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JTB_5 last won the day on December 3 2018

JTB_5 had the most liked content!

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About JTB_5

Personal Information

  • Location
    Pensacola, FL
  • Interests and Hobbies
    Reading, roasting coffee, collecting and sharpening knives
  • Favorite Authors
    Augustine, Calvin, Milton, Tolkien, Lewis, Chesterton
  • Occupation
  • School Name
    Trinitas Christian School

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  1. JTB_5

    Can We Rehabilitate the Lecture?

    I've read both. Much of the difficulty (as seemed evident in both articles) consists of agreeing on a definition of "Socratic method." In a way this is odd because Socrates (in more than one place, I think) describes his dialectical method in Gorgias and Phaedrus when contrasting it with rhetorical method. I don't think many (if any) teachers mean what Socrates means, though, and fewer are equipped (or desirous) to practice the rigorous logical approach Socrates exhibits. So what it seems is that certain aspects of Socrates' exchanges within Plato's dialogues have been taken, adapted, and applied in classrooms with his name attached. Maybe there is some school of training behind one or another method (like Harkness), but I don't know how consistent is the outcome of such training. I think that Socrates (at least the Socrates of Plato's literary skill) knew where he was going in most of his conversations, because he has very specific questions and ready responses to answers, which he seems to have anticipated. In other words, in order to conduct the sort of inquiry Socrates conducts, one must have done a lot of preparatory thinking, whether on one's own or in a group of like-minded thinkers, before being prepared to engage with an opposing viewpoint as skillfully and consistently as he does.
  2. JTB_5

    Technology for children

    I don't use commonplace books, but at least two of our other teachers do or have done before. I even make it a point to grade their handwriting specifically on assignments, and I have them pay attention to the details of size, slant, ball letter formation, placement on the line, etc. Like Latin grammar does for the eye and mind, cursive handwriting trains the eye and hand to pay attention to multiple aspects at once until it becomes second nature.
  3. JTB_5

    Technology for children

    I have also used my phone when I thought I ought to be reading in the midst of my own noisy house (five kids, aged 2-11). I do think that it is an easier thing to pick up and concentrate on than a book, but I have also found that become less attentive to what is happening with the children than if I had a book. That could be my own problem, but it makes sense to me that a more stimulating medium like a phone absorbs attention more than a less stimulating (and by stimulating here, I mean the physiological effects) medium like a book. I have found that I can read and still get much out of the reading (provided it isn't a complicated argument) despite distractions. Plus, I'm happier with myself for reading rather than using the phone. This may be true, but I also think that children today, because they have been saturated in phone-mediated experience, are less capable of escaping because of how dependent our culture has become on their use. I find that many of my students "study" while texting one another with questions (or other things). So, instead of going to study together at one's house or at a coffee shop, they mediate their experience through the very inefficient method of texting. I cannot imagine productive work done under such conditions (although I have known a student who "studied" while watching Netflix--imagine how well that could go!). I don't see how we can avoid teaching children to use technology, since it is much more difficult to navigate today's world without knowledge of it. I think the key is building into them a sense of independence by teaching them low-tech or non-tech alternatives--I know how to use technology, but in many cases I don't because I prefer to use a different method that I also know how to use. For example, I will still make my students compose essays or poetry in long hand rather than allow them a computer word processing program. They get familiar with the difference, and I get the opportunity to try to show them the benefits of both (better thinking and editing with long hand, but better speed and uniformity of appearance with word processor).
  4. JTB_5

    Rubrics for Grading

    I use a variety of rubrics in my rhetoric classes, mainly because my assignments don't lend themselves to the same rubric. For memorized recitations, for example, I use a four point rubric that assesses accuracy of words, accuracy of diction, accuracy of pacing, and consistency of interpretation (weighted equally, unless I want them to focus on one aspect in particular). For essays I usually use a modified version of the five virtues of style (Correctness, or conventional word choice and grammar; clarity, or clear meaning through word choice and syntax; vividness, or quality of imagery, figures, and use of active verbs; decorum; or ideas and tone suited to the occasion of the essay prompt; and ornateness, or appropriate level of style--not too low or too high for the occasion). I should probably share my rubrics with students more often than I do. With oral recitations I do a lot of sharing, because I want them to be better at self assessment, but I don't tend to put in the extra work necessary to teach them how to use the essay rubrics (a flaw of mine, I admit). In general I also think that the more weighty the task, the more detailed should be the rubric. It is not only helpful to the student, who can then see all of the expectations clearly and up front (with the opportunity to ask clarifying questions), but it is a safeguard to the teacher, who has multiple points of analysis to ensure that factors aren't forgotten or fudged due to human limitations of evaluating a single product. On that last note, it also seems valuable to use long-term evaluative rubrics that allow students (and teachers) to see progress over the course of time. Using the same assignment multiple times with the same rubric works very well when assessing skills (whether speaking or writing skills; or skills of analysis, such as historiography or literary criticism).
  5. JTB_5

    Help with Spelling

    Thanks Cheryl! I do believe a good portion of spelling success boils down to desire. My son wants to do well, but he hasn't developed the grit to buckle down in crunch time (at least not yet!). We talk about it and work on it continually, though.
  6. JTB_5

    Help with Spelling

    Karen, Thank you very much for these tools! Our school doesn't use Charlotte Mason formally, but I suspect several of our teachers are familiar with and use some of her methods (the lower grammar does copy work, for example), but the dictation method is new to me. I will give it a try over the rest of this year and the summer and see how things progress. I have made it a point to tell my son to try and see the word in his mind and when he reads so that he can remember it when he writes. It is odd to me that he struggles because with pictures he has a great eye for detail and can reproduce what he sees in his drawing really well. I'll update here as we see how things go. Thanks again!
  7. Although I teach at a classical school where my own kids are enrolled, I am often helping my own children at home. My fifth grade son has great difficulty spelling. When he works hard to memorize words on a spelling list, he can often remember them for that test, but then he cannot apply those same words on a history assessment or in a writing assignment. Also, words that he has been using for years he will misspell (sometimes multiple times and in different misspelled forms) on writing assignments or assessments. One of my colleagues still has difficulty spelling, and her son (who graduated a few years ago) always struggled with spelling. Does anyone have any spelling routines or practices that work well for people who have trouble simply remembering how to spell words they've seen many times? Is there any alternative path of learning that I'm missing out on?
  8. JTB_5

    Reading Recharge

    I was thinking personally, rather than reading to students, but that is also a good question. I know that some of our teachers read Christmas themed stories (the only one I can think of is "The Birds for Christmas" by Mark Richards, which is more for older students). During down times in my Logic courses I've read Isaac Asimov's I, Robot, since it has some thinking puzzles in the chapters. I also have read The Man Who Was Thursday, by Chesterton. At Grammar school lunches I've often read aloud Wise Words, by Peter Leithart. I bet there are a lot of good books people choose to read during down times. I'll ask what books our teachers have recommended to students to read over the breaks.
  9. JTB_5

    Can We Rehabilitate the Lecture?

    Lectures can be very valuable, but I think it is helpful to acknowledge that different kinds of lectures exist. 1. Dedicated lecture: the lecturer possesses great knowledge on the subject, and can hold the attention of the listeners with just his knowledge and rhetorical skill. e.g. A really fine lecture on the Peloponnesian War by Donald Kagan. 2. Lecture w/discussion: the lecturer wants to bring out several ideas, problems, scenarios, etc. for the purpose of setting up guided discussion of the points. The difference between this type of lecture and a dedicated discussion is the amount of set up required. e.g. A historian wishes to have his class compare two historiographical approaches to a particular historical event. He may lecture on the event and/or the approaches, and there may be some preliminary reading done by the listeners, but his purpose is to set up the discussion and facilitate the discussion to follow. 3. Lecture w/application: the lecturer wants to teach principle or concepts that will be applied either during the period or at some later point. The difference between this type of lecture and the dedicated lecture is that the dedicated lecture may not have any objective beyond the communication of the knowledge. e.g. Lecturing on Aristotle's logos, ethos, and pathos in conjunction with audience analysis prior to having students prepare a speech. There may be more, but these come to mind as scenarios we might call, "lecture," but which look difference and require different skills by the teacher.
  10. JTB_5

    Reading Recharge

    A Christmas Carol is a lovely choice. I'm also thinking of reading Wind in the Willows, as I love the Dulce Domum chapter as a Christmas vignette.
  11. We're approaching the Christmas holidays where I teach, which means a few days respite from the daily routines of the classroom and preparation. There are lots of ways to use the extra time, and reading a good book seems to me to be a good choice among many. If you are planning to read a book over the Christmas holidays, why don't you share it with us in this thread? Also, do you have a book that you go to time and again when you just need to recharge your imaginative energies? I'm planning on reading a second translation of the Iliad to keep up the project I began at the end of summer, to read the Iliad throughout the year in several translations. The book I go to time and again is The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. I know that you could consider that four books, but it really is one story (I suppose I should throw in Silmarillion, too on that logic!)
  12. Here's another one: 1. Bad argument: Classical and Christian education provides a safe place for children to grow and learn instead of being subjected to the bullying and secular conditioning of public schools. 2. One major flaw: While it is true that Classical and Christian education is safer from violence and bad influences than public schools, being motivated by fear of alternatives does not provide the impetus to receive the goods that Classical and Christian education offers. Treating Classical and Christian education as a haven turns it into a place of retreat or refuge, instead of viewing it as a calling to guard and advance Western Christian heritage. 3. Alternative: Classical and Christian education forms humans in the forge of Western Culture: firing them in time-tested truths, tempering them in the wisdom of our forefathers, forging them in beauty, galvanizing them in goodness, that they may bulwark against buffeting winds of cultural change and break the vices that constrain the glory of man.
  13. JTB_5

    Bible/Theology Curriculum

    Regarding your concern in the last paragraph, the short answer is yes, I've seen the same trend in inferior biblical knowledge. We've made some changes (and will be continuing to make more) to ameliorate the problem, but I do suspect the best classical educators can do is stall the retreat--the bulk of the burden falls upon churches and families to be reading and teaching the Bible in their own spheres. One of the things we've done is to treat 7th and 8th grade years as logic-level reviews of their grammar curriculum -- Biblical and Church history. There is so little time in grammar school spent on these things in the grand scheme of things, and it doesn't make sense to expect a 10th grader to remember the details of the Great Schism if the only time they have learned about it was during two to five days of instruction in a 4th grade classroom. I'm not sure how to gain greater and more varied exposure over the course of the entire curriculum that reaches saturation level, especially if the home and church aren't building on, supporting, or otherwise making use of what is happening in the classroom.
  14. I haven't read The Power o Habit, but perhaps you could summarize some of its best points?
  15. JTB_5

    Literature Catechism

    I can't speak for myself, as I haven't used a catechism (though I've tried putting one together), but one of my colleagues is in his second year of using one and he swears by it. His students say it every day and it takes about 15 minutes until they memorize it (which takes less time than you'd think), and then it takes around 10 minutes. He can then have the students use the material from the catechism in class discussions and assessments, which has worked really well.