"Intellectual distinction is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for election to a Rhodes Scholarship. Selection committees are charged to seek excellence in qualities of mind and in qualities of person which, in combination, offer the promise of effective service to the world in the decades ahead. The Rhodes Scholarships, in short, are investments in individuals rather than in project proposals..."

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Girl's Book Club Year-by-Year

My oldest daughter, who helps with my middle daughter's book clubs asked an important question:
What's next for them?  So, we came up a year-by-year plan.  I thought I would post it here and ask for feedback.

2nd Grade
American Girl - Josephina
3rd Grade
American Girl - Felicity
4th Grade
American Girl - Kirsten and  Kit
5th Grade
Anne Pellowski Series of books
6th Grade
Hilda Van Stockum - Mitchell Series & Cottage at Bantry Bay Series
7th Grade
Louisa Mae Alcott Little Women Series
8th Grade
Anne of Green Gables
9th Grade
Baroness Emmuska Orczy Books

10th Grade
Jane Austen Books

What do you think?  I'll be back soon with my boy's series to see what you think of those.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Brainology: Getting Kids Past the Fixed Mindset

I read Mindset by Carol Dweck last spring and have been trying to figure out how to afford this program for my two fixed mindset middle school aged kids.  I reviewed the book here.  Here's what Brainology is about, from the Brainology website:

Brainology® is a research-based, blended learning curriculum that increases student motivation and engagement and instills a positive view of effort.  It teaches students about the brain, how to strengthen it, and how to apply brain-friendly study skills.  It helps them cultivate a growth mindset, which leads to learning-oriented behavior and higher student achievement.

Right now, homeschoolbuyersco-op.org, a free membership buying group, is offering 20-50% off the program.  If you have kids that get hung up on new challenges or collapse (figuratively) when they fail, check out Brainology.  This may be our "Christmas break" curriculum this year.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

iPad Apps We Use

I have had lots of requests for the iPad apps we use the most around here.  Here's a quick and dirty list:

The Kindle App for iPad (The 13 year old and 12 year old read their CK-12 textbooks there…CK-12 is an organization that provides FREE textbooks for eReaders.) for Science, Spelling and Literature
CK-12 Earth Science Quiz App (to go with our Earth Science text from CK-12)
Spelling Test (Weekly spelling tests and quizzes)
Math Drill, Math Ninja, Rocket Math and Math Bingo
ABC Cursive
Stanza (to read pdf files)
Edupad iTooch 5th Grade English LITE (grammar reinforcement)
TextVook Exploration (History Supplement)
GeoBee (Geography)
Ultimate History Quiz (thank you, History Channel)
RC Calendar (a part of Religion is to look up if there are any feast days and read the daily readings)

Apps that we like that are not part of school, but get used regularly:
Go Skywatch Planetarium - AWESOME app for looking at the constellations.
GoAtlantis – shows where the International Space Station is currently located, along with its flight patterns.
Intellicast.netHD – Weather forecast and current satellite images
Dragon Dictation

Apps I’ve been reviewing for use this year:
Constitution (explains the preamble and each article and section of the US Constitution)
Latin Word of the Day (Like Latin flash cards)
Pocket Latin Lite
Free Greek Essentials

Apps I use:
Google Books app
iBooks app
Kindle app

Friday, September 30, 2011

Exciting New Series (not) Coming to a Channel Near Me

Father Robert Barron is one of my favorite radio personalities.  He delivers a homily through his program "Word on Fire" on our local Relevant Radio station on Sundays.  I rely on it because I'm struggling right now with understanding our new priest.  Our new priest is lovely, but he is not from this country.  I find it very difficult to concentrate enough to truly understand all he is saying during the homily.  Thankfully, he writes up notes from his homily and places them in the bulletin.
Did you know that Fr. Barron was instrumental in creating a new series that is running on many PBS stations around the US?  The title of the series is:  Catholicism
Lucky are they who will have portions of it aired on their local PBS station.  Our local PBS affiliate is not carrying the series.  I see EWTN is carrying portions, too.  Has anyone seen any of the videos?  I would love to hear what you think.  This might be a family purchase!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Inspire, Not Require: The Handbook

In reading about TJEd (Thomas Jefferson Education), have you ever been throughly frustrated by the fact that they tell you to "Inspire, Not Require," but never tell you how to do it?  My friends, I think I found the answer.
Behold, the handbook.  See?  It's called Bringing Out the Best in Others! You can buy it for $0.01 plus shipping.



Okay, I'm done yelling at you.  I feel better.

I found this little gem at the local library book sale for $0.05.  It's worth so much more.  This little book, presented to you as a case study of five individuals' stories about needing to motivate others, is well laid out, with examples.   Particularly useful are the two examples of motivating students, one by a parent and one by an educator.

Here's a little outline of the process:

1) Expectations - The Power of the Positive
2) Responsibility (Accountability) - The Strength of Discipline
3) Feedback -  The Focus of Self-Awareness
     a) Motivational Feedback - Accelerating Improvement
     b) Informational Feedback - Road Map to Success
     c) Developmental Feedback - Course Corrections

I hope you give it a try. Let me know if you have read it and what your thoughts are.  I've been applying this process with my kids lately and WOW!  I can't wait to do it with school, once we're started.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

School Room Tour

Dorian is having a Show-n-Tell Your Homeschool Contest.  Here are my submissions with descriptions.  I will be mailing the photos to Dorian as I don't have a Flickr account.
Our Homeschool Room doubles as a Family Room.  I have a sweet set-up, thanks to my dear hubby who loves all things techie.  Here are some things you should know before I post the pictures:
  • We have a 40" TV that can display the output of my laptop.  We also have the TV connected to a Web-connected Blu-Ray DVD player, TiVO and a surround sound.  I also have the web cam rigged up there, too, so we can Skype on the big-screen.  Many, but not all, our CDs and DVDs, both school and leisure, are stored in this room because this is also the Family Room.
  • I'm embarrassed to say that this room is FULL of books, but there are many, many more around the house.  This room holds kid's books and school books.
  • This room also needs to accommodate a preschooler and a toddler.  Hidden in the cabinets under the books and printer are all our Little People, assorted Little People accessories and assorted animals. We're considering a play mat with roads to entertain my Little People during school, but I'm not sure if we have the space!
  • While I only have six children, four of which are "doing" school, my school tables seat eight in total; two at each table. With the tables and the inside seating, we have spots for fifteen to sit in this room. That allows us to do book club here or in the living room.  The tables are kept in place by the connectors from bulk apple juice purchased at Sam's Club and there is painters tape on the floor to indicate where the furniture belongs. I know that sounds kind of weird, but I have a rambunctious crew that moves furniture around more than I like. So, our agreement is that they can move it, but they have to move it back when they are finished.  
  • Each school table has two chairs and a three drawer storage unit.  The top drawer is for pens, pencils, etc.  The middle drawer is for notebooks, papers and folders and the bottom drawer is for text books, literature books, etc.  I can sit next to any of the kids if I need to work with them individually.  Something not terribly evident in the picture are the two chairs sitting next to my desk.  That's our "recitation bench," so to speak.  If I am working with two kids (which I often do), they can come to me.
  • We need to have a place to accommodate some toys. The stacking unit with toys next to the book shelf is used for storing toys picked up during the day.  They do go down to the toy room regularly.  The Blue Bins are my favorite item from Ikea.  I think we own about 50 of them.
  • While I am not completely set up for the new school year, our schedule is posted between the white board and world map.  I also do not have my books organized for the school year, either.  So much to do, so little time!
  • The brown chair and couch do fold open to a bed.  While it's not possible to open them both at the same time in the given configuration, they do open up for fort building and fun during read a-louds.
  • The green chair is "Daddy's Chair."  It used to be "Mommy's Chair," but since the brown furniture is "kid sized", Daddy has claimed it.
  • We have an interesting project on going.  My older daughters are putting colored electrical tape in different combinations on the bindings of our books.  This allows the littlest people to help put away books where they belong, even when they can't read.  I just ordered a CueCat bar code scanner.  The next project is to scan each of the books into Librarything so I have access to my list books from anywhere, like Barnes and Noble, via a smart phone AND when I recommend books, I can send people right to my bookshelf on Librarything.
  • Games and puzzles are put WAY UP high so that permission must be asked to use them.  I just got tired of losing pieces or having games pieces turned into toys and then lost.  I decided they would be put up - HIGH.
  • The Kitchen is off the West side (behind the white board).  The bathroom is off the South side (behind the shorter dark brown book case).  This makes it very convenient for quick coffee refills and potty breaks.
So, here's the tour:
The top is a shot of the North East side of the room and the bottom shot is of the South East.  Along the East side I have a white board, schedule and 72" world map on the wall.  Below I have a book case of little kid books, an Ikea book shelf unit turned on its side for my manipulatives, teacher's manuals and current reading materials.  I also have two small Ikea computer desks in an "L" shape for my desk and storage.  I have drawer units and a file cabinet tucked underneath.  I have a three unit stacker next to my desk that holds three Blue Bins (Ikea) for little kid activities, Opening Time activities and miscellaneous stuff, like periodicals I'm reading.

On the North wall is the 40" TV, all the electronics to go with it, a multi-purpose printer and cabinets full of DVD's as well as manipulatives or currently-unused school materials.  The picture you see on the display is Google Earth, which we frequently use for geography.

The fireplace is covered with bookshelves full of periodicals and textbooks.  The magazine boxes are $1.99 for five at Ikea.  We have lots of them.  We've only used the fireplace two or three times since we moved here ten years ago.  So, I took the space.  On the other side of the fireplace is more bookshelf space full of curriculum, a duplex laser printer, the toys I mentioned for the toddler and preschooler and extra paper supplies.  What you can't see on the floor in front of the cabinets are the two wicker laundry baskets used for library books.  We keep them there so they don't get mixed up with our books.

This is the view to the South East.  In the foreground is the "inside seating."  We sit there to watch TV and do read alouds.  Outside the desk area, I have two more large book cases which hold more books, games and periodicals and the toy storage area for lost toys.  The bathroom is right behind the shorter bookcase.

Here' s our tape labeling project.  The books are color coded by shelf with electrical tape so everyone can help put away the books. 

Here's a shot of the school tables.  The tables and chairs are from Ikea, of course.  The white things on the tables are timers (yes, Ikea, too).  My right-brained kids have NO sense of time, so setting a timer for them makes life easier for all of us.  You can see the drawer units underneath the table (Ikea, again). Okay, this is beginning to sound like an Ikea commercial.  We slide them under the legs to make it harder for the toddler to empty them.  We also have these nifty chair covers that the kids keep their various arts-n-crafts projects in to keep them out of the desk (NOT Ikea!).  Our arts-n-crafts cabinet (Ikea) is in the kitchen, though, because I want the mess on a tile floor, if there's a mess to be made.  Also, it's easier to justify putting the markers and crayons away RIGHT away when the kitchen table (Ikea) needs to be clear for breakfast, lunch and bed time snack.

Lastly, the door to the basement is on the South Side.  On one side it has a duty roster and on the other side I have storage (Ikea) for flashcards and dry erase supplies so the little people can't get into trouble messing with Mommy's stuff.   


Thanks for stopping by and visiting!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Links for This Old Schoolhouse

In This Old Schoolhouse, I talk about how the old School Marms (and Masters) provided kids in grades K-8 with an excellent education.  One of the contributing factors was the curriculum.  Here's what I presented in the handout about FREE, OLD curriculum.

Free “Old” Curriculum Resources:
·         Books.google.com
·         Archive.org (Download the ePub reader or Kindle Reader if using your PC)
·         www.gutenberg.org (Download the ePub reader or Kindle Reader if using your PC)
·         openlibrary.org (Download the ePub reader or Kindle Reader if using your PC)
·         manybooks.net (Download the ePub reader or Kindle Reader if using your PC)

Catholic Books List with links to their locations for free or small fee:

Ambleside – Free Charlotte Mason Curriculum:

Free Catholic Books:

For-fee “Old” Curriculum Resources (Collections of old curriculum put together for you and available on CD):
·         Accelerated Achievement (A2)A K-12 curriculum based on Classical model
·         Dollar Homeschool - Old curriculum, available by subject on CD (i.e. Ray’s Arithmetic, McGuffey Readers, etc.)

Linky List of Book Clubs

I just went through and made a list of all the book clubs I've posted.  I owe a link for one more.  I will add that when its finished.

Book Club for 6-8 year old girls

Book Club for 6-9 year old girls

Book Club for 8-12 year old girls

Book Club for 9-12 year old girls

Book Club for 7-12 year old boys

Book Club for 8-13 year old boys

Book Club for 10- 13 year old boys

Great Big List of Book Clubs (Group of 4)

A Sneak Peak at Socrates Meets Homeschool Mom

I did a talk about using the Socratic Method for literary analysis at RMCHEC this month.  For those that attended, I had a book list available on the handouts.  I didn't expect to run out of handouts.  So, I'm posting some of the information here.  The handouts will end up on the RMCHEC site.

First, the book list includes links to either FREE resources, the vendor link or the amazon.com entry for the resource:

Don’t forget! You can use Cliff Notes or Sparknotes AFTER you have read the book yourself.

Things to remember:
Literature Analysis:
1 Goal:
1.       Teach children to understand Literature and uncover the message the Author has hidden for them.  By learning more about the human condition, we grow closer to God.
2 Rules:
1.       YOU must read the book.
2.       Be sure YOU can answer the questions you are prepared to ask first!
3 Step Lesson Plan:
1.       Read the book.
2.       Discuss the book and fill in the analysis form.*
3.       Write a report or paper.

·         Take Poetry one line at a time.
·         Context and Authorship is still important. 
·         Great opportunity to learn and start identifying Literary Style like alliteration, assonance, onomatopoeia, and poetry form.

Beginning Homeschooling Link List

I will be adding pieces of my talk handouts, parsed and easier to understand with some context. 

I mention many books and links in my Beginning Homeschooling talk.  Here's the list of links:

I'll add my Socrates Meets Homeschool Mom book list next.