Friday, July 3, 2015

Friday Findings: New CM Website, On Teaching Mathematics, Using Language Well, and What is Twaddle?...

Sheila Carroll of Living Books Curriculum unveiled her new website last week.  It is now called Charlotte Mason Homeschooling.  Here she offers a variety of homeschool help to those interested in utilizing Charlotte's methods.

Heather's 3 part series on Teaching Mathematics reaffirmed many things I've been reading regarding Charlotte Mason and mathematics.  This is a subject I hope to study deeply this summer.  I recently purchased Simply Charlotte Mason's new Living Math DVD to guide me.

Simply Charlotte Mason unveiled another new resource this week called Using Language Well.  The program was designed to be an accompaniment to their Spelling Wisdom series.  It is intended to teach "English usage, punctuation, capitalization, grammar, and composition".  I downloaded the sample and am contemplating a purchase.  The special introductory sale price is good through July 16th...which happens to be my birthday.  Should I buy a new language arts curricula for my birthday?...hummm, I'll have to think on that one ;-)

A couple weeks back, Wendi Capehart wrote a wonderful post at Archipelago explaining twaddle.  It's quite lengthy, but worthy.  As I'm getting ready to plan our upcoming school year, I found it inspirational.

By the way, I have a really exciting announcement coming out later this month regarding a new living book history resource.  I'm about bursting at the seams!!...so stay tuned....

On the home front, our softball and baseball seasons have come to an end.  It's always bittersweet.  I love the game as much as the kids, but the running takes its toll.  Below are photos of our little sluggers...



Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Narrowing the Fine Science of TruthQuest History Planning (Part 3)...

I've been reflecting on Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, as well as what I've learned in preparation for my third year of TruthQuest History planning.  There are many decisions to be made in creating your own history study based on a living book approach.  In Vol. 3, p. 20, Charlotte Mason reminds us, The effort of decision making is the greatest effort in life.  Though this is a huge responsibility, it doesn't have to be overwhelming.  Let's break it down....

Big Picture

Think about planning your family vacation.  Usually, you determine a destination as your first step.  This is not a time for details about how you will get there and what you will do along the way.  It's simply deciding where you want to go.  Planning your history study is like planning your family vacation.  First, what is it you hope to accomplish?  When your kids are finished with their history study, what do you want that "finished product" to look like?  Where do you want your students to go?  More specifically related to history, you might ask questions like, what time period will you start and end with?  Are you going to teach history chronological or random?  Do you desire Biblical Worldview or secular teaching?  In other words, begin with the end in mind.


Your Year

Next, decide what time period you will study in the particular year your planning.  What topics or units do you wish to study?  This fall we'll be studying Civil War to Modern Times.  In previous posts, I showed you my initial planning charts from the past two years, where I went through the TruthQuest guide for the time period we were set to study, typed the Table of Contents, and pulled out books of interest to me.  These books were possibilities for that particular school year.  I then use this chart as my road map.  It shows me different ways to get to my destination. 


Your Term

Now, I start to divide and conquer!  A typical school year is 36 weeks.  For the past few years, we've schooled in three 12-week terms, taking a one week break between each term.  There are many ways to divide up that 36 weeks, to which I will not get into here.  The point being, this is where you start narrowing your focus to get more detailed. 

When I look at the TruthQuest History American History for Young Students III, I see two natural divisions.  These being the Industrial Revolution and the World to Modern Wars.  Since we're beginning our year with the continued Civil War study from last year, this will give us three main topics to cover, one in each 12-week term.   It will look something like this....

Term 1 - TQ AHFYS II, sections 39-49 (end)
Civil War

Term 2 - TQ AHFYS III, sections 1-19
Industrial Revolution - Great Depression

Term 3 - TQ AHFYS III, sections 20-36 (end)
World to Modern Wars

I then look at the books from my chart listed under these sections and start picking, choosing, and culling.  I know from past years that we can read approx. 25-50 books per term depending on the amount of picture vs. chapter books.  This is where I'll look at other book lists such as Sonlight, Beautiful Feet, Veritas Press, Ambleside Online, etc., to see what their recommendations are for this time period.  I tend toward books with the greatest "popularity".  Usually, you can see patterns and pick out the "must reads". 

Your Week

Once you have some book choices narrowed by term, it's time to take a look at your weeks.  Divide the number of books you intend to read by the number of weeks, making sure that it's feasible.  I schedule anywhere from three to five books per week, again, depending on whether they're picture or chapter books. 

Your Day

Last, but not least take a look at how many days per week you intend to study history.  Then how much time per day you plan to study.  Will you have a family read aloud?  Will your students have individual history books to read in addition to your family read aloud?    I tend to get a little hung up on this last step because I think it really goes hand in hand with several of the other steps.  I showed you another chart in Post 2 that had books scheduled by chapter/page number daily.  I also shared how this cramped my style.  Some people like a daily plan, however, I find it too restrictive so I tend to get a general idea, but am not afraid to wing it depending on life. After all, life happens and I think it's important that our kids learn flexibility within reason. 

If you are following the Charlotte Mason method, a general guideline per lesson is as follows:

Grades 1-3: 15-20 minutes
Grades 4-6: 20-30 minutes
Grades 7-9: 30-45 minutes

Because history is our favorite subject, we tend to spend a little longer by breaking it into two sessions.  For example, we have scheduled history lessons for approx. 20-30 minutes per day, four days per week, during "school time".  This time includes their narration and notebooking.  In addition, last year, I started a history read aloud at bedtime, which the kids LOVE.  We do this as many nights as possible, depending on other activities going on.  It's typically 4-6 nights per week, usually greater in the dark, cold, Wisconsin winter months.   This extra reading allows us to cover more ground and read twice as many books!

So, there you have it.  This is how I plan our living book approach to history using TruthQuest guides.  TruthQuest history is not open and go.  It's not curricula in a box.  It is a guide to assist you in your literature-based study.  There is no right or wrong.  Michelle Miller has created an outstanding resource for a chronological living book approach, which happens to also include Christ-centered worldview commentary to help you see the hand of God throughout HIStory.  Keep in mind, there are no TruthQuest police.  Take it and make it your own!

How do you plan your living book history study?  Are you using TruthQuest History guides?  Please leave questions or comments below....

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Narrowing the Fine Science of TruthQuest History Planning (Part 2)....

Yesterday, I explained how I originally planned TruthQuest History (TQ).  However, after finishing our first year of using TQ, I knew I needed to do some tweaking. This past year, we continued with TruthQuest, using American History for Young Students II.  Again, I made a chart because I am a big picture kind of gal.  Only this time, I tried to stick to resources I thought we may use rather than listing the reading from all possible spines.  Column 1, listed the TQ Table of Contents.  Columns 2-3 were readings from spines that I considered.  (BTW, once implementing the plan, I assigned RileyAnn This Country of Ours and I did not end up using The Story of the Great Republic.)  Columns 4-6 indicated books that aligned with other publishers.  And, Column 7 included books listed in the TQ guide that I was considering from our personal library.

I then went back and highlighted potential Read Aloud books in yellow, books that could be assigned to RileyAnn in teal, and books that could be assigned to Ruben in green.  Here is a sample of the first page of the chart...


American History – 1800-1865
Table of Contents
This Country of Ours
Story of the Great Republic
Beautiful Feet
Early American
Western Expansion
History of California
Geography
Sonlight – SL

Bonnie’s Timeline – BA

Veritas Press - VP
Time Traveler
19th Century
&
Civil War
TQ Books on our shelves
1. Avocados. Yes! Avocados!






2. New Capital – Washington, D.C.




X

Building of Wash.





*Story of the U.S. Capital
*Story of the White House
*Child’s History of Art
Tour of Wash….






Art of the Early Republic Era






3. Land-a-Rama! Lewis & Clark
Ch 66-68
Ch X


X

Louisiana Purchase



The Louisiana Purchase – BA
*Louisiana Purchase – BA


L & C Expedition


*Of Courage Undaunted: Across the Continent with Lewis and Clark
*The Lewis & Clark Expedition – SL
*My Name is York – BA
*Lewis & Clark, Explorers of the American West – BA
*How We Crossed the West, The Adventures of Lewis & Clark
*Off the Map – BA


*Meriwether Lewis
*Story of the Lewis & Clark Expedition
*Meriwether Lewis
*Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery
*We Were There with Lewis & Clark
*Bold Journey
*Adventure of Lew & Cla
Sacagawea


The Story of Sacajawea, Guide to Lewis and Clark
Streams to the River, River to the Sea – SL – BA

*Picture Book of Sacagawea
*Winged Moccasins
Seaman, Dog of Lewis



Seaman – VP

Captain’s Dog

Activities


The Lewis & Clark Expedition Coloring Book


Lewis & Clark for Kids
Zebulon Pike







Based on the chart and again our three 12-week term study, I broke our history study into three sections: Term 1, Lewis & Clark, included TQ sections 1-9; Term 2, Western Expansion, included TQ sections 10-32; and Term 3, Civil War, included TQ sections 33-49 (end).  From there, I tried to narrow my book choices, knowing we couldn't read everything listed.  

Next, I created another chart, in which I attempted to divide the books into daily readings. The first year I used TQ, we read a tremendous amount of books.  This time around, I aimed to read fewer books, three per day, rather than four, but, making sure to read the best books.  I focused heavily on books recommended in the Beautiful Feet guides and Sonlight.  I thought scheduling each book would give me a better grasp on our time spent on history.  However, part way through the first term, I started to feel the noose around my neck because if we missed a day, our whole schedule was off.  Instead, from there out, I printed blank charts and filled in the reading as we went along.  Here's a sample of this chart....
 
Week
Resource Title
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
1
The Story of Eli Whitney
Pg 5-16
17-25
26-33
34-49
50-62
Carry On, Mr. Bowditch
Ch 1
2
3
4
5
The Year of the Horseless Carriage: 1801
Intro – p 24




A Head Full of Notions

Ch 1-2
3-4
5-6

Benjamin West & His Cat Grimalkin




Ch 1-2
2


The Story of Eli Whitney
Pg 63-69
70-83
84-98
99-117
118-132
Carry On, Mr. Bowditch
Ch 6
7
8
9
10
Benjamin West & His Cat Grimalkin
Ch 3-4
5-6
7-8
9-10
11-12
3
The Story of Eli Whitney
Pg 133-150
151-162
163-170
171-178
179-end
Carry On, Mr. Bowditch
Ch 11
12
13
14
15
Benjamin West & His Cat Grimalkin
Ch 13-14
15-16
17-18
19-20
21-end
4
Carry On, Mr. Bowditch
Ch 16
17
18
19
20
The Year of the Horseless Carriage: 1801
27-31
32-42



The Louisiana Purchase


1-14
15 – end

Open the Door to Liberty




Whole
Diary of an American Boy
Intro-Ch 1
2
3
4
5
5
Carry On, Mr. Bowditch
Ch 21
22
23
24 (end)

The Year of the Horseless Carriage: 1801
Pg 43-51




Lewis & Clark (Landmark – SL)

Ch 1
2
3
4
The Lewis & Clark Expedition – Color Book




Pg 1-8
Diary of an American Boy
Ch 6
7
8
9

6
Lewis & Clark (Landmark – SL)
Ch 5
6
7
8
9
Sacajawea, Guide to Lewis & Clark
Ch 1
2
3
4
5
The Lewis & Clark Expedition – Color Book

Pg 9-17
17-26
27-35
35-40
7
Lewis & Clark (Landmark – SL)
Ch 10
11
12
13
14 (end)
Sacajawea, Guide to Lewis & Clark
Ch 6
7
8
9
10 (end)
The Lewis & Clark Expedition – Color Book
Pg 41-end




My Name is York

Whole



The Year of the Horseless Carriage: 1801


Pg 52-64
67-77
78-end
 

In addition, I altered our history notebooking process by no longer printing coloring sheets and pre-made notebooking pages.  As an alternative, each student was given a composition notebook, in which they entered copy work, narrations, illustrations, maps, etc.   This was more work on the child's part, hopefully helping them to build their own connections rather than me piecing it together for them.     

Now, truth be told, we didn't finish our history study this year...GASP! ;-)  There were so many great books in our Term 2, Western Expansion, that we decided to camp out long into Term 3.  Therefore, we did not make it through the Civil War as I had originally planned.  Instead, we've extended our history study into summer, tying up loose ends from Term 2 and dipping our toes into Term 3.  This fall, we will pick up the Civil War using Beautiful Feet's new Modern American and World History guide.  

You can view the books we did read using TQ AHFYS II, as well as links to reviews and sample notebooking pages, in three separate posts: Term 1, Term 2, and Term 3.  In the third and final part of this series, I will attempt to pull my TQ planning all together, summarizing and reviewing things I've learned, as well as plans for implementing TQ history this fall.