Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Ben's Leveled Up....

Ben has reached a milestone in his school work...he now wants to work alone sometimes. Prior to this I have spent every minute that he's done schoolwork by his side (okay, occasionally I have to answer one of the girls' questions, answer the phone or get a snack. But more or less constantly by his side, keeping him on track, making sure he understood directions, etc.) and even in the first weeks of this year it continued. The best example is history notebooking. We began the year in history with this rotation: I would choose a book on the desired topic that I thought looked very engaging, and then I would read to him. Not because he was incapable of reading, but because the books I get for history are by and large too old for a six year old to absorb everything from. So I would read the most interesting parts, careful to avoid boring details to make the book come alive for him without him fidgeting or glassing over. Then we would discuss what he found most interesting and come up with something to write. He might tell me an idea, but I would form coherent sentences, make the notebook page look neat with my more regular handwriting, dotting words here and there for him to trace. Then he might draw a picture and color it, or we might jazz it up by me helping him to find interesting paper, stickers, doodads to make a cool picture--for instance, when we wrote about the Minotaur we made a Minotaur head from fake fur to glue on his page and he drew on the horns.

Well. He's done with that! Last week he told me he wanted to notebook all by himself, so I allowed it. Figured if he wanted to do it, I shouldn't say no. He read a book about Rome, but when he made his page, it didn't have enough information. This is what he wrote (I wrote it with correct spelling, but in his notebook it is spelled phonetically, like his "19 Battels" book....)

I think that it is amazing how many things a Roman soldier carries. They carry so much I cannot remember!

In six-year-old print, this took up 6 lines on his paper, and while I recognized that it was work to be proud of, I had to explain that the purpose of this history notebook was to let someone who knew nothing about the time period learn a little something...so saying that he couldn't remember wasn't going to be very informative! We revised the end to tell some things that a Roman soldier did actually carry with him: a pack, a sword, a spear, a helmet, leather sandals, a kit with herbs and bandages, food, a tent, a shield and all their armor. He agreed that my way was superior to teach a novice about Ancient Roman soldiers!

So today, when we began the unit on Ancient Egypt, I reminded him that it was fine to do it himself, but he had to remember to put in real information, and that if he couldn't remember something, to look back in the book. Well. He spent almost an hour reading a book on Egypt. I wouldn't say it was the hardest book, but it was meaty, it talked about a lot of subjects, and it was 35 pages long with smallish print. I would say it was at least 3rd grade level reading (not in MY house, but for regular school kids) and he was totally absorbed. He was fascinated when he got to the part about taking a person's brain out through the nose with a long hook....yes, charming. But how very Boy!

Anyway, this is his page: (again, I am giving correct spelling for everything, which is not how he wrote it)

I think that mummies are very scientific. They are wrapped up very tight, and I think that they are works of art! The reason they wrapped them up is cause they thought that they would go to a new life. But first they had to go through the underworld! So they got them ready.

Now, while I can't say that this paragraph would teach much of anybody about mummies, (except perhaps his 4-year-old sister), I was pleased that he tried to put in some facts and the fact that he pored over the book for so long was totally wonderful. I am proud of my boy!



Amie said...

Just catching up on your blog...I love this entry about Ben! I really enjoyed reading what he wrote and seeing through his eyes what he understands about Egypt, in this case. Thank you for sharing! Ben is great!

Jen said...

thank you Amie---I think he's pretty awesome myself ;)