22 April, 2006

Pack, Clouds, Away

Pack, clouds, away! and welcome, day!
With night we banish sorrow:
Sweet air, blow soft! mount, lark, aloft!
To give my Love good-morrow;
Wings from the wind, to please her mind,
Notes from the lark I'll borrow.
Bird, prune thy wing, nightingale, sing!
To give my Love good-morrow.
To give my Love good-morrow,
Notes from them I'll borrow.

Wake from thy nest, robin readbreast!
Sing, birds, in every furrow!
And from each hill let music shrill
Give my fair Love good-morrow,
Blackbird and thrush, in every bush--
Stare, linnet, and -sparrow,
You pretty-elves--amongst yourselves
Sing my fair Love good-morrow!
To give my Love good-morrow,
Sing, birds, in every furrow.

Thomas Heywood

I have been down and sick with the flu for almost a week, falling just after the business and joy of singing on Easter Sunday and having family over.

I can finally be up for a few hours at a time. I'm getting at least *some* appetite back, as well.

Away, clouds of illness! Away, weakness!
Welcome strength...you are far too long away~


13 April, 2006

Anniversary Present

Isn't this simply beautiful? This came in the mail today from dear Hubby. What a lovely surprise, since our 21st Anniversary isn't until next month. The inscription contains the first two stanzas of Shakespeare's Sonnet 116. He found it at Shakespeare's Den, which has other fun presents with an artistic flaire.

He sent it early on purpose.


Sonnet 116

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

06 April, 2006

Bookish Quiz

Been tagged again. This time by Tootlestime

1. How many hours a day do you spend reading? About 30 minutes to an hour, usually...sometimes more depending on the day. Wednesdays, probably none at all.

2. How fast do you read? I am a pretty slow reader, prone to distraction, especially if trying to read in the car. I read much better before bed at night, when all the people are quiet :-).

3. What is your favorite book? It's hard to choose just one, so I'll choose the one I've read the most...Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis

4. Who is your favorite author? Fiction: I really enjoy Mark Twain. He makes me laugh out loud. Female author: Louisa May Alcott

5. What is your favorite action/adventure novel? Ivanhoe, and currently enjoying The Scottish Chiefs with my boys

6. What is your favorite mystery novel? Books by Victoria Holt. I never read them in high school, as so many people I know, but as a young mother.

7. What is your favorite romance novel? Like Tootlepip from Tootlestime, I choose Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen; Sense and Sensibility comes in a close second.

8. What is your favorite character novel? Bleak House by Charles Dickens

9. What is your favorite fantasy/sci-fi novel? The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien.

10. What is your favorite history book? I like Will Durant's history books and those by Paul Johnson.

11. What is your favorite biography? Louisa May Alcott by Martha Saxton;
autobiography: The Journals of Louisa May Alcott

12. What is your favorite other non-fiction book? Nonfiction/philosophy: Edith Schaeffer's Hidden Art of Homemaking.

13. What is your favorite play? Much Ado About Nothing or The Merchant of Venice by Shakespeare. The Tempest is fun to watch.

14. What is your favorite of the genres mentioned in questions 5-12? Plays; I also enjoy short stories. There was no question for that :-(

15. What is your favorite type of character? One who is guided by integrity and can exhibit warmth, compassion, and even a bit of humor.

16. If you could host a party with 7 literary characters, who would they be and why? Aslan; Jo March, because of her passion for her sisters, her writing, her steady attitude and honesty; Elinor Dashwood, because of her shrewd manners and compassion; Merry or Pippin, because they hung out with Kings and grew strong, brave, and even taller; Robin Hood, who stood up for the little people; Kino or Juana (from The Pearl) who wanted to better their people by being able to provide a chance at education for their son, who could be an advocate for their people...and to share the lessons they learned the hard way; Ethan Frome, because he, just like the others (and all of us), needs the hope and salvation that Aslan can give!

17. Do you like film adaptations of books? If so, which is your favorite? Which is your least?Sometimes, yes! Masterpiece Theatre does a masterful job of it. I love their recent version of Bleak House. I like most things about A&E's Pride and Prejudice.

Least favorite: Disney versions of books are pathetic.

18. Who is your literary role model? Elinor Dashwood. She was a woman of rich, steady character, who could "govern her emotions," be trusted as a friend, and put others before herself. Her honorable character is an encouragement to me (she honored others and their commitments), but I am happy that she was given a chance at a deeper relationship with Edward Ferrars.

19. Which literary house would you like most to live in?
Emerson house in Concord or perhaps Plumfield. I love New England, and would dislike living "across the pond" and so far from family, even if it was in a huge manor house or estate!

20. Which literary couple would you like most for parents? Sam-wise and Rosie ;-) or Jo and Professor Bhaer

21. Pick 3 literary characters you would like to have as siblings. Aragorn, Elizabeth Bennet, Margaret Dashwood

22. Who is your favorite literary villain? Favorite as in most wellwritten? Brian de Bois-Guilbert

23. Name a character that most people dislike, but that you do not. Why do you like them?
Brian de Bois-Guilbert- He really loved Rebecca, and he died (with honor) to spare her life.

24. Which minor character deserves a book all to themselves, in your opinion?
Not sure. I'll have to get back to you on this one.

25. Which character do you identify most with in literature? Amy March (baby of the family, for one; artistic; love travelling in Europe; and I would have asked Laurie the same questions she asked him about his feelings for Jo. I would like to think that I would not, however, burn Jo's manuscript in a fit of anger, but who knows? If I knew my mother wouldn't spank me, maybe I would *smirk*!)

26. If you could go into a novel, which one would it be and why? A Jane Austen or an Antebellum novel. The ballroom dancing would be oh so much fun!

27. Do you prefer hardback or paperback? Paperback for lending or borrowing, but hardback for keeps on shelves.

28. Do you like dustcovers? Absolutely. Protective boxes, or slip-cases, as well.

29. Do you like introductions, forwards, afterwards, and appendices? Most definitely!

30. Do you like reading literary criticism? Often, yes!

31. Do you like new or used books? What about ex-library? It depends on the book. I like beautiful, old bindings, because they are pleasant to see and to hold, whether they are being read, or are just resting on tableside or shelves.

32. Are you likely to buy new books without having read them, or would you buy a used copy (or check it out from the library) to see if it is good or not? It depends on the author. If it is an author whose work I enjoy, then I will buy it new and have it autographed, if the opportunity arises. That is pretty rare, though. Otherwise, it is used books for me! Dh's and my favorite date is going to the used bookstore together.

33. Name 3 - 7 books that you rarely see on people's favorite book lists, that are high on your own. I can name authors:
Garrison Keillor
Alexander McCall Smith
Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain

34. Which is your least favorite book of those that are considered "classics"? So far, and I have plenty of classics which I have not read, yet, my first choice is:A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway. The characters are utterly self-centered.

35. Do you like books read aloud, or do you prefer silent reading? Well, this depends. Funny books and short stories are best read aloud. Sketches are best read aloud. I also think of Garrison Keillor stories, or wonderful poetry. This is another favorite pastime for dh and me.

36. When you read, do you see things in your mind like a movie, or just in vague pictures? Yes, like a movie, or a play.

37. Do you like to read in silence, or with backround noise/music? It depends on the book or series. I've only read a few series books, and enjoyed listening to music from the time period in which the book was set. For example, Russian music (Prokofiev and Tchaikovsky for a series set in pre-revolutionary Russia).

38. Can you read in the car without getting carsick? Yes

39. Do you go to booksales? Yes, but not each one that comes up.

40. Name one literary quirk of yours.
I have a few...I absolutely will *not* fold page corners down as a bookmark. I will not stick book labels in the front end papers, either! I love dust jackets. I don't mind old books, because I love to fix them. Browned, dried pages (signs of bad paper) are unable to be repaired, though...so I avoid books in this condition.

Bonus question: Name one book you plan to read again soon. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard

05 April, 2006

Spanish Class Resource Updates

My curriculum search is over and I have chosen Bob Jones Spanish 1 for my high schoolers for this fall in co-op. It has most of the things (included within the program) that I have been adding in to my classes: Bible verses, which I had been including for copywork and memorization, Missionary dialogue, just to name two major components. It appears to prepare the students better ahead of the oral or written exercises with the details and reasons for concepts (for each particular lesson) in the learning of the language; some of the things that don't seem to follow the rules of grammar / are irregular. I don't have a test package, yet, so can't give a good review on those, yet.

This past year, I had so many frustrations with Spanish is Fun, which was what the co-op already had on hand. There were many mistakes in the teacher's key, Fairly important words thrown in that had not been introduced, yet, pictures to be identified or labeled that were not specific enough, instructions before exercises that did not make sense, and even a couple of vocab words that were typed wrong. I'd print up special charts that I found on the internet to help identify the problem words in the book, even though they could be found in the glossary in the back. I also handed out verb charts...or directed the students to the webpage where I found them (about 1/3 of the way down the page).

The audios did not match the dialogue in the lessons so often. Sometimes it was close, and Madre had been changed to Padre, or other characters names were switched altogether. I could, and did work with that, and warned the students ahead of time. The reviews for the test were fairly useless, imho, like silly word searches or even a "fortune telling" exercise in one chapter reveiw. I completely changed the tests after the first two units, adding in more vocabulary and other things that seemed to be more specific.

The Spanish 2 and 3 teacher had already switched over to Bob Jones for her classes, mainly because Bob Jones is one of the few curriculum providers (of those that market to homeschoolers) that had a level three. After looking over a friend's copy of Level one, I was quite impressed. It will also prepare the students better for Spanish 2 and 3 at our co-op, as Spanish is Fun had just barely introduced the Preterit tense. Bob Jones goes farther than that in year 1. I'm not sure where Spanish 2 begins, but I imagine it will review what was introduced in the last chapters of BJU 1. I will be sure to let you all know how it actually went...this time next year *grin.*

For Junior High level:

I had originally planned to use The Learnables year 1 for my junior high class, but another class (I think the 4-6th graders) were already using that. So, I have been testing a new, hot off the presses (in September, 2005) curriculum called El Español Fácil. It can be done independently by older students, or spread out over several years for younger students. The main concept is to build a notebook with various activity sheets and copywork. This is what I had done with them last semester on my own, but this program has some fun (maybe a little cheesy) dialogue, and added more structure to our notebooks. This program contains phonograms in it which you can copy onto cardstock for the students. I did not use these. Some people might love them, and I may use them next year.

Since this program is so new, there are typos throughout. Where it should say Spanish in some places, or México, it says French or France. The curriculum is put out by the same group that made The Easy French. So, pretty understandable, I suppose.

It worked for my junior high students pretty well, but I still had to add in some other activities. The cut-paste-color type suggestions in the curriculum were really pretty juvenile for this age group after a while, and I felt the activities were way too simplistic and brief. I added in extra geography and cultural trivia, as well, and brought in some photos from The Yucatán that I'd matted for a gallery showing. I cooked some of the food specialties, brought in unique fruits and drinks, magazine or newspaper articles in Spanish, and taught them some silly songs that I'd learned over the years. All this to keep some variety and depth to the class, and help, well, make it fun.

The kids had learned some very basic dialogue via the CD's, but on the last few weeks, I added in some beginning grammar of simple sentence building, to show them what types of things I'd be teaching them in Spanish 1. I do believe I can begin this earlier in the year with my next group of students. I may even use some of the activities from Spanish is Fun, since I have the quirks all figured out in my teacher's manual and binders. We'll see. I want to build a better bridge in the transition from lower school Spanish to Junior High to the Spanish 1 High School level.

These are just some of the things that I've done and have worked for the classes I've taught.

Results will vary, depending on how much time you and each student puts into *any* program.

If you'd like, feel free to read some of the older reviews of some of the Spanish curricula and resources that I've used in the past or incorporated into this schoolyear, and shared links to online sources that I've come across several times in the last few months, here, here, and here.
I have used some OOP resources, as well, and have not written about them, yet.

My favorite internet site with worksheets to fill in is Enrique Yepes' pages (so far).

Another favorite site is Spanish Pronto. You can find fun activities (for a small fee) at Enchanted Learning.

Any questions or comments? Do you have co-op experiences and resource ideas of your own to share? I'd love to hear about them.

Señora Javamom

03 April, 2006

Washington Irving

Born on this date in 1783. He is a famous American short story writer, essayist, poet, travel book writer, biographer, and columnist, best known for the short stories "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle". We read both of these earlier in the schoolyear as part of our study of American Literature.


1. Irving is the first belletrist in American literature, writing for pleasure at a time when writing was practical and for useful purposes.
2. He is the first American literary humorist.
3. He has written the first modern short stories.
4. He is the first to write history and biography as entertainment.
5. He introduced the nonfiction prose as a literary genre.
6. His use of the gothic looks forward to Poe.

(from Perkins, et. al. The American Tradition in Literature. 6th Ed. One Volume)

I had to look up Belletrist. It is defined as one who is devoted to belles-lettres...meaning one who is interested in the finer or higher forms of literature; literature being regarded as fine art.

Here are a couple of good Irving quotes:

"A kind heart is a fountain of gladness, making everything in its vicinity freshen into smiles."

"Little minds are tamed and subdued by misfortune; but great minds rise above them."

Happy Birthday, Mr. Irving!