Posts Tagged ‘Homeschooling’
December 5, 2013 @ 9:00 am | Filed under: Events
From Liz Burns re the #ReadAdv Twitter chat for librarians and interested parties:
Our next chat takes place on Thursday, December 5 at 8 P.M. EST.
Sophie and Kelly and I were tossing around possible topics for our next chat, and homeschooling came up. Seems like librarians are always asking about and wondering about working with homeschoolers. What can they do? What should they do? What works?
So I said, oh, we should have guests. And I had a short dream list of possibilities: the two people who, in talking about homeschooling, makes me want to have kids just so I can homeschool them.
They are, of course, Melissa Wiley and Quinn Cummings. And both these terrific women said YES. So Melissa Wiley (@melissawiley on Twitter) and Quinn Cummings (@quinncy) will be joining us on December 5.
Got anything you’d like me to share with librarians who are wondering how best to serve homeschoolers? Wish lists, etc? Send me your questions and I’ll share them this evening, 8pm EST, 5pm here on the West Coast. Follow #ReadAdv to see the discussion unfold.
The girls and I are having a good time with Chaucer. We’re making our way through the Prologue—slowly; this is a slow reading—using the Norton Anthology of Poetry because it’s conveniently marked up with my notes from college, as well as having decent footnotes to help us along with the Middle English. I was delighted to discover I could still quote the opening lines, thanks to my wonderful Medieval Lit prof, Dr. John Krause. Now Rose and Beanie are learning them, which makes me six kinds of happy.
I’m reading aloud relevant bits of Marshall’s English Literature for Boys and Girls for background and color, some of which gives us a good laugh, since Marshall feels compelled to reassure her young readers that she isn’t going to scandalize them with the unsavory stuff, but perhaps they will appreciate it in context when they are older. Today this led to a discussion of Victorian* sensibilities and occasional outbursts of “Your ankle is showing!” (Perhaps you had to be there. We were crying laughing.)
(*English Literature for Boys and Girls was published in 1909, so isn’t itself Victorian, but Marshall’s tone very often is, and amusingly so. “Some of these stories you will like to read, but others are too coarse and rude to give you any pleasure. Even the roughness of these tales, however, helps us to picture the England of those far-off days. We see from them how hard and rough the life must have been when people found humor and fun in jokes in which we can feel only disgust.” Er, no, Henrietta, I think a casual meandering through YouTube will make a strong case for the enduring appeal of “coarse and rude” content.)
This morning’s passage was some more of the prologue—we haven’t met all the travelers yet; we’re doing a slow reading—and then “The Complaynt of Chaucer to His Purse,” which my daughters, the offspring of two freelance writers, understood all too well. After we finish the prologue, we’ll read two Tales together. Chanticleer, I think, because the girls know it from the Barbara Cooney book and I expect they’ll enjoy hearing the original, and one other I haven’t decided upon yet. And then they can read the rest on their own, if they like.
My favorite part of our discussion today was in regard to Chaucer’s apologia for the Miller’s Tale:
What should I more say but this miller
He would his words for no man forbear,
But told his churls tale in his manner.
Me thinketh that I shall rehearse it here;
And therefore every gently wight I pray,
For Goddes love deem not that I say
Of evil intent, but for I might rehearse
Their tales all, be they better or worse,
Or else falsen some of my matter…
(To borrow Marshall’s translation, since I had the tab open already)
We talked about how every writer of fiction (and biography, memoir, many other forms) has to grapple with this same challenge, and how gratifying it is to me to see Chaucer dealing with it way back in the 14th century. Sometimes our characters must say and do things we, personally, find distressing or even offensive. This has been the hardest part of writing my current novel, actually. It’s historical fiction and though I wish my characters were more enlightened on several points, I must be true to the time, must let these people tell their stories authentically “or else falsen some of my matter.” One of the chief parts of my job is climbing inside these unfamiliar skins and attempting to walk some miles in them. I inch my way in and find Chaucer has already been there.
…just how much this kid loves Paddle-to-the-Sea.
“A bumpy line of buildings stretched like castles along the horizon. They were grain elevators at Port Arthur and Fort William filled with mountains of grain which trains had brought from the plains of western Canada. The ships now passing Paddle would carry the grain to other lake ports and other lands…”
(She decided to draw stalks of wheat to represent the grain. She’s charting Paddle’s journey through the Great Lakes in blue.)
January 30, 2013 @ 10:24 am | Filed under: Art, Books, Homeschooling
detail from “Girl at Desk,” Carl Larsson
1) I like to pull out a bunch of our poetry books and let each kid (from Rose on down) pick one, and while I’m busy with something else, the kids each choose a poem to read to the rest of us. They enjoy the hunt, and I love hearing which poems have captured their hearts.
2) The Art Puzzle HD app. Another mom on my local homeschooling list mentioned it—we were sharing our favorites—and I love love love this app. You select a puzzle from paintings by artists like Van Gogh, Klimt, Bruegel*, Picasso, Renoir, and Dali. (More paintings are available via in-app purchase.) There are four levels of complexity and I’m finding even the second-easiest level to be challenging in some of these pieces—all Monet’s little dabs of color make for a puzzling puzzle indeed. There’s a gentle soundtrack of classical music (limited in repertoire but lovely choices—The Four Seasons, Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony, Clair de Lune, the Elgar cello concerto I love—things I’m happy to listen to over and over, and am happy to have my kids hear). You can toggle the music off whenever you like. If you like (or wanted to like but the kids’ interest flagged) Mommy, That’s a Renoir, you’ll like this app. Best picture study resource I’ve seen in a long time. My only complaint is: no Carl Larsson!
*Wikipedia tells me he dropped the H from his name at some point. Who knew?
3) Earworms continues to be a hit with my older girls. Rose and Bean are nearly done with German Volume 2 now. Rilla and Huck have picked up a lot along the way. Jane is enjoying the Japanese version.
4) A liberal dose of fairy tales and nursery rhymes for my younger set. Nothing new here, just noting it because it’s bringing me so much joy these days.
5) Winter Holiday as a read-aloud. Though I do still hanker after the Gabriel Woolf audio recordings that Alice’s gang fell in love with ages ago. (Scroll down to the final comment on that post—hilarious!)
6) Sunday family Shakespeare readings. Still working our way through The Tempest. Sunday can’t come fast enough.
June 20, 2012 @ 6:13 pm | Filed under: Family, Homeschooling
The always wonderful Handmade Homeschool on the dearth of blogs focusing on the details of homeschooling through high school:
I would like to see older homeschoolers represented online with the same enthusiasm. Why? Well, because I’d like to have my reality reflected, too. I’d like to be inspired. I’d like to be reassured. And if it was a slightly more glamorous image than reality, my heart would welcome that, too. A little salesmanship of the day-to-day. Calgon, take me away…
Lets do better. I’m busy. So are you. It’s harder to find the anecdote, perhaps, or to remember to pass it along. But we owe it to ourselves to memorialize this homeschooling stage as well as we did in the cuter years, and we owe it to each other.
(Read her whole post.)
I posted this link on my Facebook page and it sparked a thoughtful conversation, and I thought I’d share it here too. Our FB discussion centered on the difficulty of protecting and respecting the privacy of our older kids—their stories are their stories—while acknowledging that many of us do crave the experience-sharing and resource-sharing we enjoyed in our homeschooling blog circles and discussion boards when all our children were small. It’s a line I’ve walked cautiously here. I’ve often written about my decision to blog less about my older children as they’ve moved into their tween and teen years. (Metadiscussion junkie that I am.)
At the same time, I’ve missed it, the long education-philosophy chats* and the nitty-gritty resource-sharing. (Education philosophy and resource-sharing junkie that I am.) I don’t know how one threads that needle—respecting kids’ privacy while blogging freely about the thoughts and activities that occupy our days—and I always enjoy a peek into others’ homeschooling lives.
What do you think? Where’s the sweet spot on that fine line?
(UPDATE: My FB friend Angela chimed in with a link to a brand-new blog, hilariously titled Homeschooling Mother Clucker, that aims to find that sweet spot. I’m thrilled. I’ve missed Mother Crone.)
*While it’s true I’ve missed the ed-method threads that dominated the early years of this blog, around four years ago I deliberately dialed down my musings in that direction, in part because once I found my groove, my whole tidal homeschooling thing, I didn’t need to think out loud quite so intensely; and also because I ran out of energy and time for the occasions where the discussion turned to debate. We found what fits our family culture and I didn’t have any desire to proselytize nor defend it; it simply was what it was, is what it is, an ebbing and flowing rhythm of structure and freedom that suits us. We shift gears so often I can’t begin to tell someone else how to drive. And lots of times, “thinking aloud” comes across as opining. I’m keenly aware that every family is different (even different from itself, season to season), and school works best for some, and unschooling works best for some, and rigorous classical ed works best for some, and a messy hodgepodge works best for others. One of my favorite comments I’ve ever received on this blog was from Bonny Glen reader Sashwee, who remarked (in my post about comics making you smart): “This confirms my impression of your approach to education, non-dogmatic, open to what’s good in whichever vessel it is borne.” I so appreciated that comment, because it gets at the heart of what drew me to home education in the first place: the freedom to custom-tailor education to suit each individual child within the context of a close-knit family life. For us, right now, in this season, that includes having Wonderboy happily enrolled in a special-day class at the public school around the corner, and sending Jane to spend the summer in Texas, soaking up another family’s culture and getting her first taste of the working world at an internship at a software developer, and allowing thirteen-year-old Rose long spans of hours for writing her Warriors fanfiction and other tales, and charting a high-tide of math, German, and history lessons for Rose and Beanie, and then chucking that plan out the window for a week of obsessive gaming when the big Glitch housing reset occurs. And now this postscript has turned into a full-fledged post, but I’m going to be lazy and leave it dangling here at the end of an entirely different topic, and maybe the combox discussion will wind up as comfortably jumbled as my family’s approach to life and learning. Jumble away, my friends.
I’m a longtime fan of the Brave Writer writing program for homeschoolers—as this gushing review from (gasp) 2005 will attest. I’ve borrowed many an idea from Julie Bogart’s The Writer’s Jungle and I’ve ordered a number of issues of The Arrow and The Boomerang over the years. These monthly newsletters, which you can purchase individually or by subscription, are focused around a particular novel that you read aloud to your kids. For each book, there are copywork and dictation passages, a discussion of a literary element that appears in the reading, and writing prompts for your students. For my kids, I’ve found these downloads to be great discussion starters—and for me, they’ve been an easy way to introduce my kids to the tools of literary analysis.
So it’s a tremendous honor to see one of my own books on the list of Arrow titles for 2012-2013. The Prairie Thief, which comes out in late August, will be the October selection. Thanks, Brave Writer!
Julie Bogart has some fun plans in mind for October, such as a podcast interview with me…I’ll keep you posted!
P.S. Here’s next year’s Boomerang list (aimed at ages 12-15), if you’re interested. The Arrow is for kids ages 8-12. And this year Brave Writer is adding a new tool for early readers: The Wand.
Hello, poor little neglected blog. The weekend was much too full of living to leave time for chronicling. And now I could sleep for a week!
The Good Vibrations Unschooling Conference was a blast. Such a fun crowd! Here are a few of the things we got to do this weekend:
*knights and chivalry (Beanie and Jane)
* board-breaking (ditto)
* needlefelting (Beanie learned how and made a lovely new friend)
* drop-spindle spinning (Jane learned how, so AT LONG LAST the spindle I bought for research when I was writing the first Martha book is seeing some use)
* painting and drawing (nearly everyone—there was a wonderful art room set up and you could go create to your heart’s content any time of day)
* “Rock Star Drama Camp” (Beanie attended this most excellent funshop led by the ebullient Amy Steinberg. Later, Amy flagged me down in the hall to tell me Bean’s a natural actress. No surprise to this proud mama who directed her as Feste in scenes from Twelfth Night last spring!)
That’s just a small sample. Flo Gascon, the conference organizer, did an amazing job of putting together a seamless, merry, stimulating weekend—and gracefully weathering the big excitement of the San Diego Blackout.
Some of the talks I attended:
“Zero Tuition College” by Blake Boles, about which I shall have MUCH TO SAY either here or at GeekMom. Fantastic talk. (Rose and Jane also went to a college pros and cons session moderated by Blake. Much food for discussion later.)
Updated: Here’s a link to Blake’s Zero Tuition College website.
“Artodidact” by Brenna McBroom, an inspiring young woman who described her decision to leave college and focus on her pottery with apprenticeships and mentorships. I loved this talk. So did Jane and Rose, especially Rose, who was captivated by Brenna’s pottery (we’d been oohing and ahhing over it in the conference lounge all day, and right before Brenna’s talk, Rose talked me into buying the lovely little pot I kept returning to over and over—I’m so glad I did) and is now burning to take a ceramics class herself. We’ve spent this morning looking at possibilities around town.
“Good Ideas and Bad Ideas” by Holly Dodd, daughter of Sandra Dodd. Holly shared some of her insights gleaned from visiting and/or nannying for many different families around the world.
“Unschooling Lifestyle Q & A”—four veteran unschooling parents answered audience questions. Most of the questions were parenting-focused, and to be honest I always feel a little outside that discussion when it’s from the radical unschooling end of the unschooling/alternative education continuum. I live at a different spot on that continuum and am happy with the way things work in our family. But this talk was lively and enjoyable, even if I didn’t agree with every point made. Heck, the panelists didn’t always agree with one another—that was part of the point, the reason organizer Flo Gascon had structured the panel the way she did: to give a range of viewpoints to common concerns.
Of course the best part of any conference is meeting new people and reconnecting with friends. The hotel had provided a nice big sunny room as a lounge area, and there was always a lot bubbling there. People crafting and chatting, toddlers playing with the toys volunteers had pooled, artisans young and not-so-old selling their wares, and a great deal of laughter. Wonderful, wonderful.
May 22, 2010 @ 4:16 pm | Filed under: Books
Earlier this week, Phoebe asked me to recommend books about the middle ages. Jane and I went around the house pulling things off shelves. The timing was perfect, because I’ve been on a bit of a middle ages jag myself, ever since reading The Perilous Gard (so good! read it!!) which though set in Tudor times, at the cusp of Elizabeth’s reign, is a retelling of the medieval Tam Lin ballad. I’ve listened to perhaps a dozen different renditions of Tam Lin over the past few weeks; this one by Bob Hay and the Jolly Beggars.
Here’s a list of the middle-ages-related books we found around the house. There are many other wonderful books about the middle ages, of course. (Rosemary Sutcliffe and Susan Cooper novels come to mind.) Feel free to leave your own lists (or links to your lists) in the comments!
Disclaimer: Not all of these are appropriate for younger children.
** indicates my family’s favorites
HISTORICAL FICTION AND FANTASY
CLASSICAL MEDIEVAL STORIES including Arthurian tales
• Medieval Romances edited by Roger Sherman Loomis & Laura Hibbard Loomis (Perceval, Tristan & Isolt, Sir Gawain & the Green Knight, etc; this was the text for my college Medieval Lit class & has a highly quotable intro, which I shall indeed quote in the next post)
• Favorite Medieval Tales by Mary Pope Osborne, illustrated by Troy Howell (Finn Maccoul, Beowulf, Arthur, Song of Roland, Sir Gawain & the Green Knight; Robin Hood, Chanticleer)**
• The Story of King Arthur and His Knights by Howard Pyle
• The Sword in the Stone by T.H. White (Arthur)**
• The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights by John Steinbeck (based on the Malory)
• The Story of King Arthur by Tom Crawford (Dover Children’s Classics)
• The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer (of course!!)
• The Story of the World, Vol. 2: The Middle Ages by Susan Wise Bauer
• How the Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill
• Living Long Ago (Usborne Books, lots of pictures: clothes, customs, housing)
• Famous Men of the Middle Ages by John H. Haaren & A. B. Poland (Attila the Hun, Barbarossa, Clovis, Justinian, etc)**
• A Medieval Feast by Aliki (picture book)**
• The Life of King Alfred by Asser, Bishop of Sherborne (written in Latin around 888AD, translated by J.A. Giles)
NONFICTION, SORT OF (contains legend or considerable fictionalization)
• Our Island Story by H.E. Marshall
• The Sailor Who Captured the Sea by Deborah Nourse Lattimore (picture book: Book of Kells; illuminated manuscripts; monasteries; Vikings attack Ireland) (This maybe belongs just under fiction)
Around the Year: Once Upon a Time Saints by Ethel Pochocki (not all the saints depicted here are medieval, but many are)
Our Island Saints by Amy Steedman
Patrick, Saint of Ireland by Tomie de Paola (picture book; early middle ages)
Tomie de Paola also did picture books about St Francis and Sts Benedict & Scholastica, but I couldn’t find those today)
Brigid’s Cloak by Bryce Milligan, illustrated by Helen Cann
FOLK AND FAIRY TALES WITH A MEDIEVAL FLAVOR
• Saint George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman (picture book; although St George predates the middle ages, the dragon legend comes from Spenser’s The Faerie Queen  and is based on medieval writings–the Arthurian stories of Geoffrey of Monmouth ; Hyman’s illustrations have borders reminiscent of illuminated manuscripts)
• Chanticleer and the Fox by Barbara Cooney, based on the story from The Canterbury Tales**
• Heckedy Peg by Don & Audrey Wood (picture book; fairy tale; setting is a medieval village)**
• The Irish Cinder Lad by Shirley Climo, illustrated by Loretta Krupinski (picture book; Irish fairy tale; dragon, castle, princess)
• The Three Sorrowful Tales of Erin by F.M. Pilkington (Irish fairy tales; Children of Lir)
• The King of Ireland’s Son by Padraic Colum (novel-length Irish folk tale)**
OTHER WORKS OF NOTE:
Twain’s bio of St. Joan of Arc
Heaney’s translation of Beowulf
Dante’s Divine Comedy
Stories about Robin Hood (we have several versions
Good Sir Boy of Wonder