Thursday, May 30, 2013

Teaching a Struggling Reader - Article Link

As an avid reader who is trying desperately to teach a struggling reader, this article from the current edition of The Old Schoolhouse magazine really spoke to me.  "Lord, just help me wait for Your timing for Julianna to no longer struggle with her's not easy."

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Julianna's 8th Birthday

Julianna didn't have a big birthday party this year.  The reason was partly we couldn't decide what we wanted to do and partly her birthday snuck up on me, quite honestly. (May has come and gone this year and I'm still waiting for it to begin!)  She opted for a trip to the AG Store in DC in lieu of the party.

She was most excited that she no longer has to use the booster seat.

We're here!

Friday, May 24, 2013

TOS Review - Joyce Herzog

"Vowels are scaredy cats, vowels are scaredy cats.  They're scared of consonants.  They are!"
That is just a little snippet of Julianna's favorite song from Joyce Herzog's Scaredy Cat Reading System Express.  The Express set is part of a three level reading system that uses a mastery approach to learning phonics.  The Express level, reinforces the fifteen phonics rules that are covered in the first three levels and includes The Story of the Lettermaster (cute story about a gentleman who is chosen to give the letters their names/sounds), Using Lettermaster as a Teaching Tool booklet, a CD of phonics rules songs and the training manual with two games that can be used with any of the lessons.

 It is suggested that you teach the program through practice (with games/activities) using one of three different approaches:  Approach one: teach Rule 1 and basic list to mastery then move on to Rule 2.  You follow this pattern through Rule 6.  If all previous rules are mastered, proceed through rest of rules. (This is suggested for learners who work well with immediate results so they never feel "stuck".), Approach two:  teach Rule 1 with basic list and multi-syllable word list to mastery and then move to Rule 2, basic and multi-syllable lists, etc. (Use with older students, so they don't feel like the program is too young. ) and Approach three:  move through book in sequence (Use with an older student to reinforce what they have previously learned.)  Mastery of a rule is determined when your student can read at least 30 words of the basic list in one minute and spell 9 or 10 words from the list, randomly.  

My musings:
We used approach one with this as a supplement to our current reading curriculum.  While I feel it's a pretty thorough program, I think it's kind of difficult to implement...and I'm sure we probably didn't use it the "right" way.  ;-)  Julianna enjoyed the CD the most. (We didn't listen to the whole thing yet and we have repeatedly listened to the first song, "Vowels are Scaredy Cats".  She even made up a dance to it.  Lol  I should have taken a picture of that, but it wouldn't have done it justice!) She also enjoyed doing the timed tests for reading the basic lists.  She has a love-hate relationship timed tests, though.  She loves doing them, but is very hard on herself when she doesn't get the desired result.  (I need to figure out how to encourage the internal motivation to continue to strive for excellence without fostering the need for perfection.  That's a personal aside.  :-)  )

To be fully honest, I really don't feel like we were able to take full advantage of SCRS Express. When choosing the material, we were given the option to choose our level.  I went to the website to take the placement exam and wasn't able to view it, so I read through the descriptions and decided on SCRS Express.  I think I was wrong.  While Julianna was able to reach a mastery level for the rules we worked on (we only made it through the first few to mastery), I really think she would have done better starting at the SCRS Level 3.  This was my error.  :-(  That said, I think we will try it again as a supplement next year.  

Check out all of the products that Joyce Herzog has available on her website...there are tons!  Click the "Products" tab for a drop down list.  The SCRS Express is available for $30.  


Monday, May 20, 2013

Sunday, May 12, 2013

TOS Review - Papa's Pearls

I don't remember either of my grandfathers.  One died before I was born and the other died before I was one year old, so I don't have any grandfatherly wisdom to pass on.  My family had the privilege of spending some time getting to know a precious, elderly couple from our church before they passed recently.  The gentleman was quite a character!  His wife told a story about how their grandson had come over to go to work with his Popo (he owned a roofing company in California) and she had fed him breakfast before heading out for the day.  As they were leaving, she was loving on the grandson and then said to her husband, "I love you, Gip." At his lack of response, she said, "Well, aren't you going to tell me you love me?" and he said, "Woman, 50 years ago I told you I loved you.  If that ever changes, I'll let you know."  :-) At his funeral, the grandchildren joyfully shared many "Popo-isms" that they grew up with and have passed on to their kids.  In fact, one grandson started one of these sayings and the row of his kids finished it.  They have an incredible legacy to now carry on.

The book, "Papa's Pearls:  A Father's Gift of Love and Wisdom to His Children and Grandchildren" by Diane Flynn Keith, is full of the same type of life guidelines passed onto their family by her father.  From the introduction of the book: "Papa was a man of few words, but he summed up the insight he gleaned from his life experiences in little pearls of truth that he casually, but purposefully, imparted to my sister, my brother, and me..."Papa's Pearls" were my father's simple means of conveying knowledge of the ways of the world to us, while demonstrating how to be a loving parent and a successful person."

My Musings:
"Papa's Pearls" is a lovingly written memoir.  It's an easy read and each of the 17 chapters begins with one of Papa's "truths":  "You gotta do what you gotta do."  " Tell Yourself You Like It." "Everyone Deserves a Second Chance." "Oogie Boogies!"And many more.  My favorite part was getting to know Papa through his daughter's writings.  It made you wish you had the opportunity to meet this amazing man in real life.  Growing up during the Depression, Papa didn't have it easy and could have taken the path that surely lead to trouble, but he made something of himself and passed his legacy and the pearls that lead his life, onto his family and now to us.

You can purchase an autographed copy of "Papa's Pearls" from the author's website for $21.97.  The book is also available through Amazon for $13.47.