Friday, July 24, 2015

Classical Lessons from A Mind in the Light

Classical Lessons for The Little White HorseClassical Lessons for The Book of the Ancient WorldClassical Lessons for The Book of the Ancient Greeks

I've published my lessons for The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge from Year Five! As you can see from the images, the two previously published books: The Book of the Ancient World and The Book of the Ancient Greeks now include classical lessons in their titles as well. Only the titles have been changed. I used the word classical in the titles because I felt that Charlotte Mason lessons fit under the title of classical, but that not all would readily see that classical fit under Charlotte Mason. This curriculum incorporates aspects of both Charlotte Mason and classical ideas, although leaning more heavily towards the former.

I'll be continuing my work with Renaissance and Reformation Times. If anyone has a request from what I have on my Curriculum Completed 2015 list, please let me know.

NOTE: I'm not sure why, but I'm having trouble with blogger today. It doesn't seem to want to upload images. Thus, you see this roundabout way I've gone about it. LOL! :) If I can get it to work properly on another day, I'll be able to make the above images larger.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Small Changes and a Little Progress Too

I've finally been able to carve out little sections of time to work on my curriculum. Along with working on it comes the inevitable changes! :) I know that these changes can be frustrating for those of you who have made schedules or purchased books. Please know that, ultimately, if I had the books chosen before the change then they are still very good choices and could still be used.  As I try to create the overall vision, I've found myself making some book substitutions and some shuffles in the schedules. This is part of the reason that I tend to not like to make schedules so far ahead of the full plans. On the other hand, I do understand that it is hard to see how this all fits together without a schedule. This is why I'm trying to put some schedules up as soon as I can and hope that you will be forgiving of any changes it may undergo. :) Hopefully, the very fact that I'm trying to make some progress with it will be seen as a positive as well.

Here is an example of how these changes come around:
In Year Four, I have Seabird and Minn of the Mississippi chosen for part of the geography studies for that year. As I began to write more notes for The World of William Penn, I discovered that there is a section in this book where the tributaries of the Mississippi are discussed. Coincidentally, I had just been looking at Minn of the Mississippi and had planned for the student to spend some time looking at the Mississippi and its tributaries. By moving Minn of the Mississippi to the first term in place of Seabird, I'm able to tie these lessons together. Understanding the Mississippi and its tributaries can be explored through geography, science and history now.

At the same time I was writing these notes for The World of William Penn, I was able to better organize the entire National History schedule for that year. I'll be ready to post the Year Four History Schedule soon.

Year Two is undergoing a change in the Science and Nature Study section. I'm currently going through some new books and hope to make those changes settle down soon.

I'm making good progress with The Little White Horse Book Notes and these will be available for purchase very soon. The lesson plans for Renaissance and Reformation Times are just getting started. I'm working on reading and taking notes for The Middle Ages, but I've only just started this. At the same time, I have much work to do for both of my daughters and will be very busy with their needs too. :)

Let me know if I can help or if you really need anything. I'm always happy to help. I have made some connections with some of the ladies here through Google + and email. If I could find a better method for this, I would love to make that happen. I'm still thinking about a website rather than a blog.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Transitioning from Oral to Written Narrations

Moving a narrator from oral to written narrations should be a gentle crossover, with the skills and needs of the narrator always the priority. A narrator will never leave oral narration completely behind, but as they progress through the years should add to them and replace the number of them with other variations of narration. For example, while my high school student still orally narrates sometimes, more often she writes narrations, essays and other papers as well as participates in deep discussions with me about what she has read.

Here is how I transitioned both of my children from oral to written narrations. My younger daughter, who will be a 7th grader this fall is well into this transition. In fact, she's been writing narrations for many years, but there are still skills she needs to practice and growth still to be made. This demonstrates how long this transition process will really take. In fact, the skills needed to move from a young child orally narrating to a mature young person writing essays is a continual process, with each year bringing new methods and expectations.

Here are what I would consider some important points to consider:

1. Be sure that your oral narrator is fully ready to write. Your young student should be able to write a number of sentences without feeling any strain physically or mentally.

2. Cut whatever was your typical amount of reading material for oral narrations down again. Remember, in the beginning, your very young child could not successfully narrate orally a full chapter. The chapters in the early years are divided into halves and are narrated in sections. Eventually, the child is able to narrate the entire chapter, depending on the length and type of book from which they are narrating. Currently, my younger daughter is reading The Story of the Thirteen Colonies. I have her read much less than one chapter (dividing into halves and sometimes thirds) and narrate it in sections. The particular book is filled with changing people, events and times, so cutting the amount of material to be read and narrated is really essential to me. On the other hand, she easily read full chapters from Bleak House by Charles Dickens and wrote lovely, detailed narrations in her narration notebook summarizing the events of each chapter without any hesitation. Her skills are there, but I place a different priority on some books over others, particularly with regard to fiction vs. nonfiction. If your student has been orally narrating a full chapter, then you may need to cut this back as you begin written narrations. Moving from oral narrations to writing pages and pages for written narration will become overwhelming very quickly.

Here is an excerpt from an article from the Parents' Review on "We Narrate and then We Know":

Do regulate the length of the passage to be read before narration to the age of the children and the nature of the book. If you are reading a fairy story, you will find that the children will be able to remember a page or even two, if a single incident is described. With a more closely packed book, one or two paragraphs will be sufficient. Older children will, of course, be able to tackle longer passages before narrating, but here too, the same principles should be applied, that the length varies with the nature of the book.

3. Be sure that you are always preparing the reading selection ahead of the reading. For example, go over any words which your student may need help in defining or pronouncing. Map work for knowing and understanding any important locations should be done before reading books, especially those being used for history and geography. Ask your student to recall what events and people were important in the last chapter read.

Here is more from "We Narrate and then We Know":

Do always prepare the passage carefully beforehand, thus making sure that all the explanations and use of background material precede the reading and narration. The teacher should never have to stop in the middle of a paragraph to explain the meaning of a word. Make sure, before you start, that the meanings are known, and write all difficult proper names on the blackboard, leaving them there throughout the lesson. Similarly any map work which may be needed should be done before the reading starts.

I wrote a blog post just on this article. These aspects of narration are almost always forgotten in the many conversations about narration. I rarely see these points addressed in what is currently available today for CM and, if they are mentioned, they are seldom part of regular narration discussions from those who use any one or more of these curricula. These points are part of the main backbone to my curriculum. They make part of the difference between narration being a form of writing with no purpose to narration being a form of writing with a very great focused purpose. This is important and should be given due attention.

4. If your child wants to share more than they are prepared to write, consider letting them dictate some of it to you. Perhaps they could write the first few sentences and then let you finish the narration. Let your child give the narration a title and perhaps even a picture sometimes too.

5. Only a couple of narrations each week are expected the first year that you are transitioning. The remaining narrations can be in other forms such as oral, creative (picture, poem, skit) or other forms of written work (lists, letters, etc. ).

6. Don't be overly concerned with the conventions of writing at this point. Once my students have had a chance to get comfortable with keeping a narration notebook, I then begin to make comments into their notebook. I mix positive comments with points of correction. I might point out a capitalization problem and a spelling problem along with a compliment on word choice, for example. I tend to treat narration notebooks similarly to how I treat dictation. There is an eye towards noting that particular child's skill weaknesses and towards incrementally increasing the expectations.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Book Lists and Reading Schedules

I've decided to go ahead and post Book Lists and Reading Schedules for whichever subjects and years that I have already written or as I complete them for free. The lesson plans themselves will need to be purchased along with other resources and books. I hope this will be helpful for those who are interested in using this curriculum.

Currently I have posted these:
  • Year 1 Printable Booklist
  • Year 2 History and Literature
  • Year 3 History & Geography and Literature
  • Year 4 Literature and Sample for the Complete (4 Weeks)
  • Year 8 Sample for the Complete (4 Weeks)

I'll add to the above listed as soon as I have one ready. At some point in the near future, I'll have Complete Booklists and Schedules for each year.

ETA: I've just updated Year 3. The book list and reading schedule for History now has Geography included.

Friday, May 15, 2015

The History Rotation

How does this curriculum compare to some of the PNEU Curriculum samples of Charlotte Mason? Why is the history rotation set up the way it is? How does this arrangement benefit my student? Isn't this more complicated than a simple four-four-four history rotation or a six-six or even a six-three-three? What is the best history rotation? Is there such thing as the best history rotation? Should we revolve a child's entire education around our history rotation?

These are just some of the many questions that would be good questions to ask yourself before using the scope and sequence of this curriculum. They would be good questions to ask before using any curriculum.

Following is a link to a post that I wrote after studying many samples of Charlotte Mason's scope and sequence:

Charlotte Mason's Curriculum

How does this curriculum compare to some of the PNEU Curriculum samples of Charlotte Mason?

Below is a side-by-side comparison of the history rotations between Charlotte Mason and A Mind in the Light:

Charlotte Mason
A Mind in the Light
National/English History
World History
National/English History
World History
National/English History
World History
National/American History
National/English History
French History (SC)
National/American History
World History
National/English History
French History (SC)
Ancient History
National/American History
World History
Ancient History
National/English History
French or World History (SC)
Ancient History
National/American History
World History
Ancient History
National/English History
French or World History (SC)
Ancient History
World History
Ancient History
National/English History
French or World History (SC)
Ancient History
World History
Ancient History
National/English History
World History
Ancient History
World History
Ancient History
National/English History
World History
Ancient History
World History
Ancient History
National/English History
World History
Ancient History
National/American History
Ancient History
National/English History
World History
Ancient History
National/American History
World History
Ancient History

 SC=Studied Contemporaneously
Why is the history rotation set up the way it is?
How does this arrangement benefit my student?

Having spent many, many hours arranging and then rearranging the scope and sequence of this curriculum, I have arrived at a history rotation that meets the overwhelming majority of my goals. Being considerate of Charlotte Mason's approach to a history rotation, incorporating specific history books that I wished to include and balancing topics and general divisions of history were just some of the goals that I was trying meet as I wrote the scope and, even more specifically, the sequence.

Charlotte Mason was able to give more attention to National/English history because England was a central part of Western Civilization for a more significant time period than America. I did not feel that it was necessary to cover American history every year. National/American history is given its due attention within the perspective of the history of the world in Year 3. Years 4-6 are the late elementary years which has National/American history as the main focus without losing the overall world perspective. It is covered again with more advanced depth in Years 11-12.

Like Charlotte Mason, I liked the idea of covering smaller, more in-depth sections of ancient history by adding it in in Year 5 as a separate subject and including it every year thereafter. This allows such important literature works such as The Iliad, The Odyssey, Beowulf, The Divine Comedy and the Greek Tragedies to be better spread out over a number of years rather than all studied in large sections crammed into their corresponding history periods. I also felt that keeping several chains of history going at once allows for a greater variety in literature choices each year as well as keeping the student's interest high. Covering different eras in history gives the student more opportunities to make connections about history on their own. For example, while studying the creation of the American government, ideas about government during the Roman time period are not ideas that were studied three years ago, but are ideas that are fresh because they were studied just the year previous. The connections between the Roman style of government and the American style of government can be made more readily.

I find the books by Dorothy Mills to be the perfect style of book for studying history. Her books are written in a narrative style that is engaging yet detailed. Her incorporation of primary sources make them the ideal books for integrating and teaching with primary sources. The target ages for her series of books range between Year 5-Year 10. This is why the history rotation in A Mind in the Light focuses on world history during many of these years.

Isn't this more complicated than a simple four-four-four history rotation or a six-six or even a six-three-three?

Honestly, this is all really a matter of priorities and perspectives. Is the layout of this curriculum more complicated? Perhaps. It really would be simpler if I just set this up to follow the typical four-four-four rotation. But, has that rotation been idealized a bit? Perhaps. It certainly does have its advantages. If those advantages outweigh the disadvantages, then this curriculum may not suit everyone. That's okay. I didn't design this curriculum with the idea that everyone would love it. I designed it because I truly believe that the ideas and motivations behind its arrangement will contribute to educating a child to not only know, but to think, feel, awaken, connect, admire, imitate and create. I've emphasized from the very beginning, and will continue to emphasize, that flexibility is a key part of this curriculum. Move things around if doing that makes the curriculum work better for you. Eventually, I will have a great booklist, with flexible schedules (sold individually or as one whole year) and lesson plans for all of it. You can add or subtract, condense or expand as needed. I recognize that families with more than one child have a great need to combine their children in as many areas as possible. I do intend to create schedules and lesson plans to better allow for this. Already, the guides for the books by Dorothy Mills are being written with two levels in mind. You can then easily use the same book and guide with multiple students as long as they fall within the target year range.

I have the scope and sequence set up to offer the best education that I know how to create. And it is one that I will continue to modify and update as I learn more. Anyone is welcome to adapt that base plan as needed. I would, however, be mindful not to stray too far from the main ideas and goals of the curriculum. Otherwise, too many dramatic alterations will ultimately change for what the curriculum was intended.

What is the best history rotation? Is there such thing as the best history rotation? Should we revolve a child's entire education around our history rotation?
I don't think that there is such a thing as the best history rotation. Families are made up of individuals, so not every individual is going to find which history time period to study as important as the next. In fact, I think that children aren't going to really care at all about this. If they have learned to love history, or, in some cases, to tolerate history, then they will simply want to know as much as they can but in a way that is meaningful to them. A child's entire education should not be revolved entirely around the history time period being studied. There was an entire epic thread about this very idea on the Well-Trained Mind Forum. Too many curricula available today set up a history rotation and choose books to read to coordinate with that time period. Often the book choices are chosen more because they are of that time period then because they are a good literary choice or because they are at the right time for the child developmentally to read it. This problem can be avoided if the curriculum created has larger, more fundamental goals such as building a reader, a writer and a thinker at the forefront of the book choices and history sequences over a rigid history rotation sequence. 


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Development of a Narrator

What makes a narrator who follows this curriculum different from other narrators?
This question has far more significance than may first appear.
Aren't all narrators, and therefore all narrations, the same?

This curriculum draws heavily from the ideas of Charlotte Mason, but also integrates ideas from other classical writing approaches. Narration is one of the foundational elements of writing in a Charlotte Mason education, and therefore is foundational in this curriculum. Viewed in this light, clarification is crucial.

Narration Misunderstandings Clarified
The following narration misunderstandings are addressed to demonstrate why the misunderstood idea would not develop the narrator, but the clarified idea will.

Narrations Are Retellings Only.

This is not true. Narrations, both oral and written, should not be retellings only. A large component of narrations are of this kind, particularly in the very early years, but the concentration of this style should begin to adjust as early as Year Two and should continue to diminish (but not disappear completely) over each consecutive year. Each successive year should see a greater variety of type and style of writing.

Not only narrations, but also the components of writing such as dictation, copywork, recitations and discussion should vary. There are many components which make up the writer, and each of these components cannot be singled out alone as the whole of writing. It is in the entirety of the components, working together, which make up the whole of writing.

It is far more difficult to write a curriculum in which the narrations include variety yet target and build skills needed to grow writers, speakers and thinkers. Creating a balance between growing all minds, but yet maintaining the flexibility to allow minds to differ is not an easy task. Developing the narrator is a critical part of this curriculum.

Narrations Are Varied and Build Skills.

Narrations Are Writing Assignments Without Purpose.

This idea could not be more wrong, but, unfortunately, it is exactly what I see in many curricula which purports to embrace Charlotte Mason's ideas and methods. Many of these types of curricula are no more than good book lists with a reading schedule and general narration prompts. I've looked at some curricula whose narration prompts can be as vague as "Give an oral narration" after a reading or "Write a narration on ______(event or person)" after a reading. The latter prompt is appropriate sometimes, but should not be the only type available. Over the length of a student's entire education, these types of narration prompts will becoming writing assignments without purpose.

Narrations can vary between creative expression types, exploration of themes, understanding character, identifying literary devices and then applying them, making comparisons, developing all major types of writing and much more. Added to this variety is the increasing complexity of books read and discussed, the increasing levels in the writing components such as grammar and dictation and the increasing expectations to write and speak at a higher level. These narrations with a purpose along with components with a purpose will develop the writer.

Narration is Writing With a Purpose.

Narrations Are Not For My Child.

While it is true that not all children respond well to narrations at first, I'm not sure that it should be said that they will never respond to them. Consider that perhaps the methods did not suit the teacher rather than the methods did not suit the child. This style of educating is very different from typical classroom methods, and I say this as a former classroom teacher. :) It is a big task for homeschoolers to take on the monumental task of not only parenting our children but educating them too. Educating with new methods is frightening, because we are unable to see the results until much later. When a method or idea doesn't seem to produce good results immediately, we tend to change the method rather than change our own approach.

Along with those who did not give the method enough time, there are those families who may have used the narration approach correctly, but did not tie it with the other components. In this curriculum, it is extremely important for the narrations to be used along with the components.

Perhaps, given the time and use of accompanying components and methods, the child would grow to enjoy narrating. Perhaps the child simply needs time to adjust to the new expectations, because narrating is not easy and the skills needed for it require much practice.

Narrations Are Accessible to All Children.

How Do All of the Components Contribute to the Narrator?

You would think that the narration techniques used in conjunction with the components would be all that is needed to develop a writer, but it is just as important to apply the training of habits. The habit of attention and the habit of perfect execution are essential to developing good narrators.

This curriculum becomes a pyramid, in which all of the smaller aspects connect to one another and form a foundation, and each, in turn, complements, supports and/or builds skills for another, adding another level to the pyramid.  Guess how the habit of attention is supported? Nature study, dictation and copywork are all aspects of this curriculum which develop the habit of attention. And the habit of attention supports copywork and dictation, which then supports and develops the narrator. And the narrator becomes a thinker who can speak and write.

Aren't All Narrators, and Therefore All Narrations, the Same?

No, all narrations are not equal and therefore all narrators are not equal. Different expectations lead to different results and different methods either support or undermine those expectations.

 What Makes a Narrator Who Follows This Curriculum Different from Other Narrators?

The development of the narrator in this curriculum is based on a the idea that all children can learn to express themselves in a logical, articulate and beautiful manner based on carefully constructed ideas and methods which continue to increase in expectation as the child grows.

Read here, here and here for more thoughts about narration.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Curriculum Completed At This Time

After Adobe discontinued their free file sharing service, I was obligated to remove all of the work which I had uploaded and then had linked here. I'm currently working on publishing what I've already completed, and, as time permits, complete more and publish these too. I'm still considering a website at this time, but decided to go forward with the storefront at Lulu first. I wanted to share in this post a list of all of the curriculum, schedules and other resources that I've written. This would help those who are interested in this curriculum to know what is coming available soon and what is still needed.

The asterisk (*) denotes work that has been published.

Books by Dorothy Mills
The Book of the Ancient World *
The Book of the Ancient Greeks *
The Book of the Ancient Romans
Renaissance and Reformation Times

History Books
A Child's History of the World by Hillyer
Peter the Great by Diane Stanley
Bard of Avon by Diane Stanley
Good Queen Bess by Diane Stanley
Exploration and Conquest by Betsy Maestro
The New Americans by Betsy Maestro

Geography Books
The Discovery of the Americas by Betsy Maestro
Paddle-to-the-Sea by Holling C. Holling
Traveling Man: The Journey of Ibn Battuta by James Rumford

Literature Books
The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge
Tales from Shakespeare by C. and M. Lamb
Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
Sonnets by Shakespeare
Poetry for Year One
Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne
Andersen's Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen (selections)
Charlotte's Web by E. B. White
Tales of Peter Rabbit and Friends by Beatrix Potter

Science and Nature Study
Year One Science (Farm Animals and Botany)
Year Three Science (Tide Pool Life using Pagoo and Life in a Tidal Pool)
Year Six (Classification Study)
Luther Burbank: Nature's Helper by Lillian Bragdon
Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin


Complete Years
Year One

Year One (Complete)
Year Two (History)
Year Two (Literature)
Year Three (Science and Nature Study)
Year Three (Geography)
Year Three (History)
Year Three (Literature)
Year Four (Literature)
Year Nine (Literature)
Year Nine (Art History)

Artist Study Collections
Mary Cassatt
Edgar Degas
Paul Cezanne
Rembrandt H. van Rijn

Nearly Completed
Children of the New Forest by Frederick Marryat

Partially Completed
English Literature for Boys and Girls by H. E. Marshall
Our Island Story by H. E. Marshall
Age of Fable by Thomas Bulfinch
Year Three's Ornithology (The First Book of Birds and The Burgess Bird Book)
History of Art for Young People by A. F. Janson

Begun...Needs More Work
George Washington's World by G. Foster
The World of William Penn by G. Foster
Isaac Newton: Mastermind of Modern Science by David C. Knight

Coming Soon
The Middle Ages by Dorothy Mills