And thank you for taking the time to visit this blog.
MY NAME IS HILL
My name is Hillary Tejada and I follow crooked trails. I love where they take you - over hills, around rocks, though canopies of trees, across bridges or through streams, between rocky "lemon squeezes', down valleys, even into towns. Crooked trails invite you to see more, discover more, take time, explore the side trails. And so crooked trails are a metaphor for my life - and for the way I view education.
My life has been one of going here, going there, trying this, trying that, making some painful mistakes and doubling back and finding a different path. Today is where I am now, and so thankful for what I have - my family, my faith, our adventures over the years - that I wouldn't trade that crooked path for anything. (Parts of it, yes, I wish hadn't happened - but that's real life). Sometimes I envy friends who knew at age three they wanted to be a doctor, made a beeline for that goal, reached their goal and are living out their dream, happy and fulfilled. But I know, and you know, that no one's life is perfectly straight - everyone has some crooked paths along the way. Crooked trails, and mistakes, teach us about ourselves and the world around us. Crooked trails are OK!
That brings me to education. Growing up, I happened to be a straight arrow, straight-A student, and I loved reading, writing and calculating - a teacher's dream. But my children? They all love art, music and people. I learned early on that if our homeschool adventure was going to be a success, I would have to hurl myself out of traditional academics, and into the world of hands-on learning, art and co-ops. It was a lot of work, but it was a good journey - successes and mistakes, curricula that worked and curricula that didn't, hobbies taken up and then abandoned for something else, rewarding, rocky, motivating, messy - crooked trails.
MY PLAN IS THIS
Now, after two decades of homeschooling, my children are graduated. I still tutor and teach classes, and I also finally have time to write this blog. My plan is to share some of the amazing activities and classes we created over the years - in history, art, foreign language, science and math. "We"? That's me and my beloved co-adventurers - my children, some other great parents, and their children. There will be some stuff in this blog you won't find anywhere else - because I am me and not anyone else - a little over-the-top, crazy, disheveled, but also super accurate, wanting to dig deep, wanting to try new things. No papier maché models here - I'd rather find a way to build a real boat, make real Greek black and red pottery, bake the real tooth-breaking hard tack (not the soft modernized version) and see how many months it really lasts before getting real weevils. Of course, there will be activities you may have seen before, but with an unusual Tejada spin on it. And remember, this blog is not just for homeschoolers -- here, there is something for teachers of all kinds! Most of the information you find in these articles will be applicable to home and classroom school.
SECOND LANGUAGES FIRST!
BUT, this year, as captivating as our history and art activities were, first I am focussing on the foreign language section of the blog. Why? BECAUSE in 2015 I stumbled upon a unusually effective and enjoyable method of teaching a foreign language which is much better than any other language teaching tool or curriculum I had ever tried. Unfortunately, 95% of all homeschoolers have not even heard about this method, called TPRS - Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling. I am passionate about TPRS precisely because of my crooked trails - over the years I have taught with many different Spanish curriculum. They were all good in different ways, but TPRS is startlingly great. My students the first year I used TPRS were engaged, eager to converse, eager to read and did great on their finals. Therefore, I have taken the last 6 months to get this blog up and ready, to share what I have learned.
So what is TPRS? TPRS is a method in which you use some simple techniques to create a story with your students during the class hour. This story-creating activity produces a stream of repetitive but interesting, fun, comprehensible input during the class hour. Hearing the language in this "compelling, comprehensible, repetitive" way builds solid, long-lasting proficiency in your students. TPRS is employed in a portion of the classroom schools across the United States and is starting to find its way into Europe and Asia.
My purpose right now is to introduce the homeschool community to TPRS and comprehensible input, and encourage homeschoolers to give it a try. I think it will revolutionize your homeschool classrooms as it did mine, so PLEASE, click on the sidebar and read all about it. Believe me, as a language teacher - a good, creative, compassionate, energetic language teacher - I've tried a lot of teaching methods, and this is better. Even, I dare say, hands down better than the famous family work horse, Rosetta Stone.
But TPRS is not as easy as opening a box and plugging it in - you do have to read about it and learn, or at least understand, the method. So, because I know first-hand how strapped for time homeschool parents are, I've spent the time for you and gathered in one place everything you need to get started with TPRS. Explanations, resources, validity research, media options, links. Have at it!
BACK TO THE FUTURE!
Once the Foreign Language section of my blog is established, I do want to fill up the history, art and other sections of this blog - we made learning come alive in some surprising ways during our 20 years of homeschooling, ways I want to share. Finally, after all that, or maybe before, I'll venture into the area my kids want to me to write about - the whole parenting part, the balancing of life and school, good and bad, heartache and fun. But hey, I'm still a classic nerd, and to be honest, it may take me a while to get up the courage to write about all that people stuff. Maybe I'll take the people part a little at a time. After all, it's easier to reach a mountain peak walking along a crooked trail than climbing straight up. Although the straight up option can be fun sometimes too.
In the meantime, welcome to my blog, and enjoy the crooked journey!