Blog, She Wrote http://blogshewrote.org Embracing the Independent & Authentic Nature of Homeschooling Wed, 26 Aug 2015 17:06:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 Finishing Strong- Homeschooling the Middle & High School Yearshttp://blogshewrote.org/2015/08/26/finishing-strong-homeschooling-the-middle-high-school-years/ http://blogshewrote.org/2015/08/26/finishing-strong-homeschooling-the-middle-high-school-years/#respond Wed, 26 Aug 2015 10:00:48 +0000 http://blogshewrote.org/?p=18448 We’re back!! We hope you’ve had a wonderful summer. It was nice having a break, but we did miss connecting with you. Now that we’re back, it’s time to get Finishing Strong up and running bigger and better than before. As you may have noticed, we’ve made some changes during our time away. First and […]

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We’re back!!

We hope you’ve had a wonderful summer. It was nice having a break, but we did miss connecting with you. Now that we’re back, it’s time to get Finishing Strong up and running bigger and better than before.

Finishing Strong 500x500As you may have noticed, we’ve made some changes during our time away. First and foremost is a new logo. Hopefully, you love it as much as we do. Feel free to grab one below to add to your site.

Secondly, our layout will be changing as well. Starting next week, each co-host will be choosing a few of her favorite posts from the week before to highlight, so make sure to visit all of our websites to see which posts we loved.

One thing is remaining the same – Finishing Strong will continue to be a key resource for those homeschooling middle and high school kids.

So make sure you come back each Wednesday to share your ideas, stories, and helpful tips. Our link-up is only as good as the posts shared, so we need your help to keep it beneficial and relevant for families.

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Look at what our co-hosts have been up to:

Eva at EvaVargaI Am NOT a Soccer Mom (or How to Avoid Child Burnout)

Heather at Blog She WroteHigh School Curriculum Choices 2015-2016

Heidi at Starts at EightLife Skills: Using The Library – Dewey Decimal System

Megan and Susan at Education PossibleSimple Back to Homeschool Ideas Moms and Teens will Love

Follow Education Possible’s board Finishing Strong on Pinterest.

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Learning Arabic at Home with Rosetta Stonehttp://blogshewrote.org/2015/08/25/learn-arabic-rosetta-stone/ http://blogshewrote.org/2015/08/25/learn-arabic-rosetta-stone/#comments Tue, 25 Aug 2015 09:00:14 +0000 http://blogshewrote.org/?p=18422 Disclosure: I received this product for free in order to do the review. I was compensated for my time in creating the review. All of the opinions are my own and I was not required to write a positive review. We’ve been using Rosetta Stone for our language learning for many years. Our high school […]

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Learning Arabic at Home with Rosetta Stone

Disclosure: I received this product for free in order to do the review. I was compensated for my time in creating the review. All of the opinions are my own and I was not required to write a positive review.

We’ve been using Rosetta Stone for our language learning for many years. Our high school senior studied French when he was in late elementary when Rosetta Stone was still available through our public library. Almost two years ago, I purchased Rosetta Stone Latin American Spanish for the whole family. Ethan has taken Arabic in the past and was excited to revisit it and complete a whole credit for high school foreign language. Rosetta Stone rounds out his experience very well so, let me explain more about Learning Arabic at Home with Rosetta Stone.

Homeschool Lessons with Rosetta Stone Arabic

Learn Arabic at Home with Rosetta Stone

With all the languages available to study through Rosetta Stone, why did we choose Arabic? We chose it because Ethan, our senior, has taken Arabic in the past and he wanted to add to his credit count in this language. His first experience was a co-op class and he also took Arabic from a native speaker in Egypt. The key to learning with Rosetta Stone is the immersion in the language.

  • Language Immersion– If you talk to anyone who has visited a foreign country and lived there for any length of time, they often come home speaking somewhat fluently. Why is it that students who study a foreign language for years in a classroom may never speak that language fluently? Immersion. When you are forced to use only the new language, you get good at it quickly! Rosetta Stone uses the way baby’s learn their first language to teach a new one and that is a form of immersion. From the comfort of your own home.
  • Self-Paced & Self-Guided Lessons– Once you sit down to begin a lesson, you’ll hear the narrator say words and you must match them to the pictures based on the cues. Your student’s job is to repeat words for pronunciation and identify others with the pictures they go with.
  • Hear Arabic Words & See Them Written– in the Arabic alphabet. Arabic is a fun language to pursue because the alphabet is completely new.
  • Homeschool Resource CD– which comes with the homeschool edition has a written transcript for everything spoken in each level.

Benefits of Learning Arabic with Rosetta Stone Homeschool

Learn Arabic at Home with Rosetta Stone

We chose Rosetta Stone over other language experience years ago for specific reasons, so my benefit list is long.

  • Use with Multiple Students– You can have up to five profiles on one homeschool version set. Right now I have one student studying Arabic and Spanish and another working through Spanish.
  • Easy to Install– It only takes a few minutes on the computer or you can purchase a web based version so you can learn languages on the go!
  • Comes with its Own Headset– This may seem trivial, but I have to tell you this is one nice headset! I use it for all my online recordings as well like G+ Hangouts and webinars.
  • Pay a One Time Fee– Rather than paying for classes and paying for each child, you can purchase more than one level at a time and it can be used for your whole family for the duration of their language studies. We chose a language all of our kids could learn for this reason. The bonus is being able to choose others if we’d like.
  • Self-Paced Lessons for All– Each student can reach milestones during each level at their own pace.
  • Access Multiple Languages from One Program if You Own More than One– We have both Arabic and Spanish on our computer and when you open Rosetta Stone students can choose their language and level. Once a profile is made for them, they can access any of the languages you’ve purchased.
  • Use Parent Administrative Tools – to track student progress and make tweaks in lesson plans. This is a nice perk if you have more than one student using the same language at a time. It helps you to know how they are doing and what they need to work on. Often I am around while they are doing a lesson, so I can hear how things are going.
  • Speak the Language Consistently during Every Lesson– The core of the lesson is speaking and listening so you will have repeated practice at pronunciation and fluency. Many times in traditional language teaching programs students engage in little speaking during class time or, in my experience teachers always call on the students they love to hear! Your student is prompted to speak and has to do it well for the voice recognition. That’s a win!
  • Hear the Language Spoken as You Learn– Helps to avoid pronunciation blunders as you learn. You’ll hear whole sentences in addition to words regularly.
  • Engage in Conversation– Lessons provide a repeating segment and a conversation segment giving you the chance to practice speaking conversationally. If more than one student is taking the lessons, they can talk to each other and this is a great way for me to see they are learning. In addition, the homeschool edition comes with an audio practice CD so you can practice even more!

In my great search for the foreign language credit for high schoolers and reconciling that with the requirements of colleges and universities, I’ve found Rosetta Stone to be a good fit.

Connect with Rosetta Stone and Try a Free Demo

If you’d like to see more about Rosetta Stone for yourself, I encourage you to do so. Rosetta Stone has met a language learning need for our homeschool family.

Try out the Free Demo– which gives you a chance to see the program in action.

Follow Rosetta Stone on Facebook– There are frequent special offers from Rosetta Stone.

Sign up for the Homeschool Newsletter– I have enjoyed an even contributed to the Rosetta Stone newsletter. Sign up at the bottom of this page  and receive homeschool education news.

 

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LEGO® Mindstorms Home Kit vs. Education Kithttp://blogshewrote.org/2015/08/20/lego-mindstorms-home-kit-vs-education-kit/ http://blogshewrote.org/2015/08/20/lego-mindstorms-home-kit-vs-education-kit/#respond Thu, 20 Aug 2015 14:52:03 +0000 http://blogshewrote.org/?p=18373 This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support! What homeschooling family wouldn’t want a LEGO Mindstorms Kit? Even if you aren’t hardcore into engineering and robotics, this set of materials can do a lot of really cool stuff. When families get serious about buying a kit, one of the questions we get is which […]

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LEGO® Mindstorms Home Kit vs. Education Kit

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What homeschooling family wouldn’t want a LEGO Mindstorms Kit? Even if you aren’t hardcore into engineering and robotics, this set of materials can do a lot of really cool stuff. When families get serious about buying a kit, one of the questions we get is which one? The robotics kits are packaged and sold in two main ways- the retail home kit and the education kit sold through LEGO Education. Let’s learn more about these kits with LEGO® Mindstorms: Home Kit vs Education Kit.

Features of the LEGO® Mindstorms Home Kit

LEGO® Mindstorms Home Kit vs. Education Kit

The home kit is available through both the LEGO.com site and places like Amazon. You won’t need to go through LEGO Education to get this kit. Here are some of the features of the home kit:

  • Comes with an infrared sensor- measure the distances of reflected objects and can read signals from the infrared beacon
  • Includes an infrared beacon or controller- think remote control
  • Color sensor- shines a light on a surface and measures the reflected light back to measure the color or brightness of a surface. It can also detect how much light is coming its way.
  • Touch sensor- a loose button that can be pushed. It helps the robot to move away from an obstacle or to perform certain tasks.
  • There is no ultrasonic sensor
  • Has some fun pieces which are purely for cool design purposes

Sensors are hooked up to the Mindstorm computer to perform tasks. The touch sensor can help a robot escape an obstacle while an ultrasonic sensor can help the robot to avoid an obstacle. The sensors allow the robot to interact with the world around it. Your student will do the programming so the sensors can maximize the robot’s abilities.

The cool thing about the infrared sensor and its beacon is that you can remotely control your robot. How is that not fun? The Education kit lacks this sensor and beacon because it’s not allowed in FIRST LEGO League competitions.

Benefits of the LEGO® Mindstorms Education Kit

LEGO® Mindstorms Home Kit vs. Education Kit

So, what does the education kit have that the home kit does not? Here’s a brief list we’ve come up with:

  • Ultrasonic sensor- sends out ultrasonic waves to bounce off objects
  • Gyroscope sensor- measures the robot’s rotational motion and changes its orientation
  • Turntable type gear- this is a large gear which anchors a part to another so that one can move and the other stays still
  • Large rubber tires for the robot
  • More parts- the education kit comes with a larger volume of technic pieces which are the pieces LEGO developed for more articulation among parts. There aren’t really bricks in these kits. Your kids have worked with Technic pieces if they’ve built things with moving parts.
  • Kit is limited by FLL rules- the base education kit doesn’t come with anything not allowed in FLL competition.

The Best LEGO® Mindstorms Kit for Your Homeschool

So, what is the verdict? Which kit is best for homeschoolers? Our vote is the home kit! Here are some reasons why we like this kit:

  • Availability of Books– most of the books you find on Amazon and other retail outlets are written for the home kit. Is that a big deal? It can be. Since the parts lists are not the same, you may find yourself without essential items for a build.
  • Price of Accompanying Resources– the books sold in the retail world are at a price point most families can afford. Especially if you are new to Mindstorms, you want to get resources to go with it that you can easily get through the library or bookstore which give you a head start on working the Mindstorms kit.
  • Education Curriculum– curriculum written for the education kit is much more expensive and it’s classroom oriented with its pieces and directions. You may find it’s not as easy to implement in a homeschool setting. Plus, the cost is prohibitive in many cases.

Our recommendation is to purchase the home kit and add pieces from the education kit as you need them or would want them. You can buy the sensors separately and you can even buy a parts kit from LEGO Education which is what we’ve done. This way, you get the best of both worlds and your base kit is one that will allow you to use books rather than a strict curriculum.

You want the the kit to work for your family for many years of discovery at any age. These kits are a fantastic investment and they grow with your kids well into high school.

Other LEGO Mindstorms Posts at Blog, She Wrote

Resources for Teaching with LEGO® Mindstorms

We get a lot of mileage out of our Mindstorms kits. We have an education NXT kit and an EV3 home kit. Plus, our kids are deeply involved with FIRST LEGO League which my husband coaches. We have a lot of experience with Mindstorms. Here are some other posts you might enjoy.

Resources for Teaching with LEGO Mindstorms– Books and websites devoted to working with the Mindstorms kits.

Benefits of Using LEGO Mindstorms in Your Homeschool– So, what’s the big deal? What can your family gain from using Mindstorms? Find out here!

FIRST LEGO League Science, Technology, & Teamwork– A look at an FLL competition team and some of the missions the team worked on that season.

Next up in the Mindstorm series will be lessons and ideas for using the kits in your homeschool. I’ll be sharing lessons about gears, using sensors, and even characterizing a robot. I hope you’ll join me!

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Back to School Geography Giveawayhttp://blogshewrote.org/2015/08/17/back-to-school-geography-giveaway/ http://blogshewrote.org/2015/08/17/back-to-school-geography-giveaway/#comments Mon, 17 Aug 2015 09:00:02 +0000 http://blogshewrote.org/?p=18030 This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support! It’s the time of year when we’re all thinking of a new year of homeschool. Are you ready? Maybe you have room for one more resource or two especially if it’s Geography! Read on to find out what we’re giving away and how you can win […]

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Back to School Geography Giveaway

This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support!

It’s the time of year when we’re all thinking of a new year of homeschool. Are you ready? Maybe you have room for one more resource or two especially if it’s Geography! Read on to find out what we’re giving away and how you can win this Back to School Geography Giveaway. If you keep reading to the end, you’ll learn more about how we have used these resources in our homeschool.

Win Geography Curriculum from Bright Ideas Press

Many thanks to Bright Ideas Press for helping to sponsor this basket of goodies! The winner will find the following items in the basket:

  • North Star Geography– a one credit geography course for middle and high schoolers. Students will build a world atlas and learn about human, physical, and political geography. There are activities here for hands on kids and book loving students alike. The basket winner will receive a hardbound textbook copy of North Star Geography.
  • Wonder Maps– This is a one stop, all in one electronic atlas. Always up to date and maps are easy to access any time. You can customize maps and use the many features available to users. The winner will receive a CD.
  • Hands On Geography– Written by Maggie Hogan of Bright Ideas Press, this gem is full of fun ways to study geography with students of any age. Map missionary stories, your favorite sports team, or follow your family’s origins. The ideas are endless in this book!
  • Borderline– This is a fun little world geography card game where you have to play down cards to build a map based on what country borders others.

To win the basket, please participate with the Rafflecopter giveaway below. The giveaway will be open until Sunday, August 23, 2015. I will choose one winner and notify them. If you click subscribing to Blog, She Wrote below and/or leave a comment, please leave an email address so I can contact you! Good luck!

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More Giveaways

Today there are other bloggers with the iHN hosting giveaways today. Visit this page to see all the fabulous baskets! You can enter as many of the giveaways as you’d like. Have fun!

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Geography Posts at Blog, She Wrote

What will you do with the geography goodies from Bright Ideas Press if you win them? Here’s a look at the fun we’ve had with these geography products.

Trail Planning Using Topographic Quadrangle Maps

Geography Quests– You’ll find 35 geography lessons using Wonder Maps and whatever reference you have on hand. You don’t want to miss these lessons which can be in depth or spur of the moment discovery times.

Teaching Geography with Earth Science– How we used North Star Geography with earth science. It was a great year with some easy ways to pair up our earth science course with our geography course.

Resources for Teaching Human Geography– Getting to know people groups and culture around the world and how we impact our geography is human geography. This post shares resources for teaching this area of geography and includes a special discount on a new game called Civitas which is all about forms of government.

Trail Planning Using Topographic Quadrangle Maps– Do your students know how to read and interpret a topographic map? This lesson teaches you how to use a USGS quadrangle map to make a new hiking trail.

Learning Geography with Atlases– Learn all about the different kinds of atlases and how and why to use them. This one includes a G+ Hangout with Tyler Hogan and I- we are atlas enthusiasts!

 

Geography bundle -- North Star Geography and WonderMaps

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Resources for Teaching with LEGO® Mindstormshttp://blogshewrote.org/2015/08/12/teaching-with-mindstorms/ http://blogshewrote.org/2015/08/12/teaching-with-mindstorms/#comments Wed, 12 Aug 2015 04:01:47 +0000 http://blogshewrote.org/?p=18352 This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support! We are a big LEGO® Mindstorms family and I often get questions about how we teach our kids using the Mindstorms. They are a significant investment for homeschoolers and it’s important to know what’s available to help you along. Questions like: Do you use curriculum? How […]

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Resources for Teaching with LEGO® Mindstorms

This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support!

We are a big LEGO® Mindstorms family and I often get questions about how we teach our kids using the Mindstorms. They are a significant investment for homeschoolers and it’s important to know what’s available to help you along. Questions like:

  • Do you use curriculum?
  • How do you manage what your kids are learning?
  • What resources are out there to help?
  • Do I have to invest in LEGO Mindstorms curriculum?
  • Which kit do I buy- the home kit or the education kit?

To answer these questions, I’m going to do a series of posts on how we use LEGO Mindstorms. I’ll be sharing Resources for Teaching with LEGO® Mindstorms, which to buy- the home kit or the education kit, activities to do with the kits, and some general strategies for building and using the robots.

Book Resources for LEGO Mindstorms

There are a lot of books available in bookstores and on Amazon which focus on the robot kits. The first thing to distinguish is whether you have an NXT model or the newer EV3. I’m going to list a few ideas for the EV3 because that is the current model and it’s what’s supported by LEGO. If you have an NXT, most of these authors have a book very similar for that software and they are still available at Amazon. I’ve listed one below.

LEGO Mindstorms EV3 Discovery Book– This is a great book for beginners to get to know the EV3.

Exploring LEGO Mindstorms EV3– Some ideas and tools for building and programming EV3 robots for beginner through advanced users.

Maximum LEGO EV3 (Building Robots with Java Brains)– A book for users who want to go beyond the basics of programming using the LEGO software. Our 5th grader has been using this book to use a different firmware along with leJOS to “hack” the Linux OS on the EV3. Our engineer needs a challenge and I thought this book would do the trick. It has!

MAKE: Lego & Arduino Projects– This book is all about extending the Mindstorms NXT with open source electronics. Joshua has a “shield” for his NXT brick which allows him to program the brick using the Arduino.

There are books of all kinds for Mindstorms. They are written by talented people who want to share projects with kids. Some books have specific robots to build and others teach basic strategies with some robot directions mixed in. Choose your child’s skill level and work from there.

 

Resources for Teaching with LEGO® Mindstorms

 

Websites for Teaching with LEGO® Mindstorms

We’ve found and used a number of websites over the years. LEGO.com has a lot of content on their site to go with the Home Kit. There are others as well. If you have a kit and you are looking for more help, check these out.

Build a Robot– a section of the LEGO website which has about 17 or so robot building directions.

Community Build Challenges– Offered by LEGO, these are challenges to build a robot which can do something specific. This link also has previous challenges which can provide ideas for your robotics engineer.

Learn to Program– This is a set of tutorials from lego.com which helps students to get the basics down.

Dr. Graeme– A website devoted to EV3 and NXT tutorials. You can also find challenges here which are a great tool for getting to know the kit.

Tutorials for EV3– from Dr. Graeme, a list of tutorials with choices for whether or not you have the home vs the education kit. You can learn about how to use sensors and how to build specific robots with challenges included. This site also gives tips on how to best use the information he provides.

NXT Programs– This is a great site full of robots to build using the NXT kits along with the programs to go with them.

LEGO Education Community– A place to find lessons and ideas for using Mindstorms and other LEGO education products. The challenges are valuable for use with your students.

FIRST– For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. Get to know the organization behind FIRST LEGO League and the robotics competitions it supports.

Other Mindstorms Posts on Blog, She Wrote

Benefits of Using LEGO Mindstorms in Your Homeschool– This is an overview of what your students gain if you use the robot kits.

FIRST LEGO League: Science, Technology, & Teamwork– Our family has been deeply involved with Junior FLL and FLL for 8 years. Learn more about what FLL is and what it means to be on a team. Below is a video from that post where Ethan (then 15) shows off the team robot and the missions they’ve programmed.

 

5 Pieces of Technology Our Homeschool Couldn’t Do Without– This list includes the LEGO® Mindstorms among other things you might find an interest in.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to engaging with the Mindstorms kits. You don’t need a formal curriculum to get a lot out of your investment. In my next post in the series, I’m going to address the question of which kit is best- the home kit or the education kit.

 

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How to Implement an Independent & Authentic Learning Homeschool Dayhttp://blogshewrote.org/2015/08/02/implement-independent-authentic-learning-homeschool-day/ http://blogshewrote.org/2015/08/02/implement-independent-authentic-learning-homeschool-day/#comments Sun, 02 Aug 2015 04:30:03 +0000 http://blogshewrote.org/?p=15743 This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support! It’s just about time for a new homeschool academic year. In fact, as you are reading this, we are beginning with our first day back. We like to have a slow start to our full load, so we begin a week before public school convenes. Over […]

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Blog, She Wrote: How to Implement an Independent & Authentic Learning Homeschool Day

This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support!

It’s just about time for a new homeschool academic year. In fact, as you are reading this, we are beginning with our first day back. We like to have a slow start to our full load, so we begin a week before public school convenes. Over the years our homeschool “schedule” has changed quite a lot. How do we work in all of the academic and project work for multiple ages in our homeschool? Here are some thoughts on How to Implement an Independent & Authentic Learning Homeschool Day.

How Our Homeschool Routine Has Evolved

When our children were all younger and working on basic skills, we sat down together and worked at our table. We would begin our day with our unit study, working together, and move toward independent work based on their skill level. Some years we did the opposite. We began with individual skills and moved to unit study work.

Now that our children are older, there is a lot more independent work in our homeschool days. Along with more skills, comes more independence and these days you can find our students engaged throughout the day in various aspects of their own work.

As your students change and grow, so will your homeschool routine.

Instructional Time During Our Day

There are still moments in our day when I am involved in direct instruction- either for my 5th grader or for some elements of our middle and high schooler’s courses. Here are a few examples:

  • High School Science– Our high schoolers read the text on their own and do their assignments. If they are confused by a concept, they search out answers on their own from the text or online videos before seeking me out. The idea is not to spoon feed their instruction, but to encourage them to find their own answers and then discuss the concept with us.
  • Math– As you may know, we use Life of Fred in our homeschool. The books are written to the student, but depending on the age of our kids I may sit with them and hear them read the chapter to me before answering this questions at the end. If there is trouble with a concept, then I will also step in to clear up misunderstandings.
  • Writing– Using a Writing Conference format and I am often working with a student coaching writing.

Using Writing Conferences to Coach Writing

Learning Together During Our Homeschool Day

Of course, being a unit study family for many years and still today, we love to learn together with all ages. We come together on a few things whenever we can:

  • Fred Math– With all of our students immersed in Fred’s world, there is always something to discuss about Fred at the dinner table. We can engage about Fred any time, but often he comes up at dinner where our kids share what they’ve been working on.
  • Geography– We are using NorthStar Geography again this year and while our two high schoolers will earn a credit, our younger boys will join in when they can.
  • Read Aloud Time– We love to hear stories together. Often times I have my teens read to us and my 11th grader loves to read to me! Reading aloud is a great way to begin your homeschool day and to get started and focused again after lunch. The benefits of building this time into your schedule are numerous.
  • Paired Subjects– Some of our kids will be pairing up for parts of their day for Biology and Ancient Studies this year.
  • Current Events– We can have a discussion at various appropriate levels on the news of the day. Don’t miss the opportunity to engage your kids with what’s going on in the world.

I’m excited to see how the kids will collaborate with one another this year.

How to Use Current Events in Your Homeschool

Leaving Time for Discussion in Your Homeschool Day

Not only do your students need direct instruction when they are younger, you’ll find they need lots of discussion time as they get older. Your discussions can be on many topics and take many forms, but here are a few examples from our homeschool.

  • Discuss Academic Topics– anything from the book they are reading to thoughts on a historical moment.
  • Talk about Books– Book discussions are an excellent way to increase communication with your teens! If you want an easy way to talk with your students, discuss books together. That means you need to read them too!
  • Mentoring– Guiding our students as they get older and no longer need our direct instruction all of the time.
  • Consulting– I’m always available to our kids as they work on their projects. They can consult with me on how things are going and I can encourage them in their work. This is part of keeping the work going and moving in a forward direction!

As your children grow, you’ll find they need a teacher less and a mentor more. I’ve written a chapter on this topic for The Big Book of Homeschooling Ideas. If you purchase a copy, you’ll find a host of tips on how to make the transition from a teacher to a mentor.

Project Time as Part of a Homeschool Day

No homeschool day is complete at our house without project time. Each of our students has a Project Workspace where they can leave out their work and spend a lot of time working and researching. Project time might include things like:

  • Following a tutorial
  • Learning a new computer programming language by reading and testing it
  • Designing a new model rocket or custom mini-fig
  • Pinning a new insect
  • Drafting a fashion design
  • Reading & Researching on a topic
  • Building a machine like a catapult
  • Testing a hypothesis
  • Writing to add to stories and novels
  • Attending seminars and workshops related to an area of study
  • Collaborating with each other on progress

All of these are born out of their interest in a topic & represent the amount of time we’ve poured into these interests. Much of our homeschool day is wrapped up in project time. This is the time when I get to be a mentor and consultant and listen and encourage their efforts.

Blog, She Wrote: Ten Things that Make a Great Homeschool Day

Allow Room for Making Adjustments to Your Homeschool Day

For all of these ideas that work well, we’ve tried some which haven’t worked so well. You might find that a student you thought could work well independently doesn’t. Working with a more flexible routine is a double-edged sword. What makes it so appealing is also the thing that can go the most wrong!

Working consistently and experiencing forward progress in their endeavors is key. If you aren’t seeing it in your homeschool, then perhaps it is time for an adjustment. It could be a small adjustment to the schedule or it could mean rethinking your approach to the schedule all together.

How do we gauge if our routine is working? That’s a question easily answered with some links below. There’s a list of the ten things that make a great homeschool day. What makes your homeschool day feel successful? Do you regularly experience those things? If not, it could be time for a schedule adjustment or it could mean that it’s time to adjust expectations to meet your stage of parenting and homeschooling.

More Routine Related Posts at Blog, She Wrote

How to Make the Most of Your Read Aloud Time

Ten Things that Make a Great Homeschool Day– If even a few of these Ten Things happen on any given day in our homeschool.

The Snake Project– An example of a project our then 8th grade daughter engaged in for science.

How to Engage Your Teen with Books– Discussion with teens is a major part of our schooling at this stage. This post gives ideas for working with high schoolers and books.

How to Use Current Events in Your Homeschool– A post all about how we incorporate news of the day into our homeschool with all ages.

Using Writing Conferences to Coach Writing– This is a nuts and bolts post about how we approach writing with any age in our home.

How to Make the Most of Your Read Aloud Time– Need ideas or want to get started? Here are some great ways to incorporate this into your day.

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Essential Elements of a Home Learning Environmenthttp://blogshewrote.org/2015/07/19/our-learning-environment/ http://blogshewrote.org/2015/07/19/our-learning-environment/#comments Sun, 19 Jul 2015 04:00:15 +0000 http://blogshewrote.org/?p=10688 It’s time to share our learning spaces with everyone! We’ve been homeschooling for ten and a half years and our learning environment has changed a lot over that time. When Ethan, our 12th grader, first started homeschooling half way through first grade, we had just one small table in our living room and a bookshelf […]

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Blog, She Wrote: Essential Elements of a Home Learning EnvironmentIt’s time to share our learning spaces with everyone! We’ve been homeschooling for ten and a half years and our learning environment has changed a lot over that time. When Ethan, our 12th grader, first started homeschooling half way through first grade, we had just one small table in our living room and a bookshelf for his school things. As we added more children to the official homeschool roster, we added books, larger tables and we dedicated part of our playroom to homeschooling. Two years ago,when we began looking for a new home, we knew we were looking for some place special. It had to have space for our learning materials, our homeschool library, and our project spaces.

Essential Elements for Our Home Learning Environment

school 10-1

Our focus is not to recreate a school classroom in our home. However, with four kids immersed in learning throughout the day, it’s hard to miss that we homeschool. Here are a few “must haves” for our learning spaces.

  • Bookshelves for our homeschool library– while we do use the public library extensively, it’s important to have a variety of print material in our home. Bookshelves are essential.
  • Media Area– for the computers the kids use for school and projects. We keep them in the media room.
  • Slate Chalkboard– I adore slate and we had a smaller chalkboard in our last house, but this lovely piece of slate is a recent addition to our home learning environment and as you can see it has seen a lot of use in the few weeks it’s been up. We do a lot of math on the slate!
  • White Boards–  I often use it for explaining things along with a chalkboard. Or to write down assignments and reminders for the day. And sometimes the kids work problems and their own explanations on the board. I keep portable white boards on hand too for working math problems and playing games.
  • Large Table– for school work and projects. Though the kids can go to any area to do their work, they often work there together. We put it right in the large window so there would be plenty of natural light.
  • Storage Cabinet– or closet for homeschool materials that are not books. We have one large wooden cabinet which was a very special gift from specials friends and we have bookcases in our basement which hold everything else.
  • Project  Work Space– We wanted to provide a place where each of our kids could work on their own and plan and work on projects. This is an essential for us because a place for diving into and leaving out their work is important.

Using Walls for a Homeschool Learning Environment

school 9

While it would be homier to not use posters and maps on our walls, the extra immersion is great for growing minds! The only thing I’d change? I’d put wooden frames around each one if I could!

  • Maps– both US and World. I’d love a large physical map of the world too. We have a laminated set I bought at Staples many years ago.
  • Periodic Table of the Elements– I went for the one that has pictures of the actual element by Theodore Grey.
  • Calendar– a regular wall calendar is all you need, but I was compelled to buy a pocket calendar. I do not have calendar time! Conversation about the calendar has successfully taught all of my children the nuances of the calendar year. However, I keep a large calendar there for reference.
  • Bulletin Board– for student work and other displays
  • White Board/Chalkboard– previously mentioned.
  • Student Work– on display this could be work hard earned, work done well, and art work. Love to display art work.

Homeschool Technology

Blog, She Wrote: Essential Elements of a Home Learning Environment

 

We make ample use of technology in our homeschool. Here are a some examples:

Blog, She Wrote: How to Homeschool with a KindleManaging the Internet in Your Home

How do you handle internet access in your home? This important question is surely a part of a homeschool learning environment. Dan wrote a series of blog posts on Internet Filtering & Access Control. He answers questions like:

  • How do you control when your kids are on the internet with your router?
  • How do you filter content once they are there?
  • Using OpenDNS as your content filter

Blog, She Wrote: Managing the Internet in Your HomeTips on Using a Homeschool Library

We have books in almost every room of our home. Here are a few tips on handling homeschool books and making sure they get noticed and read:

Blog, She Wrote: Essential Elements of a Home Learning Environement

  • Rotate books– especially if you don’t have room for all the books to be out or on a shelf
  • Reference Books– should be easy to find and use. We have a magazine rack that is our reference shelf.
  • Library Shelf– to shelve books we have borrowed from the library.
  • Display Area– this is the top of the library shelf for us, but I use it to put out books I want the kids to notice and leaving the book open is very inviting!
  • Coffee Table– is a great place to leave books you want kids to notice. Both the coffee table and the display area never fail to promote interest in a book. Try it!
  • Organizing Your Homeschool Library– Helpful tips on storing and using books in your home library. You don’t want to miss this!
  • Ten Things Every Homeschool Library Should Have– What’s in your home library?
  • The Ultimate Guide to Establishing a Reading Culture in Your Home– Ideas for how to make your home encouraging to readers regardless of age!

Other Learning Environment Links from Blog, She Wrote

Blog, She Wrote: Essential Elements of a Home Learning Environment

Take a look at these other posts on our learning spaces– they are all still in use today.

  • Our Supply Cabinet– this is where we store our paper and art supplies for school. This post gives a list of what we have on hand in there.
  • Learning Spaces Full Tour– from last 2012. Things look nearly the same though we’ve upgraded some bookshelves and added more books!
  • Displaying Art– a post on how we use student work all over our home.

Thank you for joining us today at Blog, She Wrote for a look at our learning environment. Please sign up to receive updates in your inbox so you don’t miss the rest of the Not-Back-to-School Hop and Geography Quests here at Blog, She Wrote!

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High School Curriculum Choices 2015-2016http://blogshewrote.org/2015/07/13/high-school-curriculum-choices-2015-2016/ http://blogshewrote.org/2015/07/13/high-school-curriculum-choices-2015-2016/#comments Mon, 13 Jul 2015 09:00:24 +0000 http://blogshewrote.org/?p=18273 Probably the best way to sum up how I feel about this post is- it is getting REAL here folks! This year we are teaching two high schoolers again only this time we have a sophomore and a senior. The best thing about high school outside of the awesome conversations is mentoring these young people […]

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High School Curriculum Choices 2015-2016

Probably the best way to sum up how I feel about this post is- it is getting REAL here folks! This year we are teaching two high schoolers again only this time we have a sophomore and a senior. The best thing about high school outside of the awesome conversations is mentoring these young people into adulthood by helping them to find their niche. Our curriculum choices reflect their interests and goals. Here’s a look at our High School Curriculum Choices 2015-2016.

12th Grade Curriculum

High School Curriculum Choices 2015-2016

Ethan is our senior. He’s had quite a challenge as a junior having battled Lyme Disease the entire year. If he had not been ahead of the game, his senior year would look very different. Thankfully, he only needs one and a half credits to graduate. The rest of his courses are based on the colleges he wants to apply to.

  • Calculus– with Life of Fred
  • Physics– with ck-12
  • English V– with Excellence in Literature
  • Arabic– with Rosetta Stone after having taken an introductory course at our co-op and a summer course with a native speaker with iTalki.
  • American Government & Economics – with Notgrass and Uncle Eric
  • Novel Writing– with One Year Adventure Novel and Other Worlds. He has a goal to complete his current novel.
  • College Exam Prep– He’ll be taking the SAT and possibly the ACT this fall.
  • Driver’s Ed– complete his driving hours, take the 5 hour class, and pass the test!

Ethan’s hobby this coming year will be applying and getting accepted to universities. We’d appreciate some scholarship applications being completed as well. College visitations begin in September strategically chosen for the opportunity to see the Virginia Tech Hokies play Purdue at Purdue!

10th Grade Curriculum

High School Curriculum Choices 2015-2016

It’s hard to believe Rebecca is already a sophomore! She has two very distinct niches and it will be interesting to see how she works them together as she completes high school.

  • Algebra– complete beginning algebra and work through advanced algebra by year’s end with Life of Fred.
  • Biology– using ck-12 and supplemental lab materials and entomology.
  • Spanish– with Rosetta Stone (we have levels 1-5 of the homeschool edition)
  • English III– with One Year Adventure Novel using the reading list he provides along with essay writing. We need to keep her skills sharp though she’ll be writing fiction this year.
  • Quest for the Ancient World– WinterPromise and she’ll be doing this with her 8th grade brother
  • Art– a credit of art using a variety of materials and online courses
  • Sewing & Design III– An independent study which involves teaching others and breaking new ground in design and construction.

Rebecca teaches two sewing classes right now. She prepares the curriculum and helps the girls learn new skills and complete projects. Rather than working at a sewing camp, she chose to try for more students. This is the perfect working environment for her at this time.

Other High School Posts at Blog, She Wrote

Creating Opportunities for Your Homeschooled Teen

Working with a Bright & Occasionally Very Motivated High Schooler: Tips and Strategies– Do you know any students like this? Helpful strategies for working with this type of student.

Teaching & Mentoring High School Math– How to work with teens and complex math. It’s easier than you think!

Creating Opportunities for Your Homeschooled Teen– How to work to find experiences for your homeschooled high schooler.

High School Help– A gathering of high school posts here at Blog, She Wrote

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Middle School Curriculum Choices 2015-2016http://blogshewrote.org/2015/07/12/middle-school-curriculum-choices-2015-2016/ http://blogshewrote.org/2015/07/12/middle-school-curriculum-choices-2015-2016/#comments Mon, 13 Jul 2015 03:38:57 +0000 http://blogshewrote.org/?p=18284 This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support! Isaac is our 8th grader this year. Probably the biggest difference for him will be the level of work we expect. 8th grade kicks things up a notch in order to transition to high school level work by the end of the year. Our Middle School […]

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Middle School Curriculum Choices 2015-2016

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Isaac is our 8th grader this year. Probably the biggest difference for him will be the level of work we expect. 8th grade kicks things up a notch in order to transition to high school level work by the end of the year. Our Middle School Curriculum Choices 2015-2016:

8th Grade Curriculum Choices

Implementing Middle School Curriculum

Isaac will be working on more than those four pieces of curriculum would suggest. Art and music are part of his program along with some project areas. His learning time will consist of the following in addition to the four main subject areas above:

  • RC Plane Flying– He is a member of the local flying club and has three planes he flies and maintains. Two of them he can fly at the park behind our house and the other one is large enough to need an air field. That’s his newest acquisition and he’s quickly becoming an expert.
  • Model Rocketry– Isaac builds his own rockets from kits (some are more ready to fly than others) and launches them.
  • Daily Reading Aloud– Both as the reader and the listener. We read The Lord of the Rings together and take turns reading. Additionally, we read as a family.
  • Speech Practice– He has a history of severe apraxia and we are working on trimming up his R sounds. He gets weekly one on one speech therapy for articulation. I think he’ll be dismissed by summer’s end, but practice will continue. The sounds are there, but they require great effort from him.
  • Reading– Lots of reading is in store. Right now he’s immersed in a 14 book series by Robert Jordan called The Wheel of Time. In fact, his older brother and sister and his dad are all reading the series.

Other Middle School Posts at Blog, She Wrote

How to Engage Your Teens with Books

It’s hard to believe that, although we have one middle schooler this year, we are parenting and homeschooling three teens right now. Here are a few posts on homeschooling middle school.

Teaching Middle & High School Language Arts– Resources and information on how we approach language arts for our secondary students.

Homeschooling Middle & High School Fine Arts– Music and art in middle school

Homeschooling Middle & High School Math– We are Life of Fred users especially for upper level math. Learn about our strategy for teaching math in middle school.

Literary Adventures– Book fun for middle school or any age. Find a fun book which challenges your middle schooler and get started!

The Snake Project– This was our daughter’s 8th grade science two years ago and it was a fabulous example of what happens when you let a project develop and challenge a student.

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Elementary Curriculum Choices 2015-2016http://blogshewrote.org/2015/07/12/elementary-curriculum-choices-2015-2016/ http://blogshewrote.org/2015/07/12/elementary-curriculum-choices-2015-2016/#respond Mon, 13 Jul 2015 01:26:59 +0000 http://blogshewrote.org/?p=18288 This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support! Joshua is our last elementary student and he’s a 5th grader, so this is our last year teaching elementary school. Wow- will our homeschool look different next year considering we have a senior this year as well! We’ve made some fun selections for our Elementary Curriculum […]

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Elementary Curriculum Choices 2015-2016

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Joshua is our last elementary student and he’s a 5th grader, so this is our last year teaching elementary school. Wow- will our homeschool look different next year considering we have a senior this year as well! We’ve made some fun selections for our Elementary Curriculum Choices 2015-2016.

5th Grade Curriculum Choices

  • MathLife of Fred Fractions and Decimals & Percents. Along with games, practice, and math adventures using Math on the Level.
  • BiologyChristian Kids Explore Biology from Bright Ideas Press along with other resources based on my professional background. CKE will keep me moving forward!
  • Social StudiesAround New York in 80 Days. I’m pretty excited about this one. It’ll be fun to do local and state history and take some field trips.
  • Language Arts– with The Writer’s Jungle. Lots of fun writing is in store for Joshua and I think this is just his speed. I also have tons of resources for writing to use if he needs a boost or a change up.
  • Latin– with Prima Latina. He’s so interested in learning Latin names especially in science. The spark for learning Latin was lit by The Penderwicks. Mr. Penderwick is always speaking Latin.
  • Unit Studies– literature or topically based with BYFIAR, scientists, Lion Preparatory Academy, and the Prairie Primer.
  • FIRST LEGO League– This will be his second year on our FLL team. He loves to program the robot for missions.

Elementary Curriculum Choices 2015-2016

Implementing Our Elementary Curriculum

I wouldn’t want anyone to start panicking over this robust plan! Joshua and I read together aloud every day and I know he will enjoy doing unit studies along the way. We’ve been very successful working together. He’s a unique learner with some strong gifted characteristics. Some general thoughts on his formal and informal learning experiences:

  • He’s an intense learner– I’m certain we won’t do all of these things at once, but a few at a time for a length of time or until he runs out the learning on a particular topic.
  • Bible Time– While the next two older kids are working on ancient studies, he will be listening in to the Bible readings from the Archeological Bible.
  • Read Aloud Time– Those of you who have younger and older students probably run into the fact that you haven’t read books to your youngest that you read to your older kids! Joshua and I are going back to read together the things our older kids enjoyed with us before he has memory of hearing the stories.
  • Local History– NY State history and geography is on the docket this year and our older kids will enjoy revisiting some of it.
  • Writing– Lots of dictation and free writing are on tap.
  • Unit Studies– We may not do these one after the other, but I expect a few each quarter will do the trick based on his interest.
  • Audio Books– Joshua listens to stories as he falls to sleep. His mind is always working on a problem and this has been a successful way to get him to relax.
  • Project Based Learning– One of the ways Joshua is intense is with his work. He loves to solve problems, engineer, and program. He reads whole manuals on programming languages and is tenacious enough to figure things out on his own. He will spend many hours at work and this is actually one of his biggest gifted behaviors. He does not like his work to be interrupted! Part of his curriculum is the time, space, and materials to accomplish his work goals.
  • Mindstorms EV3– He has his own EV3 kit and Dan gives him programming challenges. He also likes to use his Arduino shield to program the brick with software other than the EV3 code. Right now he’s using Lejos to program the EV3 using Java which runs off an SD card. EV3 runs a stripped down version of Linux and he enjoys customizing the programming use a different language.
  • Entomology– Joshua is preparing to turn in his second year collection to the 4-H Fair. He will continue to collect and pin insects this next year.

Related Posts at Blog, She Wrote

How to Teach Science through the Lives of Scientists

Here are a few posts relating to elementary instruction or planning.

How to Teach Science through the Lives of Scientists– Our kids have always loved learning about people who do extraordinary things and our youngest especially enjoys learning about scientists. This has been a great fit for him and we’ll continue to approach biographies in this way.

Math Planning– How I put together math plans based on concepts my kids need to accomplish before Algebra.

Beyond Five in a Row– This page has all things Beyond on it including ways to plan, how to use the curriculum, and sample work from the books we’ve studies.

How to Keep up with Your Accelerated Reader– Do you have a child who read well above grade level? How do you keep up with pre-reading?

Ultimate Guide to Establishing a Reading Culture in Your Home– All of our kids are readers and this has always been a priority in our home. Though our kids all came to read fluently at different times and enjoy some different tastes in reading material, our home is still a haven for reading. It’s well worth the time to build this in during the elementary years.

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