Monday, November 1, 2010

Links that I keep clicking on

I have let this blog sit silent while my family has walked through a grief filled period. I have a few thoughts bouncing around in my head, but my heart just isn't there yet.

In the mean time, here are some links that I have loved visiting

For math (are you tired of me talking about math?) - so many ideas, so little time
dy-dan - - high school math teacher turned PhD student, no algabra students in this house, but I love reading his ideas

For Science
birdsleuth - - free Homeschool material published by Cornell University. Think about that for a minute, a well respected university acknowledging that homeschooling is a viable option. Click on this link as a way to say "thanks for admitting that I exist Cornell University"

For encouragement (I know Laura in real life, her blog should be bookmarked on your computer)

In my spare time I am teaching a high school biology class. My students are currently working on landscape design projects. I am thrilled with their ideas.

Are there links that you are loving? Leave a comment.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Where to start?

Sheep uterus dissections. A big thank you to Greg and Nancy Landry for inviting us to join them during an anatomy camp. Most of the content was for older students, but my girls sure had a great time.

Shenandoah National Park, VA

Visiting with one of those few friends who loves my kids as much as I do. We have known each other for nearly 25 years.

Roan Mountain State Park, TN
Our mini-van has 1,200 more miles on it. Our savings account has a few less pennies in it. We loved having some time to catch up with family and friends. We treasured an opportunity to take an extended camping trip. Scott is without a doubt refreshed. He has returned to work with a renewed passion for his job.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Math Research Results

During the 2009-2010 school year my eight year old hit a road block in math. Each week the weaknesses of the Saxon program seemed more glaring. The biggest challenge for me was the lack of information for the parent. Saxon offers no alternatives for teaching a given concept. By May we were both discouraged and frustrated.

My goal for this summer was to find a math program that offered the parent multiple suggestions for teaching the same concept. I was also hoping for an unlimited list of ideas for hands on activities. Knowing that that was a rather tall order, plan "B" was to buy the next level of Saxon along with several idea books.

Here is a summary of what I found - - -
idea book - -good luck! Marylin Burns wrote some fun books in the 80's. I was able to find one at a used bookstore. ONE. The one that I found was cute, had great ideas, and is written to students. I bought it, but it wasn't quite what I was hoping to find. Also, I will need more than one idea book to get through the entire school year.

Math programs at the NC homeschool conference were amazingly weak. Here is a quick run down of booths I stopped by:

Teaching Textbooks - all done on the computer, when a wrong answer is given the child is then given the option of skipping the question, parent is not involved at all, no hands on activities

RightStart Math - EXPENSIVE! Requires manipulatives unique to that program, uses an unorthodox approach to math facts (no memorizing)

Math-U-See- weak on calendar, measuring, and telling time; many families use this program, it is fine, but not what I was looking for

I already knew that I was looking for more, not less, so I avoided programs that I knew to be similar to Saxon.

Math on the level - I had not heard of this program before; I was impressed by what I saw. It is initially more expensive than all other programs, but cheaper in the long run. It includes every math concept from kindergarten through Algebra. There are no consumable workbooks, so you can reuse the entire program for multiple children. Each concept had multiple teaching suggestions. There was an entire book devoted to hands on activities. There is a yahoo group that parents use to ask questions, and I am told that the group is quite helpful. I didn't make the purchase this weekend, but I am seriously considering switching to this program next year.

I did buy several books from the Critical Thinking Company. I love their math products. My girls do too. This year they have a new series called 'balance benders'; I highly recommend it.

I also bought a used copy of Saxon 5/4. Why? Fair question. It was cheap. I wanted to have a back up plan. I am pretty sure that I am going to use Math on the level, but the upfront cost does have me dragging my feet.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Unusually quiet around here

For the next few months this humble blog may seem rather silent. School will continue as scheduled, but my free time will look quite different. My husband has started a three month sabbatical. He has a great job, that he is quite good at, if I may say so. His job can be rather intense. To compensate for that his employer gives all full time workers a three month sabbatical after every five years of work. It is an amazing deal. I assure you that during those five years of work he wakes up every morning prepared to pour himself out each day.

The kids and I are thrilled to have him home. As my seven year old was setting the table on the first night she asked me, "will Dad be home for dinner?" It was wonderful to answer, "yes."

I am sure that I will read several blogs as I prepare for next school year, but I might not post too often myself. I will be enjoying my husband's company and relishing backyard baseball games.

Math - -join the conversation

As I posted a few months ago, I have been carefully reviewing math in our school. I have enjoyed reading the posts that Sylvia has written (there are three, so be sure to read each one). I have also enjoyed reading the comments that were added by her readers.

At the end of May I am going to sit in on three "how to teach math" sessions at the state homeschool conference. I am looking forward to compiling all of this information and making a final decision about math for next year.

Thanks to those of you who have been a part of the conversation. I certainly benefit from reading your ideas. I am sure that others do too.

TOG library style

For the last quarter of the school year (Year 2, Unit 4) I have tried using the library for all of our books. Overall I am pleased with the result. By relying on inter-library loans, I have been able to acquire most of the books that we will need. There were about 10 books that I was unable to match perfectly. In most cases I have been able to find a reasonable substitute.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Last day to enter the give away

If you haven't already entered this give away you have one day left. Tapestry of Grace will be giving away ALL OF THE TEACHER MANUALS AND SUPPLEMENTAL MATERIAL to five families. This amounts to nearly everything that you would need for history, literature, and geography for K-12. That is one amazing give away.