Still without internet here. Coming to you from Zaxby’s this time. I thought we were okay, but then it went out again, so I’ve made the call, and will be switching providers at some point this week.
But until then a few notes on homeschooling stuff:
(Obviously no videos all week…too bad…there have been some good ones posted at The Kids Should See This …but they will still be there!)
*We’re almost finished with Getting Started with Latin. As I said before, we are supplementing it with Visual Latin, but the more I get into the latter (again – we did a lot of it with my older son), the weaker it seems. The videos are amusing, but the order and pace is just off – jumping in and discussing “feminine, masculine and neuter” nouns without reference to declensions, for example – instead of exploring the first declension thoroughly before moving on to the second, then the concept of gender when you hit the neuter second declension nouns. Yes, it means you will probably have to delay discussing adjectives, but I think it’s better to get a deeper sense of the concept of declensions as the way we understand nouns along with verb conjugations. So, no, I can’t recommend Visual Latin. (Besides, if you are not Christian or religious in your worldview, his “reading” passages hit religious themes right off, and the thing is, they’re made up – they’re not classical or even deeply theologically based That bothered me the first time around, and even more so this time.)
*Catholic schools, please get a clue and start teaching Latin again, across the board, to everyone, starting in elementary school. Even aside from the, you know, Catholic aspect of teaching Latin, the habits in instills are so important: it has prompted a curiosity about word origin in my son, to the point that it’s almost a reflex for him to pause upon hearing a new word, and reflect on where it came from (if that word is English) or what it leads to (if it’s a Latin or Greek word). In addition, the particular skills that are learned in Latin translation, it seems, are deeply related to problem-solving and logic in a way that translation of living languages is not. As my son has interacted with longer and longer sentences involving various cases and conjugations, I can see his brain work: Quickly scan the sentence, get a sense of the general structure, find your verb, find your subject, and then drill down into everything else. It teaches him to get a general sense of a problem or issue, and then carefully take it apart – before tackling – and being overwhelmed – by a mass of particulars.
*I LOVE the Writing and Rhetoric series from Classical Academic Press. Granted, we are only on the first volume (Fables, Grades 3-4), and I don’t know if the process will eventually get repetitive, but four chapters in, I am sold. The way it works in this first volume is that a fable is presented as the centerpiece of each chapter. The student reads the fable, then narrates it back to the teacher. After that point, the fable is used as a basis for various exercises: summarization, amplification, writing in a copious manner, exploring synonyms and always some form of creative writing. I’m particularly struck by the process of summarizing that is taught: Find the main idea. Circle it. Underline any words that are essential to the main idea. Cross out any words or sentences that are not essential. Then write a summary. It’s very methodical, but it seems it really teaches how to summarize.
*I think this, combined with the Brave Writer method of tapping the imagination and observational powers, will be the core of our writing program here for now. I can stop searching for that Platonic ideal at least.
*As I said in the 7 Quick Takes, Beast Academy 4D is here. It continues to impress, and it continues to entertain my son, since he has already grabbed and read the whole text (in comic book form) at this point. Since 5A will probably not be out until mid-fall, I’m guessing, we will take our time with this one, with a lot of supplementation – some from the Challenge Math book, and some from various books I picked up (digitally) during one of Scholastic’s 1$ sales – a book on fractions for grades 6-8, Building Math Vocabulary, and Algebra Readiness Made Easy, as well as Evan-Moor daily Math problem books, both regular and word problems. I’m finding that at this point of in Beast Academy 4 – about ¾ of the way – seems to place a student mid 5th grade in traditional American math. I’d have to get a textbook to make sure of that, as well as actually finish BA 4, but from leafing through 5th grade supplements at the bookstore last night, it seems about right.
*Books that have impressed this week: As we have been deep into avian life, we’ve checked out several books (and will be investing in a couple of birds of Alabama- type books), but one that is particularly lovely is the National Wildlife Federation-published World of Birds. It features drawings and paintings rather than photographs, and it’s lovely, engaging and full of good information. (And of course, if you are going to tackle birds, you will book mark the Cornell Orthinological site).
I love maps. I think historical maps are such a great way of exploring history and geography and, as an implied side effect, the nature of human knowledge and understanding, which is never complete, and always changes and develops. In short: don’t be arrogant, human race. What you think you know? That will change.
Great Maps is a new, big, fat, solid book that presents historical maps from all cultures with a great format: One spread discusses the map in general, and then the next highlights certain intriguing or important features. It’s really good, worth checking out and maybe even worth purchasing if that is your interest…okay…time’s up!