Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Key to Learning Anything by Suzanne Gose

I am so excited to share this book on my blog. I purchased it for my Kindle soon after I bought it last summer. It was one of those 99 cent specials! I am very interested in learning styles, and this book had come up in an Amazon search on the topic.  I was also intrigued by the author - "SeƱora Gose." Amazon said she teaches Spanish. I was teaching Spanish! Instant interest!

The KEY to learning anything, according to Suzanne, is motivation (Sorry, read on the Kindle so can't cite page numbers). This is stated at the beginning of chapter one, getting right to the point. But Suzanne does not just tell you that you need to be motivated to learn, she also guides you through a thought process to discover your motivation for what you are trying to learn.

I completely agree that you need some sort of motivation to learn. As a high school Spanish teacher, I have seen a lot of students that had absolutely no motivation to learn Spanish. (Hell-o, there are Hispanics everywhere in Gwinnett County!) These did poorly. For some of my students, their motivation was simply "because it was a requirement to graduate." Those did well on tests, but did not retain the material. When there was a motivation, the students did better. I recall one student, Glenn, whose parents spoke Spanish at work - but also at home when they wanted to keep something from the kids. He had motivation to learn Spanish and pretty soon was correcting Mom & Dad's Spanish!

For situations where one just cannot find any motivation, Suzanne suggests giving yourself a stake (negative) or reward (positive) for doing or not doing something. She then discusses each and gives several examples of applying stakes or rewards. All right, we have completed chapter one! The book is very easy reading.

Chapter 2 discusses one of the biggest hindrance to learning - unreasonable expectations. Chapter 3 discusses one of my favorite topics - learning styles.  Suzanne has an excellent assessment for discovering your learning style. In my research I have come across several similar assessments; I found hers to be my favorite. In fact, I liked it so much, I emailed her to ask if I could use it in my classroom research. Since then we have become good Facebook friends; I think if she lived in Georgia instead of Texas, we would probably hang out! In addition to the assessment in the book, she also gives a link to a video assessment on her website! (I love books with "extras.")

Suzanne then spends the next several chapters discussing the different learning styles. BUT she also gives strategies to maximize the effectiveness of studying, based on your learning style. I think this section would be invaluable to parents, especially if their student was struggling in school. I was able to apply some of this information in my classes last school year, particularly the strategies for Kinesthetic (hands-on) learners. These are the students who are constantly fidgeting. I used to try to stop the fidgeting, but last year, after reading this book, I began to focus on stopping the distraction of the fidgeting, rather than stopping the fidgeting. She brought out the point that suppressing the urges to fidget could actually hinder these students from learning! One of the strategies was to allow the student to fidget with a pipe cleaner, which is very quiet. I actually tried that with one of my 10th graders. I'm not sure it worked, though, as the next time I came by his desk he had fashioned it into a stick figure and was tearing up paper to create a bed, pillow, and blanket for the pipe cleaner man!

Since Suzanne teaches Spanish, subjects discussed include foreign language, a subject that is often overlooked in other educational venues. In four years of teachers' conventions, I never once had the opportunity to attend a workshop for foreign language teachers! She completes the book with a resource/reading list. Avid readers could complete this short book in one sitting as it is a very easy read. I HIGHLY recommend it to teachers, parents,and homeschooling parents. To be able to get an idea of your child's learning style and learn how to help them learn better is invaluable information.

Check out Suzanne's website www.flipfloplearning.com or her other products on Amazon. She has some great Spanish vocabulary flashcards and an iPhone app among other products.

Happy to be sharing Suzanne on the Women Living Well Wednesday Link-up! Click the WWLW link to the right of the page to check out the other blogs! I am #96.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Ministry of Motherhood GIFTS plan

What I did not get to in The Ministry of Motherhood introduction study questions was question #5 which says to write out a plan for using the GIFTS plan with your children. We've all heard the expression, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." and for the most part I agree. But having just written a plan to "build my house," I think I will focus on that plan before I try for something else! But I wanted to share the GIFTS plan. This is referenced in more than one title I have from the Clarksons and is discussed in depth in their books. This is their parenting plan.
G - Gift of Grace - the desire and ability to relate personally and lovingly to God and people
I - Gift of Inspiration - desire and ability to view all of live in the light of God's purpose
F- Gift of Faith - the desire and ability to  know God through his Word and Spirit and trust him for every area of life
T - Gift of Training - the desire and ability to grow in Christian maturity and godly character in the power of the Holy Spirit
S- Gift of Service - the desire and ability to minister God's grace and truth to others
(The Ministry of Motherhood, p. 15)

More from Debra Bell

What I love even more than The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling by Debra Bell is The Ultimate Homeschool Planner! Cannot wait to start using it! As a classroom teacher for 6 years, I am used to doing lesson plans and long term planning for my classroom. Certainly with homeschooling, I would like to continue the trend. Of course, the curriculum I am using (ABeka for Alex and Hands On Homeschooling for Will) are both very well planned with scope & sequences and daily plans, so I probably could get by without an additional planner, but as a teacher, I know I would feel lost without some sort of plan!

The Ultimate Homeschool Planner is published by Apologia Educational Ministries, Inc. (www.apologia.com) I purchased my copy from www.amazon.com. The planner contains some of the information from her book, such as Checklist for Raising an Independent Learner, Motivating the Reluctant Leaner, and Learning Styles and Thinking Skills. She includes a multi-page how-to use the book section. The book contains a one-year planning grid to plan things that are certain like birthdays, holidays, vacations. One of my favorite parts comes next - Student Goal Setter, in which you can plan character and academic goals for each of your children. Pre-planning guides include family priorities and a resource list for each child, which would be a great place to make notes of resources from books like her Guide to Homeschooling. A monthly and weekly planner (like a lesson plan book) follow. The Planner concludes with a place for test scores for each student, reading lists for each student, a guide to planning your teen's high school course requirements, a note section, and a bibliography.

My favorite thing about this book is found in the weekly planner section. Debra Bell recommends planning for your homeschooling success yearly, monthly, and weekly.  She suggests taking some time each Lord's Day (Sunday) to renew yourself spiritually and put a "battle plan" in place. Her weekly spiritual planner includes a Bible plan, Battle plan (with "fighter verse), prayers, and outreach plans. Wow! That warms my heart as a believer. Also included are sections to record each week's memorable moments and achievements and (warm heart again) evidences of grace (God's grace, mercy, faithfulness, protection, and provision). If we would be conscious of these "graces" each week to be able to record them, what would that do for our Spiritual life and for our ministry to our children! I can hardly wait for school to start so I can start using this book.

Homeschooling Resources by Debra Bell

I have had several friends say they are homeschooling this Fall as well, including one who said she does not read much so was looking forward to seeing some homeschool stuff on my blog.  I don't have time for an in depth look at these resources, but wanted to give a quick overview.

The first book I will discuss is The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling by Debra Bell (Tommy Nelson, 2005). I purchased the 3rd edition used, but I believe there is a newer edition out. I also had never heard of the Thomas Nelson division that published this book! This is a great resource for those considering or starting homeschooling.

She starts the book with a section called "Homeschooling: Is it for You?" which discusses advantages of homeschooling, challenges of homeschooling, and special situations, as well as gives a worksheet to help your family decide if homeschooling is a good option (p. 65). Other sections include choosing curriculum, planning for homeschool, preventing burnout, what to teach, homeschooling teens, computers, and more.

What I love about this book are the TONS of resources listed such as homeschooling organizations, suppliers, and contests. I have a lot more reading to do before I finish the guide, but I have found it very easy to read, and very easy to find the most relevant information to your situation.

 I really appreciate her chapter on "Determining your Child's Learning Style." I have done a lot of research on this topic (In fact, had I continued with my school, I would be presenting on this topic at our regional teacher's convention in the Fall.), and homeschooling parents (or parents who send their kids to school for that matter) can definitely save themselves a lot of headaches by figuring that out! I am actually planning to write a post on a book that talks about strategies to help your child (or you) learn anything!*

I do not agree with everything she says, but again, with reading anything, you put it through the sieve of God's Word and your own value system, throw out what doesn't pass the test and try to use what does! Overall, a great resource for those considering or starting out on homeschool. I will try to review more of the content as I read more of the book.

I will start a new post for The Ultimate Homeschool Planner.

*Look for The Key to Learning Anything coming soon in my blog. In the meantime, you can download it for your Kindle for $.99 or order it from www.amazon.com or www.flipfloplearning.com.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Ministry of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson (Intro)

(Copied from my Facebook page)
I just started reading Ministry of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson (WaterBrook Press, 2004). She & her husband homeschool their kids & have written several books. This book is written in a study format with questions at the end of each chapter. I read the introduction yesterday and tried to work through the questions today for my devotions (didn't quite make it through)!
One question/assignment was the read Proverbs 14:1 "Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh is down with her hands;" then list 4 ways you can build your house by ministering to your children. Here's what I came up with, along with corresponding Scriptures. What 4 goals can you come up with??

Goal 1: Help my children be physcially healthy by modeling and providing good choices in food and physical activities.
Proverbs 31:27 "She looketh well to the ways of her household."

For me this is a big one! I am not the best eater by any means, although I have become very conscious of my food choices since I was diagnosed with Reactive Hypoglycemia in fall of 2009. I can build my house by providing healthy choices for my kids - a lot of what they eat is MY choice, and I can set a good or bad example by what I put into my mouth. And exercise.. . . a whole day can go by and I never take my kids outside to play - not once, because I'm too busy. That's not looking "well to the ways" of my kids! However, I have started doing yoga most mornings (using Wii Fit Yoga!) and it's really neat to have my kids stretching & posing with me.

Goal 2: Teach my children about God daily.
Deut. 6:6-9. You probably know this passage. It talks about teaching God's Word to our children, when we "sittest in thine house, when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. . . bind them for a sign upon thine hand. . write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates." I think that pretty much sums up all my time! LOL

Goal 3: Respect my husband (directly & indirectly)
Ephesians 5:22 "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as to the Lord." It's to the Lord. Would I treat the Lord the way I treat my husband sometimes?? 'Nuff said.

Goal 4: React lovingly
I Corinthians 13:4 "Charity suffereth long and is kind."

So many times I react volatilely to my kids (not violently, but angrily). I need to react patiently and kindly. I am their example of Christ and He doesn't snap at us when we go him for the thousandth time with the same question or request.
So these are my builidng my house goals. I would love to hear what yours are. 

A Child's Book of Character Building by Ron & Rebekah Coriell

Another title I purchased from that reading list (I wish I could figure out which book had that list!) is A Child's Book of Character Building by Ron & Rebekah Coriell (Revell, 1981). A newer printing of this book is available on www.amazon.com. I was excited when I read the authors' bio to discover that they had worked at Cedarville University during the time my eldest brother Bob attended. He, my sister Rebecca, and my dad all have degrees from Cedarville.

This book discusses the following character traits: attentive, faith, creative, diligence, patience, contentment, obedience, wisdom, tenderhearted, thankfulness, honesty, and joyfulness. The discussion of each trait includes a definition, Scripture verse (the 1981 edition uses KJV, not sure about others), and 4 stories showing examples of that trait in action in the Bible, at home, school, and play.  The definitions are easy enough that my four year old was able to memorize it after repeating a few times. Also included are some challenges at the end of the 4 stories, such as (for Attentive), "Ask the child to list 10 people to whom we should be attentive (p. 18)."

My boys, ages 7 and 4 seem to enjoy the stories so far. I am thinking I will continue using this as a daily devotion with them (They do a Bible story book at night with their dad.) and try to work on one character trait each week.

If you are wondering why I keep saying I am planning to try this or that - basically life as I've known it for the past four years has turned upside down. For the past 4 years I have been a part-time high school Spanish teacher at my church's Christian school. It has been a wonderful, fruitful ministry, but it has consumed my life for the past four years, even during school breaks. A few months ago, God enlightened me to the fact that all these other kids were getting the BEST of my time,while my husband & kids were getting the LEFTOVERS, which was not enough. Since I was in a position where my income did not contribute to family finances, it was really easy to make the decision to stop working, once I realized how lopsided my priorities had become. Not intentionally, but as an employee there was a certain allegiance I had to give to my place of employment over my family. Having grown up a good bit of my life as a missionary kid, I have seen so many people in ministry. The biggest priority I have with any ministry is that it cannot be more important that my family. God - family - ministry/job, etc.

So now I am in the process of adjusting to life as a stay at home mom, who will be homeschooling my 2 boys in the Fall. Alex will be in 2nd grade, which I used to teach before he was born, and Will will be in K-4. I will be teaching Alex using the ABeka curriculum, which I extremely familiar with. Will will be using a preschool program called Hands-On Homeschooling, along with www.ixl.com for math, and they will be doing Bible together.

I have rambled way off subject, it is very late, and we have a trip to the Atlanta zoo tomorrow, so I must stop for the night. I look forward to sharing more from The Ministry of Motherhood when I move on to chapter 1 tomorrow.

How to Have Kids with Character by Nadine Brown

I mentioned I was reading How to Have Kids with Character. Wanted to share a few things I like about it. First of all, I have no idea if it is in print or not. I purchased it from www.abebooks.com. It was on the recommended reading list in a homeschool book I read (can't remember title; didn't make an impression on me, I guess). It's subtitle is "a 12 month plan with activities, slogans, and crafts to teach your children valuable character traits." Published by Tyndale in 1990, it may be OOP (out of print). I would try ABE if you can't find it via a retailer.

The first thing I liked is the author's note where Nadine states that she prefers to use the KJV, but the publisher changed some of the Scriptures to other versions to appeal to a wider audience. Now, my personal preference is the KJV, but I will not discount a book that uses another version. I think that's throwing the baby out with the bathwater. As a Christian, I take my Biblical worldview and use it as a sieve to filter what I read, listen to, watch, etc. I'm not going to throw away good writing because the author prefers another version. In conservative Baptist circles I know there are those that disagree but hey, this is my blog!

The character traits covered are: perseverance, honesty, obedience, dependability, gratitute, responsibility, stewardship, discernment, communication, purity, self-control,and generosity. Each chapter has a discussion by Nadine, key Scripture, slogans (more about that later), and activities for different ages.

I haven't gotten very far into this book yet. I looked at the table of contents and decided to work on obedience first. I admit that I tend to be the softy in my house; something I desire to change. I got a little slack with Will; he is so strong-willed he required so much more discipline that I started to ignore some of it. But lately I noticed he obeys Daddy a lot more than he obeys Mama. PROBLEM! Especially since we plan to homeschool this fall. Nadine gave the example of how we would react if we caught our kids doing a seance in their bedroom! We would flip out! But the Bible says rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft. Ignoring disobedience is like ignoring the seanse. Wow! Sobering. Thanks, Nadine, for that illustration (p. 32).

As an adult, I think the "slogans" are a little corny, but there is truth to them, so I'll probably start teaching or using them soon. For obedience she gives the following: "We all have to obey someone. You can't be your own boss - people weren't made that way. Obedience is more important than giving presents. Obedience to God gives us real freedom." (p. 42-43)

This is not one of her suggestions, but as I considered her activities, I thought that a lot of the times I speak to my boys without even knowing if they are listening to me. So we are working on answering "Yes, Mama (Daddy) or Yes ma'am (sir) when spoken to. The kids are doing okay with it; now if Mama can just be consistent! My thought with this book is to focus on one character trait each month. I think this is one thing I can use in my goal #2 from my building my house goals (mentioned on Facebook; will be here soon).


I love to read.  On this desk, there are 3 books I am currently reading: The Ministry of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson, Choosing Gratitute by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, and How to Have Kids with Character by Nadine M. Brown, in addition to my Bible and Kindle, which contains several more unfinished books. As a busy wife and mom of 2 boys, who has recently stopped teaching high school Spanish, I don't have many big blocks of time to sit down and devour a book anymore, but do enjoy reading and do it whenever I can. In addition to historical fiction, which I rarely read at this point in my life, I enjoy reading about child-rearing, homeschooling (My newest educational endeavor), and growing in the Lord as a Christian woman.

I decided to start blogging as a way of keeping track of what I read as well as sharing the "Blessings" I glean with others. I enjoy following several blogs, so others might enjoy reading this one! It is definitely a work in progress as I am a blogger rookie.

One of my favorite ways to find new books to read is to look in the "recommended reading" lists of a book I have already read or the "bibliography" of those books. I then take that list and hit www.abebooks.com to purchase used books. Great prices!!

I hear the kids have arrived home with my husband, so my reading/writing time is over for the night.