Wednesday, October 31, 2012

What's for Dinner?

Kale Salad with Butternut Squash and Almonds
Bon Appétit, March 2012
Serves 4

Instead of posting a Halloween recipe (I know you can all find plenty of those!), I decided to combat all the junk food many of us will consume on this day, and offer you a nutritious choice. The kids might not go for it, but this one is for us adults. This salad is super delicious, good for you, and perfect for fall. The notes on the recipe say, “Kale’s not just for braising. Quickly cooking this hearty green in a hot pan takes the edge off and brings out its delightful nuttiness, while keeping all of its nutrients and vibrant color intact.” Treat yourself to this yummy salad to offset all that Halloween candy.

8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
½ medium shallot, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ cups ½-inch cubed butternut squash
1 bunch kale, stems removed, cut into ½-inch
   wide ribbons (about 5 cups)
¾ cup whole almonds, toasted, coarsely chopped
Parmesan (for shaving)

Preheat oven to 425°. Line a baking sheet with foil. Whisk 5 Tbsp. oil, vinegar, shallot, and Dijon mustard in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside. Combine squash and 2 Tbsp. oil in a medium bowl and toss to combine; season with salt and pepper. Transfer squash to prepared baking sheet and roast, turning occasionally, until squash is tender and lightly golden, about 20 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add kale and cook, tossing frequently, until bright green and slightly wilted, 1–2 minutes. Remove from heat; add 3–4 Tbsp. dressing and toss to coat. Transfer kale to a baking sheet and cool slightly, about 5 minutes.

Add reserved squash and almonds to kale; toss well and season with pepper. Divide among bowls; drizzle with more dressing, if desired. Using a vegetable peeler, shave Parmesan over.

SLO Classical Academy is not affiliated with the above mentioned business.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Highlights from Homeschool Counseling

{photo by Jenny Curzan}

A few weeks ago, we hosted a “Homeschool Counseling Seminar” on each track, as a forum to share ideas, problem-solve, and support each other in home education. For those who attended, we hope you found some inspiration and a handful of ideas to try. For those who were not able to attend, here are some of the tips, resources, and thoughts from those two days, that we wanted to pass along to everyone. 

First, some insights and ideas that were shared about homeschooling and tackling various issues:

• One parent is finding that starting her homeschool day with a few positive words to her kids about what a great job they are doing, or why she is thankful to have this time with them, is doing a lot to help her own attitude and mindset, as well as fostering a better relationship with her kids. It’s good to frequently remind yourself (and your kids) of the reasons why you have chosen this type of education.

• It’s important to protect your homeschooling time as much as you are able to, and to give your kids the same attention you expect them to give you. Checking email, taking phone calls, running errands during homeschool hours... sometimes it works out fine, but most people generally felt their home days were better when they guarded that time.

• When working with students who want to be more independent with a subject, such as math or writing, one parent found it helpful to have frequent checkpoints to make sure the student was on the right track, rather than allowing them to complete the entire assignment without checking in, only to discover it was all done incorrectly. 

• Tips for wiggly ones who can’t sit still for a math lesson (or any subject): Look at the problem, run and touch the wall, then come back and write the answer. Or do math problems outside with chalk (then mom can copy them later into the book). Try jumping rope or another physical activity right before sitting down to learn, or even during a lesson. It really helps some kids to focus and retain more.

• Once in awhile to mix things up at home, or when you feel you’re in a rut, maybe try putting a couple of the home subjects on the back burner for just a week, and replacing that time with a fun creative project the kids can get involved in, like something from the blog post about using butcher paper, or crafts that go along with our history, literature, or science (a google search can reveal lots of possibilities). Or ask your kids what they are interested in - they may have ideas in mind for a project they’d love to work on.

• Keep reading aloud to your kids, even the high schoolers!

• One parent of high schoolers who has been homeschooling for a long time says to believe in what you are doing, in the school, in the teachers, and in your kids. Let your kids see that, and they will be successful.

And now, the practical stuff and resources (these are all parent recommendations shared during the seminar):

• Susan Wise Bauer has an audio series on teaching students to work independently.

• The Blackgold Library system’s Overdrive program is a great way to download audiobooks and books for kindle or iPad, for free.

Project Gutenberg offers classics online for free.

• is another source for free audiobooks and ebooks.

• One parent recommended placing reference books out while reading the literature, like an encyclopedia of colonial-type ships with detailed drawings, and The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe  by Theodore Gray 

• The book Why Gender Matters by Leonard Sax was recommended.

• Our school website has an excellent audio resource of a lecture given by Andrew Pudewa called Teaching Boys and Other Kids Who’d Rather be Building Forts All Day.

• The PBS home video The War That Made America: The Story of the French and Indian War was recommended. There is one copy in the library system, or it’s available to purchase on Amazon.

• When you just need to put on a video for the kids, Liberty’s Kids is a series about the American Revolution. You can purchase it, get the discs through Netflix, or find them on youtube.

• Crayola makes Bath Markers that are nice for practicing math facts, recitations, or spelling in the bath or shower!

Thanks to all who attended and shared their triumphs, trials, and suggestions. We appreciated hearing one another’s ideas and hope you can gain from these collected tips as well. 

Let’s talk: Do you have something to add to this list that would be helpful to another homeschooling parent out there? Please comment below!

To leave a comment on the blog, click below the post where it says “No comments” (or “1 comment”, or whatever number of comments already exist.) You do not need a google account. Under "Choose an identity" you can choose Name/URL to leave your name, or choose Anonymous.

SLO Classical Academy is not affiliated with any of the above mentioned businesses.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Introducing Fine Arts Focus

Antonio Vivaldi

Happy Monday! Today, instead of the usual Magical Moments post, we want to introduce a new monthly feature for the blog, called “Fine Arts Focus.” One of our SLOCA staff members, Janice Phillips, has put together some wonderful supplemental resources and information about the artists, composers, and poets our students are learning about in class, and we want to let you know what to expect in the coming months:

Each Trimester here at SLO Classical Academy, we’re incorporating poetry, artists, and composers from the 19th Century in the classroom to further enrich our study of this time period. Here’s what’s happening around your SLOCA community:

Your students’ teachers are playing selections of Vivaldi, Mozart, or Beethoven at appropriate times during the day. They are looking at paintings from Rembrandt, Linnaeus, Audubon, Monet, Degas, Cassatt, Renoir, Van Gogh, and Cezzane. Students are also reading a poem each month from famous poets of this era.

Reading the poem of the month in the Classic Poetry anthology (required for Intermediate, Lower/Upper Middle School) is wonderful. If that’s all you have time for, you have already succeeded! Please hear our hearts on this! Congratulations on expanding your student’s classical education with Fine Arts!

However, if you have the desire and inclination to do more (or your student can’t get enough), please view these posts as just that: enrichment to an already rich curriculum program. We’ll take time on this blog to introduce the poem of the month, share additional information and resources for you to enrich your experience at home with Fine Arts.

In that spirit, here are some great links you might want to bookmark for reference throughout the year. We will have resources for poetry in future posts.

Thank you Janice! Parents, look for November’s Fine Arts Focus to hit the blog next week, full of more detailed resources for Trimester 1. We hope you will enjoy this optional feature, and that it will enrich your appreciation of Fine Arts at home.

SLO Classical Academy is not affiliated with any of the above mentioned businesses.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Free Friday


Welcome to a beautiful fall weekend! Since it’s Friday, we’d like to remind you to be Free by 5:00 and power down the electronics. It’s a wonderful time of year to be out in nature, so maybe take a walk with the family, make a pile of leaves to play in (if you have them), or simply go out to coffee with someone you love. Slow down and enjoy real time with those around you.

It’s a busy time of year, and we have an abundance of activities and events to choose from if you want to head out into the community. In fact, there are too many to list each week, so we will only mention a few, but you can always check the SLO County’s Calendar of Events or the Tribune’s Events Calendar to find many more options for family fun. 

Here are a few happenings for this weekend (click on each for more info):

SLO Creek Farms Pumpkin Harvest Festival - Saturday, October 27th (if you enjoyed their Apple Harvest Festival, go back for the pumpkins!)

• Pumpkins on the Pier in Pismo Beach - Saturday, October 27th

Zoo Boo 2012 at the Charles Paddock Zoo in Atascadero - Saturday, October 27th

Owl Call Night Hike at Lopez Lake in Arroyo Grande - Saturday, October 27th, 7:30-8:30 pm.  (Come and learn about the different species of owls in our area.) 

Giddy Up Round Up: Family Fun Day at the Historic Santa Margarita Ranch - Sunday, October 28th

SLO Classical Academy is not affiliated with any of the above mentioned businesses.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Down Home Tour: Lindsey Cheney

{photo by Jenny Bischoff}

Welcome back! We’ve arrived at the final stop of our Down Home tour, the home of Lindsey and Sean Cheney. If you missed the first two homes on the tour, you can read about the homeschool spaces of Jill Talley and Tamzin Ritter, which were featured earlier this week.

The Cheneys are on Track A with their three children, Gracie (Intermediate), Lily (Primary), and Silas (Kindergarten), and are in their 5th year at SLOCA. Lindsey also owns her own sewing business, The Pleated Poppy, so she talked to the group about balancing homeschooling and working. She finds that disciplining herself not to work during homeschool hours is the key for her, so she runs her business when the kids are at SLOCA, after homeschooling is done for the day, and in the evenings. 

The Cheneys have a dedicated homeschool room, where each child has a workspace that suits their needs. One child is nearest mom, one has some space to herself, and one gets to climb up on top of the desk to reach his things, which is something he enjoys and helps get a few wiggles out. Lindsey uses workboxes, which she customized to fit her style and color-coded for each child, and she says that they are her biggest help in keeping everyone moving forward on homeschool days. 

Pictured above:
1. A number line and forward-facing books, displayed at kid-level. 
2. Dolch sight words on index cards. Words that are mastered are moved up higher, while words being learned are placed lower.
3. An art line is hung up high, a space-saving way to showcase school-related art. Lindsey used the wire hanging system from IKEA here, as well as on the other side of the room to hang history timeline pieces. 
4. Poems being memorized are colorfully written on butcher paper, and latin words are displayed here on index cards. These are taped to the cabinet front with fun Japanese Washi tape (which she found at Target). Simple and appealing.
5. One set of workboxes, with homemade number labels, which she printed on colorful cardstock.
6. The group enjoying lunch at Lindsey’s house.

Many thanks to Lindsey for not only inspiring us with your homeschool area, but also for hosting a beautiful lunch and opening your home to us. It was a most memorable day and we appreciate everyone (and their families) who made it happen. Thank you!

BONUS: Click here for a BWise coupon, for 50% off one item, good for the rest of October!

Let’s talk: How do you balance homeschool and work, or other responsibilities? 

To leave a comment on the blog, click below the post where it says “No comments” (or “1 comment”, or whatever number of comments already exist.) You do not need a google account. Under "Choose an identity" you can choose Name/URL to leave your name, or choose Anonymous.

SLO Classical Academy is not affiliated with any of the above mentioned businesses.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What's for Dinner?

Orecchiette with Sausage, Chard, and Parsnips
Everyday Food, Serves 4

I just tried this recipe and we all loved it. Well, okay, I made a few substitutions because I didn’t have parsnips, so I used carrots. And I like kale better than chard so I used that. But otherwise I followed this recipe and it was delicious, and I will definitely get some parsnips and make it again. I think this is one of those recipes you can easily switch around, by picking your root vegetable of choice + leafy green of choice + pasta shape of choice. This came together very quickly - I love simple, fast meals like this one for those busy weekday nights. I hope you will give it a try and leave a comment to let us know how you liked it!

Salt and pepper
¾ pound orecchiette
1 tablespoon olive oil
¾ pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 pound parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch rounds (halved if large)
1 bunch Swiss chard, tough stems and ribs removed, thinly sliced
½ cup grated Parmesan (2 ounces), plus more for serving

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions. Reserve 1 cup pasta water, then drain pasta and return to pot.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add sausage and cook, breaking meat up with a wooden spoon, until browned, 3 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer sausage to pot. Add parsnips to skillet and saute until softened and browned, 5 minutes. Add chard and cook until wilted, 2 minutes. Transfer mixture to pot and toss. Add Parmesan and enough pasta water to create a light sauce that coats pasta; season with salt and pepper. Serve with additional Parmesan.

To leave a comment on the blog, click below the post where it says “No comments” (or “1 comment”, or whatever number of comments already exist.) You do not need a google account. Under "Choose an identity" you can choose Name/URL to leave your name, or choose Anonymous.

SLO Classical Academy is not affiliated with the above mentioned business.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Down Home Tour: Tamzin Ritter

{photo by Samadhy Moises-Coots}

Today we continue with our Down Home Tour highlights, and will be looking at the second stop on the tour, which was the home of Tamzin and Trees Ritter. The Ritters are on Track A with their three daughters, Mia (Intermediate), Sienna (Intermediate), and Fiona (Primary), and are in their fourth year at SLOCA.

Tamzin tried homeschooling in their playroom, but found it worked better for her family to make the large kitchen table the center of their homeschool space. She has cabinets and a storage closet nearby to keep all of their school materials. Interactive posters are utilized throughout her home (she loves these and highly recommends using them), and she occasionally sets up an art center, science center, and listening center in different parts of the house so her girls have stations to visit when they aren’t working with mom. Tamzin says that homeschooling is definitely a process, and that her home is a result of change and evolution over time.

Pictured above:
1. Science center, a snug little spot for a science experiment or activity
2. Art center, where they are currenly making crafts from the “Colonial Kids” book
3. Example of an interactive poster - this one is Sue Patrick’s USA map with laminated and velcroed state labels, perfect for this year of history.
4. Current literature books are displayed on the ledge near her kitchen table.
5. Another interactive poster, with labeled parts of a ship. Spreading out posters in different rooms create spaces where girls can work throughout the house.
6. A fun project her girls are working on - finding quarters from each state.

Thank you so much, Tamzin, for guiding us through your home and school day. We appreciate the reminder that it takes time for a homeschool space to develop, and that it’s always changing over time. Wise words of encouragement! Thursday we will feature our final home on the Down Home tour, so be sure to come back.

BONUS: Click here for a BWise coupon, for 50% off one item, good for the rest of October!

Let’s talk: How has your homeschool space evolved over time? 

To leave a comment on the blog, click below the post where it says “No comments” (or “1 comment”, or whatever number of comments already exist.) You do not need a google account. Under "Choose an identity" you can choose Name/URL to leave your name, or choose Anonymous.

SLO Classical Academy is not affiliated with any of the above mentioned businesses.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Down Home Tour: Jill Talley

{photo by Jenny Bischoff}

This past Saturday several parents attended our 2nd annual Down Home Tour, visiting three SLOCA family homes for a day of inspiration, encouragement, and suggestions on how to set up your home school space. This was followed by a delicious lunch catered by Urbane Cafe, during which the group shared ideas and engaged in a directed discussion of homeschooling topics. It was a wonderful time of community building, problem solving, laughing together, and supporting each other. 

The tour began at Jill and Todd Talley’s home. The Talleys are a Track A family in their 4th year at SLOCA, with three children: Karena (Intermediate), Violet (Primary) and Daniel (Kindergarten). Jill also serves on our Board of Directors.

Jill has a homeschool room, but also emphasizes her desire to have a rich home environment that encourages learning in many different ways, something that was modeled to her by her own mom. She encourages homeschool parents to “play to your strengths”, which in her case is communication and organization. She has set up systems throughout her homeschool space that clearly communicate to the kids what is to be done, how, where, for how long, etc, so that they know exactly what is expected and don’t need lots of talking or explanation from mom. 

Jill uses the workbox system to keep assignments organized for each child. All materials needed are included in the boxes, or labeled to show where the needed materials are. She also laminates 3x5 cards and then writes instructions (taken right from the grid) on them with a wet-erase marker, to include in each box that requires an explanation. 

(click to enlarge)

Pictured above:
1. File folder games and interactive posters are just a couple of the activities Jill uses to keep everyone learning together, in a purposeful, focused way.
2. Current books are displayed with the covers facing out, making them more accessible and desirable.
3. These are a few of the labels Jill uses with her workboxes to communicate the type of task assigned.
4. An example of a poster in her school room that gives clear instructions, in this case about “Independent Reading.” Note that she has added her own additional line at the end about how to time the reading with mom’s cell phone, which is kept in a basket near the poster.
5. Materials are clearly labeled and accessible. 
6. Jill uses home made signs for encouragement and reminders, and also allows her kids to make and post signs for each other to celebrate accomplishments and build each other up. 

We want to thank the Talleys for opening up their home to us, and thank you Jill, for your encouraging words and for graciously leading us through your homeschool space. Join us tomorrow for a look at the next home on the tour...

BONUS: Click here for a BWise coupon, for 50% off one item, good for the rest of October!

Let’s talk: Do you know your strengths? What are you good at, and how can that help you in setting up your homeschool space?

To leave a comment on the blog, click below the post where it says “No comments” (or “1 comment”, or whatever number of comments already exist.) You do not need a google account. Under "Choose an identity" you can choose Name/URL to leave your name, or choose Anonymous.

SLO Classical Academy is not affiliated with any of the above mentioned businesses.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Free Friday

 (click to enlarge)
{photo by Brandy Potts}

Did you all enjoy the Revolutionary Cannon Bowl last week? It was such a fantastic event, and a fun way to wrap-up our student-driven fundraiser. It looks like a grand time was had by all:

 (click to enlarge)
{photos by Jenny Curzan, Penny Malley, and Jaime Mickey}

Once more we want to say THANK YOU to all of our families who worked hard to bring in much needed funds. And thank you to all the extended families, friends, and people in the community who “get” what we are doing and who gave to support our worthy endeavors. We want to share with you a sweet note that was turned in with one donation, from an appreciative grandparent:
Oct. 2, 2012  
To the teachers of San Luis Obispo (Classical) Academy, 
Thank you for all you do for the children. My grandson Sean Nibecker enjoys his classes and finds school exciting. Here is a donation to keep up the great work you are doing. 
Donna S. Holt
Harry F. Holt

We hope it will encourage you to hear that others are noticing the positive impact, and not only supporting us, but taking the time to say thank you. 

By the way, we haven’t quite hit our $32,000 goal, but the good news is that the fundraiser has been extended one more week to see if we can reach it - we’re only $4,000 away! If we can raise that by Friday, October 26th, the kids will get their pool party. We can do it!

Have a great weekend, everyone! 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Community Service

Because we value not only excellent academics, but character development, we believe in the value of community service. When they serve others, our students learn responsibility, citizenship, kindness, and that they are part of something bigger than themselves. Upper Middle School students are required to spend 5 hours per trimester volunteering in some way, and it’s not a bad idea for the rest of us either! If you’d like some ideas to help your UMS student find a way to plug into community service, or are looking for some ways your family can give back to our community, here is the beginning of a list that we hope will grow as parents contribute additional ideas:


SLO Food Bank: 238-4664. Collect food for them on Saturdays.

Woods Humane Society: 543-9316. They love volunteers to play with the animals and clean pens.

Prado Day Center541-7963. Be a family volunteer to serve a meal to the homeless.

Retirement Homes: Call to see what help they might need - cleaning? visiting? organizing?
The Manse541-4222
Las Brisas 438-2890

DeGroot Home: 543-7663. Organize a baby wipe and Ensure drive, (the type of food their babies eat), for this wonderful home that takes care of severely handicapped.

SLO City Graffiti Clean Up: 781-7207.  Help the city to paint over graffiti.  This is a great family project!

Church Nursery: Volunteer to do childcare in your church nursery or preschool class.

Church Volunteer: Check with your Nursery Director or Children’s Ministry Director to see if there are any odd jobs that you can do such as wash toys, replace batteries, organize toys/books on shelves, decorate bulletin boards, etc.  

Book Drive: Collect new baby and toddler board books for the EOC TAPP program; a program working with teen moms and their babies. For more information, call 544-5033.

Scouts: Participate in a scouting program.

Trail Work Days: Help the Ranger Service Division maintain and keep City open space trails in top condition. For more information call the Ranger Service Desk at 781-7302.

The Volunteer SLO website has a search engine to find volunteer opportunities in our area. Not all results may be appropriate for students, but it might be worth looking into.

Check with Miss Garavatti or Mr. Wathen to sign up for school jobs or for more information on the following: 

• Serve on the Student Council (5 hours per Trimester).

• Empty the trash from playground each day (two students per track, 5 hours per Trimester).

• Empty recycling  (two students per track, 5 hours per Trimester).

• Raise and lower the flag and store appropriately (5 hours per Trimester).

• Assist with childcare needs on Fridays, (must have taken a babysitting course).

• Sign up to help set up and clean up on History Days or Fundraising events. 

• Be a friday walking buddy (5 hours per Trimester).

• Assist a teacher with Academy Classes.

• Assist teachers with clerical tasks.

Please email Jenny if any of the above links or phone numbers do not work, and contact Mr. Wathen if you are struggling for ideas or would like to add ideas to this list. 

You can also leave a comment below if you have something to add. Do you know of another organization that could use some volunteers? Do you have any other ideas for helping our students give back to our community? Your creativity is appreciated! 

SLO Classical Academy is not affiliated with any of the above mentioned businesses.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

What's for Dinner?

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Enchiladas
By Cathe Olson, makes 8 servings

This delicious vegetarian meal is high in protein, vitamin A, and iron. If you're in a hurry, you can use prepared enchilada sauce instead of making your own. Although this recipe doesn’t call for it, for my family I like to add a little shredded cheddar cheese to each enchilada, and then a sprinkling of it on top of the pan before it goes into the oven. 

2 teaspoons oil
1 small onion, diced
2 sweet potatoes, diced (about 2 1/2 cups)
2 cups or 1 (15-ounce can) cooked black beans with a little cooking water
2 cups chopped greens (kale, spinach, etc.)
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
2 cups Enchilada Sauce (recipes follows, or use store-bought)
8 large whole grain flour tortillas or 10 to 12 corn tortillas
8 ounces sour cream, yogurt cheese, or crème fraîche

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Heat oil in large skillet. Add onion and sauté 5 to 10 minutes or until soft. Add sweet potatoes. Cover and cook about 10 minutes or until tender. Stir in beans and greens. Cover and heat about 5 minutes until greens are wilted. Add a little water if necessary to prevent scorching. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste.

Cover bottom of 9 x 13-inch baking dish with about 1/3 cup of enchilada sauce. Place tortilla on flat surface. Scoop a line of filling across the width of tortilla about 2 inches from the bottom. Spoon sour cream across filling. Roll enchilada up and place in pan, seam side down. Repeat until all filling has been used. Cover enchiladas with remaining sauce. Cover pan and bake 20 minutes. 

Enchilada Sauce: 
Olive oil 
1 small onion, minced 
1 tablespoon chili powder 
2 teaspoons ground cumin 
1 teaspoon dried oregano 
2 cloves garlic, minced 
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce 
1/2 cup water 
Salt, to taste 
Hot Pepper Sauce, to taste 

Heat oil in medium pan over medium-low heat. Add onion and sauté 5 to 7 minutes, or until onion is golden brown. Stir in chili powder, cumin, oregano, and garlic. Sauté 1 minute. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil and simmer 15 minutes. 

SLO Classical Academy is not affiliated with the above mentioned business.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Blooming Butterfly

There are still a few spots available for our Down Home Tour happening this Saturday from 9:00 AM - 2:00 PM. Come check out a few SLOCA homeschool spaces, be inspired, and enjoy a delicious catered lunch! If you’re still considering it, now’s the time to sign up - click here.


Homeschooling can easily become a to-do list and it often happens that we lose sight of the big picture. We love to check off everything on the grid and feel “done.” But we know there’s more to learning than checking tasks off the list. Having visual reminders of our goals is one way to help pull us out of our daily rut, and today we want to share with you a fantastic poster that one of our parents came across online.

It’s called the Blooming Butterfly and is based on the work of Benjamin Bloom, who, along with a team of educators, conceived a classification for higher order thinking in the 1940s and 50s which came to be known as Bloom’s Taxonomy. It’s been revised over the years, but his work continues to provide help for teaching higher level thinking skills and appealing to multiple intelligences. 

This poster is a great visual showing that the first step in learning is remembering facts, and from there a student moves through the levels, handling the learned material in more sophisticated ways, until ultimately they are able to create something new with it. The image of the butterfly is fitting in that it shows the wings growing bigger at each level of learning, eventually enabling the learner to fly. What a sweet reminder and inspiration to have in front of us as we learn alongside and interact with our children at home. You might want to print it and post it somewhere in your home or school area.

Here’s another poster you might be interested in as well. It’s the Blooming Orange, and it helps define the levels with different verbs you can use as prompts.

The Blooming Butterfly and Blooming Orange posters were designed by  the Learning Today product development team, and are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.

We hope these posters will inspire you and be helpful and attractive reminders that you will want to display. As our kids grow, we want to try to move beyond just remembering the facts. What are some ways you do this at home?

SLO Classical Academy is not affiliated with any of the above mentioned businesses.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Magical Moments: Spelling Concepts

Greetings! Today’s magical moment comes from Cozy Faber, our school’s Development Director and mother to Ava and Sia, who are both in Lower Middle School on Track B. Cozy, her husband Jeff, and the girls are in their 6th year at SLO Classical Academy. Today she is excited to share with us about their experience with the Spelling Concepts Academy Class, taught by Denise Indvik at 10:30 AM on Fridays, for 4th-7th graders:

Speling, speeling, Oh, wait: SPELLING!
I was always the first one to sit down during my class spelling bees in grammar school.  I am the one that shouts out “hey, how do you spell…..” because I can never remember if I is before C or is C before I? And with the integration of spell check into my life, I have fared well—the truth of my weakness has remained a well-guarded secret—until I started having to home school my kids in spelling!
The knack that my husband has for putting letters in the correct order is not one of the traits handed down to my girls and I fear that I must admit the truth: we are floundering in the phoneme department.
Last trimester I put both of my girls into Denise Indvik’s spelling class (Friday Mornings) and we have all been pleasantly surprised with the success it is having for us.  She is introducing language in a way that resonates with them—acknowledging that English doesn’t make sense, so let’s just make the best of it, kind of thing.  Instead of learning and trying to memorize more and more words that are either spelled right or WRONG (because WRONG is all these two hear when we work on spelling), she is using a curriculum that isn’t just memorization—it’s about understanding English and how it is put together.  The class is conceptually bigger than simply spelling and after only four weeks both girls are thinking differently when they attempt to put letters together, they are pronouncing words differently as they attempt to decode the verbal and recode it correctly into a written format.  We also have optional packets that Denise sends home with them so that I can keep infusing some of this into our home lessons—and it’s not killing us!  In fact I think it possible that perhaps these two little loves of mine just may exceed my own personal spelling spectrum (as they will clearly do in the height department as well, but THAT’S a whole other set of issues I will have to deal with!) 

Thanks Cozy, for this glowing testimonial about the Spelling Concepts class. We hope more people will be interested and check it out this next session! For detailed Academy Class information, click here.  For a schedule of classes, click here.

Has your student had a great experience with an Academy Class? Please email Jenny with your magical moment, or tell us about it by commenting below!

SLO Classical Academy is not affiliated with the above mentioned business.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Free Friday

The hard work is done, and it’s time for fun. Get your bowling shoes on (or rubber soled shoes) and get down to the lanes - the Revolutionary Cannon Bowl event is today!

Today, October 12th, is also officially Columbus Day - the anniversary of the day Columbus landed in the New World. Many of us are familiar with him, either from our studies last year or elsewhere. He played an important role in our country’s history, and if you’d like a quick refresher, click here for a short video about him from National Geographic Kids.

And then if you’re interested, click here for a fun and silly game your kids might enjoy about Columbus. 

Posthumous portrait of Christopher Columbus by Sebastiano del Piombo.
Interesting note: there are no known authentic portraits of Columbus, as no portrait painted during Columbus’s lifetime appears to have survived.

A few local events to keep in mind:

SLO Creek Farms will be having their Apple Harvest Festival on Saturday, October 13th from 1:00 to 4:00 PM. It will feature apple picking, apple cider, pie baking and apple eating contests, tractor hayrides and other fun activities. Visit their website for more information. This cute local spot is a worth a visit anytime they are open, offering pesticide-free U-pick apples, vegetables, herbs, flowers, and pumpkins.

The SLO Botanical Garden is also hosting a Kid's Harvest Fest on Saturday, October 13th from 1:00 to 3:00 PM. Kids will harvest and taste treats from the Garden, gather seeds, paint pumpkins, make masks and build a scarecrow. Kids will learn about the changing season, winter vegetables to plant, fall folklore and more. Suggested donation of $5 for the event, no reservations needed. Click here for more info.

There’s also the Kidz Bike Paso Mountain Bike Event, happening Sunday, October 14th, from 12:00 to 3:00 PM at the Larry Moore Park off South River Road. Registration for kids ages 4-13 is $5/rider & parents ride free! More info can be found here.

And let’s not forget - we want to announce the winner of this year’s first Down Home giveaway: Congratulations to the Tuckers - you have won a Starbucks gift card! Thank you to everyone who participated in last week’s drawing, and be on the lookout for more...

Enjoy the weekend, and remember to spend some time free from your computer, smart phone or other electronic devices, to really be present with the ones you love. Have a revolutionary time bowling today!

SLO Classical Academy is not affiliated with any of the above mentioned businesses.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Singapore Math Tips: Level 3

Lisa Ann Dillon is back today with some Singapore Math tips for Level 3! Lisa Ann is our Singapore Math Curriculum Coordinator and is writing a series of articles for us to help enrich our math days at home.  Regardless of your child’s math level, we hope the following information will be a good resource for you:
In Level 3 students begin to synthesize all of the foundational skills learned in Level 2.  If there are some skills that are not solid from Level 2, students should still find time to practice those skills as they move through the Level 3 lessons.  Below are some review activities that serve that purpose.  
If your child doesn’t have her/his math facts memorized, it’s not too late and this skill should be given focus every day!  The multiplication facts up to 5 must be mastered as well.  Set a goal with your child towards memorization and create a fun experience or special time with mom or dad as in incentive to help your child find the motivation to study.  
The emphasis at Level 3 is part, part, whole thinking.  Mrs. Milligan has an excellent representation of this on her bulletin board, shown here:
(click to enlarge)

You can stop by her room if you’d like to see it in person. This concept is carried all throughout the many strands explored at Level 3.  Mastering this understanding helps students with the wide variety of word problems. 
A word about word problems!  Students are learning a very specific procedure called Model Drawing to assist in the solving of word problems.  The steps are as follows:
1. Read the problem.
2. Write an answer statement.
3. Identify the “who” and the “what.”
4. Draw unit bar or bars. 
5. Chunk the problem – check off steps, adjust unit bars, fill in ?.
6. Solve.
7. Write answer in sentence.
Students are slowly learning all the steps but at this point they are in a transitional stage.  Mrs. Milligan is focusing on the part, part, whole model.  We want students to learn this procedure well so that as the problems increase in difficulty, they will have the process down and can focus on applying all of the strategies learned thus far to problems with increasing difficulty.
Memorize Those Facts!
Addition / Subtraction
When students struggle to get a fact memorized, you need to take it back to the concrete stage.
1. Build the fact with manipulatives – try Legos, unifix cubes, small plastic animals etc. 
2. Write the number bond using the circles (see below). 
3. Fill the numbers into the part whole model (see below). 
4. Write the fact all 4 ways (2 addition, 2 subtraction). 
5. Post this in the home school room or child’s room. 
6. Check in periodically to see if the fact is memorized – before offering a snack, while taking a bath, while playing ball.  You get the picture! 
Blank Number Bond:

Part, Part, Whole Box:

(Click here for a pdf download of addition/subtraction fact family cards that can be printed, cut apart, and placed into a 4x6 plastic photo album to use for fact practice with a white board marker, as shown below. Last year’s blog post on this can be found here.)

Multiplication / Division
Start at the Concrete stage here as well! (see photo at the top of the page)

1. Build an array. 
2. Draw an array using “X”s or make an array with stickers! 
3. Fill in the number bond with the multiplication fact or fill  in the part, part, whole box. 
4. Write the fact all four ways. 
5. Say all four facts many times in a row. 
6. Check the fact throughout the day – Get it memorized!

Thank you, Lisa Ann, for these helpful ideas. Parents, we hope you can use these tips to help build math skills in a fun and engaging way at home. Have you tried any other ideas that work well for your student/s? Please comment below and tell us about it!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

What's for Dinner?

{photo by Jenny Bischoff}

BBQ Meatball Sandwiches

This can hardly be called a recipe, but I’m sharing this one because it’s my daughter’s birthday today and this is one of her favorite dinners! Plus, it’s an easy solution for a busy night, and we can all use a few of those. Feel free to make homemade versions of any of these items, or just make it easy on yourself and use store-bought. Happy Birthday, Kate!

1 bag frozen meatballs (I like Trader Joe’s party size meatballs)
1 jar of your favorite bbq sauce (Mo’s Original is our favorite, but any will do)
French rolls, or sandwich bread of your choice
Shredded cheddar cheese
Chopped onions, optional

Heat meatballs in the bbq sauce in a covered pan on the stove, simmering for 20 minutes or until cooked through (see directions on package). Pile them on the bread with cheese, onions, and anything else you’d like to top it with. Serve with a side salad or steamed veggies, and you’ve got an easy, tasty meal.

Hey everyone, don’t forget about our drawing from last Thursday’s post about Humility. Let’s get some more interaction! Leave a comment on that post (here) and be entered to win a prize. The winner will be announced on Friday!

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Tuesday's Tip: White Butcher Paper

Today we will be inspired by our Intermediate teacher, Maren Milligan, who has a fun tip to share with us about one simple item that can add some flair to your homeschool days in so many ways:

My Favorite Teaching Tool!
My favorite teaching tool is a roll of white butcher paper.  It is relatively inexpensive and the possibilities for learning and creativity are endless.  Here are just some of the things I have done with the paper.  Let these ideas get you on a roll…. :)
1. Math idea:  Sometimes it is a lot easier to do a long division or a big multiplication problem with a marker and big paper.  You have lots of room to think, and lots of room for “scratch work”.  Give it a try on one of those “hard to motivate” days.  Kids like to use white boards for some of the same reasons.  It’s a bit fun, less intimidating, and somehow easier to work with big numerals when you are trying to regroup in subtraction, line up digits in multiplication, or remember steps in division… it really helps!   
2.  Make a treasure map and hide a treasure.  Use pictures or super decriptive sentences.  It’s just plain ole’ fun as well as great, useful writing practice. 
3.  History/Literature:  Use it to draw some of the people we are studying.  Let your child write facts about historical people on the back of them as you, the parent, read to them. 
4. History:  Tear off long sheets and follow or trace a theme in history.  Trace great authors through time.  Trace famous women.  Trace battles that were key to the development of our democracy.  Make a timeline of the heroes we study this year.  Trace the events that lead to our US Constitution.  Trace inventions.  The papers can be easily rolled up and stored away.  Try big markers or crayons… it tends to keep things relaxed vs focusing on precise, beautiful pictures.  

5. Writing:  Write a giant paragraph and add illustrations.   
6. Handwriting:  Practice holding the pencil correctly and writing your name in cursive… super large! Then try medium, then small, then smaller….  Draw big pictures with a loose grip on the crayon, marker or pencil.  It’s easier to use correct hand grips and practice writing with a marker and large paper. 
7. Geography:  Sketch a map.  Do it at your chlld’s level.  Let their drawings represent what they know.  Add features they know to the map and just a few that they don’t know.  Use the giant map more as a “play mat”.  Let dolls, soldiers, army men walk from place to place.  Show the roads in Colonial America, show the rivers, highlight the homes of George Washington, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin.  Take the things that are interesting to your child and map them.  It helps to anchor their thoughts onto something pictorial.  (Sounds a bit Singapore, right?  It works!) 
These are just a few ideas to get you started.  I’m sure you can think of much more.  Sometimes just stepping away from binder paper for a day can open up a whole new world.   
Share your ideas with others. I’d love some fresh ideas!

Thank you Maren! These ideas are super-inspiring and easy to do. We hope you will try some of these and comment below to share what your family has done with butcher paper.

Note: A few sources for purchasing rolls of paper online:

- Discount School Supply has several options for rolls of paper.

Uline carries a few types of paper rolls.

Blick carries smaller, easel paper rolls.

Does anyone know of a local source, or another economical online source? Please please comment below and tell us!

SLO Classical Academy is not affiliated with any of the above mentioned businesses.