"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..."

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Review of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: An iBook from Providence eLearning

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

This was the fourth book I reviewed for Providence eLearning.  These books are available via the iTunes store for use in the "iBooks 2" application. 

The last contact I had with the infamous Sir Gawain was with a boy's book club three years ago when we tackled some medieval literature, including King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table by Roger Lancelyn Green.  There was only a chapter about this tale, so I was anxious to hear the real story written by the Pearl Poet, rather than a retelling.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is an alliterative verse poem written in Middle English  in the 14th century.  The Providence eLearing version is enhanced with more than forty interpretive videos to guide the reader through the story.  This is incredibly helpful because of the language and imagery used throughout the story. 
Probably as useful as the interpretive videos is the audio narration that accompanies each page.  The narrator's voice is so easy to listen to and helps the reader through the difficult words and names.  This is so helpful for me, who slaughters names.  My kids jokingly pick on me whenever we are working through literature from a different time or country.  For example, when we worked through the Iliad, I continually slaughtered the names.  It's embarrassing, but true.  This is also a great feature for kids with reading difficulties as they can follow along with the narrator.

There are quizzes littered throughout the story and the artwork used in the text and videos is beautiful.  

My son is anxious to read this, and I will be letting him even though we don't cover Sir Gawain until next fall.  He's seen how the Providence eLearning textbooks work and is really excited to tackle this book in this innovative way.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Our Little One Room School House Experiment

This summer a dear friend posted to our homeschool support group a request to find a Catholic version of Classical Conversations to which she could bring her kids.  Seems the nearest thing was about 45 minutes away and they were taking a hiatus this year.  I sent her some suggestions of Catholic memory programs, my favorite of which is Classically Catholic Memory.  I sheepishly called her and asked her if she was up for putting together a small group to do it together.  She was.

I put my money where my mouth was, ordered the curriculum, and we all got together at our church's family camp in August and pow-wowed about how we could pull it off.  I offered to do ANYTHING but find space.  I knew that was a tough job.  I also knew I couldn't open my house up for yet another thing.  I already run four book clubs out of my house each month.

We started with seven interested families.  Only five were able to make it work.  We all bought our own copy of the curriculum so that if we miss, we can all keep up with each other.  We're splitting up the teaching, too.

Well, after lots of calls and contacts, we ended up meeting at a home.  One of our families' grandmother graciously offered her basement to us.  We now, 13 pupils, 5 mentors, 4 teachers, 7 toddlers and 2 nursery teachers, all meet three times a month in her very large basement to do Classically Catholic Memory.  We are only one week in but can I just say, "Wow!"  My 5 year old, along with all the rest, has memorized 8 subjects worth of material this week.  I can't wait to see how it goes.

We are doing this as a one-room-school-house experiment.  All kids 12 and under are pupils and kids over 12 are mentors.  The mentors are required to know the material right along with the pupils.  We go through each subject starting with recitation (all the kids stand and say what they memorized) for each subject.  The teachers go over the new material.  Then, the mentors break off into teams, which one boy came up with creative, Catholic names for and they all get busy practicing.  Then, in about 20 minutes a day, the kids practice the material for the rest of the week.

I'll keep you posted on how it's going.