Showing posts with label Language Arts Info. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Language Arts Info. Show all posts

Saturday, January 28, 2012

It's all about Emma

Emma by Jane Austen that is.  So my teen is mid-way through the book (which I love) and I have discovered some interesting things and thought I would share them with you.

Emma (Fourth Edition)  (Norton Critical Editions)
Emma (Fourth Edition) (Norton Critical Editions)*
attached to my Amazon Affiliate link

1. When a teen balks at a reading assignment-say because it is not an era nor anything they thought would be "interesting"-persevere.  I wasn't expecting my teen to go all Jane Austen nutty on me, but I had hoped she would at least walk away with a broader sense of what good literature is, and perhaps a wee bit of "love" for Jane's writing style.  I wouldn't back down when the initial complaints started and I very glad I didn't. [I will get back to this in a moment]

2.  Austen's writing is still touching her audience generations later.

3.  There is something to be said about well-structured sentences, and delightful circumstances in one's writing that instantly draws you into the story and the time period. [and no I do not pen my blog posts like I would if I were writing a paper, etc.]

Learning Language Arts Through Literature: The Gold Book--British Literature
LLATL-Gold Brit Lit*
attached to my Amazon Affiliate Link

 Our oldest daughter loves, loves Jane Austen. In fact (this may sound odd to many) but she requested all the novels for her birthday last year (and she is 23)...she also read Emma in her literature class (I used the Gold Learning Language Arts Through Literature series) which I am betting started her love for Austen's writings.  Well that and the Wishbone episode where they did Pride and Prejudice (which is adorable-I miss that show. We watched it regularly and the kids were first exposed to Austen way back then)....anyway,  my heart is overjoyed to see my children actually want and request these "antiquities" because it points out the fruit of feeding our children good literature during their school years.

I am against giving children junky, poorly written, twaddle-type books (mind you I am not talking children's books that delight, or having a few fluffy pieces here and there. I mean for their main diet in their education, I am not a super purest but I do feel care should be taken in keeping the main course to good literature).

What is alarming to me is the destructive thought of "who cares what they read, as long as they are reading" which plagues the educational realm so much today. It does matter! The decline of our nation's children in regard to the exposure and knowledge of excellent literature is alarming and has great consequences-some of which are already rearing their ugly heads (have you looked over the national test scores lately?). I am speaking generally, as there are always exceptions within the PS/PS setting. Sadly too, even some homeschool families fall victim to this thought.  But if students are [continually] reading the hastily penned books that contain nothing more than "dumbed-down" sentence structure, poor grammar, weak plots [or no plot] and so forth-then more likely, that is how they will write and express themselves. They will be devoid of the skill because they have not had a solid foundation laid for them.  Charlotte Mason has a lot to say about this very subject-and I strongly urge folks to take the time to read her thoughts, and books from others who have studied Charlotte and her methods.  Even if you choose to not incorporate much of her style into your educational plan-this is one area that you should strongly consider adopting.
image from

That said-and back to what I mentioned in #1-my dear daughter has now been drawn into the world of Miss Austen. She delights in narrating to me the happenings of Emma and has even picked up a couple lines to toss around in every day life ("Badly done Emma." is one of them. When someone does something in error she'll [or actually any of us] will throw that line out but replace Emma with their is funny). The key to my post here is that she has a new appreciation for this writing and has discovered a liking for this era and for the author. What a loss it would have been if I had caved and not asked her to stretch herself to discover Austen (and even if she walks away not totally enthralled-she still has been exposed-and that is important). I don't think she'll be quite as enamored with Miss Austen as our oldest, but she definitely has a new love for her and her writing.  Actually, this daughter loves The Great Gatsby [she likes this time period better] and has requested to read other books by Fitzgerald.  That again is testimony to my point here-"feed" them great literature and you will reap a harvest of a love for the well-written word.

Product Details
Emma (2009 BBC Version)*
attached to my Amazon link-
but this is spendy. Check your local library!

And for an extra boost-we have watched 3 versions of Emma now on DVD.  We have found the BBC [2009] version to be the best.  It stayed the closest to the story line, and had the most believable actors.  I love it when she can say, "Hey, that isn't in the book." or "They skipped a lot here." and so forth too.

Also-a visual way to help out:
One of the difficulties in reading the "literature of old" is the complexities of them.  Lots of characters and situations abound in Miss Austen's stories-so we decided to use the white board as a diagram station to note the different (main) characters and situations in the story line.  If you need a way to help your student figure out the plot or to just simply follow the intricate craziness of it all...this is a good visual option for you and your student.

You can see how we put Emma in the center and branched out the family members and suitors, while adding little symbols to highlight the love triangles or should I say none love triangles?  LOL.  It is definitely helping in keeping everyone straight.  The pictures are for our Renoir study.  :)

Ah yes, "Well done Emma, well done."

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Trying it again-The Phonics Road to Spelling and Reading program

So, if you follow my review blog 1 of 100 (plus 25) TOS Crew Reviews, then you may remember a product I was given to test out the Phonics Road to Spelling and Reading back in 2008/09 {I didn't seem like a good fit for us then}.  At the time, I was overwhelmed with several things, and so this one just seemed to frustrate and confound me and the boy.  I knew it could work, I just wasn't sure if my dyslexic child could "handle" it and if I could ever figure out how to teach it.  I had to put it aside for a time....well to just last week actually.

Our biggest struggle with this child, is that he is the most dyslexic of our [only our oldest child is not] children afflicted by it (and yes-it is an affliction....doesn't mean you cannot succeed and do well in life-it just means it takes longer to learn some things-such as reading; and one needs to find ways to work with and around it).  So we have been going over and over and over the same concepts and getting just about no where.  I am exhausted, he is downtrodden by it and yet-we cannot give up and "chuck it" out the window.  He needs to read-for life!  So, after trying several dyslexic friendly programs, reading several books (some more than once  or even more than twice), and repeating (kind of like the movie "Groundhog's Day") the same material hoping for a break thru....(and granted we have had some) but it is not where he needs to be-we're giving this a try again. 

Now this post is not meant to slam my precious child-but rather to give hope to those who are in the same  boat with encourage and offer another option to try. I want to write about this because I have watched my other 2 precious dyslexics struggle, struggle some more, start to figure it out, get on track and then with patience and time-read and read well.   LIKE really well-so there is hope- it can be worked through, it can be squashed folks-it can.

If you personally do not have a child with dyslexia, then what I am penning may sound well-odd.  Aren't all kids suppose to be reading fairly well by oh-6 or 7?  If you don't have a child who has more than the average struggles in reading-then you cannot understand the depth and scope of the issue.  That is a whole 'nother post...but suffice it to say-most children with it (depending on the intensity of it) it is a daily battle to have their brain interpret the printed word.  It is also a struggle for the one trying to teach them to read (and retain what they know) and to persevere.  It simply breaks our hearts and can (if not properly handled) destroy any love of reading (let alone the ability to do so) for the child.  

Anyhoo-I am all about giving the dyslexic child the time they need to "get it" and some kids take longer than others-but he himself has shown he is embarrassed at times by it, and definitely frustrated that he cannot read as well as his counterparts.  So our goal this year is to get him reading at a level that is closer to his age mates.  We'll take it as it comes, and keep plodding along-hopefully, with more success.  

That said-I was in prayer, and lo and behold-the Lord put that program in my heart.  OK, I can do it -as long as I can figure out what  I am suppose to do  and do it right. I watched the intro video again, scoured thru the material again, and decided to give it another shot.  So-here we are, 2 weeks into it and so far, so good.  He knows some of what we are covering, and that is making it easier.  We didn't need to do the alphabet part and such, and we have been able to go thru most the vowel teams fairly we are into week 4 now and  finding (his words) that he "likes this program."  GOOD!  That is half the battle.  So one of the ideas is to have the children make letters/vowel teams, etc. out of clay or write in sand (altho his father would whoop his behind if he wrote the letters on a dirty car [one suggestion by the author]-bad, BAD idea there-writing words in the dust/dirt of a vehicle scratches the paint-and if it is a newer car, you can kiss that shiny coating good-bye....don't do it!) so I had him make Play-Doh  ropes to build the vowel are some shots to 'splain it....

I had him use different colors for the different groups. The red dots are above the ones that are "never" used at the end of a word-kind of a visual to help his remember (and it worked).

I was finding he could remember the sounds these teams make when shown the flashcards-but (common for dyslexics-at least my kids)...but when the time came to write it "cold" or do this activity...he struggled.  This uses several areas (visual, kinesthetic, and tactile) which is helping cement them into the brain there for him.  It will have to be done a lot tho (he forgot a few sounds today when I quizzed him)-but we'll keep on keeping on 

I am excited to see if this may be the answer we have been so prayerfully looking for.  I think I will cry when we get to week 5.  Especially if he gets through it successfully-without too many glitches.  I will keep you posted....

I am going to update (probably once per month) on his progress.  Perhaps this will bless a few other folks who are in this battle with me.  If anything-someday my boy will be able to read about this journey we've been on.  I think this will be quite a lesson in perseverance for us both.   

**now some tips just in case you wanna borrow em :  
for the ay and ai-we say "this is what the Fonz says" (yes, my kids know the Fonz cuz we watch the Happy Days reruns) so he actually remembers with that clue. [aayyyhhh]
for the oy and oi-I tap my forehead like I forgot something-it helps him too. [oiiiiii]

I will add more when we create em as we go thru this....I am all about clues man-all about em.  :0)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Lang. Arts Update

I can pretty much block out this area into different groups to make the reading easier. I have decided to put the teaching of reading in a separate post from the Lang. Arts section.

I can say, that I found many years ago, Learning Language Arts through Literature and have stuck by them since. I start with the yellow level. I take the time needed to get the reading skills taught then naturally slip into the LLATL there after. This program by Common Sense Press lends itself nicely to the Charlotte Mason way of teaching language skills, but is a bit more structured, which allows for less teacher prep than "going it alone". Each level covers 4 books that are to be read in conjunction with the workbook assignments. I find that when a book has already been read due to it being on our history list, or doesn't quite suit the student: we skip it or find a substitution that is similar in theme.
At the beginning of every lesson, the child is to read the section that they will take dictation from. The teacher then dictates the passage and the student writes it down. Then one is required to find misspelled words, errors in punctuation and then note these for further study.
They then flow into grammar skills, review and other pertinent information to that lesson. It is sufficient for the most part. As the children get older, I add Winston Grammar Basic, and the Advanced to ensure good grammar instruction. Both programs work together nicely.

For the reading of the required books, I simply see how many pages there are to read, and divide them by how many days I want to spend covering it. I create a typed schedule that I give to the student listing how many pages they need to read per day, and when the book is to be finished (if narrating: that is listed too). The younger books can sometimes be read in just a couple sittings, but the older levels have some lengthy ones. Making the reading schedule helped to stay on task, and avoid the non-reading of them.

I know there are many, many programs and lists for what to read out here. I find that using the LLATL ensured we had the basics covered; and yet allowed us to change up and add or delete what we wished. I am a loyalist: so LLATL goes on my top picks. I never really searched for more. That said, I do add in various things, but the main backbone is this program. I like the idea too, that if I had to buy it new-the student and TE would only set me back around $35 with each new student workbook being around $15. Always good for those of us who need to be budget conscience.

for K-5th: LLATL (avoid the workbooks and structure for early readers-they need to fine tune that skill first without overloading with the additionals) I have added Wordly Wise (vocab work) or additional punctuation worksheets when a student needed more coverage of a particular weakness. This is only used when needed. It also helps to keep the peace whilst you are working with another student and need some time to do so. Spelling is well, not something I get too worked up about any more. I will save that for another post.

for 5th-8th: LLATL (check the levels for what is appropriate for your child-it is not unusual to have a student (say) in the 8th grade working at a lower level...some just never had the exposure or need extra time. Do not let the suggested age level hinder you: start where your child needs to and go from there-that is why I like the fact they are color coded-not grade listed on the exterior). Again, the Wordly Wise comes into play for those students needing extra work on areas of difficulty.
This is when Winston Grammar can be introduced as well. I like to wait for the WG until at least the 7th grade. I like to let them learn grammar thru good reading and speaking. If they are reading excellent books, they will naturally know good grammar. DO NOT brow beat the children with too much grammar instruction. That is a good way to kill children's enthusiasm for language arts. WG has 2 levels-basic and advanced. They added a supplementary book for the basic that you can use between the basic/advanced level if your student needs more work/review. I love the way WG is designed. Each child has their own workbook and set of cards. These cards list different areas such as nouns, verbs and so on. For each page a new concept is usually added. They see the sentence and lay out the cards according to what they have learned. For example: the first lesson addresses articles and nouns. They pull out the red article cards, the gray noun cards and the black blank ones. For each word, they lay out what they know and put black ones in place of what they do not. So if the sentence is: The boy and the girl saw a man eat an apple. They would lay out these cards for each word: red, gray, black, red, gray, black, red, gray, black, red, and gray. They would then check the articles, underline the nouns once and leave the rest blank. This goes on, adding new concepts and instruction for how to mark the items. By the time they are done, they can list all the parts of speech, draw arrows that show what they refer to, find the prepositional phrases and their parts, figure out the functions (subject, indirect objects, predicate nominatives) and learn it in an easy, visual, hands-on way. No more dissecting the sentence into some linear creature that truly makes no sense when looking at it. Top Pick: WG all the way!

I would also intro, but usually wait for the 9th grade: Vocabulary from the Classical Roots. Yes, another workbook. We do not do this every day...but rather 2-3x per week (this would take about 15 min. or so). This builds their vocab skills quite nicely. I did one workbook per semester. Both the older children did quite well in the vocabulary part of the ACT. I would like to credit VC from the CR as helping in this area. Plus, knowing what words mean, they can write more proficiently. Always a great bonus!

for 9th-12th: LLATL (wrap up any levels not finished) then (hopefully) by the 1oth grade, start the Gold Level. They have American and British literature. I start with the American. Again, they have books they read independently. These levels are pretty much student directed. I only appeared occasionally to check progress, ask questions or to help with difficult assignments. We do the WG not yet completed until done (the Advanced should be finished by 10th. They also have Word Works, which I have yet to try). Add in the Vocab from Classical Roots and you have a well-rounded language program.

I have not included writing into this post. Too lengthy for this-saving it for another day.
This is what we do for our basic program. Oh, for high school credit: I list it as whatever history they are doing and tag it as such. By that I mean, when we are covering the Medieval history (remember they are reading a lot of books that are literature) I tag the Language Arts as Medieval and Renaissance Literature with a subtitle as English Grammar and Language Study (listed each year we did this). It looks impressive, and is!

Until next time......

Language Arts and all that Jazz

I will need to break this section in to many posts-due to each level needing a lot of attention for details. The best thing to keep in mind when choosing your curriculum for this area: KNOW YOUR KID! Honestly. If your child is a total workbook freak and learns best through this way, be sure to have it in their program. Do not avoid or drop other things that can, and will cause them to stretch their skills though. The key is to slip it in there and before they know what they are doing, so that they already have that skill.

If you have one who loathes writing things down, but can easily rattle off everything, perhaps lightening up on the writing (again, this is not forever, eventually they need this skill), and having more oral recitation will do the trick.

Remember that each child is different. One may be reading whilst still in the womb, the other may not read until they have facial hair. Ok, that is being a tad dramatic, but you get the point. One may not visually, or mentally be ready to be reading at 4 or 5. Others are reading novels by 3rd grade. Take each child as they are: individuals. Patience will be the key factor here too.

So, when the posts start popping up, keep these helpful hints in mind. Be sure to research as many books as you can on this subject. I prefer the CM way and phonics for a good language arts program. Of course, for those of us who are eclectic in nature-different components of several programs may come into play. Use what you think will work best.

Over and out.