On day 3 of our Block Party semester, Eva and I took on the English Language. Keeping with our three-part formula of Super Awesome Educational Videos, Engaging Text, and Creative Hands-On Activities, we first launched into our go-to youtube channels. Crash Course gave us How and Why We Read, and Ted-Ed provided the Reading Between the Lines series.
Next up, the text. We’re taking on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice this year, after loving the BBC mini-series last year as a part of our history studies of England’s Regency period. Because the language is more challenging, we’re taking on this novel as a read-aloud. I started out, reading about 10 pages of the scholarly introduction, pausing so that Eva and I could discuss the political climate of the day, the nature and environment of Jane’s own life, and her how her experiences influenced her work. After that more meaty discussion, we launched into chapter 1, and were immediately giggling at the juxtaposition of Mrs. Bennet’s flakiness and melodrama and Mr. Bennet’s calm and cutting, but somehow delightful condescension. We agreed to re-watch the BBC series as we go, and we’re both looking forward to that.
Finally, the hands-on. Eva is steadily working on a brand new look for her website, and is switching from WordPress to Weebly. She’s reworked her logo and renamed her business from “Eva’s Wild and Wonderful Books” to “The Kinz Books.” She’s put a lot of thought into her rebranding move, and hopes to push her beloved Kinzy the Koala character to the front and center of her budding author career. The website redesign is all her own; I’m available for questions, and for occasional (not always welcomed) graphic design advice, but she’s managing the project and creating it herself. She worked on this for about a half hour. She also is working on a new comedy-fantasy story about her dogs (one who passed away last year), Merlin and Dakota. She worked on the narrative piece and began drawing a map of the Doggie Kingdom in which they live.
If you’ll notice, some of these activities I chose (the videos, the text), though I selected them with Eva’s specific interests and loves in mind. Eva chose the writing activities. This gives a real feeling of partnership between us, and a sense of educational ownership to Eva. She knows that we are choosing each task with her desires of professional authorship in mind. There is no checklist here but the ones we create for her personal goals. Yet we are learning: grammar, character, plot, story, vocabulary, history, web design, graphic design, and so much more. Being student-led is not sacrificing educational quality, but enhancing it.