We finished up our exams for the first term of Ambleside Online's Year 2 a couple weeks ago, and I'm finally getting around to jotting down my ideas about the process here. Care to see how they went?
In terms of my list of questions: I chose a few of the exam questions Ambleside Online suggests for each year and term (a wonderful resource) and the rest were my own. Since I have two children in the same year, they either record their answer in another room, or I send one out of the room to work on a drawn narration while I sit and listen to the other's oral narration. If they have a choice between two questions (for example, "Talk about the White Ship OR the Battle of Hastings"), and they want to answer different ones, I let them listen in on the other's narration--they like to hear each other's answers. So there is a mix of one-on-one and group work. There is also a mix of "written" (drawn, really) and oral--I try to incorporate a drawn narration in each major subject area, just to mix things up. The drawn narrations go into their file as well, so it's nice for recording purposes.
Below are the questions, and below that are some examples from my students' answers in case they're helpful. And since I consider exams an assessment opportunity--not to assess the children so much as to assess the curriculum and my presentation of it!--at the end are some quick thoughts on what's working and what isn't, based on their answers.
Describe how you set the table in Italian.
Translate into Italian: "Where is the sofa? Here is the sofa."
Answer: "Quale stanze sono nella nostra casa?"
Describe the people in our family using complete sentences.
Say the seasons of the year in Italian.
Sing a song from this term in Italian.
Recite one of the poems you memorized by Walter de la Mare this term.
Besides the ones you memorized, what was your favorite poem that we read this term? What was it about?
Do five burpees with good form.
Hold a plank for twenty seconds.
Balance on one leg for twenty seconds.
Do five jumping jacks correctly.
Do five push-ups correctly.
Count by 8s.
What is the perimeter of a square with a side of 6 cm? What is the area? Write the addition and multiplication equations for each.
Draw and define the following:
:: What is a parallelogram?
:: What is a hexagon?
:: What is a right triangle?
Stand facing me, then turn 180 degrees. From there, turn 90 degrees. Then turn 270 degrees. Then turn 360 degrees.
Use the inch squares to create a rectangle with a perimeter of 12 in.
Find the remainder: 12,832 - 8,976.
Find the sum: 653 + 978.
Find the product: 33 x 33.
What is 1/4 of 20? What is 1/8 of 24? What is 1/2 of 17?
Complete the following timed multiplication test.
What was your favorite book read during free time this term? What did you like best about it?
Tell me a favorite scene from Otto and the Silver Hand or Along Came a Dog.
Sing "Alleluia Sing to Jesus" or "Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee."
Sing "Adoro Te Devote."
Sing your favorite folk song that we learned this term.
Recite the psalm or parable you learned this term.
Write the following sentence in your best printing: Hail Holy Queen, mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope!
Write the following letters in your best cursive.
Why did Christian leave his home, where did he set out to go, and with whom?
Tell me about Mr. Worldy Wiseman.
Tell about little 'Lias.
Tell me what you remember about Romeo and Juliet or Two Gentlemen of Verona. You can look at our character chart as you explain the story.
Draw a scene from one of the Tanglewood Tales.
Draw a favorite scene/chapter from d'Aulaire's Leif the Lucky and tell me about it.
Tell me about William the Conqueror or the story of the White Ship.
What were the Crusades?
What do you know about the feudal system?
Who were the first explorers to visit the Americas? What did they find there? Show me on the map whereabouts they landed.
Please read this passage aloud in your clearest voice.
Religion - Saints
Which saint did you most enjoy reading about this term? Tell me what you remember about him or her.
Religion - Bible Stories
Tell me all you remember about the Annunciation or Visitation, using as many specific details from the biblical text as you can.
Religion - Study of the Mass
Tell me the differences between the Mass of the Catechumens and the Mass of the Faithful.
What does sacrifice mean? Where do we read about it in the Old Testament, and how is it connected to the Mass?
Religion - Catechism
Answer the following catechism questions from our First Holy Communion prep last year.
What is a butte? Can you describe one?
Trace the old Santa Fe trail on this map. What kinds of people used the trail, and for what?
Tell me about one of the places "Father" has encountered in his travels.
What is a canal and what is its purpose? Point to one canal on this map.
Tell me about a scene of your choice from Brighty and the Grand Canyon.
Tell me all you can about an animal we have read about this term from The Burgess Animal Book, including its looks and habits. Draw a picture of one if you like from memory.
Sketch from memory one new thing we saw on a nature study outing this term and tell me all you can about it. It can be a bird, wildflower, leaf, or some other discovery.
Complete this warm-up activity as carefully as you can.
Choose a subject that is symmetrical and sketch a picture of it. Where is the/a line of symmetry?
Name one of Haydn's symphonies and hum the theme if you can.
Tell me the story behind the Farewell Symphony.
What is a string quartet?
Choose one of Manet's paintings and describe it as well as you can or sketch it.
Show something you have made in sewing/woodworking to Daddy.
A sampling of some of their written work and transcribed narrations...
The White Ship from Our Island Story, by Gianna
Henry and Prince William had gone to Normandy. Henry was King of England and Normandy, so he was going back from Normandy. There was a man named Stephen, and he wanted Prince William to ride in his ship. But Henry said that he had already chosen his ship and that they would not allow him to change. And then Stephen seemed very sad. And as Henry was kind-hearted, he could not bear to see this man sad. So he told him that Prince William would ride in his ship home if he liked to. This made Stephen very happy. “It will be a good trip for him,” he said. “It skims over the waves like a white bird on the sea.” Stephen seemed to be happy that William was going to ride in his ship. Henry returned to England, but Prince William wanted to stay a little longer, so he spent a few more days making merry with his friends.
When he finally was going to set sail, he started out early in the morning to sail back to England. As they were going, it began to storm. The sky became dark. Everybody was afraid. Suddenly, the ship crashed against a rock. Stephen hurried to thrust Prince William into another small boat, for he was afraid that Henry would be angry. He would let the other people perish, but not William! He put William into the little ship hurriedly. Suddenly a cry came from the sinking boat. “William,” it said, “are you going to leave me alone to perish?” It was William's sister, Marie. He could not bear to leave his little sister; selfish as he was, he loved his little sister dearly. So he rowed back, and the boat tipped over, and he was thrown into the waves.
Only two people remained alive: a shepherd and a butler. They stayed alive for a few hours, and then suddenly, the butler could bear it no longer. “Goodbye, friend,” he whispered to the shepherd, and sank under the waves. For he too had to die; he could not hold onto the mast to which they were clinging any longer. The shepherd still stayed there until morning came. And then some fishermen came and rescued him. He was the only one alive to tell the sad story. He told everybody except the king in the castle. The king did not worry about his son, for he knew that he would soon come home. One day, one of the people told his little child to go and tell the king. Of course, the child was very much afraid, but he was the only one who could tell, for the others were way too afraid to do it. So he went and told the whole story, and as he did, the king fell on the ground from his throne. Some of his servants hurried to pick him up and put him on the sofa. But he was sad and laid there with his eyes closed for a long time.
"Romeo and Juliet" from the Lambs' Tales from Shakespeare, by Vincent
The Capulets and the Montagues were always fighting each other. One day, Lord Capulet gave a feast, and everyone was welcome except Montagues. Now Lord Montague sent Romeo and two other Montagues to go to the feast. They were disguised by having masks. Then, after the feast, Lord Capulet had a dance. Romeo was watching when he saw Juliet, one of the daughters of Lord Capulet. Romeo immediately fell in love with her. So he said something to Juliet, and Tybalt recognized him as a Montague. But Tybalt did not want to disturb the dance, so he made a frown at Romeo.
When the dance was over, Romeo followed Juliet and went into a garden, where he stayed until dark. Then he saw Juliet standing by the window. He said to her that he loved her. And Juliet looked around the garden but she saw no one. He decided to stay in the bushes for a little while, but then he came out, and Juliet knew it was the same Romeo that she had seen at the dance. Then they talked for a long time until her nurse said she must go to sleep because it was almost morning.
Now Tybalt had met the two other Montagues that had come with Romeo, and he had slain one. And then Romeo fought Tybalt, who slayed his cousin. And then Tybalt was slain. Lady Capulet banished Romeo to Verona because he had slain Tybalt. Then he sent Juliet a letter saying that he was in Verona and he would try to have her come to him. Juliet told her troubles to Friar Lawrence, who then, giving her a cup, told her to drink it and she would fall asleep for 24 hours. Then he would send a messenger to Romeo to tell Romeo to come and take Juliet away to Verona.
On the night Friar Lawrence had told her to, Juliet drank the drink, and immediately she fell asleep. Friar Lawrence sent the messenger, but the news that Juliet was dead travelled faster than the messenger could. Romeo came and, seeing Juliet, knew that he would have to die too if she was dead. When he was going into the church, he met Paris. Paris did not want Romeo to go into the church, so Romeo fought him and slain Paris. When he opened the tomb, he saw Tybalt's body, all wounded, and he felt sorry for Tybalt. Paris' page had seen the battle and told the watch there. Romeo went to a man who sold poison. And for a bag of gold, he sold Romeo some poison.
Then Romeo went to Juliet and he laid down next to her in the tomb and drank the poison. But then it was the end of the 24 hours, and Juliet awoke. But seeing Romeo dead, with the blade of her dagger, she killed herself. Lord Montague and Lord Capulet decided to make a statue of them, and the Motagues and the Capulets, seeing that it taught them a lesson for fighting each other, became friends.
The Beaver, from The Burgess Book of Animals, by Gianna
The beaver is the biggest of the rodents. He destroys trees, but for his own purpose—he could not live if he did not do that. Squirrels also destroy trees. Some squirrels do not notice; they think they do not destroy trees at all. Now back to our story. The beaver chews the wood until it is weak enough that it can fall. Then he drags it into the river to his dam, where he makes his home out of it. He uses not only sticks, but big trees. He does them the same way he does the young trees. He only really does trees that have only lived about four years. If the tree is older than four years, then he only gnaws a few sticks off of it. He does this the same way as the whole trees. He chews all the bark off, then he chews the wood and spits out the other parts, or he might eat it. Then he lets it fall. Then he drags it into the river. His dam has at least one entrance under water, so that no enemy that lives on land can kill him. It should be hard anyway, for he would have to swim all the way to the dam. He eats leaves and young fishes. In winter, he makes his dam more snug by patting mud on top of the wood with his flat tail. The other beaves do not help him with this. The mother beaver ususally has one, two, or three offspring each year. The father does his share in taking care of the babies.
William the Conqueror from Our Island Story, by Vincent
Harold Godwinson was once sailing and was sunk near Normandy, when a man named William saved him. And before he let him go back to England, which was the place he lived, he made him promise that if he became king, he would give his kingdom to Duke William. It seemed like this was the time Duke William would have the chance to be King of England.
When the king died, Harold was chosen king. When the bishop, before placing the crown over his head, asked the people, “Do you want Harold Godwinson to be king?” the cries were “yes!” So the bishop placed the crown on the head of Harold Godwinson, and one of the few Normans who had come ran straight to the Duke, and said to him, “The king is dead.” Duke William smiled. And then he continued, “Harold Godwinson has become king.” And then William went home and flung himself on the couch, full of angry thoughts. He said to the Norman to tell him that if he would not let him have the kingdom, he would fight him. He would become King of England or die trying, Duke William thought.
The Norman told him, and Harold Godwinson sent him back with this answer: “I was not the one who told me to be king. The people wanted me to be king, so I am king.” So William gathered his army and he got more soldiers from France, telling them that if they would fight and conquer, they would get money and land. If he won, he would take away the English people's money and give it to them.
Harold Hardrada, the Norway king, decided to fight Harold Godwinson. So Harold Godwinson, who had been waiting on the shores for William, had to march to London. Harold Hardrada had already taken over Yorkshire. The battle was called The Battle of Stamford Bridge. First it seemed as if the Norway king would win, and then the English. It went back and forth until at last, Harold Hardrada and Tostig, Harold Godwinson's brother, were dead. Their soldiers fled in every direction. Before returning back to the shores, they decided to rest a few days in the castle.
In the meantime, William the Conqueror had finished gatherine his army and had set sail for England. The ship William rode in was a ship with a flag that had a picture of three lions on it. In the boats were spearmen, bowmen—never such a big army was seen before. And then a messenger came running to Harold saying that he had seen William with his own eyes. And then Harold Godwinson returned to the shores and made a camping place. He chose a good spot on a hill to fight. Then Duke William's army came riding. In front was a Norman, and with a flash of his sword, an Englishman fell dead. He killed two Englishmen, including the one he killed first. While that, he was singing a song that made the others want to conquer. Then there was a flash of an English sword, and he fell dead.
The battle went on and on until the end of the day. First it looked as if the Normans would win, and then the English. At last, one of the bowmen killed King Harold. The English still fought until they were all dead.
Mr. Worldly Wiseman from Pilgrim's Progress, by Gianna
When Christian was going to the gate, he met a man and he asked the man what his name was. The man said his name was Mr. Worldly Wiseman, and he asked Christian where he was going. Christian said that he was on his way to a gate where he was going to be told how to get rid of his burden. Mr. Worldly Wiseman said there was a much easier way of getting rid of his burden. He said that the way was to go to a man named Mr. Legality. He said that if the man was not at home, his son could surely do it. Christian thought about this and then asked where they lived. Mr. Worldly Wiseman said that they lived up on a mountain, the first house that was there. So Christian set out on his way. When he got there, he saw very tall mountain looking as if it was going to fall down with fire coming out of it. He could see the nearest house. Well, thought Christian, I don't think I should be climbing this mountain. Just then he saw Evangelist coming. Evangelist asked him whither he was going. Christian told him all about Mr. Worldly Wiseman. Evangelist was not pleased with him and told him that he should obey him instead of Mr. Worldly Wiseman.
I always try to look at our exams as an opportunity for me to tweak. :)
:: Vivid narrations with lots of details and told with excitement. Even my daughter (who narrates very well but does not usually enjoy it) really got into her retellings for literature and history. Exams seem to do that for them. I love listening to the exam recordings that they do into the recorder--something about my not being there changes the tone. My daughter's solo narrations are especially dramatic and a real hoot to listen to after the fact. I was literally laughing out loud while transcribing yesterday evening.
:: Italian. I wouldn't say that their answers were perfect or that they were completely confident in giving them, but they have made a really good amount of progress in just one term. Foreign language was one of the topics I wanted to refocus on this year, and I think we have accomplished that so far. And I'm looking for even more progress over the next few months.
:: Geography. Based on the detail of their answers, the children are obviously really enjoying the extra geography readings we have added for this year. They gave detailed descriptions of life in India and retold about the kinds of people who used the Santa Fe trail with relish.
Room for improvement
:: Mapwork. As I said, the geography readings are going really well, but I think it would be good to spend a bit more time on mapwork. They did technically point out the spots accurately, but they did not have confidence that they should have. I decided that we'll make an effort to do some map drills in Term 2, which we have already begun. My geography-lovers are really enjoying them so far.
:: Handicrafts. See that last question? Well, don't tell anyone, but, um... we didn't really do handicrafts this term. You see, HANDicrafts require HANDS, and I only have two of them, and they always seem to be occupied by one thing or another--or more accurately, by one person or another. My babies-asleep-hands-are-free time is limited, and when I'm picking between math and handicrafts (and I do have to pick between math and handicrafts, it seems)...well, I pick math. I could do handicrafts on Sundays when we have plenty of free time and my husband is home to watch the babies, but often it feels like "work" to me, and I'm serious about avoiding work on Sundays. I actually really enjoy handicrafts myself--it's just the combination of my tendency toward impatience and the many many mistakes of little hands that makes it a chore more than a pleasure. Maybe I should just count it as a charity (to my kids), suck it up, and get it done? :) My daughter did do a little sewing for her sisters' birthday gifts, but I didn't even pull out the sweet little woodworking kit my son got for his birthday the whole term. So. Item number one on the troubleshooting list: how to fit handicrafts into our schedule, at least once weekly. That's my modest goal. How do you do it?
And that's that! Our exams took two days this term, and then the kids took the rest of the week off from everything but math and copywork while I spent a bit of time pulling our Term 2 schedules together. And now we're already three weeks into that term and closing in on November. Where is this year going?