Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What Spawn is Reading This Week and Happy Towel Day!!! - 5/25/2011

Woo! Busy, busy week here! So busy I just can't bring myself to walk you all through it. It's like Grand Central Station in here today. Suffice it to say I'm beat!

Let's kick things off with some "On This Day" news. Today is Towel Day! Celebrating the life and work of Douglas Adams is the order of the day today! "He's got a towel! Run away!" If you're a Douglas Adams fan, you've already got your towel draped around your neck, ready for any emergency the universe throws at you. If you're not and you don't and you aren't, you need to read "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" posthaste! Now! Get thee to a library!

"A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitch hiker can have. Partly it has great practical value - you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy river Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindboggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you - daft as a bush, but very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitch hiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have "lost". What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with." Douglas Adams 

In other CSMD news, Spawn finished reading "Treasure Island" several weeks ago and mowed through the follow-up we chose, "Around the World in 80 Days". There's some pretty mature subject matter in these, so if your child reads them, I'd suggest discussing each chapter or daily assignment as you go. Spawn surprised me one day with, "Mommy, what is opium?" Oh...well, then. O_o Maybe I should be rereading these before I give them to him! Whoops! =O

"Around the World in 80 Days" was a SMASH HIT with Spawn who loved the Jackie Chan movie of the same name and assumed the book would be identical. It's not, but he wasn't even a little disappointed! Woot! As Spawn reads these books, I ask him to keep some things in mind to help with his comprehension. Each day after he reads, I've been asking him to name the characters, settings, and problems in today's portion of the story. He'd been doing a great job, but as he's become a better reader and been able to read a greater number of pages each day, he's needed a more sophisticated way to keep track of the details. So we introduced note-taking to his independent reading assignments. Now he's making his own graphic organizers with headings for "characters", "settings", and "problems". Note-taking is one of those skills no one ever taught me and I struggled with constantly in highschool. Spawn now PREFERS taking notes as he reads to help him keep track of what he's reading. Note-taking is a total success as a comprehension strategy and it's AWESOME to have some success on that front for once! =D

He just began reading "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" yesterday - another favorite movie. He thought he might be disappointed in the story because now he knows that the book and the movie can be very different, but he seems to be enjoying the story so far, no complaints, lots of, I'm keeping my mouth shut and waiting to hear what he thinks of this one. ;)

Oh, Spawn answered some questions this week about "Treasure Island" and "Around the World in 80 Days" - just to give you an idea of what a 3rd grader is getting out of these books:

Assignment: "For today's assignment, we are going to post to a forum and make connections! Please respond to the prompt below in a post. Remember to check back and see what the other students in your class have to say about their book.

Think of all of the events that occurred in your book so far. Select one event that is similar to something that happened to you, a family member or a friend. If you are stuck, you can compare this event to an event in another story you read or a movie, play, TV show, etc.

In addition, I would like for you to write the title of your book in your post.

I'm looking forward to reading what you have to say!

Spawn's answer: "I read “Treasure Island” by Robert Louis Stevenson. There are a bunch of people, mostly pirates, who died in this story - just like my Popop {Xxxxx] who died a couple of years ago and my godmother’s rescued pitbull dog, [Xxxx] who died last year. Popop [Xxxxx] was like a pirate because he had a peg leg like a pirate. He had a surgery to remove part of his leg when he got sick and went into the hospital. Then he got a new leg and he sometimes pretended he was a pirate and he lost his leg in a bloody battle with other pirates at sea."

Assignment: "For today's assignment, I would like for you to answer the following questions in the text box below. Please use complete sentences. Spelling, grammar and punctuation count.

1) Write a summary of your book. If you only read a few chapters, that's ok! Just tell me what has happened so far. Please make sure your summary is at least 4 sentences long. (4 points)

2) Would you recommend this book to a friend? Explain why or why not. Please write at least 3 sentences to answer this question. (4 points)

Spawn's Answer: "I just finished reading "Around the World in 80 Days" by Jules Verne. In this book, Phileas Fogg's friends at the Reform Club offered a bet that he couldn't circumnavigate the globe in 80 days. What he didn't know was that Detective Fix from Scotland Yard went out after him to arrest him because he thought Phileas Fogg was a bank robber he was looking for. Phileas Fogg and his new French servant, Jean Passepartout, set out from London and visited cities in Europe, Africa, Asia, and North America, saved a princess, and returned to the Reform Club in London with only a few seconds left to win the bet and all the money!

I enjoyed reading "Around the World in 80 Days". I would recommend it to my friends. I liked this book because it is a great adventure story and I love adventures."

Ugh. Honestly, you'd think it would kill the rotten bugger to use more than the bare minimum of required sentences once in a while. >:(

That's the word so far this week. There may be more to come in the next few days as we get more details from a friend who may or may not be in labor with child number 2. Stay tuned for updates!

So long, and thanks for all the fish,
Chrissi, Cyber School Mom

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

DNA of Questionable Origin

So Spawn just used the phrase "trying to avoid disastrous consequences" in conversation with me. Seriously? Whose gene pool did this little wunderkind actually emerge from? My husband and I are smart people, don't get me wrong! But...Spawn is not like any other 8 year old I've ever met. In one breath he's making fart jokes and in the next he's stringing together vocabulary words his peers won't learn or understand until 8th grade. He's even reading at a 7th-8th grade reading level! I'm proud and yet baffled. Amongst our siblings (my husband, myself and our brothers), I was the best and brightest student with a solid "B" average throughout my academic career and even I managed to fail 10th grade history (once ;) ). Where did this child come from? We've joked for years that he must be the UPS man's kid because he's blond-haired and blue-eyed and CS Dad and I are most definitely neither of those! Now we know. Spawn must hearken back to some ancient, brilliant ancestor...whom neither CS Dad nor I take after ourselves. :P

Actually, when I spoke to my dad on the phone Sunday, he reminded me that his mom (my grandmother, Gloria) graduated from high school 2 years early and was one of the youngest students ever admitted to her nursing school in Bethlehem at age 16. Huh. Maybe it skips 2 generations. I got the fuzzy end of THAT lollipop.

So, when did you realize your kids were outdistancing you in some way for the first time? ;)

Chrissi, Cyber School Mom

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!!!

Here's hoping all you moms (and those standing in place of moms) are enjoying your day and spending it with the ones you love!

Chrissi, Cyber School Mom

Friday, May 6, 2011

What Spawn is Reading This Week - 5/6/2011

I know I don't usually post these on Fridays, but Spawn just wrapped up his first novel yesterday and I thought that was as good an excuse as any to celebrate. =D He finished The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and he LOVED IT!!! =D I am one happy mama today! Not just because he finished his first novel, but it's a classic, and he enjoyed it, understood it, and it's at a 7th - 8th grade reading level! Dude. I taught him that! My home/cyberschooled 8 year old is reading 5 grade levels ahead of his classmates! =D I'm going to buy myself a milkshake tonight in lieu of a pat on the back. =D After he completed his independent reading book, his language arts teacher asked him to complete the first three questions of a worksheet to determine comprehension. Since Spawn finished the book already, we opted to complete all 6 for this book and we'll do all 6 questions for the next book as well. (More on the next book later on.)

Spawn really enjoyed this book, so we zipped through the questions easily and without any grumbling on his part. It has been excellent typing practice for him as well. =D (I had to export this from Word to PowerPoint to save it as a JPEG, so you may have to click the picture below to zoom in and read Spawn's answers.)

When all was said and done, he was glad he'd chosen this book first. It gave him a taste for adventure and mystery reading and was just the right, masculine type of novel to keep a young boy's (excuse me) man's interest. He feels more adult for having read it, too, so it's building his self-confidence as well. It also inspired us to play some mystery games (Scooby Doo's Haunted House board game) and to watch a Sherlock Holmes-inspired movie (The Great Mouse Detective). 

Spawn has a new pen pal that he will be getting in touch with at the end of this month (we'll call his pen pal "A" for now on our blog). So in the spirit of Sherlock Holmes, we're also putting together a little theme park mystery scavenger hunt for his pen pal, A, (who happens to live in the Orlando area and has an annual pass to Walt Disney World =D).

Spawn's next independent reading choice is "Treasure Island" by Robert Louis Stevenson. He just began reading it yesterday and he's already really involved in the story and characters. It has much shorter chapters and a LOT more of them, so I don't know how or if that will effect Spawn's reading. Also, it's one long story rather than three short stories in the life of a single character, so I'm curious to see how he handles the comprehension needed for a much longer story overall.

And can I just say what a fabulous deal these Great Illustrated Classics are? $3.00 a piece when I find them in the grocery store or craft store and this publication of "Treasure Island"  that I bought in the last year or two must be out of print already. Check out the going rate on B&N: $74.40 new. =O

Chrissi, Cyber School Mom
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