Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Carnival of Cool Homeschoolers # 10

Welcome to another edition of the Carnival of Cool Homeschoolers. I hope you enjoy reading the entries as much as I did.

Alasandra challenges us to read a banned book. This week is "Banned Book Week". Read a book from the banned list and help maintain our freedoms.

Everyone is free to make decisions about what to read, but no one should be allowed to prescribe to everyone else, what they may, or may not read.

I thoroughly enjoyed this next entry. Living by Learning says,
Discover ideas and resources to enrich home school lessons through field trips to museums and zoos. Find links to online resources that will help you plan a fun and engaging trip.
She gives very good ideas on how to use digital "toys" on your next field trip.

I know that many consider iPods to be luxuries but in our home they are necessities for our children's education. We've filled their iPods with good music and good literature. We have strict rules, no earphones and no walking around with them. Each child has a set of speakers that s/he can move around the house and I have an adapter for use in the van. The iPods have saved my voice on more than one occasion. The kids have always had a taste for literature that far exceeds their current reading ability. I just was not able to read enough to them to keep them satisfied. The iPod allowed them to listen to as much literature as their little hearts could ever want.

Thomas J. West investigates whether those musical instruments available at Wal Mart and Toys R Us a good choice for homeschoolers? If your child is beginning to learn to play a new instrument, you need to read this article before you buy him/her the instrument.

I love the art idea from Narrow Path. She gives step-by-step instructions on how to help your child make an impressionist masterpiece.

Maxwell sent me a link to a website that is chock full of really good arts activities. Artsology. On their Investigations page, they visit, amongst others, the Cloisters in NYC to discover monsters in art, Navajo sand painting and artistic representations of Zeus through the ages. Their videos page contains a selection of videos

Jazz legend Thelonious Monk plays the classic song "Round About Midnight."
Listen as Jack Kerouac reads from his novel "On The Road" with a slideshow of images of Kerouac as well as Neal Cassidy.
A selection of flower paintings by the American artist Georgia O'Keeffe set to a soundtrack of music by Mozart.
A video slideshow introduction to the paintings of Surrealist artist Salvador Dali.
Watch Miles Davis performing "Footprints."
A video montage of faces painted by Picasso, with each one transforming into the next one.
Watch the influential bebop genius Charlie Parker play his alto sax!
Hear Pavarotti sing the famous aria "Nessun Dorma" by Puccini.
A fantastic display of tap dancing by Gregory Hines.

Moving from the arts to science. Kim writes:
I've started a pretty big undertaking for me. I'm running a weekly physics class for elementary students. Here's a summary of my first class. It's quite nerve-wracking knowing that every week I need to prepare a lecture, an activity or experiment, review the previous information, and also prepare any needed vocabulary and concepts for future classes. I'm having fun so far and the kids seem to be getting something from it. I'm really happy that those moms felt OK with trusting me with their kids. It also is a class that needs to be developed from scratch because I want to present the evidence required for the first ideas and the next ideas. That's a tall order because every other science programs starts with the final conclusions or just very impressive bouncy balls or slime.
I wish we lived closer to Kim as her science class sounds like the type of science class I would want for my children. I have huge problems with almost all the science programs I have found as they do not present the information in a logical way. Her second science class sounds even better than the first. Kim, I think you need to package this class for resale. I'd certainly be interested in buying it from you.

I've recently discovered the joys of distance learning. I realized a few months ago that I become overwhelmed when I try to teach every subject to my children. I often struggle to find the perfect resources and end up having to do too much work before I teach the kids. Luckily, there is a growing body of master teachers who are providing their teaching services over the internet and through teleconferences. I think that these services are underutilized by the homeschooling community.

Amongst these teachers is Scott Powell of History At Our House. Scott is a masterful teacher who brings history to life for his students.

Scott has written a good essay in Secular Homeschooling titled, "Why History".
History is widely considered to be a core component of a proper homeschooling curriculum. In fact, according to homeschooling authorities Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer, "history is the subject," because it presents "the unfolding of human achievement in every area — science, literature, art, music, and politics." Yet how many of us can say we were excited to learn history as a child, that we emerged from our own youth with a history education that actually empowered us to make our way through the world, and that we regularly engage the past of human civilization as a vital component of our lives?

There is no shame in admitting that you found history dull, that you thought it was a waste of time, or even that you hated it as a child. The way that it was taught, it probably deserved your disdain! Like Kevin Arnold, the young man of the TV show The Wonder Years, you probably remember history as mind-blowingly boring. I'll never forget the episode in which Kevin's history teacher, played by Ben Stein, begins a lesson: "The Hundred Years' War…Year Four!" As a historian, I laughed and I cringed when I first saw that episode. It captures perfectly why for so many people the mere thought of attending a history lecture causes their eyes to roll to the back of their heads.

Honestly, if you like history (or, like me, you love it), you know you are one of only a few.

But if history is something almost everyone hated as a child, how can it be something we all believe we need to teach our kids? Is it because we want them to suffer as we did? Of course not. Still, the question remains: "Why history?"
Read the entire essay here

Scott is not alone in teaching homeschooled students over long distances. Michael Gold tutors all levels of mathematics through calculus and statistics, to work with home schoolers on math courses and curriculum, to teach logic and basic science, or to prepare you or your child for the SAT, ACT, THEA, GRE or GMAT. He writes:
To make it easy for the student and to properly build the student's knowledge of mathematics, I teach in a step-by-step manner. Material is organized logically to make math easier for the student to grasp, and methods are always provided for working problems. This organization and use of method should give students reasoning skills that will help them in other areas of academics and in life. I also provide applications of mathematics, to motivate the student and to show the power of ideas.

The study of mathematics provides a unique opportunity to learn fundamental thinking skills used in all areas of life, from science to law, from reading to analyzing every-day claims. So, as it arises naturally in our tutoring sessions, I will use our time to improve the student's logic and reasoning abilities.
When I heard about Michael's business, I thought of all those people whose main complaint about homeschooling is that they believe the majority of parents are not able to teach higher level math. It's becoming easier and easier for homeschooling parents to outsource the subjects they don't wish, or feel competent to teach. A cheaper option for distance math education, but far less personal than Michael's services is Aleks.

ALEKS is a web-based, artificially intelligent assessment and learning system. ALEKS uses adaptive questioning to quickly and accurately determine exactly what a student knows and doesn't know in a course. ALEKS then instructs the student on the topics she is most ready to learn. As a student works through a course, ALEKS periodically reassesses the student to ensure that topics learned are also retained. ALEKS courses are very complete in their topic coverage and ALEKS avoids multiple choice questions. A student who shows a high level of mastery of an ALEKS course will be successful in the actual course she is taking.

ALEKS also provides the advantages of one-on-one instruction, 24/7, from virtually any web-based computer for a fraction of the cost of a human tutor.
I've only heard good things about Aleks, however, when we tried it, I discovered that my children need human interaction. Perhaps when they are older, computer based math learning will work for them, but right now, they need to interact with a human.

Unlike Scott and Michael, Melinda Kinnear does not specialize in one specific subject. She offers workshops and tutoring for grades K thru 10th in the following subjects:
Language Arts & English
Reading Comprehension
Science (Earth, Physical, & Life)
History (U.S. & World)
Spelling & Vocabulary Building
More importantly, she offers very individualized instruction. She writes: If your child is having a particular problem with a subject, I can
customize a course just for him/her to address & meet his/her specific

I realized I am not alone in struggling to find good textbooks and curricula for my children. Kathy Ceceri of Crafts For Learning writes that textbooks stink!.
In a November/December 2004 article in Edutopia magazine called The Muddle Machine, writer Tamim Ansary confirmed what everybody who’s ever opened a lousy science, math, history or English textbook has suspected for a long time – the answer to the question “Who writes these things?” is “No one.”

Ansary, a columnist for the online encyclopedia Encarta.com and author of 38 nonfiction books for children, was an editor at Harcourt Brace Jovanovich for nine years before going on to write for Houghton Mifflin, McDougall Littell, Prentice Hall, and many other textbook publishers. And according to his insider’s view, the process used to create the books schools rely on looks more like a sausage factory than a scholarly collaboration.

Regardless of the prestigious names and credentials which often appear on the title page of most textbooks, in standard practice textbooks are written by teams of in-house writers (or, more recently, outside “development houses”) who use as the basis of their product not the latest findings by experts in the field but – other textbooks. As Ansary describes, the “chum” is then updated by the application of whatever hot new teaching philosophy is coming down the pike, tweaked by an editor to make it sound as if it were penned by a single consciousness, and only then adorned with the name of the researcher or professor who is dubbed “the author.”

Dana is a far better mom than I. When her children acquired gray tree frogs, instead of telling the children to send them back from whence they came, she went shopping and set up a habitat for the frogs. Dana, I think Ben and Shira want to come and live with you. They think life is very unfair because I refuse to have any reptiles or rodents in the house.

It was fortuitous that Mary of The Informed Parent wrote about italic handwriting.
Italic handwriting makes a lot of sense to me. You first learn to print and then it doesn’t take much to switch over to cursive italic letters.
Shira want to learn how to write in italic or how to do calligraphy. All of a sudden she is transforming her chicken scratch handwriting into something beautiful and wants the tools to make it even more beautiful.

Dawn is my kind of homeschooler. She submitted two entries to this carnival. In the first entry, she writes about the excellent lesson plan on classical music she developed. Then, just before I could start to feel inadequate, she wrote:
I don't know if you accept multiple posts but I thought this and the "Musical Afternoon" had to go together. The first is that typical, "Look at everything we did! I'm so organized and clever!" post and this submission is the immediate followup where I realized that post made me look like something I'm not - an organized mom. Of course I had to correct that!

Kris, a truly organized homeschooler, blogs about the joys of dusting off all her old preschool "stuff" for her current young preschooler and teaching one-to-one correspondence to preschoolers through (mostly) play.

Angie of The Homeschool Classroom shares her list of age appropriate chores. What makes this different from other chores list are the side notes on what to expect from children about chores as various points in their lives.

I always enjoy reading about homeschoolers who have finished their journey. Malia Russell shares the story of her daughter, Christina's homeschool graduation. Christina is a remarkable young woman who is an inspiration to us all. Mazal Tov, Christina.

As a goodbye present, I wish to present you with this information. Did you know that it is possible to get a free college education without a scholarship? I didn't until I read this blog post on Destroy Debt

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of the carnival of cool homeschoolers using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.


Julie said...

Another great carnival. I loved the music and the digital posts.
I am sorry I missed submitting for this one. Will do better next time!!
Thanks for the carnival. You always host such an interesting one.

Lance said...

Nice job. Looking forward to reading them all.


Lisa Bergantz said...

I was searching the web for learning activity ideas. I found your blog. I thought you may be interested in my activities learning blog for children. It's called SMMART ideas (Science, Math, Music, Art, Reading, Time-out for skills).

Check out my learning blog and let other moms know:


Take care,

Lisa Bergantz

Kim Anderson said...

what fun to find you! I appreciate the thoughtful treatment you give to your entries. Next week look for something from me!