Sunday, May 30, 2010

Blog Showcase - A Multitude of Mercies

Having gained so much inspiration and encouragement from this particular blog - one of the few I visit regularly - I wanted to share it here for those who may not have discovered it yet! 

From Monday's Multitude of Mercies to Thursday's Taming of the Tongue, Trisha offers up a wonderful balance of challenge, encouragement, recipes, and laughter, mixed in with an array of wisdom found in her narratives of intentional living and finding joy in the everyday. A self-confessed "pathological picture taker", avid book reader, and humble sinner saved by grace, this homeschooling mother of seven (soon to be eight) strives to live every moment to the glory of God!

I think you'll enjoy sharing in her unpretentious Multitude of Mercies.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Wilson Reading System vs. Barton Reading & Spelling

I know many homeschooling parents are often looking at these two Orton-Gillingham (OG) based programs and wondering about the differences, so I thought I'd share these details for those who may be interested in hearing some thoughts on the two different programs. Either would work well for a student with dyslexia, provided they are implemented with fidelity. These are tools - and to be most effective, they must use as directed!

Barton and Wilson are both OG programs and both have their positives, however, they are at very different ends of the spectrum in both price and guidance. I will just list a few differences I can think of right now. . .

Barton is much more expensive, but the lessons are scripted and you get more support in the form of DVD training for each level and the ability to email Susan if you get stuck or have a question.

Wilson is much less expensive, but the lessons are not scripted and the support not quite so readily available (okay, well there's my fabulous reading group that has other Wilson users to network with - but help from the company can be a few days coming if you need it) If you purchase the Deluxe Kit (and this full set is what *I* recommend to parents starting with Wilson) it does come with everything you need including a set of "Overview Training DVD's" that I think are excellent for getting the gist of the program and developing a deeper understanding of the dyslexic learner.

(Do not confuse Wilson Reading System with Wilson Fundations. These are different programs.)

Barton does a better job of covering accented vs. unaccented syllables and explaining why this matters.

Barton teaches a student how to actually "use" a spell checker, Wilson just recommends the use of one.

Barton jumps into syllable division as it simultaneously begins to introduce syllable types (I think this can be overwhelming for some dyslexic kids - too much too soon. Level 4 is particularly meaty in that sense.) But so long as you take whatever time the student needs to "get it", it should be fine I reckon!

Barton does a better job teaching syllable division using the tiles. I love the tiles for this!! Wilson does do this with the sound cards, but the instruction for *you* is not quite as explicit as it is in Barton.

Wilson has plenty of practice via the workbooks and readers. The readers offer practice in words, sentences, and stories, plus the children get to chart their own progress which I think is very motivating. I personally believe this review and controlled text practice is vital! IMHO, Barton is short on practice and review in this respect.

Barton does a better job of incorporating "sight words". Wilson has them listed in the "rules" book, but there is really no reference to them in the lesson plan, nor much guidance for introduction and mastery of these words as you progress through the levels.

Wilson offers much more dictation practice, including sounds, words, nonsense words, and sentences for each step along the way. Again, I think this consistent and repetitive practice is essential!

Barton ultimately goes into much more advanced concepts if you go through ALL of the levels.

Barton seems to introduce material at a much faster pace (could possibly be too fast for some children). Wilson is more purposeful in scope and sequence, but slower overall in pace (often good for the dyslexic learner, but harder for the Mom who wants to hurry up and get through it!)

Important Note: Barton levels maintain a high resale value, however, be sure to buy an extra set of tiles upfront if you plan to resell it! The levels are cumulative and aside from level one, you will need the tiles from the previous levels as you progress through the program. If you buy used, make sure it has tiles included!

Anyway, those are just a few things to consider, I invite others to jump in and share what their experience has been with one program or the other via the comment section below!

Here are some additional comments from a couple other members on my "Heart of Reading" group. . .
The Wilson materials are great when I need more practice materials...I agree that Barton doesn't offer enough practice sometimes. Wilson doesn't explain things as well, and the Barton tiles are more fun than the cards. One thing I love about the Barton is that you don't have to use the script. The summaries in the side columns are fantastic. I also like the hand motions. My students really like the hand motions, too.
Just a reminder that Barton has extra practice sheets on their website. You need a password to access them. Just email Susan and you'll get one quickly. There is also an awkward little games section on their website, but kids are so use to bells and whistle type games that they aren't as much fun. The only thing I hate about the Barton DVD's is Susan's monotone. UGH! I could never tutor like that. I am all about upbeat and positive!

Hope this information is useful to someone! To see my review of All About Spelling click here AAS Review.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Glimpse of His Glory

We've had some breathtaking evening skies lately. . .the kind that make you long for *His* glorious return and leave you feeling like you've seen a tiny glimpse of heaven!

"Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen."  Revelation 1:7


Sing with me now. . ."Blue skies smiling at me, nothing but blue skies do I see. Bluebirds singing a song, nothing but blue skies from now on. . ."

May all our days be filled with the light of His glory!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Turtle Tales

Saturday morning as me and Sassafras headed out for our Mother-Daughter day, we came across a lone little turtle in the middle of a very busy road. By the time we realized what it was, we had passed it by. We quickly maneuvered to turn around as we prayed repeatedly that it wouldn't be run over before we got back to it! Luckily, it was still sitting in the middle of the road, head held high, completely oblivious to the peril it was in! So, I got out and picked it up, placed it on the passenger seat of the van as my sweet little "city girl" screeched with a mixture of excitement and trepidation, shouting "oh my gosh, it's just like animal rescue!" It was adorable!

We were both tickled to be part of this turtle's lucky day and to see up close one of the many precious creatures God has blessed our earth with! Plus, I think it likes us :)  (Yes, I know, those of you who experience the atmosphere of country life every day, must think us comical to be so animated over a turtle, LOL! but remember. . .not much excitement of this kind happens in suburbia!

Anywho, it is sitting in it's temporary habitat (a baby pool with grass, plants, and water) and we plan to release it a local pond when our homeschool groups meets for our Summer Fun Day in early June.

In the meantime, my kiddo's have had the opportunity and motivation to learn to use the internet to identify the turtle, learn about it's habitat and eating habits, and enjoy the oh so hilarious bonus tidbit -  "little turtles" make "big poo" ;-)

Hey. . .what's this thing?

Cheese. . .and turtle :)

The "official" greeting from behind, lol!
Ruff! Ruff! I'm NOT afraid of you! (okay, maybe a little!)

Aren't I gorgeous?

Notice the protective glove, lol!
Warmed up enough to sit and draw it!


Sunday, May 16, 2010

My Poetry - "TODAY"

If you've been hanging around here a while, you might have realized that I like to tinker with poetry here and there :) "Today" is a short piece I finished up this weekend. I hope it brings you reflection and encouragement to make the most of the opportunites you have "TODAY"!

It's wonderous how time goes so fast
What was almost here, is now the past
The days behind will not return
Lessons they bring must be swiftly learned

Strive forth to expand your comfort zone
In all you do, make His will known
Aspire to brighten the world around
Give voice to prayers that need a sound

Endeavor to bring someone a smile
Extend a hand, go the extra mile
Be not restrained by judging glance
Generously live and laugh and dance

Each morning brings His mercies new
God's plan engendered just for you
Possibilities wait around the way
Embrace the time that is today.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Open the Eyes of My Heart

"Hardness of heart evidences itself by light views of sin; partial acknowledgment and confession of it; pride and conceit; ingratitude; unconcern about the word and ordinances of God; inattention to divine providences; stifling convictions of conscience; shunning reproof; presumption, and general ignorance of divine things."

Ouch! Isn't that a powerful statement? As much as I like a good debate, I couldn't find any room for one here. This was recently shared by someone on one of my groups, and I was immediately driven to reflection and prayer. . .Was God speaking to me? . . .be careful what you ask :)

". . .we have a major heart problem against which we will have to struggle our entire lives. . .Our heart  is false - it tricks or deceives us into thinking that our desires are pure, that we want what we want because it is good and God approves. Every man's way seems right in his own eyes. . .even when it leads to death. Our heart trouble is hereditary: it had its origin at the fall. "

"Even though believers have been given a new heart, so our thoughts and desires are changed, we still struggle with the remnants of our old nature. Every day we have choose whom we will love most: God or ourselves (and the gods we create). The difficulty of these choices is compounded because our hearts deceive us into thinking that acting in some sinful way is the best or perhaps the godliest course of action."

(excerpts from: Idols of the Heart - Elyse Fitzpatrick) 

"The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?" Jeremiah 17:9

I know from personal experience that when my heart is not in the right place, it contributes to the sins outlined above and taints my thoughts and words - creating a divide that hinders both my spiritual growth and relationships.

It is an age old battle that has the potential to either move one forward with God's Grace, or to stop one cold amidst a puddle of guilt, regret, and regression.

I realized long ago that in my flesh I will never be "good enough" and that my actions as a Christian will always come under judgment and scrutiny by someone, somewhere - no matter how hard I strive. It is *my effort* instead of *my reliance on God* that can easily misguide me. Thankfully, I know that there is but one judge that matters and it is my heart's desire to be right with Him - to accept that however flawed a human I may be here on earth, I have a divine appointment with a divine Savior that keeps me looking up and pressing on! He knows my heart full well.

Hardened and wayward hearts are softened and renewed with prayer, mercy, forgiveness, and the strength and promises of God's Word!

Each day, I choose to accept God's Grace and continually plow forward. May He cultivate a humility in me that will keep open the eyes of my heart!
"And be ye renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." Ephesians 4:23-24

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Joy of Mother's Day

I know Mother's Day is suppose to be a celebration of Mom, and I'm okay with that, lol! Each year, it is such a blessing to see my family take such care to go overboard to show me that I'm special to them. Instead of being a day just focused on me, it's a day that has me praying and thanking God for the immeasurable blessing of my family. Being a mother is an honor. Having my precious children is a blessing. Having a husband who loves me amazing. Knowing God thought enough of me to give me such bountiful measure in these precious ones is priceless.

So. . .earlier in week, the girls starting asking what I wanted for Mother's Day. This is their investigative research on behalf of their father. They find out, pass it on and then SURPRISE :) Okay, truth be told, these girls are not good at keeping secrets! They unwittingly drop hints and offer telling smiles at every turn. It's so adorable that they "think" they've really pulled something off! Dh takes it with a grain of salt and a grimace, as he knows I always find out ahead of time what's planned.

Enjoying all that leads up to it, they always make it such a special time for me. My oldest dd called me Saturday, and she and my grandson took me out to lunch. Then Sunday, dh and the other children went and got me my favorite lunch items, fixed me and my own Mom a steak dinner, and gave me my favorite perfume as a gift. It was a perfect day! A perfect day to count my blessings, knowing that I'm SO lucky to have these precious people in my life!

Thank you God for the privilege!
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