One of the most accessible basic logic books on our book shelf is The Fallacy Detective: Thirty-Eight Lessons on How to Recognize Bad Reasoning by Nathan and Hans Bluedorn. The book helps kids (and adults) spot errors in thinking — logical fallacies often used in an effort to persuade others. Learning about fallacious thinking is valuable for academic reasons, but it’s also important to being a good consumer (recognizing how advertising works) and to being a good citizen (understanding how political communication works). Continue reading »
Hosting an international exchange student can be a great experience for homeschooling families. We hosted a student from Ecuador, and while the commitment can seem daunting, having Isaac José with us for a school year enriched our lives.
What are some of the benefits of hosting an international student? Continue reading »
“Bring me bad writing,” I told my two homeschool co-op classes of middle school and elementary age writers. “Incorrect writing, wrong apostrophes, sentence fragments, typos, passive voice. Horrible stuff. Bring it.”
The next week, they marched in with an array of bad writing they’d found on websites, on convenience store signs, on gas pumps, in a letter from a college administrator, in text books, in novels, and in their own journals.
They had snapped photos, hand copied passages, bookmarked pages, and printed screen shots. Continue reading »
Part I of Homeschool High School Composition gives an overview of how to approach teaching homeschool composition. It is important to read it before using the assignments below, since it is a different perspective for teaching composition. Below are the assignments for composition using this part-to-whole process. The assignments use the UNC Writing Center’s free online resources.
If you would like to download the assignments, we have them as a PDF download here: Homeschool High School Composition Continue reading »
The Writing Center at UNC has put together a large collection of writing resources for college writing that are excellent tools for teaching homeschool high school composition. The center’s downloads and videos offer detailed explanations about research, sourcing, organization, editing and proofreading, voice, fallacies, thesis statements, and dozens of other writing topics. The resources are arranged alphabetically, making them easy to find by topic but not offering much in the way of an orderly progression for teaching. The following is a suggested order of study for using the resources for composition for a homeschooled high school student. In our case, we used this for a literature composition, but literature compositions can be the most difficult type to write. It might be more effective to initially use the process with a topic of choice instead of an essay on a particular book. Continue reading »
From the feedback and questions that we get on our Facebook page, there is a great deal of interest in how to homeschool high school. This year my daughter is a sophomore in high school, and I thought it might be helpful to share our 10th grade plan with you. Contrary to popular belief, homeschooling high school is often easier than homeschooling younger grades. Students are older, more mature, and better able to manage their own academics. When they need assistance, the material is more difficult, but between teacher guides, online resources, and friends with a knowledge of the subject matter, we have not found this to be a problem. Continue reading »
When I was in high school and college, my mom clipped newspaper and news magazine articles for me. She left them for me on the steps to my bedroom or put them in an envelope and mailed them to me at with a handwritten note in the margin — “Thought you’d be interested in this” or “What do you think about this news?” Today, I do something similar with my teen and twenty-something sons, only I do it electronically. Continue reading »
A big emphasis of homeschooling at our house is thinking critically about the resources we use for information. I have always wanted my kids to understand that books, websites, presentations, magazines, television, and newspapers have a point of view, and that in order to be well-educated, we need to challenge ourselves with information that comes from a variety of editorial viewpoints. As part of my commitment to inquiry-based learning, I have frequently played “devil’s advocate” with my kids, especially by the later elementary years, and certainly throughout the middle school years, high school years, and beyond. Sketching out the corresponding point of view for the sake of argument, I’ll ask… Continue reading »
This year in my role as a homeschool evaluator, I met a number of tweens and teens who are interested in fashion. As we went through their portfolio of work and talked about their year, I was fascinated with the ways they had woven their interest in fashion with their academic studies. Two of the teens I met with had taken their interest in current fashion into the past — studying the typical dress and accessorizing of women and men in earlier periods of history. They also took their fashion interest international — studying the current typical dress of modern-day people in other parts of the world.
Both of these girls (who did not know each other — they had arrived at this independently) had done extensive research to be able to portray the styles of other times and other places, and they could explain how the fashion reflected the culture, religious beliefs, gender roles, classes and roles in society, and daily life. They were articulate about the historical times and geography of the world as they discussed the observations they had made about fashion in these distant centuries and far-off places. Continue reading »
Our family has greatly enjoyed using The Great Courses audio and video recorded classes. The first of The Great Courses we used was The Story of Human Language, presented by leading linguist John McWhorter, who gives 36 lectures about the development of human language, why languages change or become extinct, dialects, how languages and their grammars affect thinking, and what the study of language can tell us about history and interconnectedness of early peoples.
From there, we began listening to every Great Courses CD set the library had. They offer courses in science, math, fine arts, music, religion, philosophy, history, literature, living, language, business, and economics. But it’s the course titles that are really intriguing — such as Understanding the Universe: An Introduction to Astronomy, The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World, Writing Creative Nonfiction, How to Listen to and Understand Opera, and nearly 400 more.
I recently wrote about how homeschooling parents can use a dialogue-based approach to education, which I see as a big potential benefit to home education. While many public schools have been forced into test-prep mania that defines success very narrowly, homeschoolers can use this educational approach to develop critical thinking and evaluate learning.
Scientific American has a recent story that reflects my thoughts on the unfortunate increased emphasis on standardized testing in public education. Continue reading »
Elementary age homeschooled kids are often eager book group participants. They’ll describe plot and action and favorite characters, and they are enthusiastic about their recommendations. However, parents sometimes struggle to move their kids to more literary discussion about books as they grow into middle school and early high school years.
One useful idea to smooth this transition is to pair a book with its movie adaptation. I’ve found that kids frequently find films to be more accessible, and creating a scenario where kids will naturally compare the book and the movie is an easy way to create deeper discussion points. Additionally, while homeschooled kids are not known for hiding their smarts by opting out of talking about their reading, movies still do bridge a gap that may exist for some teens–movies simply may be perceived as cooler. Continue reading »
A library of field guides is an important resource for homeschooling families, and with spring just around the corner, it’s a great time to make sure you have what you need on hand to help with identification of birds, trees, insects, spiders, snakes, turtles, frogs, toads, and wildflowers. Our field guides have always been among the most accessible books in our house. Rather than shelving them with other books, I usually keep them stacked — with their spines showing their titles — right on top of a low book shelf or table near the back door. Continue reading »
For thirty years I have been asking these questions, and more: What is the best method for teaching art? Should art only be taught in art classes? Should art classes be discipline-based, process-based, or choice-based? Do certain ages and stages of aesthetic development correspond particularly well with one form of self-expression or another? I have embraced the search for these answers since I first knew that I wanted to be an artist and work with others at making art. While I was a homeschooling parent using Oak Meadow to teach three of my five children, I searched for the best responses to these questions. Now, as an art teacher for Oak Meadow’s high school and as a college professor who teaches others to become art teachers, I continue this quest for understanding how to support creative expression in students. Continue reading »
I’ve been using Microsoft OneNote 2010 and OneNote Mobile for Android as tools for homeschooling and organizing our activities. Microsoft will tell you that OneNote is a note taking and information management system that can capture your to-do list and important information.
What I will tell you is that OneNote lets me create notes at home on my Windows computer that I can access on my mobile phone — when I need to know the soccer schedule, when my son needs access to a science quiz in the car, when I need my notes for work, or when I need to remember my errands. Continue reading »
Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot of questions raised about how innovations in technology will change education as we know it – Can machines replace teachers? Do internet resources provide everything needed to develop professional skills? What happens if you replace school with online learning? I’ve spent my life trying to find out, and the answers I have are both promising and a little horrifying. Continue reading »
Let’s face it… Geography is one of the most overlooked subjects in traditional public schooling and in homeschooling. Why? It is probably because it doesn’t seem very important to our everyday, busy lives. Do my students really need to know where Liberia is located? How about Chile? Is this relevant information or should we just spend a little more time with math, history and writing? Continue reading »
Challenge your 4th-8th graders to write 100-word stories! Not only will this activity appeal to more reluctant writers, it helps drive home the importance of writing descriptive, concise sentences. Continue reading »
Writing a composition doesn’t necessarily mean starting from scratch. As your children practice writing different kinds of paragraphs, stories, articles, and short reports, you can help them expand their skills by tweaking a piece of writing they completed in the past. What a great way to get more mileage out of a writing assignment! Let me share six tips for taking a former piece of writing to a whole new level. Continue reading »
Pre-writing activities disguised as games make it so much more fun to learn and practice skills. Depending on the activity, you can teach or reinforce spelling, grammar, vocabulary, and writing. One of my family’s new favorites, Speed Scrabble (also known as Boardless Scrabble), would be a terrific way to address both spelling and vocabulary. Continue reading »