Michael clay thompson

Caesar’s English Classic Edition

In case you were wondering what I was on about yesterday with my “MCT loot”, MCT stands for Michael Clay Thompson, author of an amazing language arts curriculum sold by Royal Fireworks Press. I’ve mention MCT before in my chatter about the books Building Language and Music of the Hemispheres (the poetry book). Building Language teaches children Latin stems, Dd and I are about half way through that book. The second book in the Latin stems series is Caersar’s English I. I just had the brand new Classical Education edition delivered yesterday and let me tell you, it is so BEAUTIFUL.

If you don’t have children and you’re starting to wonder why you should read this post lol, maybe you don’t want to. BUT, I don’t know….maybe you do. These books are so amazing. I think ANY adult who loves language would get a kick out of them and learn quite a bit.

MCT’s belief is that we should not dumb down language for children and the books certainly reflect that. I believe CE-1 is aimed at gifted 4rth graders or 5th grade students. The vocab in the books though, ranges from 4rth grade words like: Vivid and Vex to SAT or at least high school level words like: Prodigious and Superannuated.

Since I read a ton, I am pretty familiar with most of the vocab in Caesar’s English but I’ll completely admit, I can easily decipher in context but that is not the same as internalizing these words and using them in every day conversation. The lessons in CE are not your standard open the workbook and fill out the answers. It is 99% Socratic discussion. It is about sitting together, child and teacher, going over each part of the book slowly and talking about it in depth.

Each chapter is a lesson in either 5 Latin stems or 5 vocab words (the book alternates). The stems or vocab are taught with historical context, through poetry, and, my favorite, via quotes from classic literature. It is so cool to flip through the book and see quote after quote from my favorite books and favorite authors. Emily Bronte, Jane Austen, Herman Melville, etc, etc. I flipped through the book briefly with my dd and she found the quotes exciting as well. Whenever she came across a familiar author she had to run to the bookshelf and pull out her Kid’s classic version of that author and present it with an “ahhhhhh” like an angel descending from heaven sound effect lol.

Here is a list of the info and exercises included in each chapter of Caesar’s English classic edition.
Odd Chapters:
5 Latin Stems- with detailed definition and 3 sample words each including the stem
Non-Fiction words- more advanced vocab using the 5 stems
Caesar’s Analogies- Classic this is to that, as this is to that. 2 analogies for students to solve
Caesar’s Spanish- the 5 stems in use in Spanish. Illustrates similarities between Spanish and English
Caesar’s Word Search- Classic word search. The only consumable, must be filled in in the student book exercise.
Caesar’s Grammer- Sentences to diagram with the parts of speech, includes stems in action
Poem- with historical Roman focus. Facing page includes the same poem in Spanish with stem words in bold.
Essay- on Roman history with facing map

Even Chapters:
Classic Words: 5 vocab words varied in difficulty
Quotes from Classic Literature- 4 to 5 classic lit excerpts PER vocab word.
Who is that Writer- Biographical info on one of the authors featured.
Caesar’s Math- Roman numerals explained with exercises to translate Roman numerals into numbers and vice versa.
Word Search—see above
Spanish- Vocab list shown in Latin:English:Spanish
Caesar’s Synonyms- 5 synonyms for each vocab word given, discuss the differences.
Caesar’s Rewrites- Rewrite the classic lit quote in simplified language.
Caesar’s Antonyms- Student must decide and explain their antonym of choice for each word.
Caesar’s Analogies-Poem-Historical Essay- Sentence Diagramming (same as above)
Review stems and classic words

In later chapters and through out:
Even more advanced vocab that contains stems.
Roman facts
Caesar’s Paragraphs- Student asked to write a historical essay on Rome that includes vocab. Requires research.

Also through out the books are beautiful black and white photographs of Roman ruins and Roman art. The sculpture photos in particular are amazing. Although only in black and white, the contrast is just perfect to bring out the “folds” in the stone fabric and facial expressions.

So! What I plan to use these books for right away is for a family vocabulary challenge. I’m going to choose a word or stem each week and write it on a large dry erase board in our kitchen. I’ll include the Word of the Week’s definition, stems or etymology, use it in a sentence, probably also underline the phonemes/phonics. Then the challenge is that each member of the family has to use the word as many times as possible during the week. Whoever comes up with the most or cleverest sentence wins. No real prizes but a big cheer from everybody.

I plan to read the books in their entirety and am looking forward to it! I mentioned I’m a words nerd already, right? After I’ve gone through them I’ll decide which bits to share with dd now and which to save for the future. I imagine we will be using Caesar’s English for several years. Here is the link to the Caesar’s English curriculum if you want to check it out.

Now I find, the more I learn about word stems, the more I want to learn Latin!

Happy mail day: MCT loot

No time to make a decent post today (bummer because I have things to get out of my head!) But I couldn’t resist snapping a pic of my Michael Clay Thompson loot! I can’t wait to flip through these books. They are all about language and what could be better?? Nothing I tell you :D

Learning together: Language and poetry

While I was researching afterschooling curriculum for my daughter, I can across the Michael Clay Thompson language arts program. The MCT level 1 series includes: Grammar Island- an intro into the parts of speech, Building Language- teaches Latin stems, Sentence Island- more details about the eight parts of speech, and Music Hemispheres- an intro to poetry.

The Level 1 series is aimed at 7-9 year olds with lots of silly stories and illustrations. But behind the pretty pictures is a very detailed education in language. I wouldn’t expect Dd to absorbed all the info on the first go round but I like giving her an early intro to be built on later. From the Building Language book..

The goal of this book is, in the most profound way, to give elementary kids the right vocabulary start. We want students to know, from their earliest thinking, that their world is not new, and that they did not come from nowhere

I love that bolded bit, it is something we really try to get across to Dd.

As I looked through the lesson books online, I thought “Damn I want these for myself!” Even as an adult I can see there is much I could learn from these books. The poetry book and the Latin stems look particularly fun.

Here is a sample of what is taught with the program. I love that word supercilious and how funny that it means over hair or raised eyebrow!

And excerpt from the Poetry book

(Opening lines from Percy Shelley’s The Cloud)

I bring fresh showers for the thirsting flowers,
From the seas and the streams;
I bear light shade for the leaves when laid
In their noonday dreams.

So, I love these books. BUT…..Dd and I already have a couple afterschooling books we are working through and I don’t want to add anymore subjects making the whole experience overwhelming.¬†Also, buying the complete Level 1 set is quite expensive. What I think I am going to do is save up and buy it for summer. Perhaps make language arts and poetry our main focus for summer with only a little math and spelling on the side to maintain what Dd has learned. She loves books and has a newly developing love of poetry. The MCT curriculum seems very informal, there is very little workbook work, so I think it will make a nice fit for the school break. We can just pull out the books when she gets bored or at the end of the day when she is burnt out on outdoor play.

Now even though I am holding off on adding any language lessons for Dd until summer, that doesn’t mean I can’t buy a little something for myself, right ;) After all the teacher has to know what she’s on about. I am particularly interested in learning how a poem is built. As it stands, I know nothing about poetry. I can appreciate a pretty sentence but that’s as far as it goes. One of my goals for 2012 was to read more, * cough* some, poetry. I had Byron and Shelley in mind specifically. Plus I wanted to read Paradise Lost this year. It makes sense to do a little preparation so I call appreciate these great poets.

So I went to Amazon in search of an adult lesson in poetry. Several of the books (or even online resources) I found looked very dry. But then I came across Mary Oliver’s Rules for the Dance..

“True ease in writing comes from art, not chance, / As those move easiest who have learn’d to dance,” wrote Alexander Pope. “The dance,” in the case of Oliver’s brief and luminous book, refers to the interwoven pleasures of sound and sense to be found in some of the most celebrated and beautiful poems in the English language, from Shakespeare to Edna St. Vincent Millay to Robert Frost. With a poet’s ear and a poet’s grace of expression, Oliver shows what makes a metrical poem work – and enables readers, as only she can, to “enter the thudding deeps and the rippling shallows of sound-pleasure and rhythm-pleasure that intensify both the poem’s narrative and its ideas.

That sounds lovely!

Now I’ll have you know, I went right to my Ipad in search of an Ebook version. But no go. And none of the other poetry books available as ebooks looked remotely interesting, plus most of them were more expensive. Now I really tried hard not to have to buy another book. Next I went to my library’s website. The LIBRARY even! You see how dedicated I am to not cluttering up my shelves. Going to the library might seem completely natural to you but not so for me. And this case is the perfectly example why, they didn’t have the book.

So what can I do? Fate is forcing my hand. One woman against the universe, etc, etc. I’ll probably order Oliver’s book from B&N with a coupon or look for it at Elliott bookstore on Friday.

In the meantime, if you have any understanding poetry resources, I would love to hear them.