Monday, February 21, 2011

Food For Thought

Miscellaneous links, articles, and ideas that I'm finally getting around to sharing:

:: I'm so excited about our new Language Arts curriculum that we have just begun. Here is a PDF document that explains more about the program. I'll review when we've gotten a little futher in.

:: Speaking of new curriculum, some of you might enjoy this poem I came across in December:

'Twas 10 minutes to midnight and all through the house
not a creature was stirring except for me and my mouse.
The curriculum websites were all bookmarked and filed,
while I had visions of great books to my ceiling being piled.
And me with my finger poised to click on the "buy,"
a little voice in my head said "Show some restraint - oh, please try!"

"Go away," I said. "I don't want a fight.
I'll get all free shipping if I purchase tonight!"
"It's not fair" I cried out, "they all look so good."
but the voice in my head said, "What if you could?
Do you think your children would know what to do?
They don't need more books, they just need more of you!"

I pondered on this - what was that voice trying to say?
Did it not realize what a deal I could get on e-bay?
I thought and pondered and wondered some more,
then slowly my eyes drifted to the books on the floor.
Three writing, three phonics, four grammar and more,
all sitting there unused except to prop open the door.

I remember the hours spent scouring the sites
and the money I spent would give Bill Gates a fright.
"Come away from the computer." My children would request.
"I can't," I would say, "until I've found you the best."
"But we don't want something different or new,
we want you to teach us like you always used to."

I remember those days when we had just started out.
"I will teach them myself!" I'd announced with a shout.
And teach them I did with good books I'd picked
and they learned and we laughed and it all somehow clicked.
So there I sat in the dark about to purchase some more.
My children as usual would find it a boor.

"No more," I said suddenly clicking the x on the page.
"I'll no longer be a prisoner in this curriculum cage."
We already have plenty and we have quite enough,
we don't need all the new flashy hyped up school stuff.
We'll get back to basics and learning when ready.
We'll stop switching our methods and stay calm and steady.

I'll use what I have and I'll create or borrow the rest,
after all it's always been I who know my children the best.
I know what they like and I know what they need.
I'll not be tempted again by curriculum greed.
I'll teach them to honor the One from above.
I'll teach them to laugh and to live and to love.

Then I'll teach them the things that will make their minds grow
and the things out of books that all kids ought to know.
I'll teach them that learning goes on everyday
but not just in books but in how they live and they play.
If when they are grown they remember one thing I've said,
I want them to hear "Knowledge is power." from the voice in their heads.

~Aime (from The Well-Trained Mind forums)

:: Your Child Left Behind at The Atlantic.

:: The 'free classroom for the world': Khan Academy. Really stupendous math and science video lectures (from 1+1 to Calculus and Organic Chemistry). Not much in the humanities, yet, but we did watch a few on the French Revolution and Napoleon. Rather handy that we were right there in our history studies...

Ooooh. JUST came across this article about Sal Khan and his video lectures: How Bill Gates' Favorite Teacher Wants to Disrupt Education.

:: Or try Free World University.

:: Forget Mandarin. Latin is the key to success @ The Spectator

Hard as it may be to believe, one of the things that gives privately-educated children the edge is their knowledge of Latin. I don’t just mean in the obvious senses – their grasp of basic grammar and syntax, their understanding of the ways in which our world is underpinned by the classical world, their ability to read Latin inscriptions. I mean there is actually a substantial body of evidence that children who study Latin outperform their peers when it comes to reading, reading comprehension and vocabulary, as well as higher order thinking such as computation, concepts and problem solving.

:: The 5 Best Toys of All Time @ Geek Dad

I won't quote him and ruin the fun. Just head on over and read his brilliant (and hilarious) recommendations.

:: And, just for fun, the animate version of Sir Ken Robinson's talk, 'Changing Education Paradigms':


julie said...

Yay, Latin! We're also big fans of Greek around here, but Latin is my special favorite.

Precision Quality Laser said...

Wow. That is all I have to say about that video at the end. And that is one of the main reason we chose to homeschool our children. We want them to continue being creative and divergent thinkers. To go against the tide of what is normal into the realm of extraordinary! :)

RandomLifeUnit said...

Wow! I loved what the speaker had to say, but I also just have to say, Oh my, who is the artist here? What a masterpiece!!!!

Anonymous said...

Okay, Heidi...a question about the curriculum you are using for Lang. Arts. I have looked into this and have not been able to decide. We are currently using Writing w/ Ease by Bauer and Jesse Wise's Grammar Lessons. Have you any experience with these, and/or why did you choose what you did over Wisse Bauer's stuff? Thanks for your time in answering!!
Julie in St. Louis

Precision Quality Laser said...

LOL @ my sister Joy! Yeah the artistry was pretty impressive ;)

Heidi said...

Joy and Mrs. Q~ The artistry IS incredible. Wowsa. :)

Julie~ I did FLL 1 and most of 2 with Levi. I have the WWE book, but haven't done much with it. We did some copy work and narrations last year. I would have gone with those this year if I hadn't chosen MCT instead. I'm so terrible at explaining why, though, LOL! Levi is very imaginative/verbal and Luke is very visual. I love how MCT is, well, interesting. Is that terrible? It really stresses the beauty and fun of language/grammar. The boys ASK for language lessons! I love the snuggle up on the couch and share the lessons factor. I love how deep the lessons are without feeling like it is so technical or dry. Luke (1st grade) is getting a bunch out of it. Our Classical Conversations memory work will just help solidify some of the definitions, and I plan on supplementing with IEW writing this next year. We'll see how things go as we get in deeper. :)

Unknown said...

Thanks for your thoughts on this. I appreciate your taking a moment to clarify. I would love to hear more as you use the program more. It is always so hard to make an investment in something else if it really isnt' remarkably better than what you are doing. So, I always try to get a 'sneak peak' from someone else before I take the jump!

Jessica said...

Are you doing the full "island" seres with your 1st grader? I see the MCT recommendation is 3rd grade but I have a 1st grader also and would love to know how much you're doing with yours.

Heidi said...

Jessica~ So far we've read the grammar book (grammar island), done some of the practice sentences (practice island), read part of the vocab book, and started in on the writing book (sentence island). So much of it is just reading together and discussing the concepts. He loves doing the grammar analysis on the sentences. We do those on a big white board. We haven't done any writing, so far. Or started the poetry book. I think he is doing okay, but I know he won't be ready to advance as quickly as his older brother, so we'll have to play it by ear.