Friday, June 24, 2016

Summer School: Week 4

Our week has revolved around the fact that it's just plain hot in Missouri. It's to hot to do anything outside and most days it's too hot for Amber to even tolerate a walk in a parking lot. So, we haven't been too excited to get out this week.

Summer Fun:

We did have our homeschool group's yearbook signing party at a park one morning earlier this week. It was the single day that was not in the mid to upper 90's for temperatures. It even rained and sprinkled that morning.  Amber was on the yearbook committee this year, so she was doubly excited to see her friends and see the finished product.

We also had lunch again with Amber's friend and her mom after the yearbook party, plus Amber is working on VBS signs with the friend this afternoon after lunch out.  Next week Amber is attempting to assist with VBS at our church. We hope she can make all five days; realistically, I expect she will be a mess before Friday. However, our church is aware of Amber's limitations and willing to help her through the week.

There's also been more free reading, video game playing, texting with friends, and Project Write, which is more fun than anything. Amber's project group has mostly finished their script, I believe. They are working on music ideas now, since this is a musical. Every week Amber is more and more excited when I pick her up from Project Write.

They had way too much fun working on those signs!

Summer School:

Amber has actually completed more school work than I expected, then again my expectations are much lower than they were in May. We're tired, and things keep coming up that prevent us from resting. And we're working on developing better habits to support her EDS. This all takes away from summer school lesson time, which turned out isn't as important as I once thought.

Amber did complete 2 modules in Physical Science, which means we might finish in July or August. I can't believe there is an end in sight. She worked on a couple of review items too, and started a new review for an app that is a prequel to the StarToaster website for Orphs of the Woodlands that she used in 2015. The app is a little beneath Amber's level, yet she's still enjoying it and likes how it ties to the other story.

It also came to my attention that although Amber is the one living with her EDS and has general ideas of what the disease does to her body, she can't verbalize this information to others. Therefore, this week we began a small unit on Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. We're looking at the medical definition of the disease, diagnostic criteria, how it affects the body, the varying symptoms, and long-term effects (some of which Amber can see in her dad). Amber has then been writing summaries of what she learned in order to organize the information in her own head.

EDS learning, Amber's 9th grade creative writing curriculum, and fun on Father's Day.

Medical Update:

Last week Friday we all went to Amber's genetics appointment in hopes of finding out more about Amber's specific type of EDS and any input the geneticist might have. Thankfully, the rheumatologist was correct and Amber has Ehlers Danlos Syndrome - Hypermobility Type, which the geneticist and genetic counselor were quick to remind us does not mean she is ONLY hypermobile. That is just the name of her subtype and that EDS will affect the majority of Amber's body.

The geneticist did make some additional recommendations for therapy and long-term treatment to help Amber. She was quite pleased with the treatment Amber has been receiving, which we are to continue.  We've already received the formal diagnostic paperwork in the mail, which includes all of the geneticist's findings. Some of the information we already knew, and others were a bit of a surprise. In all, it was a productive appointment and we now have the most knowledgeable specialist in our area on Amber's team.

Milori has been unusually playful, even for him.

Next week is Vacation Bible School, so we've canceled all of Amber's activities and therapies except Project Write. I'm hoping we both come through VBS relatively unscathed since I'm helping in the snack area.

Happy Summer Weekend!

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Friday, June 17, 2016

Summer School: Week 3

Much of our week has been spent avoiding the heat and humidity that comes with living in Missouri. The weather here can be so pleasant for weeks on end and then, Bam! -  you don't even know what hit you. One day the weather is ever so tolerable and pleasant, but overnight things change and you wake to heat advisories and a week straight of 95+ degree temperatures with heat indices close to 110 degrees. It's literally painful to walk from the house to the mailbox, and don't even think about parking your car anywhere that isn't shaded.

All of which made for a very interesting week given that Amber had medical appointments every day except Wednesday. Thankfully three of the four days we had access to a covered garage at the hospital, so the car wasn't quite so unbearably hot. Unfortunately, the distance from our car to the hospital was rather lengthy and Amber's heart very much disliked the walking and heat.

Biscotti - who can pass up such a sweet face.

Fun stuff:

  • Lunch with a friend and her mom 
  • A photo shoot with the friend's older sister for a work project
  • Visiting Grandma for a short while after a test at the hospital
  • Video game playing
  • Doctor Who watching (we are officially finished with all of the current episodes)
  • The Warcraft movie in 3D because Fred wanted to see it.

Ready for the movie

School stuff:

Amber worked on a couple of review items and completed three lessons in Physical Science. She might actually finish it before August, but that is still uncertain. At this point, I'm so over Physical Science, but she really does need to complete the course. There has been plenty of flute practice and her regular flute lesson too along with free reading. 

The second week of Project Write was equally enjoyable as the first with the kids getting a portion of their script written and making adjustments to the outline from the first week based on changes in participants.  Amber probably should have skipped Project Write this week because she was absolutely exhausted after the hida scan of her gallbladder that afternoon, but she pushed through to attend.

I've also started ordering some of the curriculum needed for ninth grade, although I'm not quite ready yet to begin detailed planning. At some point I will also need to plan the co-op classes I'm teaching, but Amber starts back to school a good 3 weeks prior to co-op classes which makes her lessons top priority.
I'll put together a post about our ninth grade curriculum and credits when I'm absolutely sure our choices will not change.

Biscotti, an unusual homework helper

Medical stuff:

Today is the genetics appointment, however I've written this post prior to the appointment so there is no update. I'm more nervous than excited at this point. We've waited so long for this appointment and put so much hope into it, that I'm afraid it will turn out disappointing like the week-long visit to the Mayo Clinic last summer. Most of Amber's specialists are all waiting on the genetics results to move forward with more specific treatment too.

Amber also had two tests on her gallbladder, which were supposed to be just quick checks to ensure her polyp wasn't growing rapidly or causing problems. We don't have the official results from either yet, but the hida scan did not go well. Actually, I guess you could say it didn't really go at all. She was there for almost two hours while the technicians watched the radioactive tracer injected travel through her body. The real portion of the test occurs after the tracer enters the gallbladder.  Unfortunately, the tracer never was able to enter Amber's gallbladder, which apparently has meaning to the doctors. We don't have the results of this week's ultrasound yet to tell us what is going on though.  So, now we wait to see what happens next with her gallbladder.

The almost hida scan.

Coming up:

Next week currently looks a little less hectic towards the end of the week and possibly a smidge cooler.  We do have the homeschool group's yearbook signing party as well. Amber is giddy with excitement to see friends she's been missing since the end of year party. Of course there are a couple of medical appointments too.

Rosetta - the trouble maker. She often sticks out her tongue like this.

Happy Father's Day Weekend!

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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

{Review} The Scarlet Pimpernel - Progeny Press Literature Guide

Literature is one of our very favorite school subjects because it combines the best of every other beloved topic. Literature takes us away in time and location while teaching us more about ourselves and our world.  However, it can be difficult to find all that a particular piece of work has to offer when reading it casually for ourselves. Literature guides, like The Scarlet Pimpernel E-Guide from Progeny Press, provide the extra structure we need to see all the author intended.

In the early portion of eighth grade we reviewed Introduction to Poetry: Forms and Elements from Progeny Press, which Amber greatly enjoyed and so was delighted to use another of their E-Guides for a Summer study of The Scarlet Pimpernel. Although Amber has her own distinct preference for free-reading books, she happily will read just about any type of literature.

Progeny Press E-Guide of The Scarlet Pimpernel

For this review we received a download of the PDF version of The Scarlet Pimpernel E-Guide, which is a high school level student study guide for the book, and a separate PDF of the answer key. I greatly appreciate it when publishers, especially those of electronic products, provide the answer key as a separate file so there is no temptation to sneak a peak at the answers in the back.

The answer key for The Scarlet Pimpernel is exactly that: a simple listing of the answers to all of the study guide questions. For the items which may not have straightforward answers, the key does provide suggested answers that at least give you the direction they expected the student to take with their response.  It is a very no-nonsense answer key, and works perfectly with the study guide.

The study guide is actually an interactive PDF document that allows all questions to be answered directly in the electronic document, as long as you are viewing through a compatible software. The guide begins with notes to the instructor that make suggestions on possible use schedules as well as credit recommendations.  A quick synopsis of the book, notes about the author, and background information on The French Revolution and the Reign of Terror are given for those who may not have covered this in history.

Progeny Press E-Guide of The Scarlet Pimpernel
Working through the study guide on her iPad.

The study guide then breaks down the book into seven chapter groupings for the purpose of analysis.  Each chapter grouping includes:
  • A vocabulary section where the student may be requested to provide both a synonym and antonym for the listed word, or match the definition with the word and use it in a sentence, or even give their own definition prior to looking the word up in the dictionary. The vocabulary work varies by section and keeps the student thinking.
  • Story questions that simply help the student remember the details of the current chapters.
  • Analysis questions which encourage the student think about literary devices used.
  • Dig Deeper questions, which to me are the meat of the study guide, and assist the student in seeing the deeper meaning in each section of The Scarlet Pimpernel.

Some of the chapter grouping also include optional activity ideas which require a bit more time and research to complete.

The study guide finishes with an Overview section which lets the student put all of the thoughts and ideas studied over the course of the book into a solidified idea.  The guide also provides a final list of essay and project ideas to encourage further understanding of the time period and the ideas presented in the novel.

We used The Scarlet Pimpernel as a way to wrap up our studies of the time period in history and to give Amber a unique Summer literature study. While we definitely could have opted to print the study guide or have Amber work through it on her computer, although these were not her preferred options. She wanted to keep the ability to type her answers in the study guide, as opposed to handwriting, but still not be tied to her computer.

However, we found that Adobe Acrobat Reader on Amber's iPad did not support the interactive nature of the PDF study guide. This was easily solved though with another app that allows for PDF annotations. So, armed with her trusty iPad, bluetooth keyboard, and book, Amber was ready to begin.

Progeny Press E-Guide of The Scarlet Pimpernel
She particularly liked being able to type directly into the PDF document.
Although the instructor notes suggest reading the entire novel through before working on any questions might be the more successful path, Amber is not fond of this method with any assigned literature book. After reading the introductory matter in the study guide, she opted to read only the first five chapters and then move on to the study guide for that portion. Amber does have memory retention problems though, so reading the novel through once and then being asked to work through the study guide would essentially require her to read the book twice through by the end.

Amber actually is rather enjoying this study guide and appreciates the varied types of vocabulary activities along with the limited number of detail related questions. She honestly is very intrigued by the story in The Scarlet Pimpernel and finds the Dig Deeper questions are giving her a good deal more insight into the novel than she expected.

We have completed about half of the novel and study guide at this point, but are moving slower than anticipated due to Amber's ongoing comprehension issues with electronic products. I probably should have printed the study guide and allowed Amber to physically write when she felt able. However, we do love the portability that the E-Guide provides and that both of us can have copies on our devices while discussing her answers.

Overall, this is another spectacular literature E-Guide from Progeny Press and we both have enjoyed the perspective it provides to a classic piece of literature.

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Literature Study Guides from a Christian Perspective {Progeny Press  Review}


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