Ever wondered what homeschoolers do all day? For today's post, I thought I would describe a typical teaching day at the homeschool center where I work. Tomorrow I will teach 4 classes of literature and writing, but I would venture to say such a day looks very little like what you think it might.
Homeschoolers just do things, um.... differently.
Next up at 10:30 is literature and writing for teens. We've been working on The Taming of the Shrew for the past few weeks and rather than an essay (as we did for The Canterbury Tales) students will be completing a collaborative writing project. I put them in groups of three and their task was to re-write the ending of the play from the wager (bear baiting the wives scene) on. Students had about 150 lines to rewrite and I gave them fairly wide parameters for doing so. They just have to be able to demonstrate how their rewrite illuminates a theme from the play. In class tomorrow, we'll be filming dramatized versions of their rewrites with students playing the various roles. Should be interesting :)
Each class, by the way is 90 minutes, so after Read to Write (my official name for the teen lit class), I'll have 30 minutes to run and find my own tykes and get their lunch heated up, etc. They will have been taking Graphic Design and Flaming Chemistry (Charlotte) and Graphic Design and Pottery (Grace). Charlotte takes both my afternoon classes and Grace takes Liberty or Death (Revolutionary War projects) and my Percy Jackson.
After lunch I get to work with one of my favorite classes of all time: my "noveling" students. I have 12 students (ages 10-14) each writing 15,000 word novels this semester, which we'll publish on Lulu.com, so they walk away with a paperback copy of their own magnum opus. Today we'll be working on writing dialogue. To do this we'll be making our own comic strip versions of a few of our scenes to sharpen their ability to write dialogue that helps define their characters and creates tension while moving the story forward. The rationale behind using comic strips to do this is to limit the amount of space they have in which to accomplish these goals. We're working on making their writing more concise and less, how shall I put it: wandering? flailing? These kids are incredible though. They're working so hard and each week they add another 1500 words to their overall word count. I'm just trying to get a few less of those words to be "filler."
Then last up for the day, I'll teach my "Percy Jackson" class. For those of you unfamiliar with this series (I guess above, I just assumed Harry Potter has entered the general lexicon), the Percy Jackson series of books by Rick Riordan takes Greek mythology and translates it into the modern world. The concept is that Mt. Olympus (home of the gods) moves with the heart of Western Civilization and democracy and that because the United States is currently the seat of democracy in the west, Mt. Olympus is accessed through the Empire State Bldg (600th floor – special elevator required), the entrance to Hades is in L.A. (of course :) and the labyrinth designed by Daedelus continues to expand and move just underneath the earth’s surface. The main storyline of the series involves a return of the Titans, battling the greek pantheon for control once again.
The class spends lots of time looking at various aspects of greek mythology (classical myths and myths as framed by the book). I send various students on “quests” each week and they come back having written short stories detailing their adventures with the assigned mythological creatures and factual presentations for the class. This is another hard working group of kids. Our Greek god of the day for tomorrow is actually the goddess Artemis (the huntress), twin sister of Apollo. So once our quest reports are finished we'll set about making our own archery equipment from pvc pipe, cotton strings, fairly small diameter dowels, eraser tips and lots of duct tape :) This is not a craft I've done before, but this picture gives the basic idea. We'll use these for archery practice when we hold our "Camp Half-Blood" day later this month.
I wish I could say that's the end of my day, but 3:30 brings more adventures. At that point, we're usually off to the library: my own two kids, and usually a few others I babysit or who just also have time to kill before our 7pm Peter Pan rehearsal. We live an hour from the learning center and rehearsal venue, so there's no going home for a break. Instead, we get something to eat and find a place to hang out or a park to play in. Tomorrow, the plan is to go to a pumpkin patch before heading over to the rehearsal. I generally go grocery shopping while the kids rehearse, but tomorrow we have parent meetings, so shopping will have to wait until after 8pm. I'm a fairly streamlined shopper, so hopefully we'll be on the road by 8:30pm and home by 9:30.
I'm exhausted just thinking about it!