10 October 2016

Day 7 / 106 - Emperor Constantine

I have hinted at a fabulous history class that I have been facilitating, and I'm now eager to share all about it.

This fall, my children and I made the switch to a new homeschool community.  There have been a few minor adjustments, but overall the transition is going very well.  Last spring, I was approached to teach a Middle Ages World History class for junior/senior high students with a suggested curriculum.  After surveying the curriculum for a few weeks, I went back to the coordinator and said: I will teach the class, but can I use this idea instead?  Fortunately, she said yes.

My suggestion was to not use a text book or curriculum, but instead facilitate a research-based class where the students took much ownership of their work by completing weekly projects.  Each week the students are given an historical person or event to research.  Students use their at-home time to gather information on that topic using multiple sources, preferably living books.  After researching, students then prepare a presentation/project from their findings using whatever creative means necessary to keep them engaged.  THIS has brought me much joy!  In just three weeks, I've seen power point presentations, a recreation of The Edict of Milan, reports, dioramas, a billboard for an Attila the Hun themed hotel, and more!  The twenty students in my class are far more creative than me.

To begin our class, we time-traveled to a period a tad bit before the Middle Ages and researched Roman Emperor Constantine.  My children and I completed several activities for this assignment, mostly so I could have a few examples for the first week of class.  My daughter completed an acrostic poem with facts about the emperor, and my son drew a map of the Battle of Milvian Bridge.  I crafted a Time magazine showing Constantine as 'Man of the Year' in 313 AD.  We also made a shield with the Chi Rho symbol on it [from Constantine's vision prior to the Battle of Milvian Bridge].  

On Wednesday mornings, after the students have entertained each other [and me] with their projects, we complete four different activities.  First, we draw a map of where this event/person occurred/lived/reigned, etc.  [This should not surprise you, if you know me.]  Then we draw a timeline indicating the key events in this person's life, or the major occurrences leading up to and including the historical event.  Third, using tools from The Lost Tools of Writing, along with our weekly research, we write a definition for the person/event.  [My son claims this is the best part of the class.]  Finally, the Middle Ages meet the Modern Age as I have my class write a few hashtags for the person/event in an attempt to identify the common themes and entertainingly remember some of what we've discussed over the past hour.

Our class definition for Constantine reads: Constantine was a 4th century Roman emperor dedicated to uniting the Roman Empire and advocating for the Christian faith.

Our hashtags included;
#upsspecialdelivery [read my recent Daily Learning post to understand the context of this one!]

Learning is such fun!

Day 6 / 106 - September Happens At The Table

All my good intentions to catch up on my blog this weekend were quickly denied when I discovered the 'shift' key on my computer is not working.  It is quite challenging to type anything without using the 'shift' key.  Try it.  [In fact, I wanted to ask a question here - do you know how difficult it is to type without using the 'shift' key - but I cannot type a question mark.  Note the brackets because I cannot type parenthesis.  I also cannot make emojis.]

Naturally, we have other computers in our home that I can use, but many images I need to post to the blog were already saved on this computer.  So, I'm attempting to write of our table happenings from September sans 'shift'.

This day was a productive day.  All dry erase markers were located and placed in one spot.  Then we determined which ones still worked.  Others were trashed.  Purging always brings great joy. 

I briefly mentioned that we've added in much project-based history research this year.  It has been incredibly fun.  Plus, history is the easiest subject to integrate into other subjects.  While studying Constantine, we diagrammed sentences about him and used the numbers 3, 1, 3 [the year he issued the Edict of Milan] to play our morning math game.  

Finally, every year that I teach/learn Henle Latin, I discover new ways to organize ourselves.  I laminated these posters, and they are proving to be a huge win.  [I need an exclamation point here, but I'm unable.  Also, insert sad emoji because I am unable to use the exclamation point.]

I hope your October is off to a great start, and that you are finding all kinds of joy around your table. 

07 October 2016

Day 5 / 106 - Puppy Cam

I never thought we'd love anything more than the National Zoo's Panda Cam.  That is until we learned of Denali National Park's Puppy Cam.

Denali National Park proudly boasts a working sled dog team as rangers that help them maintain the park.  Every summer, the park attempts to breed a litter to add to this essential team.  In late July, they introduced the Birthday Litter named in honor of the National Park Service's centennial.  

There are now five puppies with birthday names (Happy, Party, Pinata, Hundo, and Cupcake) with a live webcam in their pen.  There is seriously much adorableness to be witnessed daily.  Watching one baby panda has always been entertaining, but watching five puppies romp around a pen brings all sorts of new joy to our day.  You must visit the site.

A few things to note.  First, Alaska is four hours behind eastern time.  Good times to view the cam are between 7 - 8 am (Alaskan time) while the playful pups wake for the day, and between 5 - 6 pm (Alaskan time) when they receive their dinner.  Also, if you visit and notice an empty pen, the pups are probably out for training and should return shortly.  If you follow Denali on Facebook, they often update what is happening in the pups' training.

Party is the blonde, and Pinata is the one with German Shepard type coloring.  The three black ones are Happy, Hundo, and Cupcake.  They all look similar, but my children have learned who's who.  Enjoy.

Day 4 / 106 - September Learning With My Kids

Welcome to Daily Learning With My Kids.  Monthly, I'm highlighting when my children (or myself) have learned something new or noteworthy.  Oftentimes, my children will have these discoveries independently and without curriculum.  That's the best kind of learning.  I plan to remember these a-ha moments to keep the joy in the journey.

Even though we have been actively learning-with-a-schedule for the past four weeks, I simply haven't taken the time to document our journey.  I need to because we are having much fun learning this fall! This weekend, I'm armed with coffee and a couple hours of spare time to hopefully catch up on blog posts.

Henle Latin has made its way back into our daily lives.  Last spring, we initiated a break from the curriculum.  Now we've returned with vigor, and we're learning (and re-learning) tons!  

I am facilitating a Middle Ages World History class for middle school and high school students.  I can't wait to tell you all about this because we are having a blast!  Pictured above is Emperor Maxentius, who Constantine defeated at the Battle of Milvian Bridge.  Constantine then paraded Maxentius' head around Rome before shipping it to his followers in North Africa.  Fun information to learn if you're a teenager. (And even if you're no longer a teenager!)  

Plus, we've written in Sanskrit and drawn maps.  As an added note, once you draw a map of the Roman Empire, you will never forget its boundaries.  

I've become slightly obsessed with the soundtrack from Broadway's Hamilton.  So when we're not living in the Middle Ages, we're fascinated with events from the American Revolution.  September 14th marked the 180th anniversary of Aaron Burr's death, and September 19th marked the 220th anniversary of Washington's Farewell Address.

Finally, automotive maintenance happened in September.  Fortunately, my children learn from my husband with this task.  I'm pretty useless here.  My daughter helped my husband changed the brake pads.

What are you learning with your children?  Join in on Instagram #DailyLearningWithMyKids

Day 3 / 106 - Lithium-Ion Batteries

Like many 12-year-olds, our daughter can be somewhat mindless when it comes to caring for electronic devices, especially when it comes to charging their batteries.  Several months ago, we had the battery fully replaced in her tablet.  Within weeks, it started performing improperly again.  This was not a tablet issue but an operator issue, so my husband confiscated the tablet until she completed some research on how to properly care for a lithium-ion battery.

Good news!  She has not only received the tablet back in her possession, but the battery is now properly holding its charge.

30 September 2016

Day 2 / 106 - Into the Wild

I am eager to begin sharing with you the literature we are using this year with our son (who turned 15 on Monday).  My husband, an avid reader, is tackling this subject along with me, and we are piecing together a list of books, essays, speeches, etc. that we believe every young man should read and reflect upon.  First on that list was Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild.

If you are unfamiliar with the book, Krakauer expands on an article he penned for Outside magazine about the life and death of Christopher McCandless.  In May of 1990, McCandless disappeared in the western United States after graduating from Emory University.  After a 28-month journey, McCandless was found dead inside an abandoned bus in Alaska.  The author attempts to retrace McCandless steps to tell his story.  Sean Penn adapted the book into a film in 2007.

It really is a fascinating story, and McCandless' legacy remains polarizing.  Some see him as an inspirational figure whereas others (Alaskans especially) see him as tragically irresponsible.  These were great issues to unpackage with our son.

26 September 2016

Day 1 / 106 - Cruisin'

Over the past three weeks, I've had every intention to sit down and begin documenting our eighth year of home education.  I already have many posts to share!  There have been multiple distractions, including days without power, internet connection, and water (water really shouldn't interfere with blogging, but I had to mention it)!  Our academic year is actually off to a fantastic start, and I'm looking forward to keeping you abreast of our journey.  We've made a few changes to our schedule and our curriculum.  So far, so good.

However, rather than ending our school year with a vacation, we opted to begin our year with a 5-day cruise to the Bahamas.  The last week of August was a perfect time to travel, and we all enjoyed ourselves immensely.  

We docked for a day in Nassau.  After spending the morning on a catamaran cruise that included snorkeling, we visited a few historical sites.  

Two memorable moments for our children.  First, our daughter was awarded a Carnival trophy for winning The Hunger Games trivia.  [Just so you know how difficult their trivia games are, we lost terribly in Harry Potter trivia (even though we're currently rereading the books), and during Friends trivia there were three questions I couldn't even answer!]  Secondly, our son left the ship with eight stitches in his left eyebrow due to a collision with another teen during one of their scheduled events.  On the plus side, Carnival's medical centers are top-notch!