Sunday, May 18, 2008

His Dark Materials, part three.

E. has now completed The Amber Spyglass. If your home learner has also finished the trilogy, you might try these excellent reading review quizzes from BBC.

Also look at this teacher's guide from Random House that includes a lesson plan to The Golden Compass. And Scholastic has a helpful teacher's guide and lesson plan...please just ignore the advertisements on the page for the movie version.

Is Pullman's trilogy really the anti-Narnia? Here's an interesting take on that question.

Emma visited and interviewed several artists on the Eldorado Studio Tour today. She went with prepared questions and took notes, and we all had an amazingly pleasant day, in part thanks to the beautiful weather. Please visit our Santa Fe Journal blog for details.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

His Dark Materials, part two.

On the reading front, E. is continuing Philip Pullman's trilogy.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Industrial Revolution.

We're formulating a lesson plan connecting the Industrial Revolution conceptually from the Cranford era to the Civil War and will post it soon.
Image: Monet's Waterloo Bridge.

Pop-up free refresher sites.

Here is a site that mainly tests seventh grade math knowledge, but it has some good quizzes about geography. This is a completely free, nonprofit educational site run by a graduate student from University of New Hampshire.

This one tests subject/verb agreement.

The schwa sound from Quia.

Harcourt School spelling test. This gets a bit harder as you progress.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Golden Compass, first of a trilogy.

E. saw the movie first, but the 'His Dark Materials' trilogy by Philip Pullman really should be read. The first in the series is The Golden Compass and E. likes it very much. Here is a good HDM quiz. Themes: Be self reliant, loving toward other people, loyal. Again the power of truthfulness, loyalty, and individuality are central. (Golden Compass seems to us anti-authorian, rather than anti-Catholic, but be aware there is controversy about this.)

Here is an excellent Golden Compass lesson plan guide from Scholastic Books with emphasis on symbolism. Here is the lesson plan on characterization in the book.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell.

If you were to conjure up the book that is most dissimilar in setting, perspective, and outcomes to Oliver Twist, it might be Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell. Her wonderful book has a sublime rendition in the BBC production.
Cranford is far removed from the fiction of Gaskell's contemporary, Charles Dickens, in that it describes idyllic domesticity in a quiet English village at a time when industry and poverty ran rampant in England's larger cities. However...

"... for all its frills and teacups Cranford does not shy from the
grim realities of life in Victorian England -- a man's life is threatened
because the doctor does not have enough candles by which to operate; little
coughs give way to fatal fevers; and women, of course, are at the financial
mercy of their inheritance or marriage." Mary McNamara, Los Angeles Times

And the ladies' uncertain finances are a crucial aspect of the novel's conclusion.

Cranford is peopled by unmarried or widowed women who live happily in each other's society, and the story reflects to an almost revolutionary degree (for its time) the power of female friendship. The book began as a series of related stories published in Household Words, a magazine published by Dickens. Set in 1842, the story is rich with little scenes of gentle humor, such as how best to eat an orange, or the very funny tale of the cat and the lace collar. It makes a good comparison/contrast subject with any of the works of Jane Austen, in the sense that marriage is Austen's driving force but something of a nuisance to Gaskell.