A Week in the Life with Oak Meadow Grade Eight
After posting our review of Oak Meadow Grade Eight, I promised I would come back and share a closer look at what a week in the life of this curriculum looks like for us.
In Civics this week, Bug learned about immigration and citizenship. He started by reading in his textbook about how a person can become a U.S. citizen, the rights and responsibilities of citizenship, and undocumented immigrants.
For his assignment, he chose to interview our neighbor, who is a DREAMer and moved here with her family as a young child. He came up with a list of questions to ask about her experience, the hardships of moving, and what the citizenship process looked like for her and her family. After this first interview, he decided he wanted to talk to more DREAMers, so we set up another interview for next week with one of my co-workers who also immigrated as a child to this country.
After this interview, we spent some time in the campaign office learning about the policies of the candidate we had been working for, and how she plans on approaching immigration reform and DREAMers in our country. Bug spent time canvassing and talking to voters, and doing tasks around the office.
While doing his research, he was also assigned to draw a graph which represented some aspect of U.S. immigration. This is an assignment he has not yet finished because he continues to go down rabbit holes while researching and has not yet chosen a topic (and I think he is a little intimidated at coming up with the idea for his graph on his own).
The curriculum authors saw this challenge coming and included guidance in the text to research different types of graphs and how to convert data into graphs, as well as the suggestion to pay attention to the graphs they may come across in daily life. I don’t often have to step in to help with his schoolwork at this level, but if he still has not completed this assignment in a day or two, I am going to sit down with him, help him narrow his research topic, and get a graph done.
The final assignment for this lesson is to do research about where his ancestors came from, so he’s spent a lot of time poking around my ancestry.com subscription and looking more at where our family came from.
This week’s science lesson was all about temperature and pressure. I have to encourage Bug to pace himself with his science lessons because if given the choice (and typically I do) he’ll try and do the whole week’s work in one day. This week was intense. The reading covered thermal energy, heat transfer, conduction, convection, radiation, conductors and insulators, thermal expansion and contraction, special properties of water, temperature, and increasing and decreasing pressure.
In addition to the reading, Bug had a list of assignments to do, which included things like explaining how the sea breeze changes from day to night when the water temperature changes, why and how popcorn pops (and then he made popcorn), and temperature conversions.
Finally, he did three labs this week. He learned about thermal expansion and the contraction of gas, about insulators and conductors, and water depth and pressure. At the end of the week, he answered the questions on the test (we just use them as a written review rather than a test) and that was that!
Bug is reading The Giver right now in language arts, which is one of my all-time favorite books. I don’t know if he’s loving it as much as I am yet, but I am hoping by the end he’ll be sucked into the story. He was assigned to read chapters 8-15 in the book.
While reading, he keeps a journal where he writes down quotes that he likes in the book, and this week, he wrote down “What if they had all been instructed: You may lie?” He’s still keeping a vocabulary journal as well and is working on adding a new word a week to his vocabulary. The word this week: Obsolete.
Bug also focused on learning about euphemisms. In The Giver, the community says things like “that person was released” instead of saying they were “killed” and Bug was supposed to spend time thinking about why they would do that, what other euphemisms they use and how that use relates to the story.
Finally, he answered a question about if the community was “safe” and what it means to be safe and free in the modern world. This led to some wonderful conversations about safety and freedom in our country and how things have changed in a Post-9/11 world. The timing this week was pretty spot-on for this lesson.
Bug is continuing to work on Teaching Textbooks for his math program, using the web-based program. He does one lesson a day, and at the Pre-Algebra level, spends about an hour a day on this part of his curriculum. So far, it’s been completely hands-free for me!
This year is the smoothest year yet with Oak Meadow. I think Bug is just matured to the point where he is able to work independently, and the curriculum is written clearly enough for him that I just don’t have to worry all that much about what he is doing, if he is doing is work, or how I can help.
Of course, things like him procrastinating on the graph assignment still happen. It’s still unclear to me if he doesn’t understand the assignment or just doesn’t want to do the assignment, but I am glad to have the parent manuals so I can stay on top of his work. It’s helpful for me to be able to see the week’s worth of assignments and goals at a glance and helps me know that he doing what he is supposed to be doing without feeling the need to flip through his student books.
The amount of time he spends on the curriculum varies from day to day, but with everything, I think it takes him 4-5 hours of focused work time (this includes reading and math). A child who writes a bit more quickly than Bug may get it done faster. This still leaves a lot of time for him to explore rabbit holes, read for fun, and get out of the house to do other things.
If you haven’t entered our Oak Meadow giveaway yet, there is still about a week left to throw your name in the hat! Don’t forget, you get extra entries for sharing your giveaway link with others, so make sure you do that to increase your chances to win!