Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Challenge Director Summer Prep

Prepping as a Challenge Director -watch the portal downloads. Take good notes. Get to Practicum. Get on the Challenge Directors FB page. Start a file of Challenge specific ideas and downloads. Do the obvious.

And then read good books, eat good food, relax, garden, get outside and get all summered up. Because once school hits, it will be busy and fullI(er). Challenge is like HIIT-(High Intensity Interval Training). You'll be working  really hard right along with the students- and that's great. But, if you don't give yourself a break, you will burn out.

This summer I'm reading good books; including The Question. Doing some fun projects. Working my day-job. Traveling. Watching intriguing movies, when we can find one. And learning a few new skills.

Build copiousness in an area of interest to you. It is the curious person, who is not afraid to ask questions that makes the best learner, and as a result, the best teacher.

This school year I'll read the books along with the kids, do the Latin homework, delve into Mock Trial and be an exemplary Lead Learner. Until then, it's summer-time!
 @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, June 26, 2016

Dispelling the Educational Myth of the FLY-Over

A Fly-Over. 
You know, you do it once to check things out-you are not really committed and then you move on. 

There's a myth in the field of education that suggests if you cover an idea, topic or subject once the student should get it. Yeah, it's bad pedagogy all the way around.

I often hear two things
1. Queries about what curriculum to use for a specific grade/subject area.
2. How knowledgeable our kids are in a few specific areas, specifically history.

To the first question I want to explain that lasagna learning, i.e.  layer upon layer, is much more effective than hitting something once and expecting the kids to own it. Repetition is the mother of learning, after all. For most of us, we need to read, memorize, review, rinse, repeat. And then maybe repeat some more.

My kids are rock-solid in history because we often do a couple of history programs at once, along with excellent historical fiction, a timeline, movies and field trips. We layer- a lot- year after year. We did U.S. History (again) 2 years ago (in addition to a couple of other "histories"). This past year Cub delved deep in to America History, the Founding Fathers and source docs all related to the Republic and surrounding the issues of "Freedom." This summer we are going to back to the east coast (do you hear my inner happy dance about the deciduous trees we will soon be surrounded by?!) where our history loving posse will reveal in all manner of historical places, re-enactments, and sites.

Back to the regularly heard comments: Yes, you should focus on multum non multa- not many things (multa) but much (multum). Don't get buried in curriculum and choices but do layer and layer some more so that your students experience a rich and varied taste of the chosen subject matter. Take the long view- You CAN do more than 1 history a year. You CAN do more than 1 grammar program. You CAN pick and choose pieces from various publishers that you like. You can simply focus on skills work, like memorizing and a timeline and copywork. Take time to lay down a solid foundation and then intentionally build on it, and then build on it some more.

For instance, we are using Henle Latin as our Latin spine. I also have Visual Latin -which is great for short snippet lessons to get clear about what we are learning in Henle AND First/ Second Form Latin- which hits verbs first, while Henle goes after nouns. So, there's cross-over and in that, we are building a greater understanding all the way around. However, less is often more, so if you totally get Latin (which is skill versus content based) with one program, just use that one program. But for content based subjects (Bible/ Theology, History, some Science, Literature) wide and varied builds copiousness.

So, don't get tied down to the idea that a student will "get" something just because they've seen it once, And do get ahold of the fact that repetition, in various forms, will allow long-term memory to take place. The once-over is great for over-view, but often far too simplistic for true long-term memory learning.

@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!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

DryMaps Review

One of the best finds of the curriculum season was DryMaps. The tag-line is "striking and affordable dry-erase boards," and they are every bit of that. I'm a bit of a map girl and found this amazing new company at the MN Catholic Conference. Lucky Me! I had a great discussion with the two gentlemen at the booth and later took Flower over to see what I had discovered. She was sold in a matter of minutes! We immediately ordered a World Map and went from medium to large with gray shaded oceans and outlined countries.  

We were also given the U.S. Map to review and love it.

What is so cool about DryMaps? Well, they are white boards- so you can write and draw on them, erase, and do it all again. The maps come in white, black or gray, with outlines, or not. In other words, they are somewhat customizeable, which means they are going to be perfect for whatever you need them for.
Super, duper L.O.V.E. 
There is an entire list of Applications on DryMaps site on just how one would use a DryMap ranging from fun to fantastical Of course, just coming off of a year of Directing Classical Conversations Challenge A program, I see how amazing this product is for educational purposes. Perfect for copying out countries and capitals on all of the continents. And for Foundations? Just pick the country you are studying for each cycle- totally non-consumable geography copywork! A country map would also be an amazing Tutor or student gift, right?  Educational applications, galore!
These maps are fun to mark your travels on, write silly notes, remind you of where you've been or where you are going. And, if you have kids who thought the work/vaca was a little too much work and not enough vaca, they can record both their journey, and their dissatisfaction. 

And white boards, c'mon, who doesn't love them? We have several from super large to paper size and use them all almost daily. With DryMaps we have added to our collection- aforementioned U.S. and World Maps but I can actually see a few more in our future- did you see the fun coasters and state maps? I am imagining birth state DryMaps for birthday presents! Or a wall of DryMaps from all the places you've lived, if like us,you have moved around a bit. 
I wanted to show you how sturdy these maps are. While they aren't particularly wide, they are tough as nails, despite being man, or girl,handled. Additionally, they are extremely light weight, so you can easily carry and transport them. Some of us in this household love educational and office supplies. Even more so if they are spectacularly functional, or creative. DryMaps are both. 

As a cool bonus, for each map sold, DryMaps donates $1 to meet the educational needs of poverty-stricken children and schools throughout the world. Just another great reason to purchase from DryMaps. 

Find DryMaps on Social Media:

@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!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Homeschool Loot

It's been convention season and I have feasted at many of them this spring- so many amazing people to meet and talk to! And of course, curriculum. While we are doing Challenge for the main course, we picked up some fun sides, a sprinkle of condiments and some delicious deserts.
But wait. Don't forget the H'ordouvers! I've been telling KB about Homegrown Preschoolers since I met Leslie in Duluth.They were in VA as well, so KB and Mr. V were able to go see it in person, talk to Leslie and get super excited about  this absolutely classical, Charolotte Mason inspired pre-school curriculum. Guess what? I'll be doing a blog reivew of it here soon, so you can share along in all the goodness along with us!

And another FUN, new company on the block- DryMaps. I'll be doing a review of their products soon, too- white boards cut into the shapes of geographic regions. Be still my little map loving heart! We came home with a U.S. Map, which has been heavily used already, and orderd a huge world map which we can't wait to get! Perfect for learning geography!!
DryMaps At The MN Catholic Home Education Conference
Cub will be doing Physics this year so we added in Why Physics Matter and Extreme Physcis. We've liked this Basher Sciecne series as fun intro/ overview of Science subjects. The goofy illustrations are great mnuemonics.
Henle I Units 1-5
Memoria Press because you HAVE to have Memoria Press.  2nd Form charts to chant, along with Quizzes and Tests for Henle 1. AND, the Story of Christianity for Morning Symposium.

Along those same line I picked up Veritas Press' History of Art: Creation to Contemporary and Art Cards as Challenge II delves into Fine Arts.
Sarah Mackenzie was the main speaker at the MN Catholic conference and I picked up Teaching from a Place of Rest. Nothing earth shattering but ohsolovely. My soul was nourished by the reading of it and if I get time at some point soon I hope to write a proper review of it.
Also, the 7 Laws of the Teacher by Gregory and The Question by Bortiens. Perfect for anyone teaching or parenting kids in the Logic stage (think Jr. High ) or for anyone eager to be a life-long learner. So much GREAT stuff!
Chuck Black was around and since we own all of his books, we've been buying up CD's- so beautiful!- by Emily Black. Such a talented, lovely family! We've talked at other conventions (once an A.F. family, always an A.F. family!) and you cannot find a more gracious little tribe!

The Well Planned Day planner- both for me and Flower. I've waited 2 months to purchase and am breathing great sighs of relief to have a place to write everything down again besides the margins of my old planner.
At the used book fair in MN I picked up Warriors of Christendom by Stewart. And The Land of Narnia by Brian Selby. Even with our extensive reading of all things Jack and Narnia, there is much to be gleaned from this beautiful tome. Flower has interrupted me often with, "Momma, did you know..." about all things Jack. Love that.

Roman Roads Media was a blast to share and Mr. V is the newest fan who has fallen under the spell of Wes Callihan's excellent teaching.

And we bought a brine pickling kit. Because, you know, sauerkraut.

Meanwhile Dr. Dh and kids were sight-seeing and brought back some videos on Lewis and Clark and more awesome coffee mugs. Because coffe and tea are de riguer 'round here. Along with books, obviously. Now I just need summer to slow down a bit so that I can indulge in all of this goodness!

@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, June 19, 2016

What I've Learned from the Fathers in My Life

10 Things I learned from my Dad

  1. Hard work.
  2. Curiosity.
  3. How to question.
  4. How to talk to strangers and have a good conversation with almost anyone.
  5. Reading opens up the world theoretically.
  6. Travel opens up the world practically.
  7. Don't give up.
  8. Marriage is a good thing and till death do you part.
  9. It's o.k, to cry.
  10. Teaching people what you know is a gift.
10 Things my husband teaches his people
  1. Passionate love for the things of God.
  2. Truth is not optional or changing.
  3. Live with integrity every minute of your life and live with no regrets.
  4. Passionate curiosity about the world.
  5. True love, care, sympathy, empathy and respect for people regardless of their circumstances. He sees and honors the Image of Gd in all people.
  6. Work hard, play with abandon, live with intention, love with your whole heart.
  7. Intellectual pursuit and exploration.
  8. Prayer changes us and our circumstances
  9. God calls us to be faithful, we don't get to choose the outcomes- we must trust God for those.
  10. Reliability. If he promises or agrees to something, it will happen. His word is iron-clad.
10 Things I've learned from my Heavenly Father
  1. All things work together for good to those who love Him.
  2. We are His people if we choose to be.
  3. He is a good, a very good, shepherd.
  4. His table is always full.
  5. We are all invited.
  6. Prayer changes us and our circumstances
  7. Vows and sacrament are real things.
  8. By Him all things were created and by Him we live and breath and have our being.
  9. Life is a gift.
  10. He is the Master Teacher.

@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, June 18, 2016

My Grandmother, My Grandson

Two weeks ago we stopped by Gram's house on our way out to meet the newest member of the family, our first grandson. Gram was born in July, 2016. We had a sweet visit- talked about flowers and weather and her plans to accommodate her failing eye-sight. When we left she squeezed my hand, looked into my blue eyes with her lovely brown ones and said, "Go with God." Her hand was firm, her grip strong, her voice steady. This woman has loved me my whole life. I have adored her all of mine.

Then we meet KB and Mr. V and little Baby V for a couple days of helping with the house flip, vacationing/conventioning and holding Mr. Cutie Pie who loves to be snuggled and talked to and shown the sites. I'm smitten, but seriously, look at that little face! 
And then we got a call that Gram had had a heart attack and was in a coma. So we stopped back by the Windy City to see her one last time. 
And then we drove home. And then we got a call that she had passed from this life to the next so we drove back to Chi-town for a funeral. 

It's been two weeks of contrasts, farewells, joy and grief, family and sorting a house chock full of childhood memories and sounds and smells and pictures of people I have loved so much. 

But it was a good week. A beautiful funeral, many loving tributes from neighbors and friends, and the knowledge that Gram died in her own home, which is just where she wanted to be. Laid to rest between Grandpa and Uncle Hank, under a tree. 

We brought back peonies that she brought to the house when she married Grandpa in 1936, pictures and history; hers, mine, ours, others. Her life was full and rich- full of friends and family, disappointments, hardship, hard work, joy, faith and love. 

Little Samwise spent the week with us and his parents and our family- celebrating the good, long life of his Great, Great Grandmother. 
 New life and old. 
My Grandmother.
My Grandson.
I am so grateful for Dorothy Irene's influence and love in my life. I hope that I can be every bit the amazing Grandmother that she was to my sisters and I, and all the many people that she touched and influenced. 
A life so very well lived. See you on the other side, Dear One. 

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die, a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted. 
Ecclesiastes 3:1-2. 

"All I know is that Gram gave me great riches, and we wold, all of us, be less than we are if it weren't for those we love and who've loved use who have died." 
~Madeline L'Engle, An Acceptable Time

@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!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Road Trip!

It's been an amazing week which I seriously don't even have time to share with you at this point (because the beach calls, y'all! - and then on to set up at HEAV- woop, woop!).

Met so many terrific people at the MN Catholic Homeschool Conference. If you haven't checked out the Potatoe Peel Pie Society (amazing book club on FB) and their lovely new blog, Plumfield and Paideia, do yourself a favor and get to one or the other of them now. The tribe is lovely, bigger than we think and to be found in all sorts of wonderful places!

If you are at HEAV this week-end, please stop by Roman Roads Media booth and say, "Hi!"

@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!