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About royspeed

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    Hive Mind Worker Bee

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    Shakespeare, writing, history.

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  1. lewelma: Congratulations! — both to you and to your son! The process you both went through is fascinating. Well done.
  2. Just published a piece in City Journal on the challenge of teaching our kids to write. — Since writing is a perennial topic here, thought some of you might find this an interesting read. Beyond the Five-Paragraph Essay
  3. Mom28kds: Reading is vital at this stage. As EKS said above, grammar is merely supportive of the composition piece, and reading, too, plays a role in the student's command of the language. I'm convinced that students at your son's age are still absorbing language, internalizing from their reading things like sentence structure and punctuation and vocabulary. In my view, the literature piece should be challenging — reading that stretches the student's abilities. And at this age, along with close reading of really great authors: It's helpful if the student develops the attendant practices and skills, like annotating the text, looking up difficult vocabulary & puzzling allusions, etc. It's at precisely this age that students can develop into really active readers, and the reading skills they develop will serve them across the curriculum. — In other words, it's not just about literature. It's great if the student is able to discuss with other students everything he or she is reading, participate in a forum in which all the students are trying to articulate what they're seeing in the text. Forming ideas and observations on the fly and articulating them in real time are skills, and like all skills, they require practice. — So it's not just about composition; it's also about expressing yourself, speaking. Good luck to you and your son. —Roy Speed
  4. Mirabillis: Storygirl is correct. — Think of it this way: When the intro to the quotation forms a complete thought, i.e., an independent clause, that serves as a kind of promise (Here comes the thing that really struck me), use a colon. —Roy Speed
  5. Pistachio mom: I suspect that you will find such a forum only with live online classes specifically designed to foster such discussion. Also, I'd like to second your instincts here: I think such discussion is vital for our teens. The fact is, when they're first trying to articulate their ideas, they usually stumble and fumble; they discover that what sounded brilliant in their own minds doesn't always come out right the first time. — In other words, they need practice, and lots of it. For my part, the only activity I know of that provides such practice is live discussion — and preferably on topics all the participants are reading or studying, things they have in common. A course that features such discussion is difficult to beat. Here in Connecticut, by the way, I've found a way of fostering such discussion for local teens — by hosting regular movie nights. (Here's an example of one of my movie series.) — If that doesn't sound intriguing to you, feel free to skip the rest of this posting. For our movie nights, what I do is host dinner for all the participants, so that every evening begins with dinner & hang-out time (another thing teens need). Then, when we need to get started watching the movie, I give them a 5-minute warning: they move into the living room, where I've arranged our couches theater-style in front of our large-screen TV (we can pack in up to fifteen or so teens). When they're all assembled, I introduce the evening's film with background information on the movie or on its director or writer, sometimes giving information on the historical setting of the film, etc. We watch the first half of the movie, and then I pause the film and open the floor for discussion. — Over time more and more of the teens come out of their shells to join the discussion. I then give the teens more hang-out time, and after a half an hour or so, we reconvene to watch the second half of the movie. When the credits begin to roll, I turn down the volume, and we have our second major discussion of the evening. In the past, these post-movie discussions have often run to nearly an hour. — The teens discover, first, that there's a lot to discuss, and second, that they themselves have a lot to say. Carpooling parents have reported to me that at the end of these evenings, when the kids pile into the car, they often continue discussing the movie, sometimes for the entire ride home. One final point: These movie nights would never work without the heroic efforts of my wife, Diane, who knocks herself out preparing dinner for the teens. She makes them feel welcome and nurtured in our home. —Roy Speed
  6. Hi, everyone. My wife, Diane Speed, has long been interested in a challenge for our students not directly addressed in the high school curriculum — it seems to be something we parents must prepare our students for. That challenge is advocating for oneself. We just completed getting our second child into college, and we've been struck all over again — just as we were with our first child — at how many situations required her to advocate for herself with adults: interviews, auditions, college-admissions essays, scholarship-application essays, negotiating with schools about increasing scholarships or waiving requirements, and more. Has anyone else found this challenge as striking as we have? — Have any of your students taken courses that helped lay groundwork for this particular challenge? Diane has been writing about what she sees and has posted her thoughts in a two-part article (links below): (Removed link) Here Diane reviews various situations in which high-school-aged students must fend for themselves in their relationships with adults, e.g., for DE students, with professors. — She thinks it's important that our students invest in those relationships. (Removed link) In this part Diane addresses the ways our students must advocate for themselves both in the college-admissions process and when applying for scholarships. She also suggests things we parents can do to help address some of the skills/abilities our students need to be effective with these challenges. Is anyone else bumping into these issues? —Roy Speed
  7. Exactly. This is why I teach close reading. I think students acquire important skills from reading closely that they never acquire in the survey approach — i.e., reading that's a mile wide and an inch deep. It's also why I teach Shakespeare — he's the greatest writer in English, and in that contest, second place is not even close. By reading Shakespeare closely, students wrestle with human psychology, ethics, relationships, and the human condition. They learn about language, poetry, imagery, rhetoric. Reading Shakespeare, it's easy for students to see why we must all study great literature. —Roy Speed
  8. Many good comments in this thread. — As for our own experience with getting two kids through the high school years, it is consistent with what Momto6inIN says above; no need to repeat. Not many accredited courses, yet: Both our students received significant merit aid (one a full ride, the other full tuition). Both did a number of university courses as part of their high school educations. Both included in their college applications LORs from college professors. Key idea: You don't need accredited courses as long as you have a few objective items in your student's records that lend credibility to all the work you did at home, e.g., a few strong test scores, or a few college courses, and so on. Joyfullyblessed: There's an easy way for you to get all your questions answered and develop your own roadmap to the high school years and college admissions/college financing for your student — and that's an online workshop given by my wife, Diane Speed: Homeschooling the College-Bound Student As part of her workshop, you get a workbook with all the key guidelines & principles, lots of useful reference information, templates for your transcript, course descriptions, activity resumés, etc. — If you have any questions about it, you can contact her through the webpage above. —Roy Speed
  9. Kendall: Here's a really good read, perfectly suited to the ages of your students: The Year 1000: What Life Was Like at the Turn of the First Millennium, by Robert Lacey and Danny Danziger. —Roy Speed
  10. kokotg: Midsummer Night's Dream is not a bad place to start. — A few thoughts on resources: Introducing the writer & his works. This, I think, is the single biggest missing resource for teaching Shakespeare to our teens, i.e., a really great introduction to the writer and his works that puts his accomplishments into some kind of perspective. — I try to give students such a perspective in my own Shakespeare courses, and it's really challenging. Several years ago I wrote the following article, which was my first stab at such an introduction: Why All Our Students Must Study Shakespeare Criticism. One of the very best works of Shakespeare criticism that I'm aware of is Caroline Spurgeon's Shakespeare's Imagery (1936). — I give my own students excerpts from her book, both to enhance their understanding of the plays we're reading and to present models of really fine literary criticism. My students actually get excited about her writing — not something you often see with literary criticism; to them, her writing seems so fresh and alive that they can't believe her book came out in 1936. Shakespeare on film. I'm teaching Twelfth Night this summer and stumbled on one of the best film versions of Shakespeare I've ever come across: it's a performance in the replica of The Globe in London and features, among others, Stephen Fry and Mark Rylance. It's one-hundred-percent period costuming, and it's performed in the Elizabethan manner, with men playing all the roles. It's so so good... — At $30, the DVD is expensive, but you can probably find it at your library: Globe on Screen performance of Twelfth Night I think Romeo & Juliet may be the single best play for introducing Shakespeare to teens, partly because it contains a great deal of beautiful verse, and partly because the entire first half is wickedly funny — provided that you understand what Shakespeare is up to. (I've never had a student in my Romeo & Juliet series emerge from that course thinking of the play as "lame.") Good luck to you and your students. —Roy Speed
  11. JadeOrchidSong: MerryAtHope is correct. You can find our guide to all test codes for homeschoolers here: —Roy Speed
  12. madteaparty: I fear that the problem is not unique to homeschoolers, that it plagues all teens. For students today, the temptations and distractions are staggering — and they're too young and naive to understand the perils. Also, these distractions come at key formative period for our students' minds (see this article my wife and I wrote: The Development of Adolescent Minds). At this age, concentration and deep engagement with every subject in the curriculum are vital. One thing we did with our students was restrict computer use to the kitchen table. While I think such measures help, I'm afraid the problem is here to stay. — When I think back on my own adolescence, I have no illusions: I would have been a total sucker for the distractions of the Internet and social media. —Roy Speed
  13. baxterclan7: Two thoughts: Reading comprehension. I find that my Shakespeare students dramatically boost their reading comprehension — nothing like close reading of 400-year-old English to train students in the skills required for deciphering a challenging text. And what makes it all work is that Shakespeare is so rewarding, i.e., once you've worked out the meaning, you uncover something incredibly charming, or beautiful, or funny, or eerie, or thought-provoking. — And lest you fear that Shakespeare would be too much of a stretch for your son: I've found that sometimes the best way to lift teens out of their somnambulant reading habits is to pose a challenge they think beyond their abilities, then let them discover they can succeed with that challenge. (Few things in life are more exciting than overcoming an obstacle you consider bigger than yourself...) Note-taking. One underestimated aspect of note-taking that I consider vital is annotating a text. — See this article. — In addition, annotating helps with improving your reading comprehension. I would be happy to discuss, baxterclan7, if you want to know more — just message me, or you can email me at rspeed AT All the best. —Roy Speed
  14. Shellydon: It's distressing to hear that your daughter is struggling with this challenge — i.e., the personal essay. I have long been concerned about our standard approaches to student writing — for instance, students' being asked to write essays before they've actually read any. Unfortunately, the standard approaches don't always help the student discover his or her own "voice" in writing. Feel free to message me, Shellydon; I may have some suggestions. —Roy Speed
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