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Homeschool Journal – December Update

By Tracyrosen @tracyrosen

So our learning from home gig has had multiple iterations since we started in September and it will likely continue to shift. It makes sense, as people our interests and focuses shift all the time – why would how we learn be any different?

Looking back at my last post in October, I realize that I’ve started to concern myself even less about schedules (except for when it comes to external meetings because it is just not nice to blow off the promise you made to others when scheduling with them).

And guess what? Learning still happens.

And I know that. I’m a smart cookie teacher but I still needed to experience the ups and downs of figuring all of that out because that is life.

I’ve decided to focus on the big picture and not the details (daily schedule and tasks) since learning happens no matter what anyway. And those details can bog us down and get in the way of our relationship. And that sucks.

The bulk of his learning has evolved into being quite contextual. Example – he wants to have his own Minecraft server so he and his friend can play in the perfect place together and be in charge of the rules together, too. I told him to do some research and write me a project proposal.

What does this look like so far?

  • Research. Research. Research.
  • Watching videos over and over and then typing out summaries of what he watched and heard.
  • Figuring out how much bandwidth could be used by said server and how much it could potentially cost in terms of Internet usage and network bandwidth (like, will my work be affected by slower Internet speeds…)
  • Research. Research. Research.
  • Reading articles about others who have installed Minecraft servers.
  • Reading articles about mods and plugins for the server.
  • Making decisions about mods and plugins he may need.
  • Determining which process is doable.
  • Figuring out if our computer can handle it (in terms of ram, etc…) and then figuring out what to do if not.
  • Drawing out plans for what things might or might not look like

I am happy with Jack learning by exploring his interests – more than happy. I also work full time so if he can take care of the planning for me, that is a super huge bonus


But I do need to report to the DEM, so I’ve made a google form that I fill in once in a while so I can report on the competencies I witness him developing. This is purely for DEM tracking. So I didn’t include cross-curricular competencies but he develops a whack of those all the time, too.

Homeschool journal – December update
Homeschool journal – December update

I say I fill it in once in a while. I am not sure how long it will last, I forget to fill it in most of the time. But I think it will be helpful when it comes to creating data for a report so I will try to remember to be more consistent…

I also take lots of pictures to plop into said form. Again, for data purposes (and because Jack is a cutie-patootie).

Boy with a notebook and worksheets. Text:Story analysis. He was having a tough time explaining why he thought his book was good. (it just is!) Ha Ha so I pulled out these story analysis sheets and stream of consciousness brainstorming activities and he managed to figure it out. (and he may never say I like it because it is good again ;) )
Homeschool journal – December update
And this is the paragraph that evolved from I like the book because it is really good… (Diary of an 8-bit warrior by Cube Kid)

So, the project proposal he has been working on for the last little while hits competencies in Language Arts, Math, Science…. So by using the form, I am mapping the program to his project and not creating a project based on what the program expects. I am more comfortable with this. Less hitting my head on a wall figuring out activities for him to do just to target random competencies…

He works in workbooks once in a while, too, but less (and he is still way ahead of where his class is back in school, we checked with another student, so that helps to keep me less about the “we have to be schooly so he doesn’t fall behind!” panic because it still creeps up every once in a while.)

I find I suggest the workbooks when I am busy and to balance out the screen learning that comes with a focus on Minecraft. He does art activities, too.

I found a solution to the French workbook – he always wants me to read it to him but often I can’t because I am working full time while taking care of him and by the end of the day I am just bone-tired. So one day I told him to try reading it out loud & recording what he reads on his tablet. It helped with his comprehension and he was able to do the questions independently. Bonus!

For scheduled stuff, he practices French with a free tutor from LEARN and takes these awesome (free) coding classes with Pinnguaq. He also does (free) reading and science activities with Let’s Talk Science and Frontier College (we’ll shift to the McGill version in January, still free.)

There are also a couple of classes we pay for (roughly 15$ a week): One is where he works on impromptu speaking skills (he wanted this because he makes videos of Minecraft exploits and wants to improve his banter) and another where he learns about architecture while building replicas in, you guessed it, Minecraft.

If there is something that I still want to add, it is really a (local preferred but doesn’t have to be, I guess) consistent group of buddies he can meet with to play Minecraft or just to hang out with online on a regular basis. He plays with one friend but she is in school so it can’t happen during the day and if she is busy… he is out of luck that day.

Really, he learns most of what he learns by reading and talking about it. And by listening to podcasts. Ask him what he thinks about the times when settlers first came here…. he’ll let you know – and with a much more balanced view than what is learned in the classroom.

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