Today was one of those ‘magic’ days.
It started out with me taking a deep sea fishing trip in the morning off the coast of Budva, Montenegro. We didn’t catch many fish, but it was enough to make into a tasty ceviche for dinner that evening. At lunch, we ate at the Astoria Beach Hotel and had one of the best deserts of our lives. Lisa and Ava had an ice cream, (caramel crunch sundae) and I had a chocolate soufflé, with milk chocolate, cream, and ice cream on the side that was so decadent, we had to layout on the beach and rest for 30 minutes afterwards as we were so relaxed and couldn’t do anything else. Ava fulfilled her dream of ‘flying’ by taking a 10 minute paragliding trip around the bay which she said was one of the most amazing experiences of her life. You should have heard her:
“That….was….so fun!” She exclaimed.
“Were you scared tootie?” I asked.
“No! Even when we got really high up. Can I go paragliding one day?”
“Well daddy….” she went on. “What if I want to skydive one day, or be a pilot?” as if to make a point.
Fazed by the realization that I may have led her down a dangerous path with a gateway activity, I knew then my little girl would not remain little forever.
“I think we’ve created a monster.” I told Lisa.
“But she’s our monster.” She cooed back to me.
It’s been unseasonably hot here; the new normal of global warming. When we arrived here in Budva a few days ago, a massive heatwave hit Europe and sent temperatures into 40 celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit). Like most people here, we’ve been spending our days at the beach, eating gelato to keep cool followed by a dive in the surf. Holiday goers from Russia, Serbia and other parts of Europe lounged around in their speedos and thongs, working off their hangovers from last night’s shaving cream party, smoking, and eying the next watering hole.
Before heading out for our day, we use the 4 hour gap between breakfast and lunch for our ‘learning journey’ comprised of our literature study, math practice, foreign languages and typing work. The amount of apps and platforms that exist today have made remote learning a breeze.
Literature Study of ‘Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing’
I thought we would wait longer to start ‘Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing‘, but we jumped in as soon as summer started. Ava has always enjoyed reading and although we’ve read to her (and vice versa) as a family a lot over the years, this is the first robust literature study that we’ve done as her teachers. Common core reading focuses more on text based evidence than the whimsical ‘Text to self, text to text” connections of yesteryear that may not end up citing any text based examples at all. Our reading format is as follows:
- Start by summarizing what has transpired in the story so far.
- Sharing key details from her reader’s notebook.
- Reading and adding key details, important passages and unfamiliar words into her reader’s notebook.
Although we’re only in the second week of our trip, we are nearly through Judy Bloom’s heralded classic, reading two chapters per sitting and laughing the whole time. I’ve been trying to help Ava formulate key questions which may help her answer the ‘main idea’ of the text when she’s finished.
Math Practice with Khan Academy
As our first project in math is very Geometry dependent, we’re focusing on Geometry and factors first rather than multiplication and division in Khan Academy. I first started using ‘Khan Academy’ as a math teacher years ago when it first landed on the scene and it’s only gotten more robust over time. In the years since it’s debut it’s made better use of formative assessment and even integrating end of course chapter tests which aren’t so easily passable unless the child has really learned it. It’s also come to support manipulatives such as rulers and protractors that can be moved around with the apple pencil. Our math practice sessions usually go as follows:
- Reviewing multiplication tables for 10 minutes. When Ava started learning her multiplication tables, I originally used ‘Multiplication.com‘ which has a number of games that kids can play to help them with math facts. The ‘timer’ was causing her stress, so we migrated to ‘Mathisfun.com‘ which has a multiplication table trainer that you can set on a day limit, giving the child plenty of time to answer without the stress of a clock.
- Khan Academy practice. We’ve been tearing through the dashboard and at our current pace, we will probably finish by early spring. My applied learning goal is that she’ll use her skills to solve some real-world math problems along the way in a project-based learning approach. Project based learning in math (and well, any subject for that matter) is not merely ‘tacking on’ a project at the end of a unit, but using a unit and its multiple lessons to incrementally solve a problem over time. Opponents of project-based learned argue that it doesn’t allow for higher frequency of ‘skill and drill’ type scenarios of guided and independent practice and that the inevitable project ends up being a differentiated monstrosity which is more a product of the child’s interests rather than intended learning objectives.
The thing I don’t really like about Khan Academy is having to retake entire unit tests if there is one section or part that a child struggled with. Of the 21 sections encompassing ‘Geometry’, Ava passed all of them save 1 and could not ‘level up’ until that particular skill was reflected in the unit test.
Typing Practice with Typing Club
I learned to type on a classical secretary’s typewriter back in middle school. ‘Typingclub.com’ is a free program that takes learners through basic keystrokes and graduates to higher and higher keystrokes.
Foreign Languages with Dualingo
Dualingo gives foreign language speaking and writing practice in an easy to use platform. When I turned my back, I learned that Ava was taking ‘Klingon’ which would serve her well in a trekkie group at ‘Comic Con’ so we’re focusing on French (which she’d learned for 2 years at school) and Swahili which might come in handy in east Africa in August and September.
That night, we watched ‘The Goonies’ which was a childhood favorite of mine that Ava had never seen. I told the girls that I knew it a little ‘too’ well and could recite the lines verbatim, which I did for the whole start of the movie. You should have heard the girls:
“STOP DADDY!” That’s so annoying!
“Geez, even when you’re married to a someone for over 10 years, you learn something new about them!”
I’m scary like that.