Monday, April 28, 2014

Colonial Williamsburg...

Oh how we hope to travel to see the historic sites of the U.S. along the eastern sea board some day!  Williamsburg will be on our list.  The photo shows the books we used to study Colonial Williamsburg.  The girls produced Felicity lapbooks as instructed here.  They really enjoyed this study! 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Don't Forget Daniel Boone....

I've really enjoyed reading about Daniel and Rebecca Boone!  I must admit, prior to our reading, I wasn't even sure Daniel Boone was a real person.  I thought maybe he was a legend, like Paul Bunyan and John Henry.  This may sound crazy to some of you, but I don't ever remember really learning about Daniel Boone.  However, after reading a few GREAT books, I don't think studying his life is to be missed!

Angel read Daniel Boone, Young Hunter and Tracker (Childhood of Famous Americans) by Augusta Stevenson to Riley and Ruben a while back.  The kids reported this was a good overview of Boone's childhood.  It is an easier read, especially for younger children (K-3rd).

I read aloud Daniel Boone by James Daugherty and Wilderness Wife - The Story of Rebecca Bryan Boone by Etta DeGering recently as part of our TruthQuest History study.  Daugherty's book has wonderful illustrations.  However, the text is more challenging.  It is a great history of Boone's life and how he pioneered the frontier of Kentucky.  I would recommend this book for older students (grades 7-12) and adults alike.

Wilderness Wife, my personal favorite, is a biography of Rebecca Bryan Boone, Daniel's wife.  IMHO, Rebecca was an amazing person. In the Preface, DeGering describes her as "A modern Ruth", quoting Rebecca words, "Whither thou goest, I will go" - she followed Daniel."  I felt Rebecca was an outstanding Biblical role model.  She was a supportive wife and loving mother, constantly making do with very little and never complaining.  Through her actions, you could see her faith in God and feel her love for her husband and children.

After the Preface, DeGering gives genealogy like charts of The Morgan Bryan Family, The Joseph Bryan Family, The Squire Boone, Senior, Family, and The Family of Daniel and Rebecca Boone for reference while you read.  These charts are very helpful for keeping track of family members as the story progresses.

Chapter One begins in 1755, with Rebecca's life as a young woman on the forks of the Yadkin River in Rowan County, North Carolina.  In the remaining chapters, we learn of Rebecca's introduction to Daniel Boone and their courtship.  As the story of her life unfolds, we see the birth of her children, many re settlements, and Rebecca's death on March 18, 1813.  Throughout which, we also learn about Daniel's explorations and frontier adventures.  In my mind, DeGering did a wonderful job of maintaining the integrity of Daniel and Rebecca Boone.  I gained great respect for their life as well as the life of America's early pioneer families.  

Wilderness Wife made me laugh and cry.  It is a "living book" at its best.  I'm sad to say Wilderness Wife is out of print.  However, I think it's definitely worth the effort and money to find an original copy and add it to your library.  The book had a huge impact on me and I intend to read it again in the future.  

Ruben is a huge fan of Daniel Boone.  He watches the old reruns on ME TV weekday mornings.  Reading all these books has been a good exercise for him in discernment.  I think both he and RileyAnn were surprised to see some of the untrue Hollywood extras added for TV.  One myth busted, Daniel Boone did not wear coon skin caps.  He found them quite uncomfortable and preferred beaver felt instead :)

A couple other books to add while studying frontier/pioneering in the Cumberland Gap region with young children, are The True Book of Pioneers by Mabel Harmer and Susannah the Pioneer Cow by Miriam E. Mason.  Harmer's book gives an overview of pioneers and early settlers in a readable, but not dumbed down fashion.  Susannah is a very cute and charming pioneering story for early elementary children. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Right Side of Normal....

  I just finished reading The Right Side of Normal by Cindy Gaddis .  Though I don't agree with every recommendation in the book, Ms. Gaddis has some valid points.  Below are a few quotes I found intriguing....

"Right-brained children love to learn, hate to be taught.  Resistance is often a natrual response to being taught in a manner not conducive to how they learn or not connected to a meaningful need or desire to know.  That said, when the right resources and timing are utilized, a right-brained learner is actively and eagerly engaged in the learning process.  In fact, they are often insatiable learners."  (The Right Side of Normal, Cindy Gaddis, pg 149)

"Because of the left-brained scope and sequence found in our schools, as a society we are conditioned to believe that the 'correct' age to learn to read is in the 5 to 7 year old age range, a range that includes first grade at its center.  We even use the comparative descriptions 'early reader' if a child learns in the 3 to 5 year time frame and 'late reader' if the skill is attained between 8 to 10 years.  This is false conditioning.  The truth is that it's within the norm to learn to read anywhere from 3 to 12 years old.  That age time frame of 5 to 7 years is simply the average norm for a left-brained learner and the age time frame of 8 to 10 years is the average norm for a right-brained learner."  (The Right Side of Normal, Cindy Gaddis, pg 201)

"The right-brained learner is most ready to learn arithmetic starting between the ages of 8 and 10 years old, after the 'age of shifting' from primarily viewing everything from a three-dimensional perspective, to the ability to include two-dimensional symbolic processing."   (The Right Side of Normal, Cindy Gaddis, pg 243)

In her book, Gaddis continues with right-brained learning in many other core subjects such as writing, spelling, history, and science.  In the last section of the book, Gaddis addresses common labels given to right-brained learners.  I appreciate the time and energy Ms. Gaddis' put into her work.  But I struggle with polarizing right and left brain learners to this extreme. 

I don't necessarily agree with Gaddis' ideas in chapter 16 on exposing right brain students, particularly young children, to mythology.  I believe we must steep our young children in Biblical principles before exposing them to what is false.  Any child who is regularly read Bible stories, folktales, and Aesop's fables will gain vivid mental images and ideas for "creative expression".  

I also disagree with Ms. Gaddis' comment on page 209 against the Charlotte Mason teaching methodology for right brain learners.    If children are exposed to comic books, manga, and magazines regularly rather than great living books, their tastes will prefer the glossy spreads and visual images.  However, I believe if children are exposed to great living books, they will acquire a taste for them instead.  I feel this is true for children and adults, whether right or left brained.

With that said, I also believe there is a time and place for magazines and comic books, but I would caution against them being a primary source of knowledge.  In our world, visual stimulation is everywhere.  It is not necessary to seek it out.  If your student struggles with reading, I recommend reading great living books aloud to them or finding audio versions through media.  Exposing your student to beautiful and rich language will advance their vocabulary and imagination.

Even though I don't agree with everything Ms. Gaddis writes, I do think there are enough gold nuggets in The Right Side of Normal to make it worth your time. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Homeschooling through High School 101...

I recently spoke to a group of homeschool moms regarding homeschooling through high school.  It's so hard to believe we only have a month left until Angel's graduation.  That time went really fast!  Today, I thought I'd share with you some of what I've learned along our high school journey.

Before beginning to homeschool high school (or any grade for that matter), it's important to know your state law. In Wisconsin, homeschoolers are considered private schools. To meet private school requirements, homeschooling families must check that they comply with Statute 118.165. This statute requires that educating families choose an educational program or curriculum based on a private or religious-based education that is privately controlled. The educational program must provide 875 hours of instruction with a curriculum that progressively increases instruction in each of the required subjects. The state of Wisconsin requires all children have regular instruction in the subjects of language arts, reading, mathematics, social studies, science and health.  Homeschooling families can provide this instruction in any way they wish to enhance their student’s educational opportunities such as utilizing field trips, community activities, co-op classes, educational games and community sports opportunities. Wisconsin homeschooling laws do not require homeschooling students to take standardized tests.

WI law further states the education program chosen by homeschooling families should not operate solely to avoid the compulsory attendance law. Based on these requirements, Wisconsin school officials can only check homeschooling students' attendance records, not their academic records. These requirements also state that parents do not have to pick any curriculum or educational program that conflict with their personal beliefs, giving homeschooling families in Wisconsin freedom to choose their own materials.

In other words, WI law does not require education as in you need so many credits of this or that to graduate.  WI parents award transcript and diploma based upon their family goals and ideals.  (Disclaimer - The above is my interpretation of the WI homeschooling law.  I am not an attorney and this is not an attempt at legal advice.  Please consider studying your state's homeschooling laws before beginning to homeschool.)  With that said, I sense that you want to do more than just keep attendance so let’s begin planning those wants. 

Planning is one of my favorite parts of homeschooling.  In all honesty, I may be a better planner than implementer of my plan.   When I began to plan Angel's high school, I considered each of the following:

- Plans after high school – college, military, work, missions, etc.

- Subjects required on PI-1206

- Potential college entrance requirements

- Local public school requirements

After considering all the above, we created our four year plan.  A four year plan is an outline or road map of your students projected four year high school experience.  The plan will be fluid in that it will change from 9th to 12th grade based on your student's finalized plans after high school and life's unexpected quarks.  Remember, some of the best laid plans can change at the drop of a pin, so be flexible.  Customize the plan accordingly by balancing easy/hard classes, fun/challenging classes, and huge time commitment classes with less time commitment classes.  Limit the number of classes on the plan to 6-8 per year.  

The next step is developing a system of record keeping.   Remember, in WI we are only required to keep attendance.  However, it's to your student's benefit to keep some record of their four year high school experience.  You may need this later in life, particularly for entrance to college.  Students can assist you in this process.  Give them a blank composition book and/or school planner; start a file with projects, field trips, plays, concerts, book lists, etc.  At the beginning of 9th grade, I gave Angel a blank composition book with sections tabbed: Jobs & Volunteer Work; Clubs & Organizations, Memberships; Camps, Civic Events & Conferences; Travel & Field Trips; Sports, Competitions, & Contests; Plays, Radio, TV, & Movies; and Books, Magazines, and Newspapers.  It was her job to log hours or cite any resources she used in each of these sections.   You may also consider photocopying the cover & table of contents from textbooks, being careful to honor copyright laws.

There are several ways to issue credits to your high school student.  For example, 1 credit can equal a number of hours; successful completion of high school textbook or yearlong correspondence class; parent established criteria (student reads and reports on 20 novels, 2 plays, book of poetry, & 2 research papers); parent set standard of proficiency (student reaches typing speed of 50 words per minute with 95% accuracy = ½ credit earned); or any combination.  The average number of credits given over four years of high school study is 20, which equates to five per year. 

A typical high school schedule equals approximately 5-6 hours per day, 5 days per week, 36 weeks a year, or 180 days per year (180 days x 5 hours per day will give you 900 hours total).  By using this calculation, you meet the required 875 hours that you committed to when filing the PI-1206. 

A general guide for determining credit hours is:

- Electives are typically 120 hours (40 minutes x 180 days)

- Required classes are typically 150 hours (50 minutes x 180 days)

- Classes with labs can reach up to 180 hours (60 minutes x 180 days)

You will need to determine how you will issue grades in your homeschool.   Don’t stress over this.  Public school districts vary on grading from school to school as well as within the schools.  Grading can vary from teacher to teacher.  Grades are subjective any way you look at it.  Regardless, I feel some sort of evaluation is important at the high school level.  Grades can be used for transcripts.  Scholarships can be awarded on grades.  I also believe at the upper levels you need some sort of accountability to teach or evaluate employability of your student. (i.e. Can they get up on time? Are they motivated self starters?  Can they manage their time wisely?  Can they meet deadlines?, etc.)  Whether entering college or the work force, these employability factors are necessary skills. 

Upon graduation, you will need to issue your student a transcript.  A transcript is a record of all courses taken and grades earned in high school.  There are free online transcript calculators.  Click here for one I plan to personally use.   Typically transcripts are one page.  You do not need to use your child's social security number, extracurricular activities, attendance records, or test scores on the transcript.  In addition to the transcript, some families keep a portfolio. A portfolio is a collection of materials or projects demonstrating what the student learned in a particular class or activity.  It's a scrapbook of sorts.

The following is an attempt to define some common high school terminology: 

- Elective = class chosen by your student, may or may not be required in your school; often interest driven – art, music, auto mechanics, home economics, agricultural studies, etc.

- Extra Curricular = activities that are not part of your school day – sports, theater, dance, recreation, etc.

- Life Skills = skills needed for life – automotive skills, obtaining drivers license, household maintenance, shopping, personal finance, cooking/baking, yard/garden maintenance, food preservation, self care, study skills, career skills, manners, character qualities, etc.

** It can be hard to differentiate between electives, extra curricular, and life skills in a homeschool setting.  Again, don't sweat it!  Take a look at the overall picture and look for holes.  Then plug these holes with the skills acquired.  Bible or scripture study can come under electives or life skills.

- Career Cluster Interest Survey – career guidance tool often given in middle school or early high school

- PLAN – ACT practice specifically for 10th graders; consists of 2 parts: academic component, which is a shortened version of ACT and a career component – results used as a tool for career planning and will give predicted ACT score

- PSAT – SAT practice, when taken in the 11th grade year, it’s the qualifying test for National Merit Scholarship Program

- SAT, ACT – college entrance exams

- Compass – CVTC entrance exam

- ASVAB – career exploration tool, if taken in 11th or 12th grade it can be used as a military entrance exam; scores are good for 2 years

- AP – advanced placement; college level classes usually for 11th and 12th grade; taken to prepare for advanced placement exams administered by college board and may or may not result in college credits or advanced standing

- CLEP – similar to AP, but not as rigorous; fewer colleges accept CLEP tests for credit – may consider for psychology or sociology or other philosophical courses that may be contrary to Biblical Worldview

In closing, I would recommend finding a mentor to guide you through your high school experience.  This person will not only answer any questions you may have, they will also pray with you and calm your doubts and fears.  This person should be a trusted source with whom you have a close alignment in thinking.  In other words, choose someone with a similar homeschool style as your own. 

Above all, “The function of education is not to give technical skill but to develop a person; the more of a person, the better the work of whatever kind” (Charlotte Mason Vol. 6, p. 147).  God has called each and every one of your students to be wise and accept instruction so that they may seek His glory.  Homeschooling through high school is a privilege and a gift.  I pray that you will take advantage of it :)

Homeschooling through High School Resources

Senior High: A Home Designed Form+U+La by Barbara Edtl Shelton (website)

From Homeschool to College and Work: Turning your Homeschooled Experiences into College and Job Portfolios by Alison McKee

The Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer & Jessie Wise – guide to classical education at home

Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum by Laura Berquist – Catholic classical education Ambleside Online on Charlotte Mason high school - HSLDA homeschooling through high school web page - an interview with Dr. Jay Wile (Apologia Science) regarding homeschooling through high school - Barb at Harmony Fine Arts at Home blog posts on homeschooling through high school – Charlotte Mason/Classical Education combo – Barb of Harmony Fine Arts – high school lesson plans

Monday, April 7, 2014

Handicrafts Made Simple...

Our girls are loving this Handicrafts Made Simple series by Simply Charlotte Mason!  Angel and RileyAnn have spent the winter learning how to hand sew with Rebekah Shafer.

Thus far, there are five DVD's in the series including Cardboard & Paper, Crochet, Hand Sewing, Knitting, and Woodworking.  Each DVD offers step-by-step easy to follow instructions on individual handicrafts.  Each DVD is accompanied by a small book "which holds tips, techniques, refreshers, and ideas for how to use the finished projects".   The book also gives a 12-week suggested schedule as well as an introduction and supply list.  Both girls commented on the professional poise Ms. Shafer offers in each lesson.  She is an excellent teacher and role model.

Using cotton fabric fat quarters and craft felt, the Hand Sewing DVD gives instruction on learning the running stitch and whip stitch.  The student then uses those stitches to create such projects as a simple hem blanket, button bag, whip-stitch pillow, draw string bag, and four-square blanket. 

The DVD's are intended for students grades 1-12.  At 4th and 12th grade, the girls were able to take the DVD, watch the lesson, and then complete the projects on their own.  There are 8 sessions on the Hand Sewing DVD, each running approx. 8 minutes.  I also purchased the Crochet DVD.  However, we have not started that one yet.

The points to be borne in mind in children’s handicrafts are: (a.) that they should not be employed in making futilities such as pea and stick work, paper mats, and the like; (b.) that they should be taught slowly and carefully what they are to do; (c.) that slipshod work should not be allowed; (d.) and that therefore, the children’s work should be kept well within their compass.” – Charlotte Mason Vol. 1 Home Education, p. 315

Based upon our experience, I believe Charlotte Mason would approve of SCM's Handicraft DVD series.  The short lessons are "taught slowly and carefully".  The finished projects are useful and simple enough to be accomplished by a novice.  If you are looking to implement handicrafts into your day, I recommend getting started with Handicrafts Made Simple by Simply Charlotte Mason. 

RileyAnn with her simple hem blanket and button bag

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Colonial America Term 2 Book List...

If you are a regular reader, you know that we LOVE great living books here on Drywood Creek.   A while back I shared this list of books that we read while studying Exploration & Early American History.  Today, I'm going to share our Colonial America book list.  Again, these are family read aloud books.  RileyAnn also has her own reading list that coordinates with each time period.  The books with asterisks (**) indicate books we did not read fully, rather we referenced or read sections from them. 

Stories of the Pilgrims by Margaret B. Pumphrey - We actually read the original version of this book online here.
William Bradford Pilgrim Boy by Bradford Smith (Childhood of Famous Americans)
John Billington, Friend of Squanto by Clyde Robert Bulla
On the Mayflower by Kate Waters
If You Sailed on the Mayflower in 1620 by Ann McGovern
The Story of the Mayflower Compact by Norman Richards
Across the Wide and Dark Sea by Jean Van Leeuwen
Tapenum's Day by Kate Waters
Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims by Clyde Robert Bulla
The Pilgrims of Plimoth by Marcia Sewall
Three Young Pilgrims by Cheryl Harness
Squanto and the Miracle Thanksgiving by Eric Metaxas
The Thanksgiving Story by Alice Dalgliesh
Giving Thanksgiving: The 1621 Harvest Feast by Kate Waters
The Pilgrims Brave Settlers of Plymouth by Lynn Groh
Stranded at Plimoth Plantation 1626 by Gary Bowen
**The Story of the Thirteen Colonies by Clifford Lindsey Alderman
Champlain Northwest Voyager by Louise Hall Tharp
The Jews of New Amsterdam by Eva Deutsch Costabel
Sailing to America by James Knight
Tattered Sails by Verla Kay
**Thirteen Colonies series by Dennis Fradin
William's House by Ginger Howard
Finding Providence - The Story of Roger Williams by Avi
Nickommoh! A Thanksgiving Celebration by Jackie French Koller
**Meet the North American Indians - Step Up Books
**The Powhatan People by Kim Covert
**The Pequot Tribe by Alison Lassieur
**The Wampanoag Indians by Bill Lund
If You Lived with the Iroquois by Ellen Levine
**The Iroquois by Rachel A. Koestler-Grack
**Follet Social Studies: Exploring Our State Wisconsin (my old 4th grade textbook)
Little Runner of the Longhouse by Betty Baker
Fur Trappers & Traders by Beatrice Siegel
**Radisson & des Groseilliers: Fur Trappers of the North by Katharine Bailey
**Samuel de Champlain From New France to Cape Cod by Adrianna Morganelli
On the Day Peter Stuyvesant Sailed into Town by Arnold Lobel
**A New True Book: The Cherokee by Emilie U. Lepthien
If You Lived with the Cherokee by Peter & Connie Roop
**The Cherokee Native Basket Weavers by Therese DeAngelis
Pirate Diary The Journal of Jake Carpenter by Richard Platt
Thunder from the Clear Sky by Marcia Sewall
The Story of William Penn by Aliki
Benjamin Franklin by D' Aulaire
Amos Fortune, Free Man by Elizabeth Yates
If You Lived in Colonial Times by Ann McGovern
**Cotton Mather by Norma Jean Lutz
The Village by James Knight
The Farm by James Knight
**Settlers on the Eastern Shore 1607-1750 by John Anthony Scott
Homespun Sarah by Verla Kay
Struggle for a Continent: The French * Indian War 1689-1763 by Betsy & Guilio Maestro
Charlie's House by Clyde Robert Bulla
The True Book of Pioneers by Mabel Harmer
If You Lived with the Hopi by Anne Kamma
**Fire Upon the Earth by Norman Langford
The Courage of Sarah Noble by Alice Dalgliesh
Tomahawks & Trombones by Barbara Michell
Susannah The Pioneer Cow by Miriam E. Mason
Daniel Boone by James Daugherty
Wilderness Wife The Story of Rebecca Boone by Etta DeGering

You may notice this list is longer than the Exploration list.  However, many of these were picture books rather than chapter books.  We did spend 14 weeks on this term and the last three books will spill over into our Term 3 Revolutionary War study.   If you are studying the Thirteen Colonies and enjoy notebooking, you might consider checking out these notebook pages I created.