Writing, Monticello and UVA

Until I am officially finished with school, I won’t have any free time to update this blog as much as I would like.   Time has been going by so fast and I can’t believe it has been over two weeks since my last post!  If all goes as planned, our last day of school will be on May 28.  I have not told my son that we (he) will be doing both a writing and reading program over the summer.   Shhhh.  He is going to hate it, and hate me.  He loves his summer break and revels in each summer day. 

His recent annual achievement test had some suprising results.  He was tested on his writing skills and scored a couple of grade levels low in the written expression category.  The tester even suggested a “learning disability in written expression”. Yikes!  Now that’s a mouth full!   On the bright side, he is two grade levels ahead in math and at grade level in all other areas.  Whatever the reason for his “disability”, I can attribute his lack of expression skills to dear ol’ mom.  I have always been grammar focused and erroneously assumed he would naturally develop adequate writing skills.  I mean, there is so much to buy at the beginning of each school year with math, science, history, and books for reading.  When it came to language arts, I opted to teach grammar.  He needs to know his parts of speech.  And what about all of those punctuations?  Besides, there are only enough hours in a day for my wiggly son to sit under my tutelage.  I have always noticed that homeschool grammar curricula only focus on writing at the very end.  By then, the child is usually burned out and the last thing they want to do is spend their last weeks of school working on developing their writing skills.  I guess I should take some comfort in that some schools don’t even have a writing program. 

Since learning the results of his test, I’ve been doing much of my own homework and purchased some workbooks to begin ASAP.  Spectrum offers a great selection of workbooks in all subjects. I bought the Reading Grade 5 book and the Writing Grade 4 book.   I researched the internet until my head hurt, searching for the perfect curriculum or manual to help me teach my son the whole writing process.  I became flooded with information and the proof was in my ink cartridge.  It’s dry from all of the documents I had printed!  Finally, I visited my local homeschool bookstore and bought what I think will be the best curriculum that will work for us.  It’s called  Jump In: A Workbook for Reluctant and Eager Writers by Sharon Watson.  Hopefully, it will prove to be the answer to my prayers.  The Jump In… reviews say it is for middle schoolers 6-8 grade, but I was told it can be adapted for any grade.  If it overwhelms my son I can always fall back on the Spectrum book.  There.  $70.00 in book purchases at the end of the year are validated!  After returning home with my blessing in a bag, I told my hubby all about my plans and goals and how I will get our son on track with writing…blah, blah, blah.  When I mentioned the author’s name, Sharon Watson, he asked me if she was Randy Watson’s wife.  HAHA!  It is so like him to deviate the topic to something movie oriented.  Anyway, the title of the book itself was encouraging because my son is a reluctant yet eager writer.  He has always liked to write stories,  and he has occasionally endeavored in his own book writing.   Sadly, he just doesn’t write well.    

Before all of this business of test scores and writing came up, we took a 3-day trip to Charlottesville, Virgina.  We have been studying American History this year and I had vowed to take my son to Monticello for a field trip (a four-hour drive from here).  I had not been to Monticello since I was in elementary school, and I was looking foward to returning some day.  I absolutely loved everything at Monticello.  So much had changed since I had been there, but there were a few things that I remembered being the same.  There grounds were beautiful with blooming flowers and gigantic trees.  Hubby and I took a keen interest in the trees, being as we are arborists at heart.  We did not leave the area without collecting a rock or two for our rock collection.  The gift shop had a plant nursery, and I purchased a white bleeding heart perennial plant.  It will look like this when it is full-grown.

Neoclassical architecture has always been my favorite, and a visit to Monticello undoubtedly represents the architectural genius in Thomas Jefferson.  The new exhibits and gallery in the new visitor’s center revealed more about President Jefferson’s interests and intellect.  One thing in particular, he kept meticulous log books of his farm and even daily weather forecasts.  He also loved books!  Enough said! 

The University of Virginia campus was equally impressive, reflecting the same Neoclassical designs as Monticello.  Even the new construction of buildings throughout the campus are in keeping with the original architecture. We visited The Rotunda, the campus chapel and Edgar Allan Poe’s dorm room.  UVA was a beautiful campus. 

Following is a photo essay of the highlights of our visit to Monticello and the UVA campus.  Be sure to scroll over the photos.  Enjoy!





Filed under blogging, books, family, gardening, home, homeschool, humor, life, moms, movies, nature, parenting, photography, shopping, thoughts, writing

9 responses to “Writing, Monticello and UVA

  1. S. Le

    Awww… come on! Don’t let a bit of school work keep you from blogging! Don’t worry about the disability. If he can comprehend what he reads and do maths, he’ll do well in this world.

    Love the snaps of Monticello! Younger Brother is a professor at U of VA! I’ve been on that campus and at the home as well. Beautiful and interesting! Where’s your photo of the serpent wall then? Love that thing!

  2. Why did they cut down the tree if it was so popular? hee hee!

    Good luck with the summer reading and writing program!

    • S. Le: I’ll help him with the writing and if he improves, great, if not then I tried. He could develop writing as gets older. Similar to those who didn’t like reading in school, but enjoy it as adults. I am glad he is good in math because I wasn’t.

      That is awesome you have visited those places and lil’ bro is a professor there! I missed the serpentine wall! Our tour of the campus was short and I missed it.

      Do you know the story about the VA Tech. alumnus that didn’t get accepted to UVA and built a large neoclassical style home on a hill above the campus “to look down on it”? A UVA student told us that. He also said a UVA art professor’s mother lives in the home now. I wonder if it is true.

      planetross: Click on the link for the story on the unpopular poplar. http://bit.ly/c6rQWn
      Thanks with the good luck. I think I’ll need it dealing with his obstinance.

  3. Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
    I’ve been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

    Thumbs up, and keep it going!


  4. Stunning photos Tammy! I particular love that amazing tree and the pic of the formal garden. We’ve spent the past 2 days weeding and planting, and I’m about to return to the yard. Thanks for the added boost of inspiration!

    Good luck w/ your son’s writing quest. I cannot imagine the amount of work you’ve invested in his education, let alone the cost. That too is truly inspiring. It takes a very special person to home school – and I’m sure, to be home schooled. Keep up the great work!

    • Christy, glad I could be of some inspiration through the photos. Those gardens were meticulously kept and impressive. I’d love to have the time to grow my own vegetables.

      The writing quest is coming along fine. Homeschooling is a lot of work and I manage the cost ok. I usually buy most of my materials used and use library books. We have both enjoyed homeschooling, and my wish is to continue in it. Sadly, we are experiencing some issues and my son may need a different environment and approach. This is developing.
      I’ll try to collect my thoughts and write about it soon. Thanks for the encouraging words!

  5. S. Le

    Here’s a snap of the wall. It’s only one brick thick but because of the shape it has endured and is very strong.

  6. S.Le: Thanks for the link. It makes me wish I had seen it.

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