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DC1 did 5th grade in a different state so we don’t have anything leftover from hir experiences that would translate here. Some subjects we’re fine with following the state standards. Some subjects we really need to know what is being taught this semester compared to next semester when presumably DC2 will be vaccinated and back in school. And some subjects I am just fine throwing away whatever garbage is being required by an evil state legislature that cares more about propaganda than educating or protecting.
While DC1 did not do 5th grade here, zie did do 6th grade and it was a total waste of a year with the exception of math and orchestra.
So here’s what we’re planning:
PE: On M/W/F, DC2 will join DH in the morning for calisthenics. On Saturday and Sunday we will do something outside in the neighborhood (ex. bike riding, basketball, scootering, roller skating, tennis, etc. Probably not swimming because there’s more risk there given our neighborhood.) T/Th are free choices for DC2– 15 min of exercycling, ringfit, YouTube videos, whatever.
Music: As always, DC2 has 15 min of piano practicing every day and a 30 min less on Thursdays. New this year is the violin. DH and I were both brass players so we have no idea what to do here and you can’t really teach the first semester of violin virtually. Fortunately, DC1 has gotten really good at violin (including tuning!) and remembers learning it and is on board with helping us out. DC2 got the violin a few days ago and they are ADORABLE. So far they’ve just been practicing how to hold a bow and hold the violin. DC1 told me I needed to order fingering tape, so I have done that but it hasn’t gotten here yet. We’ve also still got Suzuki book 1 and DC2 has been listening to the cd that came with it (DC1 runs away or starts practicing piano or hir own violin which this happens as zie is thoroughly sick of twinkle twinkle little star and all its iterations.) These lessons are for 15 min a day, which isn’t very long and even so I’m concerned about them fitting into DC1’s schedule once school heats up. But in the worst case scenario, DC1 played trumpet in 5th grade switching to violin in 6th and started placing at regionals in high school so all is not lost.
Math: This one is easiest for us. DC2 is in 6th grade math. Zie is going to continue working through Singapore Math (Not affiliate) and Brainquest Math. In addition zie will work through Khan academy 6th grade math. We’re not sure if we should do Khan academy by time or by topic, but we’re trying by time first. I’m not worried about losing number sense from missing some of the new new math because the new Brainquest has some of that and Singapore math has some of it, and zie has gone through Hard Math for Elementary School at least once and will probably be doing virtual Math Circle this year.
Spanish is a hard one. DC2 is in dual language and in theory half of hir classes would be in Spanish. My Spanish is just not good enough to support that. Based on a commenter’s recommendation, we’ve hired a tutor from Overcome the Barrier (not affiliate), which is ridiculously inexpensive. The first few lessons have been great but also pretty remedial and the teacher uses too much English (saying, “What color is” instead of “Que color es” for example), but DC2 had some embarrassing summer slide this summer and forgot some pretty standard words (though zie still understands them) so perhaps understandable on the teacher’s part. (DH says we should wait and see before addressing it with the teacher.) We figure even if nothing else, this will add someone else to talk to besides us. DC2 has been doing 15 min of duolinguo all summer, but that’s obviously not been enough. So M/W/F zie is going to watch a video of hir choice in Spanish (this could be anything from Harry Potter dubbed to Pocoyo), and on T/Th zie will spend 30 min reading books in Spanish. I have started hir with little kids’ picture books, but the hope is to graduate to chapter books (of which we have many interesting looking ones!) We also have an unused 3rd grade biology textbook in Spanish along with solutions that zie will do (but that’s listed under Science).
Science: We’re going to completely ignore what the state is doing and just watch a Sci Show or Crash Course Science video each day, starting with earth science. On M/W/F when zie is not reading Spanish books for Spanish, zie will do a section of the science textbook and answer questions at the end of it. Weekends we will try to do experiments. We still have a few leftover from a virtual summer camp on weather that got cancelled that should be fun! (We already did a couple that were, but needed to get hairspray and alka-seltzer and freeze ice cubes to do the remaining experiments.)
Social Studies: Other than acknowledging that this is a US history year rather than a state history year, we are going to throw out whatever the school/state is doing and just watch Crash Course US History. After that Crash Course US Black History. Then if we’re still going, Lies my Teacher Told me (which DC1 told DC2 was very interesting, but DC2 tried to read it and said it was sooo boring, which suggests to me that it’s still too advanced for DC2… maybe we should get the younger kids’ version…). We may also supplement with historical novels sort of as a History/English crossover (lots of Jean Fritz and Mildred Taylor out there… though I find Jean Fritz too “from the perspective of the plucky White boy” so maybe not her). But that’s going to depend on English.
ELA: I have no idea what this class is going to cover when. We emailed the ELA teacher to ask, and she said she’d get back to us but hasn’t yet. My sister also asked one of her friends who is taking the year off from teaching because she has a newborn and doesn’t want to be exposed to covid, but we haven’t heard back from her yet either. So… we have Brainquest and DC2’s Spectrum Spelling (6th grade) workbooks. The spelling workbook is almost done, and I am planning to replace it with a workbook of Latin and Greek roots when it’s finished. In the mean time, I stole a list of 5th grade novels off a random California teacher’s website and we’re starting with From the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, for which I have stolen another random teacher’s questions. It is shocking to me, but DC2 has never had to read a novel for school before, much less one with comprehension and discussion questions. DC1 didn’t do that in 6th grade either– all they did was crafts. DC2 is going to read and fill out questions for 2 chapters a day, and then after work, DH (who is reading the book perhaps for the first time, which also seems crazy to me) will do a little book club discussion with her (questions for which I found online) each day. This will be very much like my 4th-8th grade ELA experiences back in the day. In theory, next week the book of children’s poetry I ordered will be here and I plan to have DC2 practice cursive by copying one of the poems nicely and then we’ll have some discussion questions for whatever poem it is. By then I’m hoping that we’ll have heard back from the 5th grade English teacher to get more direction. If we hear back affirmatively from my sister’s friend we will just dump all of this on her.
We have a few more rules that we’re hoping will help everybody get work done:
- Hold questions and do not interrupt a parent to ask.
- Mom will stop by to check on you every couple hours when she needs a break, ask her questions then.
- Dad will have a dedicated time to meet with you after his lunch meeting every day and at the end of his work day.
- If you’re stuck, try to figure out how to get unstuck (Google is your friend!) or move on to the next task.
- If you run out of tasks and are still stuck on something, try to figure out how to get unstuck or do more Khan academy or more Duolinguo
- After you’re done with everything you can have free time to read or play or whatever (no screens unless they’re Spanish language only), but if you’re stuck on something you cannot move to free time until you get unstuck. See 5.
We’re open to suggestions! Especially for getting DC2 to have virtual human interaction.