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5 hours ago, knitgrl said:

I am in the same boat with dd10. She is a voracious reader, so I cannot possibly read all that she does. This summer, though, I am in the process of getting a jump start on reading those things that I expect to discuss with her, specifically her history text and logic books, and a monthly novel from the character education program we will be using. It suggested Louisa May Alcott's "Eight Cousins," which was fairly progressive when it was written, but not so much now. I'm glad I read it, and think I'll choose one of the other options for that month to focus on.

 

Did you like Eight Cousins? I've never read it but am thinking about it for the 5th grade as an alternative to Little Women. 

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2 hours ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

Did you like Eight Cousins? I've never read it but am thinking about it for the 5th grade as an alternative to Little Women. 

I am a bit of a reading odd ball. I've read a number of Louisa May Alcott books, but have never gotten around to Little Women, so I can't make a comparison. I actually enjoy long forgotten Victorian novels, the protagonists always have such impeccable morals -- it's nice fantasy reading. Anyhoo-- "Eight Cousins" follows a popular pattern; orphan girl finds herself in the midst of 7 boy cousins. The Victorian constraints on women are questioned. But then around the first third of the book is a chapter called "A Trip to China" where she meets two Chinese men who are described as funny and yellow and having slanty eyes. And I was thinking, "Ok, I can work with this, and we can sit down and discuss what was happening in the world in 1875." The rest of the book was pretty ok, but there was just a slow build up of generalizations made about women that made me decide it wasn't worth it. For instance, there was the assertion that all women love jewelry, and while it was very deliberate about  going against the notion that girls should not enjoy vigorous (and at the time what some considered "unlady-like") activities, the purpose for physically strengthening girls was so that they could better serve as housewives. If I wanted to use this book to explore social norms of the 19th century, it would be great, but since the plan was to use it in the context of talking about character and virtues, I kind of figure there are other books that will be a better fit.

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1 hour ago, knitgrl said:

I am a bit of a reading odd ball. I've read a number of Louisa May Alcott books, but have never gotten around to Little Women, so I can't make a comparison. I actually enjoy long forgotten Victorian novels, the protagonists always have such impeccable morals -- it's nice fantasy reading. Anyhoo-- "Eight Cousins" follows a popular pattern; orphan girl finds herself in the midst of 7 boy cousins. The Victorian constraints on women are questioned. But then around the first third of the book is a chapter called "A Trip to China" where she meets two Chinese men who are described as funny and yellow and having slanty eyes. And I was thinking, "Ok, I can work with this, and we can sit down and discuss what was happening in the world in 1875." The rest of the book was pretty ok, but there was just a slow build up of generalizations made about women that made me decide it wasn't worth it. For instance, there was the assertion that all women love jewelry, and while it was very deliberate about  going against the notion that girls should not enjoy vigorous (and at the time what some considered "unlady-like") activities, the purpose for physically strengthening girls was so that they could better serve as housewives. If I wanted to use this book to explore social norms of the 19th century, it would be great, but since the plan was to use it in the context of talking about character and virtues, I kind of figure there are books that will be a better fit.

This was a fun description to read : ) and I can see why it wouldn't be a great fit for your curriculum. I guess Alcott had her limitations as a reformer.

I remember once reading a short story by Alcott about girls' clothing -- the girl in the story was being given some kind of modern, experimental outfit that left her much freer to move around than the stiff bustles and things she would've been wearing otherwise. So there was this interest in change on the very immediate, individual level but I wonder if it translated into the bigger picture.

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22 hours ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

Here's the book about the astronomer. Maria's Comet

It's probably not the best book on the topic but I didn't want anything that was too long. This book looks pretty good. I think if my DD is interested in learning more, we might get this book. Finding Wonders: The Three Girls Who Changed Science

I'm trying to read most of the books or to at least be familiar with them. I designed a class last year for Native American history and I did not read enough of the books in advance. I think that would have been better. 

Thanks a lot. I'll look for these both! 

I have very soaring ambitions when it comes to preparing for the coming year -- hopefully I'll meet my own expectations : ) It's been really helpful seeing what others are doing.

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3 hours ago, knitgrl said:

I am a bit of a reading odd ball. I've read a number of Louisa May Alcott books, but have never gotten around to Little Women, so I can't make a comparison. I actually enjoy long forgotten Victorian novels, the protagonists always have such impeccable morals -- it's nice fantasy reading. Anyhoo-- "Eight Cousins" follows a popular pattern; orphan girl finds herself in the midst of 7 boy cousins. The Victorian constraints on women are questioned. But then around the first third of the book is a chapter called "A Trip to China" where she meets two Chinese men who are described as funny and yellow and having slanty eyes. And I was thinking, "Ok, I can work with this, and we can sit down and discuss what was happening in the world in 1875." The rest of the book was pretty ok, but there was just a slow build up of generalizations made about women that made me decide it wasn't worth it. For instance, there was the assertion that all women love jewelry, and while it was very deliberate about  going against the notion that girls should not enjoy vigorous (and at the time what some considered "unlady-like") activities, the purpose for physically strengthening girls was so that they could better serve as housewives. If I wanted to use this book to explore social norms of the 19th century, it would be great, but since the plan was to use it in the context of talking about character and virtues, I kind of figure there are other books that will be a better fit.

Thanks. I think we will pass. 

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On 6/6/2020 at 6:01 PM, lewelma said:

It sounds like many of us wish to discuss the design of our own curriculum to support the unique characteristics of our children.  As Serendipitious Journey suggested: 

 And thanks to 8 for suggesting the idea and good luck to those heading towards the new facebook page.

I'll post this starter message now.  And then think of some of my own questions and ideas and post again soon.  Please join me. 

ETA: I've posted a lot here at the start just to get a vibe going on the thread, but please know this is not an Ask Ruth thread.  🙂  The more voices the better.


The best place that I've started the last few years is by making a strengths & weakness assessement of each individual.  In other words, where do they fly and where do I need to bolster up learning?  Then asking myself, "What do I want to facilitate accomplishing this year for him/her?" Did what I used last year work towards these goals? In what way did what we used last year work and in what ways did it fall short?

Over the years, I've discovered it's less important what time period I'm studying and far more important to make sure foundational skills are solid.  Foundational skills can be applied to any period of time or to any science area, so these are less important decisions in my mind.  

After I've answered those questions it becomes about tools - what will help me accomplish those ends? Then I'll dovetail to the next questions:
History - what time period?
Science - what area?
What books feed into the questions above?

I use an eclectic mix of texts and "real" books to accomplish my goals.  I've found I need "brainless" do the next thing texts in some areas and, in others, I enjoy the planning and pulling together of other resources like whole books, videos, etc.  

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2 hours ago, BlsdMama said:


The best place that I've started the last few years is by making a strengths & weakness assessement of each individual.  In other words, where do they fly and where do I need to bolster up learning?  Then asking myself, "What do I want to facilitate accomplishing this year for him/her?" Did what I used last year work towards these goals? In what way did what we used last year work and in what ways did it fall short?

Over the years, I've discovered it's less important what time period I'm studying and far more important to make sure foundational skills are solid.  Foundational skills can be applied to any period of time or to any science area, so these are less important decisions in my mind.  

After I've answered those questions it becomes about tools - what will help me accomplish those ends? Then I'll dovetail to the next questions:
History - what time period?
Science - what area?
What books feed into the questions above?

I use an eclectic mix of texts and "real" books to accomplish my goals.  I've found I need "brainless" do the next thing texts in some areas and, in others, I enjoy the planning and pulling together of other resources like whole books, videos, etc.  

I've started doing the assessment idea ^ that Kelly mentions, and it has been a game changer in how I plan.  It really helps me focus on what is needed, and not get lost in too many mental rabbit trails in how I plan.

Honestly, I ask those same kind of questions *about me as a teacher* as well.  What are my strengths, my weaknesses, hey, MY needs here too!  Not in a selfish way, but in a "let's be realistic" way.  If one my kids needed calculus next year, I do not have the ability to give it to them.  Blood from a stone, here folks.  I can do Algebra 1, but not calc.  So, if my child needs calculus, how is that going to happen?  Outsourcing, but how?  How much $?  How much time?  How much will this require of ME, and what can I give this child in this area in relation to my other children and their needs (and my husband and his needs, and my home, and my church, and myself, and my health, etc.)

 

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On 6/24/2020 at 3:28 PM, Little Green Leaves said:

This was a fun description to read : ) and I can see why it wouldn't be a great fit for your curriculum. I guess Alcott had her limitations as a reformer.

I remember once reading a short story by Alcott about girls' clothing -- the girl in the story was being given some kind of modern, experimental outfit that left her much freer to move around than the stiff bustles and things she would've been wearing otherwise. So there was this interest in change on the very immediate, individual level but I wonder if it translated into the bigger picture.

Some positive thoughts about reading the books of Louisa May Alcott today:

A very important point to remember is this: We owe much of our 21st-century values to the courageous reformers of the 19th-century, such as Louisa May Alcott. She was a strong abolitionist and supporter of women's rights. LMA was the first woman to register to vote in Concord, Massachusetts when women were given a limited suffrage there. Her family refused to wear cotton because it was produced by slave labor. She never married, so she certainly didn't see women's rights as pertaining to housewives only. She was fiercely loyal to her family, so rather than reading some of her words as limiting to women, she probably meant them more as supportive of family.

As for the example from Eight Cousins, of course Americans today would not portray a Chinese man the way LMA did, though if I remember correctly there is no insinuation of inferiority, but remember that in Rose in Bloom Annabel marries a Chinese man, and Rose is delighted. As far as I know, this may be the first interracial marriage in an American children's book, and it is portrayed in a positive light. 

As a person, Alcott was a brave, courageous, independent woman of high moral character in how she lived her life, not just in the words she wrote. As an author, she created female characters who also exhibited the same traits. (Nan in Jo's Boys is a prime example). She is a remarkable example of a strong woman. 

I hope you will give her books a chance, reading them with an understanding of what a far-reaching vision LMA had of a better world.

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6 hours ago, Quarter Note said:

Some positive thoughts about reading the books of Louisa May Alcott today:

A very important point to remember is this: We owe much of our 21st-century values to the courageous reformers of the 19th-century, such as Louisa May Alcott. She was a strong abolitionist and supporter of women's rights. LMA was the first woman to register to vote in Concord, Massachusetts when women were given a limited suffrage there. Her family refused to wear cotton because it was produced by slave labor. She never married, so she certainly didn't see women's rights as pertaining to housewives only. She was fiercely loyal to her family, so rather than reading some of her words as limiting to women, she probably meant them more as supportive of family.

As for the example from Eight Cousins, of course Americans today would not portray a Chinese man the way LMA did, though if I remember correctly there is no insinuation of inferiority, but remember that in Rose in Bloom Annabel marries a Chinese man, and Rose is delighted. As far as I know, this may be the first interracial marriage in an American children's book, and it is portrayed in a positive light. 

As a person, Alcott was a brave, courageous, independent woman of high moral character in how she lived her life, not just in the words she wrote. As an author, she created female characters who also exhibited the same traits. (Nan in Jo's Boys is a prime example). She is a remarkable example of a strong woman. 

I hope you will give her books a chance, reading them with an understanding of what a far-reaching vision LMA had of a better world.

This is such an important point.   In addition to the above, authors then, just like today, were at the mercy of what publishers would publish.   LM Montgomery, for example, was frustrated at having to write within the narrow confines of what was considered publishable children's literature.  But, if she wanted to be published and to be paid, she had to stick to their framework.  (My dd and I read The Green Gables Letters when she was in 7th grade.  I would NOT read anything like that with a younger student and only then if the student has a strong mature footing in understanding themselves and what they believe.  But it does give strong insight into the behind the scenes "author frustrations." https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1426207.The_Green_Gables_Letters )

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15 hours ago, Quarter Note said:

Some positive thoughts about reading the books of Louisa May Alcott today:

A very important point to remember is this: We owe much of our 21st-century values to the courageous reformers of the 19th-century, such as Louisa May Alcott. She was a strong abolitionist and supporter of women's rights. LMA was the first woman to register to vote in Concord, Massachusetts when women were given a limited suffrage there. Her family refused to wear cotton because it was produced by slave labor. She never married, so she certainly didn't see women's rights as pertaining to housewives only. She was fiercely loyal to her family, so rather than reading some of her words as limiting to women, she probably meant them more as supportive of family.

As for the example from Eight Cousins, of course Americans today would not portray a Chinese man the way LMA did, though if I remember correctly there is no insinuation of inferiority, but remember that in Rose in Bloom Annabel marries a Chinese man, and Rose is delighted. As far as I know, this may be the first interracial marriage in an American children's book, and it is portrayed in a positive light. 

As a person, Alcott was a brave, courageous, independent woman of high moral character in how she lived her life, not just in the words she wrote. As an author, she created female characters who also exhibited the same traits. (Nan in Jo's Boys is a prime example). She is a remarkable example of a strong woman. 

I hope you will give her books a chance, reading them with an understanding of what a far-reaching vision LMA had of a better world.

I love this. Thanks.

I didn't mean to come across as critical of Alcott. I grew reading and rereading both Little Women and Little Men....Little Women was one of my favorite books. I do remember Little Men and Jo's Boys feeling just a little bit sad to me -- as a young reader, I wanted Jo to do "more" with her life. But you know, it would be interesting to read those and her other books again, as an adult. 

 

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8 hours ago, Little Green Leaves said:

I love this. Thanks.

I didn't mean to come across as critical of Alcott. I grew reading and rereading both Little Women and Little Men....Little Women was one of my favorite books. I do remember Little Men and Jo's Boys feeling just a little bit sad to me -- as a young reader, I wanted Jo to do "more" with her life. But you know, it would be interesting to read those and her other books again, as an adult. 

 

Oh, I didn't think you were critical, either.  Just wanted to add some information that many people don't know.  Best wishes!  

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16 hours ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

This is such an important point.   In addition to the above, authors then, just like today, were at the mercy of what publishers would publish.   LM Montgomery, for example, was frustrated at having to write within the narrow confines of what was considered publishable children's literature.  But, if she wanted to be published and to be paid, she had to stick to their framework.  (My dd and I read The Green Gables Letters when she was in 7th grade.  I would NOT read anything like that with a younger student and only then if the student has a strong mature footing in understanding themselves and what they believe.  But it does give strong insight into the behind the scenes "author frustrations." https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1426207.The_Green_Gables_Letters )

Thanks for adding that point, 8!  Now I really want to read The Green Gables Letters, too.

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On 6/8/2020 at 6:00 AM, lewelma said:

I'm curious how people adapt their program to the child throughout the year.  I have really struggled with this.  I'm not good with strict weekly/monthly deadlines like a school -- if my boy finishes an assignment early I feel like I could have used that time to teach him more, but if he isn't done by the due date, then I probably put too much in the program.  Because I have only taught every class once and maybe twice, I can't easily judge how much can be accomplished. For this reason, I have never used due dates.  We work until it is done to a mastery level.  But the problem with that approach, is it does not reward hard work or penalize laziness.  And both of my children have requested content goals rather than time goals because they find them more motivating.  It's just that I can't seem to get the content goals right.  Thoughts? 

One of my mums friends who homeschooled one of my friends warned me about this.  She said her son ended up hating homeschooling because if he finished the work early she would just add more work.  My son also really likes a set list of work to get through within reason.  The only issue is the quality is not always that great because he just works to finish.  Part of that may be a problem with the work.  But when I’ve tried to pick stuff that’s more engaging he’s mostly still just interested in being done.  I think he’s rather efficient than interesting. For him it’s best if I have a set of boxes to check then freedom. Dd on the other hand would happily do stuff all day with me as long as she’s engaged but if she doesn’t want to do it it doesn’t matter how short it is she’ll be impossible.  So for her I need a different approach but it’s hard to get the right one.

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On 6/25/2020 at 6:58 AM, Little Green Leaves said:

This was a fun description to read : ) and I can see why it wouldn't be a great fit for your curriculum. I guess Alcott had her limitations as a reformer.

I remember once reading a short story by Alcott about girls' clothing -- the girl in the story was being given some kind of modern, experimental outfit that left her much freer to move around than the stiff bustles and things she would've been wearing otherwise. So there was this interest in change on the very immediate, individual level but I wonder if it translated into the bigger picture.

It’s years since I read eight cousins but from memory there’s a section about not wearing corsets because they compress the internal organs...

pity that didn’t progress to bras 😂😂

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