Category Archives: electives

Picta Dicta Vocabulary Builder (Latin) ~ a Crew review

Picta Dicta

Vocabulary builds on itself through many avenues, one of which is knowing the languages that English originates from. One of those languages that is a foundation for English is Latin and Miss E and I have been reviewing a product from Roman Roads Media called Picta Dicta Vocabulary Builder. This is an online program that helps introduce and build vocabulary in Latin.

Roman Roads Media has a large number of products to support a classical education in the home. The goal of Roman Roads Media to make curriculum available that is high quality, affordable, and flexible.

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The Program

Picta Dicta Vocabulary Builder is a subscription (14 months) to a self-paced study of Latin vocabulary. There are currently two levels available to choose from – easy and normal. The easy level works more with the visual correlation of the printed word to the spoken word with a picture to help facilitate the connection. The normal level does the same but also adds more written – writing out forms, giving gender, participles, or genetive forms. In the easy level, there are three activities per chapter. In the normal level, there are five activities per chapter.

Normal level chapterseasy level chapters

Each chapter begins with the vocabulary. Learn is what they call this activity. There is a picture given with the word, the definition, and, when appropriate, a sentence or phrase for context. The program pronounces the word and it is expected that the student will repeat the pronunciation of the word while studying the page. After becoming familiar with the information, the student clicks the thumbs up in the bottom right corner. (I also found that a simple enter key stroke will move the program forward.)

sample of vocabulary image

There will be several words given and then a quiz feature will appear. The student completes the short quiz and then continues with more vocabulary. This will continue until the student has successfully completed the activity. There is a small icon in the upper right corner that shows the progress within that activity. This is mastery based so missing something will trigger the program to provide the student with more practice opportunities.

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After Learn comes Choose. This is another matching type of activity where the student is creating the connection between the spoken word, the written word, and the picture.

Next is Spell. This is where things start to get tricky and more difficult and where the normal level really differs from the easy one. In this activity, the student is expected to spell the word, typing it out. It goes over the word more than once when you miss it, which is helpful and really encourages the student to commit the word to memory. It takes time. I have done this lesson multiple times in chapter 1 and I am still not happy with my score.

After Spell the student takes on Forms. Enter the REALLY tricky part if you do not already know Latin forms. This is more of an experimental part for us since we don’t have any instruction in forms, yet. At least, not with these vocabulary words. But, that’s okay. It just takes longer to go through it and to learn the forms. Repetition is key here and repeating until an acceptable score is received takes time. This is not in the easy level.

The final activity is Test Forms. This is just a double check to see if you remember what you learned in the activity before. After completion, you can go back and repeat or train on any of the activities or move on to the next chapter. This is also not in the easy level.

Our Use and Thoughts

The program is simple and straight forward, though it is not easy to do. The site itself, the program? I give it a thumbs up! I find it a fun and easy way to work on Latin when I am not feeling up to a full-fledged curriculum of Latin.

image and words

Miss E, age 14 and in 9th grade, has been using this program, as well. She is spending about 20 minutes per day with the program and is progressing well. She is finding it relatively easy to work through, though the spelling and the forms are making her work. She has made it through chapter 4 and is working on chapter 5 now – basic actions. She seems to be doing well and I like that it is a Latin program that makes sense for her learning style.

The dashboard for the learner is simple to navigate. Login and then click go. It takes you right to where you left off. Even if you stopped in the middle of an activity. The thumbs up in the lower right corner will move you on to the next page that you need. There is a question mark that appears during the activity if you need some more help or review. Click on the word and the program will read it for you. If you want more practice, you click the picture of the dumb bell and it takes you to some training exercises that do not score. Log out when you are done. Easy-peasy.

The dashboard for the parent or instructor has a bit more to it but it is still simple enough to figure out. From the main dashboard, just click Go or Play to go to you own work. If you want to see how your class is doing, click on learners. It will tell you where the students are at and what their last activity was, how long they spent on it, and what their score was. You can look at those stats for the day, the week, the month or the course.

spelling

I really like this program. It is an effective way to easy a student into learning Latin that is not strong in the classical memorization styles. Our plan is to finish out the program with Miss E on the easy level, where she has been working. Then, we will start again but move her up to the normal level. (Our subscription is for 14 months so we should have time to at least work on it some.) Since you can go back and repeat, practice and train as much as is needed during this time, I am hoping to continue beefing up my own Latin vocabulary. I took Latin in high school and loved it. I haven’t had much practice with it in the years since so this has been a lot of fun for me. I definitely recommend you check out Picta Dicta Vocabulary Builder is you are working on Latin or have a student who might need a different type of Latin course. Roman Roads Media also has a couple of other products you might be interested in – another vocabulary program called Picta Dicta Natural World and a rhetoric program titled Fitting Words Classical Rhetoric.

Want to know more? Check out this video from Roman Roads Media about this program.

Blessings,
At Home.

Visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read other reviews on the Picta Dicta program we used, as well as the other program and the rhetoric course. Click on the banner below.

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Stretching the Mind

Stretching the Mind

When we were prepping for the school year, we visited a local education supply store. We were looking specifically for some history materials but were enjoying the browsing process. You know – looking at the different curriculum and options and enjoying the “shiny” of it all.

Miss J saw the cover of a book and pulled it out. She sat right down with it and started reading and solving problems. She did not want to put it down. She asked us very nicely if we would buy her the book so she could work all of the puzzles in the book. So we did. (Bonus: it was on sale! So we bought the one for the next level, too.)

The book she wanted: Mind Benders Level 3 from The Critical Thinking Co.

She has consistently worked through the book at two to four puzzles a day. She would spend her complete day on them if I would let her! We have, however, found that more than three or so and they get harder to solve. Not because the puzzles are that much harder but because her brain has been stretched about all it can take for the day. So, we do try to limit her to two.

Each puzzle has a series of boxes to mark up to help you eliminate possibilities and mark the right answer when you find it. The puzzles each have about three or four clues but they aren’t the straight-forward kind. You really have to think about the words used and the hints hidden in them. Then you have to interpret that into the grid you are filling out.

The puzzles vary in topic from grades to professions to positions on sports teams to sibling relationships. They are fun and really encourage brain stretching and growth. What started out as a splurge to encourage her with something she found interesting looking has turned into something much larger and very helpful. I have seen her reasoning skills grow and her ability to think things through grow, as well.

Now if I could find something for impulse training. 🙂

On to level 4 of the series . . .

Blessings,
At Home.

Code For Teens ~ a Crew review

learning coding with Code for Teens

A while back, Miss E had opportunity to do some computer coding. She realized that she really enjoyed it. Code for Teens then asked for the Crew to review their new book on writing JavaScript – Code For Teens: The Awesome Beginner’s Guide to Programming (Volume 1). This has been a great book to get to use and learn some new skills.

Code For Teens is the brainchild of Jeremy Moritz. Mr. Moritz and his wife (the illustrator) have extensive home education knowledge, as they educate their own six children. Mr. Moritz has been a software engineer and developer for over a decade. Thus, this book comes straight from his knowledge and background. And, with his experience of working with children (he also coaches chess and has directed lots of musicals), he knows exactly what will catch the student’s attention.

Code for Teens

Written in a conversational and humorous style, the information is clear and easy to follow. It is written directly to the student so that she is teaching herself. Each chapter has plenty of explanation and exercises to help gain experience and understanding. The student is encouraged to type the exercises right along with the book, being given the exact information to input and the exact expected outputs. Sometimes, the book encourages wrong inputs so that the student can experience how to problem solve the situation. (That’s fantastic since they won’t always have a step-by-step guide telling them where the problems are in the code.) By the time the end of the chapter is reached, the student will have worked with the code quite a bit through exercises and drills, helping cement the concept. There is a quiz, an overview of the key concepts for the chapter, drills, an aggregate review, and a DIY project at the end of each chapter.

If for some reason, you reach the end of the chapter and still don’t quite understand it, you can go back and do it again. The concepts and skills build on each other throughout the book so it is important to understand one chapter before moving on to the next. But with the variety of exercises, and being encouraged to change bits of the code to see what happens, the student should be able to get it figured out. There is no expected pace, so take the time you need to learn it right.

The ten chapters cover all you need to learn JavaScript and you finish with programming a game. The back of the book contains an answer key to help the student if they get stuck. There is also a glossary of terms back there with the definitions for some words that the student might need, as well as the symbol.

Code for Teens - working on the chapter

My Thoughts:

I like this book. It is a nice weight and high quality printing. The glossy pages are not going to tear easily and the print is easy to read on them. The humorous style makes it a pleasant read and easy to follow. The instructions are extremely clear and well written. A lay-flat binding would be a fantastic addition to the next printing of this book, though it worked well with the book stand that Miss E has.

I have a friend who is a graduate student working on a doctorate degree in mathematics. She has quite a bit of programming experience. One day while over at the house, she saw this book and picked it up. She was immediately interested and spent some time reading through the book. She commented quite a bit about how well written this was, how easy to follow, and how much clearer it was than many programming books she has worked with. She was very impressed with this book and hopes that this company will continue to come out with more programming books because there are a couple of language she wants to learn.

Miss E’s Thoughts:

It was really good so far. I like that they had the exact things you are supposed to type highlighted and colored and the responses highlighted and colored differently. At the very beginning, it gave instructions for more than just using Chrome and it is nice to know that those instructions are there for others who might need them.

It is very funny and I like the way it is written. It feels less like a lesson and more like someone is actually talking to me. Some texts are just “blah-blah-blah” and this is written more like a conversation. This makes it easier to understand and also to feel less boring and classroom-ish.

One thing that I didn’t like was that in the first chapter they had me do things wrong that were obviously wrong. I could tell it was going to be wrong before I did it so I didn’t see why I should do it wrong on purpose. There was one thing that I couldn’t find how to do in the chapter, though it was in the quiz, but I had someone here who could help me with that so I was okay. (Mom edit: On the quiz p 24, question 11 – had to do with the single = implies what?)

When a student wants to use a book and they don’t have to that day, you know it is a good product. Miss E picked this up more than once late in the evening just to work some more on learning to use JavaScript. Code for Teens really hit home with her and she has enjoyed it quite a bit.

Blessings,
At Home.

Be sure to visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read what other families thought about Code for Teens and find out how they used this program.

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Traditional Logic I from Memoria Press ~ a Crew review

Logic I set

As high school approaches (wait! it is here!), additional thoughts crowd my mind about classes that would be beneficial to my daughter to experience. Public speaking and critical and logical thinking are a couple of those classes. Memoria Press has a Traditional Logic course that we have been working with, using Traditional Logic I Complete Set, and I can already see her reasoning skills getting stronger, coming up in discussions at times.

Memoria Press is a classical Christian education company that publishes high quality materials. The company was founded in 1994. They are a family run company.

Traditional Logic I Complete Set, for approximately grade 7 through adults, includes:

  • Student Text
  • Student Workbook (compatible with the second and third editions of the Student Text)
  • Teacher Key (for Student Workbook and Quizzes & Final Exam)
  • Quizzes & Final Exam
  • DVD

Instructional DVDs

The DVD is a set of two discs. They are instructional discs, giving the lecture portion of the lesson. The discs follow the same topic structure as the student text and workbook. The presenter is Martin Cothran and he very clearly walks the students through the lesson concepts and examples. The lessons contain no fluff; they are straightforward and high level thinking. The instructor refers to the topics in the text but it is not necessary to try to follow along with the text. We did find that the page numbers he referred to did not match with our workbook but it was very easy to locate the area he was talking about.

student materials

The student text is a softback book of approximately 100 pages. There are 13 lessons plus and introduction. Each lesson is less than 10 pages, averaging about 5. These lessons are well written and easy to read. Sometimes the concepts are a bit difficult to grasp but reading over it a second time and/or using the video definitely helps in the understanding. The concepts are actually described pretty clearly and concisely. The back of the text contains a glossary and a list of important people to know.

The student workbook is a softback book that is about 8 1/2 x 11 inches. It is  92 pages in length and is a consumable product. Each student will need their own book. The book is intended to be the practice and application of the lesson information from the DVD and the text. There are exercises for four days in each lesson. The student will likely need to refer to the text to work some of the exercises.

teacher materials

The Quizzes & Tests book contains a quiz for each chapter and a final exam. These are not simple answer questions; they require thought and writing from the student to truly explore their understanding of the lesson information.

The Teacher Key is the answers for the student workbook and for the quizzes and tests. Each page is an exact replication of the student workbook, the quiz, or the test. It has the correct answers typed into the answer space for that page. This makes it very easy to be certain you are grading the correct question. Having the answer key is really helpful in guiding the students toward the correct answers when they are struggling with the workbook.

workbook and key

Side by side comparison of the workbook and the key

How We Used It:

On the first day of a lesson, Miss E would screen shot and textwatch the video. Then she would read the text. The rest of the week, she would do one set of lesson exercises per day, refreshing the topic through the text as needed. We did not use the weekly lesson quizzes, as we spent quite a bit of time discussing the information as she went along so I knew how she was doing with it. I do plan to administer the final exam at the end of the course.

The first day of a lesson always took about 30 minutes. The other days seldom took that long, as the information was pretty easy for her to understand.

Our Thoughts:

Miss E has actually enjoyed this course more than I thought she would. She has enjoyed the simplicity of the thinking while still noticing that she is getting better at reasoning some things out. This is not a course with a skill that will highly impact daily life but as she is hoping to participate in debate next year, this is a thinking skill that will be beneficial to her.

Miss E has said a couple of times how much she has enjoyed thinking through the processes and learning to understand some of the words used in this course.

text and workbook

I have been very pleased with her progress and her understanding of this style of logic. I will not pretend to understand it easily but I do know that understanding different ways of thinking logically is helpful in the grand scheme of things. This program is easy to use, easy to understand, and has been a pleasant experience. I believe that if we can fit it in, she will be tackling Logic II following this.

I really like Memoria Press and the products that they present. The current Homeschool Review Crew run includes

New American Cursive,
Traditional Logic I Complete Set, 
Traditional Logic II Complete Set
Classical Composition I: Fable Set
Classical Composition II: Narrative Set.

Our past reviews include:

First Form Latin
D’Aulaires’ Greek Myths set
6th Grade Literature set
Famous Men of Rome
New American Cursive

Blessings,
At Home.

Head over to the Homeschool Review Crew to read more reviews on Traditional Logic or any of the other products I listed above that are being used by the Crew families on this Crew run. Just click below.

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CodeWizardsHQ ~ a Crew review

CodeWizardsHQ review

Writing computer code is not something I really expected Miss E to get interested in but the introductory class she participated in from CodeWizardsHQ created a new interest for her. Reviewing the class gave us a good introduction to their computer programming curriculum, which is a good fit for anyone interested in learning computer programming, whether a homeschool student, a public school student, or a private school student.

CodeWizardsHQ was begun by a dad who saw his daughter struggling to learn to code with the resources that were currently available. So he create the platform and classes that he knew would make it possible for students to really learn how to write computer code, understanding what they were actually doing.

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What Is CodeWizardsHQ?

CodeWizardsHQ is a comprehensive code curriculum. It consists of 9 courses that are 12 weeks each, followed by a capstone project. This curriculum takes the student through real-world programming with project-based learning. The course is a live, on-line course with instructors who have real-world coding experience (read that: a day job in coding) and a heart for teaching others how to write code.

live class slide show

So what makes CodeWizardsHQ different from what is already out there? When taking a course from CodeWizardsHQ the student is working with a small class (8 or fewer students) and an instructor. The instructor can see what the student is doing, as they are doing it and can make real-time corrections when the student is having a problem. 80% of the class time is spend writing code and seeing it work. The real-time interaction between the instructor and students makes this unique in the world of online code education.

CodeWizardsHQ has scheduled classes that you can register for and these classes are beginning in May. If you are looking for classes for a homeschool student, you can register for what they have scheduled or you can get your friends or co-op together and work with the company to find a time that works for you. There is a special homeschool pricing based upon the number of students.

CodeWizardsHQ classes give you a one hour live class per week. The student has access to the code writing platform 24/7, email support (same day), one-to-one assistance when needed, weekly progress updates, and class recordings. In addition to this, the student will have web space to use for their projects, an online student community, and a certificate of completion for each completed course.

There is a Facebook group for parents who are interested in their kids coding.

The Class –

screen with slides and chat

The class Miss E took was a special introductory class. It was only one hour, not a part of their 12 week courses. Her instructor was Ms. Lynn, a front-end web developer who has worked in the field for 20 years. Ms. Lynn talked to Miss E and her classmates about HTML code – what it was and what it did, its value to the internet world. Then she had them look at some code and talked about what each part of it did. After a bit of explanation, she had the students begin to work with the code, writing the parts they needed to, editing where necessary.

The students in the class were creating a comic strip with 9 panels in it. Ms. Lynn walked them through how to manipulate the code. They changed backgrounds, images, and text. Anytime a question arose, the students could use their microphone to talk with Ms. Lynn in real-time, getting a real-time answer, or they could use the chat box on the class to ask the question and get an immediate answer. As they worked, Ms. Lynn could see what they were writing for their code and interact with them on any changes they needed or wanted to make. At one point, Miss E had a question about removing a text box. Ms. Lynn was able to help her make that change quickly and easily. A self-paced or video based course would not be able to do that.

By the end of the one hour class, the students had finished a good part of the comic. If they hadn’t, they could still continue working after the class because they had access to the coding platform. The platform makes it easy to share their finished product as well. It was as easy as clicking a button to share the finished product on Facebook or Twitter. And just copying and pasting the web address meant it could be shared with others.

Comic screenshot

When we first heard about the class, I will be honest – we were not excited. It did not appeal and we did not really want to have to figure out how to manage a live class. But, we did. When the time for class arrived, Miss E had just gotten home from the dentist (not a “fun” cleaning visit – one of those others where fillings had to be done) and so she was already feeling less than energetic. However, we got her logged on and she was ready to participate. What we found was that she enjoyed it. A lot. As the one-hour class time ticked by, she giggled more and was more energetic and excited about what she was doing. She understood more about the process behind the code and how it worked. As she figured out how to place figures or to eliminate lines of code she didn’t need, things clicked and her smile grew (even with half of it being numb). She truly enjoyed it and by the time we finished, she was asking if this was something we could afford to enroll her in and if so, could Ms. Lynn be her instructor (I have not explored the answer to that). Now we are considering this new interest seriously.

back end - or written code - for the comic

The back end – written code – for Miss E’s comic. This is what the class taught her how to do.

Miss E’s thoughts:
It was cool! We could talk to her (Ms. Lynn – instructor) and she could talk to us like a real class. Or we could use the chat box. I didn’t have to rely on you (Mom) to maybe fix my problem or maybe make it worse. It was fun and I’d like to learn more.

My thoughts:
This is not going to be an inexpensive new interest but it is one that would serve her really well in the future. This set-up – the live class with a qualified instructor – is of great value and benefit in the process of learning how to write computer code. The personal interaction will make all the difference between struggling to figure it out on your own (and likely giving up when it doesn’t work) and truly learning to understand how those lines fit together to make something work. CodeWizardsHQ is a company that I will be keeping in mind.

Blessings,
At Home.

Want to learn more about the program or find out the thoughts of other parents? Want to know what other students who took the class thought? Visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read more reviews by clicking the banner below.

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Connect with CodeWizardsHQ on social media:

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And the Learning Goes On, and On, and On ~ 2018 Virtual Homeschool Fair

And the learning goes on

Learning never stops. And tons of things can be classified as “learning.” And we want our girls to live a life of learning. And so, the learning goes on, and on, and on, and . . . Well, you get the picture. But how do we actually do that? Imperfectly. But we try.

In some ways, we do really good. Remember my post last week on how we discuss with the girls what they want to learn or give them options to choose from for certain classes? That is one way.

Another is that we pick movies and books to share with them that we think they should know (and love, but sometimes they have their own opinions about that!). Whether it be for our weekly movie night (every Friday) or for our read alouds (whether that is over lunch or in the car on trips), we try to find new and interesting things to share with the girls. Sometimes, we are shocked when they don’t love something as much as we do (The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail) and sometimes, they love it and we get to enjoy it more than once (The Sound of Music, any of the Heirloom Audio Productions, and Little Women/Little Men/Jo’s Boys).

Yet another way is through the outside classes we take them to. All three of the girls take dance classes. One of the girls takes violin lessons. Another takes sign language classes. Another takes piano lessons. Yes, this is additional time and expense but it broadens their horizons in ways that they are interested in. And they absolutely are thriving with these “extras.”

We seek out experiences for them. We go on field trips. We go to the museum or travel to close big cities to visit museums. We go to the beach, the mountains, and visit family. We seek out history. We look for concerts and plays to attend. We are intentional about looking for things to go experience with the girls.

And, we participate highly in church. This may be the last one I talk about but it is the most important and the first when it comes to conflicts. We have an active Lads to Leaders program at our congregation. This is a program that is designed to help encourage, train, and strengthen godly leaders in the Lord’s church. We participate in a number of activities through this program at church, including Bible Bowl, puppet theater, and storyline performances. The girls write speeches, design and put up bulletin boards in classrooms, lead singing in front of ladies’ groups or children’s classes, and read God’s word for the ladies’ groups and children’s classes. We are seeing their skills, leadership, and self-esteem grow. And when we participate in a national conference each spring, the girls get to show off those skills.

Additionally, our congregation has an active youth group. There are many opportunities to serve the congregation and to assist the youth minister with activities for younger kids. There are several service activities each year and a week long mission trip each summer where the youth serve at a children’s home. They also have the opportunity to be junior counselors at a camp session for younger students. Two of the girls are old enough to participate in the youth activities and so we stay pretty busy.

But, since we want the girls to know that every facet of life has an opportunity for both service to others and personal growth, we try hard to open those doors of opportunity as often as we can.

When your family sees life as education and education as life, things overlap quite a bit. That is okay because what an experience it is!

Blessings,
At Home.

Hosted by  Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds, there will be many more blogs sharing ways to include learning outside of the core subjects. Check back late Sunday (1/28) or Monday (1/29) to see the whole list.

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This is the final week of the 7th Virtual Homeschool Fair. Our topic is:  Enriching Our Learning.

Note: All posts will be live after 8 am EST on Monday, Jan. 29th.

Celebrating 7 Years of Homeschool Support & Encouragement by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

All of the Extras by Christy Schaefer @ Unexpected Homeschool

How To Explore Special Interests In Your Homeschool by Jeniffer @ Thou Shall Not Whine

Learning outside of the box by Dana @ Life Led Homeschool

Putting the Heart Back into our Homeschool by Brittney @ Mom’s Heart

Adding in the Fun by Michele @Family, Faith and Fridays

The Electives We Use in Our Homeschool by Amanda @ Hopkins Homeschool

The Fun Parts of Homeschooling by Annette @ A Net in Time

How we add in the fun stuff. by Kim @ Good Sweet Love

Running – for fitness & fun by Lizzy @ Peaches@Home

Adding in the Extras by Jen @ A Helping Hand Homeschool

What About the Fun Stuff? by Laura @ Four Little Penguins

And the Learning Goes On, And On, And On by Lori H @ At Home: where life happens

Let’s See What’s Out There! (Electives and Extras) by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break

 

Innovators Tribe ~ a Crew review

Innovators Tribe course

Fridays are a “different school” day for us: we are intentionally giving the girls hands on learning in science, technology, and art. Innovators Tribe had given us a wonderful opportunity with their program titled Thinking Like an Engineer, which we have been reviewing for a few weeks.

Thinking Like an Engineer

Innovators Tribe is an online curriculum designed to foster the thinking skills needed to bring creative thinking from the head to the hands. Created by Wayne Kroeplin, known as Mr. K., students are guided and taught the thinking skills needed to become an innovative thinker and a problem solver. The courses offered by Innovators Tribe are designed for 6th – 12th grade students. Because it is an online program, you will need a reliable computer and internet service as it is not a downloaded program.

We have been using Thinking Like an Engineer  during our Fun Fridays. Each Friday, we log into our course dashboard and click the link that continues us in the course right where we left off previously. The course is a good mixture of online learning with recorded lessons from Mr. K., slideshows, and videos to explain various concepts. There is also a printable unit journal that has questions for the students to complete. These questions help to focus the student’s attention on certain parts of the lesson, highlighting important terms or ideas. In addition, there are research and hands-on challenges that allow the students to put into practice the concepts discussed in the lessons.

tower challenge

Topics that are addressed in Thinking Like an Engineer  include what is an engineer (professional problem solver – I LOVE this description!), types of engineers, types of problems solved or studied by engineers, and real world examples of the application of engineering and problem solving thinking. Hands-on opportunities include things like building tower of books standing on only one piece of paper, making a tower of paper over 5 feet tall using minimal materials, creating a water filtering system, and these are just the ones we have encountered in Unit 1. (Looking ahead there is a bridge challenge and a roller coaster challenge, too.)

The challenges require some basic materials, though if you want to try the water filtration system, you will probably have to go shopping for some things. But overall, it is just paper and tape for the challenges.

book stacking challenge

We have begun Unit 2 and this is where we got to download the 3D software. We are extremely excited to learn how to use this software and find out what it can do to increase our problem solving abilities. The 3D software is used to design models of ideas for solutions. So many possibilities! There are several instructional lessons using this program and also some challenges with it.

As I mentioned earlier, we are using this program for a couple of hours each Friday as part of our STEM learning. This is being used by an 8th grader, a 6th grader, and a 3rd grader. They watch the lesson online together and then we talk through the questions in the Unit Journal related to that lesson. Finally, they tackle the challenges as a team.

research

Though she is below the anticipated age of the program, the 3rd grader is doing really well participating and helping out. She is not doing the writing in the Unit Journals, though we are talking about each question out loud and so she is participating in the discussions. She is also a big factor in the solutions with the challenges so far. She is just jumping right in, paying attention, and having fun with the learning.

Mr. K. really wants his students to learn and does an amazing job of assisting the students in that. For one of the questions in the Unit Journal, Miss L needed to research the engineering related to a topic she enjoyed. She chose dance. Well, let’s just say that is not an easy internet research topic. So, we took Mr. K. at his word about sending an email his way when we needed something and we had a very quick response that was just amazing.

He responded to Miss L with a video message in which he talked directly to her, addressing her need in such a way that she was empowered to go do the rest of the research needed to answer the question. He did not just tell her what to go look up but rather talked to her about how to think about the topic in a way that she could figure out what to go look for.

Innovators Tribe

This is a great example of how he teaches – he doesn’t lecture and tell you everything he wants you to know. Yes, there is some of that because there is just no way around it sometimes. But, he addresses the “how” of the thinking and gives the students the power and ability to think about the problem differently and in a way that allows solutions to be imagined. That is powerful!

I encourage you to find out more about Thinking Like an Engineer by visiting Innovators Tribe.

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Read more reviews by families who have been using both Innovators Tribe classes:  Thinking Like an Engineer and Thinking Like an Architect.

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