Home School Online

Homeschooling Online – Together At Home!


Podcasts About Obscure & Poorly Understood History

To stay in shape, I ride my bike and I go to the gym.  At the gym, I often wear earbuds and listen to podcasts, often TED talks.  On my bike, for safety, I only wear one earbud and I also listen to podcasts.

Today, I listened to a series of podcasts by Malcolm Gladwell and Panoply Media. It’s a ten week series with this being the 3rd week. I liked them but don’t love them.

The first podcast that I listened to featured Wilt Chamberlin, one the greatest US basketball player. It’s not really about basketball, it’s about how peer pressure and the mob mentality works.  In a clever and entertaining fashion, the podcast sets up the fact that Wilt’s achilles heel as a player was his foul shooting. And a weak foul shooter cannot be the goto guy in a tight game at a critical moment since the defense will just foul, watch him miss the foul shots, and then get the ball back.  In modern times, Shaq had the same problem.  The solution of course is to learn to shoot better foul shots. At one point in his career, Wilt changed his style and started shooting brilliantly and consistently.  But then, for no reason other than peer pressure, he changed back. The question can also be put this way: Is it better to shoot foul shots underhand (“granny-style”) and be a high percentage shooter, or to be like everyone else and shoot the macho over-the-head low percentage style.

It’s a fascinating question. He discusses it in many ways but he leaves out the counter arguments which sort of annoy me. I think there’s a case for it to be easier for someone to train only one way to shoot, always overhand, rather than two different ways. Or to say that this is a historical point since in the modern NBA, the foul shooting percentage is now way up. It’s between 69% and 81%.


Homeschoolers: How to celebrate the 4th of July?

Here’s an interesting question.  Should real or mythical American history be taught to K12 students? It’s a great discussion for the 4th because it turns the usual range of political questions on their head.  Here’s some ways of framing the question:

USA: Land of the Free

USA: Land of the Free

  1. In Russia, China, and maybe even in France, they teach their history in a way that makes them sound glorious and very heroic with no mistakes ever made.  It’s not history, it’s self-glorification and propaganda. I’m delighted to live in the Land of the Free where when I read a history book, I know it’s not controlled by bureaucrats and politicians, it’s by independent historical scholars writing it the way they see it. Wouldn’t you agree? Here’s a trivia question, what states in the US lead in terms of their legislature trying to legislate what should be taught in K12 history textbooks?
  2.   What information is commonly taught in K12 which you believe to be inaccurate and which has been inserted into American history for some political or other purpose?
  3. Who do you think is the biggest obstacle to telling real US History: The Federal or State Governments? (Hint, remember that states control curriculum, standards, and the schools in their state).
  4. Why do US history professors at universities all seem to think that the history taught in K12 is basically propoganda?

Read More


Spelling Word List Enhance on SpellingCity

VocabularySpellingCity has just added pages with more complete spelling lists per grade.  These are available to both their premium (ie paid) and free users.

Here for example is the content for the first grade word lists:

In first grade spelling, students should demonstrate command of words with common spelling patterns and frequently used irregular words, as well as grade-level sight words. They should be able to apply grade-level phonics to decode one- and two-syllable words. They should understand standard grammar. They should be able to use verbs to convey past, present, and future, and frequently occurring nouns, adjectives, and prepositions.
The word lists include compound words, frequently confused words, lots of sight words, general purpose vocabulary, academic vocabulary, and domain vocabulary


For High School spelling and vocabulary, students should be able to analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (such as how the language evokes a sense of time and place or how it sets a formal or informal tone); they should be able to use language that is particularly fresh and engaging. They should demonstrate command of grammar and usage, correctly use patterns of word changes that indicate different meanings or parts of speech (analyze, analysis, analytical; advocate, advocacy), and see how meaning of key terms are used and refined in texts. They should be able to use precise words, details, and sensory language, and understand how language functions in different contexts to make effective choices for meaning or style. They should be able to correctly use patterns of word changes to indicate different meanings or parts of speech (conceive, conception, conceivable) and interpret figures of speech such as hyperbole and paradox in context.