Fact or Opinion?

The Oak Meadow curriculum offers many opportunities to learn how to research and write reports. Note that I wrote LEARN, because most middle school students are just beginning to learn how to find appropriate resources for a topic and how to organize the information into an interesting, cohesive, and fact-filled report.

Finding a reliable source can begin with a trip to the library for magazines, encyclopedias, newspapers, biographies, and lots more! Some students don’t have a library nearby and so they use the internet for their research. Reliable sites are usually ones that end in .org, .net, or .edu. I like to use the Great Websites for Kids as a starting point. Their website notes that the site is an “Internet guide of child-safe sites selected by a committee of the American Library Association.” You can choose a subject such as “sciences” and then choose a specific subject of interest. Give it a try!

There’s a lot in the news these days about what is fact and what is opinion. When I read reports by students I often write, “Make sure you back up your opinion with a reliable source that explains the facts that you are basing your opinion on.” Some students are learning that an opinion can be based on fact, and they’re backing it up with a quotation from a reliable source. For instance, I received a research report on sound frequencies for an 8th grade physics lesson. I was impressed with the three sources and the examples that the student used for his research. However, most impressive was the use of quotations from his sources that added strength to his examples. Convincing a reader that what you’ve written is true, rather than just your opinion, is pretty important! When you use a quote from a reliable source you give your opinion validity. It allows the reader to trust that your opinion is based on fact.

Making facts louder than opinions is evident in this video from The Weather Channel. 

In Honor of Barack Obama

“What I’ve realized is that life doesn’t count for much unless you’re willing to do your small part to leave our children – all of our children – a better world.” – Barack Obama

Last week, our nation celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. This week, it’s important to honor former President and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Barack Obama. A proponent of higher education and an advocate of literacy in children, one of his major goals as President was to work diligently in doing what was necessary to give every child a chance to succeed. This included responding to letters written by children that were sent to him at the White House. Last year, a second grade Oak Meadow student sent an essay to President Obama (“If I Were President”). On January 8, 2017, during a very busy time before stepping down from his duties as President, he responded with the following letter:

Photo Credit: Checa-Sacasa Family

Dear Carlos:

            Thank you for writing. Letters like yours mean a lot to me, and they remind me why I ran for this Office in the first place.

            Being President has been the greatest privilege of my life, and while my term is coming to an end, that doesn’t mean I’ll stop fighting to make sure doors of opportunity are wide open for you and your generation. That is a promise I will never stop working to keep. And once I leave the White House, I’ll be counting on young people like you to step up and get involved – because we all share a lasting responsibility to bring about real and meaningful change that will make our Nation stronger.

            Wherever your talents and interests take you, always remember that nothing is beyond your reach so long as you are willing to dream big and work hard. America is depending on students like you to build a brighter tomorrow, and I know there are no limits to what you can achieve.

            Thank you, again, for your kind note. Your generation gives me great hope for the future, and I trust you’ll stay engaged in our democracy.

            Sincerely,

            Barack Obama

Like Martin Luther King, Jr. and many other great contributors to our society, Barack Obama is to be honored for all he contributed and accomplished during his eight years as President. Inspired by others, he also brought inspiration to the young and the old – both in our nation and all around the world.

If you and your children are inspired to read more about Barack Obama, there are several children’s books available about his life. This even includes the book he wrote, Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters, which was inspired by his own daughters, Sasha and Malia.

“I’m inspired by the love people have for their children. And I’m inspired by my own children, how full they make my heart. They make me want to work to make the world a little bit better. And they make me want to be a better man.”  – Barack Obama

Dots and Dashes

http://publicdomainvectors.org/en/tag/morse-code

It is so easy to send a message these days by way of cell phones or the internet that it is hard to imagine that at one time there was no way to communicate with other people a distance away unless you used the postal mail. When Samuel Morse invented a way to send messages that were a code of electrical impulses, our lives changed forever! Those dots and dashes could be sent and translated over a distance making it possible to send emergency messages to places throughout the country. Many Oak Meadow 7th grade students in the first semester of their world history lessons have the opportunity to learn about Morse and his code. I found this fun website that translates a sentence that you write into Morse Code. You can then click “play” and hear the dots and dashes of the message. Send something to a friend! Here’s the Morse Code Translator.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – A Special Day and a Special Man to Honor

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”

― Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and it’s a perfect time to explore and discuss the qualities and characteristics of a good leader. It is also a good time to delve into history and focus on what it takes to make a difference. If you are interested in sharing the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. to your children, A Picture Book of Martin Luther King Jr. by David Adler is a good book for elementary level students. The Reading Rockets website also offers a wide variety of books for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. I was delighted to find one of my favorite books on the list: Miss Rumphius, which is beautifully written and illustrated by Barbara Cooney. It easily relates a young child to the dreams and legacies that each one of us can offer.

The quality of good citizenship and leadership is exemplified throughout Oak Meadow’s social studies lessons. In first grade, stories of Abraham Lincoln, John Chapman, Clara Barton, and George Washington are presented. The second grade curriculum provides specific lessons that focus on individuals who made a difference in fairness and equality, such as Rosa Parks, Susan B. Anthony, and Martin Luther King, Jr. In the third grade curriculum, a lesson block on civics offers awareness towards the development of laws, the importance of governing for protection, and the characteristics of a good leader. The list goes on and on, for the topic of civics and quality leadership is displayed throughout every level of the Oak Meadow coursework.

In the “Let’s Grow Leaders” website, Karin Hurt wrote an inspiring article on “Children’s Books on Leadership– Questions to Inspire Young Thinking.” It includes many suggestions for books that are categorized by the various qualities of leadership.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is dedicated to celebration and remembrance. It is an excellent day to educate and pay tribute to his dreams and visions of a world that embraces the values of courage, truth, justice, compassion, dignity, and humility. It is also a day to offer service and volunteer to help the less fortunate.

Calvin Lawrence Jr. (Coordinating Producer at ABCNews.com) wrote an excerpt on “5 Ways to Honor the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.” He lists them as:

Give Something

Learn Something

Teach Something

Commit to Something

Dream Something

What way do you and your family honor this special day? Share one of your dreams of service. It could be an offering to your family, to your community, to the environment, or to the world as a whole. Encourage your children to think about their own dreams or visions of helping something or someone. Encourage them to complete the sentence… “My dream for the world is…” Then, draw or paint a picture of this vision. Oak Meadow teacher/blog writer Lesley Arnold also composed a “Dear Martin” post in the Oak Meadow blogsite that encourages students to write a letter to Martin Luther King, Jr. This could be another inspirational activity you could offer to your children.

Martin Luther King, Jr. strove to achieve these goals as often as he could. These honorable actions are something we can also strive to do every day of our lives, not just on this one particular day of recognition for such a noble man.

Genre?

 

 

 

The Stonekeeper book #1 of the Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi

 

I was at the public library the other day when I overheard a librarian ask a student what genre she had to read for an assignment. “Genre? What’s genre?” the student asked. I listened as the librarian explained that books are written in different genres. She went on to explain that in fiction for example, there is the mystery genre, science fiction genre, or even fantasy genre. Then the student asked what genre graphic novels are because she wanted to read one. I was very interested in the answer because I really love graphic novels! I’ve read quite a few and lately my favorites are Cardboard by Doug TenNapel and Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson. They are both entertaining and inspiring stories with lively illustrations.

As it turns out, graphic novels fall into many genres. They are not a genre by themselves. There are non-fiction graphic novels, fiction graphic novels, fantasy graphic novels, mystery graphic novels and the list goes on!

So again the librarian asked what genre graphic novel the student was interested in. She answered that she didn’t care at the moment. She just wanted to look at them. The librarian showed her the graphic novel section of the library.

When I looked around the library and saw sections of books divided into categories, I had to wonder when this genre idea came into being. I love to research, investigate, and learn about the things I wonder about so this will take me some time! In the meantime, I’ve got a whole list of great graphic novels, in all genres, that you may enjoy reading!

The city of San Jose, California public library has listed the best new graphic novels of 2016 and you can find them here.

10 Reasons Why Oak Meadow May Be the Perfect Fit for You

How can you tell if Oak Meadow will be a good fit for your family? Choosing a homeschool curriculum or a distance learning school may feel like a very big decision. There are many options available, and it can feel challenging to sort through to find the best fit.

What are you looking for in a home learning program? Would Oak Meadow be a good match for your family? See if any of the following points resonate with you.

1. Being actively involved in your child’s learning feels right to you. You appreciate your child as an individual and enjoy spending time with them. You value the deep connection between you and your child, and you trust that because you are a loving parent, you are naturally well suited to be your child’s home teacher.

An Oak Meadow education means that you, the parent, are your child’s primary teacher. As an Oak Meadow parent, you remain closely involved in every step of your child’s learning. When they need help conquering a challenge, you are right there to help them in a way that honors their unique personality. Your loving connection to your child qualifies you as the best expert on their needs.

2. Your child is keen to engage in creative, hands-on learning – and you like it, too. Learning by doing comes naturally to them, and you enjoy supporting their curiosity and efforts. 

Oak Meadow encourages students to learn experientially through real-world experiences. Take math skills out into the garden for a carpentry project, visit local historic sites, or go hiking with a sketchbook in hand. The small scale of home learning allows for one-on-one assistance with a wide range of projects. Experiments and creations can be spread out and returned to over and over. Depending on your child’s needs, you can be closely involved, or step back and allow their creativity to bloom with support as needed. The world is your classroom!

3. Your mind is open to a range of effective ways to approach education. You are eager to figure out how to help your child thrive, even if the solution is unconventional.

Perhaps traditional school hasn’t worked out as well as you had hoped, or maybe you just have an intuitive sense that it won’t be a good fit for your unconventional learner. Homeschooling and distance learning can be very helpful options for students who learn outside of the box, and Oak Meadow is easily adaptable for learning differences.

4. You believe nature should be a central theme in children’s learning. The natural world provides a multitude of catalysts for learning and growing, and it also provides a healthy environment for playing and living. 

Oak Meadow’s curriculum encourages students to keenly observe and develop a relationship with the natural world. Frequent outdoor play and exploration are encouraged and valued. The relationship between nature and the student is so important that it is a key theme throughout Oak Meadow’s curriculum.

5. You appreciate having the flexibility to adapt lessons to your child’s unique learning needs and interests. If something isn’t working for you or your child, you will modify it. You use curriculum as a starting point, then let your child’s passions guide your choices within and beyond the given material.

We know that every child is unique, and that’s why Oak Meadow’s curriculum is full of various possibilities for all kinds of learners. It’s up to you (and your child’s teacher, if you enroll in distance learning) to pick and choose from the options presented in the lessons. You might need to try different things to figure out what works, but in time, you and your child will both have a better understanding of how they learn best.

6. You believe that learning is a lifestyle that best involves the whole family. You recognize that the needs of all family members are interwoven, and you choose to create a home life that supports healthy learning and growth for everyone in the family.

Students who learn at home have the benefit of a holistic lifestyle where living and learning are totally intertwined. Siblings learn with and from each other, and the bond between family members of all ages is developed and strengthened.

7. You feel that education should address the whole child, not just academic growth. You honor the importance of your child’s passions, talents, strengths, weaknesses, and insecurities and honor the role those things play in your child’s learning.

Many educational programs focus on academics without acknowledging the many other important facets of a child’s being. Oak Meadow’s philosophy is all about nurturing learning in a comprehensive way, weaving together the many different kinds of growth and development in a balanced, holistic approach.

8. You have a good sense of when to ask for support, either through enrollment or through our homeschooling support service. You are willing and able to reach out to others in your community and beyond to widen your child’s learning support system and make use of helpful resources. 

You know that nobody has all the answers. You trust that you’ll learn what you need to know along the way. The most successful Oak Meadow families are proactive and persistent in reaching out to those who can help them out in various ways on their homeschooling journey.

9. You appreciate the idea of a secular (non-religious) academic curriculum. If your family opts for religious education, you supplement with faith-based religious curriculum or design your own course of religious instruction that honors your family’s beliefs.

Oak Meadow is one of few providers of complete secular homeschooling curriculum. Many families come to us because they are looking for an alternative to the many faith-based programs that are available. Some families choose to supplement our materials with faith-based lessons in order to incorporate spiritual education into their homeschooling experience. Oak Meadow supports the freedom of parents to choose the best way to support their child’s religious and spiritual education.

10. Whether you are looking for a comprehensive homeschooling curriculum or an accredited distance learning school, you value the wisdom Oak Meadow offers from over 40 years of experience in supporting home learners

Oak Meadow’s founder, Lawrence Williams, began with a thoughtful vision for home education that remains an inspiration to all of us at Oak Meadow. Our teachers and counselors are carefully chosen to support Oak Meadow’s philosophy. Many of us have used Oak Meadow materials and services with our own children. We hold ourselves to the same standards we would demand for our own families. Through the years, our program has gone through countless revisions to provide families with the best possible homeschooling and distance learning experiences, and we continue to revise and update our materials on an ongoing basis.

Is Oak Meadow a good fit for your family’s needs? Hopefully you’ve already begun to gain some insights into the possibility. Our website offers comprehensive information about our company, our philosophy, our homeschooling curriculum, and our distance learning program. The educational counselors in our office are available online or by phone at 802-251-7250 to answer your questions. Contact us and let us help you find your family’s unique path to organic learning!

_________________________________________________________

This article originally appeared in home|school|life magazine in May 2016.

Reflection & Contraction

WINTER
by William Cowper
I crown thee king of intimate delights,
Fireside enjoyments, home-born happiness,
And all the comforts that… the hours
Of long uninterrupted evening know.

 

Hello and Happy New Year!

After the busyness of celebrating the holidays and closing out the old year, we oftentimes find ourselves, along with our children, experiencing a sense of “tiredness”. The winter season with its cold and bleak days only enhances this feeling. Rather than looking at this feeling of tiredness in a negative way, it’s important for us to recognize it as a significant time of contraction. It is a time for all of us to turn inwardly and reflect within.

Perhaps some of the ways we can help our children through this time of contraction is by doing quiet activities together that do not require a lot of expansiveness. Reading chapter books together, creating a time for educational board games, completing a jigsaw puzzle by the fireside, writing letters to friends and extended family members, singing songs in the evening, drawing pictures for special loved ones, doing rhythmical handwork projects, or just staying close to home are all perfect examples for exploring one’s inner feelings. Then as the “tiredness” wears off, the academics will be easier to incorporate into the school lessons in a more formal manner. Before we know it, springtime and boundless energy will once again renew our lives, and we will be so thankful that we took the time for ourselves and for our children to experience that “quietness” within.

I hope this new year of 2017 brings many blessings to you and your family.