A Science Mystery Solved- Color and Light

*Be sure to check the end of this post for news about upcoming events! NANOWRIMO starts 11/1!

We had an unexpected lesson in the science of color and lighting this past week. Donald graciously used most of his vacation week to paint our kitchen and dining room, and it was one of those snowball projects. We were going from a deep, warm red to a nice mellow Behr color called “Bagel”– a warm golden yellow.

Five gallons of paint of paint and six days after we started taping, the project seems to be all done except for untaping and putting everything back in. However, we had a most interesting science lesson along the way. I enjoy choosing paint colors, and can usually visualize exactly what the color will look like on the wall. This time, by day two of painting, I was getting worried. The nice mellow color on the chip was glowing a rather violent orange hue on the wall. It looked dreadful– but not all the time. There were a couple of times when I looked at it and it was perfect! Read more

Every Monday is a New Beginning

I love Monday– it’s my favorite day of the week!

From the pinnacle of Monday morning, there stretches before me a string of four perfect days at home. From now until Friday, I’m able to focus on home and to be with my family, doing the ordinary tasks of home life– setting the house in order, working on home and garden projects, making meals to nourish my loved ones, writing to communicate with others. This is my life, and I love it.

It’s not an accident that I enjoy four unblemished days each week. It began years ago when our children were small and I discovered that life went more smoothly when we organized our time. The most important things in our lives happened at home, so we made it a point to designate only one day of the week for errands. This left four uncluttered days for living, one day of the weekend for fellowship, and one day of the weekend for projects or family pursuits. Read more

Language Arts Workshop is Up- And You Can Get It Free This Week!

When I sent out last month’s newsletter, I fully expected to have my workshop, Teaching Language Arts the Easy, Natural Way, up by the end of the week. I didn’t count on having to move my website and fix all sorts of interesting technical difficulties!

The exciting part of all this is that you can get the audio workshop free when you purchase Lynda Coats’ wonderful phonics curriculum, All the Letters, All Year Long. Lynda is the author of the Far Above Rubies and Blessed is the Man unit studies, and she’s really hit a home run with her new phonics program. It’s unique, comprehensive, and amazingly affordable! There are several great reviews at Lynda’s website– be sure to read them!

So why am I offering the Teaching Language Arts workshop free with Lynda’s book? It’s because a group of the Coats’ friends have gathered together to create an amazing group of bonus gifts (over $100 worth!) in order to benefit Lauren and Lynda. You see, Lynda’s dear husband, Lauren, has been diagnosed with inoperable cancer. He is home from the hospital, under the care of hospice, but as in any situation like this, medical bills continue to mount. Read more

Perfectly Parsed Piffle- The Writing Evaluator’s Dilemma

As parent-teachers, we’ve all seen boring writing assignments– a grammatically-correct report that simply paraphrases an encyclopedia entry or a five-paragraph essay that piles one trite cliche on another, and concludes without a glimmer of an original thought. If you’re anything like me, you may even remember writing a few of those! The cause of such frightful compositions usually lies in an inadequate reading foundation (input) or in a poorly-thought-out writing assignment.*

I’ll write about how to remedy the causes another time, but today, I’d like to discuss how to evaluate this kind of writing. To a parent, perfectly parsed piffle often poses a dilemma. If there are no obvious mechanical errors (spelling, punctuation, grammar, word usage), does the student’s work deserve an ‘A’? How do you grade a paper for shallow content and lack of originality– and should you even do so? Read more

Homework Insanity- This Emperor has No Clothes

Did you see Jeff Opdyke’s column on homework in Sunday’s Wall Street Journal (How Homework Is Hurting Our Family, September 30, 2007)? It was heartbreaking. He vividly described how their family life is “a constant, stress laden stream of homework and tests and projects [that] overshadows everything we do, always hanging over our head… [affecting] our weekends, our meals, our vacations, our work time, our playtime, our pocketbooks.”

Is this crazy, or what? Opdyke goes on to describe how homework stress affects each one in the family, short-circuiting tempers, straining schedules, and causing his wife Amy to feel like the “worst mom in the world.” He has talked to other parents who have ended up with kids on anxiety medications in order to cope with the stress. His own son is showing signs of intense stress– sleeplessness, anxiety, forgetfulness under pressure, and distress over less than outstanding grades.

Frankly, this sounds like a new wrinkle in the enabling syndrome. Middle-class parents enable schools to not only institutionalize their children for the majority of their waking hours, but also to consume the remaining hours of family time– all in the name of potential future success. Think about it– it hasn’t always been this way. Read more