Progress Report 2012/2013
Cinder, Grade 5
Flora, Grade 3
prepared for the Calgary Board of Education
THE KIDS REPORT
“Cinder? I’m finishing up this year’s progress report. What do you want me to put in it? What did you learn this year?”
“I learned to read.” Giant grin. “Learned some coding, too. Um… Also I engaged in lots of floodiness. That’s about it. Put some big words into it to make it sound all fancy, okay?”
“Flora? I’m writing up the progress report for Mary Ann. What’s the most important thing you learned this year?”
“Never, ever keep anything of value in the basement.”
“Um… anything else?”
“No, that’s pretty much it. And I’m never letting you store my art in the basement again.”
The events of the last days of June have had a rather profound impact on all our psyches, it seems. However, there were 10 months of learning pre-flood. Really.
RECAP OF FALL 2012/WINTER 2013 FOCUS & GOALS
Our overall approach to the year was to continue Cinder and Flora’s learning adventure continues to be interest-led/delight-driven learning, but with a focus on “less is more”: fewer classes and fewer scheduled outings.
For Cinder: Cinder wanted to focus on practicing archery and Tang Soo Do, as well as learning to program so he could “mod” Minecraft.
For Flora: Flora’s big goal for the year was to work on her writing. She also wanted to complete a “major” work of art.
Both children wanted to work on their reading; Flora with the goal of “easily finishing” chapter books, and Cinder with the goal of “being able to read instructions.”
On the parents’ agenda: Sibling harmony, predictable rhythms, a continuation of the handwriting/copywork discipline, and a more active creation of time and space for “alone” reading/time with books.
PROJECTS AND OTHER ADVENTURES
Reports from the Literacy Front.
Cinder: “I can read!” That’s from Cinder, several times, in amazement, over the course of this year. Perhaps my favourite statement, “Wow, I finally get it—reading is fun when you know what the words are.” We don’t think he’s quite at what would be considered grade-level, and he still gets intimated by full pages of words. But he can read any sign, work through any set of video game instructions, follow server chats on line, and enjoys comic books and graphic novels every once in a while. He still prefers to have books read to him, and reads himself for information/to a specific purpose. But, what progress from last year, or even mid-point this year! We are very pleased.
We’ve continued handwriting and copywork practice regularly throughout the year, until the flood, and Cinder has made solid progress there as well, although this is one area of learning he’s engaging in where there is precious little delight.
Flora: Continues to be a strong and voracious reader. Her plan to “finish a chapter book this year” quickly became a plan to finish “a chapter book in a day,” and this is now routine; she’ll frequently motor through two books a day. She reads age-targeted books, graphic novels, cartoon strips and the first few pages of Moby Dick (there is a connection to Jeff Smith’s Bone series here) daily.
She practices handwriting, copywork and some self-initiated writing regularly—mostly lists, but also proto-journal entries—and this is an area that will likely become of even more focus for her next year.
Resource note: Susan Wise Bauer’s Writing With Ease workbook, although full of good ideas, had such terribly boring sentences, we abandoned it very quickly for a return to our own variations of sentences taken from books we were reading, or sentences created by Cinder and Flora.
Favourite Books 2012/2013
Both children, but Flora in particular, continued to revisit Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Heroes of Olympus, and Kane Chronicles series, primarily as audio books. We all read Mark of Athena, the latest in the Heroes of Olympus series, together.
Both children have intermittently returned to Jeff Smith’s Bone series. Flora sleeps with the books under her pillow, and Cinder self-practiced read from the books very diligently for several weeks in the fall.
Ursula Vernon’s Danny Dragonbreath series was the most celebrated new find, with both Cinder and Flora reading and re-reading all to-date six books in the series.
Another new author/illustrator was Nathan Hale, author of Ironclad, One Dead Spy and illustrator of Calamity Jack! and Rapunzel’s Revenge.
Other notable titles from the past year:
Fangbone: Third Grade Barbarian
Finished The Lord of the Rings! (Man, that’s a long, long book)
…And then it happened by Michael and Laura Wade
Little Vampire by Joann Sfar
How to Break a Dragon’s Heart, How to Twist a Dragon’s Tail, How to Cheat a Dragon’s Curse, Hero’s Guide to Deadly Dragons, How To Steal a Dragon’s Jewel by Cressida Cowell
Edgar & Ellen’s Mischief Manual by Charles Ogden
Rare Beasts by Charles Ogden
Mr. Popper’s Penguins
The Day My Butt Went Psycho (yes, it’s everything you think it is)
Calvin & Hobbes, all the collections, all the time
George Connor’s Olympian series, notably the new titles Poseidon and Hades
Stickman Odyssey by Christopher Ford (brilliant and hilarious)
Gecko and Sticky series
Note on “ok, now go and be alone with a book for a while”: This was a new element to our days we added in 2012/13, and it’s been embraced by Flora. Less so by Cinder, although he has been reaching for his Horrible Science magazines, Calvin & Hobbes books, and the occasional Danny Dragonbreath or another novel.
We continued to explore science, theoretically, primarily through the Horrible Science books and magazines, as well as the Basher’s Periodic Table, Chemistry and other books, as well as The Stunning Science of Absolutely Everything. We also explored some Youtube vlogs (notably V-sauce), but none of them caught either Cinder or Flora’s attention at the time. Other much enjoyed books included Grossology by Sylvia Branzei and Jack Keely and Mad Science by Bill Gray. There was also a brief return to The Mythbusters obsession.
As always, we’ve spent a lot of time in Drumheller, at both the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology and at Reptile World, attended the Science Days at the Telus Spark, and explored the parks and wild areas around the city. Notable day trips included: Ghost Lake and Ghost River sand dunes near Cochrane, Bow Valley Provincial Park, Big Hill Springs Provincial Park, Nosehill Park, Southland and Fish Creek Park, Prince’s Island Wetlands, Pearce Trout Hatchery, Edworthy Park, Shouldice Park, Banff and Canmore, and other areas near and within the city.
Resource note: Flora didn’t mind The Great Science Adventures book on vertebrates, but neither did she love it, and Cinder thought it was a make work project. They both preferred reading real, more in-depth books or watching DVDs about the subjects they were interested in.
Note for next year: the three-year-old brother energy made it very difficult to follow through on our intent of having more hands-on science experiments, and the current plan is to outsource this via out of house lessons / science club / Mad Science etc.
Flora and Cinder both took classes in the fall with Theresa Grassby of Grassby Studios, which Flora enjoyed immensely and Cinder less so, although both produced beautiful work. Flora has continued to create a great deal of art on her own, for herself and her friends. Cinder has done a little more exploration in this area than in the past this year, and has done some Minecraft-inspired art on his own initiative.
Flora completed her last year of Orff Music, Ensemble 2, this year. She enjoyed it tremendously, made new friends, and is very regretful she will not be able to take more classes with Wendy Rae. Flora also attended her first music concert, the London Calling show put on by Rev 52, and she again attended the CPO for Kids concert series.
Lego, Mindstorms, and Programming
Cinder took a Mindstorm class with Brickz4Kids in the fall and explored basic principles of coding through Scratch and modifying Minecraft mods and code. He is looking forward to continuing to explore this area in more depth through the summer and in the fall.
Both kids are big Minecraft players. Flora likes to play alone or on creative mode. Cinder likes to play with this friends on sometimes creative and sometimes competitive servers. He watches Youtube videos by other players and copies their techniques, strategies and mods, working his was to programming. The game has also helped his reading and spelling ability immensely. He also started his own Youtube channel and created three videos for it. He’s put a pause on that effort until he feels more comfortable with how his voice sounds on-line. (Sidenote: we did some speech therapy with Cinder with Theresa Adamson in November-January. It’s something I’d like to return to in the fall; we are negotiating.) Cinder has recently started his own server, which he runs for friends.
Flora loves to play Scribblenauts. It’s essentially her spelling curriculum.
Fitness and Health
Cinder: Tang Soo Do September through May, intermittent archery expeditions, swimming, biking, scootering etc.
Flora: Tang Soo Do September through May, gymnastics Septembers through December, swimming, biking, scootering
Y-Stage plays were the mainstay, with everyone attending all of the season’s age appropriate plays.
Anne of Green Gables: Flora had listened to the first Anne book in September, and was thrilled to attend the Theatre of Calgary production in May.
Calgary Young People’s Theatre: Flora attended a CYPT summer drama camp in July and had a fabulous time.
Cinder really got into the Horrible Histories magazines and books this year—building on his interest in the Egyptians and the Greeks from the Rick Riordan books. Both children listened to all of the Horrible History audio books currently available at the Calgary Public Library—the Terrible Tudors and the Vicious Vikings were particular favourites—and Flora mined the BBC Horrible History videos on Youtube, and the new Scholastic Horrible Histories series on Netflix. We’ve purchased the original BBC Horrible Histories TV series for them, and both are devouring it. Cinder also really liked Larry Gonick’s The Cartoon History of the Universe. Flora’s also done some work on the activity pages from the Story of the World workbook. We’ve also intermittently read Kayak magazine. We also read Horrible Canadian Histories: First Folks and tried to read Pierre Berton’s Canada Pushes West, but it’s either too boring or they are still too young for it.
Flora did some math exploration more or less at grade level via AlwaysIceCream.com. We did nothing formal on the math front with Cinder, except for one day when Sean sat down with him and flipped through a Grade 10 text book with him to discuss concepts—which he generally gets immediately. We think Cinder will be ready to go through some formal math curriculum next year—now that he can sit down for a while and write down numbers etc—and we don’t anticipate any problems with him moving through it at a quick pace when he’s ready to do so.
Lord of the Rings, Aliens in the Attic, Muppets Take Manhattan, The Three Ninjas, The Lorax, The Heffalump, Anne of Green Gables series (for Flora), Zoom, Ice Age, Ice Age: Time of Dinosaurs, Captain America, Christmas with the Cranks, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Mirror-Mirror, The Hobbit. Despicable Me 2, Pacific Rim.
Sibling and family harmony
Our primary goal for the past year. Well. A work in progress, as always. Their 3.5 year-old brother was a handful this season, and made a lot of their pursuits… challenging. They dealt with it relatively well, although we had to install locks on Flora’s door to keep the little brother from destroying her works-in-progress.
Many days at Glenbow Museum, visit to the Calgary Police Services Museum, Carifest, various neighbourhood street festivals
I’m sure I could craft this into a learning experience. But you know what? I’m not even going to try. They did what had to be done, and they saw their parents do what had to be done. Enough said. A more effusive report can be found here: unLessons from the Flood: we are amazing.
Both Cinder and Flora continued to make tremendous progress in their learning adventures. Cinder achieved his milestone of self-identifying as a reader, and made really quite remarkable progress in social, coping and processing skills. Flora reached all her self-identified milestones and then some, and continues to flourish as a reader, artist, and animal-lover.
Want more ideas for learning plans and progress reports? I’ve got all of Flora and Cinder’s plans and reports here at the moment.