Friday, February 29, 2008

Real Math

Here's a post that everyone needs to read before they start trying to teach their children math, and then they should read it again, and again, probably every month, at least every year, so that they don't forget what real math is and so that they can instill in their children, and themselves, "The 'Aha!' Factor" of real math.

Here are some quotes to whet your appetite and esure you can't resist checking it out:

"For young children, mathematical concepts are part of life’s daily adventure....Most children enter school with a natural feel for mathematical ideas.... And then comes school."

"School ruins mathematics for most people, distorting a discipline that is half art and half sport by turning it into boring lecture and drill.... And then there are the modern “reform math” programs, which avoid lecture and drill, keeping the children busy with hands-on group activities while teaching neither the how nor the why of math." Here she gives perfect word pictures to show how terrible both methods are.

"As every coach knows, skill grows through practice, practice, practice. But practice is meaningless unless the team has a real game to play. And the best practice takes advantage of the benefits of cross-training by emphasizing variety rather than repetitive drill....Mathematical cross-training is games, puzzles, story problems, and the challenge of thinking things through."

"As a homeschool mom who loves math, I want to help other homeschoolers see the variety and richness of the subject. I encourage parents to look beyond their textbook — a useful tool, but such a limited one — and explore the adventure of learning real mathematics, math as mental play, the essence of creative problem solving. This is what we need to teach our children."

Take some time to explore Denise's blog and you will find a great number of ways to help you, and your children, discover the "Aha!" factor in learning real math.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

World Math Day - March 5 2008

Did you know there was any such thing? I didn't, but I learned about it, and the cool website, from Denise at Let's Play Math.

Apparently World Math Day takes place on the first Wednesday in March - this year that is March 5. invites people from around the world to join them in a "celebration of numbers". Individual students and/or classes of students can register, free of charge, at the World Math Day site to participate in a "quest to set a world record in answering mental arithmetic questions" on March 5, 2008. You can register now and practice at the site until the big day. Registration is fast and easy.

If you register as a school you can create accounts for each of your children/student ages 5-18. You get a sheet of sign-in cards to print and cut and distribute to your students. After World Math Day the site will forward the teacher a snapshot of how your students performed, as well as a full report of the event. Teachers can also access their accounts for student results at any time and can print out certificates for the students after the event.

The first thing students get to do is to create an avatar for themselves. Once that is done they can start to play. The computer searches the globe, and shows it on a world map, to find real life people for them to play against in mental arithmetic games. They get 60 seconds to answer as many questions as possible. The program has a ranking system that tracks how the student performs and matches them against students with similiar abilities. As you play you can gain points - the more you play the more points you get. Students can use these points to add special details to their avatars.

Besides opportunities for practicing basic math facts there is also the chance to learn about time zones and different places around the world as you take notice of where the people are that you are playing against at different times.

I hope you take the time to check it out. I think it's going to be fun. Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Two Homeschooling Magazines

Homeschooling Horizons is founded, owned and produced in Canada. Published 10 times per year, Homeschooling Horizons Magazine is Canada's only homeschooling publication to reach out to home educators of all philosophies. Check here for subscription rates or to request a free sample copy.

I have recently been asked to be a "Blog Editor" for the magazine. My role is to find and follow blogs by Canadian Homeschoolers and to make the content editor aware of posts that could possibly be the basis of articles for the magazine. The content editor then contacts the blog owner advising them of their interest and working out the details of permission to use. If you know of blogs by Canadian homeschoolers please leave a comment telling me about them and how I can find them.

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine is a quarterly publication that boasts it can be found "across North America and on almost every other continent too". You can learn more about this magazine here.

The Old Schoohouse Magazine has started an online worldwide homeschooling network called Homeschool Nations. I have recently volunteered to be the co-ordinator for the Newfoundland and Labrador blog in the Homeschool Nations. If you are homeschooling in Newfoundland and Labrador I'd love for you to drop by and leave me a note.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Nan Gert's Button Box

Nancy at The King's Kreation has posted Blogger Friend School Assignment #15. She says, "For this assignment I wanted to see who's got the funniest, craziest, saddest, most creative or just best story about the family button box, button can or button jar." This is one I just had to do.

I have many memories of my Nanny Gert's button box. I think for a while she may have kept her buttons in a jar because niggling in the back of my mind is a memory of playing with buttons kept in a jar. I remember being fascinated with all the buttons - counting them, sorting them, stringing them on thread or wool. There were so many different styles, colors, and sizes. When my grandmother died I was blessed to recieve her sewing basket and to my surprise tucked in the bottom of the basket was her button box! I still have the sewing basket, button box and some of those buttons. A while ago I used some of Nan's buttons on a scrapbooking layout I did about her.

Also tucked away in the sewing basket was a promise from a promise box of scriptures. I just went looking for it only to discover that it is gone! I remember that it was a scripture about forgiveness, which is something I know my grandmother struggled with. Her parent's divorced when she was quite young and she struggled with that, as well as other things that came up in her live. I found it interesting that this was the promise she kept in her sewing basket. I imagine that she kept it there to constantly remind her of the importance of forgiveness. I know God's word was important to her because she is the grandmother that gave me my Bibles.

Part of the Blogger Friend School Assignment is to share your favorite verse. I have many favorites but these two passages are among my top favorites as they help me get through the days:

Isaiah 26:3 "You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You."

Philippians 4:8 "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy - mediate on these things."

Another part of the assignment is to invite friends to join the assignments, so consider yourself invited. :)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Uncertainties of Life

A week ago this past Sunday we received a call that my father-in-law was in hospital. Our life has been pretty much put on hold since then as we await tests to tell us what is wrong and what will happen next. Hopefully tomorrow will bring some answers.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Our Homeschool History (Part 1)

Jessica, at Trivium Academy, has an excellent post which shows the twists and turns that we often go through as we develop Our History & Philosophy of Homeschooling. I can relate so well to so much of what she has written. She inspired me to write about our homeschool history. Our philosophy, and really our history too, is still a work in process and I'm not ready to put it in print yet, but I'll try to present our history up to the present time. :)

I was a public school teacher before I got married and had my own children. When the children were little I was a substitute, or supply, teacher, called in to fill in for teachers that were sick or had leave of some sort for a day or so. I hated leaving my children! It was during this time that I read an article in a magazine about homeschooling. I'd never heard of the concept before and I was intriqued. I took a year to research it before taking the plunge.

Being familiar with the school curriculum, I decided to use it as the basis for our schooling. Though it took some adjustments to suit it for home/individual use, instead of class/group use, it worked out pretty good.

The next year I discovered ABeka and gave it a try. For the most part I really liked it, but it, too, was geared more to class/group use. The cost was also a major factor in my researching other options.

It was sometime in this period that I first heard about Charlotte Mason and the living books philosophy of education. As a book lover myself, I loved the idea of using real books, instead of text books. I didn't really learn much about Charlotte Mason's methods at this time because I got carried away with the living books philosophy, especially when I discovered the idea of unit studies. This philosophy resonanted with some of my teacher training and I set out to create my own unit studies for our learning. Though it was a lot of work, we had a lot of fun learning together.

While I enjoyed this time of learning I was starting to feel the need for more guidance to ensure that I covered everything my children needed. It was at this time that I discovered The Well Trained Mind. It seemed to be what I was looking for, but I found the process of trying to gather all the resources really overwhelming. I decided to just take some ideas from the book and incorporate them into our schooling as best I could.

Well, this has become quite a long post for me and my time for computer is up so I'm going to have continue with our homeschool history later.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Meet My Bible

Nancy, over at The King's Kreation, has posted Assignment #13: Meet My Bible for Blogger Friend School. I've never done any of their assignments before but I thought I'd give this one a try.

Assignment Questions and my answers

1. How old is your Bible?
Which one? :) I have a number of different Bibles. My main Bible that I take to church and use most often for personal devotions I've had for almost 25 years. It is very dear to me. My maternal grandmother prided herself on giving me my Bibles as I was growing up. She'd give me a new one as each old one wore out or got lost. She gave me the money to buy this particular Bible for myself the year I graduated from Bible College. It is the last Bible she bought for me.

2. Why did you chose this Bible?
I liked the nice, soft, black leather, and the fact that Jesus words were in red.

3. Do you highlight/mark passages in your Bible?
Yes, I do. My Bible is quite marked up.

4. If so, what is your system for marking passages?
I don't have a system. I mark verses that strike me and sometimes note in the margins verses that have similar wording or themes.

5. Do you have notebooks to record things?
Not at the present time, though I often do. Lately I've just been noting things on loose note paper.

6. If so, how many and what do you record?
I have many old notebooks around that I have used over the years for different purposes - to record notes from messages I heard preached, to record my own thoughts as I studied the Bible, to record scriptures I wanted to study further, etc.

7. Where is your favourite spot to read your Bible?
It varies. Right now I like to read at my kitchen table as I eat my breakfast. A short while ago I liked reading in a rocking chair by our fireplace. I also like to read in the car while someone else is driving.

8. Are there any special thoughts about your Bible you want to share?
My Bible is my most treasured possession. A while back I did a scrapbooking layout featuring my Bible. The title is "Nothing is as valuable as a well worn Bible". The little diamonds at the bottom say "Read it", "Learn it", Live it". Here it is:

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Canadian Homeschool Bloggers

I'd like to create a list of Canadian Homeschool Bloggers. If you are either a homeschool/home educating parent or student blogger living in Canada I invite you to add your blog to my Mr. Linkie. Your blog need not necessarily be about homeschooling. If I get enough I may eventually take the blogs listed and categorize them according to writer and/or topic.

Would you like to help me build this list? Tell others about it. Post about it on your blog. Link to this post. Let's see how many Canadian Homeschool Bloggers we can find.

Edit: To add your blog, or to see the links already, added you have to click on the Mr. Linky. I wish I knew how to make the Mr. Linky show up with the links in the post like I've seen in other blogs but I don't know how to do that so instead I'll do something else. I will make a list of the added links at the bottom of this post and every time I notice new links I will edit the post to add the new links. Also, if you have more than one blog I'd love for you to add each one.

Blogs listed on Mr. Linky
1. Jac's Scrappin' - my scrapbooking blog
2. Our Nature Study - a family's nature blog
3. Sombra
4. Birdy's Blog
5. Cornings at Home

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

A Wonderful Plan for Lent

I don't know about you but I have never done anything at all with Lent. Actually, to be perfectly honest, I know next to nothing about it, but the blog post I just read has me thinking I might want to do some research into it. By Sun and Candlelight has posted what she calls A Little Plan for Lent but I think it is a remarkable plan. I love the visual this lady is creating for her kids during the lent season. It's well worth checking out.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Motherhood - My Chosen Career

I just read a wonderful post called A Career Woman at The Well Drained Mind. Motherhood is my chosen career. Before I was married I was a public school teacher but I traded that job in when I had my first child and motherhood become my career of choice. I wouldn't trade it for anything, though there are times when I can't seem to quite kick the world's thinking that it is not a real career I know deep in my heart that it is and in my mind it is the most important career of all. I guess that's why I so enjoyed the post.

Working on Morning Routine

Inspired by this post by Crystal at Biblical Womanhood, I have been trying to get a morning routine in place. Years ago I discovered FlyLady and developed a morning routine, along with other routines, and it was really helpful, but I somewhere along the way I let it all slip. I've decided I need to start working on it again, and I will be taking baby steps, just like FlyLady suggests.

Crystal suggests to make a morning routine of 5 things, only 5, you want to every morning in the same order. Here's my Morning routine as it stands right now:

1. Pick out clothes for Anna.
2. Check the laundry and put a load on if needed
3. Fill water bottle
4. Get Breakfast and do devotions
5. Check email and google reader

Friday, February 01, 2008

Mystery + Learning = Enjoyable Learning

A nice while back I read about The Journey North Mystery Class in a blog post. I checked it out, even talked to DD about it, but soon forgot about it. This week Melissa, at Here in the Bonny Glen wrote a post about it again and I'm so glad she did.

This year's Journey North Mystery Class started this week, but it's not to late to join in. It is a great way to have some fun trying to solve a mystery and learn some things along the way. The FAQ's state that "The Mystery Class investigation is an 11-week hunt in which students try to find 10 secret "Mystery Classes" hiding around the globe." Every week clues are given to help solve the mystery.

DD and I started our investigation today. We were a little late starting because we needed to have the sunrise and sunset times for this past Monday for our location. After some searching we did find it. Then we got this past Monday's sunrise and sunset information for the 10 mystery classes for the Journey North Website. Starting a Journey North Data Sheet for each mystery class, and also one for our location, we recorded this past Monday's sunrise and sunset times and then figured out and recorded the photo period for each place. Then, using a different colored pencil lead for each place, we marked the photoperiods on the Mystery Class graph. While we were doing all this we were discussing how the clues so far seem to already give some indication as to the general area of some of the classes. We can't wait for next Friday to get more clues!