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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Home Learning WWI/American History

We are doing a unit in American History this week on World War I. Although we use a "spine"text, Christ and the Americas,we always add in some historical fiction , movies, and whatever we can get our hands on. The local teacher's store had a little booklet on WWI that was a terrific supplement with lots of main ideas and basic facts. From there, we took off on a poetry tangent spurred by my own highschool memory of "Dulce Et Decorum Est" by Wilfred Owen. This rabbit trail led us back to Horatius, Jesse Pope"the poetess" to whom Owen's poem was written, and a handful of other WWI poetry.
We also have a new favorite movie to add to the list of Daniel Boone, Little House, and Princess Bride: Sergeant York. I had forgotten how dreamy Gary Cooper is! The oldest dd, home from college, started singing "Puttin' On the Ritz" (tryin' hard to look like Gary Cooper - super dooper!"). In the middle of all the war talk, ds1 remembered "O Captain, My Captain" from her dreaded English class and off we went on the poetic devices used in that poem.

Coincidentally, ds2 was looking at a Draw. Write. Now picture of Abe Lincoln as a boy. Usually I provide the lead with art practice. I follow the instructions in the text to create a picture and then someone sees it, likes it, and does their own picture. If it becomes popular, someone else might also try it. Then again, there are time that it falls flat. Mine is the only colored- pencil line drawing of the flag posted on the bulletin board! We haven't said the Pledge of Allegiance daily since year 1, so I really needed this reminder to teach it to the younger ones.

We may never do a WWI unit exactly like it, but it has been a good week so far.


Sweetums5 said...

Hi Michelle,

Sounds like you had a great week w/ those wonderful drawings, rabbit trails & Gary Cooper! (Yes, he IS a dreamboat, LOL!) I love reading about all the natural learning that goes on in other homeschools. Will add your blog to my blog list. =)



kkollwitz said...

How often does WW1 come up in blogdom? I well remember my wife homeschooling one of our boys on the Triple Alliance and the Triple Entente.

I posted recently on the same subject:

MommaDunne said...

I am eager to share your recent blog post with my 9th grader. Thanks for the link. I'll be loading some Debussey ont o my ipod tomorrow to finish off WWI before we roar into the twenties.

kkollwitz said...

There's a lovely song which springs from WW1 called "Jerusalem," which may appeal more to a 9th grader than Debussy. It's become an unofficial anthem of England, and is dear to many a British heart. Here's my favorite version on YouTube:

Your son will probably like the manly, heroic lyrics as well:

Bring me my Bow of burning gold;
Bring me my Arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!

I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:
Till we have built Jerusalem,
In Englands green & pleasant Land

Of course that's where the movie 'Chariots of Fire' got its name. You may remember the movie took place just after the war, and in an early scene a congregation sings 'Jerusalem.'

The history behind the song and the Great War is worth knowing as well:

"The poem, [by William Blake] which was little known during the century which followed its writing, was included in a patriotic anthology of verse published in 1916, a time when morale had begun to decline due to the high number of casualties in World War I and the perception that there was no end in sight."

quoted from:

Actually I discovered the song on an Emerson Lake & Palmer album when I was a kid. I still like their version, but it's not on YouTube.

And last of all, here's a great video of an audience having a fine time at the Last Night at the Proms, an annual music extravaganza in the Royal Albert Hall in London. I think it always closes with Jerusalem.