Friday, January 30, 2015

January Field Trips:

A couple of shows: Broadway Playhouse and Lionboy at the New Victory, two trips to MoMath (the National Museum of Mathematics), once for a Family Friday program called Creature Cuts, featuring tesselations, and once to explore the museum; the LEGO store and Madison Square Park; AMNH (the spiral of deep time and the Big Bang Theater), and the Transit Museum Holiday Train Show at GCT.











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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Fifth Grade: Second Quarterly Report


SCHOOL YEAR: 2014-2015
THIS QUARTER COVERS: 10/17/14 to 1/16/15
DATE SUBMITTED: January 20, 2015


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.


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).


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.


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.

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.


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.


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.


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.