Sunday, February 22, 2009

See Shakespeare's Plays in a Whole New Way

If your kids are into graphic novels, check out Classical Comics. Not only are they real, unabridged classics in graphic novel format, but they also come in original text (for example, Shakespearean English), plain text (modern English) and quick text (~elementary reading level modern English) so differentiation is a breeze.

I think the graphic novel format is perfect for Shakespeare's plays, which are much more understandable when performed than when read. The teacher's guides are designed for British schools Key Stages 2 and 3, which correspond roughly with late elementary and middle school in the states. They include activities, quizzes, and tests with copyable black line masters and answer keys.

We're using Henry V right now--original text for my reader and plain text for my non-reader, although I have to say the plain text is helpful even for advanced readers. I never really understood what the Archibishop's arguments in favor of war with France were until I read the plain text version, and I've read the play at least twice and seen the movie a half dozen times. The plain text also preserves Shakespeare's language where possible, so I don't think using that exclusively would ruin the educational experience.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

For Language Learning, Check Rosetta Stone

We've used Rosetta Stone in a number of languages over the past few years. Klaus tried to use it for homeschooling Japanese three years ago. It was a failure. We couldn't tell what he had completed and it seemed he was making no progress, even after spending several hours. Because of that, and the expense, and the fact that they didn't offer Irish, we tried Pimsleur and a number of other language learning products for Xavier last year.

They weren't very helpful, either.

Now, it seems, Rosetta Stone has realized that with some parental/teacher support, they can make their product well worth the expense. The homeschool edition offers reports for parents "suitable for adding to an education portfolio." All of their languages seem to be offered in this new homeschool version, including Irish.

Click here for an excellent, detailed explanation of what each package offers, courtesy of

Rosetta Stone itself is offering a $100 off deal, but you can also check out the group buy from the Homeschool Buyer's Co-op.