Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Beginning Narration with Aesop's Fables

If you've been involved in the homeschooling movement for any amount of time I am sure you've learned about the idea of narration as a teaching tool or should I say a learning tool.

I don't want to go into a whole description of narration today. That could be an article all by itself. Simply stated  oral narration is just saying back what someone else just read to you or you read yourself. Oral narration can be utilized in children ages 5 and up but starting in 1st grade is best.

This fall quarter, I decided to start my 1st grade son in some narration by reading Aesop's Fables. I would read at least one story to him a day. At least 2 or three times a week, I would ask him to tell the story back to me and I would write it out in a notebook for him. I got one of those primary journal notebooks that has lines on the bottom half of the page and blank space on the top half. That way we could record his narration and he could then draw a picture of the story. Occasionally, I would just ask him what is something we learned from this story and I would write in on the white board and he would record the moral of the story in his notebook in his own handwriting.

We finished our book of Aesop and now have several pages of narration recorded. It is a step toward learning to narrate which is a terrific skill to learn as your children devlop. Teaching this skill at age 5-7 is much easier than even 10-12. Aesop's Fables are quite short and simple stories making them simple for your early narrating student to learn these important narration skills.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Teaching Writing with The Hobbit

I know the idea isn't novel (Ha!) but yes I am teaching writing while using the Tolkein novel, The Hobbit. My 7th grade son really does enjoy Lord of the Rings. The movies and the online game. He's never read any of the books because I just didn't think he was ready for them. Well, this year in planning his curriculum I thought reading the Hobbit would be a great way to start his junior high study of Literature.

My son does enjoy reading. He loves to orally retell things he reads and watches, but when it comes to writing it down it's like pulling out hairs. In fact I've had suspicions that he might even have some kind of non-verbal learning disability.

In preparing this unit on the Hobbit, I thought it would be great to learn the hero's journey. My son has taken well to that and has easily made comparisons to other books and movies as they progress through the hero's journey. I also have included in our study that he keep a Hobbit Journal as though he is Bilbo. So after reading each chapter he sits down at his computer and adds to his Hobbit Journal writing in first person of what has happened to him. I thought he'd hate it. I figured he'd despise reading the book even because that meant he'd have to write.

Well, thank God I was wrong. He's been loving this one hundred percent. And the writing pieces he's been creating have been outstanding. Exactly at grade level when previously his writing has been much below grade level. It just goes to show that when a student is excited about an assignment that they do so much better. This has also shown me that he can write and do it well.

He is keeping track of the hero's journey as he progresses through The Hobbit and he's been keeping notes on specifics in the book for each part of the journey. He will be writing a short paper in comparing the hero's journey in The Hobbit.

We have been having a terrific time reading this book and delving deeper into writing. I look forward to more literature this year as we continue through the seventh grade.