Friday, April 6, 2012

All About Spelling Typical Day

People often ask what a typical day is like with All About Spelling.  That can vary depending on the age and needs of your child.  The program is made to be taken at your child's pace, so you can work quickly through things that are easy, and spend more time on things that are harder.

Trying to review Phonogram cards with my jokester!

The first few steps of Level 1 are different but after that you fall into a pattern.  Each day you will start with review cards for 2-5 minutes at the most, then pick up in the book wherever you left off previously. I literally set a timer (I do 15 minutes for my 7th grader and 20 for my 9th grader). A typical "step" in AAS tends to work out this way for us:

Day 1:  we review cards, do the Review in the book (read word banks or review concepts, whatever is scheduled). and do part of the "New Teaching."  The New Teaching is all scripted for you, so it's easy to know how to demonstrate with the tiles and exactly what materials are needed.  When my kids were younger, we just leaned the magnet board against the wall or couch because I didn't have room to hang it in our school area.  

After the first year, I realized I could reorient the tiles vertically, so then I hung the board up on a nearby closet door:

Anna, Level 2, our first year

The color-coded tiles make it easy to show how letters work together in teams (phonograms), demonstrate various concepts, and make spelling easy for kids.  For older students, you can use the tiles just for demonstration purposes, or you can use underlining or markers to color-code if they have outgrown the tiles.

Day 2:  we review cards,  review the New Teaching briefly (I ask a question or start a statement and have my kids answer or finish the statement, to see if they remember what we are studying. If not, I simply tell them), do the 10 new words, and do part of the dictation.  All of the new word cards are put behind the Daily Review Tab.

Going over some of the new teaching 

Day 3:  we review cards (older ones with just a couple of the new ones mixed in--I like to stretch the new ones over a few days), quickly review the new concept we've been studying, and then we do reinforcement words and part of the dictation.  If my kids miss any of the reinforcement words, I make word cards for those and put them behind the Daily Review Tab.

Zach writing words I dictate from the word cards.

Day 4:  we review cards, review the new concept, and finish the dictation. Sometimes I get to the Writing Station (which starts in Level 3), sometimes I do this on Day 5.  Any words that my children miss while doing dictation I put back in daily review.  If it's an older word and I can't quickly find the card, I either make a new card (I keep blank index cards in my box), or I pencil it in next to the next step's dictation, and we review those words as we go through the next step.

Looking for edits in the dictation...

To see how I use dictation and the writing stations to teach editing, read my article help with writing.

Review Cards:  If my kids don't know a card easily right away, I like to leave it in the  Daily Review Tab all week and not move it to mastered until the following Monday. I figure if they remember it over the weekend, it's going to be more solid than if they just remember it one day after not knowing it the previous day!

I added in extra review beyond the daily review that AAS suggests. I described that briefly in my blog post, where I show how I organize my materials.

In the early days, steps often took only 1-3 days. We went through Level 1 in about 3 weeks because my kids already had all of the words memorized and just needed to learn the concepts. Level 2 took much longer because they also were learning the words at that level.    

Check here to see how I organize our supplies, or for help with writingreluctant writers, or 6 writing mistakes.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Amon's Adventure: A Family Story for Easter

Our family has enjoyed several Arnold Ytreeide books, and just finished Amon's Adventure this week.  (We have also read and enjoyed Jotham's Journey and Bartholomew's Passage, which are Advent books).  Ytreeide has the ability to make the reader see the familiar stories of our faith in a new light.

I won't post any spoilers, but Amon's Adventure touched such a deep chord within me.  Amon's father is falsely accused of stealing from the temple treasury, and is condemned to death by crucifixion--set for the day after Passover.  Immediately so many thoughts raced through my mind:

It's not fair!  He's innocent!  (As was our Lord.  Am I as indignant over his death?)
They can't take his life! (Have I come to "merely" accept Jesus' death as a matter of course instead of being upset?  But they didn't take Jesus' life--he gave his life)
It's too harsh to experience this gruesome of a death in a book (the callous we sometimes bear from hearing about Jesus' crucifixion was torn off for me just by imagining how the book might end...)
Surely the author will provide a way out (as Jesus provides for us...)
It's too personal--the main character's father!  (Does Jesus' death sometimes lose that "too personal" feel?  The disciples, Jesus' mother, others who loved him--wept at his death.  Do I?)
Would the father be the thief who hung next to Jesus and told the other thief that they deserved to die, as an "innocent" man?  (As I pondered this thought, I knew he could honestly say it if he knew Jesus--none of us are innocent...)

Along the way there were light and funny moments, as well as probing questions.  We got to see Jesus' ministry through the eyes of a skeptic, and the words and events were fresh and new.  Amon is clever beyond his years, but in the end learns that we are all powerless without God.  Suspenseful, exciting, thought-provoking--definitely another family favorite.  At the end of each section is a Scripture and short discussion question.

We'll have to read Tabitha's Travels next Christmas, as that's the only one we haven't read so far.