Saturday, May 3, 2014

Why Parenting Bible?

I'm back. I've always been a little concerned about the name of this blog. I mean, parenting bible? Who do I think I am.... Moses?

Just to be clear, I do not.  I'm just trying to collect all my info into one place, a single "bible" of what little wisdom I'v e collected.

Even wisdom is too strong a term, it's more the approach that I choose to parent by.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Building English Skills

As a parent, are you satisfied by their verbal and written skills? Are they skilled readers? Do they get enough practice in which they have to be active and thinking about words and games?  I'd recommend a lot more word play games and efforts that actually build skills.  there are plenty of online word games and I've collected some lists of them here:

English Learning Games and Lessons

The materials all come from a great site, let me quote them a bit here: wants to make our spelling website an invaluable part of every child's spelling and vocabulary education. To help us keep improving our vocabulary & spelling games

English Word Lists

Here's an example of their analogies information.

Welcome to VocabularySpellingCity's introduction to Analogies! Here you can find word lists of analogies, see analogies examples, learn about types of analogies, and compareanalogy vs. metaphor. You can also customize sentences to create funny analogies for kids that can be used to play analogy games. You can even generate an analogies worksheet from many of our games!
An analogy (dog is to puppy as cat is to kitten, or, as it commonly appears on standardized tests, especially in higher grades: dog : puppy :: cat : kitten) is a comparison between two things that are usually thought to be different from each other, but have some similarities. They help us understand things by making connections and seeing relationships between them based on knowledge we already possess. Check out the fun Analogies video lessons above to learn more about them!

Types of Analogies include:
  • Synonym (happy : joyful :: sad : depressed)
  • Antonym (inflation : deflation :: frail : strong)
  • Characteristic (tropical : hot :: polar : cold)
  • Part/Whole (finger : hand :: petal : flower)
  • Degree (mist : fog :: drizzle : tropical storm)
  • Type (golden retriever : dog :: salmon : fish)
  • Tool/Worker (pen : writer :: voice : singer)
  • Action/Object (fly : airplane :: drive : car)
  • Item/Purpose (knife : cut :: ruler : measure)
  • Product/Worker (poet : poem :: baker : pie)

Different types of analogies are introduced at different levels. Elementary school analogies may be simple, possibly funny analogies; whereas middle school analogies may focus more on analogical reasoning. Analogies practiced in high school delve even more deeply into analogical problem solving.

Analogy vs. Metaphor

Students often confuse analogies with metaphors. Both are comparisons, often involving unrelated objects, so what IS the difference? An analogy is a parallel comparison between two different things, whereas a metaphor is more of a direct comparison between two things, often with one word being used to symbolically represent another. "All the world's a stage. And all the men and women merely players." is an example of a famous metaphor. William Shakespeare is directly comparing the world to a stage, with the people playing " roles" as they go about their daily lives. A comparable analogy would be "Players are to stage as figure skaters are to ice rink."
Whether the goal is preparing for a standardized test, such as the SAT, or simply increasing one's communication and reasoning skills, fun online analogies games are an excellent tool for practicing them. Click on the links to the right to play some Analogies games from our sister site Vocabulary Fun, or check out the VocabularySpellingCity games below, each pre-loaded with a list of Analogies at a different grade level! The games below are programmed using the "_ is to _ as _ is to_" format; however, with the ability to customize sentences, you may create Analogies MatchIt Sentences and WhichWord? Sentences games from your own word lists using the "_ : _ :: _ : _" format, if you wish!

Analogies at a glance:

Elementary School Analogy Words: big, snow, hand, pencil, apple, cat, happy, milk, ruler, eye
Middle School Analogy Words: gigantic, anxious, blustery, thermometer, chameleon, barren, staff, drizzle, fiction, digestion
High School Analogy Words: carnivore, abhor, placid, laceration, adulation, hone, democracy, Confederacy, milliliter, philanthropist

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Writing Skills - More important with the Common Core

There is so much attention to standardized tests in K12 education:  The FCAT and TEKS and so on. And they are apparently all changing to a new format with a whole new approach known as the Common Core. What is this Common Core and why such a fuss?

The common core came from an initiative by a group that I had never heard of called the State Supervisiors of Education (or something). They felt that they could cooperaitvely come up with new standards, now known as the CCSS.  Big changes in language arts that they are pushing.

1.  Much harder. Many states since Bush's NCLB had dumbed down their state tests to make their students looks smarter.  The standards really shot down the last 15 years. This moves them back up.
2. Much more skills and conceptual, much less acceptance of simply remembering and regurgitating information.  Higher order thinking skills!
3. Less emphasis on understanding literature, more emphasis on dealing with non-fiction writing.
4. More media sophistication. Who is the writer of this piece? Are they narrating? Convincing? Persuading? Hiding? Claiming objectivity?  Documenting researching? Reporting?  Can you write with each of these biases?
5. Much more emphasis on proper use and deep levels of vocabulary.

To help, many parents this summer are considering helping their kids with a remote study summer program for general summer skills work,  or summer writing work.  Here's some info on writing materials to help you think about it!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Symbaloo - Social Bookmarking

I'm not sure what symbaloo's marketing phrase is but it's a really neat visual system for saving bookmarks.  Check it out. Here's mine:
Durn, I'm not sure how to make it fit on this page. If you set up your own account on symbaloo,do it and then import:

And while we are on the topic, I've seen a new blog of merit:

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Todays Students

I admit that the kids are different these days. My instinct is to focus on how much I learned at their age but then, maybe I didn't. I read this line in today's New York Times:

"the generation born in the 70s was raised to have more emotional sensitivity than it's forebears."

Isn't that interesting?  Do they really mean that I'm the last generation of emotionally undeveloped? That my toughness and stoicism is really a lack of sensitivity on my part to myself and others?   What a completely different way of looking at things.

While I'm looking at things differently, check this out:
Online Homeschooling

Monday, May 9, 2011

Elementary Homeschool Curriculum: Homeschool Science Fairs

Elementary Homeschool Curriculum: Homeschool Science Fairs: "We all remember the dreaded science fair projects from our own childhood, right? But for most of us, the science fair was part of a traditi..."

In fact, being a little science-oriented, I remember science and the fairs very fondly. Unfortunately, most of the country today is not getting the same exposure to science education so schools might shift to a simpler approach for today's students, online science education.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

After K12 comes college

I'm frankly of two minds on college. On one hand, I firmly believe in higher education and that a college education equips students with the knowledge and skills for a real career. It gives them some time and freedom to figure out who they are and what direction they want to proceed. This was my experience in college.

Yet today, I fear that colleges are generally failing to deliver the same intense academic experience and education that I received. With friends now who are university professors, I'm painfully aware how professors consider their time spent teaching or working with undergraduates as annoying wastes of time unrelated to their careers or real interests.  For professors, their career has to do with research.  They do not aspire to teach and their effectiveness or ineffectiveness as instructors is unrelated to their career.

I shudder to think about a whole generation of students going off to study at universities where the professors don't give a hoot about them.  Is this an overstatement? No, actually it's an understatement.  The current linking of colleges where teaching should be the priority and research centers is an absurdity. It serves only to hide the expenses of the researchers. I think it's long overdue to separate research institutes from undergraduate teaching institutes since students deserve our best effort, not an indifferent one.

Homeschoolers, with their pioneering rethinking of K12 education, I would hope would help rethink higher education too. This post is sponsored in part by Time4Learning, here's some details about their educational materials.
Curriculum Levels