Saturday, September 13, 2008

Create-A-Book and TOG Co-op

School is pretty much in full swing now, with several outside classes and activities kicking off this week. "A"s chemistry class, "J's science class, homeschool choir, and the short story/ create-a-book class I'm teaching all began this week. Oh, and "J"s first soccer game is this morning.

The Short Story /Create-a-Book class is something I am teaching at the local homeschool bookstore / resource center, and our first meeting went very well. I brought a box full of well-loved picture books from my shelves and we looked at them, identifying the parts of a book such as the cover, title, spine, dedication, publisher, end pages, story summary, author bio., text & illustrations.

Then we looked at a couple of homemade books that my children had created, and I read them the story of "Jason and Grayson and the Missing Baseball Hat", written by my lovely and talented oldest daughter.

Afterwards, we brainstormed story ideas by listing the alphabet down one side of a piece of paper and writing down things we enjoyed or thought were interesting for each letter.

A - Astronauts, Antarctica, Alligators

B - Ballet, Basketball, Band,

C - Christmas, Cookies, China

D - Dinosaurs, Dessert, Dreams

E - Elephants, Ethiopia


As a class, we created a Jumble Story. On the whiteboard I wrote these Categories: Character, Place, Time, and Problem. The kids in the class then suggested things to put under each category - for instance, 1. Sparkle, the Dragon; 2. Precious, the Princess; 3. Connor, the race car driver... 1. in a castle; 2. at the beach... 1. in 1475; 2. in the winter; 3. today ; 1. a stolen artifact; 2. can't find his shoes; 3. best friend told a lie.......... Once our categories were filled in, I chose someone to roll a die, and the number that came up was the number we chose for Character; someone else rolled and that number was the Place, and so on. So now we had Sparkle the Dragon, in a castle, in the morning, and a stolen artifact. Paired with a partner, the kids then had 15 minutes to write a story with a beginning, middle, and and end, using those 4 elements. They really seemed to get into this and produced some pretty funny stories.

We talked about character, setting, & plot, and the fact that every story has a beginning, middle, and end. And now they have to come back next week with their own story idea, and we'll get started!

There are 16 kids in the class, ranging from age 8 to 14. We are spending the first 4 weeks learning about and writing their short stories, and then we'll move into the development and construction of a one-of-a-kind, heirloom hard-cover book! I did this project many years ago with my 3 older children, and then about 5 years ago as a class in our homeschool co-op. The project is from Valerie Bendt's Creating Books With Children. "J" is in this class with me, and I'll post more about his progress in creating a story and a book as we go along.

Yesterday was TOG Co-op day. I have a lot more prep work this year, teaching high school level literature and writing to a group of seven 14-15 yr. olds. The kids are super - I love them all - but the material is very challenging, and I am having to read their literature assignments as well as the teacher background notes and discussion script each week, and also prepare some writing instruction materials. whew! We are following the "cutting plan" laid out in the TOG Yr 2 Loom, which trims the literature assignments to make them more manageable for younger high school students. This past week we finished reading Beowulf ( from the Norton Anthology of English Lit.! ) and discussed the story and the elements of theme, worldview, characters, and "experiment in living". Next week we begin tackling Chaucer's Canterbury Tales!

I'm pretty happy with the effort the kids are putting in so far, but I'm going to need to be a cheerleader to keep them motivated through the tough work ahead. I can tell there is a lack of confidence there. This is a BIG step up from what any of them were doing last year for literature, when they were all in the Dialectic level of TOG, reading stories like The Golden Goblet, Wonders and Miracles, and Eagle of the Ninth.

Writing so far is a review of the writing process, and forming strong sentences and paragraphs, but in a couple of weeks they'll be tackling their first Literary Analysis paper, and then a 10-page research paper.

This is WAY above the kind of work I did in high school, but I am excited that my children have a high bar to work for and get to tackle such challenging material. I'm sorry that I didn't have it when my older ones were still homeschooling. They did fine and succeeded very well in college, but my goodness... after TOG, college work should be a breeze for these last two!

Last but not least, here is Jason with the Viking longboat that he made this week.
( tissue box, bamboo skewers, Crayola Model Magic, copy paper )


GrammaJelly said...

"Phew!" and "Yikes"! I can relate to your preps for the high schooler's lit class...somewhat like my high school computer classes in which I had to cram the night before a class just to stay a day ahead of them with the constantly changing technologies. Just think of all that YOU are learning at the same time! ;-) Love

Pam said...

What a neat, neat class you are teaching Beth! It looks awesome!

Pam (from TLT)