What if?

I started this year with a dream to build a fair, free, democratic classroom where students have agency over their own learning… and to be completely honest, it has been quite difficult. Most…

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What if?

Love this. So good to find tribe members, helps me know that there is a deep intuition toward respectful, reverent learning.

Making Good Humans

I started this year with a dream to build a fair, free, democratic classroom where students have agency over their own learning… and to be completely honest, it has been quite difficult. Most days I feel like I am trying to jam a round peg into a square hole. There are so many constraints and structures that run deep within the current system of school, that it has been difficult to circumvent them.

This year I have tried to change my practice to fit within the system, but I’m beginning to wonder if those goals are fully achievable without changing the system itself.

So I have begun to wonder…

What if curriculum, instead of being multiple pages with hundreds of bullets, was simply “find out where students are and help them move along”?

What if assessment, instead of being focused on achievement, measured and celebrated the amount of progress made…

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Gulf Life

Being ejected from my house for unexpected complications during renovations led me to seek refuge at my parents’ house. It wasn’t long before our different lifestyles (namely my having four children) led me to consider yet other arrangements. Like my in-laws.  During this time, we played outside, learned a lot of things out of doors, did chores around the yard, watched history documentaries, worked on our grade-appropriate workbooks (to make mom feel like we’re “doing something”–y’know, BABY steps) and generally tried to fight off anxiety (me, not them, for the most part, they are having a ball). Well, a two day evacuation has led to, hmm, two WEEKS now? We celebrated Valentine’s Day with Granny, went shopping at Five Below and Target (where I bought my VDay prezzie–a set of linen-cotton blend sheets–I’ve wanted to try some for so long and they were on SALE! yay!). I got hubs a Rocky t-shirt, and an incense holder and some incense. I got the kids cool storage ottomans and heart-shaped plates.

The next day was Amy’s birthday.  4!!! Oh, what a spicy little sugar she is! We collected all kinds of half-off goodies to make her a fun and proper celebration and she exuded gratitude for every little gift and nuance of her day.  Such a delight. Daddy even got to come.  Papa was very tired after and it was seen that we would probably need to uproot and find alternate arrangements once again. We sat and considered options and I had decided I would stay a day or so more and then depart, come what may, for my home. As I relaxed on my Granny’s basement couch, she came to me and suggested we go to the GULF OF MEXICO for a week!!! Talk about enthralling. We booked our trip and took off the next day.

So here we are, playing in the waves and sand in 70 degree weather. What an amazing granny.

Sadly yesterday, while pulling into WalMart, she hit a stop sign concrete post thing very hard and damaged her vehicle so badly it can’t be driven. So that slightly complicates things, but I think we will manage anyhow.

My hide-a-bed calls me, and my shivering body needs to snuggle in the covers next to little Wayno!


Science: Bird watching, we identified cardinals, blue jays, snowbirds, chickadees, males and females at the bird feeder outside our grandparents’ kitchen window.

History/Geography: MythBusters: Nazis, Hitler’s stolen treasure, lost ships of Spain, Viking ship found in California

ELA: Short I words, short o words, rhyming, worksheets in “Second Grade Good Grades Workbook”

Math: Addition (double digit, carrying) word problems, addition sentences, number order, word problem clues, solving strategies, patterns, Sudoku

Music: “Wonderful Words of LIfe”, Chopsticks Anyone?, If I Won Ten Million Dollars, Penguins on Parade, Four Spiders Crawling, The Silly Scarecrow, New Piano lesson with teacher.

Cabinet Shuffling

We and our cabinets are being shuffled currently. Us, to different abodes while work is done on our house. Our cabinets, to a new open space that will soon be our new kitchen! I now sit in the basement of my mother-in-law’s house to report our doings for posterity.

Fred has learned about Abraham Lincoln as he reads an American History book we found in the basement. He completed his Saxon math assignment (I have been having unschooling anxiety–not fun, not pretty) because I have been needing a sense of progress and work based on my deeply ingrained schoolish paradigm. Some days I am “freer” than others. Yesterday we did several pages in an educational workbook I picked up from Aldi’s. We also read Genesis account of Adam and Eve as I am trying to expose them to Ambleside Online’s list of books and assignments.  We have also gotten to Chapter 3 in A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh. His worksheets were about contractions, homophones, and word-problems with double digit subtraction. He has read the DK book, Battle, and Peanuts and Calvin and Hobbes comic strips.  He is learning to play the song, “Wonderful Words of Life,” on the piano.

The struggle against negativity and criticism has been real. I really derailed after I went into my husband’s room and saw a thank you note that Fred and I had written for a friend of my mom’s on top of a stack of papers. I had decorated it with whimsical drawings and had said, “We really love spending time with you.” At the time, I had not meant anything flirtatious, I had included the illustrations to make it more personal and it is not unusual for me to be effusive in my friendliness. But I feared he had been angered by it by it’s conspicuous placement and upon rereading I could denote a hint of flirtation. It wouldn’t be a huge deal if the intended recipient was not a young unattached male. So I thought and feared about it too much and it has ruined my week. It is very important to me to be a good and faithful wife and I have worked really hard to be such so it was a total downer to think I may have violated my husband’s trust. But I don’t know how to bring it up without making it weirder. So I have decided to just continue to love and hope that in time I will totally forget this.

Unschooling Isn’t

In which the mommy discovered that unschooling isn’t letting your child do absolutely whatever they want while you run along after them, breathlessly administering their every wish. It just kind of is. Insofar as that’s ok. But what about when it’s not ok with you?

It’s ok with me as long as my kids are happy. By happy, I mean, smiling faces, contendedness, flow, respectfulness and loving. But somehow what I was doing was leading to extreme entitledness and rudeness and disrespect for all authority. ???

So here’s the plan. I’m going to do our own slowly paced version of Ambleside Online curriculum. We’re not going to watch YouTube videos until Dad comes home (because to be honest, we were spiraling out into some not nice place). This just gives us a framework to expect an environment where other work can be done.

Anyway. This is to say. For me, unschooling isn’t free reign for kiddos. Now, unschooling is respecting choices of children. So if you think they should do math and they want to read, then ok. But if I identify a direction that seems to be leading to bad fruit, I feel it’s my job as a mother to monitor it. I know the argument to that would be to let the child learn for themselves what is bad and good, but I don’t agree. I had cousins who were raised that way and have seen the struggle they have had in life with drugs and bad friends, and I think that unschooling isn’t unparenting. And part of parenting is stepping in and giving direction. And if it okay for us to step in and give direction then I shouldn’t be afraid to do that. And I was, I didn’t want to interfere with the learning process. Which I chalk up to my being totally ridiculous. Anyhow, my next anecdote:

Bedtime is a great time to introduce something they would otherwise resist. Case in point: Winnie the Pooh. I put the YouTube read-aloud by Judi Dench (Dame) of Winnie the Pooh as the kiddos went to sleep last night. And they loved it! Even the eight yo was like, this is wonderful and listening with rapt attention. So Bedtime Debuts it is.

Pushing on!

Story Time

We went to story time at our library. It was a picture book about Mexico. We talked about fiestas, comida, Aztecs and Mayans, temples, ruins. Mariachi music played. We made sombreros and maracas and received wooden peg dolls painted like a Mexican girl.

We played Minecraft, navigated the computers and DVD players, checked out massive books on spy gear, Captain America, battle.

We played with the kids at BK, played more video games, watched The Secret Life of Pets, got bow and arrows at Dollar General, perused Goodwill, opened the door for a man in a wheelchair and helped some people pick up lots of pony beads when they were spilled.

We came home and ran a lot outside, took baths, dressed in our suits and went to the Mexican restaurant to have dinner with Uncle John. James went home to spend the night with Granny.

Freddie did math challenges on Khan Academy and wrote some passages from the book, Ultimate Spy.