As Tapestry teachers, we have bought into the principle that integrated studies multiply learning. We find that it is good for our students to read history and literature, draw maps, do activities, hear music, look at art, and consider worldviews and church history, all from the same time period… and then have a chance to talk and write about what they studied. We’ve seen how integrated learning enriches our students’ lives: in fact, practically every Tapestry alumni that we’ve interviewed has mentioned it!
But did you know that some of us have taken this principle and figured out how to integrate subjects in ways that simplify our lives as teachers? To do this, we use some of our materials not quite as originally intended! Gasp!
For example, coming up with your own dictation sentences can be an extra chore. So, Michelle gets her dictation for Lower Grammar and Upper Grammar students from our Evaluations package. That’s right! She uses quiz questions and answers to help her students work on writing (though sometimes, she says, she needs to simplify them). Students at the lower learning levels don’t necessarily need weekly quizzes, but they do need dictation exercises. One could even use the time spent giving dictation to serve as a little review of what was learned that week, too. What a great “misuse” of materials!
Tapestry teacher Jessica does something similar. Pageant of Philosophy scripts serve for “read aloud” and for dictation exercises in her home (presumably for Dialectic students). This solves three problems at once (how to do Philosophy, do read aloud, and get dictation sentences) and it doesn’t cost her a dime extra, because the Pageant comes with Tapestry!
Melissa sometimes chooses an assigned Literature book to read aloud instead of adding the extra suggested one. She says she hears from other parent-teachers that our read-aloud selections are “awesome,” but for her homeschool, it’s better to have fewer books and get to all the Literature reading. She understand the principle and is making an intentional detour, but it’s still getting her to the same place: integration of History and Literature. Also, she hasn’t cut all the read-aloud options: just some of them. She is making a small detour that works well for her journey. Good job, Melissa!
Leah discovered the same misuse of materials as Melissa, but she added a couple of twists. For some read aloud options, she uses audio books with her younger children (incidentally switching the modality from visual to auditory, which is a great variation). Also, she sometimes uses audio versions for her Dialectic students’ Literature assignments. She says this makes it more like theater for them. Again, Leah doesn’t do this with every assignment, but such small course corrections can bring a freshness to the homeschool day.
Last but not least, Jennifer shared with us one of the best and fastest-growing misuses of Tapestry materials–she stole her husband’s copy of Pop Quiz! Jennifer uses the Pop Quiz audio overview as a preview for her students at the beginning of the week. I’ve also heard of other parent-teachers use it as a review at the end of the week. Alternatively, Pop Quiz makes a great cheat sheet for the busy teacher who can listen while driving but has trouble making time to read history background information. That is a fantastic way to misuse materials, because it still gets us to a destination: learning about and loving History!
So you see, even though we’ve been talking tongue-in-cheek about “misusing” materials, what we really should have said is that these ladies are “repurposing” them or “creatively applying” them. Having understood where they want to wind up on the map, they are taking detours and shortcuts that still get them there. We think that’s excellent!