Wednesday, November 02, 2011

A Long Day, A Lot of Progress

We are entering Week 3 of our project, and thus far enthusiasm hasn't waned.  The kids were up at 7 this morning, at the house by 9, and worked most of the day.  They took a dinner break, then we went on to spend 2 hours on our notebooks for the project, which are going to be quite nice once they are complete.  They each have about 8 or 9 pages of journaling, 2 pages of safety notes, 50+ new vocabulary words recorded, 25 pages of photos, 12 pages or so of calculations for square footage and budgeting, and pages with color samples recorded.  They are proud of their work, and they should is going to make a terrific representation of all they have learned.  Our school is exceptional in recognizing such learning as being valid and effective, but I have to be creative (not my strong suite as we all know!) at coming up with ways to document that learning. 

Today was the day we had a guest teacher, Mr. Steve, who came to help us learn how to repair drywall and prep for painting.  We have many generous and talented folks who have volunteered to work with the kids, and Steve is a really fine teacher.  He is not at all disturbed by 5 young bodies bustling about, he "gets it" that this project is not so much about us getting the house done but is far more about the kids gaining new skills and actually doing as much hands on work as they can, and he is as patient as the day is long.  Step by step he walked them through the process, and each one of the kids participated fully and could probably repair a hole all by themselves now.  We are not quite done as we have to put a second coat of drywall compound on today and sand everything smooth, but it will all be done least the big holes.  There are plenty of 1"+ holes to be filled from where the folks who owned it prior ran speaker wire through walls..enough for every kid to have a go at repairing one!  Angela worked overheard on the large grooves cut in the ceiling and seemed to really enjoy doing it.  There are more ceiling cracks for others to try their hand at!  Yea! Hahaha!

Here are some photos of yesterday's progress:

Before "class" began, preparing the floor for laminate tile to go in, ripping up tack strips.

Learning about what drywall is made of and the history of drywall.

"That looks like bread dough!" Josh said.

Measure twice, cut once...or maybe cut a couple more times for a perfect fit :-)

These cutters are getting a workout on this project!  Carpeting, drywall, ripping out old linoleum...handy little tools!

Olesya trying to visualize how to measure to trim the drywall.

Kenny taking his turn.  Kenny is really sharp at math, probably our strongest student in mental math and applied math.  Even Matthew defers to him, and he isn't shabby at it.

Ready to Rock!

Mr. Steve patiently explaining how to cut.

Tada!  Now the fun part...mudding it!

Olesya had the perfect size...until we realized she was using the wrong thickness of drywall!  Oops!

Joshua and Angie working as a team to make the patch for the smaller hole.

See?  Not so hard!

Matthew, Olesya and Kenny worked on applying the mesh and mud, as well as floating it when it was done.

Josh using mesh and mud to fill one of the many smaller holes throughout the house.

What kid doesn't like using ladders?

Angela has a real knack for filling and floating the big grooves!
Still a LOT of work ahead of us!!
Things I have personally discovered as we have worked the past 3 weeks are:

1)  Although I haven't done as much of the hands on work as I normally would, it makes the entire project run MUCH more smoothly to have someone be the designated "runner" so no one else has to pull off the job.  Especially when that running has included volleyball practice 3 times a week up until now!

2)  Our kids continually rotate in partnerships with one another, without a word being said.  I have been surprised how this keeps shifting from day to day, and I recognize that there is not teaming up against anyone else which helps family harmony tremendously.

3)  Kids are capable of far more than we think they are, or allow them to be. 

4)  Although I recognized the value before starting, I don't think I embraced as fully as I should have just how incredibly valuable hands on learning really is...and how sad it is that most children don't get the chance to do as much of it as they should.

5)  I should have saved some old shoes for this for each of the kids.

6)  I am really, really glad we worked so hard on academics over the summer so I am not stressing about what we might be missing right now.  We are at almost 500 hours right now, and we only need 720 for the entire year.  Of course, reaching that goal won't stop us :-)

7)  People can be inquisitive to the point of rudeness.  We have been in and out of stores during regular school hours far more we ever have been, as we gather supplies, etc.  No less than 5 times have I been asked pointedly why our kids are not in class.  I am not too sensitive over this, it has really been asked quite rudely.  I will never understand why anyone would ever feel it is appropriate to walk up to a total stranger and ask the things we have been asked over the much our kids "cost", if they were left in trash cans in their birth countries, if they are really "mine", why we would ever choose to homeschool, aren't we afraid they will be anti-social if they aren't in class with other kids, etc.  I would never in a million years EVER think of asking such intimate questions of a total stranger.  For some reason, being "different" seems to mark us as "fair game". 

8)  I don't know how working mom's do it, my hat is off to each and every one of them.  I am flummoxed just trying to keep up right now, and I would never do it as well as so many others I know somehow managed to do it.  How in the world do you keep up with laundry and grocery shopping?  How do you ever get a meal on the table rather than collapse at the end of each day?  I salute you, working moms of the world!

9)  Our kids make great partners in large projects like this, they are steady, committed, hard working, non-whining, and fun to be with when tired at the end of the day.

10)  How in the world am I ever going to top this one??  Their interest level causes me to really step it up a notch, and I have no idea what we will do that will be more engaging than this one.  Any creative ideas for major educational projects that anyone would like to share?  We have a lot of years ahead of us!

Off to get some kids up and at 'em.  After staying up late last night to work on their notebooks I thought I'd let them sleep in a bit.  I think they've earned it!


Anonymous said...

I guess after this project, they'll have to have their parents buy them an apartment building. They can learn about managing, rental contracts, maintainence, relationships with renters, and on and on. No stopping the LaJoy's now!

You are so right, Cindy. Hands on is a great way to learn and a great confidence booster. My hubby is great at working with the kids. Me...less so, as my idea is to get the job done so we can move on to more fun things! But I value that he does so well with having each of them work with him. On the farm, our sons have been given responsiblity with machinery, driving, hauling, etc. One of our sons is very mechanically minded and hubby comes to him sometimes for help in that department.

I would have given much to have had my dad take the time to work with me on things...or allow me to hold a wrench or hammer and feel like I was part of something important...and also valued by him.

What a blessing this huge project is for all of you.

Nancy in the Midwest

Anonymous said...

Next project:

Traveling work crew. Your kids could teach me
how to install a faucet.

I have made minor drywall repairs, but what is

So... traveling handimen/women going around the
country to visit friends?

Love to you all,

Peggy in Virginia

Kelly said...

Can the kids do a video on how to repair drywall? I have NO idea how to repair it other than to rearrange the furniture!!

Anonymous said...

Can I send my husband to your home improvement, renovation, rehab school please?

Anonymous said...

Hi Cindy-
I found this on Blurb today and thought of you

Anonymous said...

I love the picture of Angela and Josh together, a lovely picture of big sister, little brother enjoying time together.

I have tried to convince you (and my daughter) that you are a creative, talented person. We have such narrow definitions of creativity. It doesn't mean just making jewelry, creating a picture, writing a story. It means teaching with creativity and love. The hours you have spent researching, planning, coming up with a meaningful, expansive, and loving curriculum. Creativity means seizing every moment, savoring life, enjoying your children while they are young.

Salute to working moms--remember when you were the mother of three, drove round trip 120 miles through the mountains in winter to have a job, and did all the rest like cooking, laundry, etc. Salute to you too, Cindy. We are all working moms. The difference is that some of us get paid.

Love and joy,

schnitzelbank said...

Some suggestions on what to do with the notebooks they are making.

- Process analysis paper. Break down a project step-by-step and write an explanation of the process of completing a particular project, in-depth from beginning to end, yet still with engaging writing style, organization and academic word choice.

- Research paper. Investigate building materials around the world. What materials are available in different climates? And what are the benefits of using these materials? What about the layout of room interiors? How do cultural values shape our homes?

- Start studying for their real estate broker's license. They need to be 18.

Anonymous said...

ok, I have no idea what you mean by floating. I've put drywall up before, mainly by trial and error. It looked ok but I don't know what floating means. Please help!!!!

Anonymous said...

Very much in agreement with what Lael said, Cindy! Kudos to you, my very creative friend!
Love, peace, and blessings!

Anonymous said...

As a former teacher, your teaching methods delight me. You are using what I was taught,UNIT TEACHING.You are teaching almost every subject through this house project. I'd love to see you write this up for one of the education books or magazines.Also, you have the photos you can use.I doubt it would pay much but might be a start on another trip's expense, for example.Yes, I know how busy you are but do think about it.