It’s time to THINK BIG!

Hey Kids!

Here we are THINKING BIG!

Here we are THINKING BIG!


Great news!  Our homeschooling group is officially underway.  August 13th marked our first official homeschooling gathering, a book club meeting to discuss You Have A Brain: A Teen’s Guide to T.H.I.N.K. B.I.G.  by Dr. Ben Carson, a 2016 Presidential contender.  Seven students who are continuing in traditional schools, our four homeschooling students, and three parents met at my home, the site of our summer book clubs for a number of years.


After spending a few minutes engaged in “How was summer?” chat, we passed around this cool rock.


Do you know what kind of rock this is?

Everyone who read You Have A Brain: A Teen’s Guide to T.H.I.N.K.  B.I.G. identified it as an obsidian rock.  This common rock had a profound influence on the life of Dr. Ben Carson.  (You’ll have to read the book yourself, or watch the movie Gifted Hands to find out how.)  We watched a short clip from the film to remind us of the turnaround in Dr. Carson’s life once he started reading two books a week, per his mother’s direction.  Inspired by the movie’s snippets of the G.E. College Bowl, one of the two television programs Ben watched growing up, we discussed the book as we played Jeopardy, a modern day quiz show, with questions from T.H.I.N.K.  B.I.G.  

Jeopardy at home.

Jeopardy at home.

Our categories were: Childhood, The Teen Years, Neurology, Life Now, and Think Big.  Here are a few questions our contestants answered:

What is Dr. Carson’s middle name?  (We had lots of discussion after this on what proved to be a very appropriate name for Ben Carson.  God’s hand at work.)

What class did Ben nearly fail in college?

What book does Dr. Carson quote heavily from in T.H.I.N.K.  B.I.G.?

In what country is the Benjamin S. Carson School of Medicine?

What does the B stand for in T.H.I.N.K.  B.I.G.?

Have you ever watched the G.E. College Bowl?  See if you can answer any of the questions.  These college kids sure are smart!  (The only one I got was the Friar Laurence question.)

After Jeopardy, and following in Ben’s footsteps as a middle schooler, we had a short spelling bee using words from the book.   The words were tough!  Hence, the brevity of our bee.  Here are a few of the words we tackled: charlatan, omniscient, retrospect, magnitude, and perpetuate.

All this mental activity made us hungry, so we had lunch, some of us continuing to talk about Dr. Carson, his accomplishments, and the first Presidential debate.  When we finished fortifying ourselves, we discussed ways that we can THINK BIG.   We decided to host a community yard sale, complete with lemonade stand, and to donate our proceeds to Heifer, International.  We read through the Heifer, International catalog, deciding what we could buy to help families in need of assistance.  Some of our ideas are: a llama ($150), bees ($30), and baby chicks ($20).

Would you like to join our book club?  If so,  read Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick by September 26th and then log onto Off the Grid to join the discussion!

You can also join our discussion of You Have A Brain by commenting on this post.  As you know, Dr. Carson is running for President.  What criteria do you think are important for our President to have?  Who would you like to see as our next President?  What do you like about this person?

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4 thoughts on “It’s time to THINK BIG!

  1. Hi Mrs.Donofrio
    I love the new blog theme! Today was my first day of school. I pleaded with my mom to homeschool me, but she doesn’t have enough time because of work. I even tried a power point. I am loving St. Martha’s though! Sadly they don’t blog at St. Martha’s,but they are a paperless middle school that uses only chrome books. I enjoy the thought of no paper in classrooms! I would love to join your book club. I wanted to join this summer but I was busy with summer homework and leadership conferences. I will try to join this time. I think wisdom, bravery, and qualifications are very important things for a presidential candidate. As you probably know from my previous blog posts I would love to see a woman in the White House. A more specific woman would be Hillary Clinton! I feel she has the experience and would be a great change for the country. What do you like about homeschooling?

    • SOPHIA!!!! SO great to hear from you! I am thrilled that you would like to join our book club! You will love the book Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick. It is one of my favorites, and a fave of lots of kids, too. I think a woman will be in the White House in your lifetime, Sophia, and hopefully in mine, too. Have you heard of Carly Fiorina? She is also running for President. She is the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard and the current Chair of the philanthropic organization Good360. Here is her website:
      I know you will knock the socks of your teachers at St. Martha’s. They are very lucky to have you. You’ll meet some new friends, too, and of course, Gracie is there with you. Is Luke in your class as well?
      I am so glad that you are still checking out the blog as well. Yours is still active, so you can continue it if you would like. I promise to read all your new posts and to leave you comments.
      What I like about homeschooling is that I get to learn so much more than I ordinarily would. I am going to learn about history and science and religion this year right along with Cooper. I am really looking forward to a great year. It will be something different, too, and I think I need a little change to recharge my batteries.
      I will very much look forward to seeing you on the 26th!
      God bless!
      ~Mrs. Donofrio

  2. Hello Mrs. Donofrio,
    I am a student in an online graduate education program working to obtain my masters in Online Education. I am intrigued by the diversity of your posts and especially your post about how you include homeschoolers in your class. The tone of your posts is very engaging and encouraging to students.

    In addition to my studies and work as a youth minister, I also homeschool my two children, ages 11 and 13. I host a weekly homeschool group and I love your mini-unit on You Have A Brain: A Teen’s Guide to T.H.I.N.K. B.I.G. by Dr. Ben Carson. With your permission, I would like to borrow some of your ideas for one of our gatherings. I’m putting Dr. Carson’s book on own reading list! I believe it is so important to empower our students to believe in themselves and to be comfortable with their own strengths rather than trying to be mediocre just to fit in. Have you had other book discussions with homeschoolers since this post? I’d be very interested to find out often you meet and what other activities you have found to be successful. I was very inspired by Salman Khan’s book, One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined because I feel it challenges the boundaries and limitations of traditional schooling as it has developed in our country.

    Thank you for your inspiring dedication to blogging in education. I aim to start my own blog in the near future and hope it will become a tool for “Thinking Big!”

    Khan, S. (2012). The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined. New York: Twelve.

    • Dear Mrs. Gonyaw,
      We are so happy that you have found our little blog and that it has been helpful to you. You are more than welcome to use anything you find on it for your homeschooling group. In fact, I am honored that you found something of use.
      Since I wrote this post, my working plans have changed dramatically, so I am not very active with a homeschooling group any longer, although I do tutor one delightful, homeschooling middle schooler every week. During the rest of the week, I am now teaching at our local public high school, a job which I love, although the adjustment is taking a toll on my sleep schedule. Prior to the Ben Carson book club, however, I hosted a summer book club every year for the last seven or so years. Two of our most favorite books were: A View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg and When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. For A View From Saturday, I hosted a real tea party (and yes, boys came and they liked it! It was different for them, and a bit intriguing). We also conducted an Academic Bowl, just as they did in the novel. For When You Reach Me, we played the $10,000 Pyramid game. Both of these games had questions that related to the novels. Other books we have read over the years are A Year Down Yonder, and we took a field trip to a recreated village of the time period (1920s-30s), The Westing Game, Red Kayak, and Hatchet.
      Thank you so much for the book recommendation; I will put it on my summer reading list! Good luck with starting your own blog. Please let me know if I can be of any help!
      Thank you, and take care,
      Beth Donofrio

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