Wednesday, November 28, 2012

An easy way to read a classic book

One of the challenges most people have is finding time.  There are millions of demands on our time from people, companies, TV shows, books and so on. 

I want to read more books, but I struggle making the time..  I go through spurts where I'll read a few in a couple days and then nothing for weeks. 

A trick I've found which helps me is DailyLit.  You can sign up for regular emails.  Snippets of a book will arrive via email.  It is much easier to read a book in small bite sizes.  This is how I finally got around to reading Anna Karenina.

Reminder: Please send in a post for next week's Carnival of Homeschooling

Please remember to send in a post about homeschooling for the next Carnival of Homeschooling. The Carnival of Homeschooling will be held next week at: The HomeSpun Life.

This will be the 362nd edition.

Go here for the instructions on sending in a submission.

As always, entries to the Carnival of Homeschooling are due Monday evening at 6:00 PM Pacific Standard Time.

I have a reminder mailing list. If you would like email reminders, please tell me.

Carnival of Homeschooling

This week's Homeschool Showcase is up

The latest Homeschool Showcase is up at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Good thought about your life

In our society it is easy to live someone else's life:

It's important to run not on the fast track, but on your track.  Pretend you have only six months to live.  Make three lists: the things you have to do, want to do, and neither have to do nor want to do.  Then, for the rest of your life, forget everything in the third category.
 - Robert S. Eliot and Dennis Breo

From my Franklin Covey planner.

Into space for my father, maybe to Mars for my son

We talk a lot about space in my family.  One of my father's dreams is to be able to ride into space.  At the rate private rocket companies are going I think he will make it.  And because we frequently talk about the latest news on space my six-year-old son has said he wants to be a space man.

The possibility of this just got stronger for me today.

Elon Musk has a goal to help start a colony on Mars.  This caught my eye:

The first group of adventurers would include fewer than 10 people, with each paying $500,000 for the ride on a reusable rocket fueled by liquid oxygen and methane.

If the first group or two can make a viable go of it, and if the price really is in that range, I think we'll see a migration similar to the Pligrims and Puritans.  And maybe my son will be one of them.

Another reason to homeschool - to protect your boys from biased teachers

This is interesting.  A recent study in the UK found that Female Teachers Give Male Pupils Lower Marks:

Female teachers mark male pupils more harshly than they do their female students, research has claimed.

Additionally, girls tend to believe male teachers will look upon them more favourably than female teaching staff, but men treat all students the same, regardless of gender.

The study, released on Thursday, told 1,200 students in 29 schools to place financial bets on who would give them higher grades: external examiners or their teacher.

Dr. Helen suggests this may be one of the reasons why fewer men are going to college:

What they leave out of the equation is that boys and men are discriminated against–giving them little incentive to try.

Suzanne Venker sees this probelm as a larger, destructive trend:

To say gender relations have changed dramatically is an understatement. Ever since the sexual revolution, there has been a profound overhaul in the way men and women interact. Men haven’t changed much – they had no revolution that demanded it – but women have changed dramatically.

In a nutshell, women are angry. They’re also defensive, though often unknowingly. That’s because they’ve been raised to think of men as the enemy. Armed with this new attitude, women pushed men off their pedestal (women had their own pedestal, but feminists convinced them otherwise) and climbed up to take what they were taught to believe was rightfully theirs.

If you have sons, one of the best things you may be able to do for them is to homeschool them, protecting them from a hostile school environment.

Hat tip: Instapundit and Rob Long

Learning how to program

As a software engineer I think programming is a great skill for everyone to have.  I like this article: So you want to be a programmer, huh? Here are 27 ways to learn online.

If you do want to learn programming, I strongly encourage you to read Code Complete by Steve McConnell.  Steve does a great job of reporting on the research about writing code.  For example he spends a whole chapter just on the naming of variables.

Salman Khan's crusade to change the world of education

Khan Academy is one of the organizations looking at making seismic changes in education.  Salman Khan sees the cost of education dropping to zero.

Technology Review has a good interview with Salman Khan.  Salman has just published a book titled The One World School House: Education Reimagined.  As part of the Q&A with Salman Khan explains where he sees the world of education going:

Here’s what I think it could look like in five years: the learning side will be free, but if and when you want to prove what you know, and get a credential, you would go to a proctoring center [for an exam]. And that would cost something. Let’s say it costs $100 to administer that exam. I could see charging $150 for it. And then you have a $50 margin that you can reinvest on the free-learning side.
I think that is consistent with the mission. You are taking the cost of the credential down from thousands of dollars to hundreds of dollars. And the [software] system would tell them they are ready for it. So no paying tuition for community college and then dropping out, or even finishing the whole thing and saying “Oh, I’m $20,000 in debt and what did I get out of it?”
Now you are like, “Look, there is this micro-credential in basic accounting I can get for $150, and I basically know I am going to pass before I invest that money.” That would be a huge positive for the consumers of education, and it could pay the bills on the learning side.

It was interesting to learn Salman has made over 3000 videos which have been viewed 240 million times.  Khan Academy is getting over six million unique users each month of which there are a couple hundred thousand hard core users.
If you would like to know more, go check out the interview.

Hat tip: Instapundit

This week's carnival is up: No two are alike

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up at Notes from a Homeschool Mom.

The carnival starts with:

Whenever I host a Carnival of Homeschooling, I read the posts and they come in and try to see how they may tie in together- to see if a theme may emerge. This time I found less similarities than in previous issues. To me, this shows how homeschooling has evolved since I began 10 long years ago. Back then, every homeschooler I met was an Evangelical Christian, and homeschooling mostly for religious reasons. This made me stand out because while I am Christian, I wouldn't call myself Evangelical, and I was homeschooling out of what I felt was necessity.

Personally, I find comfort in the diversity that has evolved in the homeschooling community, and would like to celebrate in this edition of The Carnival of Homeschooling.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Book review: Death in the Clouds: A Hercule Poirot Mystery by Agatha Christie

I read Death in the Air by Agatha Christie years ago.  I remembered this after reading the first couple pages.  Even remembering the basic plot I enjoyed rereading the book.  I recalled who committed the murder and this second time through I really examined the clues.  The book was still enjoyable.

Hercule Poirot again “happens” to be close to a murder.  (One of the people in the book makes a funny comment about how people die because Hercule travels.)  At first it seems like Madame Giselle may have died by natural causes, but Hercule quickly determines that it was murder.   It appears she was poisoned by a dart from a South American blow-gun. 

There are thirteen people in the section of the plane of the murder.  Hercule suspects early who committed the murder, but he has to gather clues.  He interviews all the passengers and the two air attendants.  For a while it seemed like no one had motive, but Hercule is able to find four people could have had motive.  He continues to dig into Madame Giselle’s past and finally learns enough to prove who committed the murder.

It was a satisfying conclusion.

If you have enjoyed other Agatha Christie’s mysteries I’m sure you will enjoy this one.  And if you are new to Agatha Christie, this is a good place to start.

Monday, November 26, 2012

My homeschooling day

I have a niece who is coming tomorrow evening to visit for a couple days.  We’re planning a few trips.  Since I have several days of vacation I’m taking this whole week off.  I’m hoping to catch up on several ignored chores.  So far I’ve only marked off two from my list.

Rarely do I interact much with my children as they do their school work.  My younger two daughters are doing their school work on their own.  My oldest daughter spent the morning at a local junior college in some of our classes.

We have a young foster care boy with us.  This morning I took him and our six-year-old son for an hour walk around the neighborhood.  Monday is garbage day so we saw several garbage trucks.  We followed one for a couple blocks as it picked up over a dozen garbage cans.  We watched water flow down a stream.  We talked with a tow truck driver.  He had run a quick trip home.  I asked why he had a sign on the side of the truck which said “No for hire.”  He explained he doesn’t do rescue, he does repositions. 

Janine often takes the younger children to Sky High on Monday afternoons.  The local Sky High has a homeschooler discount on Mondays.  Today I tagged along. 

Our twelve-year-old daughter loves to play dodgeball.  Our six-year-old son’s strategy is to hang out in the back.  He is constantly moving around.  He has trouble throwing the ball hard enough and accurately enough to nail someone on the other side, but on the flip side he is pretty hard to hit.
My son loves to jump up and land on a side trampoline with his spider-man pose.  This is having his hands and feet touching the wall. 

It has been a pleasant day.  It was fun to hang out with the children for a bit, especially to watch the happy faces of the younger two jumping all over the place.

Now it is back to work.

Why do we teach math?

In The Unreasonable Ineffectiveness of Mathematics Education Alex Reinhart attacks the current approach of teaching math in public schools. 

His columns starts with:

In American schools, mathematics is taught as a dark art. Learn these sacred methods and you will become master of the ancient symbols. You must memorize the techniques to our satisfaction or your performance on the state standardized exams will be so poor that they will be forced to lower the passing grades. Never mind the foundational principles, proofs, or derivations – you’ll learn those in due course.

Why? Why do math? Because you’ll need it, that’s why. You’ll use it in your physics classes. And I’m sure I can think of examples of how you’ll use math in “real life”, whatever your chosen career may be. Right? Right. I hear engineers have to know how to solve differential equations, for example, and before you can do differential equations you need to learn logarithms. So get back to chapter 14 and get working.

This is the message we’re giving our children, and it’s no wonder so few students develop an interest in mathematics. Ask any math major: Math isn’t about memorizing some formulas and learning how to factor polynomials. It’s… well, it’s something much deeper. It’s fascinating. But what is it exactly?

He then goes on to explain how much of life is learning the rules and how to work with the rules.

Good column.

Some good thoughts.

The effect of mental stimulation on brain development

Books Change How a Child’s Brain Grows is a good article with a misleading title.  The article is really about what factors seem to encourage brain development in young children. 

Here are a couple key paragraphs:

To investigate, neuroscientist Martha Farah of the University of Pennsylvania and her colleagues recruited 64 children from a low-income background and followed them from birth through to late adolescence. They visited the children’s homes at 4 and 8 years of age to evaluate their environment, noting factors such as the number of books and educational toys in their houses, and how much warmth and support they received from their parents.

More than 10 years after the second home visit, the researchers used MRI to obtain detailed images of the participants’ brains. They found that the level of mental stimulation a child receives in the home at age 4 predicted the thickness of two regions of the cortex in late adolescence, such that more stimulation was associated with a thinner cortex. One region, the lateral inferior temporal gyrus, is involved in complex visual skills such as word recognition.

Home environment at age 8 had a smaller impact on development of these brain regions, whereas other factors, such as the mother’s intelligence and the degree and quality of her care, had no such effect.

The study re-enforces the thought that the first couple years of a child's life are key.

Nice article: The Year I Went to School and Why I Left

Ruthie Gopin, a 16-year-old young lady, wrote a nice article on The Year I Went to School and Why I Left.

She's mostly been homeschooled the last six years, but she decided to try out public school for a year.  She writes about being torn between attending a public school and being homeschooled, and then ultimiately choosing to be homeschooled.

If you have a teenager struggling with doing being sure which type of schooling is right for him, this article may help.

Would you use a Carnival of Homeschooling Facebook page?

The thought occurred to me this weekend that some people would like to follow a Carnival of Homeschooling Facebook.  Each week I could post reminders and the latest carnival. 

Is there any interest?

Which ladder are you on?

We can't just be busy, we have to be heading in the right direction:

Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.
 - Stephen R. Covey

From my Franklin Covey planner.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The latest edition of "a homeschooling carnival" is up

Brenda is hosting the latest edition of a homeschooling carnival at Garden of Learning.

An important skill to teach our children

I like this:

The art of dealing with people is foremost secret of successful men.  A man's success in handling people is the very yardstick by which the outcome of his life's work is measured.
 - Paul C. Packe

From my Franklin Covey planner.

A definition of study

From Waiting for "Superman"

study - The act of texting, eating and watching TV with an open textbook nearby.

(This isn't how we define study at our house.)

Maybe I'll ask for a 3D printer for Christmas

I've long been fascinated by 3D printers.  Venture Beat reports on Portabee: A $500 3D printer you can finally afford.  I have a friend at work who has a 3D Printer and he is using it to build another 3D Printer.  I'll ask him if the Portabee is worth getting.

3D Printing is an emerging technology.  It has the potential to fundamentally change our lives.  Instead of going to the store to buy stuff, you may be able to print (make) much of what you want at home.

To show an example of where the technology may go here is a BBC report on Printing a bicycle with a 3D printer:

Do you like Lord of the Rings and Role Playing?

Like Darths & Droids, DM of the Rings tells the story of a role playing game using images from the Lord of the Rings movies. 

And again be warn: it will take hours to read through the whole story from the beginning.

A new homeschooling blog carnival

I was looking around in Blog Carnival this morning and came across another blog carnival on homeschooling! 

Liz is the organizer for Great Homeschooling Days

The latest Great Homeschooing Days is at How Do I Home School.

Friday, November 23, 2012

We've learned this lesson as parents

I like this thought:

Don't fight a battle if you don't gain anything by winning.
 - George S. Patton

From my Franklin Covey planner.

One of the attacks on higher education

Even with the vast changes in technology colleges and universities operate much the same as they did fifty years ago, but at much higher prices.  The costs have climbed faster than inflation year after year. 

Free Textbooks Spell Disruption for College Publishers explores how the exploding cost of textbooks may be brought into a more rational range. The article starts with:

Ask Ariel Diaz why he's taking on the college textbook industry and he'll tell you, "Quaternions."

Quaternions are a number system used for calculating three-dimensional motion, popular in computer graphics. And Diaz needed a crash course to help him with a consulting gig after his online video platform startup, Youcastr, had failed. He started with Wikipedia and found it was surprisingly good at explaining this complicated mathematics.

Diaz, who still resents how much he'd paid for textbooks in college and graduate school, realized he'd hit on his next business idea. In 2011, he started Boundless Learning, a Boston company that has begun giving away free electronic textbooks covering college subjects like American history, anatomy and physiology, economics, and psychology.

Textbook publishers can change $200 for a book because they have a locked in market.  The students have few other choices.  But there is no reason why the information can't be provided to the students at lower prices.  It will be interesting to see if Ariel Diaz can provide a viable alternative.

Reminder: Please send in a post for next week's Carnival of Homeschooling

Now that Thanksgiving is over you can send in a post about homeschooling for the next Carnival of Homeschooling. The Carnival of Homeschooling will be held next week at: Notes From A Homeschool Mom.

This will be the 361st edition.

Go here for the instructions on sending in a submission.

As always, entries to the Carnival of Homeschooling are due Monday evening at 6:00 PM Pacific Standard Time.

I have a reminder mailing list. If you would like email reminders, please tell me.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Fun learning game: Geography Match

My mother sent this link to a Geography Match game. 

It is fairly well done, though the European version sticks an image of Estonia next to England.  That is the only bug I saw.  I sent them an email and hopefully they'll have it fixed soon.

You might play the game yourself a couple times and then ask your children if they can beat your score.

Do you like Star Wars and Role Playing?

My oldest daughter sent me a Darths & Droids.  It is an online "comic."  They are using pictures from the Star Wars movies for the backdrop to a role playing game.  The game is somewhat similar to the plot in the movies, but there are fun differences. 

Be warn - reading starting at the begining and reading all that has been posted will soak up hours of your time.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A new Piano Guys' video is up: Lord of The Rings

This is nice:

but I sure wish they'd do the sequel to their first Star Wars video.

Looks like an interesting book: The Year of Learning Dangerously

Some where recently I came across a review of The Year of Learning Dangerously: Adventures in Homeschooling by Quinn Cummings.  It sounds like a good book.  If you have read it, could you leave a comment on what you thought of the book?

Here's an interview with the author:

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up - the Gratitude after Stormy Weather edition

Cristina is hosting this week's Carnival of Homeschooling at Home Spun Juggling.

She starts the carnival with:

The little things I'm thankful for after going through two storms, Hurricane Sandy and Nor'easter Athena....

Cristina breaks the carnival down into these categories:

I'm thankful for light
I'm thankful for batteries
I'm thankful for books and libraries
I'm thankful for ice and snow
I'm thankful for homeschooling/unschooling

Carnival of Homeschooling

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thoughts about homeschooling and blogging

As the organizer for the Carnival of Homeschooling I try to submit a post each week. Since we started the carnival almost seven years ago my wife and I have only missed a handful. I think we skipped around a dozen carnivals. Typically Monday morning I'll start thinking about a post then write it in the afternoon and submit it just before the 6:00 pm PST deadline.

Today I've been thinking a bit about homeschooling and our blog. We just passed our seven year blog anniversary last month and I completely forgot about it until today. Over the years we've shared our thoughts about homeschooling, education and family. In addition we've tossed in random bits from dozens of other topics. We've written hundreds of thousands of words.

Blogging has been educational for me. I've read other people's thoughts about homeschooling. I've struggled with the fire hose of information the internet provides and consistently wished I had more time. I've learned about HTML and some of the technical pieces of information that drive blogs.

Blogging has helped Janine and I be better homeschoolers. We've been a bit more thoughtful about how we homeschool because we have shared our approach, thoughts and challenges on the blog. We've also learned from many other homeschoolers who blog.

It will be interesting to see if blogging is still a major part of the internet in another seven years. I wonder at times if social media like Facebook will drive blogging to dark corners until it is gone like the dinosaurs?

Whatever the medium I'm sure people will continue to use the internet to share their thoughts and insights into homeschooling and to support others in their struggles.

The Parent Rap

This is cute:

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Could a college education be free in ten years?

Dan Kadlec shares some interesting thoughts about college education in Why College May Be Totally Free Within 10 Years.  The article starts with:

As few as 10 years from now, quality higher education will be largely free—unless, of course, nothing much has changed. It all depends on whom you believe. But one thing is clear: The debate about financing education grows louder by the day.

Technology had driven down the cost of so many services over the last couple decades.  And services like search and email are free.  I think the cost of higher education can likewise follow Moore's Law, if politics doesn't mess it up.  The current generation may be the last generation to mortgage their future to pay for a Bachelors degree.

A nice outdoor nativity scene

outdoor nativity

My sister's friend has designed this beautiful outdoor nativity scene. They are selling it via the web.

Janine and I enjoy ours. If you are looking for the "perfect" outdoors nativity scene, check it out. (
Here is a video showing how to put it together:

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Spunky's comment on seceding and public schools

Spunky posted this on Facebook:

"Conservatives: Forget seceding from the union, seceding from the government schools will accomplish the same thing a lot quicker and without a petition."

This is a movement I am already behind!

Reminder: Please send in a post for next week's Carnival of Homeschooling

Please send in a post about homeschooling for the next Carnival of Homeschooling. The Carnival of Homeschooling will be held next week at: Home Spun Juggling.

This will be the 360th edition.

Go here for the instructions on sending in a submission.

As always, entries to the Carnival of Homeschooling are due Monday evening at 6:00 PM Pacific Standard Time.

I have a reminder mailing list. If you would like email reminders, please tell me.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

This week's Homeschool Showcase is up

This week's Homeschool Showcase is up at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Are we spending enough on public education?

BrainTrack has this nice graphic about How Much Do Nations Spend on Students?

How Much Do Nations Spend on Students?

I knew that the per capita was pretty high, I hadn't realized we are spending over 7% of our GDP on education.

Hat tip: Joanne Jacobs

Some good thoughts about parenting

My cousin posted a link to 10 Things Not to Say to Your Kids. It is worth reading.

Interesting service: Is it down right now?

Sitemeter is a useful service for tracking visits to my blog.  I typically check Sitemeter's page for Why Homeschool a couple times a day. 

Recently Sitemeter was down for a day or two.  I did a Google search to see if there were any details about why it was down or when it would be back up.  I came across Is It  Down Right Now?  It tracks various web sites and reports on if htey are down and if so how long the site has been down.

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up - The Light Edition

Misty is hosting this week's Carnival of Homeschooling at HomeschoolBytes.

She starts the carnival with:

"With just a few great online homeschool ideas, this edition of the Carnival is a 'light' one."

And she then breaks the carnival into the following sections:

The light of gratitude and Thanksgiving
Lightening your homeschool difficulties
The Light of Example

Carnival of Homeschooling

Monday, November 12, 2012


A few of the speakers yesterday at church talked about the importance of gratitude.  As Thanksgiving is just around the corner I’m thinking more about some of the things for which I am grateful.  One of the speakers referenced studies which found that people who have an attitude of gratitude tend to be happier, more successful and live longer. 

One of the things I am grateful for is homeschooling. I am grateful we don’t have a conflict in what we teach our children, for example being thankful for their many, many blessings.  Society in general teaches children to want more.  Public schools especially foster an environment of focusing on material things and trying to keep up with the Jones.  It would be hard for Janine and I to spend a couple hours a day trying to help our children recognize how richly blessed we are and then have them spend eight hours a day with their fellow students where they learn to want more and be dissatisfied with what they have. 

For several months this year our family was in the habit of writing thank-you notes each week.  We would step back and think of those who had touched our lives for the better.  With the craziness of the soccer season we got out of the habit.  Now that soccer is over I’ll get my family going again on writing a few thank-you notes.

There is much in the world we can complain about.  There are many problems.  Sometimes I feel a bit like Don Quixote who was driven mad because his society was so decadent.  We should work to make the world a better place.  However, there is also much good in the world and it helps to remember our many blessings.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Reminder - send in a post for the next Carnival of Homeschooling

Please send in a post about homeschooling for the next Carnival of Homeschooling. The Carnival of Homeschooling will be held next week at: Homeschool Bytes.

This will be the 359th edition.

Go here for the instructions on sending in a submission.

As always, entries to the Carnival of Homeschooling are due Monday evening at 6:00 PM Pacific Standard Time.

I have a reminder mailing list. If you would like email reminders, please tell me.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

A secret to leadership

There is a lot of truth to this:

The secret of a leader lies in the tests he has faced over the whole course of his life and the habit of action he develops in meeting those tests.
 - Gail Sheehy

From my Franklin Covey planner.

Do you think Janine would get me a Dragonfly for Christmas?

This looks pretty cool.  I'd love to have one.  My son would also like to have one.  I wonder if Janine would get us one for Christmas?

For more information check out: This Robotic Dragonfly Will Soon Flit Into Your Nightmares For $99.

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling i s up - the Vote! Edition

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up at Sprittibee.

Heather starts the carnival with:

Welcome to the VOTE! Edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling! If you are new to ‘blog carnivals’, please read the link at the bottom of this post to find out more. This post has many links that take you off-site to other homeschool blogs where you can read their ‘showcased’ article submission. If you would like to submit an article for a future carnival or host the carnival on your site, please see the bottom section to find out how. Each carnival writer has the option to put their compilation to a ‘theme’ if they so choose. Being voting day, I figured it would be good to reflect on the process and the politics of making our voices heard.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Monday, November 05, 2012

A good thought from Walt Disney

I like this:

The difference between winning and losing is frequently not quitting.
 - Walt Disney

From my Franklin Covey planner.

Free online resources for learning American Sign Language

My second daughter is studying American Sign Language.  She has found these web sites helpful:

Learning Sign Language (ASL)

ASL Sign Language Video Dictionary

Good thoughts about education

Waiting for "Superman" had two good thoughts on Facebook this weekend:

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlear, and relearn.
 - Alvin Toffler

Education isn't what you learn, it's what you do with what you learn.

How Toastmasters has helped me with our homeschool co-op

When Henry and I first met, he was involved with Toastmasters.  For those of you who are not familiar, Toastmasters International is a public speaking club. After we got married, Henry got busy with other things and dropped out of Toastmasters. A few years ago, Henry joined a toastmasters lunch club at his work.  Occasionally, I would visit the meetings and bring the kids. Mostly I visited as an excuse to eat lunch with Henry.

Last year when Henry changed jobs, he helped reactivate a Toastmasters club at his new job.  Because it was a new club and they needed more members, I joined.

I discovered that Toastmasters has a very structured program of speeches and "roles" involved with public speaking and meeting management.  One of those roles is to be the "Toastmaster."  The Toastmaster prepares the agenda, sends out reminders, and recruits people to fill in open roles, such as timekeeper or grammarian.When I was a guest just visiting Toastmasters meetings, I never paid much attention to the mechanism of running a meeting.  As a member of Toastmasters, I've had my opportunity to act as Toastmaster on a few occasions.

This is the tenth year that I have been part of a homeschool co-op.  We meet once a week and provide a variety of classes and activities.  In years past, we often found ourselves improvising activities or classes because we hadn't really planned it all out in advance.  Since I've been a "Toastmaster" that has changed.

Early in the week, I send out an draft agenda for our Friday co-op meeting.  I borrowed the style from our toastmasters agenda that marks out a time and a person responsible for each agenda item.  I've even included a location so that we have planned out ahead of time which classes is in which room at the church.  I look ahead of time at potential conflicts.  For example, if we are having PE in the gym we can't use the gym for art class, or if we use the gym for art class, we need to plan for PE outside.

Here's last week's co-op agenda:

12:30 - 12:45 pm    Small / Medium / Large Opening Exercises in the sanctuary
                            (Opening Song, Pray, Flag, Rules Reminder )

                            Conducting: Jacob
                            Opening Song: Matiah
                            Opening Prayer: Sophia
                            Flag Cermony: Chase

12:45 - 1 pm        Small / Medium / Large:  Sharing Time Group #5
                           Emily, Deborah, Henry, Madison, Peter

Announce next week’s sharing group:
Sharing Time Group #6: Kayla, Hannah, Samantha, Ian, Lucy

1:00 - 1:30 pm     Small / Medium / Large: Singing Time in the sanctuary - [Jocelyn]

1:30 - 2:30 pm     Smalls:  Lesson in the Nursery [Sarah] 
                          Medium/Large :  Chess Lesson in Multipurpose Room [Henry]
                          Medium/Large:  Picture Puzzle/Sudoko [Janine] in room with the big table                       
2:30 - 3:00 pm   Smalls/Mediums:  PE in the Gym [Cathy]
                        Large: Art Appreciation in the multipurpose room [Tonya] 

3:00 - 3:30 pm    Smalls:  Free play in the nursery [Moms]
                         Medium: Art Appreciation in the multipurpose room [Tonya]
                         Large: PE in the gym [Cathy]

3:30 pm             Clean up

In addition to sending out the email agenda, I print out agendas for the actually meeting.  In the past, we've often not had a hard copy of assignments and had to scramble to look it up on line with someone's iPhone.  Things don't go exactly as planned, but using a more structured agenda has greatly improved our co-op experience. 

Facebook says Birthday Cakes are like Facebook

Facebook put up a picture of a birthday cake yesterday with this caption:

Birthday cakes are made for people to be together. They give friends a place to gather and celebrate. But too much cake probably isn’t healthy. So birthday cake is a lot like Facebook.

It is easy to spend (waste?) a lot of time on Facebook.  I try to limit myself to about thirty minutes a day.  Mostly I want to stay in touch with family and close friends.

Hat tip: Tech Crunch

An airplane briefing, Habbit styled

This is fun:

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Interesting thought about true knowledge

I like this thought, but I don't know how much I believe it:

True knowledge is not attained by thinking.
It is what you are; it is what you become.
 - Sri Aurobindo

From my Franklin Covey planner.

Book review: Towards Zero by Agahta Christie

I have always enjoyed a story by Agatha Christie. She has earned the reputation as one of the world’s most popular writers.

Towards Zero starts off with a group of lawyers talking about a recent acquittal. A senior lawyer makes the observation that murder is often the result of careful planning and unforeseen events. He calls the time of the actual murder the “Zero Hour.”

With this as the background we read the thoughts of a man who has been planning to kill someone. We have the vaguest of hints as to the coming murder, but we don’t have enough information to know who this man is or who he plans to kill. Then we are introduced to a group of people. We get to know them, their fears, and their follies. Two people die. The police are called in. We’re walked through their thoughts and findings until finally the murderer is uncovered and justice prevails.

Good mysteries are a kind of puzzle. We have pieces which we try to fit together. More and more pieces are revealed through the story. A well done mystery concludes with the author putting in the last piece and the reader is satisfied. Agatha Christie does this in “Toward Zero.”

All in all this is a very pleasant story. I had trouble putting it down. If you like Agatha Christie stories I’m sure you’ll enjoy this Towards Zero.

Friday, November 02, 2012

The latest Charlotte Mason Carnival is up

The latest Charlotte Mason Carnival is up at Our Journey Westward.

Susan Wise Bauer won't be speaking at homeschooling conferences anymore

Janine and I typically attend one homeschooling conference each year.  We don't follow the homeschooling conference world very closely.  Susan Wise Bauer was the top speaker at one of the first conferences we attended.  She gave a wonderful seminar and we still have the cassette tape recordings of her presentation.

Home-schooling pioneer Susan Wise Bauer is well-versed in controversy reveals that Susan has gotten grief and decided to stop speaking at homeschooling conventions.  It is too bad.  I have a lot of respect for Susan.  Her book The Well Trained Mind was one of the first homeschooling books we read. 

If you haven't read her typical days, check out: 1998, 1999,2000, and 2004.

I wish her well in her future endeavors.

Study finds homeschoolers are Happier, Better-Adjusted in College

Isabel Lyman used to blog extensively about homeschooling at The Homeschool Revolution.  She also wrote a book with the same title.  In 2007 she moved on. 

Yesterday she wrote an article about homeschoolers.  Study: Homeschoolers Happier, Better-Adjusted in College starts with:

The nation’s approximately two million homeschoolers, whom others frequently scrutinize and even stigmatize as socially inept, are better emotionally adjusted in college than their non-homeschooled peers, a new study concludes.

A peer-reviewed study titled “The Impact of Homeschooling on the Adjustment of College Students,” by Cynthia K. Drenovsky, a sociology professor at Shippensburg University, and Isaiah Cohen, compared the self-esteem and depression of conventionally-schooled college students to college students who had a homeschooling background.

Later the article shares:

Drenovsky and Cohen concluded homeschoolers “do not exhibit any significant differences in self-esteem, and they experience significantly lower levels of depression than those with no homeschooling.”

The study had a small sample size.  It would be interesting to have another study with a larger sample.

What is worse than ignorance?

I like this thought from Dan Galvin's Thought For The Day mailing list:

Being ignorant is not so much a shame,
as being unwilling to learn.

- Benjamin Franklin

You have two weeks to vote for your favorite homeschooling blogs

The 8th Annual Homeschool Blog Awards open up for voting today.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Book review: Out Of The Dark

Warning: There is a spoiler later in this review.

I have been reading science fiction for over thirty years. Aliens invading Earth is a popular theme. Because the stories are for us normally the humans somehow beat the aliens back. H. G. Well’s famous The War of the Worlds has germs being the key to winning the war. George O. Smith’s Pattern for Conquest has the clever humans ending up being the power behind the throne. Through the 1960s it seemed like Christopher Anvil wrote a story every year about some alien race trying to conquer Earth and being thrown back. His story Pandora’s Legions is his most famous.

Warning: Just a reminder that there is a spoiler later in this review, so if you don’t want the spoiler, don’t read the second to last paragraph.

Out Of The Dark starts by setting the stage. Aliens had come to Earth hundreds of years ago. They were shocked by just how violent and ruthless humanity could be to each other. After decades of heated discussion the Galactic Hegemony decides to allow the only space going predatory race to conquer the humans. The Shongairi arrive in our solar system cocky and confident. They have more advance technology and hold the high ground. They launch a surprise attack by throwing high velocity rocks at Earth and kill off hundreds of millions of people. Then their ground troops arrive on the surface and for weeks push humans around. The Shongairi find humans are better fighters and in several locations the humans are able to destroy Shongairi troops, but because the Shongairi have spaceships in orbit and can launch devastating kinetic strikes the humans are slow in retaking their planet.

Up to this point I greatly enjoyed the book. I would have given it four or five stars out of five. David Webber wrote with a great level of detail. The plot made sense. The characters were sympathetic and believable. Then totally out of left field Dracula saves the day. He leads a group of vampires to destroy Shongairi command centers on Earth and then they take the Shongairi space ships. I was in shock and disappointed. I really did enjoy the first two thirds of the book, but felt David Webber was unfair in pulling a rabbit out of the hat to win the war.

If you really like David Webber or stories about aliens trying to conquer Earth then you might enjoy this book. Otherwise skip it and try something like Pandora’s Planet.

The latest Homeschool Showcase is up

The latest Homeschool Showcase is up at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Thoughts about Noticing the Good

Most of us have a problem of focusing on the bad things our children do.  I don't know if this is ingrained in our nature or the way our society is.  I once heard that the average child hears more than ten negatives for every positive. 

Recently on Facebook Laurie Bluedorn linked to a nice post on Notice The Good.  In this post Rachel Stafford makes the point of the importance of noticing the good things her daughter does.  This is true for all of us. 

Glenn Latham writes extensively on this point in his book The Power of Positive Parenting.  He says that children will continue behavior that gets rewarded, and attention counts as a reward.  So paradoxically when parents ignore good traits and fuss at bad traits the children may continue to do bad things because they are so hungry for attention from their parents.

So make the effort to notice the good things your children are doing today.  They will appreciate the attention.

Reminder - send in a post for the next Carnival of Homeschooling

Please send in a post about homeschooling for the next Carnival of Homeschooling. The Carnival of Homeschooling will be held next week at: Sprittibee.

This will be the 358th edition.

Go here for the instructions on sending in a submission.

As always, entries to the Carnival of Homeschooling are due Monday evening at 6:00 PM Pacific Standard Time.

I have a reminder mailing list. If you would like email reminders, please tell me.
Carnival of Homeschooling

National Novel Writing Month

Each November there is a invitation to write a novel in a month. NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. I think it is a great program.

My young two daughters are going to participate. 

I'll share a story I shared last year:

The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups.

All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality. His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the "quantity" group: fifty pound of pots rated an "A," forty pounds a "B," and so on. Those being graded on "quality," however, needed to produce only one pot - albeit a perfect one - to get an "A."

Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity.

It seems that while the "quantity" group was busily churning out piles of work - and learning from their mistakes - the "quality" group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.

From Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking by David Bayles, Ted Orland

If you have any children with an interest in writing fiction you could encourage them to participate i National Novel Writing Month.

Good chart showing the exploding costs of government schools

American schools go on utterly insane hiring spree since 1950. Kids shrug, continue to do poorly on tests has a good chart showing the how we have doubled the amount of money per pupil we spend on children while getting no increase in subject mastery. 

The caption explains:

A new study from the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice finds that America’s public schools saw a 96 percent increase in students but increased administrators and other non-teaching staff a staggering 702 percent since 1950. Teaching staff, in comparison, increased 252 percent, Reason reports.

If non-teaching personnel had grown at the same rate as student population, American public schools would have an additional $24.3 billion annually. Scafidi’s report concluded that $24.3 billion is equivalent to an annual $7,500 raise per teacher nationwide or a $1,700 school voucher for each child in poverty .

I also enjoyed reading the comments.