30 October 2014

We're Nearly There

Quick update ... I do miss my homeschooling moms/mums to chat to about books! So thought I'd post an update here on what we have left to read before Christmas, and then our NZ summer time, holidays start.

My literature-loving homeschool friends won't want to see the books we've elected to toss off the reading schedule this year, so that the school year can be completed with some grace and a sense of achievement.

Here's what we have left to read for history.
Family Read Aloud:
Luther: Biography of a Reformer ~ Nohl (Dn's nearly finished reading this to us)
John Knox: The Sharpened Sword ~ Mackenzie
Mary Queen of Scots ~ Roy Strong (N/F)
A Boy and His Bear ~ Harriet Graham
I, Juan de Pareja ~ Borton de Trevino (audio)  art study

If you are able to procure this book -  A Boy and His Bear, along with a box of tissues ☺ - I  recommend it as a family read aloud for children 10+. (Y, you may well need to read it in advance for one of yours! Sensitivity issues included in this story)
The writing is very emotive in parts, and in my opinion would make a great SL read aloud ...  An excellent Shakespearean/Elizabethan era read, and without adding any spoilers, it ends well for the boy and the bear!

Daisy:
The Hawk That Dare Not Hunt By Day ~ O'Dell
A Murder for Her Majesty ~ Hilgartner (no one at our house has read this yet !)
Wicked Will ~ MacDonald
Red Hugh: Prince of Donegal ~ Reilly
Shakespeare's Spy ~ Blackwood  (Daisy enjoyed the first one in the series and was keen to read on)

Jay:
Hamlet ~ Shakespeare (reading this with Greenleaf's Guide)
William Tyndale: The Smuggler's Flame ~ Rich  (Just about finished reading.  Easy reading, I know. Yet I like to include some easier titles to read when the children are working at full stretch in other reading/learning areas. English and Math are at full stretch right now for Jay)
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead ~ Stoppard (read with Greenleaf's Guide)
Rogues' Gold ~ Pilkington (Jay has elected to be the pre-reader on this title ☺)
A Single Shard ~ Park (anytime read.  elected to read it here... at the close out of the year)

05 October 2014

Freebie: Church History Notebooking Pages or Journal


Perfect download for those wanting to record some of the information/lives being covered during studies of the Reformation. Click on picture above to go to the download.

Jamerrill from freehomeschooldeals included the link in a todays-free-deals email.

10 September 2014

Books to Share ~ From April 2014

Dusting off an old (!) post and hitting publish :)
C.S. Lewis at War: The Dramatic Story Behind Mere Christianity (Radio Theatre)
This set includes a dramatised (Focus of the Family, Radio Theatre Quality!) life of C.S Lewis and the story behind the creation of Mere Christianity.  Highly recommend!
C. S. Lewis at War: The Dramatic Story Behind Mere ChristianityI haven't listened to the Mere Christianity reading yet.

Review from the web: Mere Christianity  is touted as one of the greatest Christian books of the twentieth century and was created as a series of radio broadcasts in a time of great conflict and adversity. England had gone to war with Germany. It was a time of strain, heartbreak, and weariness.
The leaders at the BBC knew the nation needed a moral underpinning to face the crisis and embarked on an aggressive program to provide it. So they commissioned some of the greatest Christian minds to step up. C.S. Lewis agreed to help, resulting in the now-famous Broadcast Talks that became Mere Christianity.

Beorn the Proud ~ Madeleine Polland  (800's)
Beorn the ProudBeorn, a pagan Viking from Denmark, becomes a better ruler as a result of the influence of Ness, a Christian girl he took from Ireland as his slave. 
We didn't enjoy this as much as we thought we would.
We preferred The Story of Rolf & the Viking's Bow ~ Allen French - perhaps because the children are older, and the Viking Bow is a grittier read with lots of opportunity for discussion.






Wicked Will: A Mystery of Young William Shakespeare ~ Bailey MacDonald
Wicked Will: A Mystery of Young William ShakespeareSet in 16th-century England, this fresh and original historical mystery introduces a young sleuth named Will Shakespeare, a boy from Stratford-on-Avon with an active imagination and a penchant for trouble.





 


The King's Equal ~ Katherine Paterson

The King's EqualDaisy enjoyed this very short, easily read chapter book. This is a small chapter book that is big on character lessons!
 In order to wear the crown of the kingdom, an arrogant young prince must find an equal in his bride. Instead, he finds someone far better than he currently is.







Invisible Illness, Visible God ~ Merry Marinello

Merry has written a devotional styled book that takes us along on her journey of learning to trust in God as the Marinello family strives to navigate through the maze of living with a debilitating illness.
I'm sip reading this set of devotional excerpts - 101 in total - and am appreciating the encouragement  this book offers: though no one else may see or understand what we may be going through, our hope is in Christ - who is with us - through all trials.





The Sings My Soul: Book 2 ~ Robert J. Morgan

We are enjoying reading this collection of stories behind the hymns.  It's  the perfect book to have tucked into our sip reading book basket, we've been pulling it out to read from during family reading time in the mornings.
The hymns are in chronological order, which makes it helpful if someone was wanting to schedule them into a history study.
As a go-along to the book, we try to listen to the hymn online. 






Lorna Doone ~ R.D. Blackmore

I'm {still} going through this romantic classic as an audiobook, to see what the content is like before I hand it to Daisy later this year... maybe.  Some of the content in it is mature, and I want to discuss those portions before Daisy starts the book, either this round through the 1600's or her next time through.
So far, I'm enjoying the wordiness of this book! And Jonathan Keeble reads it so well.
Updated Comment 10/2014:  Recommending a parent knows the content of this book - the first chapter has an older woman verbally admiring the physical attributes of young John Ridd washing at the the pump.  One of the final chapters give details of a woman being violently snatched from her home by the Doones and her young child slaughtered.  Not wanting to add a spoiler.... but the shooting of one of the main characters and the ensuing chase and life for life struggle that follows will provide a very good spot to discuss 'vengance' and payback mentality with my highschoolers.

An amazon customer wrote this very help filled review:
{clip} The story is told by John Ridd whose father is killed by one of the Doones when John is 12. One day John accidentally wanders into Doone Valley, where he meets 8 year Lorna. He is immediately smitten and what seems an impossible romance develops several years later. The brutal Carver Doone wants Lorna for his wife, so John must rescue her. The Doones, of course, want her back. John and Lorna also have to overcome differences in rank (she has it, he doesn't), money (she has a lot more than he does) and religion (she's Catholic, he's Protestant).
Blackmore's book vividly describes the Devon countryside in which the novel is set, and the lifestyle of a yeoman farmer. Some people may find all these details unnecessary, and a distraction from the central story but I really enjoyed learning about the lifestyle of late 17th century rural England.
The story is set against the historical backdrop of the death of King Charles II, the Monmouth Rebellion, the brutal suppression of that rebellion by Judge Jeffreys known as the Bloody Assizes, and the short-lived assent of the very Catholic King James to the throne (and fears of 'Papist' rule). I recommend doing some brief research on these events on the Internet before reading this book. An understanding of the historical context will make this an easier and more understandable read
.
 

05 September 2014

Writing With Skill ~ Our Experience

I get asked from time to time about how we've used Writing With Skill and what we think of "it".
This post has been sitting in draft mode for months so I thought I'd toss in a few pictures and hit post ... then I can just refer anyone who may ask us about WWS here
(J is currently 1/2 way through Writing With Skill 2).
Sorry, my post is a little long.

This is not an intentional advertising post for Writing With Skill   - I don't feel motivated enough to want to write affiliate posts or reviews for return , whatever that means ☺ -  this is just a type up of J's experience using book one in the series Writing With Skill (WWS) by Susan.W. Bauer during 2012 and 2013.
To use WWS effectively from the go get, in my opinion, having a student who has solid chronological narration skills is a must.
I'd suggest definitely backing up and getting 'that' writing skill working well first, and before I get into talking about Writing With Skill, I'll have to start back a little bit and chat about the style of narration being taught in Writing With Ease (WWE):
In my opinion, many of the elements that WWE looks for in narration – especially in WWE4 - seem to be in teaching the student to more effectively use the 5 "W" questions (who, what, where, why and/or how) and, ideally, relaying those 5W’s in a chronological fashion using a directed style of narration.

We use two styles of narration:  a more creative, freer style, of narrating,  along with a directed and chronological style of narration outside of WWE's lessons .
(Daisy prefers the less directed, freer style of narrating as this gives her the freedom to be very creative, and verbose ☺, about minor details that have caught her attention. I digress.)

The progression from using the 5W guide lines in WWE and then employing them in WWS was less of a stretch, for J, than if I’d only taught with a less “directed” style of narration.

J employs those 5W’s as a check list with many of the writing assignments in Writing With Skill.
Sometimes one of those "W"s is not included in the portion of literature being studied.
He mentally crosses it off and moves on.

Writing With Skill is/was not an easy program to use, as in effortless and light - it's a good solid writing course that requires the student to think and work.  I like it, and I appreciate the results this writing course is helping J to achieve.

During the first half of 2012 the ongoing effort was to write with more fluidity; often that aspect remained at the *almost* level. (grrr, says J!)

So to be sure my son was getting a fair chance in WWS, away from the influence of my inability to write well, and to ensure he’s safe from my knee-jerk streak of perfectionism - I relied on the rubric Susan Bauer provides to go with each WWS  'assignment'  which helps me ascertain whether J has met the writing requirements, or not.

Sometimes I was requiring more than was being asked for, or J was submitting less than the rubric required.

We worked slowly, steadily, and solidly through WWS1 as I was in no rush to have J complete book one, just so we can get to the next book (which was not out, when I started typing this review).
We took our time using the instructions in WWS1 as solid lessons in learning to write, not just inside WWS but across our other subject areas too.

We kept the lesson times shorter than the hour most would use with WWS – I required that J work for up to ¾ of an hour diligently or complete one lesson (which ever comes first).

Before we started, I did pre-read what Susan writes about her intended/hoped for outcome from using this book/course.  Having those outcomes clearly laid out helped to settle my anxious feelings, a lot.  I am not a writer, which is glaringly obvious in my post here, so I appreciate some hand holding when it comes to 'teaching' a student to write.
(SWB's write up is detailed inside the Teacher's guide .. I'm not sure if it's part of the sample.)
Another encouragement for me was listening through Susan's, very help filled, audio lectures on The Plan for Teaching Writing.  (available over at Peacehill Press)

WWS, in our home, is being used as instruction time, not as a semi test – so if a lesson seems way too hard we’ll refer to the rubric Mrs. Bauer gives to go with each lesson, together.  Definitely not what Mrs. Bauer intended, but I like to use teaching tools the way that will work for my student and me ☺
This approach ensures J has less of that dread feel that some students may start to generate when they hear the words writing assignment ;)

It's now 2014, and we have long since finished WWS1 and the end research assignment.
J chose to write on The Beginning of the Periodic Table.
I was really happy with the end result - which J does not want me to share online -  and the skills he learnt while using WWS1 - J met the rubric, writing in a clear and engaging style, citing all his reference tools correctly, typed his assignment up in double spacing, and didn't complain too much at the 'need to fix' side notes I scrawled on it before he handed in his final pieces of paper.

We are going to use - we are using it :) J is 1/2 way through - WWS2 this year, 2014, as my son likes the way Mrs. Bauer writes: directly to him, as a student who wants to learn, and in a style that appeals.  And as he noted, if a student was a really gifted writer - one for whom writing came easily and naturally, who also had a good grasp of writing research papers and turned out good solid essays - WWS detailed, incremental, instructions might be annoying.  For J, and me,  those instructions are not annoying - they are necessary.

For our family, using WWS, at an older age has been a good fit for us: the student is able to work, mostly, more independently and the level of writing being produced, for my student, is of a more pleasing quality - and doesn't feel like a tooth extracting session which it may well have been if we'd used it during the pre-teen years.  Your experience may differ.

Extra Comments:
WWS is not the only writing 'course' J is using for his highschool years, we are also using Greenleaf's literature study/writing guides as well, and really enjoying Cyndy Shearer's teaching style.
Susan shared a pdf over on TWTM about progression scenarios/options for those using WWE & WWS; we seem to fall into the 3rd option catagory :D

03 September 2014

Free Download - Time Sensitive

The free download for this week over at Christian audio is Francis Schaeffer's How Should We then Live?   

I'm not sure of the content of this book  - I've been interested to go through this title, for quite a while, after listening through Schaeffer's book Art & the Bible (Art & the Bible is currently on special for $4.95) - so to have a wish list title available as a free download is a blessing.

{Waving hello to my dear homeschooling friends ♥}