Saturday, December 20, 2014

Jed Smith, Trailblazer of the West....


When I wanted to read aloud Jed Smith, Trailblazer of the West by Frank Latham, Ruben pitched a fit.  It was a bad day.  After some quick talking, I coerced him into trying one chapter.  Ironically, Chapter One held the rough and tough, good versus evil that my 9-year old outdoor adventurous boy loves.  He was hooked!  So much so, that I had to re-read the first couple chapters for The Farmer at Ruben's request....and when I finished all sixteen chapters of the book, he asked me to read it again :)

Jed Smith was a mountain man, explorer, hunter, and skilled trapper.  He explored "the white spaces" on the map in the west shortly after Lewis & Clark's expedition.  One thing that set Jed Smith apart from most mountain men of his time, was his faith.  He was clean shaven, didn't drink, didn't curse or use rough language, and he read his Bible nearly every day.  His explorations "opened up major portions of the wilderness territory to settlers traveling west of the Rocky Mountains".

Latham's book is not only historic, but high adventure.  At least twice, Smith's party was massacred by Native American Indians.  He was partially scalped by a grizzly bear and survived crossing the Great Salt Lake Desert.  Jed Smith was a great frontiersman in his time and proves to be an excellent role model to this day. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Kaya, An American Girl...

As some of you may know, RileyAnn is very into American Girl.  She's been through most of the books more than once, but wanted an opportunity to read them again and complete a lapbook for each girl's historical time period we study.  Therefore, I've tried to incorporate them whenever possible.  Last year, when we studied Colonial Williamsburg, I made Felicity part of our study. 

Because Kaya is part of the Nez Perce tribe in the northwest part of our nation, I decided to wait until this year and study her with Lewis & Clark, as they encountered the Nez Perce on their expedition.  We used the American Girl Lapbook Templates found here at Homeschool Share


Typically, I help her assemble the folders and she completes the rest on her own in her free time.   One of the beauties of homeschooling is being able to teach to your child's strengths and interests.  Each of our kids will tell you history is their favorite subject.  I contribute this to great living books and hands on projects that interest them.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Commonplace Book... Nathaniel Hawthorne

 
"Hatred, by a gradual and quiet process, will even be transformed to love, unless the change be impeded by a continual new irritation of the original feeling of hostility."  ....Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

Monday, December 15, 2014

Elementary Christmas Books....

Some favorite Christmas memories here on Drywood Creek are books we've read during the season.  One particular book, The Birds' Christmas Carol by Kate Douglas Wiggin tells the heartwarming tale of Carol Bird.  Born on Christmas day, Carol falls ill at the age of five.  Though she is bed ridden, she is determined to bring Christmas joy to the poor Ruggles children next door.  Young Carol is so inspirational, The Birds' Christmas Carol just may bring a tear to your eye.  You can download a free copy here.

Lion in the Box by Marguerite De Angeli tells of a poor family living in New York City in the early 20th century.   This special Christmas story of a widowed mother and her five children is based on a true story of a friend from De Angeli's childhood.  It's an absolutely delightful tale reminding us of the spirit of giving.

I must confess, I'm not a fan of cartoons and comics.  However, after reading A Charlie Brown Christmas by Charles Schulz to Levi, I was moved by the love of the Peanuts gang.  Charlie Brown sets out to find a Christmas tree for the play.  When he brings back a pathetic looking branch, Linus and others set out to turn the branch into something extra special.  In the end, they gather round the tree to sing Hark, the Herald Angels Sing and I was hooked.



A couple other picture books for younger children to include this holiday season are Cranberry Christmas by Wende and Harry Devin and An Early American Christmas by Tomie dePaola. 

This week we will begin reading A Tree for Peter by Kate Seredy.  I'm excited with anticipation as I've heard so many wonderful things about this story...

What are your favorite Christmas books?

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Real Fath for Real Life....

I recently finished reading Real Faith for Real Life, Living the Six Marks of Discipleship by Michael W. Foss for a book study with a group at church.  We studied one chapter per week for seven weeks. 

In Real Faith for Real Life, Foss invites readers on a journey of spiritual growth through applying six basic principles to their lives.  According to Foss, these "spiritual aids", prayer, worship, daily Bible reading, serving in and beyond the congregation, nurturing relationships, and tithing, "are biblical and have grown out of the Christian Church...they can help us find our way."  He says, "our spiritual calling is not to reach a particular destination and then stop.  It is an eternal invitation to grow, to become all that we are most capable of becoming."

Each chapter of Real Faith for Real Life focuses on a different mark of discipleship.  The chapters are broken down into 3-4 page sections with thoughtful discussion questions after each section.  It is readable and user friendly wherever you are on your spiritual journey.  

Personally, I felt the first three chapters were the strongest.  Maybe it was the content, prayer, worship, and daily Bible reading.  Foss gave practical ideas for strengthening each of these areas in our daily lives.  His anecdotal illustrations are realistic and support the theme.  Real Faith for Real Life is a great book for a group study. 


Friday, December 12, 2014

Facebook VS. Yahoo

I am a member of several online Yahoo Groups regarding homeschooling, various curricula, dyslexia, etc.  Recently, there was a debate with one group as to whether or not to switch the Yahoo Group to a Facebook Group.  This is not the first time the subject has come up among the Yahoo Group crowd.  A few of the Yahoo Groups I belong to have already made the switch.  However, this particular group held firm. 

There were several interesting posts throughout the debate.  However, one really stood out to me.  So much so, that I asked the original poster if I could reprint it here.  It was written by a homeschool mom, who also happens to be a University of Maryland professor.  She granted me permission, but wished to remain anonymous other than the information I've disclosed.   The following is her post regarding whether or not the Yahoo Group should switch to Facebook....
 
If I may, I would like to clarify a couple of points in the Facebook (ie, social media/mobile) vs Yahoo (ie, email-based) discussion.

I have been a professor of Computer Science for a very long time, and I have developed and taught a course specifically on social media.  Now, my focus is more on technology and less on psychology, but it's not possible to separate the two because they interact and interweave thoroughly.  It may be convenient to think of the "under 30" crowd and the "over 30" crowd, but those are not the true demographics.  Statistically speaking, the "over 65" age group has a higher percentage of people online than the "50-64" group.  The new digital divide is not between "those who do" and "those who don't", but more along the lines of frequency + location and high-speed access at home, which reflects more of an urban and rural divide.  

Anyway, the research about these frequent discussions is truly not about comfort level with technology or age or anything else.  It's more a matter of time and reflection.  Some platforms are better for quick, immediate response.  For example, finding directions or replying to an RSVP does not require much thought or consideration.  Facebook and Twitter and other "broadcast" media work fine for those sorts of conversations.  They are not the place for a considered response to a question or for anything that should demand reflection. 

Social media has only been in "always-on" mode for less than 7 years.  The first iPhone was released in 2007 and took some time to spread, due to the global economic crash, production problems, and lots of other things.  While those who are "under 30" might feel as if they have always been connected, it's more of a habit than a reality.  From an academic perspective, the issue of social media vs email is of a different nature.  Social media, by its very nature, is "ME" centered and addictive; the psychological rewards are immediate.  Imagine a spider web of connections (this is the engineering model of a social abstraction), but "ME" is always at the center.  Social media is about a broadcast (in the media sense) of something that concerns "ME" and spreads to whoever is connected to "ME".  Email is more closely related to blogging, except that blogging is really one-directional (going outwards) while email is bi-directional.  Email demands more time and more attention and more consideration.  It's not surprising that email and blogging are the preferred platforms for those for whom words and critical thinking matter, but are not as popular with those who want an 8-second reply.  

As an aside, the current lifespan of a FB post is considered to be 5 hours, although most of the "reach" happens within 2 hours. Their algorithm ranks the priority of items to add to a news feed, and anything over 5 hours old does not rank highly.  Most users believe that they are seeing everything that their connections produce, but that is not true.  Research shows that FB users see only 57% of the total posts made by their connections due to the ranking algorithms.  FB decides what is relevant to you, based on what you typically click on.

Another current big debate is that of "opting out".  At this time, Facebook is almost a global directory of everyone online, and it is not only pervasive, it is ubiquitous.  It's everywhere, and it's convenient.  Choosing to "opt out" means that you are no longer "in the group".  You have to decide how important this is to you.  Many groups fall apart over this because one crowd will not yield to the other; the mobile/social crowd will not accommodate the email/group crowd, and vice versa.   There are a multitude of ways to connect and many hybrid platforms as alternatives, but they usually don't get this far. 

The most significant problem is that the billions of users think that FB (and other social platforms) is free.  It is not.  The overwhelming majority of users believe that it is supported by advertising.  It is not.  When you choose to use FB (in particular, although this applies to any large platform), YOU are the product.  You sign a "Terms of Service" agreement, and in that agreement you allow FB to own whatever content you upload.  You do not own your words or your images or anything at all.  FB owns it all, and they sell it in various ways.  A great many researchers pay to use the data that FB provides because never before in history has such an overwhelming amount of data been available.  There have been a number of huge experiments allowed without informing the users by FB that have been in the news recently; one even went so far as emotional manipulation to test the theory of "contagion".  Another point is that when someone dies, their online content is not something that can be willed to someone else.  It is owned by the social platform.  Because the user is no longer providing a benefit to the social platform business, and maintaining information is expensive, nearly every company disables the account and deletes its related content.  There have been a number of recent court cases on this issue.  At the moment, FB allows a page to be converted to a "memorial", but that will be changing as the number of "memorial" pages approaches and exceeds the number of "active" pages.

Finally, the other major concern is that of security and privacy. Never before have the professional lives of a person intersected their personal lives so completely.  For example, if a person "likes" a homeschooling page or a diabetic recipe page or a coping with depression page or whatever on FB, that will influence opportunities in the career world.  There are no clear boundaries on social media, and there should be.  Social media advocates often talk about complete transparency, but that is not possible without full loss of privacy.  The "anonymity" and "Real Name" debates are headed to the courts.

There are no easy answers to any of these questions, but decisions should be fully-informed rather than based on personal preference, personal convenience, and unconsidered emotional reactions.  

I really appreciated this poster's perspective.  I felt it was a thoughtful and educated response. There are so many things to consider before hopping online.  In this media driven world, our quest for bigger, better, faster, may not always produce the best long term results.  Hopefully, this post gives food for thought. 

I should note, I am not a Facebook user.  Apparently, I'm in the "email/group crowd".  I do love words!  

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Books for Sale...



Yee Ha!....it's finally complete.  I have an updated book list and just in time for Christmas!  There are many new used books listed for sale as well as reduced pricing on others.  There is something for everyone as the list is rather long at 28 pages!   

I am a homeschooling mother with a real passion for books.  It's my mission to rescue great living books and get them in the hands of families that cherish books as much as we do.   Many of the living books I have for sale are duplicate copies of books in our personal library.  Some you will find with reviews by clicking the "Books" tab at the top of this blog.  Many of these books are no longer in print, have disappeared from the public libraries, and are getting harder and harder to find.  Some of the books are new, most are used, and some are ex-library copies with the usual markings.  We are a smoke and pet free home. 

There is no minimum order.  I accept PayPal.  I use media mail shipping and ship anywhere in the U.S.   Actual shipping is figured by weight.  Please send questions or desired book list to m.greenebalts@yahoo.com for a shipping quote.  

Thanks for looking,

Melissa



Books for Sale