Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Dictation not Dictatorship. Run, don't walk...get a dictionary quick!!

The lack of comprehension in basic vocabulary never ceases to amaze me. In example I was blown away when recently discussing with an acquaintance "how I do it"...meaning homeschool my guys.  Nameless, as the acquaintance will from now forth be referred to as, was appalled that I would teach my children via dictatorship.

For real? Muwahaha you are in my house now little boys!!! Charity, Mother of two thought-squashed boys... ...Yeah, no!

In the interest of protecting the freedom of homeschoolers everywhere I will attempt to explain dictation. I will do so now, so pay close attention. It is the art of hearing something and repeating that knowledge orally or in written word. Dictation is a skill-set achieved over time, through training and experience. It is useful throughout life. It is an awesome tool, so awesome that I will now show you how it played out in our little school.

   I began incorporating dictation into my homeschool when my sons were quite little. Most of the time I would sit one boy at my right and one at my left on the sofa. We would cuddle up real close and I would read. However when I wanted to teach dictation I would set them before me....no looking at pictures. I would read the little stories to them while they drew or built etc... They were instructed to create what they heard me reading. After I finished the story they would show me their masterpiece. They would tell back the story as they explained whatever art medium lay before us. This is a form of narration, which is the precursor to dictation in my opinion. This was great for memory retention and listening skills. I loved, loved, loved it!
   When they grew a bit older I still read those amazing picture books, however the boys were required to write, not draw, exactly what they heard. I read slowly. I stopped often. I started with just one sentence. We worked up to the point of dictating about a paragraph worth of information by late elementary. Both sons now dictate whole essays.
  After the boys write out their assignment they are given the original piece. With this they're expected to go back and correct any misspelled words or grammar misuses. Before handing it back to me they write a final copy in their best handwriting, or type it up depending on the instructions I give.
    Dictation has proved to be a wonderful training tool. My boys have been able to use this in note taking at church and in classes they take outside of our home. This endeavor has enhanced their proofreading skills in a way I could never teach with a grammar text. I don't necessarily agree with those who claim dictation takes the place of formal spelling and grammar. However I do find it a brilliant way to test comprehension and to reinforce those formal skills in a hands on/real world way.
   So...yeah, Nameless, what I'm really doing is EMPOWERING THEM, not squashing them. Grrrr......amazing. (Charity straightens back in confidence)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

*gasp* short girl say what?

   A sage once opined that one should know where he is from before venturing out to explore new lands. I, for one, take that to heart. I want my sons to know where they live. I want to give them that before they leave my nest. That my friends is right here, right now!
  Before I go into all that let me just get this out. There's a funny little myth floating around against Fresno.  People are always Fresno-bashing. I know what you are thinking...and you're right. I bash as well. However I don't perpetrate Fresno's nothingness. I don't like the heat...okay I hate the heat. I think a huge majority of the architecture is shameful. True, true I could, and often do say much more. However it must be said that although I would never choose to live here, I do like several aspects of Fresno. There I've said it, and I feel good about it.
   Now that we've gotten that business out of the way, we can move on. We were in downtown Fresno three times this week. Three days in a row. Although I could extol the many virtues of downtown... I'll limit myself to sharing our three days with you.
  Let's start with Tuesday.  Ricky, along with the rest of the PSCA choirs preformed in Courthouse Park. They were at the always touching, annual  Police Memorial Service.  I told my kids for the umpteenth time about my Grandma working in a bank downtown, how they tore down the beautiful courthouse and built this funky thing etc.... all as we sat under the delightful canopy of trees waiting for the service to begin. Afterward we walked across the street for the luncheon provided for the performers. Extraordinary kindness at its best, making you question everything you thought you knew.  We had a simple meal and visited with lots of friends while inviting trees were swaying in the breeze all around us. The pavilions, courtyards and outdoor dining areas really are quite lovely.
  Now on to Wednesday. We parked our car and walked the Fulton Mall. We were exploring the historic art sculpture collection. These are dotted all throughout the six blocks or so of the outdoor mall. Then we hoped in the car and drove all around taking photos of downtown's great buildings of yesteryear. We were saddened that a few had been red-xed. I told my boys many other stories as we drove from location to location.
    Our next stop brought us to the Tower district. This is another great Fresno area, yet still downtown. Here we had the finest pot pies I've ever had the good fortune to taste. We were at the famous Chicken PieShop . They're good. I mean really, really good. Jeff asked for a menu so we could call ahead and order a dozen sometime soon. Billy and Ricky got a kick out of the swanky restaurant. As we were leaving the building we turned to get a great shot of the Tower theater lit up at night. I , of course told my boys story after story. We showed them where my Dad used to live, the Mexican restaurant where my sisters and I sat on stools and visited with the little old couple who ran the joint etc...
  Thursday, as in today...was a day of touring galleries/studios. We were traversing through the downtown section of Fresno's Art Hop. This is the time when artists open their doors for free. It occurs on the first Thursday of each month in Downtown. There are other areas in Fresno doing the same thing on the third Thursday of the month. We toured six smile inducing spots. The favorite of the night was Kliszewski Glass hands down. The boys were positively giddy watching the craftsmen work with the fiery hot glass. I was thrilled for them, they loved the demonstration.We ended our evening with a quick stop to grab some yummy ice cream.
       Three fun-filled, basically free days. Most of these stops were for our Spanish, Photography and Art classes. With these particular destinations we got more intimate with downtown Fresno. We were on an old building/art genre scavenger hunt of sorts. Fresno...you're alright.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Dwelling on Spring and Hiking Food

  Well the wildflowers have been popping out and trees have been blooming. They have been teasing us for months now.
We've had a traveling respite. We've only ventured out a bit over the last few months. Although the break was needed, we are ready for some outdoor action!
 We want to embrace the green while it's still here. It's a Spring thing for sure!
  Life on Charity Lane is pretty frantic as I am trying to wrap up our school year etc. etc. etc..... However the windows have been open. I've been listening to tantalizing Spring sing it's song. The last thing I wanted to do today was to  be responsible. I wanted to relish in the beauty of spring in California. In the blink of an eye it'll be gone.
  I didn't get to go hiking or even just out for a mountain drive, how sad. However I did sit and day dream about doing so real soon. While I was so happily thinking on the subject I wrote a list to share with all of you. The following is our preferred outdoorsy foods list. What are yours?
  • V8 Juice Boxes
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Cucumber sticks
  • All Bran Bars
  • Kashi Bars
  • E mergen C
  • Pears
  • TLC Bars
  • Fruit Leather
  • Cashews
  • Kern Nectar Drinks
  • Carrot Sticks
  • Celery Sticks w/ Peanut Butter or Goat Cheese
  • Jerkey
  • Peanuts
  • Popcorn
  • Wheat thins W/ Cream Cheese
  • Olives
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Strawberry & Fig Newtons
  • Cliff Bars
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Baguette W/ Salami & Cream Cheese

Okay so I'm brilliant

According to a pass-me-down magazine I received from my mother in law, who is great for the pass-me-down magazines. Every now and again she surprises me with a biggo bag of happiness. I get to sit down and veg out finding treasure amongst the pages. Check this out........

"Yellow, the brightest color in the spectrum, promises optimism with its positive energy. Serve breakfast on a bright yellow plate (I have both cereal bowls and plates that are yellow) to give your whole family a cheerful start to the day. Boost your mood with yellow (I have yellow bits of this and that in decor around my house)

You see yellow is my favorite color. I love yellow things.  Apparently I am brilliant....and, um... I host such positive energy!!! Teh-hee