Posts Tagged With: math

Stormschooling

blizzardSo, we know about homeschooling, and we have extended that to roadschooling, but we’ve got a new one this year – stormschooling. Definition: the act of trying to supplement your children’s education while you are buried under 12 feet of snow.

For us, with our youngest daughter, this has been a bit of a blessing in disguise. She has been struggling to work at the same pace as her class in math, as many children do, and although we have been trying to work with her daily at home, we often find we are playing catch-up. After an unsatisfying performance on a test, we work on the skills she hasn’t mastered yet, but by the time we get to that, the damage to her self-esteem and her confidence with math in general, has been done. Also, the daily schedule of extra-curricular activities and homework makes it hard to fit “extra” math in. So, storm days provide us with an opportunity to do some focused math work in areas where we know she really needs it, and it can be spread out over the day so it doesn’t get too exhausting. It takes me back…

She is in the same grade our middle daughter was in the year we were on the road. We used lots of different tools in our roadschooling – lots of iPad apps, as well as online tutorials like Khan Academy, games, as well as more traditional drills, and even text books. It’s interesting to see what she responds to most, compared to her sister. Lots of the tools are still good, but I find myself having to search for more exciting ones as well, or just different ones from those her sister enjoyed/tolerated. We are finding motivation a bit off at times.

So far, the best motivation has been “math prizes” – Dollar Store purchases that are bestowed upon her periodically, not just for doing the math, but for doing it with a positive attitude. That’s the trickiest part. The fact that, as far as she’s concerned, I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m not the teacher, and am I actually aware that place value was weeks ago?! My clever response, “Place value is every day for the rest of your life,” does not seem to provide the motivational boost I require.

A three dollar Webkin, however, combined with weather conditions that do not allow easy escape, seems to work quite nicely. Bring it on, Winter!

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Geometry, Naturally.

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Two of our girls are currently studying geometry, so they are all about shapes right now. Walking by a fence the other day brought on comments from Darragh about parallel lines, a sidewalk stone evoked observations of perpendicular sides and right angles, and we just measured the perimeter of our cheese and crackers at snack time!
But the best one yet, I think, was a recent trip to Malham Cove in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. The place itself is beautiful; you walk across sheep-manicured fields and descend into a valley flanked by an 80 metre high curved limestone crag formed by a waterfall after the last ice age. It’s when you climb up to the top that the geometry happens; it is covered by limestone “pavement”, and is one of the few places in the world you can see this pattern of fissured rock known as clints and grykes. The actual lumps of limestone (clints) are shaped by deep fissures (grykes) formed by the flow of water from Malham Tarn, and deepened by the slightly acidic rainfall. Liah pointed out, and then jumped on, a trail of triangles, parallelograms, kites, trapezoids, squares and rectangles – not because I asked her to, just because she noticed, and we had the shared experience of learning the names of these shapes earlier in the week. So much more fun than drawing them on dot paper, and well worth my two days of very stiff calf muscles…

I guess geometry is perhaps the easiest math to make “real” for students, but I wonder if they would be making this many real-life observations if we hadn’t actually shared this learning with them? Roadschooling is giving us a unique opportunity – because we are so in tune with what our kids are learning, we can help make it relevant for them. And sometimes we don’t even have to help – it just happens naturally. In nature, even!

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I can feel those sore calves coming on!

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And did I mention scenes from Harry Potter Deathly Hallows were filmed here?

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