Sunday, February 6, 2011

How Snow Turns College Back into Homeschooling

Marina has been taking a few courses at the college this semester. It has been frustrating so far. Not because of the coursework, but because she has had at least one snow day per week since the semester began.

In some ways it has been amusing. She took a remedial algebra class this year because of the struggle she had with passing the placement. We decided it would be better if she simply took an algebra course so that she could have an actual professor help her over the parts that still give her trouble and give her more confidence. We discussed whether she should take it online or in a regular class. She decided on an actual class so that if she was unclear on anything, she would have a real person to answer her questions during the class. The funny part is, with all of the snow it has been more of an online class. So far, the textbook author's online lectures have provided more instruction than her class, which has taken the brunt of the snow days (why does it always seem to snow on Tuesdays?) She's been doing well. She even offered to share some of the lectures with Chase, who needs to brush up on algebra. I wish I had found this textbook three years ago. For anyone who is interested, it's called Beginning Algebra by Elayn Martin Gay. Our used copy came with a CD, but the instructor actually wanted them to use the online version, My Math Lab, which includes a virtual copy of the textbook, so I guess I bought it twice. (FYI: I'm including the link, but I'm not sure if it can be used outside of a classroom setting.)

I know she's been enjoying taking Art History-The Renaissance to Modern this year. It is her favorite period and she has the advantage that she has seen some of the works they are discussing when she went to Italy. The professor introduced her to a site called Smarthistory, which is a non-profit free and open art history textbook. (Warning! This is art history, so there are many nude paintings. You may want to preview it before showing it to younger children.) The paintings featured include an audio of art historians discussing each artwork and their period. I enjoyed listening in on a few of the lessons.

The third course for this semester is a Sketching 101 class. She hasn't had many of these yet (snow!) but I think she likes it. The biggest challenge has been filling a large sheet of paper after years of working on 8½ x 11 paper or smaller. She appreciates the philosophy of learning new techniques here. Discussing her professor's lecture, she explained that an artist learns composition and the rules of good composition so that if they break those rules they are doing it purposefully and thoughtfully, instead of out of ignorance. I think this helped her to be more willing to try things out of her comfort zone, like blind contour drawing.

Knock on wood, we haven't encountered the level of anxiety Marina faced with her first college class last semester. I think it helps that she is taking subjects two courses she likes and has some confidence in this time. I think she's even starting to believe she is better in math than she thought. Time will tell. I'm simply happy that she is happy. And I've benefited greatly from all of the secondhand learning and links!

6 comments:

Mama Self said...

Thanks for the Algebra info, as it might come in handy in the next few years. I'm glad Marina is starting to enjoy some college classes (when she can attend!). Trey's favorite subject this semester is Russian II. It's also the hardest class he's ever had, but he loves his professor's teaching and can actually see progress. :) Here's to our oldest and their amazing college adventures! God bless.

Sravani said...

Wow. those are wonderful courses. Thanks for the links on Algebra, Art history and drawing:). I hear from my friends that the winter has been brutal this year....I am glad Marina is enjoying her college classes this semester....Hope the Spring shows up soon...
Stay warm!
Subadra

flmom said...

I very much enjoy reading these updates and greatly appreciate you passing along links!

flmom said...

Not sure if my first comment registered...

I very much enjoy reading your updates and greatly appreciate you passing along links!

Inner Elder said...

Just goes to show - learning is wherever and forever. Got any writing links? I feel like writing a novel in my old age. Love, Mom

Jessica said...

Ah, brings me back to my first semester of college. I too took a beginning Algebra course to help me with the things I didn't quiet get and I also LOVED my art history course. It was not an easy class either! I still loved it though.

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