Sunday, July 17, 2016

Four Weeks Ending 17 July 2016

Long time, no blog - nearly an entire month in fact. Several reasons for this. The first is homeschooling teens just isn't as exciting and blog-worthy as homeschooling younger kids. Most weeks - at least around here - are much like the ones before. Also, blogs just don't seem to create a community the way they once did. It seems that all the action is now on Instagram. Since I'm not a photographer and more a words than pictures person, Instagram isn't such a good fit for me. So I'm debating (again) the issue of whether or not to keep this blog going. But until I reach a firm decision I'll try to do better about keeping this up-to-date.

The missing month has encompassed the last three weeks of the second (of four) term in our school year, plus the first week of our two week break. I'd like to say that the last three weeks of term were filled with lots of focus and academic business but that wouldn't really be true.There has been a lot of sickness doing the rounds and Miss 15 worked more hours than usual covering for other coaches who were sick, Then (of course!) she spent a few days sick herself.

Still she kept up with her maths and is exactly where we thought she'd be, working at the planned rate of four lessons per week. She continued investigating child labour in Victorian Britain for history, mainly using material found online since locating books has been harder than we'd anticipated. We also relearnt the lesson that while Miss 15 appreciates a lot of input into the topics she studies, she wants guidance into the actual what and how of that study. So, we made the decision to broaden her child labour studies, to find some organised printed material and for me to get more involved than I have been with this subject.
Opening the package with our new curriculum choice for history. Miss 15 will examine child labour in America during the Progressive era.

I know she also did some work for her writing course but I'm a little vague as to exactly what that involved - the perils of not blogging for so long I guess. I know  that she finished the first section of Bravewriter's Help for High School and we did an exercise or two learning about and practising the rhetorical techniques of logos, pathos and ethos.

At least I remember lots of good stuff that happened in ornithology though. She finished the Birds Without Borders curriculum, that was one of her main projects for the term. The final lesson involved creating a conservation plan for an individual species and presenting it using PowerPoint. We adapted the lesson somewhat since she decided to focus on a New Zealand bird (the curriculum is North American) and that necessitated a few tweaks.

One of her PowerPoint slides.

She also finished her field guide (another of the term's main projects) designed to help beginner birders identify any of the birds they are likely to see at one of our favourite birding sites.

An extract from Miss 15's filed guide.

Then we moved onto ethology/animal behaviour and learnt all about ethograms. How had I never heard of these before? We initially used a lot of material designed more for middle schoolers, especially The Ethogram and Animal Behavior Research and some information in a series of educators guides from Lincoln Park Zoo. I'm not worried about them being "too young" since they were a great introduction and we moved through them a lot faster than the suggested pace. We were meant to conclude with a field trip to one of our local wildlife parks where Miss 15 planned to complete many different types of ethogram as part of a research assignment, this one based on an assignment from a third year university course. However, sickness and bad weather put this on hold until after our break. But she did manage a few simple ethograms for practise, using waterfowl at a local park as her subjects. She also started a scientific writing assignment, a critique of a paper published in an ornithological journal. This was the other main thing I'd hoped would be finished by the end of term but wasn't. We fitted in a couple of  birding trips in a vain attempt to track down the most recent rarity spotted in our part of the world. The only consolation was the other birders we kept bumping into were no more successful that us! The bird is either hiding really well or has since moved on. We also attended a public lecture on Bar-Tailed Godwits and went to a talk on New Zealand Falcons and how they are being used to control pigeons on the university campus. That talk was at the monthly meeting of our local birding group and was a real highlight since the presenters brought their falcons with them! As well as all this Miss 15 gave herself a quick crash course in identifying some common Australian birds and created a Memrise course to help her.

A Memrise created exercise to help Miss 15 quickly identify any Australian birds she might see - in the few hours she isn't in the gym training!

The first week of the holidays started ridiculously early. Miss 15 and some of her trampoline clubmates were off to a training camp in Australia and needed to be at the airport just after 4am!  It's her first time overseas and she's paid for it all herself so a big achievement. After she boarded the flight I drove home (grateful for the fact that we live just a short drive from the airport) and returned to bed! I spent the rest of the week down at my parents' place. My Mum had back surgery a couple of weeks ago so it was a good chance to go and lend a hand. Slightly strange though since it was the first time ever that I've been away without at least one of my kids, and the oldest kid turns 24 next week.

Finally a quick update on the rest of the family - the ex-homeschoolers. Mr 18 passed his first semester of university with straight  As. It's always a relief to me as a homeschooling mum to know that my kids can cut it at the university level. (Only since - somewhat to my surprise in one case - my three oldest have all opted for university. If they chose some other path I'd be just as relieved and delighted to know they were well prepared for success in whatever that path was.) His second semester has just started and he'll be studying Accounting and Information Systems (both required for his degree) as well as Computer Science and Political Science. Miss 21 is still enjoying her time in England and has decided to stick with her job, despite its less than ideal aspects. Most recently she's made a two day trip to Cornwall.

Scenes from Penzance.

Mr 23 is enjoying his temporary research job, lining up interviews for a more permanent position, and preparing for the oral defence of his PhD which is scheduled for next month.

Linking with the Weekly Wrap-Up at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers.


  1. I remember the mass exodus of bloggers from blogging world when Facebook really took off years ago. It felt lonely for a time until I found more die hard bloggers. One way to stay in the blogging community is to link up to some kind of weekly wrap up. That seems to help keep a community going if that is a support to you.
    Blessings, Dawn

  2. I hope you'll keep blogging. I enjoy reading about older kids who are being homeschooled; I have two in middle school and I often stress and worry about those high school years.

    1. High school really isn't that diffiuclt. Although I'm glad we don't have to worry about graduation requirements, transcripts and university admission/scholarship requirements in the same way you do in the U.S. So far it has all been incredibly simple and straightforward. Although Miss 15 will probably not go to the same university as her 3 older siblings so I am a little daunted about dealing with new procedures. The university the others have attended is probably the most homeschool-friendly in the country.