Wednesday, September 30, 2009


If I were a Twitter Tweeter, the morning would look like this:

Googled "Iliad teacher guides". Best hit? A where's Waldo style find it cartoon including, Zeus, Waldo, the Trojan horse and a catapult.

Google search of Iliad Fagle is much more fruitful.

Searching for Celtic fiddle books for my students. $70 and an hour later have books and fingerboard tape on order.

Good grief it is time for lunch.

DS has a blog more random than this one. Why does he hide his entertaining writing???

In denial of marathon afternoon and evening of 5 violin students and orchestra rehearsal. Need chocolate. And coffee.

Friday, September 18, 2009


I spend my life organizing and managing things, driving, teaching, coaching and cajoling. I am not one fulfilled by completed tasks, however. I can easily ignore dirty dishes in the sink. I recharge by reading, researching and wasting time on pointless video games on my iPod Touch. Aurora Feint is my addiction, though I also love Chicktionary.

But not being motivated by that great feeling of completed tasks leaves me here on a Friday afternoon, surrounded by all that is undone. The clumps of dog fur that need to be vacuumed. The laundry sitting wrinkled in the drier. The bills that need to be paid. The Beethoven that hasn't been practiced.

So in keeping with the spirit of doing anything but housework, I now shall stop and count my blessings, listing all that I have accomplished this week:

  • My quartet rocked the sanctuary last Sunday playing Mozart at 2 services.
  • I got the orchestra music organized, numbered and passed out.
  • Created a schedule flier to give to all the orchestra members.
  • Taught 3 violin lessons.
  • Played in orchestra rehearsal.
  • Finished reading Life of Pi.
  • Read Persuasion and sighed once again over the line "You pierce my soul". I am such a sap!
  • Drove ds#1 to the train station for college classes Monday and Tuesday
  • Drove ds#2 to robotics, par kour and mock trial classes
  • Reviewed and corrected 3 geometry lessons (not much to correct, really).
  • Taught 2 Spanish lessons.
  • Cajoled ds#2 to write an overdue thank you note (which he finally did.)
  • Celebrated with ds#1 and family over his acceptance into the internship of his dreams.
  • Reviewed biology chapter and watched a dvd lecture in order to finish planning for the week.
  • Poked about on internet for inspiration for writing assignments to give to ds#2 next week.
  • Walked ds#1 through his first banking transaction.
  • Met a friend who is recovering from an operation to get a bit of slow exercize with her.
  • Tackled the dishwasher filter system to try to figure out why dishes aren't coming clean.
  • Made dinner last weekend -- 2 nights in a row!
  • Remembered to buy ice cream at the grocery store...

By the end of the day there will be a few more things to add to the list, then it is time for some wine and movie watching with the family!

Friday, September 11, 2009


Almost all the outside commitments have been scheduled and we've had 2 weeks to settle in and see how the planned curricula fits. Now comes a weekend of tweaking and modifying the plans to a workable routine.

I've not got a permanent biology text yet, though it has been ordered. In the meantime we're using a 10 year old edition from the library. The DVD lectures are a hit and there are some wonderful labs and extras on-line so everything should be covered. This is just going to be the course that will require weekly research on my part to figure out labs and quizes and projects as I haven't made a semester long syllabus.

I'm enjoying Spanish as it is at a level I am comfortable with. I realized quickly that Breaking the Barrier is not a great independent study program, but it is perfect for a homeschool mom who knows Spanish. I'm throwing in some Rosetta Stone as a supplement since we already have it and it will help with aural comprehension and with vocabulary development.

Geometry and logic look to be entirely independent courses. No muss no fuss which is great by me!

My history and literature course is good except I can't quite come up with writing topics or good discussion starters with this first unit. We've had other good discussions recently about bad literature and stupid exposition devices, but those discussions related to other books. Ah well, everything is a learning experience, right?

We're still trying to figure out how to best use the grammar and vocabulary books. They don't seem to require much time, yet I want to be sure they are still being studied and the material absorbed. It's one of those cases where I see why teachers (and homeschool moms) resort to lots of work sheets -- even though I don't think those really prove any learning has happened. It just **looks** better because a sheet of exercises has been filled out.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

So begins 10th grade...

The school year is starting -- time to dust off my blog and start writing again! We are going it alone this year with no outside academic classes, but more than enough outside activities to keep us busy.

This is how it looks:

Biology: Teaching Company DVD series -- two lectures per week. I'm waiting on Campbell's Biology: Concepts and Connections text but will use the Holt text in the mean time. We've got a microscope on loan from the charter school and I get to start planning labs. The goal is to take the SAT II exam in June.

Geometry: Jacobs -- fun text, algebra review mixed in. No muss no fuss!

Logic: Traditional Logic from Memoria Press.

Spanish: Breaking the Barrier. I remember enough Spanish from my youth that this seems easily do-able. I'm hoping too that my friend, a native speaker, will be available for some regular conversation practice.

Western Civ: A combo history and literature class of my own creation. I'm so jazzed about this, though my 10th grader may not love it as much! I'm framing it on another Teaching Company series called "Western Literary Canon in Context". I'm also using History of the World in 6 Glasses as an overview for different periods of history and DK's Story of Philosophy for background reading. His literary reading list is a combo of classics and modern works as follows:
  • Genesis and Exodus
  • Walking the Bible by Bruce Fieler (just sections)
  • Plato Apologies
  • An epic of choice, either Illiad or Aeneid
  • Shakespeare's Tempest
  • Longitude by Dava Sobel
  • A poetry unit using a series by Michael Clay Thompson
  • Candide
  • Faust
  • Kim
  • Lost City of Z by David Grann
  • All Quiet on the Western Front
Grammar and Vocabulary: Michael Clay Thompson has a nice grammar review series for high school and a corresponding roots-based vocabulary series.

Outside activities:
  • Robotics team with First Tech Challenge
  • Mock Trial
  • Fencing
  • Par Kour
  • Project Feeder Watch
  • and, time permitting, youth choir at church (his least favorite...)

All in all a very ambitious schedule around which I have to schedule violin students, quartet and orchestra rehearsals. Oh my!