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Monday, March 19, 2012

For Novice Poetry Analysts... like me!

How to analyze a poem!

Grammar of Poetry (at least the first half)
In Grammar of Poetry, students will have already gone over and practiced basics of metaphors, similes, meter, personification, alliteration, etc, etc.
Level: AOY7+/-  *Please don't make your young children analyze poetry! It takes all the joy right out of it! Beginning in Form IV (roughly grades 7-9), Mason had the students note the meter and other technical details of the poems. See this post's Helpful Links for some more really great online resources for teaching the technical details in later years.

Please note: The purpose of what I'm suggesting in this initial activity using the following website with your students, is NOT to follow the exercise as perhaps was intended on the website itself. The idea is to use the info as presented there as an example of things to think about and the questions we might ask when WE are analyzing poetry with our students. :) You would probably not do this more than once as a lesson, though I found it interesting to look through a couple of other poems at my own leisure, apart from my kids.
  1. Read this 
  2. Choose a poem from here (select a poem according to AO year/term? there are lots to choose from). We did this one by Tennyson called Break, Break, Break.
  3. Once you've chosen the poem, look/work through the links in order as presented on the site (click and read through all the links in each section) >> Intro (*spoiler alert* you may want to read the intro page last, so as not to give the whole thing away) >> The Poem >> Summary >> Analysis (I definitely recommend skipping links Calling Card ->through-> Steaminess Rating) >> Themes >> actually, by the time we got to Quotes and then Study Questions, we'd already gleaned what we were gonna glean. You may wanna skip those too.
So, to sum up what we learned above:

Analyzing a poem will consist of at least several of the following activities:
Choosing a poem.
Reading the poem (several times!).
Writing a short summary of the whole poem (an overall impression).
Taking a stanza at a time, answering basic questions about each line (who is speaking, about what? etc., see the site again for examples of how to do this).

Giving examples of the following elements using the exact words from the poem (this is where grammar of poetry experience will come in real handy):
  • Symbolism
  • Imagery
  • Wordplay
  • Form and Meter (iambic, trochaic, anapest, dactyl)
  • Speaker (who is speaking?)
  • Sound (lilting, jerky, rhythmic, etc... how does this lend to the poem's overall effect?)
  • Where does it's title come from?
  • Themes (pick one or two and then quote the parts of the poem that support your thinking)
I'm planning to use some of the above to help form exam questions later on this term. :) OH yeah.

Please let me know if you have any great online poetry resources! Do you have any suggestions? What do you do to analyze poetry? I'm on a poetry kick and I'd love to look at your ideas! :)

A quick carnival reminder...

To those of you who have tried to submit posts to tomorrow's CM Blog Carnival:
If you haven't already done so, please submit your posts by e-mail to charlottemasonblogs (at) gmail (dot) com. Be sure to include your name with your submission! You will receive a confirmation of receipt. :)

The old site hasn't been working properly for months (November, 2011?!), and so if you've tried submitting there, there is no guarantee that we've received your submission unless you use the above e-mail address. If you've already submitted your post, then THANK YOU!

See you soon! :)

Friday, March 16, 2012

4 Moms of 35 Kids give A's to your Q's

Great advice coming soon in e-book format (& cheap!) from homeschooling mothers of many! The 4 Moms (The Common Room, Raising Olives, Smockity Frocks, & In a Shoe) have put together a 195 page e-book! Check it out...

AND... starting Monday at 11:00a.m. CST, there will be an amazing blow-out sale:

First 50 customers – 50 cents
Next 100 – $1
Next 200 – $2
Next 300 – $3
Next 400 and holding at this introductory price indefinitely – $4

By letting all your friends know, you could be one of the winners to receive the ebook FREE.
Click for details.

:) HT: Thanks, Anne!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

George Washington Carver: A Book Review

So, I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review and I thought to myself, 'Hey, George Washington Carver is one of the guys suggested for a biography option in AOy5, this'll be great!'

I especially thought it'd be great because though my kids have, I had never before read a biography of George Washington Carver. I've always wondered about him. All I knew was that he is always especially associated with peanuts. :) Well, what a guy! He's so much more interesting than just some guy who came up with some 300 peanut purposes! Though that in itself is AMAZING. Seriously, 300?! That is remarkable. Born a slave, he was a God-fearing, nature loving, creative mind who became world famous for his inventive intuitive discoveries. Without studying education that I know of, he upheld many principles of education that I myself treasure. I love this guy!

As impressed as I am with George Washington Carver, this isn't a review of George Washington Carver, but of a book about him, so I'll get on with the review. Yes, you're welcome. :)

I'm honestly not sure exactly what engaged me about the book, George Washington Carver, by John Perry. I flew right through it. It could be because I was bedridden and bored, or because GWC had a most inspiring life. It could be because it was really well written. I still can't put my finger on it. I know the language must have been adequately arranged because I certainly didn't trip over it.

Overall, I felt that the author did a good job of providing a well-balanced overview of GWC's life. He touches on the early years just enough to give a good background, then steps carefully through his wandering and then preparation years, before he settles into expounding his later productive years. It was evident that the author's intent was to reveal the motivations of George Washington Carver instead of backing any special interests he might have had. Though obviously an important figure with great contributions during a critical time in our country's history, the author didn't fail to point out some of his shortcomings as well. I feel that the author did a good job of showing a balanced view as he attempted to highlight the person behind the peanut.

Does it achieve Living Book status? The book boasts pretty simple, easy-to-read language, and holds your attention well. Regardless of my rating in this category, I think Carver would have approved the value of Living Books and certainly other other principles treasured by our beloved Charlotte Mason.
Here are a couple excerpts to whet your appetite for the book:

"Students liked him because he encouraged them to explore and learn from experience rather than getting their learning from the textbook."

"His life revolved around scientific study and research, painting and drawing, music, refined conversation, and the joy of learning for learning's sake."

"Carver believed that direct observation and hands-on experience were essential to learning. He also believed that students learned about botany by studying other subjects, some of which seemed completely unrelated to plants. Carver often brought plant samples or results of his experiments into the classroom. Rather than using textbooks, he emphasized seeing and examining plants. Rather than telling his students a set of facts, he had them derive the facts for themselves. He wasn't there to spoon-feed his students, but rather to encourage and guide them on their own journeys of discovery. In an introduction booklet published at Tuskegee in 1902, Carver wrote that
'every teacher should realize that a very large proportion of every student's work must lie outside the classroom... The study of Nature is both entertaining and instructive, and it is the only true method that leads up to a clear understanding of the great natural principles which surround every branch of business in which we may engage. Aside from this, it encourages investigation and stimulates originality.'
In another brochure he added that the
'thoughtful educator... also understands that the most effective and lasting education is the one that makes the pupil handle, discuss and familiarize himself with real things about him, of which the majority are surprisingly ignorant.'
So. In summary, would I read the book again?! You betcha. And now that I have it in our library, I'll also have my up-and-comings try it on for size too!

I review for BookSneeze®

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Year 7: Poetry

Oh the joys of poetry! If we hadn't started reading poetry pretty early on, I might have been of the opinion that some of these poems are somewhat advanced for ME, let alone my kids... but, to the contrary, I'm actually excited to read these with the boys. Javen jumps at the chance when it's his turn to attempt the readings! What fun. :)

While, I personally love poetry, I still would like to learn a LOT more. You'll see that I've added a LOT of Helpful Links below in my search for online resources. They are mainly for my own reference, of course you're welcome to check any of them out that look interesting! ;)

Here are the AO year 7 poetry selections, to be split up over the three terms:  
Beginning in Form IV, Mason had the students note the metre and other technical details of the poems. See Helpful Links for Students below* for some really great online resources for teaching these details.

In year 7 as scheduled, we've started A Grammar of Poetry, by Matt Whitling. I highly recommend this book for teaching the beginning ins and outs of reading, writing and criticizing poetry. It's presented in a simple, quick and concise way. If you know exactly what you're looking for, you could probably search out all the materials for free on the internet, but to me, it is totally worth it to have bought the book! (The teacher's guide is GREAT!) If you do one lesson a week, your students should be able to begin to apply their new skills (noting meter and other technical details) to the y7 poetry selections by the second term. I'll have to let you know how this goes! ;)

For Recitation:
Praise of Woman (audio) & The True Knight
Familiar Quotations by John Bartlett

Helpful Links:
AO Poetry Schedule
Y7 Poetry Selections
{The following links, I selected because of the potential helpful content for us the teachers. I didn't thoroughly screen the sites, though in most cases I did look through the pages that are actually linked to. I mostly had teacher reference in mind though, so please don't set your students loose with them just because you found the links here ;) }
Schmoop - an online poetry textbook, boasting a great variety of classic poetry, and as they say, 'we speak student'. is a digital textbook publisher and, as the site describes itself, "every teacher's and student's new BFF." I enjoyed reading this site :)
How to read a poem - in shortest, short, medium-ish and very, very long versions. 
Tips for Teaching Poetry - many ideas, some adaptable for co-ops and homeschools :)
Committed to Memory - an article written by a poet on the whys and hows of memorization/recitation of poetry
Terms for the Tools of Poetry - a great list of important terms, may be of special use to parents.
Listening for Tone - very interesting idea using a poem in Spanish to identify tone w/o understanding the actual language.
Teacher's Lounge - has compiled some very interesting articles for teaching poetry
Craft of Poetry - material about the fundamentals of poetry writtne in a fun way from a course used at University of Northern Iowa - offers online poetry courses (not free) - provides a great checklist for critiquing poems
Poetry Glossary - useful for a checklist of sorts
Online Poetry Resources -
Ablemuse - a poetry forum for submitting and critiquing poetry
OpenUniversity's poetry course (free) - I have no idea if this is good... open course ware is a great idea!

Helpful Links for Students*:
{These links seemed very student friendly, and I did not see any unwholesome ads, but again, please always be careful!}
Poetry Meter
Rhythm, Scansion and Meter Made Easy - a quick reference guide
Poem Structure - Lines & Stanzas
Ryhme Schemes
Poetry Prompts and in that same vein some Story Starters
Types of Poems
How to Write Poetry

Monday, March 5, 2012

Poetry: What we do

Q: For next year, I'm debating how I'll tackle poetry . . . whether each child does it individually, or we do it as a family.

A: For the most part, at Fisher Academy, we do poetry together. I feel that most poetry is best enjoyed when read aloud and with other people (this is not a well thought out or documented stance, it's just my opinion at the moment :) I do personally enjoy reading poetry all by myself quietly, I'm just not sure my kids would feel the same way yet.

I remember as a child being both intimidated and challenged by reading poetry. Intimidated as in, I would have been mortified to have been made to read poetry aloud w/o having read it before and yet challenged because I loved poetry and wanted to do it full justice when I did read it aloud.

I teach my kids poetry, taking those things into consideration.

  random girl reading... poetry? courtesy of bjearwicke, site here

So, for the most part we share it aloud, read by me. Randomly, I will have the older kids prepare to read a medium-ish length poem aloud. I give them time to prepare ahead of time (5min or so depending on length).

I have had my kids read AO year specific poetry some on their own, but didn't follow through with my older boys very well (since we've always read aloud). I hope to do more of that with my youngers. Mostly we have always read together and I leave it up to them to seek it out when they want more. They know where the books are. :) And I'm always pleased when they do this occasionally!

We also use favorite poems as recitation for the older kids. They pick a favorite (usually one they've heard me read aloud or one they already kinda know).

I REALLY like what Brandy shared about incorporating poetry w/ the commonplace noteboook! She said: **For my Y4 student, he does this entirely on his own. He has recently begun a commonplace book, and I asked him to choose his favorite poem from each week to put in it. At the end of the term, he chooses his favorite of his favorites, and that is the poem he memorizes the next term. **

As for handling multiple years, I've done different things. I've selected a poem or two from each year to read aloud in the mornings just after Bible reading (or in the past I've read at lunchtime or tea time). I've also just gone daily through an anthology (currently this is what we're doing), reading several poems each day. Both work. I do really appreciate the AO year specific poetry selections and will be incorporating these again soon (part of the reason I was using an anthology was for convenience sake in this oh-so-busy season we're in... having it all in one book! but I look forward to going back to using the AO suggestions).

My older boys have gotten into writing their own poetry now, which is lots of fun! In y7, the Grammar of Poetry has helped prompt this some, but mostly they've taken it on themselves.

Helpful Links:

There is tons of info on the AO Poetry page, it can be found here:
Parent's Review Articles:
The Teaching of Poetry to Children
An Address on The Teaching of Poetry by the Rev Beeching
What is Poetry? by H. A. Nesbitt

The books we currently use:

The Oxford Book of Children's Verse (Oxford Books of Verse) - this is my favorite anthology used of late! Jam-packed with familiar and not-as-familiar poems for children, we have really enjoyed this one! It's got 346 pages of poetry + forward and resource material.

Random House Treasury of Year-Round Poems (Random House Poetry Treasury) - I'd recommend this book for people living in climates where there is real seasonal change. It's a cute little book, not a ton of poems, arranged seasonally by month (8-10 poems per month).

A Treasury of Poetry for Young People: Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Edgar Allan Poe, Carl Sandberg, Walt Whitman -We've used this treasury as well as other books in the series for the poets recommended in different AO years. Find the series on individual poets here: Poetry For Young People Series

PS. Dont forget the CM carnival tomorrow!

The upcoming Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival has Poetry as it's theme, so we may have a few posts about poetry in the mix. As always there are a number of blog posts on a variety of CM related subjects, plan to join us!! If you would like to be put on the list to receive a reminder of the CM blog carnival please send an e-mail to charlottemasonblogs (at) gmail (dot) com.

If you have a post to submit on poetry to be included in the post tomorrow (TUES, 3/6), please do so ASAP! You can always submit it or any other CM-related post to the upcoming carnival by e-mailing charlottemasonblogs (at) gmail (dot) com at any time!

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