Saturday, January 29, 2011

I love this guy

Ben's grammar teacher: Agatha she's not the guy I love...

I homeschool.  Yeah, what of it?  It's something I never thought I'd do. Only zealots and goofy people homeschool. Okay, so that doesn't exclude me in either case, especially the later, but still...

Ben came .5 of a percentage point from failing Algebra in 8th grade.  This story shows we may have been on to something when we worried we were going to lose him regarding education.  The difference between the way he learns, and the way they taught, those chasms were  too big for a 14 year old to cross. Besides...he was in a BD classroom (Behaviorally Disordered) for his English mod, so who cares?  There's no way he was gonna get English and Math, his greatest strengths/weaknesses, the two subjects one uses most in day to day living, so...WTF?  ("With the future" in mind.)

Plus that, he didn't need meds at home. Did I say NO RITALIN?  No ritalin to keep him out of a full time special ed classroom, this here kid with his high IQ.

In my homeschooling Ben, I've learned a few things. 

First of all, the College Degree in Special Education meant nothing.  Ben was easy to teach in most subjects, and easily absorbed lessons in History and Science.  Testing in his 9th grade year showed he was past the high school level in understanding those two.  But Algebra?  I beat my head against the wall for 2 years before I found ALEKS, where he learned at his own pace, and learned by comparing his answers to the correct ones, so he could literally "see" where he was going wrong.  On the third year of trying to teach Algebra, with ALEKS, he got an 85% for the year.  If he had stayed in school, I've no doubt they'd have never figured out how to teach him.  I just got lucky because I frequented the LDonline site and happened to happen in on a conversation.  And he did it all himself.  Ninety-nine and 44/100 % independently. In fact, ALEKS discouraged parents from helping because there was no way to know what the student knew and what he needed to learn if parent's helped "correct" their answers.  Can you say Godsend?

Now, ALEKS taught me that Ben could be much more responsible for his own learning.  So we are taking Geometry and Chemistry from the same site .  He's a natural in Geometry, but if he quit today, he'd have a 26% for the year in Chemistry.  But he's still plugging away because his dream is to work with steam engines (and thus boilers) and he needs the chemistry, so he doesn't give up.  It's presented in the same format, and he learns it slowly yet completely.  I don't spend any time helping.  By the grace of God and hard work he'll pass Chemistry if he bites the bullet.  He just needs to come up with 44% more points to pass...and, it fulfills Georgia's damn standards!

By this year, I am starting to see a pattern.  In those subjects Ben does poorly in, he has to be taught visually.  He has to "see" the answer to learn to correct his mistakes.  Telling him only frustrates him, because he has no clue what you are trying to say.  If he "sees" the pattern, he gets it.  So, yesterday, after being so frustrated at Ben's refusal to do anything but listen to the tapes that Dr. Lybrand created for teaching writing, I decided to try one of Dr. Lybrands ideas.  He said, to teach grammar to a child, one can have them copy out of their favorite books.  Our authors are among the best at grammar, it's their livelihood!  To learn by example, if a child seems too insecure to write, have him copy stories from, in Ben's case, Agatha Christie!!!  Now, I know you are saying, "so what", but you'll never know the hell we been through to try to teach grammar! Those books, especially if they are "remedial", are so effing boring...pages and pages and pages of the same crap.  And Ben would STILL not get it.  See, the thing is, most people hate grammar, probably even more than hate math, I'd venture.  They hate it so much they don't really test for grammar in the ACT and SAT so much as they test for clarity, and ability to get your point across.  And the thing about this is, his grammar teacher is Agatha Christie!!! How cool is that??

Hot damn....I just looked up Agatha Christie in order to see if it was her real name or a pen name, and Atlanta has an AGATHA CHRISTIE DINNER THEATRE AND COMEDY CLUB!!

I love homeschool...
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