My blogging time has been extremely limited lately. I’m reduced to posts that are organizational or accountability related in order to maximize my time management. I am sorry that these aren’t the fun, lovely, inspirational, photo-filled posts! Again, life is what it is, and this blog will reflect that. I’ll post photos and fun posts when I am able to do so.
Another excellent article this week. Death to high school English @ Salon.com. I wish I could just quote the whole thing (minus that one plaguing bad word…), so go read it!
I raised these questions with Mark Onuscheck, the chairman of the English department at Evanston Township High School, a large, suburban school with a diverse student body and an excellent reputation, a school that's matriculated more than a few students into my classroom. I asked him how exactly a school like his teaches or tries to teach kids to write, and his initial answers make me start chewing on my nails. He talks about processes and collaboration, about students working together and doing peer review, about how they keep writing folders, and do writing frequently in various, informal ways.
"But the writing they'll need to do in college won't be informal," I say. "And it won't be reviewed by peers but by professors. So what about specific writing and research skills? What about style and grammar?"
Almost instantly, his tone shifts from one of back-patting, pedagogy-speak to something more honest. He laughs. "It's very hard to get a lot of teachers to teach those things, especially grammar. We have such a need to engage students. There's such an emphasis on keeping student enthusiasm going and getting them to want to actively participate. When you start talking about grammar, it's like asking them to eat their vegetables, and no one wants to ask them to do that. They prefer class discussion, which is great but to a certain degree, goes off into the wind."
I’m working on a post for this week, reviewing a few of the materials and programs we’ve been using. Language arts are on the docket (Michael Clay Thompson and more), as well as Teaching Textbooks. Any other curriculum review requests?
Teaching Textbooks daily
Supplement with Singapore workbooks
CC math memory work (skip counting, reviewing 14s)
Math Monday in the Park (playing math games with distance learning group)
Christian Kids Explore Chemistry (lesson 2)
(It isn’t all drudgery around here…)
Bill Nye: Motion (DVD)
Bill Nye: Pressure (DVD)
Bill Nye: Balance (DVD)
Swimming (family movie night at the pool)
Lots of outdoor play (finally had a few nice days!)
Piano lessons (Luke)
IEW Primary Arts of Language Writing: Story Sequence
IEW Poetry Memorization (poem #11)
MCT Language Arts:
Practice Island (sentences 37-41)
The Music of the Hemispheres (pp. 1-37)
All About Spelling Level 2 (step 5)
Handwriting Without Tears workbooks
Song School Latin (songs review)
Usborne Language Cards: Spanish Words and Phrases (learning one phrase and 3 vocab words weekly)
There’s a Map on My Lap: All About Maps (The Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library)
European geography review (Levi)
The Kingfisher History Encyclopedia: The Thirty Years’ War 1618-1648, France and Richelieu (Levi)
Usborne History Encyclopedia: The Power of the Habsburgs (Luke)
CC Veritas History Timeline Cards (review/solidifying memorization: Creation-Pompeii)
(read independently by both Levi and Luke unless noted otherwise)
The Hero of Bremen retold by Margaret Hodges (German legend)
The Glass Mountain retold by Diane Wolkstein (Brothers Grimm)
Charles Dickens: The Man Who Had Great Expectations by Diane Stanley (biography)
Oliver Twist (DK Classics: The classic (abridged) story, plus fascinating background facts and photographs)
Charles Dickens and Friends: Five Lively Retellings by Marcia Williams (Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol, David Copperfield, and A Tale of Two Cities)
Frankenstein (Classic Starts) retold from the Mary Shelley original
Frankenstein (Stepping Stones Classic Chapter Book) by Mary Shelley adapted by Larry Weinberg
A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett (Levi, unabridged)
The Man Who Laid the Egg by Louise A. Vernon (about Erasmus, Germany/Switzerland in 1500s)