Monthly Archives: July 2008

Seismic Monitor

My friend Susan Ryan recently sent along a link to this Seismic Monitor and we have been exploring it at our house ever since.

At the site you can check on earthquake headlines, view a list of earthquakes that have occurred in the last 30 days, check out special earthquake events, plate tectonics and a really cool map of recent earthquakes.

Check it out here.

There are also many other excellent resources to be found at this IRIS website. This animation of how a seismograph works is just the beginning. Enjoy!

Ohio Homeschool Regulation Review

This month, the Ohio Department of Education has started the process of preparing to review our regulations. Part of that preparation includes the department accepting comments from stakeholders at their site concerning Ohio Administrative Code, Chapter 3301-34 Excuses from Compulsory Attendance for Home Education. These rules have served my family and many others well since 1989. This is the first time since the rules and regulations were enacted that the Ohio Department of Education has facilitated this type of formal review. This code was written in 1989 and it amplifies the law that governs Ohio homeschooling, Ohio Revised Code 3321.04. The code clearly states Its purpose:

The purpose of the rules in this chapter is to prescribe conditions governing the issuance of excuses from school attendance under section 3321.04 of the Revised Code, to provide for the consistent application thereof throughout the state by superintendents, and to safeguard the primary right of parents to provide the education for their child(ren). Home education must be in accordance with law.

I am encouraged by the fact that many individual homeschoolers and local homeschool groups in Ohio are united in recommending that the Ohio Department of Education keep our regulations as they are. After the Ohio Department of Education collects the stakeholder comments, they will gather and pass them along to the Ohio State Board of Education Capacity Committee for review. The committee will then make recommendations to the State School Board as to make changes or not.

Since first hearing of the review, I have said that I am hoping for the best, but I’ll be prepared for the worst. Some in our community feel that the ODE will be suggesting changes. It isn’t that I don’t believe this, I just can’t document that they are intending to do so. In fact, in this Columbus Dispatch blog post, Jennifer Smith Richards writes that over 1200 responses had come in by July 19th and that an Ohio Department of Education spokesperson stated that despite the warnings by some groups, there are no specific plans to change our laws.

Those who know me well understand that when it comes to research, I prefer to document the information I’m studying, especially when it might affect my rights or those of others. Before children, I was a Biblical research student and I learned the importance of finding a chapter and verse, understanding where it originated, the context it was used and who it was written to, for myself instead of relying on someone else’s interpretation. Over the years, I’ve applied this same method of investigation to other areas of my life.

As a homeschooler, I’ve learned the importance of knowing my rights and responsibilities as well as, if not better than others so that if someone subtly tries to change a right, I will be able to recognize the change. I certainly look to experts when I need them, but when I hear speculation that might affect me, I want to know where it originated and if I need to simply watch it or begin taking action. If it can’t be documented, I will still keep watching, but I don’t move until I’m sure.

These days most of us are familiar with weather terminology, especially here in Oho where we face the occasional tornado. I would compare our situation as being under a State School Board review watch. We should be prepared as conditions are favorable and could result in a request for changes, but no documented changes have been shared by the many SBE watchers. If we move to a documented warning, I am sure that we will be prepared, remain calm and be able to stand together to protect our freedoms with other individuals around our state.

The Underground Railroad

The National Geographic describes the game:

You are a slave. Your body, your time, your very breath belong to a farmer in 1850s Maryland. Six long days a week you tend his fields and make him rich. You have never tasted freedom. You never expect to.

And yet . . . your soul lights up when you hear whispers of attempted escape. Freedom means a hard, dangerous trek. Do you try it?

The Underground Railroad

Paddle to the Sea by Holling C. Holling

Holling C. Holling wrote a series of geography/nature books that creatively share his knowledge of both.

One of those books, Paddle-to-the-Sea, published by Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, 1969 takes us on a journey that begins in Nipigon country north of the Great Lakes and leads to the Atlantic Ocean. The book begins with young man carving a small canoe with Indian in it and he names it Paddle-to-the-Sea. His hope is that the canoe will make the journey from Lake Nipigon through the Great Lakes to the sea. He carves the words, please put me back in the water into the bottom before placing it onto a melting snowbank, so that if anyone finds it, they will send it along its journey. Of course, many do find it along the way and each stop provides a good look at each of the Great Lakes and the Great Lakes Region as Paddle to the Sea follows the natural flow to the Atlantic.

Our local Cleveland Metroparks offered a Paddle to the Sea hands on book discussion that we attended. Beforehand, the park ranger had commissioned a wood carver to make a replica of Paddle to the Sea. He brought the carving and showed us the process he had used to create it. We discussed the book and may have tried our hand at carving soap. We don’t remember all those details, but we distinctly remember seeing the replica of Paddle to the Sea launched into a local river that leads to Lake Erie. We signed up for an email notification that was supposed to track the little fellow, but I don’t think he was ever discovered again. In this day and age, one could probably make a little tracking device and do the same. Either way, this unit study gave us a much better understanding of our Great Lake Region.

Here are some resources to accompany Paddle to the Sea:

Paddle to the Sea Movie
Free Paddle to the Sea Study Guide
Great Lakes Educational Resources
Great Lakes Maps

Looking for a good book?

Our family is always looking for another good book to read.  My county library’s website offers reading suggestions from nationally known librarian and author NANCY PEARL. Not only are there book recommendations at the site, but you can also read the first chapter from each book that she recommends.

The first book on her list for June was Grayson by by Lynne Cox. This small memoir recounts the time when marathon swimmer Lynn Cox encounters a baby Gray whale on an early morning swim and how she helps to reunite it with its mother. You can read the first chapter of this book here and read Ms. Pearl’s other recommendations here.

Doing what comes naturally– counting

Some things are so simple, we forget to mention them when talking about learning.  Most of what we learn comes naturally.   For example, one of my children began counting things when he was a toddler.  He  did it because it was something he enjoyed doing.

As he grew, he set up stores, played many different games, counted trees, rocks, animals and anything else that would hold still long enough to be calculated.  He also bought a used cash register that provided him hours of practice and fun.

Playing games also can offer great counting practice. Muggins offers some great math games here at their website.

Here are a few other online counting games: