Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Video Schooling

I found a flattering comment from Natalie on another blog, and it reminded me to post again. Thanks Natalie!

I've been feeling a bit burnt out this week, and trying to figure out how to work with it. We're doing a fair amount of video-schooling lately. I currently get one video at a time from both Blockbuster and Netflix (for a total of four a month). Blockbuster because my list is there, and Netflix because they have way more educational videos available than Blockbuster. For instance, I've had The Story of One on my Blockbuster list for years, right up near the top, and I got it immediatly from Netflix.

Our recent videos have included the Olivia Hussey/Zeffirelli version of Romeo and Juliet (brief nudity), and then the movie version of West Side Story for comparison (and for the music). We introduced Romeo and Juliet with the Bruce Coville audio version which was a hit (which not all Shakespeare has been -- not by a long shot). We listened to the audio on the laptop while sitting outside on the swinging bench -- that might have helped!

We also watched a video on Columbus. Conveniently, it synced up with Columbus Day, but in fact Parker is reading about explorers for AO3, so it wasn't simply a Columbus Day thing. We watched Great Adventurers: Christopher Columbus which wasn't a complete success. There's a lot of talking by British professors, which, unsurprisingly, doesn't result in much information getting into my boys heads! There is also some reinactment, which is slightly more interesting. This video gives a pretty balanced view on Columbus importance in history in opening the Atlantic to travel and discovery, versus his rather coldblooded view of the people he discovered as slaves and the land as a font of resources to be robbed. Perhaps middle-school and up is a better audience. Let me know if you have any early explorer videos that you like.

Yesterday we watched The Story of 1 which I recommend. My eight-year old got the most out of it, I'd say. I'm getting some spontaneous narration right now, and it sounds like they really enjoyed it.

Mason (6) is going to Zoo School once a month, and September and October focused on primates, so I'm trying to supplement that a bit at home. We watched David Attenborough's The Life of Mammals: Vol. 4, which is wonderful. However, the monkey episode does have some disturbing scenes. We fast forwarded through the scene in the second episode on this disk where the chimps(?) turn on one of their own and kill him. This is followed by a long sequence where the monkeys hunt down a baby of another monkey species and eat it, sharing it with their tribe. This is a long sequence and we lived through it. There is interesting narration, but I could have done without the raw meat. We're getting Vol 1 next, to get ready for giraffe's, the next Zoo School topic.

For fun, we're watching Young Indiana Jones. I didn't like episode 1 at all. It featured two stories that didn't hang together that well (even individually), and child slavery was a featured topic, which I'm not crazy about exposing my kids to. I wished I had previewed it. I previewed episode 2, and it was much better. The first story has Indy in Africa with President Roosevelt. There are hunted animals shown, (it does reflect the time period) but the message is fine, with some discussion of conservation. The second story has Indy in Paris, meeting the artists of the early 19th century (Degas, Picasso, and Rockwell, mainly). Parker has read all the Young Indy books that we've been able to find -- maybe two from the library maybe six that I bought from Ebay. They are scarce. The movies seem to have different stories from the books, in which Indy finds actual artifacts. So far he hasn't found artifacts in the videos.

We're using audio selections also. I'm only using Librivox when I'm very busy or my voice isn't strong because of a cold or allergies. The quality is so mixed. However, if I can find quality recordings from the library, I have better luck with them. A biography of Galileo is on our AO3 schedule, and I used a Jim Weiss recording: Galileo and the Stargazers. Parker enjoyed it, and also the other story about Archimedes (who appears in the Story of One also).

Our homeschool group of about twelve families and 25 kids meets every Thursday. Currently the kids are in three groups. The oldest (7-12) are doing five weeks on the election with me and an assistant (thanks Christy!) We have used a lot of material from Little Blue School (page down to see all the lessons Lydia's written). I'm very grateful to Lydia for this material, because I was having trouble finding anything else I wanted to use. The six year olds are doing a junior lego league, using the challenge on weather for this year. The youngest group (four and under) is doing a unit All About Me. I have a kid in each group! In the afternoon we have art and music, and the most popular subject, free play. This fills in some important subjects for me!

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