Friday, January 27, 2017

The Great AR Debate

Let me start by saying we love AR at our house. Cadence loves to read and loves tests. What more could you ask for? Plus, she loves to meet goals, and get cool prizes. Who doesn't?! I love that I get to see whether she's actually paying attention to what she's reading or just skimming, without having to read the book myself. But AR is a sort of mixed bag. It can be useful, even fun, but it can also backfire.

It's already started around here. As soon as a goal was set, it became more important to 'meet the goal!' than to read for any other reason. Cadence was reading this book about the Constitution just for fun, and I was pleased as punch. It was meeting a Social Studies need, she was enjoying it, it was challenging for her to read (something we struggle to find), life was grand. But... it doesn't have an AR test. So I had to make her stop reading a great book, that she was learning a lot from, to read something she didn't enjoy as much - and certainly wasn't challenged in any way by - so she could take a test over it and meet her goal for the week.

It also sort of stops the momentum, when you find a great series and have to stop and take a test instead of just... reading.

I've heard from other parents who have been struggling recently too. Their kid loves to read, but their goal was so outrageously high they decided to bomb their next reading test to get a lower goal. Or their kid used to love reading, but AR has killed it for them because they can only read books in a specific reading level, instead of books they love. Or the series they are in the middle of is so l.o.n.g. they can't finish it in time to meet their goal - even though the book is worth so many points it would cover their goal AND the next quarter's goal - so they have to either stop reading it to read something else, or not meet their goal. Or maybe their kid is struggling with reading, and the AR tests on top of reading the book is just too much and killing any desire they might have started to have for reading.

I get it, I do. It's nice to see if they are actually comprehending what they are reading, or just skimming, or so focused on the act of reading they can't really take in the meaning of what they are reading. I like it because I don't have to read the book myself to ask questions to see if she's actually paying attention to what she reads. I also like it because I like keeping track of things and seeing her meet goals. But it's so important to be careful not to let the points and the goals take over and become the most important part of a reading program!

What do you think? Have you had any experience with AR? Do you like it? Is there anything you would change about it at your school?

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Around Here

Look what's been happening around here! She's been doing this a lot, and taking one step at a time, but no taking off to really walk yet - no rush though, after all, she's my baby! 

Standing up all by herself - she is soooo pleased with herself :) 

A little time in the snow - not too long, because her pj's weren't water proof, but she loved it!

In other news, we've been having a good 2017 so far. ReC had another run in with separation anxiety when Tony started back to work, but it was tiny compared to last time - and already mostly over. She adores preschool, pretending, and books.

James has been sick from his allergies - we've been doing a lot of praying and a little bit of doctoring to try to get on top of that and it is getting better. In the meantime he's been spending a lot of time outside playing basketball, and a lot of time memorizing Story of the World.

Cadence has been taking art classes and violin lessons, which she loves, and spending copious amounts of time reading and crafting. She is coping with her birthday coming up by doing everything herself... we'll see how that goes. There are lots of lists involved!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Cadence 7 Year Tiger Pictures

We have a tradition that on our kids' birthday we take their picture with their special tiger. Well, this year I may possibly have forgotten everyone's.... So the other day I grabbed Cadence and Snowy - hers is the only one with a name - and snapped a few quick pictures. It is crazy how old my baby is! I just cannot believe it! 

I mean, look at my skinny little bean baby in her first tiger pictures! 

And at about 6 months, she seemed so big! And now... Crazy. 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Writing Fun - Cadence Wrote a Book!

A month or two ago, Cadence started writing a book. She wrote every night at bedtime, snuggled up in bed waiting for goodnight snuggles. She carried her notebook around with her, fiercely guarding it from harm. It has been so incredibly fun to watch her!

She's been very thoughtful about the process. She showed me her list of characters and how they are related to the main character. She planned how many chapters and books she would need.

Once, I was giving her a hard time, bumping her arm and teasing her. She gave me a death glare and announced 'If you bump my arm one more time, I won't let you read my book!' I stopped bumping her arm.
When she was almost done writing, her teacher casually commented that she should get her book published. Oh the fire storm that created! For the next two weeks I fielded publication questions almost nonstop - 'How do publishers get my book? Do they have to publish it? Will I earn money if people buy it? How will I get my money? What if I made a mistake and need to fix it? How does my book get in stores?' We did some research and decided to do print on demand publishing, through Then her brain went into marketing gear. She made about thirty 'Buy My Book' signs and put them all over the house and gave some to people. Then she said - 'I need better marketing. How do I tell more people about my book?!'

Then one night she looked at me with a gasp - 'Do authors have websites??' Apparently Lulu does 'author spotlight' pages, so she was exited to see that she does, indeed have her own webpage.

She wanted to do the cover art, but not inside art... But she wanted her book to be illustrated, so she asked Tony to draw for her. She wouldn't let anyone read the book until it got here (except me, because I typed it for her), so she had to describe the scenes she wanted in detail to him, which was funny. 'Wait - the little boy is throwing pieces of banana AT people?!' Basically, Tony and I have had so much fun watching her excitement and enthusiasm! My favorite part was having her read it to me while I typed - she read it with so much expression, it was so cute :)

When we finally got it finished and hit publish, she was so excited she spent l.i.t.e.r.a.l.l.y. an hour skipping full speed through the house singing "bookie bookie, bookie bookie! OH! bookie bookie, bookie bookie!"

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Harmony 6 Month Pictures

It's hard to believe this sweet girl is six months old already! She is so sweet and laid back, just totally chill about life. She spends her entire day playing, bumbling around wherever we happen to be. She crawls, pulls up, and cruises (slowly). She jabbers a lot, and loves to be in the midst of lots of action. She plays until she just can't stay awake anymore, then starts saying 'nigh-nigh!' and fussing. If you sit and rock her then she's asleep in minutes. Crazy girl just doesn't like to stop till she's completely wiped out! Most of the time she would much rather be on the floor than in someone's arms, but thankfully she does still snuggle sometimes - and she gives wide open mouthed, slobbery kisses. 

She also has a very ornery smile, apparently. It's either ornery or full blown laughing, not usually any sweet in between smiles :) 

Coming for the camera... 

These remind of pictures of myself at this age...

When you are six months old, you get white onesie pictures, and rocking chair pictures :) 

The only sitting still picture I managed!  

Waving bye-bye... not sure why :) 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

A Kid With Glasses!

J just got glasses! He'd been acting the same way as before his eye surgery - distracted, having a hard time focusing, tired and fussy. He hadn't complained about anything being hard to see, but then he hadn't before either, he had just compensated and wore himself out. Sure enough, at his checkup they said he is far sighted, has an astigmatism, and one eye is starting to drift out again, which is why he kept looking at us with his head tilted. Right now he is super excited about them (and Cadence is super jealous!). I think he's adorable! 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

First Day of School 2016

Building a new sandbox with the principal yesterday ;)