About Me

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Michigan, United States
a registered yoga teacher, and a Thai/Yoga Bodywork practitioner.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

October, 1st week

I found this lecture in an NPR story comment:

TED Talks: Gaming Can Make a Better World

It was not part of our curriculum, but it kept Nate's interest and tilted my perception of how "useful" video games can be. The original NPR story was about "gamers" solving a scientific problem of how proteins fold. Once they turned the problem into a game, it was solved in ten days.

We are studying the lungs and did a few experiments--one with balloons and water bottle to illustrate how the diaphragm and lungs work; another with doing various exercises and counting the number of breaths per minute  (respiratory rates).

Nate's objection to handwriting practice lead to a writing assignment. We constructed an argument for and against handwriting practice, each kid taking one side of the argument.

Madelyn's math required solving for variables. I showed her how to set up a simple algebra problem, but not to show off. It was about getting her done with her daily math before bedtime. "Honey, rather than guess at "what plus 39 equals 109, let's do it this way..."  X + 39 = 109.

On Thursday, we spent the day with our home-school group at a one-room schoolhouse in Nottawa. One of the group member's grandmothers used to teach in a rural, one-room school, and she lead the kids in a typical day's curriculum.

The parents sat around the edges of the room, keeping out of the way as much as possible.

At recess, there was no playground equipment--just a scrubby grass yard. They played tag or football tackle (someone brought a ball) or "pony and carriage" with a rope. The twelve-year old boys played with the ten- and eight- and six-year old boys. Girls and boys played together.

The grandmother said she preferred the one-room school because it was "more like family," with "kids taking care of each other." Despite retiring from teaching public school, she has converted to supporting home-school after witnessing her daughter teach the grandkids. "Homeschooling is more like that rural school."

At day's end, Madelyn asked, "Mom, can we come back tomorrow?"
"Do you want to go back to school again?" I asked.
"No. I just like it here. I like the old school, the desks, the old stuff."

I bought a white board and markers and put them to use on Friday. This idea came from a drawing book. It says the "verbal, analytic" brain functions leave out the "visual, creative" functions. In teaching drawing, you teach a person to use that visual side, and that helps them really *see*. Most people draw a concept, but not what's in front of them.

Typically, the kids take turns reading from the screen when we do science and history. This time, I had one read while the other drew illustrations of the lesson. After a few paragraphs, they traded places, and so on.

I helped with the drawings some, but once they got used to the idea, it kept their attention on the lesson. I can still recall details of that reading based on our doodling. It was about the history of kites (Ancient Chinese history).


  1. Thank you so much for sharing the link to that fascinating TED talk - it piqued my interest the other day but I didn't have time to watch it then. I am constantly torn by my love of technology and my fear/guilt of spending too much time on it, so her perspective was quite interesting to me.

    Also the one-room schoolhouse experience sounds really cool. I love that your kids enjoyed it!

  2. My kids also object to handwriting practice, as well as grammar and language mechanics. We mostly unschool, but periodically I get in a panic and start assigning worksheets and such. Then one day I had the brainstorm to start letting my 10- and 7-year-olds start their own blogs. Suddenly, they started taking a serious interest in their grammar and mechanics, and their skills improved very quickly, no boring worksheets necessary.

    Anyway, your story about having them do a writing assignment ABOUT handwriting resonated with me, reminded me of this. Having a practical application for a skill gives people a reason to want to learn it, which is what you have done with that assignment. :)

    I'm enjoying your blog very much. I would love for my kids to go to an old-fashioned one-room school like I did for elementary school. Great experience, and I also love the multiple ages helping each other.

  3. Ooh-a blog. Good idea. Do they blog under your account or did you set up separate one for each?