Thursday, September 26, 2013

Alex's Critical Analysis Of Douglas / Lincoln Debate



Song:  Mission Impossible

Rendition:  The Piano Guys



Alex's class was given 11 days to complete this project.

The students were to provide a Critical Analysis 
of the first Stephen A. Douglas / Abraham Lincoln Debate...
as well as several other tasks in their paper, to include 
their Argumentative Essay on the winner of the debate.

As Alex's paper is 41 typed pages...
I shall just provide the highlights of his paper
(the Critical Analysis / a sample of the Document Simplification / the Debate Winner Essay). 

This will give homeschoolers a good idea of how to construct
a critical analysis on a particular subject.

This was all Alex's efforts.

I waited until Alex was completely done with his paper...
I then did some light editing.

I had merely done a few typo corrections...
a concept correction...
and one or two extraneous wording corrections.


Alex worked on this paper on school nights after his regular homework...
and on the weekend (as he was ill...we just had him take it easy most of the weekend).

Alex simply loves to research and write papers...
and his typing is extremely fast...
so, as there are no hindrances...
he looks forward to these types of assignments.


















In the Document Simplification...
Alex had translated the original document into modern layman terms
(I just included one page each for Douglas and Lincoln).



I have included the essay portion so homeschoolers may see 
the difference between Alex's critical analysis of the debate...
and Alex's Argumentative Essay.










Alex is done with all of his papers for now...
with the exception of his Science Project.

This weekend we will work on his Science Experiment Proposal...
the Hypothesis and Variables...
and the Materials and Procedures.

The Science Experiment Proposal is due next week...
but we hope to have all of the above done this weekend.

This way we may concentrate on the experiment itself...
as well as the documentation and the associated calculations.

We hope the Proposal and Hypothesis will prove to be 
of sufficient caliber to wow the judges at this year's science fair.

We will focus on some fundamental laws of Physics.

Without giving too much away...
I will have Alex explain and demonstrate...
 the possibility of a commonly held belief of impossibility.

He will have to explain how the experiment does not violate
certain fundamental laws of physics...
if it works...
and if not...
why it had failed to produce our expected results.

As Alex has already studied basic Physics...
I will teach him the application of some of the various laws 
of what he has learned...and how certain things may be possible...
even though they seem to violate certain laws of physics
(it actually won't...we hope to be able to show why).

The basic equipment should arrive shortly...
and I will have to shop locally for the rest.

We will have to make most of the necessary equipment
out of things I can get from the local CVS.


Anyway...
we are in for a busy weekend  :)






Alex's 4.0 Reward From His School



Song:  O Fortuna

Rendition:  The Piano Guys




Alex received another 4.0 reward from his school.

So far, Alex has had a perfect 4.0 record since starting at Coral Academy of Science.

Alex feels so proud for doing well in school.
However, he also knows that it is only so because 
he puts in daily intelligently guided effort...into his studies.

As the whole family is once again ill
(When Alex gets ill...we all get ill...
even with protective measures in place at home).

Alex is mostly over his cold...
however, his mother is quite ill...
and I am coming down with, what feels like, the Flu.

I took Alex out to eat some Texas Barbecue.
He had gotten his favorite plate...
Barbecue Pork Ribs.






As my wife is not particularly fond of red meats...
after we had eaten our meal...
we stopped by a neighborhood Thai restaurant to pick up some
 Green Vegetable (with Tofu) Curry for my wife to eat at home
(she was in bed).

Alex finished up his Social Studies report.

It was a critical analysis of the Douglas / Lincoln debate.
The teacher had given the students two weeks to complete this task.

Alex's report is 41 typed pages long...
and I will post some of the highlights of it in my next article.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Abraham Lincoln: Saint Or Sinner - Essay By Alex



Song:  King Arthur Soundtrack Compilation

Composer:  Hans Zimmer



This was a short term essay due the day after tomorrow...
and it was assigned today in Alex's Social Studies Class.


Today after Alex got home from school...
 finished his homework and his Musashi reading...
Alex had begun researching and compiling his information for this essay...
which he then had completed a couple of hours later.

I did a final check of his essay...
and he printed it out...
all before dinner.

Alex had taken notes in today's class on a film about Abraham Lincoln...
and had looked on line for other information.

I was particularly impressed at how quickly Alex had gathered his information...
compiled his thoughts on the matter...
and then typed out his essay.











Alex has a longer term essay for English he will complete this weekend.

We will also have to really start moving on his Science project.

Although there is a Physics concept I wish to teach Alex...
the theoretical and calculative portion of the experiment...is the easy part.

To actually make a working model demonstrating the concept...
 is the part I am still struggling with.

I am trying to gather the right equipment.

Just in case I cannot get the right components...
I am also thinking of an alternative experiment for which 
I have most of the necessary equipment already.

Either way...
it is almost go time!  :)





Monday, September 16, 2013

Heroism - An Essay By Alex



Song:  Atlantis (Extended)

Group:  Two Steps From Hell



Alex started this essay for his English class last Friday night...
and he finished it last Saturday.

All I had done to it was to correct a few typos...
delete a sentence or two (extraneous information)...
and had him add a sentence or two to fill out a paragraph.

Everything else was all Alex.
He had completely researched and typed it out before I had looked at it.

I merely did some final simple editing
(while teaching him why). 

Alex just keeps improving his writing skills with each essay he writes.





Alex already had a good idea about heroism...
as I often speak about this topic.

It is one of the basic concepts a boy needs to thoroughly understand...
in order to, one day, achieve manhood.




Sunday, September 15, 2013

Alex's Saturday Night On-Line Math Session



Song:  Dream

Artist:  Yiruma



Alex first finished his regular studies (Saturday)...
and finished a long term English essay
(my next article - Heroism).

As we had thunder storms this Saturday afternoon...
we couldn't go on our customary bike ride.


However, the same young man who had organized the last 
Mathematical Midnight Madness session...
had once again organized a three hour math contest session for this
last Saturday night...so the day was still a very productive one.

This time they started at 9:00 PM so they could finish at 12:00 AM.

The children who are practicing in this video chat
are the ones who have a good shot at making the Mathcounts Nationals
this coming competition year (2014).


This is the worksheet Alex was using during the video math contest chat.

They had worked on old competition problems...
and had tested themselves against each other.

It was a very fun time for Alex.
He loves these sessions.
Alex loves tests...
as he loves to see how much he has improved.

After all of his tests...
we have him go over all missed questions
so he may learn where he had gone wrong...
and so, to keep him improving.

Today (Sunday)...
after Alex finishes his regular studies...
he will just relax...
and we will then go to one of Alex's favorite restaurants.

It is a Mexican restaurant which specializes in seafood.
Alex loves the Tilapia there.

I usually give Alex his choice of places to eat.

As we both LOVE to eat...
it is one of the small little pleasures I can give to Alex...
as he is always working so diligently in his studies.

It is always fun to watch Alex eat.
His face lights up, and his food has his full concentration.
He is as serious at eating as he is at studying  :)



Thursday, September 12, 2013

Alex's Successful Thinking Shift - General To Specific



Song:  Arwen's Vigil

Artists:  The Piano Guys




Just a few days prior to this night's synopsis of "Musashi"...
Alex had been having problems relaying what he had read...
the relationships among the characters...
and especially, the chronology of the story...
and the significance of the major events.

For a detailed description of the method I had Alex use (mental outlining)...
to shift his thinking from specific to general...
to general to specific:

Literature - Mental Outline


Last night, during Alex's synopsis of "Musashi"...
he had started his synopsis as I had shown him...
he kept the characters, and events, straight in his mind...
and he knew the significance of each event.

He first told of the main characters in his portion of the reading...
he told me of the main settings in the portion of the story in order...
 he gave a general accounting of the characters in the appropriate setting...
he then gave me his synopsis...
in the correct order...with the correct emphasis on the pertinent details...
and, he did it without hesitation.

As he had done his synopsis so well...
I then questioned him on possible motives of the characters.

He had surprised me with his insight.
He had come up with perfectly reasonable answers.

Just a few nights after I had shown him this method of thinking...
he had grasped the concept, and had applied it very successfully.

He had retained far more information while knowing
the all important relationships among the characters and events.

Alex had a big smile when, at the conclusion of his synopsis...
I had told him how well he had done.

I then reiterated the great importance of thinking from general to specific.

I had told him that in doing so...
he is establishing the parameters of his information...
and with just the most general components remembered first...
and put into correct order...
he is establishing a timeline in his mind.

With just the main characters...
the settings, and the main events set in his mind
in correct chronological order...
he will then have cause and effect established.

A logical sequence will become apparent...
and with this, he will automatically see the important relationships...
and the details which are important.

He won't have to try to remember the details...
they will automatically manifest themselves because they will
make sense to be at the appropriate location in the story.

I had likened it to numbers.

I had told him that with a logical sequence...
with which a system or pattern emerges which then dictates
the following actions or path to take... details naturally emerge.

Just as people normally cannot remember random digits beyond 10 or so...
random details are also meaningless.

However, just by knowing the sequence of numbers...
an infinite number may be conjured in the mind by following the system.

By Alex having the general outline of the story in his mind...
any detail which is important to the progression of the story...
is triggered automatically.

As cause and effect is established...
motives also become much easier to discern.

With Alex's mind freed by a more efficient way of looking at things...
he may then look at details and motives in the proper perspective.

Before, Alex was so tied up in trying to remember the details...
 he hadn't seen the logical progression of the story...
or the over all pattern of human behavior.

Alex had made such a huge gain in his ability to synopsize his readings...
I had told him to keep up with our successful pattern of:

1)  Just the main characters.

2)  Just the setting/s...in order.

3)  The correct characters in the correctly ordered settings...no details.

4)  A synopsis of the story with only the relevant details.

5)  A discussion period which delves into
the motives and rationales of the characters...
the significance of the major events...
and into some of the finer details.

I told Alex that, besides us using this method throughout the rest of the book...
we would also be using this same method with news articles in future discussions...
and that he should look at everything in life in this manner...
general to specific.


General to specific...
large to small...
with everything kept in context and perspective...
there are no worries...no worries at all  :)

Our new mantra!  :)











Sunday, September 8, 2013

Alex's Mathematical Video Conference Chat



Song:  Game Day

Group:  The Piano Guys



Alex started his Saturday with his regular studies.
After he finished his studies...we went on our Saturday bike ride.

As we have had to miss a few of our normal Saturday bike rides
due to the smoke from the forest fires in California...
we started back with a ride on our short route at Stampede Reservoir.


It was so good to be able to get back on the road.

We also decided to go on the short route because Alex 
had a Mathematical Video Conference Chat scheduled later this night
with some mathematically exceptional students from the Davidson Academy
 (who are also on the Northern Nevada Math Club team with Alex).

As it was to begin at 10:00 PM...
and after our bike ride we were to catch dinner at our favorite mountain cafe...
we decided to go on our short bike route.



Our minivan in the distance.


Alex had his usual grilled Salmon.


I had my usual flame grilled Cheese Burger.


Notice the difference between the top Sundae...


and this one?

I sure did!

I sent the top one back.

The waiter had substituted Chocolate Syrup...
for Hot Fudge!

(He was new...I had later learned.  He thought they had run out of Hot Fudge.
However, instead of telling me...he had tried to pass off an impostor!  

I can forgive a lot of things...
but Chocolate Syrup for Hot Fudge?  
That is almost unforgivable!  :)

A waitress brought me a correctly made Hot Fudge Sundae.


Alex had a slice of Cheese Cake...
and a scoop of ice cream
(When we had gotten home...Momma got upset.
This was Alex's second dessert in a week...
but I considered it a celebration of us getting back in the bike saddle  :)

Alex then showered and awaited the video chat.


At 10:00 PM...the video chat had begun.

The exceptionally brilliant young man
who had taken 3rd place in the State Mathcounts competition in the State of Nevada...
and had qualified for the Nationals (last year), had put the video conference chat together
(He had taken 1st place in Northern Nevada.
Alex had taken 2nd place in Northern Nevada...and 6th in the State of Nevada.
He was the one Alex had the final battle with at the public portion of the competition).

As he is one grade ahead of Alex...
and can no longer participate in Mathcounts competition...
he had decided to try to help out the competitors from Northern Nevada
who will be competing at this year's Mathcounts State competition
for a qualifying spot at the Nationals.


Alex was excited, as this was his first video conference chat.

Alex was a little shy during the conference.
As he felt a little awkward...he didn't speak much.
He did, however, deeply appreciate the chat...and especially, the math practice.





They had discussed, and worked on...
 previous years' State and National Mathcounts competition questions.



This video conference and study session went on until 1:00 AM!

It had turned out to be a Mathematical Midnight Madness!  :)

It was so good to have Alex involved in such an event.
What a great way for children to spend a Saturday night!

I have always been so impressed with the children from the Davidson Academy.

Besides being exceptionally gifted...
they are kind hearted...
and they display natural leadership qualities.


As Alex hadn't had his free time for Saturday...
after his three hour math session during the conference chat...
we let him stay up until he felt like going to bed (almost 2:30 AM).

Alex had worked hard all day Saturday...
but he was glad for the math session.

We are glad that Alex has the opportunity to know
such brilliant and driven children with whom he may share his passion with.














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