Weekly Update with my Intense/Creative Learner

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I haven’t written out a weekly update in some time for a variety of reasons. One of the main reasons is that the twins do the same thing every week and I feel no need to update anything for them. Another reason is that my youngest is schooling in such an alternative way using a variety of materials (many that may not seem educational at first glance) that it sometimes is hard to sum up his work on a weekly basis.

This has been a transitional year for him in many ways. He seems older, both physically and mentally. The other day Autry remarked that there were no young children in our house anymore and I realized how true that is. My youngest is closer now to being a teen than being a young child and he seems to have made a definite shift this year mentally. Gone is the school day that I planned out for him using carefully chosen curriculum. His days are now filled with activities and curriculum of his own choice and I have learned to pull back, let go, and watch him soar.

He is not a typical learner in any way. He is a 2e kid who struggles in some areas and shines in others. He is sometimes very hard to parent and other times he is a joy. He is intense in everything he does and often at the end of the day I am very tired from our interaction but it is worth it because he is thriving and he is happy.

But what exactly does his learning look like? How does one parent a child who is gifted, intense, easily frustrated, full of anxiety, loving, creative, and sensitive. I have learned it is best to let this type of child lead their own learning and to support them as needed. I have left many ideas behind when it comes to this child and he is best served this way. Instead of thinking about traditional schooling and curriculum I think about all the great resources available to us and how we can use these resources to meet his needs.

This week he worked primarily with Scratch, his much-loved programming tool. He was featured for a game he created, and he has spent a good deal of his time replying to comments for this game. It is important to him to reply to anyone asking a question about the game or saying they loved it. Before being featured this was easily done, but when your game has over 17,000 views and 2,000 comments replying becomes very time-consuming. It is important to him though, and I believe it is teaching him good skills so I allow him the time to do it.

In addition to keeping up with this game he is currently working on the sequel that he has planned, Scratch City. He is trying to include many of the requests that other Scratchers asked him to do, but he found very quickly that he became overwhelmed. This happens sometimes when he takes on too much. I think this is very typical in kids like him. I stepped in and discussed it with him. Does he want to make a sequel? What does he want in his sequel? Is there a nice balance between what you the creator wants and what your audience wants? He is spending a good deal of time pondering this and in the meantime he is plugging along with the sequel. Here is a short clip of him showing me one of his new ideas for Scratch City, themes.

The boy also continued working on his animation series, Cindy and Chris. The newest episode will feature Cindy’s grandmother which is exciting. He has the story all planned out and is now working on the drawings. What he has done already is very good, and as I sit and watch it with him I am amazed at all he does. He draws, writes, records the voice-overs, and programs everything. It may not look like traditional schooling but there is much skill and creativity needed to make these episodes.

This week the boy also spent a good deal of time writing. He is working on a mystery right now and he planned out the mystery, the characters, all 12 chapters, and began writing the story. He worked his way through several pages before he cancelled the whole project. This happens quite often with him. As many projects that he does complete, there is as many that he doesn’t follow through with. This is where the intensity can get in the way and be a burden. Everyday his mind is going a mile a minute and some ideas are seen through and some are not. If he never finished anything I would be concerned, but he does so I don’t step in unless I feel he is overwhelmed by anything.

In addition to the above work the boy finished one book in The Three Investigators Series, The Secret of the Crooked Cat. He then started another one in the series, The Mystery of the Dancing Devil, and finished it. He has been on a Three Investigators kick for a while and he is hoping to write his own books for the series and get them published someday. He is planning the book now and is hoping that if he somehow gets it published that will lead to the series being popular once again. This is one of his many goals and one we spent a good deal of time discussing this week.

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The boy also began reading through the second Life of Fred language arts book. He loved the first one and requested that we buy the next one in the series which I promptly did because he was so in love with the first. He and I read Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio which we both enjoyed. We researched polio and spent a good deal of time on that because, once again, he was interested (this hardly ever happens with anything historical so I ran with it).

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We read Chiity Chitty Bang Bang together and he worked through the Arrow notes on it. He and I are both surprised at how much we enjoy this book. He especially enjoys the writing style of the author and wishes Ian Fleming had written a sequel before he died.

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The boy has a traditional math curriculum (Math in Focus) and sometimes he is able to work through it and sometimes it is very frustrating to him. This week was a week of frustration so instead he worked on math with Splash Math, an iPad app that I have for him. Some days it is easier for him to work on an iPad and other days he is able to work more traditionally. Having options works for him and helps him work on the skills he needs without frustration.

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The boy finished up the week listening to Curtain: Poirot’s Last CaseThe twins have been on an Agatha Christie kick for most of the year and their enthusiasm has spread to both the boy and I. We love to read the stories, watch the tv episodes, and now we all enjoy the audiobooks. This one is Poirot’s last case and it is narrated by Hugh Fraser who plays Hastings in the television series. All three kids are enjoying it, and I am enjoying some much-needed quiet time while they finish up the book. It has been a very tiring week but it has been a joyous one. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Decca’s Fifth Grade Plan

Decca is a very creative learner who needs to be constantly challenged or he will tune out. Knowing this I have picked out materials that I think will keep him engaged and interested in the work. Most of these choices he used last year or the year before, so I know they fit his learning style.

Moving Beyond the Page

His main curriculum is Moving Beyond the Page for ages 10-12. Decca had previously used the 7-9 and 8-10 levels, and he loved both the books and the work. Last year I decided to try something different, but this year we are back. There is nothing else I have found that has matched my creative, gifted learner as perfectly as Moving Beyond the Page. He has already started the first unit, and he is happy to be working through it again.

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Moving Beyond the Page covers language arts, science, and social studies, so it is a very complete curriculum.  Decca is a language arts nut though, so I have decided to add more studies to his year. We used Bravewriter’s Arrow last year, and we are using it again this year. A subscription to the Arrow is for the whole year, and it comes with ten issues for ten books. I like the selection of the books this year, as many of them are books Decca would not have read on his own. He finished the first book, The Lemonade War,
in two days and is now working through the work in the Arrow. I find these issues to be a nice supplement to his MBTP studies.

I have also decided to add in Latin this year. Decca will be using Latin for Children through Thinker’s Cap Academy. He has only just begun this, and although it is not his favorite part of the day, he does do the work without complaints.

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For math we are sticking with the same materials as last year, Life of Fred and Beast Academy. Life of Fred and Beast Academy are the only math programs I have found that keep him interested and engaged in the work. Math will never be his passion, but with these programs he almost forgets that. I will also have him work through some apps on the iPad, as he always has fun doing that.

In addition to his formal work, he is going to continue working on his writing, his scratch projects (click here to see his latest game Life of a Gumball),  and his graphic design work. He is also taking piano.

I have to admit that I spent all summer worrying about the twins and their high school year. I spent very little time thinking about Decca’s year, and I didn’t order any curriculum for him until last week (and some this week). I am pleasantly surprised at how well this has turned out though. I may just leave planning to the last-minute again next year!

An Update from Autry

‘Ello, guys! This is Autry, here on Tad Town. I am here because I know my mom’s passwords to everything, and she doesn’t know what to write this week.

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*****Okay but stop for a moment and read my blog, if you havent!*****

Okay, back to Tad Town. We have decided to forsake our Spring Break and to take a “Midwinter Break” instead. I think it’s a good idea, since Easter is on a Sunday, so we’ll have that day off anyway. So this break is a more EFFECTIVE BREAK!!! Yesssss!!!

So, what have we been doing?

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Does this answer the question?

We are so obsessed with LOTR, GUYS. SEE IT’S MAKING ME PUT THE CAPS LOCK ON AND NOW I’M IN BOLD BECAUSE I’M SO FREAKING OBSESSED WITH LORD OF THE RINGS!!!!

Okay, so the Hobbit: an Unexpected Journey isn’t out on DVD, but it’s on Amazon instant video! So we bought it in HD last night and watched the whole thing! This is the third time I’ve seen it!

Here was the first time:

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And here was the second:

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And so now, oh happy day, it’s on amazon! We watched all the behind the scenes videos because it’s interesting to see how big movies like this are made. So much work goes into it! And mom thinks it would be interesting if we wrote a paper describing the differences between the 1977 Hobbit cartoon and the 2012 movie.

So also we’ve been freaking out more about high school. Sometimes we want to go to Community College and sometimes we want to homeschool ourselves. It’s an ongoing debate. Me? I like the idea of community college. I went to OCC when I was 11. But apparently regular high school can get you more scholarships! So at the end of the day, I’m not sure…

Also, we are enjoying our homeschool group! It’s a group for gifted homeschoolers, and it’s really fun! Decca has made a friend there, and Tru and I like to sit on a blanket with the other teenagers in the group and draw, and make jokes that we find incredibly amusing, but that the passers by don’t seem to appriciate.

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(That’s the edge of the creek, where we set up our picnic blanket)

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And our drawing.

So Decca’s been busy with Scooby Doo. He writes thousands of words a day about that cartoon dog and his crazy adventures. Sometimes I’m like, “Decca stop…” And sometimes I’m like, “Well I’m just as much of a LOTR nerd, so never mind.” Tru and I like playing this story game where we take turns writing sentences. It’s on google drive so we can both do it at once!

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Oh, and our dear cat Newspaper passed away this week 😦 he was such a good cat, too. He will be missed.

On that happy note, this is Autry, signing off to do more break-related things!

~Autry

Autry and iPads, part 2

My daughter is having so much fun with the iPad mini she received for Christmas. She especially enjoys Sketchbook Pro‘s new time-lapse feature, and I thought I would share one of her creations:

Also, my daughter declared this week that she is “one of the biggest Lord of the Rings nerds on the planet”, and so she just had to record this song on Garage Band, another of her favorite apps.

She wasn’t very happy with it, saying that her voice was too cracky and flat that day, but I still think it is amazing that she recorded the main part along with all the chords in the background.

iPads are a tool for learning in the 21st century, and for my daughter they are a tool for creating!

Creative Learning with an iPad

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I am constantly amazed at what a great tool the iPad is for homeschooling. It is also wonderful for creative and gifted students. My kids all received an iPad mini for Christmas, and it is the single most used item in our homeschool now. It is perfect for watching videos, taking online classes, reading books, using as a whiteboard, listening to music, writing notes, and much more.

I want to highlight how all my kids use their iPad, and this week I am focusing on Autry. She is musical and motivated by creating and sharing, and I think her favorite apps reflect this.

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One of her favorite apps is GarageBand . She loves to record vocals and her ukulele playing then add other tracks. The pic above is from a song she is currently working on. Sometimes she uses the music for a movie she is editing, other times she shares a song she made on SoundCloud. Whatever she does, GarageBand is a great, creative outlet for her.

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Another app that she uses quite often is Pages. Autry loves to write and to illustrate her books. She utilizes Pages for her writing, and she imports her drawings from SketchbookPro, another app that she loves. I am impressed by how easy these apps are to use, and how professional the finished product looks.

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Autry also enjoys blogging  (she gets that from me) about her life, her friends, and her music. She uses the WordPress app for her blogging needs. She is able to take pictures on her iPad, edit them using Camera+, and then import them right into WordPress. She then adds her text and any other media she wants and then she is done, no computer needed at all.

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