Monday, November 12, 2007

Day 52 -- Review/Exam Week

I don't really like the term "examinations" because it implies interrogation and evaluation of answers, possibly though not necessarily hostile. I have my unschooler ideals about students owning their learning and the exam idea seems to play against that. But you also examine when you observe closely, and possibly that is a better way to think of it.

Anyway, we had our first day today. I had written out a plan but of course, as always! we flexed it. Here is what we did:


I had written out a series of review cards and we discussed these.


  • Place Value
  • Exponents
  • Powers of Ten
  • Order of Operations
  • Different Modes of Division with Remainders
  • Multiplying Larger Numbers
  • Improper and Mixed Fractions -- converting from one to the other
  • Finding the greatest common factor in order to simplify fractions
  • Finding the Least Common Multiple in order to add and subtract fractions with unlike denominators.
  • There was one more but I can't remember it!
Then I had him do one of the cumulative tests from his MCP math book. He got 87% -- not great, but satisfactory. I wrote down in my notes "execution difficulty" (which tends to be a problem in my homeschool in the earlier years -- I am not sure if my "wait and see" attitude helps or harms -- it worked fine for most of my older kids but you never know if another approach would have helped more).

He wanted to see the grade and was pretty content with it though I said an A is perfectly within his reach. But for his first more formal test that was not bad (I said that too).


Tell about a saint you read about (I reminded him of which books he had read).

He described the 40 martyrs from Hunters of Souls (didn't have specific names or places at his fingertips). He did well with the conceptual thought processes about martyrdom and we got into a discussion about the ways to be a martyr and the likelihood of being tortured and killed for your faith in modern times.
Then, about doctrine from Faith and Life:

  • Do you know what fasting is? What is the difference between abstinence and fasting? (he was vague on this, which surprised me -- but he was able to dialogue with me on it very intelligently -- he is sort of like Liam, more conceptual than detail-oriented)
  • Name the first three of the Ten Commandments, which have to do with our duty to God. (no problem with those).
  • What was the last Holy Day of Obligation we celebrated? (no problem)
  • What are the names for the Mysteries of the Rosary (he got all the categories -- I didn't ask about the individual mysteries).

This took a long time, longer than it takes to tell. So I decided not to get into Literature today. Instead I had him complete some of the card quizzes.

  • Name the continents -- (he got them all except Africa for some reason)
  • Place the labels in the correct places on the map (he transposed Africa and Asia -- yikes)
  • Name the countries of North America (he did that fine-- whew)
  • Place them on the map (plus the oceans, and Greenland) -- no problem.


  • Decline terra verbally. Fine.
  • Decline bellum and servus on the boards (bellum went fine, servus took a little help).
  • Match the case names with their signification. He transposed Nominative and Genitive for some reason.

  • Finally -- a handwriting sample. I will take these at the end of every term... or in future, just pick a nice sample from his regular copywork.

So there you go. He didn't seem stressed at all. It definitely was a workout for both of us though.

By the way, Lindafaye at Higher Up and Further In has an exam for her 6th grader which I didn't find earlier.

Here is a form which I made for the review notes. I didn't actually USE it but thinking about it helped me order the notes I took while we were doing this.


  1. I've been really enjoying reading your notes this term—you're so good at detailing your mental processes:-)

    This is all still in my future, but I'm coming from a classroom background, so I find your posts (particularly ones like these, about assessment) fabulous food for thought...:-)

  2. This is a good partner post to the more theoretical musings on Spacious Place. I have a very good sense of what you are doing now. And I agree that this seems like a good thing to do from time to time.

    the unschooler in me is more dominant than your inner unschooler, so I'm not sure how it will actually happen, but it does look like a good way to approach it.