Tagged: textbooks

I Was, in Fact, an English Major . . .

. . . so it stands to reason that I would be excited about teaching Lorelei English this year.  And I’m especially excited about this:
voyages in english
This book is sort of vintage and sort of not.  What do I mean?  Well, it’s a reprint of a book that was published in 1962.  I would rather have an actual copy from 1962, but those are harder to find and more expensive.
The Voyages in English series is a relic of the golden era of Catholic education.  The textbooks my kids used in their parochial schools were devoid of religion, except, of course, for their religion books.  Not so in the 60s and earlier, when English texts and readers presented our faith alongside academic concepts.
But I wouldn’t pick a textbook just for that.  This series is acknowledged as an excellent one.  This will be my first time using the fourth grade book.  For William and Teddy, I used a third grade book because I couldn’t find the fourth grade book at that time, and it was plenty advanced for fourth grade, believe me!  Sadly, it was lost in the fire.  Jake did pages from my own third grade English workbook, which was from a different, but still Catholic, series.  I also used to have the eighth grade grammar book, which I used for homeschooling Jake in seventh grade.  That book was AMAZING.  There were grammar concepts in there I had never even heard of.  Jake and I both love grammar so we thoroughly enjoyed that book.
Besides the Catholic content, this book is full of old-fashioned concepts like courtesy and citizenship.  While the presentation may seem a little dated, the concepts aren’t–or at least they shouldn’t be.  And explaining “vintage” ideas to Lorelei will make English a mini-history lesson as well.
The first chapter is called Fun with Our Pets, and it begins: “St. Francis of Assisi was a friend to all the animals and the birds.  They raised his thoughts to God, who was their Father as well as his Father.”  I love that!  One of the first things Lorelei will learn in this chapter is how to write a letter correctly.  I’m not sure that’s something they teach in schools anymore, but we are going to do it, and we are going to write actual letters to people and mail them! [Update: Once or twice, anyway.]
Chapter Two, Adventures in Bookland, starts thus: “All of us have many friends . . . There are also other friends whose companionship means much to us–the books that we read.”  Isn’t that awesome?  This is where we start learning how to write good paragraphs.
I won’t go crazy and tell you about every single chapter but there’s one that focuses on courtesy, and boy does Lorelei need that after a steady summer diet of the brats on the Disney Channel.
Anyway, I’m excited.  And I’m going to teach her how to diagram sentences too. 🙂 [Update: Maybe this year.]
 

Homeschooling Win!

I’m not sure I’ve mentioned to y’all that I plan to homeschool Lorelei next year.  She’s going to be in fourth grade, and I’ve done that before, so I already have a lot of resources, and I’ve slowly been gathering others over the last several months.
There was one place I was stuck, though, and it’s kind of an important place!  I couldn’t find a religion book that I liked.
The religion book I used for Jake and Teddy was actually my own religion book from way back in 1976-1977. (Yes, I saved those kinds of things and I’m glad!) While it’s true that catechesis in the 1970s was a mess, this book was pretty good.  St. Joseph’s School switched to a new program the following year–I still have that book–and it was dreadful, practically content-free.  But this one covered all the basic fourth grade stuff–Commandments, Beatitudes, Works of Mercy, and more–that is still being taught in fourth grade today.
And because I was using it for William in 2011, and it was in his backpack in the living room of what we now call “the burned down house,” it’s gone forever.
So you can find anything on the internet, right?  But I couldn’t remember the name of this book.  I knew what it looked like, and roughly when it was published, and what grade it was for, that’s all.  And no book that looked like that EVER appeared, not once, in many, many months of off-and-on searching.  I even asked the school if they had a record of what book we used back then–no dice.  I conducted research on Catholic publishing companies and looked up every book that was published around that time. My head swam with publishing companies (Sadlier, Benziger, Loyola) and their various programs.  Nope.  I spent hours on this, y’all.  I really had my heart set on that book.
Surely, you ask, there are plenty of other fourth grade Catholic religion textbooks out there?  Why, yes, yes, there are.  But I didn’t want to risk an old one that I hadn’t seen before because, as I mention above, many of the ones that were around back then were just bad.  And I don’t like the modern ones I’ve seen which are too jam-packed with information and fill-in-the-blank pages.  (Honestly, I just don’t like modern textbooks.)  What I liked about this one is that it was very simple with short chapters that I could use as a starting point for further discussion.
I finally found one that seemed similar in content (by looking at a screenshot of the Table of Contents) to the one I remembered.  I thought I could maybe try to make do.  But when I went to order it on Amazon it was about $25–kind of a lot to spend for an unknown.  I searched for it again and found some really cheap copies put up by someone who did not even bother to include a picture of the cover.  So that’s what I ordered.
Have you figured out the punchline yet?  We came home from a short vacation yesterday and my package was waiting for me.  As I tore open the bag I saw not the book I was expecting but the ONE I HAD BEEN LOOKING FOR.  Apparently, it was just a different edition of the one I thought I was ordering.  Some of the material has been rearranged, and of course it has a different cover.  And to sweeten the pot, it’s not written in (which of course mine was) AND it’s a teacher edition with all kinds of other good stuff at the end.
religion book
So that’s a propitious omen for my return to homeschooling.  I look forward to sharing my other adventures with you this year!

Online or Hardback?

Readers with kids:  Do yours have “online textbooks” and what do you think of them if so?

Textbooks have grown much bigger and heavier since I was a little girl.  I’m not sure there’s any reason for that since surely the deposit of knowledge can’t increase that much in a generation but it’s nonetheless true.  I could carry all my books in my book satchel if need be; now kids can’t fit all their books in a giant backpack and they are getting back injuries before their teen years carting home all the books they need to do their homework.

So one of the selling points for online texts is that they do away with the need for bringing the book home from school.

There’s also the fact that THERE AREN’T ENOUGH BOOKS.  Yes, my child’s social studies teacher told us we had to use the online book to do homework because she doesn’t have enough books for each student to take one home.  This is a school on the side of town where problems like this are rumored not to exist.  (That they should exist on one side of town and not the other is another post for another day.)  Be that as it may, William does not have his own social studies book.

William has more homework in social studies than anything else, and so I am pretty familiar with that text by now.  You can do lots of cool interactive things with it that I am still figuring out, like access a less cluttered interface to make it easier to read, or have it read aloud to you.

Now he’s starting to come home with reading assignments requiring access to the online reading textbook.  A couple of weeks ago we managed just fine, but yesterday I’ll be darned if I could remember WHERE to access the textbook, or HOW to access it.  See, these things all have user names and passwords, pre-assigned, as does the “school fusion” webpage, and I am beyond being able to keep up with all of that.  I suspect the other kids keep up with these things themselves (I know they are supposed to, because when I ask about it the teachers all say the kids have been shown in class how to do these things), but William doesn’t remember things he doesn’t (to put it colorfully) give a crap about.  So all I get from him are blank stares.

March feels like too late in the school year to make resolutions.  So I hereby vow to figure out a way to organize all of this at the beginning of NEXT year.  

 I guess (I know) I’m just old fashioned.  I don’t own (or want to own) an e-reader.  I like to hold books in my hands, even textbooks.  I can’t help but feel flipping through an actual book to answer questions leads to more learning than hitting using the “Find” function or clicking on a hyperlink.  

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