Montessori Elementary Homeschool Blog - with documentation of our infant Montessori, toddler Montessori, and primary Montessori experiences; as well as preparation for the upcoming adolescent Montessori homeschool years.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Writing Experiences - Upper Elementary

Reading The Remarkable Journal of Professor Gunther von Steuben
Legoboy was finally able to start his Cover Story program we ordered a few weeks back. Through Homeschool Buyers Co-Op, we got it for a significant discount and we were one of the first people to receive it. He has long had his eye on their high school "One Year Adventure Novel" (he kind of prefers their follow-up program on Science Fiction and Fantasy, but he knew he would do the Adventure version first) - and was SO excited when they created the middle school level "Cover Story." At the time we learned this, he was in an online middle school literature course on Lord of the Rings with my favorite college professor - so he already had an inkling he might be able to do this middle school writing course sooner than "6th grade". 
Well, it took a few weeks for our lives to settle into the current school year (our school year still adjusts at Advent, but we have school-year-based activities and programs we join or I lead) - and he had a few requirements of my own before I was entirely certain of his readiness: I wanted him to review the lower elementary grammar boxes material (ostensibly to help me with some errors I had in the files, but also for his own review since we're not in a classroom where built-in review just happens), he also had some more language analysis work to work through - we will finish that up concurrently with his writing program. Otherwise, his "language arts" for the 'year' is in this box: 

I say 'year' in quotes not just because of our Advent school year change - but also because, well, it's Legoboy. He's creating a magazine about (guess!). I just have a strong feeling things won't take a typical school year. Although - they might. We shall see. I do anticipate by Easter, he will have produced his own magazine, but I wouldn't be surprised if it becomes a Christmas thing is all ;) 

What is in the box?

Teacher guide; student text; Journal (reading/writing); DVD set

The DVD does most of the teaching, with a lesson watched each of three days a week. There is a bonus DVD on grammar in case the child needs some additional work there; otherwise the program assumes the child has a good foundation there. Each of the core lessons are followed with a tiny number of pages done in the...

student book: focuses on exercises which clarify their topic, get them thinking about their topics, looking at different styles of writing, reading some short story selections and analyzing.

Write in the journal 5 days a week - instructions are given on the DVD. It alternates between the "Professor" and sets of blank pages to be filled in by the student. In the beginning days, the student writes sets of questions that come to mind - could be unrelated to one another - just to get started on "thinking": just asking the questions. Later they start to look at how to find the answers to those questions. Hm. Sounds a bit like "research" ;) The journal assignments build from asking questions, to describing interesting details, to a 5-sentence paragraph, to dialogue, to a paragraph describing a person, to a paragraph "mini-story" - and that's just the beginning!

If you follow the program to a T, it comes out to 3 days a week of DVD and workbook; 5 days a week of writing in the journal. Not very much time spent at all, which is great for someone with a full schedule. I really like this simplicity, because it means we have so much more flexibility with it when it comes to possible sickness, scheduling, and focusing on developing relationships with other people.

This first week is picking a theme - Legoboy is doing all the exercises in this section even though he has his theme already so that he gains experience for the future, when perhaps he won't have a topic already picked out that is acceptable to the current authority - i.e. college.

This is where I am (again!) so in love with the Montessori method of education and living. We keep things to the essential keys - and then we can flesh out interests, pull in other resources at will, and enjoy the learning process. Yes, I'm gushing. ;) I enjoy these moments as they come!

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