Sunday, April 26, 2015

Weekly Resource: Primary Language Lessons

This week I am going to chat about a program we have actually used - SHOCKER!  Actually, that's another reason I went on hiatus with blogging.  I felt a bit fake because so many of the resources I have found I don't actually use - I just collect ideas and haven't really been putting them into action.  But, we have used Primary Language Lessons with my 2nd grader (8 yo).  I love English Lessons Through Literature and we will return to it next year, but I started it too early.  My 8 yo was not prepared for longer copywork and I wasn't ready to introduce diagramming to him yet.  So, this was our "break year" in that respect.

Primary Language Lessons has been gentle but we have been listening to (and maybe memorizing) the English grammar memory work with CC so I feel like he's still gotten some of the definitions, etc. I just printed and used the download from google books and halfway through the year found a hardback version at Half Price Books (I picked up Intermediate Language Lessons as well). There are workbooks available (don't know about her family situation) but I just had my son write his work in  a regular composition book.  That has worked for us.

The lessons are picture (tell what's happening in the picture - but it's not a "famous" work - she uses more ordinary scenes), conversation, letter writing, simple fill in the blank grammar and poetry memorization.  My son was always excited about the conversation lesson because then he felt like he wasn't even doing work.  I did at least make him answer in complete sentences.  Some of the subjects I altered a little because us city folk don't know much about some of the topics she addresses (but we are trying to be more observant).  The letters sometimes put him in fits - he could do them just fine but they upset him because he had to work a little bit.  Typically I had him narrate the letter to me while I wrote it down and then he did it as copywork.  He is getting closer to writing things like that on his own, but if I write it and tell him he has a time limit for copywork I will get a more thoughtful answer than if I let him do it on his own.  We totally failed with the memory selections.  They are good ones to memorize but I didn't use them to their full advantage.  I had him work on the first stanza a little bit and then used them more for copywork.  For the most part I let him do the grammar orally and just write a few of the sentences in a lesson.  I was aiming at neat and accurate more than sloppy and careless.

I do think that it is a good gentle introduction and I know we didn't use it to its full potential but for just the cost of a composition book this program has a lot to offer.  I realize now that we should have been doing more copywork from his regular readings (we did do more of that in the fall - before the baby).  That is one thing I like about English Lesson Through Literature is that all of the sentence work is from good literature.

I did also try to do this in concert with Memoria Press's Introduction to Composition guide.  We stopped using the guide half way through.  These guides select passages from every few chapters of the assigned book (which we did use for a while).  Each lesson provides oral questions to spur conversation about the passage and from there the student produces a summary of the passage (I think they do this in a classroom setting at their school and work together towards one summary passage as a class).  My son read the whole section to himself, then read the selected passage (normally 2 or 3 pages) aloud to me, then we would either answer the question MP provided or I'd have him narrate it.  Often I wrote this out for him and then he did it as copywork.  He balked at writing them - but he did do it. The guides also have room for dictation but we took our dictation from other sources - not his literature.

I guess in the end we used three different things for our "language arts" this year.  Primary Language Lessons was our daily practice, MP's Composition provided our literature readings and narrations (sometimes written) and CC gave us our "memory work" for grammar definitions (honestly we just discussed some of the concepts out loud we didn't practice any of them).  Next year, he will be ready to do book 3 of English Lessons Through Literature and we will do CC Cycle 1 memory work (I think prepositions is a primary focus next year).  I still might have him read the selections from Memoria Press's literature on his own because I will probably read the English Lessons' books aloud. We'll see though.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Wednesday with Words: Ministry of Motherhood

I am part of a newly formed homeschool mom's support group.  We are friends from another group and decided that we really wanted to do a book study together and encourage each other as MOHS (Mothers of Homeschoolers).  We are reading through The Ministry of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson.  In it she looks at what we as mothers should be passing onto our children with the acronym GIFTS (grace, inspiration, faith, training and service).  We are half way through and I am really enjoying it.  It's challenging me to focus on relationship with my kids not just a checklist or the "end goal".  Sally is good at reminding you about delighting in (and creating) the small moments that make memories and open up space for conversation.

From the Grace chapters:

I realize my love and service to them must come before any of my great words, my teaching and training.  
What they won't just listen (especially as they get older) because I'm their mom!
If they fear our strong condemnation and possible rejection, they will hide their sin, perhaps even deceive themselves about the nature of it.  They will definitely not avail themselves of our mature direction in their lives.  

From the Inspiration chapters:

When she talks about following Jesus she says

And this may mean leaving behind things we really care about - involvements and pursuits that seem important and worthwhile but may not be God's will for us.  
A child who does not have the opportunity to marvel at the bigness of God, the wonders of his creation and the reality of his supernatural work will tend to measure the questions about "who God is" according to his or her finite, limited perspective.  

This section really challenged me to inspire my kids to be who they are in His image - not my own finite ways.  If you know the story of Sally's kids you realize that she has done this with God's grace.

From the Faith chapters:

If they can keep eternity before their eyes, they will be able to live in hope no matter what happens to them in this life. 

He is concerned that I, his daughter (their mother), should have a strong, shining character and such character requires training and discipline. 

If you give yourself license to get angry and frustrated every time you feel you can justify it, then you risk sacrificing your testimony as you grow older. 
Ouch!! .

It's natural to let life irritate you and to get angry.  It is supernatural to be patient and loving and gracious.  That's really the secret to the Christian life - to learn to yield our lives and our emotions and our actions moment by moment to him. 
In discussing her older children she reflects on the work of the Holy Spirit by commenting that

My children must learn how to walk with the Lord without my help.  But they won't be alone. 
So, that's the first half.  Such great wisdom from a woman who has been there and faced multiple trials.  I so appreciate her candidness and constant focus on looking to Jesus.

See what others are reading at Wednesday with Words.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Weekly Resource - Todally Comprehensible Latin

Well, there are many things I have tried, found or read about in the past year.  I'll start sharing a few of them.  First, I want to sing the praises of Half Price Books (again).  Yesterday I was trying to get rid of books but found a hardbound interlinear translation of the Aeneid.  I couldn't believe it.  My books sold back for just the amount of the Latin book so now I have an interlinear version.  I was SO pumped - because I am SUPER nerdy.

Now to the resource of the week.  This week I'd like to mention the blog Todally Comprehensible Latin.   The approach that he uses in his classroom is immersion and comprehensible input - so lots of stories in Latin and an attempt to speak Latin most of the time in the classroom.  It has some of the same underpinnings as I Speak Latin.   After reading much about language instruction I know that you have to know a LOT of Latin to pull this idea off full time.  Most homeschooling mom's don't know that much Latin. BUT some of the ideas that he presents could be used in addition to your normal curriculum.

I remember Andrew Kern discussing the use of interlinear Latin texts read aloud to elementary aged students to help them become more comfortable with the language (or anyone really - thus the squealing over the book above).  Basically, this blog gives you lots of games, questions and ways to play (found with search word activity) with a short, easy story in Latin.  More common languages, like Spanish, have short published stories (and full curricula) available to use this approach - but Latin doesn't have a full book- yet.  Kern also discusses using Latin fables and actually mentioned possibly putting together such a resource (there is one google book that has an interlinear version of Aesops).  If that ever did become available you could use some of these techniques as you teach the story.  Although the idea behind the interlinear approach to learning Latin and comprehensible input are very different - for those of us who aren't Latin scholars we need the interlinear to help us teach the comprehensible input.  So we have the cheat sheet to help us teach our students to really read Latin and not just translate it.  The games at Todally Comprehensible could be used in other contexts as well - if you are running out of creative ways to review information.  Although he is using these games in a high school setting - most of them are very appropriate for kids who can write on their own.

In some ways the key idea behind the comprehensible input approach is like reading a story to a three year old.  The minute you finish reading it, they want to read it again.  They pick two or three favorite stories and want you to read them over and over.  Eventually they "read it" which really means they have memorized it.  Here, you do that with a story intentionally (but with some different focus and games to keep it interesting) so that the students really begin to internalize the language. Some of these ideas probably are best for a classroom - but why not have a Latin coop class together so that you don't carry Latin alone. Yes, parsing sentences as a class isn't super exciting (although probably helpful) - but reading a Latin fable and playing games with it - now that might be!  Here are some simple stories that he uses in his classroom.  You'll see that they are about the level of Bob Books in Latin.  If you want something with more classical themes you might write out some of the you tube story from Learning Latin from Virgil.

If you are feeling really inspired you can try your hand at writing a story to use with this format and here he gives some tips on writing a story (which also helps you understand how this method is supposed to help students).

I haven't really tried many of these games yet (remember moving and new baby).  But, I try to find basic Latin texts (often the Bible because my kids are already familiar with the story) and read them aloud in an interlinear fashion during our circle time.  I just use short pieces (one semester I used the translation texts from Visual Latin part C).  I need to get back to this.  The idea of comprehensible input is along the lines of Andrew Pudewa encouraging second language teachers (and everyone) to encourage students to memorize poems because it implants phrases and vocabulary into their minds in ways that just lists of words cannot accomplish.

So try some Latin stories and games this summer as a break from your regular routine!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Back in action

Well it has been an eventful few months.  I am sorry I dropped off the radar but real life was a bit overwhelming!

A few highlights:

   In September I pretty much broke my foot (yes while I was 6 months pregnant).  It took a lot more energy out of me than I realized.  Especially trying to keep up with the 3 boys in the midst of it all.

   In November a dear Aunt let us know that she wanted to help provide funds to help us move to a larger house and closer to our community.

   In December our little girl was born on my brother's birthday.  I finally got to use the girl's name I have always wanted to honor some super special women in my life. The 3 older boys have mixed feelings but for the most part love her. They are still getting used to girly things (like pink, ruffles and tights). She is super cute, cuddly and is growing TOO fast.

   In February we had some cosmetic work done on our house (contractors around for a week).  We also found a house that we liked and put a bid on it within the first 24 hours it was on the market.  We got it!  Now to sell our house.

   In March we put our our house on the market and had 18 showings in 48 hours - with 4 offers above our asking price.  If you live in our area and need an agent let us know.  What a blessing. We lived out of our car for most of the weekend (and the kids spent the night with Grandma's).

   In April we moved into our new house (we actually just slept in the house for the first time last night).

   All of this was made possible by the hard work of grandparents and friends as they helped us in SO many ways!

   Now we are trying to settle in and find our new normal with a not- so - newborn, a new house, neighborhood and all the rest.  I can't tell you how blessed we are but we are still trying to catch our breath around here.

    I have been reading the blogs I normally do, homeschooling, and fighting the good fight.  I just haven't had time to write about it.  I hope to be able to do more blogging, it keeps me thinking and active.   So, sorry for dropping out - but I think you can see why.