Archive for December, 2011

The Adventures of Tintin

December 27, 2011 Leave a comment

I had the opportunity to see this movie last night in 3D of course.  It has been a while since I’ve been to the movies and enjoyed popcorn with imitation butter.  The experience of going to the theater was nicer than watching a movie at home.  This movie did nothing to ruin the experience.

The Adventures of Tintin is a movie about an English reporter trying to solve a mystery of why people want the model sailing ship he purchased and why they’re trying to steal it.  He and his dog go on an adventure of kidnapping, escape, gunfire, Mediterranean and desert experience.  He encounters bad guys, drunks, evil villians and interpol officers.  The stunts Tintin pulls would normally kill us but in animation land, he is okay.  This movie is about two hours long and worth the watch.  The humour is clean and even the violence is clean.  There is nothing that I recall that offends the senses.

Now to the bad side of things.  I hate 3D movies.  No matter what they are a cheap experience.  The only part of the 3D experience I enjoyed was seeing the dust in 3D and this had me thinking about how they planned that out.  RealD 3D was used and though better than your 50’s 3D film it is still of poor quality.  I got tired of the 3D effect and just wished for a 2D movie.  After paying $2.50 for the glasses and with the expectation of recycling them, I figured they are mine to keep, and I kept them.  In reality, 3D is an experience that really is not a great experience but more of a sales pitch not so different than those television commercials selling cheap products with the promise of how great they are.

I do recommend the movie.  It is well worth the two hours of viewing.  I’m never sure a movie is worth paying more than $8, but when I’m able to pay $22 for three people with popcorn and drink…  If you wish to see a family movie then please see this movie.  You will not be disappointed.  You come away with a happy feeling.


Rosetta Stone – A Homeschooler’s View

December 26, 2011 Leave a comment

Alright, I am experienced with languages.  I learned Spanish in the public school system and even had the language at the University level.  My best post education lesson was working with Mexicans a few years back.  These guys were great, and I love’m!  In a manly or even friendship way.  They wouldn’t speak English to me thus forcing the Spanish to come out of me.  Too bad this was only for a short period of time.  This brings me to language preparation and my topic of Rosetta Stone.

I have encountered German and Spanish with Rosetta Stone.  There is one other language that I experienced and failed with, but it was with a different program.  Rosetta Stone is an expensive program that relies on teaching the student to identify images to words spoken.  There is a homeschool version that has grades.  This is completed on the pc and requires ten to thirty minutes of time person lesson.  This is dependent on the student.  I’ve actually done mine in five minutes.  The student has different opportunities to learn the language.  One way is repeating what is said.  This is to evaluate the accuracy with which the student pronounces words.  Another method is matching a written word with the image that it represents.  Another is spelling the word.  There is no English spoken in this program (unless you are learning English).  There are three levels of the language or in this case three levels for Spanish.  There are worksheets for the student to work on as well.

Okay, what is my evaluation of this program?  Well, looking at the worksheets, it is cumbersome to get to and not intuitive either.  This is disappointing.  Now onto the enunciation section of the program.  Many times it does not recognize what you are saying even if you pronounce the word correctly.  This is very disappointing.  Also, it become predictable at times and this allows you to make mistakes.  I don’t see the retention of what is learned and this is very disappointing.  I like the program but it is lacking.  Too bad I don’t have more experience with other languages to properly compare.  This program leaves me unfulfilled.  One great point about the program is the customer service.  I give it an A+.  They were very helpful when I had some problems using the Spanish on two computers.

Now to an apology.  I’m typing on a computer that I’m not used to and have the sun shining on my screen.  This is not a reason for poor writing, just my excuse to say I could have done better.  This is my style for the blog.  I write as I think.

Homeschool Intro or a Brief Introduction to Schooling From Home

December 21, 2011 Leave a comment

Homeschooling provides many varieties of instruction.  A parent new to homeschooling has a situation no different than someone selecting the best computer, television or phone.  There are many options out there such as Unschooling, Charlotte Mason or Mother Seton but which is the best.  Most of the options available give a clue to their effectiveness.  There is a reason you do not hear of them or they were popular a century ago.  Typically, the new parent selects a program similar to that of a friend.  So what is the best method of instruction?

To understand the best method of instruction is to understand the differences in studies such as history, mathematics, science and literature.  Another area to understand is hands on education, sight education and such.  I won’t go into hands on or sight techniques.  These are dependent upon the child, and I can’t tell you how to educate your child.  Most methods are worthless and sadly they are perpetuated throughout the homeschooler world. What I can do is give you an advantage through writing about the best methods of instruction.

There are curriculums similar to schools.  These curriculums are textbook based.  Take history for example, you may have a paragraph discussing a subject if you are lucky.  There is no detail with this type of learning.  You see this in history and science.  In the school setting there is limited opportunity for detail and it is expensive to expand on the subjects.  With homeschooling, you are not held by these obstacles.  Take advantage of the freedom of homeschooling through reading and detailed study.  This is where a homeschooler has a distinct advantage over the typical student.  My lads read multiple books on a history subject instead of a paragraph or a page.  Not only does this take care of history, but it is also a part of literature.  Their depth of knowledge far exceeds those of public and private school.  Yes, it requires more time but isn’t homeschooling about your child’s education?   Search for curriculums that provide these options.  You can create your own, but it is easier to search out curriculums that have been designed for this type of education.  One source to look at is Sonlight. 

Similar to history is science.  Homeschoolers are able to perform lab experiments and study with more detail in science.  If you re-read the preceding paragraph and insert science instead of history, you’ll have science down too.  The big advantage for science is you’re able to do the labs at home.  The youth can go into more detail to understand pulleys, electricity, weather and even biology.  This doesn’t necessarily require more books.  Look into Tops Science as a source.

 The language arts are an area where history can overlap.  Reading historical fiction can cover history as well as the literature needs required for homeschooled youth.  Do not limit yourself in this area.  The student can write an essay on the history book they read.  Again look at Sonlight as an example source.

Mathematics is an important field and needs to be done from the earliest age.  Sorry, your eighth grader cannot compete if they’re just starting math.  The likelihood of succeeding in the science fields, mathematics or even accounting is limited.  A public or private school student has every advantage.  I’ve written about Saxon Math and Teaching Textbooks and you may review those write-ups.  The key for math is practice!  It needs to be ingrained.  Sorry to say that those without ingrained skills make poor engineers and scientists.  Yes, I’ve experienced people with poor math skills and it started in their youth.  Math is a building block subject.  Think of building a house, without a good foundation the house shifts and collapses. 

My attempt is for the new homeschooling parent to get an idea of what to look for.  You need to know what your goal is.  Is a textbook education okay with you?  If so, curriculums such as Mother Seton are the way.  Are you looking for added depth but more involvement?  My preferred method is an option.  .  Is your goal religious based or education based?  Yes, there is a huge difference.  Before deciding on a curriculum look at what other people are using.  Ask question and note the answers.  You can always change your curriculum next year.

Social Activities, a Homeschool Brief

December 19, 2011 Leave a comment

A discussion with a person a short time ago brought up homeschooled children and their social skills.  It was agreed between the two of us that in general homeschooled youths lack some important social skills.  These skills are not your respect or how to act around adults.  These skills are more related to individuals their own age and society in general.

People notice when a youth is just not right on the social scale.  These youths stand out in one sense but sit in the shadows in another.  Sadly, it is the oddity about them that stands out.  These youths do not know how to react to other youths around their own age.  Their skills are retarded and carries on into adulthood.  What I notice about these particular youths is their limited social activities outside the family or church family.

I encourage my lads to engage outside activities.  They are involved in sports, scouts and yes dances.  We do the most to engage the lads with other youths even if they are not of our beliefs.  This gives them an advantage in life.  They learn how to interact with others that do not follow the same beliefs.  The lads interact with public, private and home schooled individuals on a regular basis.  As for religion, this is not a problem for we judge people based on them and not their beliefs.

It is important for those schooling at home to broaden their child’s life with as much as they can.  Interacting with different people  in life is the standard, and it helps the person to communicate with others in order to live a happy life.

Christmas Lights 2

December 18, 2011 Leave a comment

Last night another study was done.  The direction taken included two states this time and more of a sample.  118 houses were counted with a large number of unknowns.  There were quite a few house with outside lights on and no tree lit.  Since the study is about Christmas tree lights and the color comparison, white versus color, all other displays were ignored.  If your tree is red, and we saw a few, it is considered colored.  The same goes witht he white tree with a few blue lights.  Colored!  This study provides the opportunity for people to not pay attention to their ipods or other devices and observe the outside world.

As I stated, 118 Christmas tree lights were observed.  There was a few all red trees; one with a red tree and red lights.  There was the white lit tree with a few blue lights.  This time I found it difficult to find a pattern between the indoor tree and outdoor lights.  For most of the count the ratio was 2:1 until the last mile where the one set climbed rapidly.  What are the results.

It isn’t surprising anymore that white out numbered color.  White had 68, 57.6%, and the color lights put forth a valiant effort of 50, 42.4%.  This is nearly identical to the first study.  Hmm, I guess white lights on Christmas trees are more popular.  I have always thought that color would be more popular until you hit the older population where the youngsters are out of the house or old enough not to care about tree color.

Now you have a duplicated study.  White is more popular on Christmas trees.

A Christmas Carol

December 17, 2011 Leave a comment

I have not always been a fan of A Christmas Carol, but recently my like for this story has increased exponentially.  This story has always been around me during my childhood.  I can remember the 1951 version in which some people consider to be the best.  Now I find myself reading the story every year and this year I will be reading Dicken’s version to my family this Christmas Eve.  The Dicken’s version is the version he would read in public.

The 1984 version with George C. Scott is one of my favorites even though it does not follow the story completely.  Scott plays a believable Scrooge and Bob is a bit too old for his character.  When this story came out, it lit the ember that would eventually bring me to loving the story.

Patrick Stewart’s version is my next favorite.  It is even closer to the story, and Stewart also portrays Scrooge very well (does that sound right?).  This story is one that I’ve considered buying in recent years but have not done so.  Maybe after this years showing, 23rd, I may finally do it.

For all of the Alastiar Sims fan, this is my third favorite.  I think the B/W ruins it for me.  I love B/W films but this one appears not to be in great quality for me.  Don’t know, it is just a distant third.

The story itself is very relevant even in todays world.  I see the early Scrooge as people of today willing to allow their government take care of those less fortunate.  He like these people ignore the inefficiencies of government, its sterile methodology and unsympathetic process.  Yet, this system provides a lazy way out of being responsible for others.  It is a tax to be free of others.  The new Scrooge is what we all should be – caring and giving.  This provides warmth and love that tell people they are cared for.

We shouldn’t rely on the government for the handouts.  No, we should be the ones giving and doing so with a smile and love.  Sadly, I believe secularism has contributed to this modern mentality (not really that modern) of wanting the government to take care of us.  A warm hand is better than a cold hand out.

That is my brief take on the story.

Teaching Textbooks – a Homeschooler’s Guide

December 17, 2011 Leave a comment

Today is my quick blog.  This means I do very little reviewing to see how poorly I’ve written.  Actually, I seldom take the time with my entries since I am seldom in a position to take the time to review and correct.  At least the information is correct.

I was initially skeptical of this method of learning, and the jury is still deliberating.  On the second year of the curriculum I am keeping a positive thought on Teaching Textbooks.  What is Teaching Textbooks, you ask?  How successful or good is it?  Let me pan for some comments about this material.

We have done or should I say child one has studied Algebra 1 and Geometry using this method.  Teaching Textbooks is a computer based learning program where you watch a video.  The video is sort of like a blackboard or computer screen where the instructors do the writing as they give their lecture.  It is easy for parent and student to sit and listen, learn and understand what is being taught.  The student may follow along with a book that is provided or read outside of the computer lesson.  The math problems are in the book for the student.  The answer key simply states the answers.  This is where I have one issue.  I’m old fashioned and love the complete answer to be shown, similar to Saxon Math.  The student can go back to a disk and watch how a particular problem is solved.  This is helpful for those parents that can not solve the problem.  Like Saxon Math there are tests and they work similar to the homework.

Each math program comes with a textbook, answer key, solutions cds and lessons cds.  You need a computer (naturally) and at least Windows XP s2 and I guess 512kb ram.  Not sure what else you need since computers are not a problem with us.

As I stated earlier, I was not the biggest fan of this type of learning.  I prefer a instructor – student method.  NO, I do not know of any youth teaching themselves.  If you have a child teaching themself, they are not fully understanding the math.  This method has the computer program teaching.  So far child 1 has done very well with this method and his standardized testing has shown this.

I would recommend this if you do not have the time to teach.  Sorry, there are few if any children that will teach themselves properly.  Remember, your child is NOT exceptional nor is the child an adult.  The child is an average kid like all other kids, so quit kidding yourself.