Wednesday, July 1, 2015


It's summer. How can I tell? Is it by the summer storms that come crashing in on our home almost every afternoon? Is it the "pick-me" frogs singing their love song in the pond behind our home? Or is it the beach towels draped along the lanai chairs and grit of the beach under my feet as I sweep out the living room for the second time of the day? Yes, yes, and yes. But most especially, it's the fact that I am in the midst of planning for the upcoming school year that reminds me summer is at hand.

The first hint of summer appeared when I was sequestered away at the annual homeschool conference over Memorial Day weekend. FPEA, which stands for Florida Parent Educators Association puts on the largest homeschool conference in the world. It's massive, and I love attending. The past few years I helped out by working in the IEW booth. I'm a registered instructor for the company, and I love helping parents and teachers find just the right resources for their students.

It's a big booth!
The booth is massive, and many people visit it over the course of the weekend. While I am there, I also pick up some of the resources I will need for the upcoming year.

This year I'll be facilitating two classes. One will be for upper level high school students, Advanced American Literature. I'll be using the following resources for it:

  • Advanced U.S. History-Based Writing Lessons by Lori Verstegen
  • American Literature by Janice Campbell
  • The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
  • The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
  • Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
  • The Gardener by Sarah Stewart
  • The Boy on the Wooden Box by Leon Leyson
  • A Writer's Guide to Powerful Paragraphs by Pellegrino
  • A Writer's Guide to Transitional Words and Expressions by Pellegrino

My other class that I am planning is geared toward 8th/9th graders, and it will focus on the various forms of essays and literature. I'm super excited about this one, as I am really building this one up with my own literature selections, and I can hardly wait to get started! These are the resources I'll be utilizing (so far). There's still some work to be accomplished on it.

  • The Elegant Essay by Lesha Myers
  • Teaching the Classics by Adam Andrews (teacher resource only)
  • Worldview Detective by Adam Andrews (teacher resource only)
  • Virgil's Aeneid
  • A Tale of Two Cities by Dickens
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy
  • "Owl Moon" by Jane Yolen
  • "Thank you, Mr. Falker" by Patricia Polacco
  • "To Build a Fire" by Jack London
  • A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain
  • The Three Musketeers by Dumas (Maybe?)
  • Girl of the Limberlost by Porter (Maybe?)
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Maybe?)
  • English From the Roots Up (Maybe?)
  • And lots of short stories and poems...
For this class I am planning on alternating weeks of instruction. On "odd numbered" weeks we will focus on essay construction (narrative, persuasive, and expository). Then, on the "even numbered" weeks, we will delve into literature with a Socratic emphasis. I'm really excited about Worldview Detective. I recently finished the practicum, and it underscored how I have approached literature study with my students already. In the Christian community, there is trepidation about approaching literature from different world views. In many cases, well meaning parents search for the Truth in a text where it really never appears. In that case, they either come up with one on their own to "confirm" it as belonging in the canon of great literature or they avoid it entirely, preferring to stick with "safer" books. This should not be! Literature is deemed great and stands the test of time because it asks great questions. Some of answers found do not reflect Christ because they were never intended to. You would find it impossible to find a gospel message in Hemingway. Does that mean Hemingway shouldn't be read? Not at all! Hemingway was a great searcher for truth, and he asks some great questions! For our high school kids, it can be a wonderful thing to read Hemingway and feel his condition, his frustration, and examine the questions he posits and the answers he comes up with. As we travel along our own life, we face our own questions and must come up with our own answers as well. It is a shared experience, even if it is not a shared truth. It can also be faith building, as it certainly helps us to clarify and define our own answers to Truth!

These aren't the only classes I'm planning, of course. I am still homeschooling, so that means I'll be figuring out science, math, social studies, and more. It's nice to have a co-op to help me along the path, especially with the science! I'll post more about the general schedule for the year in another post.

I've got about a month left to get things figured out and planned. It's a busy one with a short vacation and a college trip with my oldest to the University of Kansas. Before I know it, it will be time to delve into everything. I can't wait!

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