Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wednesday with Words: On Living without Regrets

After finishing Sir Walter Scott’s Waverley last month, I was on the look-out for some lighter but still engaging reading.   After listening to this CiRCE podcast (featuring our own Wednesday with Words host Cindy Rollins!), I decided to give John Buchan’s series The Adventures of Richard Hannay a go.   I have been really enjoying these exciting spy adventures set in World War I.
This quote comes from the second book in the series, Greenmantle, towards the end when our group of heroes is trapped and presume there is no way of escape.   These are the thoughts of Mr Hannay as he considers his impending doom:
“I fancy it isn’t the men who get the most out of the world and are always buoyant and cheerful that most fear to die.  Rather it is the weak-engined souls who go about with dull eyes, that cling most fiercely to life.  They have not the joy of being alive which is a kind of earnest of immortality…I know that my thoughts were chiefly about the jolly things that I had seen and done; not regret, but gratitude.  The panorama of blue moons on the veld unrolled itself before me, and hunter’s nights in the busy, the taste of food and sleep, the bitter stimulus of dawn, the joy of wild adventure, the voices of old staunch friends.  Hitherto the war had seemed to make a break with all that had gone before, but now the war was only part of the picture.  I thought of my battalion, and of the good fellows there, many of whom had fallen on the Loos parapets.  I had never looked to come out of that myself.  But I had been spared, and given the chance of greater business, and I had succeeded.  That was the tremendous  fact, and my mood was humble gratitude to God and exultant pride.  Death was a small price to pay for it. As Blenkiron would have said, I had got good value in the deal.”
~Richard Hannay in Greenmantle by John Buchan
I only hope that when I come to the end of my life I can look back with joy and gratitude on the experiences I have had the privilege to have and the way God has worked in my life rather than with regrets of things left undone and opportunities missed.
(Oh, and what happens to our heroes?  That I cannot tell you.  You’ll just have to go check it out for yourself. J)

Monday, November 25, 2013

My Ambleside Online Planning Process: Year by Year

As I am currently in the thick of preparing to begin Ambleside Online Year 2 after the first of the year, I thought this might be an appropriate time to begin a little series on how I approach planning and scheduling AO in our home.  I am one of those planning geeks who enjoys going through the planning process, and this is one of the reasons that I don’t care for boxed curriculums with a scripted teacher’s manual.  But, I realize that for many people,  taking the booklist and schedule that Ambleside provides and then trying to translate that into what happens in your home day-by-day can be overwhelming.   I hope that outlining my process for you may be helpful for those who find planning for AO a little overwhelming.
As an aside: I won’t really be talking about this is this series, but using Ambleside also carries the understanding that you are making an effort to educate yourself in the philosophy and methods that Charlotte Mason espoused.  Ambleside is so much more than just a booklist!  If you aren’t familiar with CM methods, do be sure to check out the Charlotte Mason resources tab to the right.
Over the next couple of weeks, I hope to share my nitty-gritty planning process:
Year by Year
Term by Term
Week by Week
Day by Day
Let’s start with my big picture planning for the year:
A good 9-12 months ahead of time I:
  • Look over the Ambleside Booklist for the Year(s) in question, including free reads.
  • Consider any changes, additions, or substitutions I may want to make. (I find it helpful to check other people's comments and experiences with various books at the AO Forum, especially for those that may be unfamiliar to me.)
  • Check the Ambleside rotations for picture study, composer study, and folk songs. (If you have children in Year 4 or older, check the Shakespeare and Plutarch rotations too.)
  • Consider any other curriculum needs that we have (math, language arts, supplementary books, art supplies, etc).
  • Check to see what books and materials I already own either as hardcopies or digitally.
  • Check to see what books and materials (including music and free reads) are available digitally. 
  • Purchase any hardcopy books and materials we need and arrange to have them shipped to us in Africa.
 This last item is the main reason I start so far ahead of time – it can take months for packages to reach us.  (The most reliable shipping method is by sea!)  I want to be sure that we receive all our books and materials in ample time for me to finish the planning process before the start of our new year.   If you live in the world of Amazon Prime, you can probably wait until a little closer to the start of your new year to begin this planning process. J
In the following months, I:
  • Purchase and download any digital items needed (music, ebooks, maps, paintings for art study, etc.)
  • Review books and materials we will be using – this may involve skimming and/or pre-reading and researching ideas others have shared about how they used the books on the Forum.
  • Divide books and materials into three categories: things we will do as a group, things that I will do one-on-one with each individual student, and things I will have the student tackle independently. (These lists will be used to make my checklists once we get to Term planning).
  • I also divide the free-reads (both Ambleside’s suggestions and other books I have chosen) into a family read-aloud list and an independent free-reading list for each child who can read independently. 
Part of  our list of family-read-aloud choices for this past year. Many of our books are on the Kindle, so this is our virtual ‘bookshelf’ for the children to choose from, if you will.   I like to snag the cover art off of Amazon to put on the list so the kids can scan their choices the same way they would on a real bookcase.
  • For any subjects I am changing or adding in on my own, I make a plan to work these into the Ambleside weekly schedules.  For example, this coming year we are planning to follow our own schedule for Bible study rather than using the Bible readings scheduled for Year 2.  So, I will divide up the readings and any supplementary materials week by week so they will be ready to plug into my term checklists.  Same thing for the mapwork on Europe that I am planning to add in.
 I don’t do these things all at once,  I pick at them as I feel inspired and have a spare moment or two.   I do like to have them done at least a month or so before the first term starts so that I am ready to sit down and do my nitty-gritty term planning.
But that is for next time. J

Friday, November 22, 2013

Poetic Knowledge and Charlotte Mason

Last week, I made an attempt to explain the idea of poetic knowledge.  I’d encourage you to go back and read that now, since it will help shed light on what I want to talk about today.
Did ya read it?   Good.
At the end, I began to ponder how we can rightly lay the foundation of poetic knowledge for our children.   I believe that one possible answer may lie in embracing Charlotte Mason’s philosophy of education.   Just take a look at how some of the foundational Charlotte Mason practices line up with Taylor’s comments on the practical application of poetic knowledge:
Using Living Books and Source Documents:
“Historically important dates and names are not only necessary to know when learning history, but for students these can also be enjoyable, if those precise things are left embedded in the stories of history.  With older students, reading the histories written by the makers of history…gives an immediacy to the subject and deepens the vicarious experience of the events.  In either case, textbooks of history should be avoided, for these are far too abstract for young minds, books about books, usually, that merely summarize events.” (Poetic Knowledge, p.169)
Nature Study:
“When a flower is taken apart and examined as pistil, stamen, stem, and petals, each part is seen exactly and a certain curiosity is indeed satisfied; however, curiosity is not wonder, the former being the itch to take apart, the latter to gaze on things as they are.  Curiosity belongs to the scientific impulse and would strive to dominate nature; whereas, wonder is poetic   is content to view things in their wholeness and full context, to pretty much leave them alone.  Stated as simply as possible, science sees knowledge as power; poetic knowledge is admiratio, love.   In other words, take the students outside, regularly, and turn even a backyard into a laboratory of the open fields.  Once again, textbooks at this level are a burden, they get between the student and the things of admiration.  Let them make their own notes and pictures, poems and stories, about what they have seen.  Biology is the observation of living things, not dead things.” (Poetic Knowledge, p.169)
James Taylor doesn’t actually mention narration in Poetic Knowledge, but in the readings for the study of the narration principles I saw some glimpses of this idea as well.  Take for example this:
It isn’t enough to know the “fact” but it must become part of our own personal experience.  The scene or story are intimately interconnected with us.  It has changed us physically (literally it has changed the brain) and emotionally (spiritually).  We are now different because of this new knowledge that is now “assimilated.”  But for this relationship building to occur, the child must do the labour of the mind themselves.  They visualise, they observe, and as they narrate what they have internally visualised and observed, the new learning becomes “personal” knowledge.”  (Carroll Smith in “Narration, The Act of Knowing” at ChildLight USA)
Narration is the means by which we make ‘vicarious’ experiences (such as those we experience through the reading of living books) our own ‘personal’ experiences.
and this:
“One way to support semantic [factual] memory is to tap into emotional memory by forming emotional connections and episodic memory…”  (Tammy Glaser in her notes on a presentation by Jennifer Spencer on Improving Reading Comprehension at Aut-2B Home in Carolina)
Here, we see the idea of ‘emotional memory’ being foundational to ‘factual memory’. In order to remember facts, we must have ideas and connections to tie them to.   We acquire those experiences and emotional memories…you guessed it…poetically.
At any rate, I found these connections fascinating.  I love the fact that these ideas promoted by Charlotte Mason have centuries of educational philosophy to back them up.    And I am grateful that I stumbled across them early while I still have the chance to apply them.   Living books, nature study, narration, etc. are all more than just ‘nice ideas’ – they are absolutely necessary and will help lay the foundations for whatever life may bring to my children.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wednesday With Words: A couple of gems from Ambleside Year 4

As you may already know, I am reading through all the Ambleside books not only to prepare to study them with my children, but also just for my own personal benefit.   My public school education was nothing more than a game to me, and my reading diet growing up was filled with far too much twaddle.   Ambleside is helping me fill in those gaps in my own upbringing.  This week’s quotes are a couple of gems I found as I was reading through AO Year 4, Week 8.
Robinson Crusoe on Gratitude:
“I frequently sat down to my meat with thankfulness, and admir’d the hand of God’s Providence, which had thus spread my table in the wilderness.  I learn’d to look more upon the bright side of my condition, and less upon the dark side; and to consider what I enjoy’d, rather than what I wanted; and this gave me sometimes such secret comforts, that I cannot express them; and which I take notice of here, to put those discontented people in mind of it, who cannot enjoy comfortably what God has given them; because they see, and covet something that he has not given them: All our discontents about what we want, appeared to me, to spring from the want of thankfulness for what we have.”
            ~Daniel Defoe in Robinson Crusoe (sorry my Kindle book doesn’t have page or chapter numbers!)
Uncle Paul on Writing:
“Grammar cannot teach one to write.  It teaches us to make a verb agree with its subject, and adjective with a substantive, and other things of that kind.  It is very useful I admit, for nothing is more displeasing than to violate the rules of language; but that does not impart the gift of writing…Language is in some sort the clothing of thought.  We cannot clothe what does not exist; we cannot speak or write what we do not find in our minds.  Thought dictates and the pen writes…But again, if the ideas are wanting if there is nothing in the head, what can you write?  How are these ideas to be acquired?  By study, reading, and conversation with people better instructed than we.”
~Jean-Henri Fabre in Chapter 19 in The Storybook of Science


Monday, November 18, 2013

October's Nature Notes

A little bit late in coming since we are over halfway through November, but perhaps better late than never. :)

October 1: We had a long, hard rain this morning.  The mangos on our tree are getting bigger!
Nature Journaling in the yard

October 3: There is a new banana tree sprout coming up next to the old one.  We found a waxbill nest in the bamboo bush along our back fence.
Nest of a black-crowned waxbill in our bamboo bush

October 15: The banana trees are growing bigger (at least the two smaller ones are).  We have a very interesting gecko/lizard trapped in our window.  We also saw a mouse in the kitchen (!!) who disappeared quickly behind the stove lid.  It has been raining at least a little bit everyday and sometimes a lot!!
Blossoms on a Croton

October 17: We noticed that the gecko in the window changes colors!  He is more orange when it is sunny and warm and more gray when it is cool and dark or cloudy.  We named him “Weather”, since he changes with the weather. (Sadly, we were having camera issues at the time, and I never got a photo of him!)    We saw two speckled mousebirds sitting on the wire outside this morning.
Fern Spores

October 21: It has been hot and sticky and sunny with only a little bit of rain.
Torch Ginger

October 22: We had heavy rains again yesterday that cooled everything off. We have a Madagascar periwinkle here in [our compound].  I also saw some bagflowers in our yard and in the neighbor’s yard.
These flowers are kind of weird, but really very beautiful at the same time

October 23: We also noticed some orchids in the neighbor’s yard.  There is some new torch ginger blooming in our yard.  The vine growing along our fence (remember that from last month?) is a passion fruit, and there are some flower buds on it.  Also, it clings to the fence by some curly-q’s.  More rain in the night.  We hear birds chirping.
Passion flower buds

October 28: More rain, nuff said. J We found another Barbados flower across the road.  We saw some mushrooms out in the grass.

October 29:  The gardener cut down the banana tree that was not doing well.
Nature Journaling on the front porch

October 30: We saw some pigeons (plain, ordinary pigeons!) just along the side of the road leading up to our gate. {This was notable since we spent most of last year chasing pigeons around the plaza in front of our apartment in France last year!!  But we’d not yet seen them here.}
The cut trunk of a banana tree

October 31: We identified the Indian shot flower.  The little red flower inside the bagflower is blooming.   We saw lots of sappy stuff in the cut trunk of the banana tree.  It was hot and dry yesterday – is dry season starting?
Indian Shot

A couple of journal entries to share…
I journaled the Indian shot...I've been trying to identify this plant all year!  My 8-year-old finally figured it out. :)

Michelle-Age-8 journaled about the Madagascar Periwinkle

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Poetic Knowledge: What is It?

I finally finished reading Poetic Knowledge by James Taylor.  It only took me about 8 months. J  I won’t pretend I understood all of it…because I didn’t.  A good 2/3 of the book is a survey of educational philosophy across the ages, and much of that was difficult to unravel.  (Brandy’s book club notes helped, though!)  But in the end it was worth wading through all of the philosophy and history because the practical applications of the idea finally revealed to me just WHY Charlotte Mason promoted some of the practices that set her philosophy and method of education apart from others.  But I’m jumping ahead of myself.
What is poetic knowledge anyhow?  This is a good summary, in which Taylor quotes John Senior:
“What is poetic knowledge? It is not simply expression – we are talking about an experience, and you have to experience the experience.  The philosophers call this connatural knowledge – it is not abstract knowledge.  Here, somebody knows something, but the only way to know what he knows is to know it yourself in the same way that he knows it.  For example, you touch a hot stove, and you say, ouch.  Then you ask somebody: you think  stoves are hot?  How do you know that?  And, you say, touch it for yourself.  You can repeat this kind of experience, but it is very dangerous.  So, we have another way, and that is by doing the experience in sympathy.  We don’t actually do it, but we can do it in our imaginations.  This is what is meant by connatural knowledge.  Children do this in play, imitating animals for example.  And there is a way of understanding, say, horses, through connaturality, and that is what poetry does.” (Poetic Knowledge, p. 164)
So, in other words poetic knowledge is that knowledge that we gain through personal or emotional experiences.  It is the kind of knowledge that you gain without really trying – you just come to know somehow without really being able to explain where that knowledge came from.   Poetic knowledge inspires love and delight and wonder.  It lies in contrast to abstract, factual, scientific knowledge.  Poetic knowledge isn’t meant to replace scientific knowledge – ‘scientific’ knowledge is just as necessary and valid in its place – but rather, it lays the foundation.  Ideas, experiences, and emotional connections all help to support our rational, factual understanding.
Unfortunately, in our modern day system of education, we have all but forgotten the role of poetic knowledge and replaced it completely with scientific, factual knowledge.  (Facts, after all, are more easily quantifiable than ideas and experiences.)  In Chapter 6, Taylor described the Integrated Humanities Program (IHP) of the University of Kansas in the 1970’s and 80’s.  In this program, the professors attempted to teach in the poetic mode, to help re-lay this foundation of delight and wonder for the students involved.  In her post on this chapter, Brandy makes an interesting point:
“…the need for the IHP in the first place points to a huge problem in our culture. The IHP existed because of the insufficiency of modern childhood. Because the students were not allowed to be children, to be almost completely driven by wonder in many of their earliest years, the IHP found it necessary to recreate childhood. In this we see that childhood, if we are to really educate our students, is not optional. Education requires the proper foundation, and because we were not laying that foundation in youth {which is the best and most appropriate time}, it was imperative that IHP dig everything up and start from scratch.” (Poetic Knowledge:Chapter 6 Part 1 at Afterthoughts)
While poetic knowledge is something that should continue throughout life, it is most ideally suited for childhood since it is foundational to all other sorts of knowledge.   So how can we ensure that the proper foundation of poetic knowledge is laid while our children are still young?
This is where Charlotte Mason comes in.
But more on that next time.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Wednesday with Words: On Digesting Books Slowly

I’ve written before about how I love the way that books are utilized in a Charlotte Mason education.   This quote, from one of our reading assignments from the 20 Principles Study, goes right along the same lines:
“Having found the book which has a message for us, let us not be guilty of the folly of saying we have read it. We might as well say we have breakfasted, as if breakfasting on one day should last us for every day! The book that helps us deserves many readings, for assimilation comes by slow degrees.
Literature is full of teaching, by precept and example, concerning the management of our physical nature. I shall offer a lesson here and there by way of sample, but no doubt the reader will think of many better teachings; and that is as it should be; the way such teaching should come to us is, here a little and there a little, incidentally, from books which we read for the interest of the story, the beauty of the poem, or the grace of the writing.”
            ~Charlotte Mason in Ourselves, Book 2, page 11

Monday, November 11, 2013

Something New to Us This Year: Exams

Last month, we completed Ambleside Online Year 1, Term 2 and conducted an exam for the first time.   I opted not to do any exams at the end of Term 1 because we were still transitioning, and I admit I was a little scared about how they would go.   I was really pleased with the results for this first exam, however, so I thought I’d share a bit about how we did it.
As you will see when you read the exam questions below,  the idea behind a Charlotte Mason style exam isn’t necessarily to get a “score” or to try to get the child to regurgitate a certain number of facts.  There is no review and no preparation before the exam is given, nor does the child see the questions ahead of time.   Instead the focus is on what the child knows.   Our exam was given almost entirely orally, so in many ways it was really a casual conversation.  Other aspects of the “exam” were not given formally at examination time, but I did make note of the progress we’ve made in such subjects as math, French, memory work, etc.   In the end, we have a nice record of what we studied and the progress that was made this past term. An exam can also help us determine what things are going well for us, and what areas are not going well so we can consider changing our approach over the coming term.
My examination questions were based on the exam questions provided at Ambleside Online, although I added to and changed some of them to cover more definitively what we’ve been doing since we’ve made some minor changes to the Year 1 reading list.  It also reflects that my Year 1 student is older (8 and not 6, and therefore more advanced in most of the skill subjects than a Year 1 student in their first formal year of school.)  Here are the exam questions that I ended up using:
AO Year 1, Term 2 Exam for Michelle (age 8) – administered October 28, 2013
Describe progress through math program and topics covered.  Attach most recent exam.
Language Arts
Write three sentences, one to show the correct use of “to”, one of “too” and one of “two”.
Write from dictation: Tom went canoeing on a smooth western lake.
Attach one writing sample from this term.
Provide a list of independent reading completed
Memory Work
Make a list of memory work completed this term.
Tell your favorite scene from Dangerous Journey, or about your favorite Shakespeare play.
Tell the story of Grace Darling.
Tell how the Giant’s Dance was brought to England, or how Arthur became king.
Tell about Gregory and the Pretty Children.
Tell some of the interesting things you learned about the Arctic or Antarctic this term.   Would you want to live there? Why or why not?
Look at a blank map with mom.  Tell the name of each continent (7) and each ocean (5).
Tell how you might tell direction from looking at the sky.
Natural History and General Science
Tell everything you can remember about your favorite nature discovery this term.
What is the most interesting African animal that you read about this term?  Tell why it was interesting.
Tell why a black object will get warmer than a white object.
Picture Study
Describe your favorite picture from this term’s picture study.  What did you like about it?
Show a sewing project and a drawing project to someone outside your family.
Describe progress in The Learnables French program.
And here are a few samples of answers that were given.  With the exception of language arts and the items that I simply noted progress in, the exam was given orally, so this is a transcription of the answers she gave.
History: Tell about Gregory and the Pretty Children.
A man named Gregory was walking through the marketplace when he saw some children.  When he saw the chains about their necks, he figured out they were slaves to be sold.  So he made up his mind to buy them and teach them about Jesus.  He wanted to go out and teach the rest of the people of Britain but the people loved Gregory so much that they wouldn’t let him.  So he sent Augustine (not the same one as in the Augustine book).  The first time, they ran home.  But they set out again and the next time they reached England.
Tales: Tell the story of Grace Darling.
She was a brave girl.  When they saw some people drowning trying to keep above water, she wanted to save them.  But her father said that the waves were too strong, but she wanted to try at least.  So they tried and they succeeded and they brought them to their lighthouse where they were cared for and let them go to their homes after the storm stopped.
Natural History: Tell everything you can remember about your favorite nature discovery this term.
Two banana trees sprouted.  The younger ones look like they are growing pretty well.  They are bigger than they were before.  We also saw some Madagascar periwinkles.  They are almost pink in the middle.  I also found a quartz rock.
Handicrafts: Show a sewing project and a drawing project to someone outside your family.
A recent drawing project – I am pleased to see how she is developing an eye for perspective, and also used some of the ideas about overlapping we had talked about recently as we have worked through Drawing with Children.
Two recent sewing projects – a wallet and a potholder.   Both of these were taken from ideas in the book Sewing School, which I can highly recommend.   She’s done 4 or 5 projects from this book completely on her own now, with very minimal help from me.
Language Arts: Attach one writing sample completed this term.
Here is a notebook page from this past term – this is basically a very simple written narration of a portion of “The Unknown Land” from Parables from Nature.
Overall, I was pleased with the results.  Her narration skills are really blossoming!!   I was interested to see that the questions she gave less-detailed answers too were nearly all substitute books I had brought in which makes me think they just aren’t as good as the AO selections, and perhaps I should just stick with AO as it is written! J  Based on the results of this exam, I am looking to change a bit my approach to geography and French, and add in some extra practice with money for math.   But overall, I got the sense from these exams that we are making good progress and are generally on the right track!
Do you do exams in your home?  I’d love to see how you do them too!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Some Good Finds

A weekend bonus for you – a few of the highlights I’ve stumbled across online this week….
My kids are little, and sometimes it’s hard to “trust the process” with Charlotte Mason methods.  This was a very interesting read for me.  CM education really does prepare one for Life and not just a job.
Um…ouch.  This was a convicting, but much needed, reminder.
I love geography, and loved Nancy’s post on this topic.  (Of course, now I’m rethinking how we approach geography…)
Always good things to think about over at the CiRCE Institute.  Just a little snippet from this piece:
“I am impressed with the conviction that one of my primary goals as a father, and a teacher, is to teach my children a love of form. Our identity must not be like that of the world's--shifting, unstable, and changing. Our identity must precisely not be our own identity--it must be that of Jesus Christ.”

So, this isn’t a Charlotte Mason blog, and the term “living books” isn’t used anywhere in the article…however, I think the author hit the nail on the head in defining what a living book should be.  (This is talking about picture books, so illustrations are mentioned too, but you could apply the other criteria mentioned to any book, whether it is illustrated or not.  However I’d agree with the author is that if there ARE illustrations, they should add something to the text and not just be there for the sake of being there.)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Wednesday with Words: The Pruning Knife

So, I was debating on whether or not I would share more from Sinclair Ferguson with you this week, or if I would quote Plato.
I didn’t want to scare anyone off by quoting Plato, so Sinclair Ferguson won.   J   Besides, his writings have greatly encouraged me in the past couple of weeks with some of the very issues that I have been wrestling with.  Perhaps these thoughts will be an encouragement to you as well?
“Finally, we are called, as part of the abiding process, to submit to the pruning knife of God in the providences by which He cuts away all disloyalty and sometimes all that is unimportant, in order that we might remain in Christ all the more wholeheartedly.
In the horticultural world, pruning generally is done with a view to long-term faithfulness.  So with believers – the Father prunes the branches of the vine in order that they may yield more fruit.  Of course, there often seems to be an apparent randomness in His cutting, but there is never a wasted stroke – every cut is necessary for us to ‘bear more fruit’ (John 15:2).  In Christ, we are safe under the Father’s pruning knife.”
                        ~Sinclair Ferguson, In Christ Alone

Monday, November 4, 2013

Solar Eclipse

We had the coolest experience yesterday (Sunday, November 3, 2013).   We got (almost) front row seats to a solar eclipse!   I say almost front row because the best viewing point to see the sun totally obscured was apparently in Libreville, Gabon which is about 500 miles south of where we are.   Even so, we still saw about 90% of the sun obscured and spent several hours of this afternoon in an eerie dimness – the light was as dim as if it was clouding up to rain or as if the sun was already going down, but it was “sunny” (no storm clouds in sight) and only 3 in the afternoon.   Weird and fascinating.   You can check out more information about this particular eclipse here, and about solar eclipses in general here.  I happened to notice a snippet in the last World magazine indicating an eclipse would take place on November 3 with the best viewing area in equatorial Africa, and I’m so glad I did because this was such a fascinating thing to experience.
A few photos for you….
Checking out the box viewfinder that my hubby made.
Earlier progress above, and below about the peak of what we were able to see in our location (the peak was slightly more obscured than that, but this was the clearest photo I got.
Even the light shining  on the sidewalk was crescent shaped at the peak of the eclipse.