Wednesday, January 24, 2007

LEARNING | The whole community is a classroom for area students: Homeschoolers aren't homebound

A recent article from the Kansas City Star.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

No core subjects, no imposed curricula? You must be unschooled

Apparently unschooling is the news to be written about these days. This article in the Sacramento Bee was published on January 11, 2007.

Forced to defend an unusual educational practice, unschoolers take great care as to how they describe it. Buchanan hedges a bit when asked if she's an unschooler. She does put books in front of her children from time to time, which is anathema to orthodox unschoolers.

I can't imagine that any unschooler would actually say the act of putting books in front of their children is so repugnant. Forcing them to read the books or giving them quizzes about what they learn from the books -- that's another story. Perhaps I am reading too literally.

Kansas Communities on the Web

If you are looking for information about a specific town in Kansas, this website seems to be a good place to start.

You Have to Trust that the Child will Learn

This article posted at The Natural Child Project was first published in The Chicago Sun-Times in December 2006.

Overall, this is a very positive article on unschooling. Even though the focus of the article is on a high-achieving unschooler who has gained early admittance into Princeton, the author writes, "But just like traditional schoolers, not all unschoolers want college."

Thanks to Nancy for the link.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Schools kill Creativity

Well worth 20 minutes of your time, this commentary on education, by Sir Ken Robinson, talks about creativity and the need to rethink the standard operating mode of public schools.

Click Here to view Video.

Fifth Annual Spring Contest for Young Writers

an invitation from Dorothy Masters, This and That Columnist

Pen me a poem, write me a story, fiction or non-fiction, use the computer or write by hand. You pick the subject, it is your work! Any writing talent you care to share with me will work for my contest in the spring. If the younger children would like to enter, tell your story in picture form.

I will ask members of the Kansas Authors Club to help judge the entries to award engraved medals for your effort. Sharpen up your wit and show your best writing talent with poetry, prose or art work. If there is any interest, I will ask my editors to print the prize winners again this year, but I need to hear if anyone does or does not want their work printed. If you want it printed in a local paper in my weekly column, write me a note, sign your name and have your parents sign to give me permission to print your work. Send a comment to me and the editor of your paper if the general public enjoys reading the children’s work in your local paper.

Any child is eligible through high school level including home schooled children. Entries must be in my hands by March 1, 2007.

Be sure and put your name and address on your work so I can notify you of the winners. Keep a copy of entries; your work may not be returned to you because the vast amount of entries..

Send to: Dorothy Masters
13842 High-way K- 31
Harveyville, Kansas 66431

Telephone 1-785-589-2552

The subject is wide open, let you imagination soar and tell a great story or spell out a life lesson. Good human interest stories cover many topics and a wide range of ideas. Your pets make wonderful stories to share. There is no limit as to number of words; it is the thought content that matters.

There will be a new category this year because of Burlingame Rodeo Days in May. The Rodeo Days Planners have asked me to add a category to my youth writing contest to promote some interest about the Burlingame Community with the writing of many historical points of the area. Mr. James Nelson has agreed to teach a workshop on how to do Historical Research. More about that class will follow, be thinking about what aspect of the history you would like to research.
For historical facts, consider interviewing your parents, grandparents and older friends to collect their stories and memories of significant persons, places or events in Burlingame and the surrounding area; they are great resources of the past.

The Kansas Collection

Online, searchable.

The Kansas Collection

"The voices of the past are heard again in KanColl, through nearly-lost books, letters, diaries, photographs, and other materials."

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Grammar & Spelling

unschooling in action

People often ask how unschooling looks or how it happens. It may sound intriguing, but how DO kids learn things like grammar and spelling. Here are some examples of unschooling in action. If you have an example you would like to share, please send an email to goobmom23 AT yahoo DOT com.

My 10-year-old had been exchanging emails with a friend. They’d been on for much of the afternoon – apparently having a sort of running conversation through email.

My daughter mentioned that she always tries to write using capitals and periods in the correct places. She said, "I notice when my friend writes to me, she doesn't do that at all. She never uses capitals and she misspells a lot of stuff." I told her that I thought the girl was using a lot of "internet writing" which was really more of a new language that was evolving. She said, "Like LOL and OMG?" So we talked about that type of writing and what she thought about it. I admitted that I was probably a bit of a language snob. I've adopted some of it -- the smiley face and LOL most specifically, but I told her I still prefer the standard (pre-Internet) way of writing. She thought she did too. She said a lot of the shortcut writing is hard to read, hard to understand, and we discussed how it was a lot like learning a foreign language.

Then she told me that she thought the spell check on yahoo email worked better than the one on Microsoft Word. We pulled up Word and I showed her how she hadn't been using the full-blown spell check. She just right clicks on words the computer underlines in red as she is typing. I had her type three sentences, told her not to worry about the spelling, just to type them. The second sentence she typed entirely correct without help. That's why I had her type a third. I showed her the "spelling and grammar" check function then. It helped her correct a couple of words she struggled with. One of the things she had typed was “a elepant.” The spell/grammar tool suggested "an" instead, so we talked about the use of “a” vs. “an”. I can guarantee that the information stuck because I’ve seen her use a/an correctly since then. Oh, and she was tickled that she was so close to the correct spelling of elephant and told me that she knew the "ph" for "f" sound but had forgotten.

Then she asked me about something she had come across while working on a story she has been writing. She said that when she wrote, "Jake, me and Mom went to the store," the computer would correct her and suggest that "I" should be used. She asked if that was right because it sounded wrong to her. So I showed her that the way to figure it out was to say each individually... Jake went to the store, Me went to the store, Mom went to the store. She agreed immediately that "I went to the store" sounded better, but still felt that it sounded too stuffy when she used all three people going -- she wanted to use "me." We also talked about the ordering of the subjects in a sentence like this and what was grammatically correct compared to what was politely correct. (Jake, Mom and I...)

She asked if it was a style thing that you could do either way. I told her that this was a case where I would argue that it was not a style thing. However, I agreed that you can always decide to break a grammar rule if you want to, but that this was one I wouldn't break. Then we talked about using I as the subject of a sentence and me as the object. This got a little deeper and I'm not sure it was entirely clear to her, but she was satisfied for the time being.

THIS was such a satisfying experience. We really had some connecting time and it was so cool hearing her ask these questions and knowing how she is putting this knowledge to use. She is improving in leaps and bounds with her writing skills. She's asking the questions and getting the answers and putting it together in a way that makes sense to her.

I also got to read her story. It is now almost two pages long (single spaced) and I can’t tell you how exciting it is to watch something like this unfold. I’ve been typing stories as my kids dictate them for years. Each time I get to read what she has written, we discuss first if she wants my editing assistance or if she just wants me to read it for story. This time, it was just to read the story. It was wonderful. The coolest thing is that she loves the story, too, and she’s enjoying the process of writing it.

-Tracy S.

I was reading a book to the kids and the kids asked, "what's this?" and were pointing to a comma and "what's that?" and were pointing to an asterisk, so I got to explain what they were for and why. I was writing a story for Jade on the computer and she asked why I wrote it the way I did. Her story has lots of dialogue. So I explained what the quotes were for. The thing that was really cool to me is that her writing had such active voice. She has listened to so many books she just knows intuitively that a good story is very active. We've been having some fun with "spelling" sort of. Jade and I are playing lots of hangman. It's a game for her but it's helping her see patterns to words. Corbin plays along too but he goes to find words for me to guess.

- Samantha S.

Today in the car, my son, age 6, said, "Mom! That sign said zoo -- only it had one 'o' instead of two and the 'z' was sideways." We had to look at the sign again. It said, "No" as in "no parking on this side of street." I think perhaps he was just really hoping for a zoo trip.

-Tracy S.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

January 8 Deadline for Great Wolf Lodge Gathering

The Kansas Homeschool Network invites you to attend the

Third Annual Area Homeschoolers
Great Wolf Lodge Get-Away

February 27-28, 2007

Great Wolf - Kansas City

You MUST make reservations by January 8, 2007, to guarantee a spot!

Use Group Code 6A522A when making reservations online.

or call 1-800-608-9653 and reference our group name:

Kansas Area Homeschool Network

Email Tracy at kshomeschool dot net for details on room rates, reservation requirements, or questions. If you prefer rooms that aren't listed for our coupon code, contact Tracy for information on other options.

Pre-check in starts at 1pm on the 27th. You can receive your waterpark passes at this time and begin swimming. Guest room check-in begins at 4pm. Check-out on the 28th is 11am, but you are free to use the waterpark the entire day on Wednesday.

Alternative Form of Homeschooling Embraces Child Directed Learning

If you can ignore the idiotic comment from the "expert" at the end, this is one of the best articles on unschooling that I have seen.

Article from the Post-Tribune.

"It's an awareness that learning is always happening because it's part of living."
--Jane Van Stelle Haded

Monday, January 01, 2007


"Tomorrow is Cloudday."

"Cloudday?" I said.

"Yes. Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Cloudday.
If there is Sunday there has to be Cloudday."
Ezzie & his momma, Steph