Saturday, September 01, 2007


I love what I do.

I really love it.

Even with achy-tired feet which never seem to recover, even with early morning rises and late night settle-downs, even with stacks of papers that sometimes resemble chaos, even with ideas pouring out of my mind that cannot possibly be all implemented, I LOVE it.

We have finished two weeks of school and much material. Yesterday I reviewed the laundry list of topics we have discussed in these two weeks, and we both were wow-ed.

In sixth grade history, we will finish up geography basics next week and then move on to The West Indies and the explorers. In sixth grade grammar, we have covered the basics of the sentence and have begun a Grammar Rules sheet. Plus, we read through the rules in memory time each day. Making ABEKA spelling accessible for all students has been a time-consuming challenge, but I think I've finally figured out a way to accommodate my LD students at the same time as teaching the high achievers.

In literature, we started The Hobbit. And oh, you should see the joy in these children's faces when it's time to get the books out. They would be content to read The Hobbit all day. They are enjoying their first encounter with Tolkein's gift of language and description. Who wouldn't love hearing hobbits described as

"little people....[with] no beards [who] wear no shoes, because their feet grow natural leathery soles and thick warm brown hair like the stuff on their heads (which is curly); have long clever brown fingers, good natured faces and laugh deep fruity laughs...."
I love "deep fruity laughs"!

And who wouldn't love the meter and rhyme of
Far over the Misty Mountains cold,
To dungeons deep and caverns old,
We must away 'ere break of day,
To claim our long-forgotten gold.
Enjoying twenty to thirty minutes of The Hobbit with Rob Inglis reading in his thick English brogue is a wonderful reprieve for my little people between tedious grammar lessons and their next class, math. Plus, I looked up and passed out their personal Hobbit name. Next week, I will pass out some Hobbit bookmarks I made for each of the students.

In World Studies, which is a combination of geography, culture, and history, you should have seen and heard these eighth-graders when I introduced them to early Gothic cathedrals. I had created color overhead transparencies of cathedral drawings and construction detailing the parts of the cathedral, then let them see actual photos of the outsides of these grand buildings. Then we went inside them and saw up-close the famous vaults and rose windows. Even the boys were taken back.

As we wrap up the first chapter next week, we will watch David MacCaulay's Cathedral and since our geography concentration for this chapter has been France, we will take a virtual tour of France with Discovering France. This group of kids would love some field trips. Wandering around in my mind is the possibility of an overnight trip to Washington D. C. for an in-depth tour of the National Cathedral, an appropriate and very accessible example of a Gothic cathedral. Funding will be a hurdle, but I'm thinking that maybe a few larger architect firms in our nearby large cities might be willing to donate some funds for this cultural experience. Who knows? Maybe this field trip would light the fire of a future architect? Probably many hours of work will go into this little side venture.

With no school on Monday, I hope to be able to finally clean my house well, organize my no-longer-schoolroom-but-office, and finish next week's lesson plans. I graded spelling, grammar, and geography papers last night while watching David MacCaulay's Mill Times, another useful DVD for American Industrial Revolution studies.

What a life! I love it.


Carol in oregon said...

Oh, it sounds glorious!! Your passion is so gracefully communicated in this post. It is a treat, a gift, to just peek in our your world through these posts. Bless you for the way you are impacting these young lives.


DebD said...

It sounds like life is very satisfying right now. God bless.

Anonymous said...

Can I be in your class? It sounds wonderful, Janie! But then again you have been prepping for this for 20+ years. I saw this on WTM the other day. It is a link to a home that a couple built and it looks like a hobbit hole.

Jenny in MO-who only got one week at Surfside (near Springmaid) and was green with envy over your three.

Michelle Matheny said...

What I wouldn't give to be in your classroom, Janie! What great ideas! What a wonderful way to draw your students into the topics being studied, with Hobbit bookmarks and cathedral transparencies on the ceiling!

Keep going, and keep posting whenever you have a few precious minutes to spare. Your creative ideas help keep me going, as well!

(P.S. I'm with you on Abeka spelling; it worked with my second daughter, but not with our third!)

Ann said...

I can tell you are a gifted, passionate teacher. If you or anyone in your class is an Episcopalian (since the National Cathedral is Episcopal), you might even try your local Episcopal Diocese for some funds. There might be something for education, and Episcopal Dioceses often give to endeavors that are not strictly Episcopalian. Good luck!

Poiema said...

Your enthusiasm is a delight, and I am sure it is impacting your students. Loved the Hobbit name generator! I'm reading that book to my 2 youngest this year, so I've bookmarked it for future reference.

ukrainiac said...

I LOVE the enthusiasm you ooze! Praying for you and your students as you all continue to learn together this year. I would love to be a student in your class -- or have a child there!

Michelle Matheny said...

Janie, one quick question: where do you get all these great videos? Are they left over from your homeschooling years, or do you get them from the library, or how? Where did you come up with the great idea for transparencies of cathedrals to project on the ceiling with an overhead projector? These are such fantastic ideas!

Seasonal Soundings said...

Thanks for all your wonderful comments! You all are such great cheerleaders!

Michelle, I used the MacAulay videos since they came out eons ago. If I don't have it, I borrow it from the libray or Netflix it. I found the Discovering France one by browsing documentaries about France. And about those transparencies.... I use the overhead projector a lot to project notes, memory passages, songs, images, etc. onto the pull-down screen. It all started as I realized if I write anything on the board, I have to erase it and it is gone forever, and I will have to redo it next year. So I type most of my notes, definitions, whatever I want the kids to write down and print it on transparency material. Thus, I can save it from year to year or pull it out later for review. Then I realized I could do the same for diagrams, maps, etc. If our classrooms were equipped with a DVL projector, I could route my notes from a computer onto the screen. But DVL are too expensive for us. So right now, I'll stick with sheets of transparency material. BTW, the images are projected onto the screen in the front of the room, not the ceiling, although that would be a cool idea for an astronomy project!

Right now, I'm trying to decide if I should record spelling words for my two LD students. I've never done this but think they might actually benefit from "concentrated" (through headphones) hearing words spelled. I'm grasping at straws here! Any ideas, ladies?

Michelle Matheny said...

As far as spelling the spelling is concerned, maybe a recording would help. As you well know, some kids are visual learners, some auditory learners, and some kinesthetic learners. It seems like spelling in the days of "Little House on the Prairie" was done as much orally (by syllable) as well as by copying down the words. Doesn't Phonetic Zoo by Andrew Pudewa do the same thing?

Anyway, I'm certainly no spelling expert, but it might be worth a try! You might consider teaching the LD kids how to separate the words into syllables and spell each syllable as a unit, like they do on the National Spelling Bee.

Hope this helps!

Kathleen Hamilton said...

Janie, I'm so thrilled for all your students. I didn't read this till today (Tuesday) because Connor and I were college visiting over the past few days, but I just love your enthusiasm for all you are doing, too! May God be praised. You are truly a gift to these students and their parents.

PariSarah said...

Oh, Janie, I'm so glad you're having such fun!

Your students are lucky to have you.

Sara said...

I stopped by today and found your descriptions of starting teaching this year so interesting, I had to comment and say your class plans sound wonderfully interesting and chock full of ideas and concepts; I would have benefited enormously from such a teacher way back when...I attended public school in Southern California and I think much of what I learned about anything was more from all the novels I read than what I got in the classroom!

My husband taught high school for 20 years so I saw firsthand how much work it is, what parents can be like, etc, etc.

Kudos to you, and it sounds like you are a natural born teacher! Your students are blessed, no doubt about it.

Michelle Matheny said...

Janie--about cathedrals again: I had the opportunity, years ago after graduating from college, to tour Europe. I'll never forget the church in Haarlem, Holland, that Corrie ten Boom and her family attended. I believe it was called the Grote Kerk. The wooden beams in the ceiling were almost 400 years old; the sun shone wondrously off of their amber colored wood. The floor consisted of the graves of many of Haarlem's faithful Dutch Reformed. I'll never forget it.

If your students get the opportunity to visit the cathedral in Washington, I'm sure it'll have the same effect on them. God bless you in all your endeavors!

Queen Bee said...

I miss hearing from you on your blog.