"Intellectual distinction is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for election to a Rhodes Scholarship. Selection committees are charged to seek excellence in qualities of mind and in qualities of person which, in combination, offer the promise of effective service to the world in the decades ahead. The Rhodes Scholarships, in short, are investments in individuals rather than in project proposals..."

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Book & Movie Recommendation

My husband is a big movie buff. He loves movies that teach great moral lessons that we can share with the kids.

Two weeks ago, he brought home Horatio Hornblower: Duty from the public library to watch. I saw 10 minutes of it because it was a movie to be watched on my "night out". I LOVED IT. They LOVED IT. It's an A&E production based on the C. S. Forester Horatio Hornblower Series written between 1937 and 1967.

C. S. Forester is most well known for _The African Queen_. He was born in Cairo, Egypt in 1899. He live his early years in England. At the beginning of World War II, he came to the US to help produce propaganda to encourage American support of the war effort. To pay the bills, he was also writing a screen play about the Napoleonic Wars. Unfortunately, Captain Blood was released just as he was working on his movie script. He was disheartened and gave up. However, still needing to make a living, he started writing the Horatio Hornblower series. His first book, known as _Beat to Quarters_ in the United States, was a huge success. He added books for thirty years to the series and readers, famous and not, sung his praises. Here are a few famous men talking about the Hornblower series:

"I recommend Forester to everyone literate I know." - Ernest Hemingway

"I find Hornblower admirable."- Winston Churchill

I'm always looking for good books to use as book club material. As my children move closer to the Scholar Phase, I'm changing how we do our book clubs. This year I'm doing a literary book club for each of my kids where we'll used the Socratic method of literary analysis to discuss the book. We'll be using outlining the book using the worksheets from Teaching the Classics available from the Institute for Excellence in Writing. I got so excited about the Horatio Hornblower books that I was about to do this for my son's group.

I reserved all eleven volumes of the series at the public library. I picked up the first on Monday. _Mr. Midshipman Hornblower_ was written in 1950 as a prequel. It's not supposed to be very good. In fact, as I read the reviews I felt myself starting to be a bit disappointed. It was a bit disheartening to see people say it was not nearly as good as the others that were written earlier. But, I usually have to judge things for myself and I'm glad I did. I didn't get to start reading the book until Tuesday evening.

I must admit I was a bit depressed after reading the first chapter. I won't spoil it for you, but I found the content too deep for a 6th grade boy's book club. I could see myself doing it starting in 8th grade, however. I was about to give up reading it. My husband, wise as always, encouraged me to just read another chapter and give it a chance.

I wanted to resist. My time is so precious these days, having 6 kids under 12. However, part of the TJEd philosophy is "You, not them" and I tend to forget that. I have been rereading _Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning_ by Oliver DeMille and I had a completely different take away this time. I get so hung up on the day to day that I often forget my goals. I want a Leadership Education, too. I need to be reading the Classis, too. So, here was my chance and my husband was willing to help me find the time to do it. I'd be silly not to take the time.

So, I kept reading. Yesterday was one of those days we spent hours in the car driving my nieces back to Wisconsin, visiting my 90 year old grandma and visiting my best friend from junior high and high school. We were in the car for about 4 hours of the day. I normally use that time to talk with my husband. We don't often get concentrated amounts of time to just talk, free of media or children. We did have children with us, but most were occupied visiting with their cousins or sleeping. Instead of talking with my husband, I read. He encouraged it, too.

Let me tell you, reader. I love the book so far. I'm on page 222 of 310 pages and I can't even believe I stopped to write this post. So, I now have the other 10 books in my possession from the library and I will be sneaking off to read whenever I have a spare moment.

If you have a young man (teen aged years), have them read this book series. If you are interested in helping them develop values and character, have them read this book. Horatio starts out as a 17 year old boy placed on a ship as Midshipman. Get to Wikipedia often to look up the TONS of nautical terms you are not going to know or recognize. Talk about the choices he had to make. Talk about why Mathematics was so important to his career and talk about the life-and-death situations he was place in with regularity and how he survived. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Book Clubs of the Past

The Knights of Freedom
Book Club
Our Founding Fathers
First Fridays from 1:30 – 3:30
February - May
Mission: The mission of Knight of Freedom is to create lasting friendships with boys of high character, active minds and busy hands, to introduce moral leadership activities and opportunities, to bond and move through life together.

Membership is open to boys aged 7-12.

  1. Monthly Meetings, two hours in length: Each meeting begins with an opening ceremony that includes prayer or scripture and pledge of Allegiance.
  2. Reading and discussion of biographies of great men: The boys read one biography per month from the Childhood of Famous Americans series. This meeting also includes a presentation by the advisor on the era in which the famous person lived. There may be an occasional guest speaker as the advisor deems necessary.
  3. Leadership training and experience: This makes up the other part of the meeting. Basic parliamentary procedure is taught. The advisor gives a short lesson on leadership. Each boy then gives a 5-10 minute presentation on the topic of his choice. For example, cooking, volcanoes, airplanes, piano recitals, Johnny Appleseed, Big Foot, Legos. This helps him develop leadership skills while increasing the feeling of brotherhood in the club. Lessons on knighthood are given during the first meeting. The lesson will include details about armor, King Arthur’s round table, weapons, the code of honor and the “Armor of God”.
  4. Tuition: $20 for supplies. Book cost is not included. There are MANY copies available through the Library system.

Meeting 1 - February
  • Prayer
  • Pledge of Allegiance
  • Introduction to Parliamentary Procedure
  • Lesson on Knighthood
  • Discussion of George Washington – Childhood of Famous Americans Series
  • What is a Patriot, Liber and Public Virtue?
  • Activity Plywood Shield w/Leather Straps & Snack
  • Time permitting – Optional PVC Swords w/Foam Padding (additional $3 for materials) and practice fencing

    Meeting 2 - March
    • Prayer
    • Pledge of Allegiance
    • Discussion of John Adams – Childhood of Famous Americans Series
    • Diplomacy & Foreign Affairs for Kids
    • Member Presentations
    • Activity (Paint a duck decoy) & Snack
    • Time Permitting – Duck Shooting w/Bow and Arrow
    • (PVC Bows and dowel arrows optional – additional $3)

    Meeting 3 - April
    • Prayer
    • Pledge of Allegiance
    • Discussion of Thomas Jefferson – Childhood of Famous Americans Series
    • History o f the U.S. Government
    • Member Presentations
    • Activity Jefferson Wheel Cypher & Snack
    • Time Permitting – Secret Code Cracking

    Meeting 4 - May
    • Prayer
    • Pledge of Allegiance
    • Discussion of Ben Franklin – Childhood of Famous Americans Series
    • How to debate
    • Member Presentations
    • Activity Build a Kite & Snack
    • Time permitting - Kite Fighting after class at local park

    Wednesday, August 19, 2009

    Liberty Girls - Kirsten

    Here's the girl's book club this year:
    Announcing - Liberty Girls Book Club
    Kirsten: A Minnesota Liberty Girl
    Assorted Fridays from 1:30 – 4:00
    September – December

    Mission: Liberty Girls Book Club is a club offering young girls in grades 4-6, an exciting opportunity to learn about American History through historical fiction, narration, hands on creative and explorative experiences, mentors and social interaction with other homeschoolers.

    Vision: Little girls want to grow up to be great women. To do this, they need models and inspiration. As young girls, they also want to try out the things they read about, to be able to understand how it was for other American Girls and how it was for girls living long ago. They want to get messy, dress up, go places, have adventures and form friendships that last. Liberty Girls offers an avenue to meet these needs through stories, activities, cooking, games, discussions, special guests and producing a play in a fun, relaxed atmosphere.

    Registration: Club membership is for 4 months: $12. This will cover all of the expenses associated with the meeting activities. The cost of the books is not included. However, there are MANY copies available at the County Library.

    Reading: We’ll use the American Girls Series: Kirsten, reading the six books in 3 months (2 books a month), with the last month meeting used for the play. Books are approximately 60 pages in length each. Kirsten is a fictitious girl living in 1854 in Minnesota. Each meeting has been designed to correspond to the books for that month allowing each girl to experience for themselves some of the things Kirsten did during that time. All members are required to read the book before the meeting.

    What does Mom have to do? Just help your daughter finish the book each month, bring your daughter on time, pick her up at the end, help her prepare for a one time narration, and help with one meeting or the play. Costume for the play is white shirt, mid calf to ankle length skirt, nice shoes and optional shawl. If your daughter has a long dress she would like to wear instead, that would be fine.

    Narrations: We remember a story better when we tell it to our friends. Each girl will get to give one narration to the book club members during the opening ceremony of each meeting. This should be a retelling of a part of the book featured that meeting that20she decides to share. She can dress up, act out, draw pictures, have props, rewrite it in her own words, put it into verse, sing a song, whatever she is excited about doing to express this part to her friends. A narration should take 5 minutes. We’ll have a sign up sheet at the first meeting.

    Program Outline

    September – Book: Meet Kirsten & Kirsten Learns a Lesson

    Program overview for the girls
    Narration sign up
    Lesson and Discussion: We will trace Kirsten's route on a map and talk about health issues of Kirsten’s time. We will learn a few Swedish words. We will learn more about Singing Bird, her tribe and what her life was like.
    Craft – Make a rag doll.
    Snack – Swedish Coffee bread.
    Play and Talent DESIGNATIONS (Play parts will be assigned by picking names out of a hat)
    7 female roles

    October – Book: Kirsten’s Surprise & Happy Birthday, Kirsten
    4 Narrations
    Lesson and Discussion: We will learn more about St. Lucia's Day and tornadoes.
    Craft – small quilted potholder.
    Snack – St. Lucia Buns.
    Read through play. Have you memorized Act 1&2?

    November – Book: Kirsten Saves the Day & Changes for Kirsten
    3 Narrations
    Lesson and Discussion: We will play games like they played on the Fourth of July. We will also learn about the black be ars in Minnesota, fur trading and bee keeping.
    Craft – bees wax candle
    Snack – Pepparkakor (Swedish Cookies)
    Play practice. Do you have Act 3&4 memorized?
    December – Play
    Practice Play
    Play Home is Where the Heart
    Snack – Swedish cookies

    Boy's Science Club

    It's that time of year again and I start thinking of clubs for my Love of Learning aged kids. It's important at this age that they have the opportunity to learn with others and see how others think. I also want them to be comfortable participating in group activities.

    This year, my son is doing a Science Club. Feel free to use this syllabus. I am using a curriculum that already exists and requires work on fine motor skills, something on which my son needs to work.

    Boy’s Science Club

    4th – 6th Grade Boys

    The World of Tools and Technology

    2nd Friday of the Month

    Open to 6 boys

    $35.00 each, includes all supplies and lab materials

    Using the GREAT SCIENCE ADVENTURES curriculum:



    Materials Covered

    Homework due before class:

    Labs and activities done during class:

    Class 1

    Lessons 1-4

    · Create books 1-4

    · Read each book

    · Build a force meter to be used for other classes

    · Create a timeline book “Tools in Time”

    · Perform 5 labs

    · Create 4 graphic organizers

    · Take home assignment to be completed for next week (Experiences, Investigations and Research assignment)

    Class 2

    Lessons 5-10

    · Create books 5-10

    · Read each book

    · Complete take home assignment

    · Update the timeline book “Tools in Time”

    · Perform 3 labs

    · Create 10 graphic organizers

    · Build a screw

    · Take home assignment to be completed for next week (Experiences, Investigations and Research assignment)

    Class 3

    Lessons 11-14

    · Create books 11-14

    · Read each book

    · Complete take home assignment

    · Update the timeline book “Tools in Time”

    · Make 2 levers

    · Perform 5 labs

    · Create 5 graphic organizers

    · Take home assignment to be completed for next week (Experiences, Investigations and Research assignment)

    Class 4

    Lessons 15-19

    · Create books 15-19

    · Read each book

    · Complete take home assignment

    · Update the timeline book “Tools in Time”

    · Make a wheel and axle and some pulleys

    · Perform 5 labs

    · Create 7 graphic organizers

    · Take home assignment to be completed for next week (Experiences, Investigations and Research assignment)

    Class 5

    Lessons 20-24

    · Create books 20-24

    · Read each book

    · Complete take home assignment

    · Update the timeline book “Tools in Time”

    · Make gears

    · Perform 1 labs

    · Create 5 graphic organizers

    · Take home assignment to be completed for next week (Experiences, Investigations and Research assignment)

    Friday, August 7, 2009

    Rethinking my plan and Spell to Write and Read

    As I look at my goal for next year, I must rethink my plan. What is my goal?

    Holy Trinity Academy Goal #1:
    We will become proficient writers.

    Holy Trinity Academy Goal #2:
    We will learn speed reading.

    Holy Trinity Academy Goal #3:
    We will practice without complaint.

    Sounds easy, doesn't it? Not to this mommy! These are lofty goals for any homeschooling mom. Just number 1 alone scares the pants off me. Proficient does not mean okay or good. It means expert. How do we make kids good writers? Daily practice is required and I pray we can practice without complaint (see #3).

    I will be attending a Spell to Write and Read conference in two weeks. In order to accomplish #1, we need to master handwriting and spelling. Once we've got that underway, we'll be working on grammar and writing.

    Thursday, August 6, 2009

    10,000 hours...

    Erin over at Bearing Blog linked to this interesting article. This part stuck out at me like a brightly flashing beacon:

    The emerging conclusion is that experts in many fields (sports, literature, composition, performance of every kind) need about 10,000 hours of practice time to achieve world-class levels of proficiency. 10,000 hours is the equivalent of 3 hours a day, seven days a week, for a period of 10 years. These studies do not address the differences in the efficacy of practicing for different people (which is known to vary widely). But when we're discussing performers on the level of Michael Jordan or Philip Roth or Yo Yo Ma, there apparently have not been cases where truly world class expertise was developed in less time.

    Maybe why that is why the scholar phase is geared toward 8 hours of study for 5-6 days a week for 4 years. That adds up to 10,000 hours. Isn't interesting that Oliver DeMille included that as part of the TJEd plan.

    As my oldest approaches Scholar Phase I wonder if we are both ready for it. Right now, he is buried in books 4-5 hours a day of his own choosing. In fact, I struggle with pulling him into the 4 R's (Religion, Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic) that are "pseudo required" here. In fact, because of how much study they do require, I feel like my "Mom School" has to step it up a notch this year. I want writing to become second nature to my kids, not a dreaded task. But how does that process happen? The answer is practice. In order to write easily, one must practice...practice printing or writing so that forming the characters is not interfering with expressing oneself, practice spelling so that words are easily constructed rather than stopping ones train of thought and practice grammar so the sentences flow off the pen rather than slowing one down as they wonder whether they should use plural or possessive...

    What are you willing to spend 10,000 hours on to become an expert? Reading the classics seems like a very worthy endeavor.