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    Books & Reading, Home Education, Other Thoughts

    Seven Quick Takes on Email Plugins, Karen Glass’ New Book, Adding to my Toolbox, and More!

    September 11, 2015 by Brandy Vencel

    Seven Quick Takes

    :: 1 ::

    boomerang-menuHave you ever heard of the Boomerang plug in for Gmail? I just installed it, and so far, I’m loving it. I have a love/hate relationship with email. One problem I have is that I think of writing emails for certain things at the “wrong” time. For example, I might think of an email that I know I will need to send — and all the content I need to send in it — three weeks before it ought to be sent. {This is usually in regard to my local CM group.} I have tried writing the email and keeping it in draft, but one of two bad things happens: either I forget to send it entirely, or I think I sent it because I wrote it. Either way, it’s dangerous. But if I wait to write it, I end up doing it late. Boomerang allows me to write the email now, and schedule it to send later. It also allows me to mark an email for Boomerang — meaning it’ll come back into my inbox on the day I schedule it to, automatically. So, for example, if I make plans with someone, and I receive an email about it, I can schedule that email to appear back in my inbox the day of, or the day before, as a bit of a reminder to myself.

    It is pretty awesome so far!

    :: 2 ::

    Here is another new book, this time from Karen Glass. Mind to Mind is {gasp!} an abridgment of Charlotte Mason’s sixth volume. I know that many of you are like me and like to read the whole thing, in the original language, obscure historical references and all. But that isn’t for everyone, and Karen has done a wonderful job. I like what the synopsis says:

    Karen Glass, with deep respect for the original, has preserved the essentials in Ms. Mason’s own words, while delivering the material in a format that speaks to today’s readers. This book is an abridgment in the literal Latin sense of “to shorten.” What has been shortened is not merely the length of the original volume, but the path between the modern reader and the mind of Charlotte Mason.

    There have been so many times when I wanted to hand the sixth volume to a young mom, but I feel like it’s totally overwhelming. I think this book gives me that option — it’s the original, but with the path shortened. 🙂

    :: 3 ::

    This week’s links collection:

    :: 4 ::

    This month in 2009…

    Lessons from the Garden

    Apparently, we were harvesting sunflowers. That seems so long ago that it’s a bit strange…

    :: 5 ::

    I added a few things to the Mommy Toolbox this week. The first was some dice. Whenever we’re doing group narration, I use dice to settle the question of who will narrate. Also, I finally added those Post-It Notes. I’m mainly using these to note additions to my shopping lists. Also making it in the Toolbox were a white-out tape dispenser and my favorite large white eraser.

    :: 6 ::

    This week, I finally finished writing the last of my three talks for the Northwest Charlotte Mason Educator’s Conference! So exciting, plus now I can start practicing. I have to be careful, though. I’ve learned that I can only practice a few times before I give a talk. Any more, and it goes badly. Strange, but true. Anyhow, my three talks are:

    1. What’s Love Got to Do with It? Cultivating Your Child’s Affinities
    2. Start Here: A Survey of Charlotte Mason’s 20 Principles {this dovetails perfectly with my study guide by a similar name}
    3. Aquinas’ Big Picture: Charlotte Mason’s Great Recognition

    I had to apologize to the organizers for the fact that I love long, extravagant names for talks.

    :: 7 ::

    Answering Your Questions:

    • Question: Do you pre-read for only your oldest? All of the material? How do you handle hearing a narration if you haven’t read something (especially from your younger crew) — maybe quickly skim it?
      • Answer: Yes, I only pre-read for my oldest. Because I have done this all along, it is very, very rare that my younger ones are reading a book that I haven’t already read. I have tried to be very focused and attentive when pre-reading for my oldest so that it is effective for all of the younger children, too. And, really, by the time I get to my youngest, it is the fourth time I’ve gone over something, so I know it pretty well. On the couple times that I have assigned something to someone that wasn’t covered included with my oldest, I have either pre-read or read it aloud, but usually not both. But either way, I have definitely read it. This is a huge benefit to pre-reading from the very beginning. If you try and start it later, and you’re trying to read for multiple children, well … I don’t want to be discouraging, but I feel like it is almost impossible to pre-read for multiple years. Keeping up with one is hard enough! So … if you switched later on, I would say try your best, and skim when you need to, because thoroughly reading everything would be quite the feat, and too much for most of us!

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  • Reply Melissa September 12, 2015 at 9:47 am

    Oh, how I wish the conference wasn’t so far away! We just discussed cultivating affinities last night at our CM Book Club and I’d love to hear your talk….maybe, you’ll post about it after your speech 😉

  • Reply Amber Vanderpol September 11, 2015 at 11:23 am

    I am so looking forward to this conference!!

    I had not heard of Boomerang, but that sounds like a very useful tool. I have that first problem all the time – I want to send emails ahead of when they are appropriate to send and then either write them and forget about them, or write them so many times in my head that I think I’ve actually written them! (I do the same thing for blog comments, *ahem*)

    And I can definitely testify that it is tough to keep up with two years’ worth of reading! This is the first year that I’ve really had to do much of it, as I read almost everything out loud to my second child (as a Y3) last year. But this year he’s reading quite a bit of his own books (and doing very well with it, yay!) but I’m feeling a little overwhelmed at my 15 or so books I’m trying to read from each week (Y4 and Y8) (come to think of it, that might be an underestimate – I honestly don’t want to count them all) but trying valiantly to keep up. If I can carve out about three hours I think I can at least read or skim most everything, but that is some very intense brain work as I am also narrating it all to myself as I go. And then there’s the BoC and my Commonplace… yes, starting Ambleside mid-stream has some definite challenges (and rewards too, I might add – it is still worth switching to it, even with this difficulty!)

    If I haven’t read it already, I will try to at least pick it up and skim it – esp. for my Y4 to get an idea of title headings or where the story section ends. If I can’t do that (after all, I also have a Y2, an almost 4 yo and a 21 mo old) I will usually start he the narration myself by saying, “so, when you last narrated, this is what I remember you telling me” and then giving the child the opportunity to correct me (which happens, more often than not!) and also helps a bit with names. Then I’ll listen to to the narration. Sometimes it will seem like it ends at an odd spot, and I’ll ask, was that the end of the chapter? Or I’ll ask a question like, “oh, wait, but what happened to so-and-so?” It perhaps isn’t 100% CM kosher, but it happens as a conversation – as an interested person listening to someone describe what is happening. I’m not trying to prompt or quiz, but just trying to understand what the child is telling me. I will often then narrate briefly back what the child told me, and often that will prompt a memory of something else that occurred in the chapter, or will spark a clarification. Then I might narrate back a little more, or I’ll say, “Ohh, thanks, I understand better now!” and we’ll move on.

    Come to think of it, I do this often for narrations where I have read the book too! Again, I’m really not trying to quiz the child or lead him on, but instead I’m trying to do this in the spirit of conversation and in two interested minds engaging in a conversation about a wonderful reading.

  • Reply Anna September 11, 2015 at 7:17 am

    I am also in the position of starting AO later with several students and I simply can’t read everything. I’m still reading most of the books with my Year 3 student, but he will read Pagoo and Tall Tales himself. With my older two, I choose the ones I will read with them (I really like having individual read-aloud time with each of my kids). This happens during the afternoons with my Year 5 student and in the evenings with my Year 8 student. Then I try to keep up with a few more of the Year 8 books myself, but I have to prioritize which ones I really need and/or want to read and leave the rest for (hopefully) another year. My husband has also agreed to read a couple of the Year 8 science books along with my daughter this year, so she can narrate and discuss them with him – that will really help!

  • Reply Heather September 11, 2015 at 4:26 am

    Will you make your talks available for those of us not going to the conference?

    I’m in that boat of switching & not having pre-read everything + I have 9! :/ Grouping the teaching is helping: Pre-reading with my eldest 2, reading aloud a ton with next 3 & going with the last 4 to have it down. 🙂 I’m also letting their reading go for their writing/literature for co-op – I know the teacher well & they discuss it throughly. Ideal? Nope. Reality with lots of littles!

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