Saturday, November 6, 2010

Science Frustration; Econ Surprise

Physical science continues to elude us.

We have been using the Prentice Hall California Physical Science text. I chose to use this classroom text for a few reasons. First, since SJ plans to attend high school, I wanted him to stay close to at least one traditional textbook so he can learn how to maximize his learning through it. Second, I know squat about science and pretty much need to be walked through myself. Thought I could manage an 8th grade text.

As we work through a chapter, we read together. We front load the reading by reviewing headings and subheadings. We look at the illustrations and photos. We review section questions. SJ completes either the supplemental workbook questions or writes two-column notes.

Apparently, that's not enough. After a dismal showing on a (open-book) chapter assessment, I would be lying if I didn't admit to discouragement. That pesky reading comprehension issue reared its ugly head. Or did it? Could it be that I'm just a lousy science teacher? I will admit it is difficult to get excited about Changes in Matter when I really don't care nor understand what that means.

That along with the disappointing Chem1000 experimental kit I blogged about previously have left me feeling frustrated with science in particular and with learning difficulties in specific. It helped to speak with my Handler who has 1) had a similar experience with the Chem500 kit, and 2) offered a few new front loading suggestions to help with word recognition and, hopefully, comprehension. Our school's director also told me that others have struggled with the text we are using and is sending another to try.

Still. I had hoped that all the one-on-one time, the discussions, the heart I've poured out would solve all the learning issues. I thought I could fix it. It seems there is this delicate balance between denial and reality when it comes to LDs. I have absolutely no doubt my son will succeed in life. He will find his place. BUT...he does have to pass tests to get his high school diploma.

We ended the week with what turned out to be a fun economic assignment. His workbook asked him to compare a few particular food items' prices from 1970 to today's prices. We started at Winco where he surveyed the items. He then calculated the percentage change and was surprised to note that the cost for a pound of coffee has increased by 667% in 40 years. Yikes. It got me thinking how else we could use this assigment.

I asked him how much he thought things might cost in another 40 years given the same rate of increase. That lead to a discussion of how we would set up an equation to figure that out, a hunt for a mark-up formula (on Google), and a depressing realization that coffee will cost $53.54 per pound when he is 53 years old. With milk expected to be over $20 per gallon (can you imagine?), SJ mused that he would probably have to go hungry as an adult and felt a little defeated about his future.

To be fair, I suggested we compare salaries from 1970 and 2010, apply the same change formulas and then figure out how much he might make in 2050 to afford said coffee. Would you believe that average salaries have outpaced costs? He cheered up when he noted he might bring in $619,237 per year to afford his golden milk.

We topped off the assignment by graphing the results for a visual. I stumbled upon this CreateAGraph site that allowed us to choose a type of graph and plot our values. It made for a nice ending visual and a positive end to our week.


  1. Sorry that the science isn't working out but the economics sounds like fun. What a great assignment. Thanks for the graph site.

  2. VERY interesting about the economy figures! (And I think milk is expensive for my 3 kids NOW! LOL)

    Our Side of the Mountain

  3. I better stock up on coffee & milk!
    Janet W