Tuesday, August 30, 2011

LTW Journal 8/29

Yesterday we began the Arrangement portion of the essay cycle. This is where the student plugs the appropriate words, phrases and sentences into a perfunctory outline. I tend to want to flee the curriculum at this point and search for something less likely to stifle creativity. But I stay, perhaps because I know Arrangement is only one-third of this particular writing program. We did get a whole week on Invention, after all.

The kids' issues are very different from each other. One is a question of life-or-death in a legendary context (very black and white!) and the other is an area of Christian liberty-- whether to study a subject at home or enroll in an outside class. We talked about the difficulty of evaluating arguments in the latter case. We also discovered that the way an issue is worded may limit the satisfaction a person gets from arguing it to a logical (and moral) conclusion. (I know that's cryptic, but I guess that's all you're getting for now...)

The girls produced their outlines lickety split. So far this program has not been difficult. In fact, they rolled their eyes when I began the review portion of the lesson-- they already knew that stuff. First the teacher is to teach the lesson, then the kids do the equivalent of narration, then they apply, then the teacher asks questions for review. It was the ask-questions-for-review part. The girls weren't disrespectful, but they sort of looked at me like, "We have a lot to do today. Do we REALLY need to go over this a fourth time?" So I think I will respect that, assuming they continue to understand the directions as easily as they have so far.

Their homework is to produce a rudimentary persuasive essay outline for their practice essays. The practice essay is going to span the entire year and be changed over and over again as we learn new skills. Mr. Kern says it will resemble an old, barnacle-covered ship by the end of the year. :)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Poet's Pen

Lovers and madmen have such seething brains,
Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend
More than cool reason ever comprehends.
The lunatic, the lover and the poet
Are of imagination all compact:
One sees more devils than vast hell can hold,
That is, the madman: the lover, all as frantic,
Sees Helen's beauty in a brow of Egypt:
The poet's eye, in fine frenzy rolling,
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven;
And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen
Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.
Such tricks hath strong imagination,
That if it would but apprehend some joy,
It comprehends some bringer of that joy;
Or in the night, imagining some fear,
How easy is a bush supposed a bear!

--Shakespeare (A Midsummer Night's Dream)

Friday, August 26, 2011

LTW Journal 8/25

Yesterday we had our second meeting of the Lost Tools of Writing group (consisting of Aravis, Mariel and me). The girls turned in their issues (writing topics) and ANI charts. One of the issues concerned personal experience and the other considered the actions of a legendary figure, Havelock the Dane. These two sorts are researched differently, so we talked about that.

I required them to list ten items for each group-- affirmative, negative and interesting. It seems to be easier to come up with 'interesting' items than the other two. One of the girls did not complete her lists, and the other said she was grasping at straws by the end. We decided to write down 'interesting' things until something for or against came to mind, and then look at the interesting items and see which of them might be changed into for or against.

Next week we will begin the Arrangement lessons.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

LTW Journal

We started Lost Tools of Writing yesterday. I want to keep a journal of how things go with this program-- I have such high hopes for it. My plan is to post twice per week.

Aravis (16) and Mariel (13) will be doing the program, but not Cornflower. I may casually incorporate some ideas into her composition instruction, but she won't be in the full-blown program.

Yesterday was our first day. I listened to the instruction CDs during a cross-country trip we took a couple of weeks ago, so the kids (especially Aravis) had some taste of it already. As a result, we whizzed through the introductory lesson (supposed to take two class periods) and got into the first day of Lesson 1. I had done ANI charts with the kids before, but didn't fully understand all the ins and outs, so some portions were new to us. We decided to deal with the issue of whether Boromir should have tried to take the Ring from Frodo.

We thought it would be difficult to come up with affirmatives, but it was actually harder to find negatives! Even though we all instinctively take the negative side of the issue, as we reasoned it through, we discovered how easy it must have been for him to convince himself he was doing the right thing. Wow.

Now they have their own ANIs to make for Thursday. More to come!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

This Year's School Subject Priorities

Every year I ask the Warrior Poet to rate school subjects in order of importance (1 being most important, 10 being least). Here are his ratings for the 2011-2012 school year:

1. Bible
2. Math
3. History
4. Science
5. English
6. Civics
7. Geography
8. Fine Arts
9. Homemaking
10. Physical Education

The ratings change year-to-year. Here is the list from 2010-2011:

1. Bible
2. History
3. Civics
4. English
5. Science
6. Math
7. Geography
8. Fine Arts
9. Homemaking
10. Physical Education

...and I don't have the 2009-2010 in front of me, but if I remember correctly, it went like this:

1. Bible
2. Math
3. English
4. Science
5. History
6. Civics
7. Geography
8. Homemaking
9. Fine Arts
10. Physical Education

I keep bucking for a higher homemaking rating, but it always falls pretty low on the list, perhaps because it just isn't what we think of nowadays when considering school subjects.

The WP and I are somewhat like Jack Sprat and his wife where these lists are concerned. He enjoys rating things on a scale of one to ten, and the lists are invaluable for me as I decide whether to invest more time or money in this or that learning area.