Rules for the dance

~ Reading Journal ~

Notes from my Reading Journal…..

3-2-12 Have a free day today, so I am indulging in a mini read-a-thon. From 10:30 to 3:30 I hope to read as much as I can and get caught up on some partially read books.

10:40 Reading: Rules for the Dance by Mary Oliver
started pg24….
Finished chapter 3 and there was just too much poetry structure info all at once; I can’t even absorb it all.
End pg 29

10:50 Taking a break to open my mail which includes my new math book from The Art of Problem Solving…
Holy mother, that is a big algebra book!
After flipping through: I’m going to love this math book. It gives a full explanation backed up with mathematical rules, rather than just saying: This is how you solve the problem..the end.
Instead is says: This is how you solve because X and Y and here again in Z.

11:00 Okay back to poetry book. Goal to read ch. 4 & 5
start pg 29, ch. 4 Design: Line length
Re: line length in poetry “What works, works for profound and understandable reasons.”

11:12 End ch. 4
Oliver’s favorite line length is the pentameter because it is the perfect length to contain a thought without leaving the reader out of breath.

11:20 Ch. 5 Design Rhyme
Punctuation is used at the end of a line that forms a complete thought. Or mid-line when the poet wants you to hesitate, ” to verify and intensify that pause”.
Seems obvious but I had not purposely thought about that before. Some lines are so short yet include a comma at the end..Is this a complete thought masked in few words?

‘A true rhyme leaves a sense of cheerfulness and resolution. A slant or off-rhyme feels darkened and disturbed by complexity.’ See Emily Dickinson for ex. of latter.

Re: the complete thought punctuation, Oliver was referring specifically to the Heroic couplet. So must evaluate other poem styles on an individual basis, if the punctuation is meant to illustrate a complete thought (or simply rhythm?)

11:45 end pg 56 thru ch. 7
I could probably finish Rules of the Dance quickly if I stick to reading it in the AM; instead of the afternoon when I am wore out.

Have Byron’s So, We’ll go no more a roving stuck in my head now.

So we’ll go no more a-roving
So late into the night,
Though the heart be still as loving,
And the moon be still as bright.

For the sword outwears its sheath,
And the soul wears out the breast,
And the heart must pause to breathe,
And love itself have rest.

Though the night was made for loving,
And the day returns too soon,
Yet we’ll go no more a-roving
By the light of the moon.

Break for lunch
Meanwhile googled Byron’s poem, Wiki describes as “the fatigue of age conquering the restlessness of youth”.
I initially thought of the poem as being about two lovers, exhausted after the first flush of falling in love. I can see how it is also about an individual or group of friends wearing out their bodies with partying. Could also transfer theme to a higher level of the individual worn out and ready for death. Or the human race wearing out its potential, quickly using up and running out of new possibilities. Floundering through the darkness in search of knowledge and the thrill of discovery but how many things are left to be discovered…

12:30 Am recharged after lunch and a pop-tart ;)
Reading: Knowing and Teaching Elementary Math. Start pg 9
Would like to at least finish the chapter, maybe 2.

Reading about teaching double digit subtraction with borrowing. I love the Chinese teacher’s term of “composing and decomposing’ (composing 10 ones into 1 ten and alternately breaking or decomposing back into ones) vs the term borrowing. Because “it is fundamental to a variety of math computations” vs a lone idea.
Chinese teachers also emphasize “the rate for composing a higher value unit” i.e 10 ones composes 1 ten, 10 tens composes 1 hundred, etc. A good term to teach because it applies to all higher #s but is there a better way to phrase it? Composing, rate, and higher value are an intimidating list of words for a child.

1:10 end on pg 23
Very interested in this book but taking a reading break. That Benadryl from earlier today is putting me into a comma. I only took half a children’s benadryl and still in a daze.

1:30 Reading The Tenant of Wildfell Hall pg 679 on ipad

2:15 Finished Wildfell Hall
Have to get up and move around a bit; am become one with the couch.

Re: WildFell Hall. I read the short intro after finishing the book and it kind of pissed me off. I was reading the free Gutenberg edition, so I don’t know who wrote the intro or when; but the author of it basically states that Charlotte and Emily Bronte were much more talented than “poor Anne” because they took the pains of life and transformed them into something entirely new and distant from reality, into Art. I can see that, I love Charlotte and especially Emily, but the author goes on to say that clearly Anne is not at her sisters’ level because she merely presents reality as it is. There is no transformation.
I do not think Anne was any less talented than her sisters, she just had a different style. Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights have a distinct fairy tale or fable quality about them. Anne’s Wildfell Hall could easily become fable-tastic but Anne stresses in her own intro that this is reality. That there are people making these errors every day and she hopes to save them from romanticized character flaws. So it is not that Anne cannot achieve the level of fairy tale, she does not want to. Anne Bronte was a realist and that is not a fault. We could even say Anne was more progressive and daring than her sisters since, besides Dickens, few English authors were writing in the realist style when Wildfell Hall was published.

3:00 Time to start my algebra textbook

Okay the very first problem has me banging my head against the wall. And, it’s not even an algebra problem! It is just a brain warm up, the 24 game. Make 24 total using each of the following #s: 1,6,7,4.
Use addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division. Each # must be used once and only once to equal 24.
So I fail after about 15mins and look up the answer. How did I not think of that combo!? eeeeedeee-it.

Leaving to pick up my Dd from school. Mentally taking the next 24 game with me, #s 22, 23, 1, 1

Good news, I was able to solve the second 24 game problem, it was a pretty easy one. Nice to know I am not completely brain dead after all. It’s hard working that left side of the brain when you normally never use it! Well I guess I do, since I analyze parts, make lists, and am typically logical. But that’s all with words, numbers are a whole ‘nother game.

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.