Saturday, July 31, 2010
I love it that L was able to play the duet with him but it is a chore--and I seem to have failed to successfully complete that chore--to get the settings correct so I can see them both... so please click through for a better view!
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Road cut with geological reference marker (note that ubiquitous Red Bed layer in the rock common to this era)
Sulfur on the cave ceiling
Cave with molybdenum deposits
A long way from Sagamore Hill
Paul hides the "E" in Butte--haha.
Park rangers share fossil digging tips
Petrified sand dunes
Learning about "big" by the Snake River
Another national park full of geology
Getting to know the former locals
Samples on display
The Great Salt Lake
Lava beds in Idaho
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Earth Science, the study of the earth, is a high school introduction to geology. It is usually the first of the sciences taught in high school, though some high school programs omit it all together. While I avoid any traditional geology text books, I believe that plenty of reading, accompanied by excellent field work, can provide any student with enough background to excel in continued study of geology.
Listed below are some living books on geological topics, and some basic books which can act as a spine for the study. A review book, like Barron's Let's Review Earth Science, can provide the student with alternative explanations, exercises, and final exams at a reasonable price.
For field work, you're in luck! You live on the Earth! Finding a place to observe geology, the study of the Earth, should be easy! The tough thing is recognizing geology under a city or suburban landscape. The roadside geology books (see below) are a great way to see what your state has to offer geologically without going to far, if you can be satisfied with the geology that surrounds you. Here on Long Island the only real rocks are glacial erratics (the rocks scraped off the mountains to the north and carried here during the ice age). Sure, I'd love to study volcanism, but post-glacial geology is local, so it has become my specialty. Maybe your area has volcanoes, or a glacier, or caves, or beaches, or petrified forests, or badlands, or impact craters, or geysers...whatever is there, work with it. Each environment has geologically interesting features. Find out more about your region at the US Geological Survey site.
If you are interested in making a collection, make sure you have permission of the land owner. Use a rock hammer to take small samples of larger rocks so your collection fits into your home or garage.
Travel if you can!! Use the Roadside Geology series:
Roadside Geology Series:
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Baja California (includes biology!)
Read free online booklets from the USGS:
The Seashell on the Mountain is the story of Bl. Niels Steno. This is a secular account, but the story is good!
The Practical Geologist is an excellent book for beginners, with all you need to know about rock formation and identification. Ideas, demonstrations, and more!
Volcanoes in America's National Parks by Barbara and Robert Decker (travel and learn!)
Earthshaking Science: What we know and What we don't Know about Earthquakes by Susan Hough
Exploring the Earth With John Wesley Powell by Michael Elsohn Ross (quick, good biography for young children)
The Exploration of the Colorado River and Its Canyons by John Wesley Powell
Beneath Our Feet : The Rocks of Planet Earth by R. H. Vernon
Melting the Earth : The History of Ideas on Volcanic Eruptions by Haraldur Sigurdsson
The Secret Life of Dust by Hannah Holmes (It's everywhere!)
Volcano Cowboys by Dick Thompson (brave guys...)
Get out and make earth science real for your students! Be equipped, too. Prospector's gold pans, rock hammers, field bags (these are great!), goggles and more, available from Amazon.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
I already posted my literature study for 9th grade; it's the same study I did with Libby 6 years ago.
As for the rest of the subjects, I suppose I'll use good old Jacobs' for Algebra, and of course he'll be heading back to German school one afternoon a week.
Paul, as Capulet
Viola lessons, theory and composition, and orchestra continue.
Intensive hands-on earth science with a focus on glacial geology is my usual plan for 9th grade. More on that here.
For social studies, we are planning on American history with an emphasis on the election this fall. The kids will be volunteering for a congressional campaign, and get an insider's view into the process (the older kids already went out to collect signatures to get the candidate on the ballot--go Frank!). We shall see what spring brings. I am hoping for field trips!
Paul was confirmed this year, so we shall probably move onto an intensive bible study.
Did I miss a subject?
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Before we read any new books for high school, we will study the familiar--fairy tales. As these books are familiar, we need not re-read them all, but we will use them as examples as we study literary criticism. Using several resources, including A Landscape with Dragons, The Natural History of Make-Believe and The Oxford Companion To Fairy Tales (each used carefully and critically), and C. S. Lewis' Of Other Worlds, we examine all our past reading of children's literature with a mature eye. Since we have read many of the selections we will discuss, I have chosen annotated editions (not study guides!!) to enhance our understanding of the stories we will discuss. We will endeavor to answer the following questions:
Who are the great authors? What inspired them?
Where do stories come from?
What is a moral?
What is the difference between a myth, a folktale, and a fairy tale?
What influences a folktale?
What are the unique thematic features of folktales?
Can a folktale "go wrong"?
We will also attempt:
To make a new tale from an old one.
To write an "original" fairy tale.
Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes
Annotated Mother Goose
Cinderella Stories from many traditions (Amazon "listmania" list)
Bulfinch's Myths (includes Greek, Roman and Norse myths)
Annotated Classic Fairy Tales
"The Ethics of Elfland" from Chesterton's Orthodoxy (e-book)
The Rumplestiltskin Problem (six different original re-tellings)
The Magic World (E. Nesbit borrows and excels!)
The Annotated Hobbit (with hints and history)
Books from my Children's Fantasy page
9th grade, second semester:
We will familiarize ourselves with some great fictional tales, both ancient and modern. Using the skills we developed during our analysis of fairy tales, we will discuss these stories and the influence they have had on literary traditions as well as the traditions by which the writings themselves were influenced. Clearly, we will not cover everything ever written, but we will try to cover a diverse selection of tales in the Western Tradition.
The Odyssey (adaptation) or The Odyssey (translation)
A Midsummer Night's Dream
Lewis' Space Trilogy
Till We have Faces
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Monday, July 12, 2010
As homeschoolers, or during the summer, the boys sometimes serve at funerals at our parish, or at the parishes of friends. Recently, at a funeral for the father of a family friend, the boys arrived with cassocks and surplices in hand in case they were needed, but were told that there were already servers; this was unusual, but not unheard of. Assuming that there were other servers at the parish who had volunteered, the boys put everything back in the car, came back in, and sat with the congregation. In came the priest and the pall-bearers, and a woman with a plastic name badge holding the holy water and aspergillum for the priest. She proceeded to take on all the tasks usually reserved for the servers. In fact, there were no other altar servers. The boys were a bit stunned.
Is this typical at some parishes these days?
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
I love our library. I love the librarians, the volunteers, the pages who work there, and for the most part, I like the book selections that are available. I have been a "Friend" of the library from time to time, and when the children were younger, they participated in many programs, from story time for the youngest, to various crafts (filling in for the lack of craftiness here at home), to the babysitting class for 12 year olds that frightened Libby out of her wits with tales of choking babies and bleeding toddlers. When the children were very young, our library had a small concert series featuring a local quartet.
The stories were read by the paid librarians, but I believe the other programs were run by volunteers. As I understand, anyone may present a program at a public library, as long as the program is open to the public. And perhaps these are services that a library should provide.
In the next village, which no doubt received a massive state grant for its library, the facility includes a 300 seat theater, two smaller recital rooms, and more. Programs for everyone, from babies book time to senior driving refreshers are taught. Full theatrical productions take place. Professional musicians give educational concerts with pre-concert talks. Oh, and they have books, too. In fact they have one of the largest collections in the area.
But a typical library is not just a place to find books anymore. There are DVDs. Where our local library used to charge a nominal fee--usually a dollar--for borrowing a DVD, all media are now free. The librarians complain to me about grandmas dragging children out of the library with an armful of DVDs, while having told the children firmly that they may not take out books. I have witnessed this myself. I have seen children run to the shelves only to be told, "No books today!" No books?? Isn't this a library?
Just read this online at School Library Journal: Cuts Hit Library Serving Kids With Autism. It seems that New Jersey's Governor Christie has proposed to cut the state budget's contribution for libraries in NJ by 74%. Draconian, or not? Should states be funding local libraries? And what precisely needs to be funded? (A librarian once told me that all fines and fees go into the local village budget, just like parking tickets and meter money, not back to the library...perhaps that ought to change?) It seems as though the library ought to have few expenses: Staff, maintenance, and purchasing. Volunteers back up the staff and work on other programs, right?
The library in the SLJ newsletter provides services for an unknown number of autistic children. The library director claims, "Our work with individuals on the spectrum will continue despite our need to balance our budget." (Good on them!!) The folks working in this program are volunteers, many of them on the autism spectrum themselves. Heck, their book club for autistic teens doesn't even meet in the library...it meets at Panera. So, the program is run by volunteers, and does not meet in the library. How will the program suffer from cuts in the state budget?
The library in the piece has had to cut back in some areas, including staffing, but is dealing with the cuts in a reasonable way. It is clear from the emotional headline, though, that SLJ has a political agenda. But for those of us who do read past the headline, there really is nothing related to the autism service that will be harmed. So perhaps SLJ has ceased to advocate for reading, and is simply advocating for money, using people with autism as an emotional tool to push their politics. After all, if one can read, one knows that the headline distorts the truth. So, have libraries ceased to be places that encourage reading?