Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Grammar of Poetry: On-line this Time

The Grammar of Poetry was THE first curriculum review I ever wrote. I wrote it because I LOVED the program; I was teaching it in a co-op and as a long time poet, fell in love. Since then, the program has been re-published by Roman Roads Media. I had the great pleasure of being chosen to write a review of Roman Roads Media's newly re-published Grammar of Poetry as well as Old Western Culture, taught by the imitable Wes Callihan. I immediately became a member of the I love Wes/ I love RRM fan club (no, it's not real, but lets talk a few minutes and I convince you that you do need most, if not ALL of the RRM published curriculum!).

And then, because Dr. Dh challenged me in an area (it's his way), I contacted RRM and we've been talking ever since. And now, I'll be working for them in a couple of capacities, including Book Rep AND teaching The Grammar of Poetry on-line as part of Roman Roads Media's flipped classroom program. I am super excited. Have I mentioned I love this program? If you want your kids to GET creative writing, to GET meter, to understand the beauty of poetry and good writing, you really want to check out this curriculum. And, if you love fabulous curriculum, master teachers and inspiring lessons you want to spend some time on the Roman Roads Media site.

And see that cute crowd above? They are just a few of my former Grammar of Poetry students.

All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

That's My King

http://i1297.photobucket.com/albums/ag30/Lisa_Nehring/siggywithflower_zps2ffa66ba.png@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

What are We Fighting For? Virtual Curriculum Fair- Seeking Beauty

Join Drama Class my senior year... Get back to doing what made me happy in the old days.:

Because we are created in the Image of God- the ultimate Artist, it is no wonder that we have the deep desire to create, and the innate ability to respond to creativity. 
Art is integral to our homeschooling. It has taken many different forms over the course of 25 years but has always included some basics.
Nature studies.
Sketchbooks and colored pencils, pens, erasure, paints, markers
Time to think, reflect, ponder, mull
Drawing instruction
Vocabulary and word study
Excellent writing instruction
Humor -how to create and tell a good joke
Story telling
Scientific inquiry
Logic and recognition of fallacies
A good story
Books, movies, magazines, live events
Challenging activities
Theological studies
Theater and Public performance
Event Planning and creating programs

I've done a fair bit of creating myself: photography, stained glass, basket weaving, painting, scrapbooking, journaling, poetry, writing, DIY, house-crafting, and all manner of fiber arts. It's just something I have to do. Dr. Dh is much the same way, though his creativity can often be found in areas like language studies (he's on his 3rd) and intensive intellectual pursuit. 

Which leads me to a point. True creativity and artistic instruction IS an intellectual pursuit. I created and taught a high school level Creative Writing Course a couple of years ago (best class evah- amazingly talented kids who really loved the work!) and they were shocked at the level of discipline the class demanded. We learned poetry forms and memorized poetry, did writing prompts weekly, had a word count to reach every week, books to read and so much more. Often we look at "art" as free-from expression and devoid of plan or purpose. In fact, classic art- that which spans time and culture, is the result of amazing discipline.

I propose that true art is mastery of a subject area that allows those participating in or viewing it to reach beyond themselves and hope for better things. C.S. Lewis's Narnia series is a great example. There are so many deep spiritual truths found in this simple imaginative tale, even the youngest reader can hear and see that God is good and for them. 

But does art always demand mastery? Well, no. We can take simple pleasure and enjoyment in a great many things without excelling at them. And along those lines, I don't buy the adage that practice makes perfect. Good, intentional practice allows us to reach for perfection. Schlock practice re-enforces bad methods and behavior.

And a brief discussion of curriculum. There are some brilliant curriculum's out there- you know the ones. They take a difficult or intimidating subject matter and make it accessible to the point that you ever wondered what was daunting in the first place- IEW, Lost Tools of Writing, Story and History of the WorldOld Western Culture, Classical Conversations, Henle Latin, The Grammar of Poetry, etc. It's not that the student doesn't have to actually do the work- it's that the work allows them to excel quickly and well. These curriculums are worth every penny. 

I've said it before and it bears repeating. Often what you are good at, your kids will excel at. Imitation and all of that, not to mention that it's far easier to teach what we know and understand. As a result our kids all know how to draw, cook, garden, write, speak, plan, study and memorize and understand exceedingly well theology, the Bible and scientific inquiry. Things I struggle with, they often do. But, that also allows them the added benefit of them watching me/us struggle through something that might be initially difficult- like dry-walling, or learning Latin.

This year our creative pursuits have included the study of Latin and integrating the culture and vocabulary in new and interesting ways, sculpture and drawing, ballroom dancing, cartography and nature sketches, along with weekly drawings of body systems, Flourish, debate, Drama, recitation, Shakespeare, the Piano Guys, Studio C, Tim Hawkins, Foyles's War, Dorothy Sayers mysteries on DVD, violin, music theory, straw bale gardening, DIY projects, an arbor and an amazing display of Christmas lights, along with some great books and CD's, You gotta have art.

Past Virtual Curriculum Fair Posts on Teaching Art

Stop by my blogger buddies sites and read more Virtual Curriculum Fair posts
Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses - Seeking Beauty Through the Arts
Yvie @ Gypsy Road - Art Museum Staycation & Elements of Art Unit
Sarah@ Delivering Grace - First Things First
Laura @ Day by Day in Our World - Add An Element of Beauty with Fine Arts in the Homeschool
Lisa@ Golden Grasses - What Are We Fighting For?
Annette @ A Net In Time - Art, art, and more art
Kristen @ Sunrise to Sunset - The Sounds of Music
Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break - Music and Other Beautiful Things

All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Exploring & Discovering Around the World

If you've read much at GG you know that we are social science junkies. History and Science have always played a huge role in our homeschooling. This year is no different, but it has certainly taken on a different form than in past years with our involvement in Classical Conversations Challenge programs.

Flower, in Challenge A, has learned to draw and label the world by heart this year. She starts with a blank piece of paper and an atlas and goes from there. We have gone continent by continent, drawing, labeling, adding in features and rivers. Maps, globes, atlases have been out and about all year long. She is using our 3 x 5' whiteboard to draw on- it's bigger, she can use colored markers and she has had a blast putting in silly "keys, "features and gorgeous Compass Roses'. We are on Africa now, and have only Australia and Oceania to go. Blue book exams will ask the kids to draw and label the world, with 400 countries, capitals and features, having an hour to do so. Map- blobbing works just as well as fine cartography. We play weekly games in community day, such as around-the-world (one person starts the map, after a set amount of time, the kids rotate maps so by the time you get your map back, several people have already worked on it. This week, we are going to do a "family feud" type of game where I describe the country/ features by location, other geographic references, and the teams have to deduce what country or feature I am actually talking about.

Rhetoric this year has focused on Evolution and Fallacies. We have used the book, It Couldn't Just Happen for discussion, to learn the high lighting system and as a basis for the catechism cards. The book is simplistic in some ways, but does a great job of equipping kids with scientific facts and details. In addition to the book, the kids have memorized great stuff like, "What is good science," "What is the day-age theory," "What is a symbiotic relationship," etc. This semester, the kids are reading, The Fallacy Detective, and memorizing fallacies.

The kids are definitely learning that there is a cultural difference between those who believe in intelligent design and those who don't. During class we use Socratic Circles, play-acting, drama, jeopardy and more to discuss the issues, drill the catechisms and fallacies and integrate what we are learning with what we know already.

Science this year has focused on both the natural world and the human body. First semester the kids did research (using 2 sources) on a topic, such as "bats," or "cetaceans" to write a paragraph that they illustrated and gave a presentation on. I created a 20 point system with things like, "introduce self and topic," "makes eye contact," etc. where the kids could earn fabas (beans) towards an ice-cream party.
This semester, the kids are drawing and labeling parts of the body, such as bronchial system, heart, skin, etc. There is so much beauty and good learning done through copy-work and repetition! The kids bring in a cool fact, or disease, related to whatever they have drawn the week before. We are having amazing, amusing and oftentimes gross conversations about disease and wounds. Jr Highers have great stories (!) to tell!

Cub- Challenge 1, is having a much different experience this year with the Social Sciences- he is delving deeply in to Government, Economics and Debate- Econ has included a Cost of Living project, Debate has included individual events (he set a poem from Tolkien to music and sang it) and actual formal debates; last semester was on the Draft and this semester is on Immigration Reform. The kids don't know which side they'll be arguing and have had numerous study groups to prepare.
Additionally, both kids went to TeenPact's 4-day class this year, Cub as an alumni, along with the Political Communications 1-day class. Hands on learning at its best!

Science has focused on Physical Science using Apologia's Physical Science book, regular labs in class and a formal Lab notebook. In addition, he is writing a 15 page research paper on Mars. Yeah, he's full up, schedule wise.

What about history? We are getting plenty of it in the literature selections for this year- Cub just finished both "Up from Slavery" and "Life of Frederick Douglass" that fit in with the theme of freedom and U.S. History. Flower's reading focuses on 10 books that are Newberry Award Winners. I had the kids create a timeline of the protagonists for Blue Book. Great stuff!

For fun, Dr. Dh purchased the Lord Peter Wimsey series on DVD and we are currently mesmerized by Foyle's War. Murder Mysteries? Yes, both capture the period, the costuming and, I think, often the attitudes. Great discussion fodder.

In addition, we are listening Old Western Culture, by Wes Callihan every chance we get. So far we have gone through the Greeks and 1/2 the Romans. Reading the Iliad out loud might be on the schedule for this summer. Just saying. So, if you haven't heard of Wes Callihan or Old Western Culture, do yourself a favor. BEST curriculum evah!

I mention NOAA and NASA Web-sites every year- they are government sites that have excellent information- not to be overlooked!

Current awesome magazines we read cover to cover: Biblical Archeology Today and Artifax.

Past VCF Posts:
World Exploration'
The Social Sciences
Globe Trotting

Check out the other VCF posts this week:
Yvie @ Gypsy Road - Bringing It to Life! History, Geography, & Science 
Jen Altman @ Chestnut Grove Academy - Virtual Curriculum Fair 2016: Exploring Our World, How We Do Social Studies and Life/Earth Science 
Laura @ Day by Day in Our World - Learning About the World Around Us 
Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses - Social Studies a Science of Relations 
Lisa @ GoldenGrasses - Exploring & Discovering Around the World 
Annette @ A Net In Time - Science and Culture Around the World and at Home 
Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break - Exploring History and Geography 
Laura @ Four Little Penguins - Going Around the World at Our Kitchen Table
 Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory - Our Tackling of the Social Studies and Science
Kristen @ Sunrise to Sunset - Encouraging Curiosity about the World

 @Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

An Appalling Lack of Curiosity - Virtual Curriculum Fair: Math, Science, Logic

At some point, everythings gonna go south on you...every thing's going to go south and you are going to say, this is it. This is how I end. Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work. That's all it is. You just begin. You do the math. You solve one problem...and you solve the next one... and then the next. And if you solve enough problems, you get to come home. All right, any questions? ~ Matt Whatney in The Martian

Math, Science and Logic; foundations to Critical Thinking, Discovery and Invention. Our world seems to be suffering from a lack of it (hence the title for this post). Teaching how to think, and how to think critically, is one of our most important jobs as educators. This year's Virtual Curriculum Fair is hosted by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds and Laura @ Day by Day in Our World

We teach the Scientific Method; the Scientific Method is a way to ask and answer scientific questions by making observations and doing experiment. Here's a brief run-down in case you haven't thought about it since 7th grade Science class:


The steps of the scientific method are to:
Ask a Question
Do Background Research
Construct a Hypothesis
Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment
Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion
Communicate Your Results

I have printed and laminated a colorful Scientific Method chart which we refer to and use for filling out lab reports and discussing scientific experiments in class. This provides everyone ready access to the information and color coding as a simple mnemonic

The Scientific Method is important because it gives us a framework for understanding ideas, hypothesis, conclusions and laws of science. You’ll hear science terms brandied about as if they are fact, when in truth, they are often someones untested hypothesis. If you know Scientific Method, you can recognize the difference between conjecture and conclusion- in other words, you can easily spot a scientific fallacy.

The Scientific Method also provides a solid framework for testing and recording data in a way that is logical, sequential and reproducible. Edison did not just discover the light-bulb but also discovered 400 ways not to make a light-bulb (and several other inventions to boot!). This was possible because he created reproducible experiments and keep good lab notes. Lab notes teach accuracy, neatness, observation and recording skills. 

Good science, the constant search for accurate information, is also examined and replicated by having reliable sources that can be easily accessed. In Challenge A the kids are taught to cite two sources for their weekly science reports, based on APA or MLA style.

As the kids get older, we use textbooks, do lab journals/ group labs and Scientific Research papers (Cub is currently writing a Research Paper on Mars). CC’s Challenge program has taken our passion for science and provided a terrific structure to delve more deeply by doing weekly science reports, creating a Scientific Timeline, doing regular labs with journals and writing semester long research papers. We are loving it! 

 I have given back dollars worth of mis-counted change, as well as having to ask for the same at businesses around the country. Math literacy is waning as people become reliant on calculators; please do your kids a favor and teach them basic math skills!
We drill math facts and do mental math. We're old school that way; repetition, baby. And then games- Board slam, Number Knock Out,Math Challenges, Math Bingo. Number Knock out has been a favorite at our Community Day with teams working more than one board at a time. 

We are also doing far more Math Discussion this year. I assign kids to talk through the 5 Common topics about one of their Math problems each week. The kids have to define every term, tell what it means, state the laws and formulas they’ll use to solve the problem, talk about what they don’t know, think about how they could re-write to problem, etc. before we even talk about solving the problem. When Flower or Cub are stuck on a Math problem at home, the first question I ask is, “What do you see.” This takes them from frustrated to thinking clearly and sequentially about the problem in front of them.  It is challenging and excellent strategic learning to think deeply and broadly about Math, and really any other challenging puzzle.

This year, Flower is learning informal Logic- fallacies- using Fallacy Detective. She is having a blast picking out fallacies in conversations, in talking with others and during the Presidential debates. Next year we will dive in to Formal (symbolic) Logic using Jim Nance’s excellent Introduction and Intermediate Logic by Roman Roads Media, Cub will be tackling Traditional (linguistic) Logic using Martin Cothran’s equally excellent Traditional Logic program published by Memoria Press. This Momma will be working hard to keep up! Praise God for quality video tutorials!
 Golden Grasses How to Teach Math, Logic and Patterns #apologetics #faith #homeschool

Past VCF posts on Logic, Math and Science:
Discovering Patterns

What is the Virtual Curriculum Fair all about? Check out this post! 

Check out my pinterest boards on these topics:
Pinterest Boards: 

(all artwork is from Flower's Science journal this year)
Please visit my blogger buddies, who make the VCF worth reading, year after year!

Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses - Thoughts on Math and Science
Kristen @ Sunrise to Sunset  - From Counting to Calculus
Laura @ Day by Day in Our World  - How We Approach Math in This Homeschool Year
Annette @ A Net In Time - Struggling with Math, Loving Science
Annette @ A Net In Time  - Lego Pulleys and Levers
Yvie @ Gypsy Road Hands - On Math with Special Needs Learners
Chelli @ The Planted Trees  - Chemistry Using Living Books
Lisa @ GoldenGrasses  - An Appalling Lack of Curiosity
Edie @ Carter Chaos  - Our Favorite Ways to Study Numbers
Tracey @ A Learning Journey  - Robot Area and Perimeter Art Project
Jennifer @ A Glimpse of Our Life  - Math and Standardized Tests
Jen @ Chestnut Grove Academy  - Discovering Patterns: Mathematics, Logic, and Science
Sarah @ DeliveringGrace  - Learning Multiplication Tables
Kylie @ Our Worldwide Classroom  - Multisensory Multiplication
Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break  - Science and Stuff
Kemi Quinn @ Homemaking Organized  - Math in Our Homeschool for a Later Elementary Organized Reader
Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory  - Math and Logic - Our Steady Path
Laura @ Four Little Penguins  - Math and Science Love

Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!