Monday, May 31, 2010

TED: Adora Svitak

I get so inspired by the speeches I listen to on TED. After listening to Sir Ken Robinson on education this talk by 12 year old Adora Svitak popped up.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

New Resource: Xtranormal

Too Cool!
My friend Dana, over at School for Us, just posted about how her daughter used Xtranormal to create a report on President Garfield. It was a great idea and I thought I would check it out. There logo is


And that is it... you type in the text and the characters speak it. I see all kinds of potential for this. G and I have been playing with it since last night. Here is my sample.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Mr Q Science: Year 1 Earth Science

A few weeks ago I got a question on my feelings about Mr. Q's science after using it this year. I will tell you how I used it and my expectations.

I started the year approaching science as I had before: gathering my own books from the library, scouring the internet and trudging my own path. I am a trained teacher and I love researching and writing my own lessons so this was sort of joyful for me. Well, when I started this year of Earth Science I just could not find the flow of materials I wanted... in step Mr Q. I had never heard of this program and the $50 price tag for a PDF shocked me. After reading all I could on his site I decided to take the plunge. $50 might be worth it not to have to gather books and create an outline. It was. I liked it so much that at Christmas he had a 50% off sale and I bought both the Chemistry and Physics books. So I got 2 for $50. Bonus.

Now, I have to explain my goals for Science (and History). I truly subscribe to the Well Trained Mind ideal of placing pegs for learning. I am not expecting G to memorize or master this information. We are placing seeds of knowledge so when we cycle through this again it will not be totally foreign information. So with this in mind, I did not use all (hardly any) of the worksheets and I did not do an experiment with every chapter. For a 7/ 8 year old some of them were just to dull. Boys this age want OOOH AAAH science and those are the experiments we did. Right now I have a shopping list to get items to make rock candy- crystals & igneous rock I think... But I do not feel like I am wasting my money. As I said, I subscribe to the WTM 4 year cycle and we will cover this again in a few years and I believe I will use this same package again. This time with the worksheets and all of the experiments.

Price of Printing a PDF text: If you have a laptop you could read it off of the laptop. I could have done this but I like to draw on the text to further illustrate things (not something I would ever do to a bound book... oh the freedom!) But I did not just pull up the file and click print. There are a few blank pages and full color chapter title pages, so I would go in and say for example: print 101-109, 112, 121-124 and I would print 2 pages per sheet. I was a little time consuming to pick out all of the sheet numbers but well worth it in the end. And once I decided we were not going to do all of the worksheets I didn't even print those out. I would print 6 weeks at a time.

There are 36 chapters so enough for a typical school year. We completed 24. Our "official" 180 days are done (WOOHOO!!) but we will still be casually doing 4 more math times tables, history biographies, and the remainder of the science over the summer.

So my recommendation would be: If you can do Life Science start there because it is the whole 36 weeks FREE. Then you can try on his style. His chapters are short and to the point but he has a humorous voice. You can get on his mailing list and he sends out monthly lab notes which have an experiment and you will get notice if he has a sale. I think he had a 20% one this spring.

He is not a big company so if you send him and email he will personally answer you. I will say, Your access to the download links only last a month... I did not pay any attention to that when I first downloaded mine. Well, come to find out when we got to the rock chapters a few weeks ago I had not downloaded them... I remember having trouble before. I emailed Scott and asked if he could just send me that unit... he emailed right back and renewed my ES account for another month! It was so quick and easy. I appreciated his speed and response.

So yes, I still am glad I bought Mr. Qs science... I just tweaked how I used it.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Convention 2010

I love going to conventions. I did when I taught Public School and that hasn't changed now. My favorite is the Midwest Homeschooling Convention in Cincinnati Ohio. I have to drive 2 hours to the next state but it is well worth it. I have been going to this convention for three years, from its beginnings in a large church until now in the Duke Convention Center. This year there were 12,000 people attending, over 4000 families!

I spent most of my time listening to Andrew Pudewa. If you have not heard this man speak find a way. I love that he doesn't try to sell you his wares, he just educates and inspires. I listened to ...
4 Deadly Errors of Teaching Writing
Spelling and the Brain!
Fairy Tales and the Moral Imagination
Teaching Boys & Others Who Would Rather Make Forts All day
and I bought- Mastery Learning, Ability Development and Individualized Education

Other People I enjoyed
Dr. Carol Reynolds
Carol Topp, CPA We just started using this 5/19 and are really enjoying... G is hooked)


Oh my goodness he is so entertaining!

I stuck to my shopping list
I bought...
Institute for Excellence in Writing A- I am still nervous about spending this much but I have faith
Math U See- Delta
English From the Roots Up cards
North America Map
Mineral Testing Set & Geode
Miller Pads & Paper
Basher Periodic Table
Ein-O's Molecular Model
A Cool New T-shirt for G
The Periodic Table by Salvatore Tocci
A few Easy Novels:
George the Drummer Boy
Sam the Minuteman
Small Wolf
Buffalo Bill and the Pony Express

I am very excited about the pieces I chose. And even more excited about the wonderful time I had in Cincy with friends and inspiration!

Favorite Books: April 2010

Here are a few of the Books we have been enjoying....

The Guardians of G'Hoole Series
We are on book 3. We cannot wait to read this each night. It is very exciting. Kidnapping, brainwashing, armor.... mwahahahahaha
The movie comes out this Fall! We cannot wait!

Wicked History Series

Biography for Boys I would call them. These little books deliver interesting biographical information on some of histories scariest people. We have studied Genghis Khan and are getting ready to read about Ivan the Terrible.

Marco Polo

Demi's telling of Polo's travels is interesting and beautifully illustrated. I have enjoyed studying Marco and learning more than I ever did in school. He is so much more than traveled to China and brought back spices.

Dr. Seuss
G is on a Dr. Seuss kick. He is sailing through the short ones and impressed with his own fluency. I hope he will start in on the longer books soon. But this is all him... I am staying out of it.

Art History: Oaxacan Woodcarving

I was excited to introduce the kids to something close to my heart, Alebrejas. I have been collecting these beautiful painted carvings for about 10 years. I took in my collection so they could hold them and touch them rather than look at pictures of them. You would have thought it was Christmas or fireworks were going off, "OOOHHH AHHHHH". They each got to hold their favorite while I read the beautiful book Dream Carver.

I created basic paper shapes for the children to draw their patterns on or they could create their own shape. They had gel pens and markers to draw with... of course the gel pens were the most popular.

Art History: Matisse Paper Cuts

To add variety to our medium, We studied Matisse's Paper Cuts this week. As Matisse aged, he "painted" with the colored paper. The children enjoyed hearing how he adapted his art as his eye site and health decreased. He did not give it up, he just discovered new ways to create. A great lesson in itself. We read and looked through 3 books; A Bird or Two: A Story about Henri Matisse, Henri Matisse: Drawing with Scissors, and Matisse; Cut-Out Fun with Matisse. The children also had fun trying to guess the titles of some of his simpler pieces.

The children had more trouble starting this project than any of the others. It suprised me. I thought it would be the easiest... cut out some shapes and glue them on the base paper. After a few minutes they finally dug in and started creating. We just used scissors, glue, and colored paper.

Art History: Cave Drawings

One of the children's favorite Coop lessons this session was Cave Drawings. They were amazed by the size and wondered as to their creation. Were the drawings a history? Were the drawings their wishes and hopes for the hunt? We looked at Painters of the Caves. I was also going to read Maria De Sautuola: Discoverer of the Bulls in the Cave but ran out of time.

The children created their own drawings on paper grocery sacks with charcoal and pastels. I sprayed them with cheap hairspray when they finished to keep them from smearing.

Art History: John James Audubon

This weeks Coop class was about John James Audubon. We read The Boy Who Drew Birds and learned 2 things. One, John drew everyday and on his birthday every year he would burn all of his work because none, he felt, was good enough to keep. Two, Audubon was the first to tag birds to see if they returned to their nesting grounds. The kids were fascinated. They really enjoyed looking at his work.

Our hands on project was a watercolor pencil painting of a bird. We did a few step by step bird drawings on white boards before taking to the watercolor paper.

Art History: Totems

This semester my Hands on Art History Class focused on pieces that contained animals. This week we looked at Totem Poles.

We discussed how they are often like a family tree and that the animals show characteristics of the family members. I showed them many examples from the web and we glanced through the book Totem Pole.

The children created their own animal to add to our class totem. They were created from soup cans which were covered in brown paper. We then drilled a hole in the bottom and threaded them onto a dowel rod to stabilize them.