigration experience); Tenement Museum, Victoria Confino program; Walking Tour of the Lower East Side; City of Water Day (New York maritime history; sailing on the Clipper City and a tugboat ride aboard the Pegasus); Boston Tea Party Opera; New York City Transit Museum: Transportation of the Future exhibit; Croton Friends of History lectures on The Mighty Hudson and Lost Amusement Parks of New York City at the Croton Free Library.


Music and Drama:

Mikro learned about the lives and music of several opera composers, Bizet and Mozart, and enjoyed a full dress rehearsal performance of The Marriage of Figaro at the Metropolitan Opera. He also enjoyed Seegerfest’s Pete and Toshi Seeger Memorial Concert at Lincoln Center Outdoors, as well as Bash the Trash (recycled instruments) at the Croton Free Library and The Old Man and The Old Moon, a musical featuring a combination of live actors and puppetry, at the New Victory Theater. Mikro is experimenting with playing a 44 key electronic keyboard.

Mikro also was inspired by the visual storytelling of iLuminate, and is working on creating a dramatic rendition of the myth of Prometheus and Fire. Mikro and his father looked at the many ways to tell the same basic story by comparing a series of films: Seven Samurai, The Magnificent Seven and Battle Beyond the Stars, and discussed other instances of this phenomena.

Mikro watched the videos for his mother’s online music classes: Fundamentals of Music Theory; Developing Your Musicianship, and Songwriting, and was introduced to concepts such as melody, harmony, bass and treble clefs, major and minor scales, modes, intervals, notes, rests and values.

Mikro was introduced to the basic frailing stroke on banjo and watched some banjo instructional videos by Patrick Costello.

TED Talks: Music and Emotion Through Time by Michael Tilson Thomas; Music and the Brain by Jessica Grahn.


Art:

Mikro took a class exploring the architecture of New York City, in which he visited the Chrysler Building, the Chanin Building, Grand Central Terminal, the Flatiron Building, the Appellate Division Courthouse, Madison Square Park, the New York Life Building, the Washington Square Arch, Judson Church, the Morris Jumel Mansion, and the Guggenheim Museum, learned about the architects who designed them, and sketched the buildings and various architectural details.

Mikro has continued his drawing and experiments with various media, including clay, watercolors, pastels, markers, acrylic paints and collage/assemblage.. He enjoys watching TED Talks on sculpture, architecture, and other art forms.

Books: Dreaming UP: A Celebration of Building by Christy Hale; Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art by Barb Rosenstock; Gargoyles, Girders and Glass Houses: Magnificent Master Buildings y Bo Zaunders;Arches to Zigzags: An Architecture ABC by Michael J. Crosbie; Skyscraper by Lynn Curlee; Frank O. Gehry: Outside In by Jan Greenberg; Earth Friendly Buildings by Miriam Coleman; Simply Wright: A Journey into the Ideas of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Architecture by Diane Bresnan Fleming.

Mikro also enjoyed the Italian Futurism exhibit at the Guggenheim Museum, and the Palaces for the People exhibit on Guastavino tile vaults and City as Canvas (graffiti) exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York.


Phys Ed:

Hiking, park days with homeschooled friends; playing catch, soccer and basketball informally with friends and family; running, mock combat ninja battles.


Health:

We have discussed puberty, family planning, good nutrition, the basic food groups, the food pyramid, safety issues related to food allergies, basic human needs, vision and eye safety, laboratory safety, maintaining adequate hydration, personal hygiene including dental hygiene, why drugs, alcohol and smoking are unhealthy, HIV and AIDS, and the perils of drunk driving.


Traffic, bicycle and general safety:

We discussed lightning and storm safety, including the dangers of flash floods. We continue to discuss the importance of always wearing a bicycle helmet, of looking both ways before crossing the street, obeying traffic signals, watching cars for signals, safe and appropriate behavior on public transportation, seatbelts, car seats, not distracting the driver, what exit signs and emergency instructions (e.g. on the trains) mean; water safety; boating safety; strangers, staying where mom and dad can see you, what to do if lost or separated from family, how to avoid getting lost in the first place, how to ask for help. Mikro knows his name and address including zip code, and his parents' full names. Mikro has a cell phone and knows how to use it to call for help, or contact his parents, in the event that he becomes lost.


Fire Safety and Prevention:

We have discussed what to do in a fire emergency, including formulating a family escape plan, stop drop & roll, get low and go, exiting the house immediately and not returning, trying to wake family members, but leaving if unsuccessful, telling firefighters if family and pets are still inside, using a cell phone or going to a neighbor to call 911, and waiting at a designated location for family members. We talked about fire prevention strategies.

[SIGNED & DATED]

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Senasqua September

In my quest to update our blog, I am still in Septemberville. Since I just pulled out the winter jackets, I wish I had a time machine and could go back to warm, sunny days by the river. Sadly, while I tell Mikro that I'm the 23rd Doctor, and the Blue Beast (my PT cruiser, which is crammed with beach stuff and a rolling library....) is my Tardis, she's on the fritz at the moment and I am stranded in Novemberland...

This is the "Picture Tunnel". Walking through gives you an awesome view of the Hudson River, which seems like a painting on a wall.

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And this is our beautiful village park, right on the river.

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Saturday, November 1, 2014

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! We broke with family tradition and instead of Trick or Treating for UNICEF in our neighborhood, we decided to have an NYC Halloween this year. We started the day in the kid edition of the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade. While we were waiting for the parade to start, Mikro got interviewed by a Japanese TV channel. Then we went to Mikro's favorite place on Earth, the American Museum of Natural History, for their Halloween Party. Mikro loved it, and thought the most awesome costume ever was the trilobite. After that, we raced downtown to Trinity Church for a showing of the silent Lon Chaney Phantom of the Opera, with live pipe organ accompaniment. It was really cool! The churchyard looked spectacularly spooky, too. All in all, a great Halloween.

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