Thursday, January 28, 2010

Getting the Family on Board Pt. 1

OK, so you have just come back from one of the most fascinating workshops you've been to in your homeschooling life. (Yes, it was even better than the event where they gave away free curriculum)
You've learned about Mediated Learning, you see the potential and you are now a gigantic hose of raw power ready to fire hose the smallest of fires that would quench your vision of grandeur for mediated success.
Slow down, hero. Put the brakes on and rein yourself in. First, we gotta get the family on board.

I thought for a while and decided the best way to go about this is the Mediated way, of course! (You know, I should get a nickel for every time I put the word 'mediated' into this blog post, because I feel that it could be a real money-maker for me).
First step should be to get your spouse on board, if they aren't already.

Intentionality and Reciprocity: To listen and hear what my spouse thinks about Mediated Learning by helping him/her understand the impact of using this method of learning.
Meaning: Emphasize our values and show how this will help us live them out.
Bridging: Paint word pictures of how things can look in the future with the use of mediated learning using examples of other families success stories. Highlight areas of contention that we have been trying to solve within our family and show how this could bring about change.
Also, highlighting the correlation between the role mediated learning can play with instruction in righteousness for our children's character.

I will provide a few ideas down below, but first maybe you can relate to my story.
Maybe you can relate.

I came home from our workshop over-the-moon excited about Mediated Learning and talked for a mile a minute for half an hour before taking a breath. I poured forth like the dam being released, except nothing was related to each other. Just a lot of random snippets that were tossed out only to be interrupted by me saying, "Oh yeah, and then there was this one lady who shared...". It had all the earmarks of a gong show.
You might be thinking, "The excitement and fervor clued your husband in on how important this is to you." Not because he isn't astute. He is very astute. And he knows me soooo well.
I tend to get excited about the 'new thing' all the time.
My first year of homeschooling I went from the schooling approach of unit study-to classical- to unschooling-to Charlotte Mason-to unit study and back again. He knows what I'm like when I read a book or attend a seminar.
So, I had to approach things differently to first let him know I was serious about it.

Naturally, I got on my knees and prayed. And I got an idea. More importantly, I was able to realize what the most important priority of our discussion would be. My main motive here is not to make him see that mediated learning is the way we should be doing things. My main motive is to listen to what he thinks about it and if we, with God's leading, feel it is the way He would have us learn in our home.

And that, my friends, is key.

Some of you may have your spouses on board before you attended the workshop. For those who didn't, here are some questions to help you to make the connection (oh, I'm not giving you an answer! We're doing this the mediated way):

When could you take time to ask God for an idea?
When is the best time to get your spouse's full attention?
What creative way could you use to make a date to talk about this?
How could you turn this into a memorable moment for each other? (something that makes you look back and say, 'I remember where we were sitting when we made the decision to try this')
What distractions do I need to get rid of for us to have a meaningful discussion?
How will I remind myself to just listen without interrupting?
What are the most valuable things that I want to communicate in fifteen minutes about this approach of learning?
What examples can I use to bridge to the past?
What examples of his success or our success in making decisions together can I pull from?

Do you have any questions to add to this list? Leave a comment and let the thinking begin!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tuesday January 26

All sorts of fun..
You woke up to Christmas gifts that someone dropped off way late. So naturally there was exploring with the new toys
teddy bear play
dressing dolls
carting stuffed animals and playing cards
Tea party with pear tarts for breakfast

We had some water play...oh, I know what you are thinking... but there's a method to such allowed madness here...
ice experiments
making frost

Reading, reading, reading
Used tins from tarts to make ice sculptures and then estimated how long they'd take to freeze

Read about Archimedes and how he came up with catapults.
Read Simple Machines on levers and learn how to make them
Using fulcrum, force and load

Hung up our ice sculptures for visiting friends

Monday, January 25, 2010

ML Criteria: Goal Planning

We're covering the criteria of Mediated Learning. There are nine areas that fall into the Criteria category. These act as a means to Mediated Learning and they are important for ensuring growth in the learner. These factors affect the core and determine how you will Bridge and infuse meaning. They give a starting point for Intentionality and Reciprocity.

Goal Planning
Planning Behaviour. The parent/mediator helps the child set goals that are realistic and appropriate, helps them to take the organizational steps they need to take and evaluate, modify and adjust goals as needed

*these definitions are copied from my notes supplied byWisdom Homeschooling

Click here to learn about what Mediated Learning is and click here to learn about the Core of Mediated Learning.

What 's white and black and red all over?

If you are on my blog for any length of time and stumble across a Mediated Moment, you will trip over the colors in which I use to tell our stories.

Here is a breakdown of those colors and why they are on this blog.

Mediated Learning has a core at it's center. It consists of Initiative and Reciprocity, Bridging (to the Future or the Past) and Meaning.
Whenever I am writing a story, I will use RED to show that all three criteria are present. It's not a Mediated Moment unless all three are involved.
I'm using this as a way to show you, the reader, how the moment unfolded without you trying to find or identify the "core".

I'm not an expert and I welcome your feedback to challenge or help me and others understand how one of the three elements may be weak and how it could have been built upon further.

Around the core principles of mediated learning you have nine components of learning. Here, you focus on what to put emphasis on during this particular learning experience.
On my blog, you'll find them in PURPLE. They are:
  • Regulation and Control of Behavior
  • Feelings of Competency
  • Sharing Behavior
  • Individuation
  • Goal Setting
  • Challenge: The Search for Novelty and Complexity
  • Awareness of the Potential for Change
  • The Search of Optimistic Alternatives
  • Feeling of Belonging
I will blog on what all these components are later (and when I mean later, I mean lllllatttter. As in, I'm working right now on mastering the core and asking questions with some of the components in mind. I may bring in a guest blogger to write a little on these. We'll see).


GREEN is the chosen color for anything that is a method or approach that has been taught in the workshops I've attended or something that we (my husband and I) have decided to make part of our own home culture in our effort to mediate.

These include:
Package words
Step-In/Step-Out Approach
and many more (as soon as I figure them out!)

There you have it. An interpretive guide to understanding the rainbow on this blog. Perhaps we will all find a pot of gold at the end, non?

Getting a Habit--but not the kind nun's wear

Today, I wanted to take some time and work on creating a new habit.
The habit of Asking Questions and LISTENING. Sometimes I ask questions but then I answer them for my children, which kind of (kind of?) defeats the purpose.
I also observed that my eldest was doing all the talking for her sister. My four year old would mimic her big sister or look to her for what her answer should be.
I set aside some time today to work one-on-one with my four year old with the Intention of Asking her Questions and letting her answer them her own way. I shared with her that it was important that she make the decisions during this task because I wanted something that was uniquely her idea(Meaning). After all, we want her to have some neat things to show Daddy when he gets home later and to use this week that will help her learn our new poem. (Bridging to the Future). In my mind, this was a weak bridge, but it was all I had at the moment. I didn't really think ahead on a way to bridge this one!

I brought out all sorts of art supplies. My daughter and I went over all the creatures we'd need. A horse, bird, spider, dog, cow,cat, fly and goat were all on the agenda. I told myself to ask questions as much as possible and avoid giving any answers.
We began with, "Which animal do you want to make first?" Followed with "What do you want to use to make it?" "Is there any body parts that you want to include?" "What will you use to make fur?" "How big do you think we should cut the nose?"
This is the horse. I was quite amazed at her creativity. I also observed how she saw a horse and what parts she felt were vital to include.
We kept going. I had set apart an hour for this task while the babe napped and my eldest drew and read.
This is a horribly out of focus cat. My daughter chose large ears. I asked if cat's had anything in particular on their face? (Using the step forward approach--I will blog about this at a later time)
"Whiskers," she whispered. So we added some.
For the most part, I think I only told her to do something two or three times. And...And!!!...when we got to the last animal she started to dialogue out loud, saying,
" am I going to make this one? Do we have feathers? I need a nose and eyes and a body. Mom, what do you want to use for the body?"

Here's our motley crew creatures that she created...all on her own. She made them as a result of answering questions.

ML Technique: Asking Questions

January 25

Spent a luxurious hour on the couch, after devotions, reading books...
Many books...dinosaurs, space, old ladies, poems, big and little, the moon (of course!) and some math books!
A fun book was How High Can a Dinosaur Count. My eldest didn't realize she was answering math questions with it until a tricky subtraction question came up. At first, she grumbled and wanted to close the book. But we talked about the blocks and what happens when we live a life without subtraction. I asked her if she wanted to try again, and she did. And she conquered the question (way to conquer that challenge!).
We loved the Math Curse A great book that introduced some new math concepts. Including fractions...

Explaining fractions
Talking about eighths and 16ths (eldest figured it out!)
Then chasing
And tickling
And wrestling
Guess who is making lunch today? Eldest. I just got to put some things away!
A few computer games
More moon talk
Watched first landing on the moon via you tube
Art stuff

Guess who's reading Math Curse by herself for the second time today?
Playing doctor
Burn hand on glue gun...real doctor game at home.
Nothing a cool compress can't soothe and then some stories
Donut man movie to take mind off the pain

Re-enactment of Saul of Taursus! The blinding light was quite a scene!
Rhyming, rhyming rhyming...please stop rhyming I'm trying to think
"Is that what stinks?"
"I said 'no more' "
And then ruckus laughter over The Stern Eye is given
The Daddy joins in on the best ways to evoke a Stern Eye from Mama! Comedy hour at our house, followed by the proclamation by our four year old, "I don't have any willpower! I don't!"
Of course not ;)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday January 22

It was one of those days today. The kind where our teddy Bear gets more accomplished then any of us.
This is Buddy.
We took yesterday's moon dust and added salt and water and made clay. And then played some rock,paper,scissors.
Buddy found some unique shoes
After and hour and a half, these turned out well...
And this, a pteradon and a tree with grape vines-- that was forgotten in the oven for an hour longer than necessary-- survived the blunder
Buddy wanted to explore our cupboards for awhile.
A fight ensues over Buddy, so consequences are applied...
Time out for Buddy!
We paint our new fruit for our new fruit bowl
Buddy has a party with friends
We listen to Raffi and learn Michael, Row the Boat Ashore
We learn it's history and I am corrected. I thought this spiritual song was used by Harriet Tubman to guide the slaves. We learn about Harriet and her crusade. My eldest says, "I like that line: River Jordan is chilly and cold, hallelujah
Chills the body but not the soul, hallelujah

Buddy tackles the laundry
Watched my sister's dance company's recital. Thanks Mom for the video!
Buddy is inspired by the Indiana Jones dance number.

Buddy has more energy then the rest of us today. He's doing the dishes for us. Thanks Buddy, you live up to your name!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The building blocks of learning

Ok, now that some serious thinking and praying for an idea has happened, I'm ready (maybe) to mediate our biggest hurdle at present: " I hate math!"

I prayed and the Lord gave me a picture to relate to my daughter about the role that math plays in our lives and He gave me some direction in how to go about it.
We had a great 45 minute discussion and for the benefit of time, I will give you the highlights or a slightly edited version.

I invite my daughter to sit down and talk with me about math and explain that I want us to enjoy learning about it together. (Intentionality and Recrpocity)

I first introduce her to the three blocks that all of our learning is done on.
Yep, literally three blocks. Reading. Writing. Arithmetic.
I then asked her to look around the room and tell me what she liked about the room. She noted different toys, different colors, etc. Then she started talking about up cleaning up and how she liked that our shelves were organized and in order.
"If I took everything off and had to put them back on (without order) I'd be puzzled."
"Great insight," I comment.
I put two yellow blocks up and said, "Did you know that orderliness and being organized comes from math?"(Bridging)
A look of surprise comes on her face.
We talk about sorting, grouping objects together and how that helps us in our home. (Meaning)
"Do you think that's a useful skill to have?"
I place the red block on top of the two yellow signifying it's importance in our daily lives.
Then she started talking about organizing her room and since we set up an orderly system it's easy to keep clean. She noted that her room is easier to keep clean because it is smaller than the living room. She then got up and measured her room in feet (we were in the living room).
I asked her if she realized the comparing and measuring were math skills. (Bridging)
"Oh, that's right!" she said.
I put two small building blocks to stack on top of the previous red one.
I then asked if she wondered why being able to compare room size would be beneficial. (Meaning)
"Do you think that's a useful skill to have?"She thought about it and then we talked about how understanding size and being able to measure things helps us know what can go into the room, how big to build a house, etc.
Once she saw the valued connection with comparing and measuring, I put a red block on top of the bridges.
Then we talked about going to the grocery store. We role played several possibilities that can happen when shopping and I bridged to some experiences that we had the previous day at a thrift store.
"What helped you figure out which items to buy?"
"Well, I only had five dollars and I wanted three things but could only get two of them."
"What decision were you able to make?"
"I chose what I really wanted and put one item back."
"Did you know that math helped you do that." (Bridging)
"Oh no! Not subtraction!"
"Yep and addition helped too." I placed two blocks on the building again.
We talked through that scenario again that took place at the store and walked through her thought process about how she decided. (Meaning) (Competence)
"Do you think that's a useful skill to have?"
Once she saw how valuable adding and subtracting are to different areas in our lives, we added the red block on top.
We talked a little bit about distance and shapes and some other things. Then we stacked up up two more triangles on top to show that math makes life interesting. This tower is our life and math helped us build it. (Sharing)
Then we took a few minutes to play and have fun.
I then reminded her of her first statement, "I hate math."
"Imagine," I said, as I approached one of the blocks. "What would happen if we didn't learn subtraction and we lived our whole life without knowing how to do it." (Bridging)
"What do you think would happen?"
Crash! (Meaning)
"How does this change our life?"
"It's broken. You can't build on it. It's fallen over."
"Right. Can you see why learning math is important?"
"Would you like to brainstorm with me some ideas on how we can make math more fun?"

We pulled out several books and inventoried our games and came up with 8 new ways that we could approach math. (Optimistic Alternative)

We left this conversation with a united sense of purpose. We are traveling the math path together. I'm learning to undo former ways of being taught to do math, and she's learning how it all fits into the big picture of life. A moment of success for build on for us.

Kind of like a red building block.

Everything has a reason...and these are mine

Whenever I mention that I homeschool, there is an immediate white elephant that shows up in the room. And his name is "What's wrong with institutional or public education."
Well...if I started this post on that vein of thought, I wouldn't get around to talking about my real passion: why I homeschool.
But not to leave you empty-handed or dodge the issue, I will provide an alternative. If you enjoy reading then I highly recommend reading the book written by award winning teacher Dumbing Us Down: the Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Education by John Taylor Gatto. Here is a link outlining his main arguments. Find it here. It does a better job of verbalizing my thoughts about the current approach to education in the school systems.

Why I homeschool

1. Looking out at the World- First and most important to my husband and I is developing a Christian world-view. It is of the utmost importance to us that our children are rooted and grounded in the truth of God's Word--the Bible. It's also extremely important to us that they are taught through the lens of a creation. There is so much proof for Intelligent Design. (If I kept in this vein of thought I would veer off topic. So, I will refer you to this link as well as recommend you watch the DVD Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed to get you started.) Education has to be based and rooted in Truth.

2. And I don't mean the goofy kind- Character. If my children go through the education years learning facts and information but miss learning how to be integral, truthful, persistent, orderly, etc. I will have failed them as a parent. Homeschooling provides so many opportunities to instill value and meaning into your child's life through teachable moments that are constantly presenting themselves--whether academic or practical.

3. Practicality-Homeschooling gives me a chance to connect or bridge everything we're learning to daily life. Math takes on new meaning when it's applied at the grocery store, grammar is infused with meaning when writing a thank you card, reading becomes important when you want to make cookies. Everything we learn has meaning and rarely is heard, "Why do I have to learn this?" If it is asked, it's immediately applied to a daily real-life situation so it is relatable and can be understood as improtant.

4.Delight-Led- This is so huge for my family. Our children are varied in their interests and it's great that we can tailor-make school towards their interests. For example, dinosaurs are all the rage at my house this year. We learn math using dinosaur figurines to add and subtract, we write stories about dinosaurs, we do science based around dinosaurs, we have discussions about dinosaurs, etc. My child is fully engaged in the learning process becomes the medium in which the information is being learned is of high interest to my child.

5.Learning Style- There are multiple intelligences. I love that homeschooling allows me to adapt to each of the ways my child learns. I have one daughter who is extremely kinesthetic in her learning style. Concepts that are explained verbally are understood if she can do something physical as a way to retain the information. Imparting information and facts can take on new meaning for a child when they are represented in the best way that they learn.

6. Socrates is not just an old Greek guy- I love the Socratic method of teaching. What is it? Asking questions. Traditional school is usually someone telling you information. Socratic teaching or mediated learning is all about asking questions and requiring your child to think. And to think all the way to the full end of an idea. (ie. What do you think will happen if we put the vinegar in the baking soda? Why do you think that will happen?What happened when we did that? Why did it happen? Where can we find the information to get the reason why? How does this information change what you thought before?)

Homeschooling is a perfect fit for our family.
The reasons are obvious aren't they--the reason I homeschool is because I want my child to have the best education possible.

The Wrestling Match with the Three R's

I mentioned before about the need to mediate the three R's. Particularly in the area of how my daughter is viewing it and at present, "hates that boring stuff."

I took some time to first look at how I was teaching them and my own thoughts about them. And it boiled down to this. I felt this need to teach the Three R's so that I can justify to others that I am covering the basics when they say: "So, you homeschool ?" and when they ask me what curriculum I use and I answer none, their first question is "but you are teaching her the basics right?"
And I step up and say, "Yes, of course. Everyday. The Three R's are essential and we do them."

And they are essential and we should do them.
But not for that reason.

This is my second year homeschooling and I'm actually reticent to say that because I believe in life long learning (Learning that starts from the womb as they are being read to!). But this is my second year of being intentional about really understanding what my children's passions are and how they learn and facilitating that process for them- and so I recognize that in some instances I'm new to this whole culture of educating my children.
I had someone encourage me and tell me that feeling that way is just part of the process of homeschooling. When you go against cultural norms and question things, people are bound to look at you funny. You have to do things for the right reason and because it is the right thing to do.

So that little pep talk brought me back to re-thinking my approach to the Three R's and why I want to cover them everyday.

Here's why:
Reading is the gateway to learning within our world and for ourselves
Writing is the gift of communicating within our world and for ourselves
Math is the foundation and a language of practical daily living within our world and for ourselves

And now stay tuned for how this all unravels as I apply meditational techniques to the Three R's and their role in our home and community.

Thursday January 21

The day starts with fierce T-rex being captured
And a gloriously frosty morning
Back indoors to enjoy our mail bag surprise (thanks Amy-Tati, we just got the magazines last night! Chirp and Chickadee)
Followed by a good knock-knock book
And the book the Math Curse! Everything's a problem that needs to be solved!
Tea time
Morning workouts and tickle fests
Then time to make a dino world
The dinosaurs come and drink at the pond
Reading game found from 'Teach Your Child to Read in Ten Minutes a Day". by far, my most favourite book on how to teach kids to read. Using tons of games and not getting caught up in explaining rules but focusing on the phonetics of reading.
Mama T-rex has an announcement to make...she's expecting
Daddy measures and puts up the clock. Girls are busy helpers.
The eggs are put to use as cookie making commences. Again, this was a recipe the girls did by themselves. I was only called in for rolling dough when things got sticky and needed some more muscle power.
A quick lesson on oxidation, and how lemon juice prevents apples from turning brown
A quick game of sticker-beards
We are all about the moon around here. My younger girl stares out the window each night and always comments on the moon. I got some books from the library on the moon and thought we'd see where this interest went. And it took off. First we read a charming story called 'Henry's First Moon Birthday' . Then another Moon book.
Then using one of the pages, we made a moon puzzle like this one.
Then we made craters. Big ones. Dropping an orange from high up into a pan of flour. A delight puff of moon dust.
Very big craters!
We also used marbles and made small ones. They were being washed off and some little hands came along to help. And then high pitched screams went forth as the girls said, "Mom, Mom! He's got marbles! He's going to eat them!"
Then we had a ruckus of a time with flour.
Followed by a shower and sweeping and vacuuming.
Re-read Henry's First Moon Birthday again. And then again.
And another bout of Henry's First Moon Birthday.
Then some audio book of Peter Pan
Clay play.
We then read Henry's First Moon Birthday one more time.
We decided that we should make a Moon Birthday Celebration dinner for tonight. So we made a list of everything they did in the book and then picked what we wanted to do: Food!
And some more monkey business with the clay.
Celebrating our "New Moon Birthday" dinner with some Chinese food!