Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Dinner Under the Moon & Stars at the Springfield Science Museum: Building Our Learning Groove & Community.

What is pedagogy? 

Many discussions of pedagogy make the mistake of seeing it as primarily being about teaching...Pedagogy needs to be explored through the thinking and practice of those educators who look to accompany learners; care for and about them; and bring learning into life. 

"Often teachers fall, or are pushed, into ‘schooling’ – trying to drill learning into people according to some plan often drawn up by others. Paulo Freire (1972) famously called this ‘banking’ – making deposits of knowledge. It can quickly descend into treating learners like objects, things to be acted upon rather than people to be related to. In contrast, to call ourselves ‘educators’ we need to look to acting with people rather on them.
Education is a deliberate process of drawing out learning (educere), of encouraging and giving time to discovery. It is an intentional act. At the same time it is, as John Dewey (1963) put it, a social process – ‘a process of living and not a preparation for future living’. As well being concerned with learning that we set out to encourage – a process of inviting truth and possibility – it is also based in certain values and commitments such as a respect for others and for truth. Education is born, it could be argued, of the hope and desire that all may share in life and ‘be more’.  Smith, M. K. (2012). ‘What is pedagogy?’, the encyclopedia of informal education. [ Retrieved: September 30, 2015].

On August 31st. I purchased what I knew would be a basic 6th grade curriculum bundle package covering English Language Arts, Math, Science and Social Studies.  Just when I thought my journey had gotten a little bit smoother, I found errors in the curriculum.  Everywhere I've looked IE: Teachers Pay Teachers, Educents, etc. the curricula promoted is "standards-based" which I found to be incredibly frustrating since that is the very reason I took my daughter out of public school.  We want to learn; not memorize standards or rubrics to "pass" assessments.

After two weeks, I contacted the Educents folks who sell (not create) the curricula sources and they were very good about refunding my money and due to all the errors I'd found; they let me keep the PDF.  I am still using it as a compass (if you will) or outline of subject areas.  Some of the content I simply just ignore because the text is "disjointed" information geared towards test-prep or, I draw personal connections to the topic and together Nani and I give form to the topic.  I have to layer and augment with real-life experiential content.   The interesting thing is, I am developing a keener ability to identify when we are learning and when we are just memorizing facts.  

I want to first of all thank Kristina Brooke of "For The Love of Education" a secular homeschooling mom for extending her hand when I needed some guidance and enriching our lives with hers.  Kristina shared a wonderful reading list for our Literature, Writing and Reading studies which I will share more about later.

Many thanks to Stephanie Parrish, an awesome Science teacher out of VA who has taken her pedagogy online via Youtube.  Nani and I love her Metric System Conversions method; look her up if you're interested.
Unraveling Claire of the Sea Light's Plot

Understanding Main Characters

So far, Nani and I have gotten our groove for Literature.  Among the seven books Nani has read in the past two months I chose Edwidge Dandicat's latest work: Claire of the Sea Light to begin our study of the four elements of fiction.  This week we dissected the four characteristics of the plot: exposition, complication, climax, resolution.  I have to say studying Literature together with my child is like having cake (without the calories & guilt) - it is one of the coolest, most invigorating, youthful things I have ever done.  I love the art of storytelling.  Claire of the Sea Light was not on the actual book list; I actually chose it by mistake.  I was suppose to chose Eight Days: A Story of Haiti  by Dandicat but, when we were looking up her bio, her latest work (Sea Light) came up and the librarian said "Oh, we have that one...would you like it?" I got caught up and said "yes."  

The takeaway here: just because an author writes one book suitable for a sixth grader doesn't mean all her works are, so make sure before hand, by either reading the book itself or a review of the work.  Claire of the Sea Light is an amazing work however it was too "mature" in some of the topics covered.  For instance, one of the characters is raped; it just wasn't something I wanted my 11 year old to read (this year).   Not withstanding Nani did read the book and dissecting it together resulted in a sharpening of her comprehension skills. 

My elementary, middle and high school experience with math was horrific. I was told "you're not good at math; you are a good reader".  Math is not one dimensional; it is a left-side and right-side function.  For instance, when braiding, jumping rope, singing, playing music or sewing, the left and right side of your brain works together performing in exactly the same way it does when you are doing math therefore you are inherently good at math if you can do any of these.  That said, I have always been very insecure around numbers.  Taking on homeschooling I knew I would have to confront this fear of - "not being good at math."  I figured I should be okay in facilitating 6th grade curriculum to my 11 year old then, I found errors.  Needless to say, I panicked for a second.  But, I did not allow myself to be defeated by what I knew to be irrational fear.  I simply decided to seek assistance and make our math learning real-life experiential.  

So for example, when we did our lesson on Estimating Whole Numbers I used our grocery store receipts to bring our personal connection and reality to the math.  This was so much fun with the Metric System because we love to bake and Nani loves to sew.  As you can see in the picture below we used a Cupcake recipe to practice our metric conversions.  So, our learning does not stop when the lesson is completed but, we implement it in our everyday life.  
Nani's Vanilla Cupcake Recipe Conversions
Our science learning is happening in so many cool ways! Actually, the picture above is of our Science Metric Conversions lesson and it doubled as Math.  I want to thank the Whole Life Learners Homeschooling Group based out of the Pioneer Valley for their awesome lead on the Springfield Science Museum's events and clubs.  As a result of joining the WLLHG, I learned about the September 27th  Lunar Eclipse.  I followed my gut and took Nani to the event.  When you ask the Universe, it will always respond (so be careful what you ask At the event, Nani and I 'bumped into' a community member who we do yoga with on Tue & Fri mornings in Springfield.  Our yoga buddy (we learned that night) is also a Science Astronomy buff and longtime member of the Stars Club which sponsored the Lunar Eclipse event.  To top our night off we met other homeschooling families and not coincidentally these are the girls Nani connected and played with all night.  We are now new members of the Mulberry Homeschooling Group, out of Springfield, MA and of the Stars Club.  Our Science curriculum grew exponentially in one fell-swoop.  Check out these cool pics..

Lunar & Solar Eclipses Presentation by Springfield Stars Club

Using my phone to photograph our 1st Lunar Eclipse through Telescope

Springfield Science Museum Slide Show

Libby, Nani & Delia
Mulberry Jr. Art Class & Inst. Kristie


  1. Replies
    1. Yes! Thank you Michaelann for always being so supportive!

    2. Yes! Thank you Michaelann for always being so supportive!

  2. Keep up the amazing work Viviana! So Proud of you and what an amazing learning experience for Nani!

    1. Thanks for stopping by our little corner of the world!

    2. Thanks for stopping by our little corner of the world!

  3. You are very welcome! I've had a few similar experiences with finding errors in curricula. I am constantly changing materials as I learn more about how my daughter learns and what works best for us. The key is to stay flexible! Stay strong; you are doing a great job.

  4. Thank you Kristina, having you in our circle has been a blessing. Mammoth is working out so far, so good! :^)

  5. Thank you Kristina, having you in our circle has been a blessing. Mammoth is working out so far, so good! :^)