Saturday, May 14, 2011

Mt. Hope Academy 2011 ~ Week 18

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 @ 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?

Sing the Word From A to Z (reviewed all verses)
Independent Bible reading:
Levi: Day by Day Kid's Bible 
Luke: weekly hymns on piano

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!)

Fine Arts: 
Piano lessons (Luke) 

Language Arts:
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)
”Blobbing”/drawing continents
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)

Levi’s Reading:
The Man Who Laid the Egg by Louise A. Vernon (about Erasmus, Germany/Switzerland in 1500s)


liese4 said...

My son, 16, just finished a freshman English class at our local community college. Every paper was peer reviewed before the teacher got it. I was kind of surprised at that. Being HS'ed he has never peer reviewed a paper before. Now we list links on our HS message board to kids papers so that other kids can peer review them.

I didn't realize peer review would be so overly used in a college class. Now, the teacher still grades and corrects the papers and she is looking for proper grammar, but she also used peer review and class discussion to engage the students.

So there is some truth to using peer review in a classroom setting. But yes, structure must still be taught.

Anonymous said...

hi heidi....i am curious to hear how you're liking teaching textbooks. we'll be continuing with what we've been using for one more year, but then i want to switch over to TT when my oldest is in 7th grade. i personally know many who like it, but i've read reviews saying it's a little behind grade level.

also, how are you liking "christian kids explore chemistry"? have you done biology and are you planning on doing the physics one?