And so we’ve joined the growing ranks of dyslexic Kindlers

I wrote the following to post in the comment area of a home educator who had recently gone Kindle. But then I couldn’t get the board to accept my comment so I decided to just post it here. Why couldn’t I get my comment to post? Because I got caught up talking with H.o.p. about all kinds of things and then I also did my yoga. I had the comment ready to post all that time but, being dyslexic, I tend to take a while to sculpt a comment and I like to write it and return to it to make sure it reads as I want and that I haven’t left out words or mixed them up, which I will often times do when commenting (though I rarely comment anywhere). So, when I finally had the comment ready to post…well, the page said I had timed out and refreshing didn’t help.

So, we finally went Kindle. Of course, there are a variety of e-readers out there and we looked at Nook readers but ultimately went Kindle. Tit for tat in way. I saw many reasons to go with the Nook as well.

H.o.p. is a very visual kind of guy, and I’ve posted here before that we’re dyslexic around here. H.o.p. is. His dad isn’t. I am. Our dyslexia works in some very similar but also different ways. As of yet, H.o.p. doesn’t get as much out of long selections of text (like books) if he reads them on his own, and he doesn’t get as much out of a book if I simply read it to him. I’m not saying he won’t enjoy and get the story–he will–but I want him to see the text in conjunction with hearing it.

If we’re both reading the book at the same time, to each other, we have rewarding discussions, and I like using novels etc. as a launch pad for learning, exploring a number of different subjects in a linking manner.

With each of us having our own Kindle tablets we are able to share books that we purchase on it, not to mention also share all those books we get for free that are out of copyright. There are many, many titles out of copyright I’m hoping to cover over the next few years, and that these are free for e-book was attractive. We could also read them on the computer–which I’ve done many times–but that would mean being tied to the computer and the Kindle is a friendlier experience. I did not want to have to go through the trouble and expense of purchasing two of each book at a used book store.

With a physical book my son would have to go to the dictionary to look up words he didn’t understand, which he wouldn’t do on his own, and which meant breaking flow. With a Kindle, you tap on a word and the definition comes up right there on the screen, then you tap the definition away and go right back to reading. Less break in the flow. Much less break in the flow for him as a dyslexic reader.

I have the Kindle Fire version (he has the touch screen e-ink model) and when we have questions about things the writer is referencing that we don’t understand (which can happen regularly with pre twentieth century lit, many references that are peculiar to the day, more peculiar terms and people mentioned that 19th century readers would get and we may not) then I can tap to go to Wikipedia or Google and look up the subject and then tap my back button and go right back to the book.

It was a major financial investment for us to get two Kindle tablets, but I went with the Fire and got my son the touch screen e-ink version. Two Fires were just too expensive for us. Also, I didn’t want my son to get into the gaming aspect on it. He has other platforms that he uses for games, and I would prefer, right now, to keep the Kindle distinct as a reading experience for him. And he is fine with that. He loves the look of his Kindle and finds it very easy to read.

Which is another reason I decided it was time to go Kindle–my son has an easier time reading off a screen. Reading on the Kindle is easier for him, being able to work with the text to suit him, and I noticed immediately that he doesn’t lose his place near as often, and when he does lose his place it is easier for him to find where he was. When he needs to, when reading on his own, he sometimes uses text-to-speech. He used to use text-to-speech when reading on his computer, but he has over the past two years moved past that and now uses it rarely, though he is always information harvesting on his computer. But reading on the computer, such as on Wikipedia, is in shorter bursts. The Kindle has text-to-speech capability, so when I’m not reading with him, and he feels he needs it the capability is at least there.

Seeing how he likes reading off the Kindle, I’m feeling rather bad I didn’t make the move to Kindle before now, because I have long been aware that he has an easier time reading on the computer screen. But I wasn’t aware that Kindle did text-to speech. And wasn’t aware that an e-ink reader would be that comfortable for him to read on. And I wasn’t aware of some other features.

We’ve read “The Time Machine” and are now reading “A Christmas Carole”. Ironically, we will be tying ourselves to the computer as well as our Kindles tomorrow. Why? Well, sometimes reading out loud isn’t very easy with my dyslexia. What I can read silently I can have a difficult time translating to speech. And I’m admittedly having trouble with reading “A Christmas Carole” aloud while H.o.p. follows along. I looked up audio books on Youtube and found a nice series of “A Christmas Carole” as an audio book. So we will be reading while listening to Youtube, and will be stopping to look up words and discuss.

I may write something on “The Time Machine”, which we greatly enjoyed.

A Real Live Film in Our Back Yard

Some people from the university are shooting a film out back of the building for a couple of days. We asked if it was all right for H.o.p. to watch. So, that’s what H.o.p. did all day. Tonight he asked for a clapboard.

I thought it would be good experience for him to watch and get an idea of what making a film was like as he’s so interested in films.

We don’t like least common multiples

H.o.p. was relating to me one of his stories today (as he does everyday) and my ears lit up as he started talking about his cartoon characters undergoing a “dimension paradox” but I’m not supposed to post the details because he wants to keep it a surprise. I think I can relate it involves a black hole. (And a couple hours earlier he had been melting down at the prospect of trying to comprehend least common multiples, which also used to blow out my brain as a kid, and I have to say that never as an adult have I had to face lemon pies cut into 16, 12 and 31 pieces and deal with LCM thereof.)

Preparations

Have been getting all our online curriculum/study aid subscriptions up to date, signed up for the zoo classes, and just finished ordering a slew of books. The way we schedule schooling, we’ve always begun immediately after Labor Day as opposed to August. But I’ve started prepping H.o.p. for the idea of returning to his studies. (Personally, I wouldn’t mind if we instead started back August 10th this year.)

In Which H.o.p. Corrects Me

“Oh, no, that’s real world violence. I don’t want to see any real world violence, it’s too scary,” says H.o.p., glimpsing a video of protests in Iran. So I explain to him what it’s about and that it doesn’t show anything extreme. I give some historical context but also accidentally misreferenced on a significant point.

And H.o.p. corrected me.

Not that it takes much wherewithal to be able to correct me on a point, but my eleven-year-old son correcting me when we’re talking about Iran? Yes! Good show! Thank you! Makes me proud.

Grasping any and all opportunities when I can, we discussed news via social networking (Twitter/Facebook/Youtube etc.) and I pulled out our big world Morepolitical/geographical map which is too big for us to tack up on a wall so I keep it in a corner next to my desk and unroll it and spread it out on the floor for discussions.

Then when we’re done I give him a big hug because I’m still euphoric over his correcting me.

And then he goes back to playing with his Sonic figures.

* * * * * * * *

Following the situation in Iran on Twitter. Twitter recognizes the role it’s playing and has postponed scheduled maintenance

H.o.p. Discovers Scratch

I never anticipated trying to help my son make a computer game. Teaching him Photoshop, helping with animation programs etc., yes. But a computer game??? He’s working in MIT’s Scratch and I haven’t a clue.

More and more poses (called costumes) he makes. And sprites. And backgrounds. Eventually he’s going to be serious when he says he wants to add actions.

Am loading him up with video tutorials.

My 11 year old’s version of a science experiment

There is glass full of green goo on H.o.p.’s desk. He calls it “an experiment”. A bendie straw is stuck in it. And I think to myself that the next time he brings me a glass of chocolate milk as a nice surprise, I might want to think twice before drinking it.

(P.S. I allowed this to remain around for several months. We finally dumped it some time in July.)

In Which I get Justice John G. Roberts’ Number Pegged

I was reading on another blog a post asking if readers’ kids had watched the inauguration and events at school. The most common reply was yes, they’d taken a 1/2 hour out of studies and they saw nothing wrong with it as it’s history.

A half hour? Hell, we took the whole day. We started watching at 9:20 a.m., all three of us squished together in the bed. And we talked about everything.

As Justice Roberts took the stage, before he began I considered how he must feel about this, how he might feel about swearing in Obama, and I said out loud, “Choke on it, Roberts.”

Then I felt immediately kind of bad that I’d said it and wished I hadn’t.

And then he did choke on it.

The First Emperor Exhibit

Not only did we hit the King Tut exhibit at the Civic Center last Friday, the Wednesday before we visited The First Emperor, China’s Terracotta Army exhibit at the High. Again, no photos permitted so I’ve none to offer. At the link there are videos which we’ll no doubt spend time watching over the coming couple of weeks, including a 9 part documentary series on the first emperor.

I’ve not really much to say about it other than the figures were impressive but it’s the masses of them that are so remarkable, whereas the two colossal figures bookending the King Tut exhibit had in themselves a sense of presence that hooked one to the floor.

I’d not realized that 100 rivers made of mercury formed a part of Qin Shi Huangdi’s necropolis.

Mercury.

Well, how’s that for uninformative. You could learn that anywhere else on the internet.

If I was a school child and having to submit a report, I’d write:

“I found most interesting the statue of the strong man. It was especially interesting because a really big Chinese man built exactly the same was standing right in front of the big statue of the strong man looking at it. It was like the individual on whom the mold was based had been reincarnated in much the same form, a form he apparently liked, and dropped by for a visit but seemed unaware that this was his portrait that he had been magnetically drawn to across the centuries to finally stand in front of himself in Atlanta, Georgia.”

As soon as I placed my last punctuation mark above, my son started talking about reincarnation.

While I was seated on a bench, looking down the room at the strong man and the large man standing in front of it, I noticed another man nearby and took note of how his jeans hung on his frame and it popped to my mind, “That could be my brother, their jeans hang on each other in much the same way.”

I never think about my brother and his jeans. I wondered, at the time, how this would pop to mind.

He looked in no other way like my brother.

Then I sat and stared at one of the terra cotta horses.

Then about a minute later I looked back at the strong man (people seemed to like the strong man and were drawn to it and would stand in front of it a long time) and there, unexpectedly, was my brother and his wife now walking in that direction, who live in Georgia but don’t live in Atlanta and I’ve never unexpectedly run into them in town. I sprinted over and they said they’d just purchased a membership to the museum, anticipating going there the coming year with visiting Chinese friends (they have several children they’ve adopted from China). My sister-in-law had already been to see the terra cotta army in China and because of this wasn’t greatly impressed. They had been to the King Tut exhibit as well and my sister-in-law had liked that but my brother had preferred his time loitering around the Egyptian section in the British Museum.

I’m not very well traveled outside of wandering the US interstates and some of the back roads. I’ve not been to China. I’ve not even been to the UK so I’ve not been to the British Museum.

I have been to the New York Metro Museum of Art and they have a great Egyptian section in which I could spend weeks, but its virtues are not the same as the King Tut exhibit and I enjoyed them both.

Anyway, I’ve tried my best to think of something interesting to write and all I can think about is all that mercury. And the strong man.

Oh, and the horses. The terra cotta horses were wonderful. Someone ought to make a merry-go-round.

I dreamed all night about going to China. One of those anxiety dreams where you realize you are going somewhere but you aren’t prepared and it just goes downhilll from there. And then when I wasn’t dreaming about getting ready to go to China, I was dreaming about going to the King Tut exhibit again, only it turned out there were two exhibits and this time they sent us to the left, into an exhibit that turned out just to have pictures of the artifacts.