Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Poetry of Logical Ideas

Eler Beth has had quite an extra Fall Break over the past week or so. She got to spend a few days at Heather's, then a sleepover at the Johnson's, and then preparing for and going hunting. This week we must knuckle down and get caught up on some school work.

(By the way, Thomas got four does today. Two of them came home to our freezer, and two were given to a friend who will appreciate them. So along with Eler Beth's doe, that's three deer so far for our freezers.)

The title of this post comes from Albert Einstein: "Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas." Math is what we are mostly concentrating on for the next month or two, specifically algebra. Eler Beth is a high school freshman this year, and I have, over the years, been asked by several mostly well-meaning people how I would handle the higher maths when we got to them. (Well, some weren't so well-meaning, I know. Some people seem to feel threatened by parents who home school. At least they seem to me to speak defensively and even challengingly about it.) So, anyway, I will tell a little about how I handle algebra: Step By Step.

Earlier in the year I decide what Eler Beth should be proficient at for her age and abilities. I go to the state's proficiency requirements on Indiana's government web site. Then I choose texts and workbooks that seem to cover a nice combination of things she's already got down pat with the next steps she needs to be building to get where she needs to be by the end of this year. I find videos showing easy-to-follow steps for things like multiplying and dividing fractions, plotting graphs, building algebraic equations, and oh so many other things. YouTube is good for this, and so is Netflix. There are a LOT of scholastic videos on Netflix that you can view instantly on your computer at any time with your subscription. You don't have to get them in the mail. I use Netflix all the time for almost every subject.

Then I map out our lessons for each week. I try to build a new skill or two each week while reviewing ones we learned in previous weeks. I may print out worksheets, use workbooks, or we might just work together with a white board or pencil and paper. But there are two things I have learned this year with algebra. One is that Eler Beth learns best when I sit down beside her and we learn together. Or, rather, she learns, and I RE-learn.

I don't pretend to be a math whiz. It was not my best subject, and it takes me a while to get things. But I was rather good in algebra -- I think because it is so much like a language to me, and I have always been good at language. Algebra is a way of speaking, a building of parts; learn the parts and the correct order in which to put them together, and you will be able to compose something that gets a message across. That, to me, is language. But it has been many years, so I learn along with Eler Beth; I don't teach her. When we get stuck, we research together to see where we went wrong or what we need to do differently, or -- and this is the second thing I have learned this year -- we ask Andrew. Andrew is my secret weapon. He was a math whiz in school, and he comes in handy now. And Eler Beth will quite often listen to him with more patience than she does to me.

So tomorrow we get back to our algebra. I know Eler Beth won't be exactly happy about it, but personally, I'll be glad get it behind us for the year.


Lisa said...

I loved algebra in school too!! So glad she had a nice fall break. I would love to home school my children. I think most home schooled children know more than public school kids do about a lot of things! You are right though... people have strong feelings about it and I am not sure if my husband would let me. We've had too many hectic years behind us so probably not. But I wonder about it a lot.


I love the way you described Algebra as a language. I never would have thought of YouTube or Netflix for scholastic videos. I think it's great the way you incorporate all these things into your curriculum. One of my nieces is home schooled, so I understand the challenges.

Missie said...

I kinda miss home schooling. Brandon will "graduate" in January. He wanted to work thru the summer and get it over with. He's been done since July. He was hoping to start Community College in January but he won't be able to start until June. He doesn't mind all that much though. The college needs to verify he did all the state's requird work before the admit him.

Have a good week.