Child, wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend

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I love the Lord as much as a broken person can; love and loved by my husband; blessed by 5 amazing little people who have helped me to learn much about me; grateful to serve even more as God gives them to me; blessed every day to be a home school teacher; college student; I hope to change the world by loving as many people as possible, because there is nothing greater than loving another.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Sometimes change is necessary for one and therefore necessary for the rest

My biggest struggle this year, by far, is finding the right groove with my Eldest boys. For all intents and purposes, they are both in high school this year, although I have some flexibility with Bard b/c of laws, registration and all that. I jumped on the Independence Band Wagon too early; better said, I threw them on the wagon and we've suffered through the consequences this first semester. Fortunately, I have received excellent council from the Veteran moms at The Hive/Forum, so I have made some adjustments along the way and academically, all is well; yet we are still struggling with finding the right balance of freedom and follow-up. This has resulted in yet another schedule change.

Simply put, I need more time with the big boys, so instead of weekly block scheduling, which I LOVE, we are  going to a more "periods" based schedule with more daily time with Momma. They will not be happy about this, but since they are behind in science and I'm tired of their inching, it's time to jump in full force. We also need more daily review in Latin, since there is so much to remember at this point. They're doing very well, but the daily time together has merit. I also want to push ROGD on his speed in all subject areas. He likes to turtle along. He needs the push and practice in focusing and picking up the pace, especially since he has plans to be gone for 2 months this summer.

I suppose I enjoy the mixing up of schedules simply because I get bored with same ole same ole, but I was sure happy having a 4-day week with the Little League. Since I have to change for the Elders, that 4-day joy is about to change. There is merit in our change, though, beyond meeting the needs of the Elders. The Little League wasn't doing nearly enough science and the Little League is a real experiment loving group. We will drop my plans for Physics and pick up Elemental Science Physics to give me more "instant" direction. The program comes with easy to use teacher's materials; student workbook for documenting experiments, journaling, and illustrating; and from a WTMer, I found a core text, Physics Experiments for Children, online for free. The program is easily followed on a 2-day a week schedule, so I've gone through and marked out the topics our physics study has already covered and I'm ready to roll. I purchased Physics via pdf download; printed both Physics and the core text, combined the two in a 3-ring binder and viola! Tuesday and Thursday should be fun around here! The program comes with a supply list, too, so that makes for easy quarterly planning. I can simply write Week:Days in my planner, pick up my Teacher's Manual and Roll. FWIW, I also bought the other two books needed from Amazon.com, using my Swagbucks freebies, ala Amazon giftcards. You can't beat free! That means I only had to pay for the Elemental Science and the rest was simply printing and assembling! We'll skip the biographies since we have already covered the subjects in our history lessons. So in a couple of days, I should have my free books and science experiments should prove abundant.

So, while the change came about because of a shortcoming, I'm hoping the effect will be positive on the whole lot. My days are still long, but that is to be expected when you're schooling 7 children ranging from K--9th grades. It is a wonderful world and I look forward to the challenge (so long as there's a little Sangria with friends along the route)!

Affording and Growing Your Own Library

I was just telling someone today that my public library has most of the Grammar and Dialectic books for TOG and some Rhetoric ones. Since I have a first glimpse this year of the R books, and I prefer to own them so my dc can mark in them, I could invest now in R books for my future students and try not to spend any money on the other levels. Here's how I can afford this: Think Used.

Do you have $20/month for books? Check out your friends of the library regularly with a booklist in hand. Garage sales sometimes offer bargains. Paperback swap, too. Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, HomeSchoolClassifieds, Vegsource, SwapBoards on the Well Trained Mind Forum, Thriftbooks, yahoo groups etc., etc., etc.

I suggest investing in History Core books first. Use Bookshelf Central to find the Multi-Unit Books and get started. You'll also need a good Atlas. One Atlas can be used forever! Lower level atlases are plentiful at most libraries.

After you get a nice core library, then add literature, then churchhistory. Save Philosophy for last.

Do you know about Swagbucks? It's a search engine that you may freely acquire "bucks" and shop at the Swagstore. I have received Amazon gift cards and gotten 5 books this semester, simply by using the Swagbucks search engine instead of Google or Bing. It's free. It's easy. You don't have to do anything special and it helps with TOG books or science books or....or...or...All I did was link from a friend (the link I provided IS my "referral link"), download a toolbar and here come the free books (shipping and all)!

Finally, since TOG does regular updates to keep in-print books in their lists, you can also ask others for resources. Your new DE TOG year 1 will not have the same books as my 1-st Year 1 Redesigned. Your library may have the Out-of-Print books listed in other TOG years. Ask others what their year plan uses.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Free books for school...or other free stuff!

A friend turned me on to Swagbucks last summer. It's really quite simple. Instead of searching via Google or Bing, we search through the Swagbucks toolbar on our internet page. It takes up about a 1/4" across the top, just under the addy bar - just like any other toolbar you may use.

Daily polls take about 30seconds to use and by searching and clicking you earn, swagbucks. You then redeem your swagbucks in the Swagstore and get free stuff.

From the time we signed up we have earned $25 towards our choice, Amazon.com, and I have bought some books for school. FREE books for the clicking we would do anyways. Great stuff. If you're interested in earning some free stuff by doing what you already do, then head here and sign up. It's easy. It's free. It works : ) Just today I freely ordered:
The Usborne Internet-Linked Science Encyclopedia and Gizmos and Gadgets

Search & Win

PR4 Lesson Planning in Progress Wks 6-8

Disk 2 is done. 1 hour 5 minutes, total time: 2:25 for planning out 8 weeks of COMPLETE Language Arts.  If you're like me, with several dc using this program, then I consider this planning for 4 children, maybe 5. I really can't complain about it one bit.

I watched the whole of the spelling again, mostly; i.e. I only fast forwarded a wee tiny bit. Mrs. Beers keeps popping in word origin and I love it! I'm afraid she'll tell me something like, "This is an example of how the French changed the Latin base by spelling with ai." or "This is a French word that would end in I, but you'll notice in English, we substitute, Y. You'll find this in the word "variety" also." I love those tidbits. I'm hoping they sink, sink, sink and my kiddos will be able to apply Latin principals to the other romance languages easily. I've got 3 interested in Spanish and another in French. We shall see!

Shrouded in zeal, I failed to notice there are not Building Codes in PR4! That is the spelling rules manual portion of previous levels. You, of course continue with Rule Tunes, though, so those rules are reinforced. You also continue with the Designing Codes, a.k.a. word study. You'll find a connection between spelling words and stems of the DC. That means you'll have -solv-, -solute- in the DC the same week you have solution and solve in the spelling list. Application, application, application! This also serves as the vocabulary portion of the curricula, as you will not only literally define everything in the DC, you will also look words up. This really cements both the spelling and word study, as your student will see how prefixes negate, suffixes change parts of speech, and how roots/stems/bases keep meaning in a variety of words. This is fantastic and transfers very nicely into history and science materials. I love when I see my students break down a science word b/c of Latin understanding....it's beautiful, Baby! There will be 5 new stems in the three week period, totaling 35 words for word study/vocabulary.

You will continue to refer to Framing Codes from Level 3, the grammar section, a great deal in Disk 2, so make sure they're handy. How wonderful that your students creates a reference guide. I hope they feel a sense of pride to refer to their materials as trusted reference.  This disk brings about kinds of sentences, subjects, predicates, simple of each, collective nouns, work of nouns (subjects, direct objects), verbs, direct objects, object compliments, predicate adjectives, articles, descriptive adjectives, predicate nouns and DUM DUM DUM...DA DA...boom-boom, boom-boom....Diagramming! Mrs. Beers calls it Scaffolding, to stick with her Carpenter's analogy. Your student will take all the parsing practice and apply it to Scaffolding. I am impressed with how easy the transition from parsing to diagramming is. I remember the dread of diagramming for my Elders as they used a different program. I anticipate this being NO big deal for the rest of the Gang. Basically, you parse the sentences, then you "fill in the blanks" of a diagram. Within a couple of lessons, you draw your own scaffold. Seems pretty easy breezy!

The next three weeks in Carry On, Mr. Bowditch bring a few idioms, dictionary/thesaurus practice, a couple of character studies via research, note taking and dictation. Key word identification leads to note taking and remodeling a paragraph. There's some copy work, too. Of course, you are also reading a great story. All the while, you are reading aloud some historical information pertinent to the book, as well as, filling in a timeline.  I am always hard pressed to actually pace through the literature studies. They're so good I want to drop everything and do them all day long :) Of course, all that writing would exhaust my dc, so I really can't do it!

That's it for round two. I'll keep you posted :)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

PR4 Lesson Planning in Progress Wks 1-5

Well, don't tell on me, but I'm enjoying vacation a little too much and have only spent a wee tiny bit o' time actually working. I refer to anything school related as "work" these days. Not that I don't love what I do, because I really love it, especially the lesson planning part; alas, it is my job, and thus called "work." I suppose to my grateful, yet lazy self, it still carries the benefit of self-employment, so I stroll about my home, finding things to do...instead of work :)

I finally, only three days late, sat down for real with The Phonics Road Level 4. I won't be needing it for a little while, but the time of need falls between this and our next vacation, so I need to lesson plan now. I could easily use the program with weekly, even daily planning, but *I* function better when it's done. Truthfully, I am a procrastinator, so having the planning done facilitates the getting done around here. I tried last week, but my dearest Oman came home after about 20 minutes, ready to start his extended weekend, which meant, he was ready to be with his wife. Since I cannot object and only respond with batting lashes and blushing cheeks, PR4 was quickly left behind. ;)

Now that I'm back in business, even if tardy and in need of java, I can get this ball rolling and let you know about the hour and ten minutes I spent with the first five weeks of PR4. That's total time for those of us counting.I purposefully watched all of the spelling for this first batch, whereas usually and as soon as disk 2, I will fast forward through a good bit of spelling. There is a new element to spelling this time around and I wanted to make sure I didn't miss anything! PR3 brings into spelling Part of Speech Identification. PR4 takes that and builds using the word study from last level to spell, identify part of speech, then (here's the new part) change the part of speech by adding either suffix, prefix, or both. So, one column of spelling words, one for parts of speech, and one for the newly designed word. To borrow from the builders analogy, you're student will be adding some lovely curtains to the window she's designed. This is one of the features I love about PR --- application! You will practice those spelling rules via Rule Tunes and discuss word meaning, as previously modeled in Designing Codes. Aaahhh tying it all together! Okay, so perhaps the application is my favorite part as PR moves forward. Amazing and amazingly well done. My WTM buddies have heard me say time and again: Mrs. Beers is intentional and I LOVE it! The DVD shows how to implement. It's very simple. Since at this point, dd does the parts of speech all by herself (PR3 3/4 complete), she will continue to do the same in PR4 and I think the new column addition should take us about 10 min. together. At some point, I think she'll fly solo on that, too. I'll be sure to let you know as I complete the larger job at hand.

WHOA! Let me back up. As is the practice of PR, there is a spelling review at hand. Mrs. Beers provides specific instructions on how to customize this review so you are not wasting time unnecessarily. As is a pleasure in the DVDs, not only does she explain how, but models so with her jumbo sized materials. In other words, you continue to receive the auditory, visual, and hands on materials as a teacher that you have thusfar received in the previous three levels. Since there's not need for the cursive practice, the review is not as extensive as that in PR3. There will be four (4) tests over the next 4 weeks; additionally sound card review and practice; word study review also all "as necessary." By the time the student completes this level entirely, they will be spelling grade 13 words...that means through high school, baby! Ask me why I love, love, love PR?! Here are a few examples: proficient, privilege, lieutenant, victorious, sufficiently, theoretical. There are 34 total weeks of spelling lists.

In the interest of resale, I try to write on notebook paper and not in my Foreman's Guide (Teacher Manual). This method brings about a certain amount of redundancy in my notes. Not a lot mind you, but a bit, so keep that in mind for my lap times :) You will need Level 3 materials as reference tools for the grammar study, so don't file the Apprentice Guides away. Keep them handy! We used a different color notebook to help distinguish. You don't actually start Framing Codes until week 5. At which time, off you go! Since I've only planned through week five to hour, here's what you'll cover in your first week of grammar: sentences, fragments, subject, predicate, main/dependent clauses, and infinitives. That's three scheduled days. The methods used will include dictation, writing complete sentences from fragments, sentence parsing, including learning the new markings for clauses.

The fourth day will pick up with Designing Codes. For those unaware, Designing Codes (DC) are the word study components of the program that are tied in as mentioned above. PR4 will include 30 new Latin base words to help with more difficult spellings. You'll have cards for the lot and the fashion of DC will be the same. That means: cards for building; literal definitions; dictionary definitions; word derivatives; incorporation in spelling lists.

The literature study, the backbone of the writing component to the program, uses Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham. This 29-week study will generate a 70-page notebook for your student that will include all of the following (those italicized are in the first 5 weeks):
  • character study
  • setting
  • plot elements
  • note-taking
  • outlines
  • composing paragraphs
  • descriptive elements
  • dictation/copy work
  • understanding biographies
  • dictionary/thesaurus practice
  • remodeling
  • paraphrasing
  • vocabulary 
  • word study
  • transitional words/phrases
  • the writing process
  • topic sentences
  • research
  • lecture or oral presentation notetaking
  • touches of history, geography, astronomy, math, navigation, English monetary conversions and economics
I'm certain my complete review will include more of the writing component, that's just what I learned from disk 1. For now, I've just finished my breakfast and will tidy up my house a bit. Until the next review....I pray I do not disappoint in my immediate efforts to familiarize with this magnificent AIO (all-in-one) Language Arts program. (underlined words are spelling words this level ;) )

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Sitting in Awe of the Kindness of Others

I can't believe this, so I sit here in awe and full of gratefulness. While watching a movie, we answered a knock at the door, only to receive a bag of gifts and a Christmas meal from "a friend." The delivery came from a local radio station, WKID Clearwater, FL. Friend, we thank you and offer praises to God for the blessing you have shared with my family. Many, many thanks.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Perspective -- Getting some and getting God's

I've heard it said we all see the world through a different lens and I imagine that is true; however, I believe there are times, when our flesh is willing, when we can see through the eyes of God and share His perspective. I had a moment of that yesterday and thankfully, so did my two eldest boys.

We spent the morning in Tampa at Metropolitan Ministries. MM has a Christmas offering, much like Toys to Tots, whereby needy families receive a Christmas meal and toys for their children. We had the blessing of serving in the Chapel for a morning shift with other members of our church. Anyone who so desired was able to fill out a prayer card and either place it in the box or sit with a member of the Chapel team for prayer.

Upon arrival, I started praying over cards already streaming the walls, just trying to get out of my flesh and into a prayerful place. Our pastor led the team of 9 in prayer, then prayed with my boys and I, as this was their first time serving in this way. I was particularly hopeful that my son, Bard and Book Devourer, would open his heart to this day, as he has been in serious need to serve others and, like most 13yo boys, take his mind off of himself.

It didn't take long for the people to come and within ten minutes, the perspective flowed. The first man has family in Haiti. If you remember, there was an earthquake there recently. Perspective -- I have all my family in tact, in America, the land of the free. I have shelter. I have running water. So much for any trickles of worry about my not-running-so-great van.

Next, another Haitan. She was in the earthquake and a mother in a family of 7. I could see the weariness cover her and I really did understand it. Sometimes, simply the volume of energy necessary to tend to a large family is tiresome, and that is on the easy days. When I told her I too had a family of 7 and that I felt her, that I knew what it meant to be tired, we prayed and she released. Tears flowing, I knew the Holy Spirit touched her, He gave me words to bring healing and through my own lessons of the past week and I was able to encourage her to lean on God's strength. It funny how we "know" something as head-knowledge, but when we live it, we experience it, there is power behind the message. That power is God's revelation -- God's strength. When we lean not on our own understanding, we are stronger. When we walk humbly in the strength of God, our testimony is a blessing to others because people recognize Real. People recognize hope in your eyes just as they recognize pride. Two women sitting together in prayer for the earthly thing that mattered most to them - family. Perspective. We are strongest when we are weak and humble before God, when He is our strength, when He holds us up.

The people came. The prayers were sent up. Amazingly, the spots the Lord has worked on in me this week, were exactly the spiritual truths I needed to serve those strangers. Strangers, yet brothers and sisters in Christ, praying and believing as One Body, serving One God, believing together that He loves us.

There came a point where I had to pause and just sit for a moment. I was overwhelmed. I believe at this moment, it was not an overwhelmed flesh or pity cry, but honestly, and to some this may sound strange, but honestly, I believe the Lord blessed me with a glimpse of what He sees; how much He loves us; and the sorrow He feels when our sin, when the sin of a fallen world, bring suffering to His people. I stood for a moment and weeped. Weeped for suffering. Weeped for loss. Weeped for the consequence of sin. Weeped for a hurting people that God simply waits to turn toward Him. Oh, how He loves us, and longs for us to turn toward Him. To recognize who He is, our Father, and how He loves us enough to have sent His son to die. Could you send your son to die? Could you even get to the top of the hill and lay down your Issac? God did through Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ.

When the next group of people came forward, I had to get it together, so I entered the chapel and sloppily got through the next prayer. I asked the Lord to let me pull it together b/c I knew I needed to minister to others and the while the compassion never left my spirit, the tears stopped falling. It was a most remarkable experience. One I shall never forget. I believe for a brief few minutes, my spirit was in total agreement with the Holy Spirit and it changed me.

We returned to the church that afternoon and my boys helped me get toys and food ready for the families at my church. Since the afternoon was soon lost and it was nearly time to attend Wed. night bible study, we stayed on. The boys enjoyed their passtimes of reading and guitar playing and I piddled about helping our pastor with office duties. At the end of bible study, pastor asked those present who also attended Metropolitan Ministries to share their testimony. He let Bard go first. I was anxious to hear where he was. I had left him alone for the day, just allowing the Holy Spirit to work on him. (He's at the place in his life where I need to cut the cord and let him practice walking his faith without holding my hand. He is now accountable to God for his actions. This time is worthy of both celebration and tears). The words he spoke were beautiful to me, and encouraging as his mother. "We are always complaining about something. We don't have anything to complain about. Some of the people I prayed with had nothing. I mean nothing. We really have a lot to be thankful for. I prayed with these people and they walked away crying. It was amazing. It was cool." He seemed humble. He seemed touched that his prayers, a meager child's prayers (in his mind), were used by the Holy Spirit to touch the hearts of grown folks. As his mother, I was pleased and grateful that all the things his father and I had talked to him about the evening before were shown to him through serving others; as his sister in Christ, I too was humbled and full of praise that a young man is learning the essence of servanthood and in doing so, receiving the blessings of our Father.

Rockin' Out Guitar Dude has a strong sense of family. Always has. Perhaps it's b/c he's the eldest of the five we have at home. In any case, he spoke of a family of 10 whose father was recently deported. He harped on a family being divided and how painful that is. He too said, "We have so much. We have no place to complain. We should be more grateful." Again, as a mother I was proud, but so humbled that there was no pride in me, only thankfulness that our Father not only gave me a glimpse on this day, but also shared His truth with my sons--His sons. Perspective. Perspective. Perspective.

It was a beautiful day. May God's Perspective move through your home this Advent season. It surely has done so in mine.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

I Miss My Blog and Christmas Ponderings

I'm still running crazy getting all the stuff in order I need to and I miss my blog. Christmas decorations are up as of today. Nothing too fancy, really. I have a real love hate relationship with this holiday.

I hate commercialism, so I get generally sick to my stomach at the chaos and credit cards of the season. I love gift giving and receiving! I love that it gives my parents a chance to buy gifts for my children. My parents all live so far away and we really don't see them, so it makes them feel great to give gifts; they're simply used to Christmas gift giving. I'm more of a spontaneous gift buyer myself. Either way, we both share our love, so it is all good, just a different vernacular, I suppose.

I love Jesus Christ, but I know this isn't even His birth month, but a ploy of early religion to bring in the Pagans (head shaking). Besides, I want that we all should "adore Him" all the time, not just in December. So much for advent.

The sight of a pretty Christmas tree is... pretty, but kinda irritates me as again, Pagan. I have this dislike for Judeo Christian practices with Pagan origins and, yes, I realize culture changes the meanings behind many things, I just can't help it, I am a lover of history AND a bit of a purist. To some, I guess I'm a grumpy old woman, perhaps a Grinch in FL clothing. Regardless of my furry green complexion, I'll enjoy the lights in the park, but keep our decorations to a minimum, mostly just for fun and crafts for the kids.

I do love though, that some people who rarely smile get warm and fuzzy this time of year. I wish the warm would stay on them and that the fuzzy would at least appear a few times a year. We'll help with that by making Christmas cookies. How can I resist? I do, afterall LOVE cookies anytime of year and will gladly accept any excuse to have some sweet fun in the kitchen with The Gang.

So, I'm off again for some less gratifying work (paper grading). I do wish you all a merry Christmas, no matter how you celebrate it! May you remember what Christ did for you daily and if He is not a part of your Christmas, may you have fun doing whatever it is you do! Blessed times to all and to all a good night!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Time for an intentional hiatus

The holidays are around the corner; my paper grading is behind; I have about 200 books to sell or compile into the library; a Unit Celebration on the horizon; and I want to make cookies for dh's clients this year; and so, I need a computer hiatus. I'm gonna have to spend my personal time on less personal fun and more personal discipline. Kind of a bummer, kinda not. By the time I accomplish all of my goals, I'll be so happy b/c there will be order -- beautiful order. So, until I return, if you need me, email :) or comment here (I'll get an auto email). I'lll be missing this, I'm sure, but duties call and I'd like to enjoy my vacation come December, Not spend it cleaning! Hope everyone has a wonderful holiday. I hope to be back ASAP!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Cursive in PR2

The Phonics Road teaches connective cursive. Essentially, this means taking manuscript and using a few simple strokes (short upswing, upswing, dip) connecting them together. I find the method easy to teach and more importantly, easy to learn. There are no fancy loops for capitals, which I also find advantageous.

One of my favorite factors in using PR is the application of all things learned. You don't find arbitrary lessons simply for practice. There is meaning behind everything. Cursive is no exception. After learning letter formation, the child practices cursive writing by applying it to a grammar review. Here is a sample. 

The Ax Man's sample. He's in 3rd grade.

The Ant's, a 2nd grader

Grammar and Literature Study in PR2

Here are the grammar applications in PR2, keep in mind there are songs to aid with memorization for many of these:

  • comparative adj.
  • common/proper nouns
  • adj (including questions and lists that fit into the questions they answer)
  • articles
  • subject pronouns
  • base verbs
  • action verbs
  • helping verbs
  • building verb phrases
  • object pronouns
  • linking verbs
  • predicate nominatives and pred. adj.
  • prepositions
  • possessive nouns
  • possessive pronouns
  • adverbs
  • verb tense
  • irregular verbs
  • conjunctions
  • grammar review
  • starting in week 1, you are parsing sentences. Each time you learn a new part of speech, you'll parse sentences to apply it, all the while reviewing the other parts of speech. There's no separate review section (like RS), it's all applied together -- just like it is in the real world. Application!
You also hit cursive handwriting at the end of PR2. Your first application, instead of arbitrary sentences is to write a grammar review, using the definitions already learned and practiced, into cursive writing. Application, application, application.

The lit. study will include:
  • application of the phonics learned in a chapter book of quality
  • author and illustrator bios
  • setting, character, plot
  • fables
  • summarization
  • seasons, spelling of months
  • illustrations of reading
  • abc order
  • plot
  • character evaluation
  • metaphor
  • simile
  • outlining
  • summary map
  • making a list for note-taking of the story
  • researching what you read to find information
  • commas
  • semi-colons
  • solving secret codes where letters equal a different letter (I cannot remember what this is called right now)
  • application of adj. by learning descriptive writing
  • character comparison
  • loads of dictation
  • paraphrase
  • animal tracks, research
  • family trees
  • active verbage versus passive verbage
  • journal writing
  • recipe writing
  • bee study
  • vocab: words in context
  • venn diagrams
  • order of events
  • character sketch

Monday, November 1, 2010

Some things make life easier for me

Welcome home new freezer. 
I lost the benefit of a second fridge recently, so I was doubly blessed when we inherited an energy efficient, beautiful commercial freezer! I can get ready for the busy days by cooking and freezing double batches. I can buy a few turkeys since they're on sale this month. I can store a few things for my church. I can shop sales again. YEAH! Hip, hip, hooray! for my new freezer!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Home School Helps

A recent thread on The Forum asked for home schooling helps from classical educators. Here was my contribution.

As of January, I'll have completed my 11th year of home schooling. I went classical in my 3rd year, in the middle.

1. I second the reading for yourself on learning styles, teaching methods, etc. You can even give certain evals on your dd to see what suits her well, remembering that may change as she ages, so get educated as a teacher, NOW, while you have the most time.

2. Avoid gaps by finding excellent resources now. Gaps are fixable, but they are a real pain and take a lot of time to remediate. Do your research diligently.

3. At her tender age and through 3rd grade, I'd say, if the tears are consistent, Put.It.Away (assuming it's dread and not disobedience or bad attitude). I squashed a love of learning once and it took a lot to rekindle the fire. The boy is still scared, even if well healed.

4. The materials I love not only provide outstanding education for my children , but also for me. There are 2 things I swear by and a portion of the reason is b/c I truly believe they make me a better teacher. They educate me not just on the what of classical education, but also on the "how to implement practically, in my classroom" aspect. This is so important. (The Phonics Road, Tapestry of Grace). Truth be told, in this age, there are a bazillion choices in home education and they are not all created equal. Having said that, you may find value in other places then me or your friend in home school coop (as an example). Whatever you find, just find it and be sure you're both growing.

5. Particularly in your case w. an advanced dd, and I say this often, just b/c they start young, doesn't mean they'll stay way ahead forever and/or be mature on the same level as she is intelligent. Don't forget this. She'll still only be 8 years old when she's 8, even if she's reading on a 7th grade level. This can be difficult as you try to determine what is academically challenging and still allows a child to be a child, who can do some upper level work, but still wants to behave like a wiggly, giggly child. Sometimes, it can really be hard to separate the teacher in me from the mother in me and most of the time, my children need me to do that. I banged my head against the proverbial wall so many times thinking I was doing something wrong, when in fact, she was just being a kid her age. (I hope that makes sense).

6. When you find your philosophical mentor (SWB, CM, Montessori, Waldorf, etc. or any combo thereof ) Keep re-reading! Stages change and the reminders are great.

7. Ask experienced home schoolers for advice. We really have BTDT. We can help!

8. Hands on is what sticks for history and science. Keep it hands on and read to your hearts content, even in middle school! Fun and messy are good. The clean up is worth the retention and joy of learning.

9. Finally, enjoy home schooling. It is a gift.

As usual, there were many wonderful thoughts. Take a minute and enjoy The Forum. It has taught me so much! I tend to live on the K-8 Curriculum and High School Boards

Thursday, October 28, 2010

From Benjamin West and His Cat Grimalkin: Remodeling Papa's Prayer, PR3 Week 20

This week in writing we practiced a skill I understand is commonly used in IEW, another outstanding writing program that is time tested and beloved amongst home schoolers: remodeling. We started with some thesaurus practice. Before looking up a provided list of words extracted from the prayer, we discussed the Latin meaning of thesaurus, essentially, "a book of treasures!" I particularly liked that! Then she searched and wrote several possible synonyms for each word. It was a nice time to be clear that a synonym is a word with a SIMILAR, not SAME, meaning. Creature lent to this nicely, as person was listed in the thesaurus, but in context of the prayer, Papa was obviously referring to animals.

After searching for all the words and jotting down synonyms, we remodeled the prayer. I completed the first two sentences with her and then she completed the rest on her own. I imagine, when I get here with the Little Leaguers, I will have to do the entire assignment with them. All in all, including a spelling test of twenty words, five new spelling words for which she dictated original sentences and identified parts of speech, and a review of all Latin pre/suffixes and base words, PR3 took 50  minutes today. Darling will study her Latin flash cards for ten minutes sometime during this day. So, 1 hour covered spelling, reading research, Latin, writing, grammar skills and phonics (she misspelled 2 words, so she had to mark them). Good stuff!

Yesterdays literature assignment included reading three pages, then researching to write down the hopes and dreams of two of the characters. This is a great exercise for looking for key pieces of information, re-reading for research and handwriting.

We'll spend tomorrow reading three more pages, then researching to focus on phrases (verb, prepositional, and infinitive). We'll practice a rule tune and add a new stanza to it! We'll start by dictating definitions, then we'll identify and categorize phrase types, then copy them to a notebook page (23 total).  We'll also add five more spelling words (with dictated original sentences and part of speech included, as always) and review Latin words. I don't think we'll spend more than forty-five minutes.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Scientific Wordless Wednesday (only a day late)!

ME: "Axel, clean up your cubby."

AX MAN, while examining mushrooms under the microscope with ROGD," I'm a scientist. Scientists don't clean their cubbies."
He finished being a scientist then I made him clean up his cubby!

Understanding Descriptive Writing and Applying It!

Darline yet Diva already knew how to write a paragraph; however in PR3, we've been working on notetaking and then transferring notes into descriptive, not fact based, paragraphs. This is a new skill for her and one that will give her a head start in Write Shop! Here is the paragraph she wrote from week 19 after taking notes from the first chapter.
   The Door Latch Inn is a warm, quiet, and peaceful place, where snacks lay out for journeymen and people can rest their heads. Upstairs are stools used as mounting blocks used for the high beds. Downstairs a long row of pegs hand hats and lanthorns. As the inn signboard creeks and window shutters flap, Elmira, the barn cat, lies and takes car of her six kittens. Across from the barn is a courtyard where a worn cobblestone path, lined with barrels of apples, leads to the cellar. Next to the courtyard, in Momma's kitchen garden stands a scarecrow and a shed for oxen.
Writing comes along nicely in this program and introduces it as a part of literary analysis or grammar, both making writing a skill to communicate and not a separate subject area. The inclusion teaches and encourages application and not just writing for writing class. What a difference I am seeing in her abilities to make crossover connections when compared to that of the Elders. It's a beautiful gift. Again, I offer thanks to Mrs. Beers.

Teaching Paragraph Writing Organically (without a curricula)

When Diva was learning to write, there were not handy dandy writing curriculum for lower grammar students. Mainly, there was instruction via grammar study,  but because I love writing, I wanted to see paragraph formation in early years. We worked on sentences via Rod & Staff and simple dictation, then started building sandwiches (paragraphs).

The sandwich analogy is like this: bread, meat and yummy fixings (lettuce, tomato, pickles, mayo, etc -- whatever dc likes), more bread! We made our first tasty treat like this.

I had dd narate a bunch of facts on crabs after reading a crab book (Christian Science Nature Readers). Since in the 1st grade, everything was narrated in random order, it gave me the tool to show her how to design a great paragraph. I typed up her narrated sentences, then we cut out each sentence and made piles that had the same main idea. I helped her to "see" the main idea initially, but after a couple of examples, she was able to sort out: body, diet, and habitat.

Then I asked her the question, "What do each of these sentences have in common? Her answer was in a complete sentence and we "made it fun and fancy" to create a topic sentence. I typed the topic sentences up and we placed them on top of each group. I explained what main idea and topic sentence meant (she knew the definition of sentence and what "main" meant, so this was easy). We then started from top to bottom to show her order in paragraphs. In other words, how if you're describing the body, you start with the head and work down to the feet or start with the feet and work on up to the head; most common foods to least; sky to ground for habitat.

We glued her paragraphs on construction paper learning about indentation and she was a published author! We decorated the cover with her drawing of a crab and some fancy scrapbooking letters.

We followed this model several times, for a variety of subjects, including biography and she then had a solid foundation of paragraph writing.

From there, I simply assigned daily paragraphs to go along with our science or history, until she had built her way up to a 5-paragraph essay (3 paragraphs in 3rd grade; 4-5 in 4th grade). With plenty of practice, by 5th grade, 5 paragraph essays are a breeze. Then, we switch to Write Shop (or at least will switch after PR4). In the meantime, we used Writing Aids to fill in more genres, all related to history and science, so she had completed fables, astate notebook, news stories, etc.

I understand from a great friend that Write Shop's new materials for primary school are amazing. A lot of work, but amazing. From this juncture, I'm using The Phonics Road as my writing instruction, but for those who choose an organic route, this way works, it was fun, and it really was painless. Hope it helps you!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Week in Review 10/ 11-15 / 10

Watching Gone With the Wind (my FAVORITE movie) Notice Lil' Mother and her baby brother!

Finally got my camera up and running, so I get to add table pictures. All 11 of us for family night in one spot...what a blessing!
Well, this was a school light week. We had a regular Monday -- Wed, but a light Thursday and Friday. We took a trip with our church on Thursday, so we finished grammar and math on the 2-hour ride, then read only for history at the convention.

The Elders did continue an extensive study of Civil War battles. We added an extra week to our studies this year so we could really focus on battles, as the boys, of course, love that aspect. We watched Gettysburg, too. I spent about 4 hours on discussion, thus shortening other areas. It was worth it, so I have no regrets!

We also built a shot put device for the Little League and learned all about 46 degrees being the ideal angle to launch for distance and power. We even remember it whilst watching Gettysburg.

I visited my long lost friend on Wed. night, since there was no church. Instead, I enjoyed some margaritas and chips + salsa. I miss my dear friend, who between the two of us, our so busy with life we rarely get to enjoy each other. It's shameless and we left each other's company again, vowing to get together monthly, both with and without kids. Fingers crossed!

We finished up the week with an early Friday airsoft gun war at some dear friends' house. This family abounds in love and is joyfully suited to mine. The little boys all love each other and the big brothers here are always pleased to be "on loan" for the little brothers in this house! It's cool to have friends who are a "generation" behind you, so you can both enjoy the little years again and also so they can get a glimpse of what's to come.

So, we moved through grammar normally, math normally, continued our new Latin studies (see post below for details), continued with Across Five Aprils, didn't do any reading lessons with Al the Great and actually made an effort to enjoy some friends. That translates into: Mom's gonna bust her but to get a lot of school work lined up until Thanksgiving, the high schoolers enjoyed the light week, the littles enjoyed extra playtime and I have the lazies all out of my system. God help us all next week b/c IT'S ON Like Donkey Kong! ;)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Our First Week in PR3, The Beginning of Latin Study

We have officially begun our introduction to Latin, using the Phonics Road Level 3. I admit, after briefly using the Bridge, that I am enjoying this introduction better, as I feel like I have a much deeper understanding and closer relationship with Phonics Road. This is not especially b/c of PR, but rather in addition to, also growing as a teacher, and a classical one at that. So, onwards to our lessons for Weeks 17 & 18.

Week 17 began with cutting out cards, defining "prefix", "base (root) word", and "suffix". As per the style of the program, the child is compiling their own notebook via dictation, so I dictated the definitions to Darling, yet Diva (DyD) and she wrote them in cursive into her handy dandy PR notebook. The notebook is laid out with basic design, so the dictation is entered on ready made lines, keeping the notebook her product, but offering style and structure to keep the notebook flowing and organized. YEAH for Mrs. Beers for understanding the import of both participation and guidance, as well as, legibility for study. The woman is a genius.

On days 2--5 we completed building cods 1A&B, defining 17 prefixes and writing an example of each (in syllable form). The cards for such are provided and also designed in a such way that the "borders" of the cards are open on the right edge, indicating to the child that words can be added to the open end. It also brings to life that a prefix naturally comes at the beginning, as the left border is closed, indicating nothing can be added to that side. Great visual! The cards contain the prefix and also the meaning underneath. The purpose of the cards is for word building -- a great physical and visual aid for the process. To add to the visual aspect of the program, all prefixes are to be written in red AND the prefix cards are red. More on that to come.

Week 18 brings twenty new words to the spelling list. The child is no longer expected to mark, unless they misspell; however, simply because we haven't done it in a while, I had dd mark the words. A little review never hurt anybody. Each day, the DyD looked up the words in the dictionary and also indicated their parts of speech.

On day five, our first base word, -port-, was introduced. See the hyphens I inserted? Those are also on the white cards (color chosen for base words throughout) and the borders are open on both the right and left of all base words. The point is easily understood. We also introduced the first 3 suffixes, on blue cards, with open border on the left to demonstrate how one is allowed to build, using the blue cards and writing suffixes in blue. If the changing of writing utencils stresses your dear one, simply use a highlighter instead. It works wonders for the Little Leaguers!

Designing Code 2A begins with the definition of Base (Root) Words. You've already completed this via dictation, so now you get to review that definition. Then, since your student has received cards for all the prefixes, a base word and three suffixes, you can combine the cards according to your teacher's completed notebook and build: re-port. The layout allows for you and your student to discover the literal meaning, according to the definitions on the cards. For example, re-port is carry back again. Then you continue in this fashion with the other words on DC 2A (ex-port; support, port-er, de-port). Each time you discuss the literal definition. Your child also engages by looking up the definitions in a dictionary. They soon see that the literal definition is given, just in a wordier fashion. The copy the wordy definition onto their paper and also indicate the parts of speech. This dictionary work is great because it reinforces the literal meanings, reinforces how a suffix can change a part of speech, expands vocabulary, and works on note taking skills, via copy work. Mrs. Beers really understood and implemented crossover study in this entire program.

Another important aspect of language acquisition learned during this lesson is Assimilation: changing spelling briefly to ease pronunciation. sup-port comes from sub-port, but in our language you change, or assimilate, the b to p in order to ease pronunciation. Amazing to finally understand all those rules that so many think are exceptions.

So, that's our first week of Latin introduction. I am so happy with it. DyD enjoyed it; found pride in her immediate ability to define words well b/c she had memorized her prefixes and is grasping well the ideas and structure of our English language, via a little instruction in Latin. It's onward and upward from here!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Some things I'm learning about teaching high school

Poor Rockin' Out Guitar Dude. Being the first of the Gang to home school has its disadvantages; particularly when your mom kinda freaks out and dives into classical education just before middle school. Poor kid got flooded with lots of catch up work over the past few years. We're just now wrapping that up.

While he pays for my mistakes (again, poor kid), he also remains my guinea pig as I continue to grow as a teacher and therefore, together we enter, High School: The Final Frontier. Lesson learned over the past couple of weeks: high school is better taught in large chunks (subject matter and time), removing all the tiny little pieces. Translated, drop all the little twenty minutes here, twenty minutes there, and start to narrow your annual focus. That is a tough call for someone who wants to get it all done (read my former post ;) and Know I do know better, I'm just floundering a bit to get in the right groove).

Next lesson: add to the "smaller focus" the thought: you have 4 years of high school to work through a pace correct for each student and don't fret so much about affording college. Did I just say "college" and "don't fret" in the same sentence! Oh my! I must be growing! I've been under self-imposed pressure to get them ready for college by grade 10, allowing them to take their first college class their sophomore year and graduate with an Associates and High School diploma simultaneously. That is a possibility still, but I (again) lost focus on the import of individual education and was so looking forward, that I was just about to miss what happening today. As is the case with many most home educators, I'm a planner, planner, planner and I revise my long term plan each year (hint: this means I've had a long term plan since ROGD was in about 4th grade). I'm just now learning to teach in the now and then reaccess what he needs when he needs it and not in my own timeline. In short, he is who God made him to be and I need to honor that and  not try and make him what I want him to be.

It's a tough lesson. I'm certain to louse it up again, perhaps several more times, but the seed is planted and I have made a few more changes in his schedule to do just the things I am certain the Lord has shown me, including:
  1. Stop stressing about college to come and instead stress focus on high school ;)
  2. Drop vocabulary...we are studying Latin -- the language that produces over 60% of English vocabulary and use amazing history and using a great writing program...we don't need vocab. too.
  3. Cut back on science reading, i.e. reducing living books for him, b/c he doesn't learn best this way AND he is most likely not entering a science field (science will get enough attention to suffice state standards). We will read all the living books planned about Evolution, though. I gotta prepare him to defend his faith.
  4. Spend plenty of time on math. The kid loves it and I need to make sure that doesn't change.
  5. Focus history on battles. The kid was also born to be a military person. It suits him in every way I can imagine (shrieks his mother).
  6. Give him plenty of time for music...his other love. 
  7. Dropping Logic after Dec. until next year, at which time he'll finish with Writing as a deep instruction subject area and will switch to assignments coinciding with other areas of learning only (he's doubling on writing right now).
This is going to work and makes a much more manageable day for my really smart, turtlelike son. He'll be able to still get excellence in education, but work at a comfortable pace, without beating himself up for always lagging behind, nor will I beat him up for the same. We will get through this and when we get to the other side he will be well educated AND most importantly, we will like each other still. I love my boy and my labor of love is my living sacrifice unto the Lord. I am so grateful for his guidance and the support of the Hive. They made a difference in my home schooling this year so.very.much. If he doesn't start SPC for a few years -- SO BE IT. SO BE IT. SO BE IT. I need to keep practicing that mantra. *I* still need some work.

Need to love on my blog AND Individualized Education

The past few weeks have been deeply dedicated to school. After a week of vacation, I wanted to make sure we were back on track, so I dug in my heels and took a moment to evaluate a few things. You know, over time, I have remembered many of the reasons I started home schooling in the first place, currently individualized education. You frequently hear home schoolers boast (yup I said, boast) about the 1:1 ratio home schooling provides and how this ratio allows us to meet the specific needs of our children. Then you read down to online siggys and see they have mainstreamed their household curriculum so much that you wonder just how individualized for each child. I confess, I am the Chief Sinner here. Sometimes, Father Time dictates our schooling instead of the Lord of Heaven and Earth -- GUILTY as charged! I have, however, over the years chosen materials that while I may use them with more than one, do allow for a certain amount of wiggle room between kiddos. Lest you think I'm bein' a "veteran meanie," please allow me to explain.

Tapestry of Grace is a great example. TOG lets me assign as much or as little as I choose and I've learned, against my strong will to "do it all," that individualizing is a far better choice than just boxing up TOG and assigning across the board. I assign different books to different children; different amounts of independent reading, and even different questions to answer and a variety of writing assignments. It has worked well over time.

This year I made our high school science studies both Living Book and Textbook in nature so both of the boys can benefit in their comfort zones.

I split math a couple of years ago and have decided we'll split Logic, also,as I've been advised that one logic course is more "mathy" and the other more "language" in nature.

Using The Phonics Road reaches all learning styles, so it fits the bill across the board.

Why am I sharing all of this? Well, I want to tell Blogland, you can't do it all. You just can't. There are so many wonderful things to cover and so many wonder way in which you can cover, but at the end of the day, you can't do it all, all of the time; so I encourage you CHOOSE WELL! Pick a focus and even more importantly, once you figure out the strengths of your kiddos, run with them! Be prepared, those strengths may change, so always build solid foundations in the basics. I encourage you to put in the work to approach things from whatever direction your child needs. Don't get so caught up in what you love as a teacher that you lose the benefit I mentioned first thing: individualized education. In the end, it will be SO VERY WORTH IT!

Here's an encouraging thread about doing it all and to what depth. In the end, here's something I've learned, The big picture is clearing up a bit for me. Perhaps, for those like me, it just takes time to get through the fog of all the "right stuff" and see the light; but either way, so long as I give my best, and leave the rest to the Lord, I'm hoping for our very own masterpiece in the end. Like all great works of art, not everybody will appreciate my style and I'm learning to be okay with that more and more" Create your own masterpiece, just be mindful that in the end, you're the most important critic and you Want to be pleased with your masterpiece.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

To Twaddle is to Twiddle or Doodle; Neither Producing a Solid or Profound Noodle.

A great piece out of The Wall Street Journal, How to Raise Boys That Read brings a smile to this Classical Teacher's face :) The subtitle, Hint: Not with gross-out books and video-game bribes hits the nail on the head!
"According to a recent report from the Center on Education Policy, for example, substantially more boys than girls score below the proficiency level on the annual National Assessment of Educational Progress reading test. " 
I wonder how "early education" has affected this trend. We push, push, push pre-school now, and from what I understand regarding the history of education, this was simply not the case in older generations.I only went to K for half a day and my husband didn't even attend K, him mom taught him to read.
"Plato before him," writes C. S. Lewis, "had said the same. The little human animal will not at first have the right responses. It must be trained to feel pleasure, liking, disgust, and hatred at those things which really are pleasant, likeable, disgusting, and hateful."
So, true. Modern education searches for the right answers. So much of the problem is hurry up and read little boy so you can pass the standardized test....my 3rd son took forever to take off with reading and now he's on the money, enjoying great books. If he was in p.s., I'm sure he'd be dubbed ADHD and performed poorly early on. Instead, he's wiggly and wry, and reads in his bed every night.
"meet them where they are"—that is, pander to boys' untutored tastes. For elementary- and middle-school boys, that means "books that exploit [their] love of bodily functions and gross-out humor." AP reported that one school librarian treats her pupils to "grossology" parties. "Just get 'em reading," she counsels cheerily. "Worry about what they're reading later."

Rubbish! This is probably a library with as many computers as books (another soap box for another post). Although we own the Grossology book and used it for science, meeting a boy where he is entails far more than butt-focused reading. My boys are all about adventure and Captain Underpants can't even touch Narnia, The Edge Chronicles, Frog and Toad, Wind in the Willows, even bible stories (sling shots and giants!).
"The secret to raising boys who read, I submit, is pretty simple—keep electronic media, especially video games and recreational Internet, under control (that is to say, almost completely absent). Then fill your shelves with good books...Who knows—a boy deprived of electronic stimulation might even become desperate enough to read Jane Austen. " 
Reminds me of Laughing Lioness I haven't seen the need for that sort of desperation, although I made them read Pride and Prejudice for history  :)

Screen time SURELY makes all the difference..just last night no video games meant 2 chapters of The Edge Chronicles for the Ax Man. We play and enjoy video games and more than enough t.v., but the truth be told, less screen time ALWAYS means more reading or card/board game play, even for Oman and I.

"Most importantly, a boy raised on great literature is more likely to grow up to think, to speak, and to write like a civilized man. Whom would you prefer to have shaped the boyhood imagination of your daughter's husband—Raymond Bean or Robert Louis Stevenson?" Knowing a lot of 20-somethings that were raised on games....all I can say is FOR REAL! The prospects for husbands are disheartening. Thank goodness there is a strong movement in home education. Even as Adopted daughter tells us regularly people in her college classes can't write, spell or identify parts of speech in sentences, "We were just discussing that today. That's sad." was her comment while I was reviewing grammar with the 2nd and 3rd grader!

"I offer a final piece of evidence that is perhaps unanswerable: There is no literacy gap between home-schooled boys and girls. How many of these families, do you suppose, have thrown grossology parties?" 
Great point. Capt. Uhura from the WTM Forum spoke well,
...the lack of gap between homeschooled boys and girls could be due to phonics instruction compared to public school. It is likely a multitude of factors. HSers are more likely to be reading to their kids from a young age, to model good reading habits, to have plenty of good books in the house, to use phonics......and depending on the kid, the presence of electronics may or may not impact the love of reading at all in boys. My boys would love to play computer games for 2hrs every day but then would also stay up late into the night reading or wake up early and find them in bed reading. Many things in life labeled as cause and effect when they are really just correlations. 
I think phonics and free time are major factors. We work long and hard days around here, but even now, 12:51, my 3rd grader and his faithful companions, The Ant and AtG, are out front, in ninja warrior costumes, yielding weapons of choice (palm frond and stick), climbing and story telling. Would they play Lego Star Wars if I let them? Surely! But I'd much rather have them read Star Wars, act it out, then watch the movie for fun on Friday night! They can save the gaming for the weekend!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Write Shop Sample for those whom requested more :)

by my 7th grader, Lil' Mother, these samples are lessons 9 & 10. Each lesson has specific requirements of what the student must include. Of my older students, she has had to work the hardest at writing. For elementary school, we focused on outlining, paragraph formation andinformative papers (at least 5 paragraphs). Write Shop has allowed us to work on different genres and develop her own personal style.

Lesson 9:
1st 2 sentences follow the "question-answer" format; no more than 2 be verbs; begin 1 sentence w/ paired adj; begin 1 sentence w/ a present -ing participial phrase


Spotted Sensation
What mammal runs like a speeding vehicle? This large dog like animal in size and build is a cheetah. The cheetah, also known as the hunting leopard and found in the savannas of Africa and India, occupies from fourteen square miles to 322 square miles, depending on gender. Purring and hissing, these carnivores also growl, whine, and make bird-like calls to communicate with other cheetahs. For speed Acinonyx jubatus’ claws are non-retractable and for antiglare, they have black tears all the way down to the mouth; both characteristics make them run faster and more agile. Sprinting after their prey, these solitary, black-spotted animals use their long, flexible bodies to bend leading to faster strides. Running approximately sixty to seventy miles per hour, cheetahs become a sensational spectacle to all.

Lesson 10: Writing a Concise Biography
no more than 1 be verb; begin 1 sentence w/ paired adj., a present participle; used an appositive in the topic sentence; begin closing sent. w/ an 'ly adverb; only allowed 5 sentences

The Great Emancipator
            Born in Kentucky, Abraham Lincoln received little education, only reading and writing, but his determined mind persuaded him to develop skills and grow into a self-taught lawyer, in the great state of Illinois. Rising up in politics, Abe matured into the sixteenth President of the United States in the 1860 election. Honest and humble, Lincoln gained an enormous amount of fame in history, especially because of the Civil War, signing the Emancipation Proclamation, Gettysburg Address, and becoming the first Republican President. The Railsplitter overcame quantities of harsh words from the South during the Civil War, and also avoided assassination several times. Sadly, this inspiration eventually failed to escape and in 1865 was assassinated at a celebration honoring the Civil War’s end.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Worthwhile Read

http://goldengrasses.blogspot.com/2010/09/americas-declining-birth-rate.html  I'm beginning to think Lisa is another sister I have been separated from at birth...yet, in truth, I suppose it was the birth of our King that binds us :)

What our days look like, what we do, and a little of how we do it

This comes up a lot in home schooling conversations, so I'm pasting a response to a recent thread on the WTM Forum. You can go here to read the way others do it too. So many great ideas and encouragement that, YES! You CAN get it done!

We have 8 dc in grades 9,8,7,5,3,2,K, and 2yo. My scheduling solutions are 3 fold --- block teaching, a few DVD lessons, and choosing materials that lend nicely to independent work (always after instruction). The block teaching has been my saving grace, along with the organization of TOG! We also school 7 weeks on, 1 week off to avoid burnout (b/c we are doing so much with so many). This gives us 2 weeks off for Dec. holidays/Spring Break and a full month break in the summer.

We eat a snack before we start at 7am (bread of some kind + fruit) and we eat a solid breakfast and lunch around 9 and noon. We work 'til we finish, not until the clock says so. The dc know this, so they tend to work hard to finish and not delay so they can enjoy free time. We snack about 3pm have dinner anywhere from5-7 depending on extracurrics for the day. The toddler naps for about 2.5 hours after lunch. I do prepare breakfast in advance and freeze or we eat quickly prepared foods (hot cereal, oatmeal, hard boiled eggs, pre-made pancakes, french toast, sandwiches, burritos; lots of left overs for lunch; and I use the roaster or crockpot several times a week for dinner).

I spend Wednesdays with the Elders (dc in grades 7--9) going over Latin DVD, History and Science Discussions, Vocab, and teaching Writing (we Use Write Shop). The rest of the week, they work independently with a daily meeting where they can ask questions and have some daily accountability. 2 of those dc also need "periods" of time, so I set a timer for them throughout the day and sound the alarm that they need to move on to the next subject. On Wed, the Little League works on the computer doing drills and any independent work like reading. The ker has the day off. The Elders M, T, TH, F schedule is this:

The Elders

  1. math - 45 min (DVD programs) (1-lesson in LoF, Alg I; 20 problems in Alg2)
  2. vocabulary - 20 min (dictation, copy work, or original sentence writing for the same 4 words all week)
  3. Latin - 45 min (the program lends nicely to independent work, 1-lesson daily)
  4. Computer drill - 50 min (covering 5 subject areas)
  5. Science - 45 min. (schedule includes reading a few pages of text and/or living book; experiments, study guides)
  6. Writing - 45 min. (following 2-week schedule in Write Shop so it may be an editing or creating day)
  7. History - 45 min. (reading, answering ??, geography, etc. as prescribed by TOG)
  8. Elective - 20 min. (Logic varies by dc, but either 3 pages a day or 3 pages/2xweekly)
  9. Elective - 20 min
  10. Online PE/Health class - 30 min. (4 weeks per unit)
  11. Elective 20 min.
  12. HOMEWORK (anything they did not finish in their allotted time slots -- we do have to keep on track so we finish in our school year)
  13. Start at 7, finish by 4-5...yup, they have a very long day. The 9th and 8th grader do high school work, identical, save math. The 7th grader is a generally more diligent person than her brothers, so she's always finished by 3pm, and follows her own timeline. She also has less work, as appropriate for her grade level.

The rest of the week, I teach and spend time with the 5th, 3rd, 2nd and Ker. Our schedule looks like this:

Momma (LG = lower grammar 2nd, 3rd grade) (UG = upper grammar, 5th grader) The Ker joins in for sci/hist/bible
  1. 4:30 am rise and go to the gym w/ the Elders if they so choose)
  2. 7 am Bible/Hymns
  3. K phonics -- 20 - 30 min (includes phonics, handwriting, and read aloud)
  4. UG Teaching Block -- 1 hour (LA, math) (LG is doing computer work at this time)
  5. LG Teaching block -- until we're finished (LA, math, memory) (UG becomes independent at this point)
  6. History/Science rotating heavy and light days; heavy means lots with me, light means independent reading that will feed them a bit, but that I don't expect to be super in depth --- I am continually amazed, though, at what they remember.
The Little League (LG)
  1. bible/hymns 4 songs, 1 family devotion where the dc read aloud and we discuss
  2. assigned reading (we rotate b/t heavy history and science weeks, so the reading is the light week; about 5 pages per day w/ either sentence writing or narration after)
  3. computer drills (10min each: history/sci. vocab; math drills, geography, spelling....all games of some type using "our" stuff from other materials...all free too :))
  4. Language Arts w/ mom 15-30 min each: spelling (4-6 words 4x/wk, test Fri); grammar (teaching, practice); literature/writing (read aloud about 4 pages, activities like dictation, copy work, outlining)
  5. Memorization w/ Mom (5 min each inserted b/t LA: bible, poetry, history, misc)
  6. math w/ Mom (I don't have to teach every day b/c there are practice days built in. This means they each complete 1 Singapore lesson 4x/week w/ 7 Challenging Word Problems on Wed.)
  7. LA independent - finish anything we started together that I find suitable as independent work
  8. Math independent - after teaching time, they work on what I have already noted for them in their WB
  9. Memorization independent - 5 more min. on what was worked on as previously mentioned
  10. History or science w/ Mom - either way we read aloud; narrate/copy work/outline/ summarize; have vocab days; activities, games for about 40 min total (20 reading, 20 working)
  11. Bible Video w/ big sister in charge 30 min.
  12. They break once in the a.m. and once in the p.m. for some outdoor time.
  13. Breakfast and lunch get 30 min and about 20/day on cleaning up :)

We teach piano using Pianimals and currently, the 7th grader is teaching the LG boys every other day, where they practice what they did with her on the "other" day. After they finish Pianimals I, they are old enough to go on their own with Alfred's piano course.

We get it done using checklists for LG and planners for the 5th grader and up. The 2yo plays in sight and gets playdoh/fingerpaint, drawing, coloring, and outdoor play; otherwise, he just plays in the area next to the school table.

You can see our materials on the left side of this post; as well as, schedules and ideas for large family living (like meal preparation) in the topical index on the right. You can also see a Week in Review or two to see what we accomplish. People flatter me telling me we get a lot done, but it never seems like too much. We are diligent, but not stressed and we enjoy working....well, the teenage boys don't enjoy much right now except food and sleep, but I know they will grow out of that soon enough

It can be all done, you just have to commit to organization in all areas. It's a tough start, but once things are in place, you can quickly flow through it all b/c you're prepared and your family is self-disciplined and able.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

One Lovely Blog Award

Graciously, Dee at Chosen that good part - Luke 10:42 has honored me with the One Lovely Blog Award.

The rules are to post three things that I think are lovely.

1. A godly, modestly dressed, and humble woman with a gentle and quiet spirit.

2. Colorful flowers in bloom.

3. Husband and wife holding hands.

Also, the acceptor has to post 3-5 lovely blogs whom she thinks deserve this award and inform them of it.

1. 4 Sweet Sisters....with 4 lovely girls and a heart for homemaking, Julie really has a lovely life...her blog is just one small part of it.

2. This lady of virtue at Large Family Mothering brings it ALL back to the Lord and for this, she is lovely.

3. I'm a broken record, I know, but Lisa at Golden Grasses speaks to me, so I find her blog most lovely.

4. and 5. get bounced back to Dee and Linda. They've both already received this award, but I can't leave them out. Their love and dedication to their families is ever so plain to see on their blogs that I must include them in my "lovely" list :)

I can't help but chuckle. I am certain that each of these humble ladies will be surprised to receive this acknowledgement and I suspect one of them won't even repost a "forwarded" type of award. Nonetheless, I acknowledge each of you and thank the Lord for you. Your presence in my life, even if virtual, is a blessing to my soul and a service to my family, even if they don't know it!

Monday, September 20, 2010

No week in review --- Just look what He's done! --- episode Aug 13-17, 2010

Well, this week brought a couple of surprises, so we only schooled Monday -- Wednesday. Some dear friends of ours moved their entire children's ministry in a few short days and as the end of the week drew near, it became obvious to my dearest Bubba / Oman that they could really use some more help. So on Thursday and Friday, the eldest boys and I headed to downtown Clearwater with them to help pack, move, donate, and clean up. WHEW! I honestly couldn't imagine we'd finish by the deadline, but with the grace of God, we surely did and as usual, my family was again reminded of Jehovah Jireh! Unfortunately, my camera is on the fritz, so I'll have to try for pictures a bit later.

The testimony of my friends move is amazing in and of itself, but that's their story to share, so I'll leave that to them; I will, however, share how the Lord moved for us. I continue to marvel how He does his due diligence if I am patient and do not complain His glory can shine. You see, we have more kiddos these days ;) and their presence has opened up a few needs in our family --- as Oman put it, the kitchen table was shrinking over the past few years! Of course, the children were actually growing and with the addition of our adopted family, we were running low on space. We made it work by placing a school desk next to the table so we could school and eat together, without being at the same table. Well, there's a song we sang many years ago, "Look what the Lord has done for us! Let us rejoice and be glad in it!" My new table is 4 feet wide and 8 feet long...a conference table that came from a bank. It's solid and in great condition. It can easily seat 11, just the right size for us and our extended family! Just look what He's done...

It doesn't stop there. Remember my inheritance of an amazing library? Well, He's done it again. I have tons of work ahead of me, but I was allowed to go through a few shelves of books and take what I wanted. There were many TOG titles in there :) AND some I already own. My plan is to list them for sale at some point and use the funds generated to contribute to the Elders future school materials or needs for Boy Scouts. Again, the Lord blesses beyond belief. Just look what He's done!

Now, having a place to put those books would generally be a problem, particularly since the bookshelves we already own are duck taped, stapled and nailed just to keep them upright. They really are a pathetic sight to bare. Well, 7 bookshelves later...a few real wood...and just look what He's done!

Office supplies were running low around here and I was secretly hoping for Linda's thick file folders and well...packing envelopes (to ship those books I'll sell), post it notes (my favorite), staplers & hole punch (keeping the kiddos away from mine), 2 in. thick file folders (no more tiny bit of coveting), file folders (on my last few), even file boxes (how I store TOG), a chalkboard (my wall was driving me kinda crazy b/c it's too bumpy), dustless chalk (the dust was REALLY driving me nutty), pencils galore and while I keep seeing those really cool IKEA hanging cups w/ S-hooks, I got a "silverware" dispenser that reminds me of IKEA and I feel so cool! Again, just look what He's done!

Add the cool layout cushion/couch thing the children can lay out in the living room and the can goods and disposable dishes to the mix and LOOK WHAT HE'S DONE! All at the expense of our Father, who richly blessed us. The only financial output was the pizza we ordered (with a coupon ;) ) b/c we were Wiped Out after 2 days of moving and Oman offered so I wouldn't have to cook that night.

In the past month: washer & dryer, computer, computer desk, clothing, food, plants, furniture, etc., etc., etc. always free, always right on time, always through people who Love Him, not that we should boast, but that He may be glorified.

If you saw our paychecks you might giggle (or cry, depending on your mood), yet here we are living on beautiful land, flowers blooming outside my desk window, room for 8 children to enjoy life and not be crowded, books to read, lessons to teach, and food to fill our bellies. If you ever wondered if God would provide your needs, just remember my family and KNOW, the if there is a name for God that we understand, Jehovah Jireh is surely it. He provides our every need, even the tiny little ones I only hope for, but never even request. He blesses us beyond richness and gives me every little thing I need to run this house smoothly for His glory. He relieves the burden of provision from my husband. He brings joy to the hearts of my children who learn to be in the world, but not of the world, even to the extent of material goods. We are nothing special, save we are His children, His people, His beloveds, His servants...it is through Him we find our identity and through His everlasting grace we are so well provided. If you don't know the love of the Father, just ask Him to reveal Himself to you...He will and you're life will be forever changed.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Week in Review Sept. 6-10, 2010

History, geography, church history:

Family Read Aloud, Across Five Aprils by Irene hunt
Family Projects: Memorizing the Gettysburg Address; Dialectic and Rhetoric doing a Civil War battles project board.

Lower and Upper Grammar
We read The Classic tales of Brer Rabbit , which the boys thoroughly enjoyed, as did the Elders, as they managed to join into the read aloud time each day.We also read Abraham Lincoln for the third time. The Ax Man loves this book for some reason. We updated our presidents books, did a map study of the Confederate States and finished reading Harriet Tubman. We will take their chapter summaries over the next couple of weeks and edit them - it will be their first "paper." I'm excited for the little guys.  We also continued working through Abraham Lincoln is my Name...they'll be a video of this soon! They have spiced it up a bit and are so funny! I can't wait to share. They put vocabulary words from the session in ABC order and completed a geography test this week.

Upper Grammar (UG):
Oh my sweet Darling (yet Diva)...was a real darling. She finished up all her work early this week and started on the next rotation. She makes life wonderful. She also completed her associated worksheets and aced her geography test.

Dialectic:
Lil' Mother wrapped up her week with her summary turned in on time, as well as the rest of her work and did a great job on her test. Her discussions are improving, I can really tell her brain is growing and she's making connections. I do need her to realize her books and questions are related a bit more, though. Sometimes, the little things get by her.

Rhetoric (R): These boys are driving me crazy. They must enjoy being behind b/c they just won't keep up. They're rushing through their work as I type b/c it's late and still need to take their tests. They can SO do this, they just choose distraction or laziness; either way, it's a battle of wills right now and um...they can't win, I'm simply too stubborn!


Science
Physics: We spent the week free reading in science this week. It didn't matter what they did, only that they were reading for science 30 min. a day. They read about space, anatomy, animals, more on gravity and a few little things from our personal library. It was a nice light week with just a wee bit of notebooking.

High School Honors Biology:
Back on track and moving forward just fine. We'll have a discussion next Wed. Working through chapter 3 now in Apologia Biology.

Phonics Road - a complete Language Arts Program
Pre-level 1 Introduced "L" this week with no problem. We're still working through D and G, they seem to be "not sticking" for some reason, so we labor on. I need to get some Moncure books from the library this weekend.


Level 2: Finally finished and are just doing the grammar review. After another week of that, we'll learn cursive. We tested out of weeks 26 & 27 YEAH! So we started week 28 in spelling. We will use the Harriet Tubman paper I mentioned above as or writing focus over the next couple of weeks since we have already finished the level 2 literature study.

Level 3: Still marking parts of speech and completing a character study of Bob Fulton.

Math:
AtG skip counting and writing numbers greater than 30.

The Ant worked on picture graphs and making 10s.
Ax Man worked through subtraction and addition with 4 digit numbers, regrouping and not
DyD This entire week was filled with Practices and Review from the decimal section in Singapore.
Lil' Mother is working through Algebra via chalkdust and is on Chapter 6.
Bard worked on another 5 lessons in LoF Alg.
ROGD keeps plugging along happily with word problems and Mr. Mosely. ROGD seems to think if he watches the DVD for 30 min, that should be all of him math time...um no. 20 problems per day -- period. (Can you tell I'm annoyed at him and his compadre?)

Write Shop We have begun Writing  A Concise Biography --- limited to 5 sentences and must use: appositives, -ly adverb as opening word, paired adjectives, and something else (I'm too lazy to check)

The Latin Road to English Grammar- Started the last chapter in Volume 1 -- 14! Looking forward to moving forward.

Logic and Editor in Chief...moving along as scheduled.

FLVS - HOPE - Bard is still crawling through HOPE and was none too pleased when I dragged him out of bed at 4:30 am to go to the gym. ROGD finished Drug and Traffic Safety with outstanding marks...if I could just get that same effort, I'd be so happy!

That sums it up. We're watching GOds and Generals tonight for family movie night to wrap up this 3-week TOG session. I'm looking forward to some salty popcorn and maybe even a lil' root beer!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Week in Review Aug.30 - 9/3, 2010


Fast week this week! Sometimes I can't believe how quickly we get through things. Let's start with the big victory....The A-bomb pooped on the potty...WOOT!
He also has begun requesting, "Miss Tina, I do my maf?" He hears his older brother, AtG, get to math each day, so he refers to drawing as his "maf."
 
History, geography, church history:

Family Read Aloud, Across Five Aprils by Irene hunt
Family Projects: Memorizing the Gettysburg Address; Dialectic and Rhetoric doing a Civil War battles project board.

Lower and Upper Grammar
We read about the Pony Express from and colored this page. Read Follow the Drinking Gourd, watched a video of it from the library and completed a worksheet from TOG.
We continue to work through these books, too.


Daily independent reading using the following books w/ a certain number of pages assigned daily. They are responsible for 3-5 sentences daily summarizing The Story of Harriet Tubman, Conductor of the Underground Railroad by Kate McMullan.
In the Beginning one topic area daily, about 1 paragraph
The Big Book of US Presidents or DK Presidents = T, Th one or two pages on one president
The Big Book of America - W, F only one state = 1 page
Civil War (A Library of Congress Book) 5 pages daily (at least 2.5 of those are great illustrations)
Upper Grammar (UG):
Continued reading the books below and finished Yankee Belles in Dixie by Gilbert Morris from her book basket...like her mother, she was hoping for details on marriage ;) 
The Civil War for Kids is Dialectic selection and I couldn't go through this time period without introducing Great Expectations. She LOVES Little Women, so she's reading it for the zillionth time. The Civil War! book will be gravy for the next 7.5 weeks, so she's reading 19 pages per week. There are some great illustrations in this one, too. She's also reading SOTW 4 as assigned in TOG. The Lincoln biographies in the picture will be used to complete a 4-week Writing Aids assignment on how to write a biography.
She completed The Last Safehouse, really thought it was a great book and is completing Little Women worksheets. She started a craft project (making a small bag via hand sewing).
She also is enjoying a little experimentation with scarves. She's love color, design and all things beautiful. She's so sweet. 







Dialectic:
Lil' Mother continued reading books from last week ( Civil War!, The Civil War for Kids, Little Women and Great Expectations. In addition, she's using Abraham Lincoln's World, Streams of Civilizations 2 and The Gift of Music.)...lots of reading this week! Completed half of  the literature worksheet on Behind Rebel Lines and completed 2 on Little Women.  Only has 2 pages left in her Constitution Workbook. She started her project board of Civil War battles. Planned out the William Booth biography she will begin this weekend. She's also started her questions.

Rhetoric (R): They continue their Civil War adventure and learning about Europe's progress. In depth understanding of the Underground railroad and the political atmosphere during Lincoln's administration. continued progress on their Constitution Workbooks. They've begun answering questions for weeks 21 and 22 of TOG, with a Work-a-holic week coming up next week to finish up the 2-TOG weeks combined. They have also begun their literary analysis worksheets.  


Literature
combined above w/ history for D and LG; I'll touch on it in the Phonics Road section for UG; the boys are still working through Behind Enemy Lines and Great Expectations (reading this only).

Science
Physics: UG and D continued independent study using their encyclopedias, a couple of living books and their Physics Pro kit. I only did nature study with LG this week. There have been some nice outdoor moments, so we took advantage of those and enjoyed some general life science outside together. We're finishing up a unit now, so we'll have discussions next Wed. and will begin a stage of biography (Galileo) on Monday.

High School Honors Biology:
The boys finished up living books to get them to "current" on our schedule. A few of the books they needed took longer than hoped for to arrive, so we played catch up via reading and summary writing.Microbe Hunters and an individual bio on Linnaeus and Pasteur.

Phonics Road - a complete Language Arts Program
Pre-level 1 continued with practice of G and added M to the mix. No problem there. G seems to be a bit tricky, so we're working through that and adding in some G word practice from enchanted learning. I did a complete oral review (I say it, he writes it on the board) and he did great! We continued work on blending and seem to be coming along nicely.
writing the letter M mmmm monkey, m&m, mini-marshmallow will come on Monday


Level 2: This week we carried on in Grammar with verb tenses, irregular verbs and conjunctions. You know we had to visit YouTube and sing Conjunction Junction a zillion times this week...still love those songs! In spelling, I slowed down and continued our study of weeks 26 &27. We added a few extra exercises in nonsense word reading (from Elizabeth's website) and took a piece of paper, folded it into 3 columns, and as I said the words, I had them write each word under the correct column of the sounds of the IE vowel team (/A/, /E/, /i/). The Ant is slowly but surely understanding the important of PHONICS and not sight words...darn sight words! We added conjunctions to our official sentence markings and dictated a lot of sentences this week, all full of markings.

Level 3: In grammar we began looking up and using our knowledge base to go through a page full of spelling words/day and identifying their parts of speech. The first day (2 pages) took forever, but by the third page (2nd day), Diva was really applying her understanding of the English language and I am very impressed at how such a simple task is really a wonderful review of grammar.
Our literature study in Robert Fulton, Boy Craftsman, we are seeing Bob grow up and become a young man who visits Ben Franklin in Philadelphia. I must be hormonal b/c when Diva read aloud the departure scene, I got teary eyed as Bob left his family in a rush. I was just as glad as Bob that it was a quick departure so I could stop my blubbering. We finished our Descriptive Words research; took notes on a paddle boats (an invention of Robert Fulton, which blossomed into the paddle boat powered by a steam engine), and turned those notes into a paragraph, which Diva then illustrated from all the descriptive words she used. We also added to the timeline of Fulton's life and listed many of the inventions that came out of Philadelphia, the cultural capital of the 13 colonies. 

Math:
AtG practiced writing numbers, dot to dot, shapes, and recognizing numbers in the thirties and fourties.

The Ant finished up Singapore 1A. He's earned his "end of math workbook" Slurpee ;) and will start 1B on Monday...at regular pace. We'll take it slow from here on out. It was a nice confidence booster for him to finish up that workbook so quickly. Other than one episode, he's been a SUPER STAR STUDENT these past 2 weeks.
Ax Man worked through 2 practices and some word problems with multiplication and division.
DyD more decimals this week -- still holding a 100% average.
Lil' Mother is working through Algebra and complaining it's still review (from Singapore and MUS Algebra). I told her it will get harder soon enough.
Bard worked on another 5 lessons in LoF Alg.
ROGD keeps plugging along happily with word problems and Mr. Mosely. 

Write Shop We got through 2nd drafts of Describing an Animal in Write Shop.

The Latin Road to English Grammar- Started and worked out Lesson 13 this week. Almost finished with the first Volume! WOOT!

Logic and Editor in Chief...moving along as scheduled.

FLVS - HOPE - Bard is still crawling through HOPE, while ROGD is 1 test away from finishing Dr. Ed. He may do it tonight (Fri. pm).

And I have the pleasure of enjoying my blog time while my "Adopted Daughter" makes Paella. IT IS SO GOOD! And she's making enough that I may be able to eat it all weekend! Of course, you can't cook in my house without having at least one little helper. So now, Diva has on only one scarf and added her chef's hat ;) MMM I can't wait for dinner!

Have a super weekend!

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