Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Monday, July 28, 2008

Is reading this a waste of time? Probably

I read this article in yesterday's NY Times, Literacy Debate: Online, R U Really Reading? It raised numerous questions that I have pondered myself. My middle two, now teens, read books extensively, but the oldest and the youngest read little. Or at least not books. The oldest reads sports and news online and magazines. I keep hoping the youngest will find something he enjoys reading but it hasn't happened yet.

I have not read "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" in the July/August edition of Atlantic Monthly.
I read on the blogs that the author blames internet reading for our shortened attention span but the article is too long and I really don't have time with all the blogs and email I need to read daily. You know how it is.

One of the issues that the NY Times article addressed was, what else, the need to test school children in computer and Internet literacy. This comment caught my eye,
"There's no reason to make them discover how to be highly competent if we can teach them."
Let's rob those kids of the opportunity to find an interest and work at their own pace, in their own manner and time, to develop their skills. No, no. We must intervene and take over their learning. They won't do it right. And we must test to prove how well we are doing.

When the public schools get into teaching the internet and testing internet competency, will performance go down? PRM

Friday, July 25, 2008

Family Friday

Oldest son and his sweet wife.

And no more alliteration. PRM

Thursday, July 24, 2008

What do you mean it's too late for

Wordless Wednesday? How about Theoretical Thursday?My theory, hunh, hunh, which is mine, hunh, hunh, is that Yakov is in the middle with a friend, Brett and Jake, to either side. That is my theory. Miss Anne Elk

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Noach's Sixth Grade

Here is the vague outline of what Noach will be doing next year, his 6th grade

Life of Fred Fractions, with some supplementation from Math Mammoth and Primary Challenge Math.

Galore Park , So You Really Want to Learn Spanish Book 1. I ordered this through Ray at Horrible Books and it should arrive soon.

The Elements: Ingredients of the Universe from Ellen McHenry. Noach did the sample chapter at the end of last year and really liked it. I would like to do the requirements of the BSA Chemistry Merit Badge at the same time, an easy addition. I have to discuss this with the scout leader, first, to make sure that what we do will count toward the badge. Noach will also be doing the lab I am teaching. This should take about half of the year.

History from Oxford University Press two series, The World in Ancient Times and The Medieval and Early Modern World. I picked these books up at a drastically reduced price last spring. We are starting with Ancient China. I will add in timeline and map work, as well as additional reading. He will practice outlining and written and oral narration.

He will finish Growing with Grammar, then we will take a formal grammar holiday for a year or two.

That should cover most things, I think. PRM

Organizationally challenged

I'm not much of a long-term planner. I like a vague plan, an idea of what we want to do in a year, but certainly not daily, or even weekly, lesson plans laid out in the fall. Maybe we would accomplish more if I did plan extensively, and maybe not.

I had to face this issue last week when I posted to the local groups that I had an opening in my 11-14yo science lab. Are we going to dissect? Well, probably. A mammal? I don't know. I have a rodent phobia that includes preserved specimens. I'm not proud of it but I can't deny it either. If the kids are enthusiastic about dissecting, then we'll do it. A fetal pig, perhaps. Since I have taught biology lab twice already, I haven't felt the need to lay it all out again. I did promise to do evolution and natural selection.

I can understand someone else's completely reasonable need to have more specifics laid out. Who wants to waste time taking her child to a class when the teacher, a stranger, may not be adequately organized. I had the moms of former students prepared to provide references that I consistently provided a cool learning experience, even if I couldn't tell you 4 weeks ahead what we would be doing.

But there was such a response to my posting that I didn't have any problem filling the opening. Now there are 6 kids, 2 boys and 4 girls, most of them 12yo. I am really looking forward to working with this group. PRM

Friday, July 18, 2008

She's returned

I know because the flip-flops are out and scattered. PRM

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Nearly Wordless Wednesday

She's been sleeping around. Mostly with Noach, an act of feline desperation, and one night, she wanted to sleep nose-to-nose with me. Her face was a bit fuzzy and I know where that nose has been.

But soon, tomorrow night, her girl will be back. There will be purring. PRM

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


I feel good this morning. And that is a change. I have been having some knee problems that I greatly exacerbated Saturday while doing something with Noach. Saturday night I could not sleep so Sunday was a day of restlessness, discomfort, and napping. Finally late yesterday I got a cortisone injection in my knee as a trial before going to arthroscopic surgery. And I am optimistic that this is going to work.

Why oops? Because I got up early with JP, as I usually do, and because I felt so energized I stripped the bed to wash the sheets. Now I can't go back to bed, as I often do. Oh well, I'll just enjoy this cool morning, also a change from the last week or so, and wait for dawn to come when I can take my book outside and read and watch the birds.

I feel good this morning. PRM

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Swimming merit badge

Naoch returned from Scout camp this morning. He had a good time but was glad to be home.

He completed the requirements for 5 merit badges, including the swimming badge. I was really proud of him for doing this. I know many kids swim and dive with delight but Noach does not. He hates to get his face wet. But to earn this badge, he had to dive as well as swim distances that were challenging for him. He had to work for this badge and he did it. He overcame his own anxieties. I'm proud of him. PRM

The Film Club

**This post is deleted. It was inadvertently posted before completed. I'll try to finish later.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Homer Sexuals

That's what Jesse Helms called homosexuals.

I am not sad to see another vestige of the Old South pass away. I think he was a mean SOB, frankly.

JP and I went to parent's night at the Boy Scout camp last night. One of the fathers was wearing a Confederate flag t-shirt with the saying, "If you're offended by this flag, you need to study history."

So I guess the death of Jesse will not purify the South. There will still be stupid SOBs.

What we need is a black man in the White House. That's the ticket. I can hope, especially since there are no homERsexuals running. PRM

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Finally, I got him. PRM

Yakov is safe

in southern Israel, far from Jerusalem.

He called about 7am to let us know he was okay. I suspect they are encouraged to do so to allay parental concerns. JP and I are fairly calm and not easy to panic but that may not be the case for all parents. PRM

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Science fun - high school

I have spent even longer trying to decide what to do with my older group of kids, kids 15 to 17 years old. These kids are unschoolers for the most part.

I looked at Illustrated Guide to Home Chemistry Experiments by Robert Bruce Thompson and I cannot say how much I love this book. My own digital balance arrived yesterday and I am ready to do some science. But I don't think this will work with my lab group, most of whom will not be doing any other science than what we do in lab. The vocabulary and concepts will be difficult to teach them in the small amount of time we have together.

Rather I think I will use a series of the TOPS units, analysis, oxidation, solutions, and others. I don't consider this a compromise in quality but rather a different presentation and focus. I like that the TOPS modules often have you create your own lab equipment. The teens will be able to work through the task cards at their own pace and then we will discuss what we learned at the end of the time. To add a bit of flash, I will add in a lab from the Thompson book occasionally.

I really hope that all of these kids will take a lab science at the community college before they graduate from high school. We have required this of our teens. I have discussed their lab science experiences with several local public school kids and I think I have offered comparable exposure to my kids, particularly in biology. I want chemistry to be as instructive and fun. Chemistry should smell even worse, and occasionally, produce a "pop".

Shoshie will likely be using Singapore Chemistry this year, as well as doing the group lab. We will be doing some of the Thompson's labs at home. The second and third chapters of the Singapore book are about experimental techniques and separation and purification of substances. While she can read this, I think it will be helpful to do some of these at home if we haven't done them in the lab by that time. Thompson's first set of labs are separations of mixtures.

So, now that's settled. On to deciding about history, math, etc PRM