Monday, March 19, 2012

February reading

When I fell into this current blogging slump I figured I'd at least keep up my monthly reading posts.  Imagine my surprise to discover I'd never posted anything for February.  I think I've set a new p.r. for blog-forgetting.  But I see what happened:  I updated the 2012 reading page, and left it at that.

I'm still not happy with my reading.  I know I could read more; it's not a matter of not having enough time, but rather not making time for good reading.   Just this week I've added more walking into my day, so unless I move to audio books (which is not a great option for me as I can't concentrate well when I'm walking), there will be less time available for reading. 

There is also the problem of scattered reading.  I have so many books out from the library right now, and I've started several.  That is not an efficient way to read.  I need to pick one, and either finish it or reject it outright.  I don't have any trouble rejecting a book quickly; I don't slog through 100 pages or 1/4 of the book or whatever bars people set for rejection.  If it's not a book I need to read for some purpose, why torture myself? There are plenty of enjoyable books to read.  Sometimes they are hard to find, though.  

But, here are my February books.
  • The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer. Comments here.
  • The Little Russian by Susan Sherman.  An interesting though not compelling look at the life of a Jewish woman in "Little Russia" spanning the years before and after World War I.  It would have been better if I'd been able to muster any sympathy for the main character.  
  • Heroes of the City of Man by Peter Leithart.  I read only the portion pertaining to The Iliad.  It is a masterpiece.  I had my kids read it when we finished our read-aloud of the epic and they found it challenging but not difficult to read, and agreed that it enhanced their understanding of the story.  I've had several of Leithart's books for years but have not really used them.  I think I got them during a big buying spree at Exodus Books one day.  We will be using Ascent to Love when we read Dante next year.  I wish he had a book on Lord of the Rings, which we'll studying soon.
  • I kept up with my daily Bible reading!  That is not always so easy for me, particularly when I have other good books going.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

High School here we come... er, are!

2011/2012 was going to be my son's freshman year. He is legally in 8th grade, because of his age (7) when I registered him as a first-grade homeschooler.   He is high school age, though, so he identifies himself as such now - his friends of the same age are in high school, so why not?  Since his legal standing as a homeschooler is really irrelevant, I planned out a year of  high school.  I thought it was a great plan! 

But he got sick last summer, and it took a long time to sort things out.  Though he's been pretty much well since around Christmas, it still feels like we're all just getting over it.  Up till last month, he was still seeing various doctors regularly, and we were all, I don't know, sort of worn down by it all.

I had thought I'd just put those plans off, and start up when he was well again.  But during the months of sickness, I realized that some of those plans weren't so great after all.  Books didn't work for us as I'd thought they would. Other opportunities started to present themselves.  I had to change things around anyway.  So I was thinking that we'd just consider this the end of 8th grade after all, and start high school in September.

But no. After a little reading, I discovered that we're in it.  We're doing high school.  Not completely, with both feet.  But we have one foot solidly in the high school door right now and that door is opening for the other foot. (Not slamming shut, as I'd been thinking.)

Last month I put out a call her for high school help. I'm was having trouble finding much about high school in the blogging world.  Among other things (which I'll list below), The HomeScholar was mentioned.  I've been glancing at Lee Binz's work for a while now, but hadn't really gotten into it too deeply.  I finally took a closer look, ordered one of her books, bought and watched one of her (very inexpensive) "webinars," and that's when I finally clued in that we are doing high school work today.  Now. 

I feel so much better.  I had been confused - dare I say intimidated? - by credits, and grading, and all that schoolish stuff that I've mostly forgotten since my own high school graduation.  Lee cleared a lot of that up for me. 

The speech class my kids have been participating in since January?  Part of an English credit.  Those studies we did on The Iliad and Animal Farm?  Those are part of it too.  Algebra I counts for a math credit, of course - that's a no-brainer.  Biology - check.  I need to amp things up a bit in that area, but we're on it.

We won't have a full year completed by June.  But we are not as "behind" as I'd thought.   And I have some clear direction for moving on.


Here is the resource list I've compiled from comments, emails, and my own research.

Lee Binz, The HomeScholar

Debra Bell's The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling Teens - tech stuff: programming, robotics.  Cool!

MIT Open Courseware for high school,

Dual enrollment at local community college.

The Great Courses (used to be The Teaching Company) - we are using a few of their courses right now; my kids respond well to them, mostly.   Watch for sales!

Khan Academy - we use this a lot for algebra help.

Carnegie Mellon University Open Courses.

National Christian Forensics and Communications Association - speech and debate.

Hillsdale College's Constitution 101 Course - this is a 10-week, free, no-credit course that's going on now.; we're on week 4. I think it will continue to be available after the ten weeks are up, but if that interests you, you should check now to be sure.

College Plus - I haven't looked at this too deeply yet, but I know a few people who've had a great experience with this, and one person who did not (though I don't know why), so it's on my list for exploring.

If I missed something you sent me, please excuse my sloppiness/forgetfulness... and send it again, OK? And I can always use more.  I'm still surprised by the lack of homeschool high school blogs.  Even the "big" blogs with lots of writers seem to focus on the early years most of the time.  So, I'll keep looking.  And if you find anything good, pass it on!

Saturday, March 03, 2012

The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer

Beautiful World War II story of love and family.  Not a romance, though the love story is the centerpiece and it is compelling.   Wonderful characters, beautiful scenes of Paris, brutal scenes of war.  While I was reading it I felt it was a bit long, but when I finished I couldn't think of what might be left out.

Andras is a young Hungarian Jew, on his way to Paris and architecture school when he is given a package to deliver to an acquaintance in Paris.  And a mysterious letter, to slip into a mailbox.  The connections he makes through those items change his life.  Dramatic?  The Invisible Bridge is much better than that.