Lesson Plans: January 2014

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Hello, January. Here is what we’re up to.

Vincent, 12 years old, grade 6: Vincent will begin the new year with a block on geometry that will include both geometric drawing and history. I am using Melisa Nielsen’s geometry curriculum for grades 5-7 as my guide and I have found it to be exactly what I need. Melisa and I really gel when it comes to math. I highly (highly) recommend her math book for grades 1-5, especially if you are coming to Waldorf late. Her geometry book continues where her math book leaves off with the same simple clarity and full-scale lessons. I am starting Vincent with the Grade 5 lessons, as I think they provide a solid foundation, not to mention they will be challenging enough for both of us. To augment this practical and artistic study, we are also going to read the illuminating String, Straightedge and Shadow by Julia E. Diggins. This is a fascinating book about the philosophical foundations of mathematics in general and geometry in specific and also a wonderful continuation of The Library at Alexandria by Kelly Trumble that we read back in the fall with Rome.

Jude, 8 years old, grade 2: Jude will be exploring geometry as well, using Eric Fairman’s excellent guide Path of Discovery: Volume Two. I remember perusing this book back in the summer when I was doing my initial planning. I kept checking the cover to make sure what I was reading was really for a second grader. It was, and a lot of the same concepts are echoed in Donna Simmons’ Second Grade Mathematics as well. In addition to drawing the circle, square and triangle, we will also freehand an octagon and a hexagon. We will explore how triangles and squares relate, which will lead into a lesson on square and triangular numbers. The afternoons will find us all listening to the second book of the Little House series, Little House on the Prairie. This has become a tradition to start the new year with the Ingalls family. I buy the audio cds and we periodically revisit them throughout the year. (I think we listened to Little House in the Big Woods about five times last year.) We have gotten away from afternoon storytime and I am looking forward to having this quiet, intentional hour to sit, listen and sip tea.

Sheila, just about 44: January is a funny month. Usually chock-full of sweeping declarations and virtuous resolutions, it can be somewhat of a bust. Coming off December, which is always funky in some form or fashion, I usually try to start in slow this month: take stock and assess the first semester; get back to rhythm; plot out the remainder of the year. This is a lot, and yet, I normally see January as a place of prolonged paralysis. We don’t have the fresh energy that begins the new year, nor the downward momentum that kicks in around March or April. Last year, this led to serious thoughts of doubt (you can read about that here and here). Rather than staring wide-eyed at the next two months, viewing them as a dead-zone full of mental and emotional land mines, I am trying to reframe the picture and change my thinking. January and February are the fulcrum of our school year. They are a place of balanced rest. With this in the forefront of my mind, I’m going to use the next 60 days to collect my energy, make some adjustments and continue down the path. Thanks for walking with me.