Saturday, January 22, 2011

FREE Homeschool Resources

I have been collecting FREE resources for homeschooling, and education in general, like crazy lately!  Here are some of my top picks:

Khan Academy - a huge list of topics and subtopics! - learn or practice multiplication facts by playing games (as a parent, however, I find the sound effects to be quite annoying!)

IXL - multiple grade levels, online math practice; nicely organized - note that there is a limit to free use daily.  You can sign up for a paid membership though.

The Head of the Class - multiple subjects but organized by grade level; kindergarten to 5th grade now, but will expand to go through 8th grade.   We found The Head of the Class to be below grade level. Your child may need to work a grade ahead.

Check back often as I will be adding more freebies and resources regularly!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

What does it mean to be brave or to have courage?

Lately I have been giving a bit of thought to the idea of courage.  What is it?  What qualifies as courageous or brave?  What size, shape, and color do brave and courageous acts come in?

For those of you that don't know me, or haven't read back through this blog, let me fill you in on a few things.  When my son was about 4 years old, I packed us up and left our abuser.  In the process, I managed to get my undergraduate degree despite no shortage of attempts from our abuser to halt my progress towards that goal.  Then, two years ago, I applied to graduate school and was accepted.  I deferred admission to work on my financial situation, and this past August, my son and I packed up again and moved from California to New York so that I could attend school.

In both of the above situations I heard over and over from friends and family, "You are so brave!"  or "That is so courageous!"  and "You are so strong!"  But, I repeatedly wondered, "Why?  What makes me so brave or courageous or strong?  I'm just living my life...nothing too special about that..."

Today I read THIS article from the New York Times about courage and bravery.

I'm still not sure that my leaving an abuser and moving cross-country to pursue a positive life changing dream count as bravery or courage.  But, maybe they do.  After all, I am proud that I took these steps.  I am proud that when some said, "You can't do that..." I said, "Yes, I can.  Watch me."  I am proud that I took a stand against an abuser and protected my son.  I am proud that I found a way to finish my undergraduate degree despite numerous obstacles put up by my abuser.  I am proud that I was accepted by a top graduate program and moved cross-country to open up my career options and follow my dreams.  I am proud that I am showing my son that you CAN live the life you want and on your own terms.  If that means I am brave or courageous, well, so be it...but I'm still just me...

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Teaching Poetry

Tomorrow, my teaching partner and I begin teaching poetry to our 9th grade creative writing class.  The class is like an internship for us - teaching internships as part of our graduate school programs.  My grad program is poetry, and my partner's is fiction.  I am thrilled to begin our poetry unit and excited to see what our students have to share with us.  I can't wait!

In celebration of the start of our poetry unit tomorrow, I wanted to share with you some fantastic resources for sharing and teaching poetry to children.  My teaching mentor is Kenneth Koch (pronounced "Coke" like the soda).  He passed away in 2002, but left behind some amazing books on teaching poetry, as well as a fantastic lecture (from 1979, but still relevant today).  Koch was also a prolific poet in addition to being a brilliant teacher.  His teaching ranged from working with children in New York City public schools, and abroad, up to teaching seniors in nursing homes.  He compiled those teaching experiences and his thoughts on teaching in some wonderful volumes:

 Wishes, Lies, and Dreams by Kenneth Koch

Rose, Where Did You Get That Red by Kenneth Koch

I Never Told Anybody: Teaching Poetry Writing to Old People by Kenneth Koch

And, HERE is a fantastic lecture Koch gave at the Naropa institute.

And, just for fun, HERE is a great article by Lemony Snicket, I mean, Daniel Handler, about reading poetry.  Caution:  If you read this out loud or have your children read it, the "F"-word is used once in the article.

To find Kenneth Koch's books, please click on the boxes below: