Some readers have asked what we talk about in our Friday meetings. I will attempt to give you a better picture of what we do together to wrap up our week on Friday mornings. I prepare during the week by making notes of any topics that I want to be sure to include in our discussions. I do not read everything my sons read but sort of alternate between weeks what I read so I have a sense of what they are working on.
Here are some specifics using my 12th grader as the example. Just as background information, our meetings cover history, literature, writing, poetry, economics, and usually art/music appreciation. The rest of his subjects we touch base with daily: chemistry, math, and Bible. Our Friday meeting is taking us nearly one hour to complete. This year I meet with each of my sons separately.
Preparation During the Week
He has his assignments listed in a chart so he knows what is expected for the week.
I am trying to pick one element a week to talk about for his literature. For instance, this week we are going over how to quote a poem in an essay. I gave him the page numbers in the editing book to read over and asked him to write two examples from his poetry reading. I looked over the information so I would be up to speed on Friday. For books that are covered in Tapestry of Grace, I read over the Teacher’s Notes but many of the books we are reading this year are extra or substitutes for the books in TOG. For those books, I read either the books themselves or the Spark Notes information so I have an idea of what is going on in the readings.
This week, I did read the assigned pages in The Grapes of Wrath and A History of the Twentieth Century (about 30 pages each) so we could have one book that we share in depth for literature and history. I kept notes of anything that I wanted to make sure to hit when we met on Friday. I listed a few pages to read aloud in The Grapes of Wrath. I made brief notes from the history reading and looked up a YouTube video for The Tell Tale Heart (his short story this week). I also found a YouTube video showing the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco.
Our Friday Meeting
As my son reads A History of the Twentieth Century, he takes notes of anything he finds interesting. He gives me a brief synopsis of what he wrote about and I add in anything that I highlighted for the discussion. This is also the time that he shares any history or government related current events he read about this week. Our time really turns into a conversation more than anything else…he talked about how when you condense history like this book does it seems as if there is one war leading to another war and spurts of inventions which actually end up spurring more war and more deadly weapons. He cites the invention of the Wright brothers’ airplane (of course). We also talked about the 1906 earthquake and watched a YouTube slideshow showing the aftermath of the earthquake with actual photographs. He commented on the differences between the look of the people in the photos with those of people after hurricane Katrina. His conclusion? People were more apt to rely on themselves in 1906 to get back to “normal”. I sat on my side of the table and reveled in the connections he makes between history and his “real world”. This led us to the more local current event with the gas explosion in San Bruno.
We continued working together on a character analysis for Tom Joad from The Grapes of Wrath. We listed examples of things he said and did that indicated what kind of person he was and how he related to others. I had my son give me a brief oral narration of The Tell-Tale Heart (short story). He likes Poe’s style so this was easy for him. We watched the YouTube video with the introductory part of the story (featuring Vincent Price). We continued talking a little about Our Town and how a play is written differently than a novel. My son showed me his poetry quotes using proper punctuation. We talked about his on-going writing project to keep track of the theme of man’s inhumanity to man from The Grapes of Wrath. He is making notes so he can pick three good examples in week 10 for a formal essay.
Economics: I use the learning guide for Whatever Happened to Penny Candy? to stimulate our discussion. We read together the additional selections in the guide. We try to relate the information to what we have experienced in our lives…I shared with my son how at my first job I made $2.90 an hour and that was a fair wage for the time. He could hardly believe it….we talked about inflation which was the subject of this week’s reading. We continued our discussion of Economics in One Lesson, each sharing what we gleaned from the chapter.
Art/Music: He showed me his finished Matisse project and we talked a little about Prokofiev. We watched another segment of Peter and the Wolf on YouTube.
In general, I try to keep my comments to a minimum and to only ask enough questions to get to the heart of what the reading selections are about. I have been reading and rereading Marcia Somerville’s article on Socratic discussions. This is something that I try to work towards with my boys when we have our meetings. I don’t want it to be a question-answer time but a discussion which helps them come to their own conclusions, especially since they are teenagers who should be able to reason at a higher level.
We do have discussion during the week as well. These are more informal where they call me over to tell me something or to ask a question about what they are reading. Anymore, they hop up and use internet resources to answer questions before they ask me. Then I get to hear what they discover…love that part of being a homeschooling mom.
After the meeting I pull up Homeschool Tracker and mark off assignments as completed. It gives me a visual end to our week when I can see all that we have accomplished. If we did not get to a particular assignment during the week, I roll it over into the next week if I want to keep it on the schedule. Sometimes if we run out of time, I just eliminate a lesson if I don’t see the need to cover the information. I use HST as a tool and not a master.
Please feel free to email me if you have any more questions about our meetings. It is hard to come back and remember exactly what we covered but I think you get the idea from what I posted.
Barb-Harmony Art Mom