Category Archives: high school

Daily Grammar Lessons for Jr. High and High School ~ A Crew review

Daily Grammar for middle and high school

One thing we don’t focus too hard on as a family of readers is grammar and spelling. This is a mixed-bag of benefits so I was happy when a simple solution came available for review to have the girls brush up on these skills. Easy Grammar Systems has a series of easy-to-use products that doesn’t take a huge amount of time while showcasing huge results. Both Miss E (10th grade) and Miss L (8th grade) have been using  Easy Grammar Ultimate Series:  Grade 9 with Easy Grammar Ultimate Series:  Grade 9 Test Booklet. In just 5-10 minutes a day, the girls are getting solid practice and refreshers on all the necessary components of grammar.

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I have two students using this and that is because Easy Grammar Systems has a copyright statement in the front of the lesson book granting permission for more than one student to use the book for non-commercial use. It may not be used school-wide in districts and such but one family may use it for multiple students. This is a great blessing.

There are 180 daily lessons in the Easy Grammar Ultimate Series:  Grade 9. The text is considered a teaching text because it has explanations for new concepts as they come up. There are also examples for those new ideas. This allows the student to see and then use the concept – a great way to learn. Some of the ideas and concepts at the beginning are designed to be a review, especially if this is not the first book from Easy Grammar Systems the student has used. As the lessons progress, the information becomes more advanced. As a teaching text, this has the answer key included in the book.

20190912_133634Concepts in this level include but are not limited to:

  • adjectives
  • adverbs
  • analogies
  • types of sentences
  • conjunctions
  • dictionary skills
  • interjections
  • nouns
  • phrases
  • clauses
  • prefixes, roots, suffixes
  • prepositions
  • pronouns
  • sentence combining
  • sentence problems (run-on, fragment, etc.)
  • spelling
  • subject/verb agreement and identification
  • verbs

This program runs the gamut on grammar skills. Each of the 180 daily lessons includes the same five basic parts: capitalization, punctuation, two areas of grammar concepts, and sentence combining. The lessons are printed in the book and can be copied (notice the cover says reproducible!) or can be copied down into a notebook or on a piece of paper. My girls are using a notebook and writing the answers for each section down in the notebook.

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Samples are available on the website.

The answers are included in the back of the book. The book also has indexes and listing of the concepts with related page numbers. This would make it possible to look up concepts that a student needs practice on and have the student use just those parts.

We also received the test booklet. It contains reproducible tests that occur every 10 lessons. We use it the same way we use the daily lessons. It is formatted the same way the daily lessons are, also. The girls copy the answers for the lessons into their notebooks and then we grade them. So that they don’t forget to have me get the test booklet out, we have written “get test” before lesson 11, lesson 21, etc. The answers are included in the test booklet.

Each day the girls get out their language arts notebook and write the corrected sentences and answers into their notebook. We discuss any questions that arise during the lesson. Then, answers are checked and they are done with it for the day. It truly takes no more than 10 minutes and more often, it is about 5. Sometimes it takes them longer to find the book since there are two using it than it does for them to do the lessons at this point.

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I do expect it to take them a bit longer as the concepts become more advanced. But I have already seen benefit of this program for us. Since most of our grammar understanding comes from experiencing the usage in context of reading, this is pulling out the details and having them focus on the detail one at a time. Even if it is something they know, having to take just a moment to examine it and determine that, “yes, I do understand how this works” is a very good thing. Both of the girls are more certain with their responses and I have heard them speaking with more confidence when helping their younger sister in her grammar work.

I am pleased to see that they have additional levels. I feel confident in saying that this will remain in our arsenal for the long term.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

daily grammar

There have been Homeschool Review Crew families using this and additional products.
Easy Grammar:  Grade 1 
Easy Grammar:  Grade 3 
Daily GRAMS:  Grade 3 
Easy Grammar Plus
Daily GRAMS:  Grade 7
Easy Grammar Ultimate Series:  Grade 9
Easy Grammar Ultimate Series:  Grade 11

Please visit the Crew blog to read about their experiences by clicking on the image below.

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High School Plans 2019-2020 (sophomore year)

High School Classes - 10th Grade classes

Miss E is heading into her sophomore year and we are fully immersed in plans and discussions about what she is going to do for her classes. While as her parents we have a general plan, we definitely allow her to make some choices. So, with the discussion just about complete, I am going to share with you her choices.

(Some of these will be affiliate links because they are products we like and choose. We are not promoting them solely for the affiliation but because we are huge fans of the products, we participate in their affiliate programs. If you visit their site from our link and choose to make a purchase, we may receive a small compensation from the company.)

ART – Located on SchoolhouseTeachers.com, Digital Art and Product Design is on the agenda. It sounded really interesting to Miss E and so she jumped at that title. We have to find the right computer program that will work with the class and her laptop but then she will be ready to go.

MATH – We are using CTCMath. At Home Dad and I really like the look of the program and have decided that this is what we will use for the girls this year. Miss E is starting with Geometry but we have given her the choice of changing over to Algebra II when she gets to a point of frustration with Geometry and then moving back. This freedom means that she will have an out when she begins struggling but if she doesn’t struggle too much, she will fly through Geometry and onto Algebra II.

HISTORY – Miss E has chosen two things for this year. First is completing the Home School In The Wood study of the Middle Ages. Then she will move back to Pathway to Liberty World History Year 4. She really liked the way the program was set up and she found the books that she was using in addition to the program fascinating. I liked the way it all worked together and will be her World History credit.

MUSIC – We are scheduling a time to be evaluated for vocal lessons this year. She has wanted to do voice lessons for a year or so and we will make it happen this year. She has begun a bit of music history and appreciation with Zeezok Music Appreciation Book 2 (review to come but we used their Book 1 a couple of years ago).

PHYSICAL EDUCATION – Dance, dance, dance. Miss E is very involved in dance classes and will be dancing a number of hours each week this year, taking 5 classes and assisting in several more.

LANGUAGE ARTS/LITERATURE – Miss E is going to start out with YWAM Biographies. She found a missionary study book titled To Every Nation from Not Consumed that is going to guide some of the reading and I have written a plan for her to follow which will have her doing a written assignment on at least half of the biographies and designing a final product on each one in addition to the study book she will complete. I will try to post more specifically about what she is doing with this. When she finished the biographies, she will move on to Illuminating Literature: When World Collide by Sharon Watson. We liked the Illuminating Literature: Characters In Crisis that she did last year so this will follow it, as the biography study may only be about a half credit when she finishes. We’ll see. For grammar, she is going to use the Easy Grammar Lessons (review coming soon). It take 5-10 minutes a day and is comprised of exercises that help with review and improvement of writing, which is part of our focus this year.

SCIENCE – We were able to review CrossWired Science a few months ago. Miss E really, really liked CrossWired Science. She wants to work on completing both of the Global Topics contained in the program currently and we hope they will add more before she finished those and she can continue on in that. She will use the calendar for progress included on the CrossWired Science page. If she finished that in about October with nothing else added yet, she will search SchoolhouseTeachers.com for a class or go back to Supercharged Science, which we will still have access to at that point.

SIGN LANGUAGE – We are also still struggling with this one.  There is a class on SchoolhouseTeachers.com but she is beyond it. She is far beyond any of the classes we have found online. She is working on some assignments that her sign teach from last year has given her and she is teaching her youngest sister this year for the Lads to Leaders program. We are pursuing a few days of internship or helping with the preschool sign language story time at the library. We will see where those take us.

That is one full class load, if you ask me. But, honestly, Miss E had a hand in every decision and is pleased with all of them and delighted about many of them. Sophomore year – here she comes!

I would love to see what other high schoolers are tackling this years. Feel free to drop me a list in the comments or drop me a link to your own blog post. I’d love to visit.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

High School Classes -10th Grade

Math Success (CTCMath) ~ a Crew review

Math Success with CTCMath

If you know much about our family, and most homeschoolers it seems, math can be a struggle and a challenge. However, the Family Membership we have been reviewing from CTCMath has been a game changer, giving us access to all levels for all three girls for 12 months. One thing we all know is that people change as they grow and mature. Our children are no different. The last time we tried CTCMath (about five years ago), it was not a good fit. However, it is the perfect fit for all three of the girls this time around and I could not be any more pleased.

CTC-Math

CTCMath is an online subscription program. It is video based instruction with online, interactive questions, printable worksheets, quizzes, tests, and online question bank options to help students all learn at their maximum ability. The customer service answers emailed questions very quickly. (We had a question about a video and their response was received within a few hours.)

The student dashboard on CTCMath is where students access their materials for the day. Each student has their own login and password. The student logs in and, if assigned a task, can just click on tasks and head on to the lesson and questions. If they have not been assigned a task, it takes quite a few more clicks to get to the next set of instruction materials (especially since it seems to still think the girls are all five years younger than they are). Still, the girls are all able to maneuver to their lessons, click the lesson, and off they go.

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They each watch the video, stopping it to take notes and write down examples as needed. There is also a PDF of the examples from the video if you would like to print that. It is found just under the video and is titled “Lesson Summary.” Then, how they answer quesitons varies a bit since they are at such different levels. Miss J, at the 5th grade level, has online questions so far. She is given a single problem on the screen and then selects the correct answer for it or enters the correct answer for it. It is automatically graded.

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Miss E is working on Geometry. She has a set of online questions to answer. Then she is given a worksheet, as well. We can print that worksheet or she can copy the problems onto a page and note her answers. She then has an answer bank to choose her answers from and a set of boxes that she has to enter the corresponding letter for the correct answer. After finishing that, the system automatically grades her answers, showing her where she missed and giving her the opportunity to view the solutions. (Solutions cannot be viewed until it is attempted at least once.)

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Miss L is working on Basic Math & Pre-Algebra. Her set up is the same as Miss E’s.

The lessons are short and to the point, teaching exactly what is needed to understand the concept being taught. There is no fluff and there is just enough practice on the concept for the girls to feel like they understand it without having to do a whole lot of excess. These straight forward lessons have really helped the girls get to the core of learning and understanding math.

As for me, I really like the parent/teacher side of the program. I can see everything the girls are doing. It tells me when they log in and log out. It tells me what they work on. It tells me their score on the lesson. I get a weekly emailed update on the girls’ week and how they did, just in case I haven’t logged into the parent side recently. I can save that PDF report if I need documentation.

login record

As a parent, I can edit my student’s material to be appropriate. I can decide what the passing level will be. My girls have an 80% pass level. I can adapt that and I have. It actually started at 90% but when the Geometry work only has 6 or 8 questions and you miss one? Well, that got really frustrating really fast. So 80% it is. And it works well.

Another feature I like having is the ability to delete a score and have the student redo it. There was one day where one of the girls was just off. She got a lousy score on her daily work and it was the only thing that was not 100 in her row. She was miserable over that. I was able to visit the User Guide and find a video about what to do with that sort of thing. I was able to delete it and let her have another go at it since it was an unusual thing for her. She redid it another day and was able to happily move on.

There is a neat feature on the program that is fairly new – Question Bank Wizard. This allows you to select the lessons your student needs practice on. It automatically generates a set of questions for the student to practice with. You determine how many questions you want it to generate or how many minutes you want the student to practice. Next you determine if you want easy, harder, or a mix. You then have it generate the question bank. You can order the questions, moving them up or down in the series. This is a really nice feature for a student who is struggling in a particular area or two. It is available up through Algebra I. I hope the rest of the high school topics are coming soon.

question bank wizard

There is a User Guide online that is composed of a number of different videos to help you see how to do certain tasks, such as scheduling tasks for the student, using the Question Bank Wizard, or adding students. They are easy to follow and very helpful. This is the place to start if you decide to check out CTCMath, as their Getting Started video was very helpful. There are several other features, such a printable checklists and exporting data, that may be helpful to you.

CTCMath picture

CTCMath has been an wonderful change for our family. The girls all asked if this could be their math curriculum for this year. No discussion necessary – it is done. I am so pleased with CTCMath. Please check them out.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Families on the Homeschool Review Crew have been using CTCMath for the past couple of months. Click on the image below to see what their experiences were like.

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7 Critical Life Skills Checklists ~ Not Back to School Blog Hop

7 Critical Life Skills Checklists

I have tossed around in my mind over and over and over whether to do yet another checklist or just share some that I have come across. A round-up of ideas will allow you to see what others may consider important and then perhaps make your own or print off something someone else has done, right? Why reinvent the wheel? At the same time, as all homeschoolers know, every child is different and perhaps they each need their own checklist. So, what to do?

three checklists for life skills

First, I’ll share a list of some very specific ideas that I think a teen should know before leaving home, whether to go off to school, a job, or even staying at home while doing either of those. As an adult, they need to know some things.

  1. Finances: Do they know how to budget and manage money? Can they choose a bank and open a checking account? Can they get a credit card and know how to manage it, finding good rates and a reliable company? Do they know the difference between a credit card and a debit card, and when or how to use each?
  2. Automobile: Do they know how to get gas? Wash the windshield? Check the oil? Check the tire pressure? Change a tire? Add fluids when needed? Change the oil or when to have someone change it? How to address regular maintenance? If you live in a big city, do they know how to use public transportation?
  3. Apartment/House: Do they know how to clean? Dust, laundry, bathrooms, vacuum, sweet, mop? Do they know basic maintenance and care?
  4. Finances #2: Do they know how to apply for a loan, when needed? An apartment? Utilities? (This is one of the main reasons for a credit card and knowing how to manage it! You have to have a credit history for these.) How to avoid debt or use debt in wise ways, such as a mortgage? How to handle debt if you find yourself there?
  5. Food Management: Do they know how to cook? Clean up? Bake? Clean up? Make a menu? Make a grocery list? Grocery shop? Store food? Budget food?
  6. Time Management: Do they know how to take care of the things that need done? Can they schedule things? Can they keep track of important dates? Can they manage a long-term project? Can they make appointments?
  7. People: Can they talk to others in a meaningful way? Can they interview? Can they make a phone call? Can they schedule appointments? Can they order food at a restaurant or parts for the refrigerator at the store? Do they know how to communicate clearly? Can they look people in the eye? Can they stand up for themselves in a clear but kind way?

four checklists for life skills

This is far from everything a child needs to know but these are areas that you can look around and see the impact of failures. Don’t know how to handle money? Debt is crippling so many in our society. Don’t know how to speak with others? Many can’t hold jobs because their people skills are lacking. Don’t know how to manage their time? Impacts ability to complete tasks, hold jobs, finish a degree and much more. These are biggies.

But it is a far cry from everything out there. Take a look at some things that are floating around out there:

40 Old-Fashioned Skills That Kids Need to Know Today from Peace Creek on the Prairie

How To Teach Kids Life Skills from Boston Mamas

Top 5 Life Skills for Resumes, Cover Letters, and Interviews from The Balance Careers

45 Essential Life Skills Everyone Should Learn from Living Well Spending Less

An Age-By-Age Guide to Teaching Life Skills from Family Education

These are just a few that I found interesting. Whether you decided to call it life skills training or Real Life University or something else all together, life skills will impact your children. So, I encourage you to be intentional as they grow and learn.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

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Visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read about the ideas, tips, and encouragement you will find from all the other bloggers who are participating in this week’s NOT Back to School Blog Hop. Below are some links to their blogs but if you want their post from today, click on the image above to get the link up for today.

CREW @ Homeschool Review Crew – 2019 Annual Not Back to School Homeschool Blog Hop

Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses – ABC of Homeschooling

Dawn @ Schoolin’ Swag – Adding Fun to Your Homeschool Day

Erin @ For Him and My Family – Large Family Homeschooling

Lori @ At Home Where Life Happens – Learning Life Skills

Monique @ Mountain of Grace Homeschooling – Homeschooling the High School Years

Monique D. @ Early Learning Mom – Homeschooling With Autism

Yvie @ Homeschool On the Range – 5 Days of Upper Grades Homeschooling

Abby @ Making Room 4 One More – Time Management for Homeschool Moms

Amanda @ Hopkins Homeschool – 5 Days of Homeschool Questions

Amy @ the WRITE Balance – Year-Round Schooling

Annette @ A Net in Time – Homeschooling.

Betty @ Lets Get Real – Homeschooling High School

Cassandra @ My Blessed Mess – Eclectic Homeschooling

Kimberley @ Vintage Blue Suitcase – Roadschooling with a Teenager

Yvonne @ The Life We Build – 5 Days of Relaxed Homeschooling

Destiny @ Some Call It Destiny – Encouragement for the Homeschooling Mom

Karen @ Tots and Me…Growing Up Together –  A Peek into Our Homeschool

Cassie D @ Deputie Tribe – Homeschooling 6 Taking Care of YOU

Kristen Heider @ A Mom’s Quest to Teach Theme: A Quest for a Great Homeschool Year

Patti Pierce – Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy – My Favorite Homeschooling Things

Wendy @ Life on Chickadee Lane – 5 Days of Nature Study

Jacquelin @ A Stable Beginning – Homeschooling my final 4 

Christine @ Life’s Special Necessities – Yes! You Can Homeschool Your Special Needs Child

Sally M – Tell the Next Generation – Tips for Homeschooling Struggling Learners

Kim @ Good Sweet LoveLast Year of Elementary

Project Passport: The Middle Ages ~ a Crew review

The Middle Ages

Home School in the Woods is a hands-on history company that we absolutely adore getting to use. Each time we receive a product from Home School in the Woods, we know we are going to be immersed in the history of the era or place that we are studying. We are never disappointed. Project Passport World History Studies: The Middle Ages has been a fabulous study and Miss E is looking forward to continuing on with it.

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Home School in the Woods is a family run company that is dedicated to creating hands-on products for learning history. A visit to the blog of Home School in the Woods will show you just how rich the love of history is in this company. One things that I really like about the products is the enrichment options that are included. Living book lists are often included as one of the pages in a product but you don’t have to wait to get your hands on a list – visit the blog and read about adding living books to your studies. You can also find a post about teaching different styles of learners – a fabulous post if you have a kinesthetic learner or an auditory learner. And these product work great for teaching different learning styles. Read on to see more about Project Passport. 

Middle Ages cover image

Project Passport: The Middle Ages is one of five world history studies in this series, which is intended for grades 3-8 but can easily be adapted. They include Ancient Egypt, The Middle Ages, Ancient Greece, Renaissance & Reformation, and their newest one – Ancient Rome. You could also purchase a bundle of all five. Each of these studies is meant to immerse the learner in the culture and time period being studied. This happens through timelines, reading, listening, lapbooks, maps, writing, drawing, cooking/baking, crafting, and more.

The Middle Ages comes as a downloadable, zipped file. You must unzip it before trying to use it. Then, after it is unzipped, one of the files is titled Start. Double click that and the program will open up in a browser window. Start there! This is by far the easiest way to figure out the series and projects. From there, you will be able to just work your way down the program, working through each stop. As is hinted at by the name Project Passport, the program takes you through many stops, just like a tour would. There are over 50 projects and activities to immerse the student in The Middle Ages. 

Topics and activities include:

  • Introduction (setting up some of the main parts that will be used throughout several stops along the tour)
  • BarbariansThe Middle Ages (1)
  • Family Life
  • Clothing and Food
  • Community
  • Crime, Punishment, Entertainment
  • Towns & Guilds
  • Merchants, Trade, & Exploration
  • Science & Invention
  • The Arts
  • Education
  • Medicine & Disease
  • The Church
  • The Crusades
  • Knights
  • The Vikings
  • Wars

As you can see, it is a fairly thorough trip through the age and life. In the 25 stops along the way, the student learns much about The Middle Ages.

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Miss E, 15, has been using The Middle Ages and absolutely enjoying it. We are treating this as enrichment; it is not serving as a high school credit. She will work for 3 or 4 hours at a time, listening to the audios and working on her chosen activities and keeping them in a binder. We have learned through the years of using the Project Passport series that we cannot do every single activity. It is too overwhelming. That also means that not every project is a good fit, so it feels like busy work and the student doesn’t learn anything from it. Miss E was given the choice of what she wanted to complete, knowing 20190706_100105

that she will complete enough on each stop to thoroughly understand the topic. We can do this with her as she has shown herself to be trustworthy in the way she handles schoolwork. 

To get started, we taught her how to download the files onto her laptop and unzip the files. Then, she set off to work. I did help her print the PDF files for the projects she was working on but she had the instructions and information she needed to tell me what to print and how many, then to put each piece together. She has completed 10 stops, I believe, working hard. She enjoys this so much that she would choose to work on this in her free time. Home School in the Woods just makes history so much fun with their hands-on products.

Image of a stop and related files

Itinerary imageFor each stop, Miss E would read the history of the topic on her computer (Guide Book Text); we did not print these. She would then open up the instructions (Travel Itinerary) and set to work on the projects she had chosen. Each stop included her adding pieces to her timeline. She would read the postcard for the ones that had it, choosing not to print them. Then she would maybe make a castle or read about the different guilds. Even when she chose not to create one of the projects (such as the board game), she would print out anything that might be good reading (such as the different types of occupations). Each stop was a little different but that variety adds interest. There are pictures along with each project to help you know what the finished project should look like.

hands-on history

We have used several products from Home School in the Woods and recommend any of them. You can read about the products we used by visiting our blog posts:

As you can see, Home School in the Woods is a company that we enjoy using and highly recommend.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

The Homeschool Review Crew has been using several of the products from Home School in the Woods, including:

Please click on the image below to read more reviews.

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Jump In – a writing program ~ a Crew review

Writing is something that has come naturally for Miss L yet it is something that she needed guidance and stretching with. Writing poetry, writing stories, creating cards, retelling events – it was all fairly comfortable for her to do. But, there is more to writing, composition, than just the creative edge of it. There is structure and elements to it, as well as different styles yet unexplored for Miss L, that she could use some guidance in. Jump In, 2nd Edition is a new edition of a program that I used with the oldest giggly girl a couple of years ago for learning composition in middle school.  Sharon Watson is the author of this program and it is a delight for youth to work with. Writing with Sharon Watson has produced yet another outstanding program that encourages students to write, to understand the process of writing, and to do well with writing by just “jumping in.”

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We received the digital version of this program for this review. It came as a PDF file. We received both the student textbook and the Teacher’s Guide. Each is a different file.

The Jump In, 2nd Edition student textbook is 292 pages long. It is designed for the student to write their answers and work right onto the page. Miss L enjoys working with the computer and so she used the Fill & Sign option on the PDF reader to type her answers onto the PDF. She then saved it each time she had completed her day’s work so that we had a complete copy of her work. There were some activities that it was better to print so we did print a few of the pages.

example of typing answers into the PDF

example of typing answers into the PDF

 

The student textbook is written directly to the student. There is a Table of Contents and the they are off, jumping right in. The first section, Get Your Feet Wet, has a few skills and gets the student writing in easy bits and pieces right off the bat. The first section is designed to help ease the student’s concerns about writing and help them evaluate what they like and don’t like about writing. It changes the process a bit from the expected. Each section has a number of “skills” and the first section has three. These skills are the small bites that, when put together, create a complete piece of writing.

explaining how they have changed the process

explaining how they have changed the process

The students will work on writing about opinions, persuasive writing, cause and effect,  newspaper articles, narrations, poetry, and more. There are a whole host of styles here for the students to explore with Jump In. And each one of these styles takes the student through it skill by skill. The number of skills in each style ranges from 6 to about 17, depending on what has been taught previously that applies to the writing being developed.

Table of Contents

After the final style of writing, there is a section titled “My Locker.” This section contains checklists and worksheets that the student has used in different sections of the program. There is a page on the steps of the writing process, one with proofreading tips, and one titled “Mistake Medic.” There is a book report form and the worksheet for writing a paragraph. The final important part is the Index. This can help a student use this program long into the future by being able to look up how to write a certain style and getting the tips and tricks Sharon Watson gives in Jump In.

worksheet on Create Your Own Paragraph

worksheet on Create Your Own Paragraph

And, they have thought of everything. Knowing how quickly sources can change, the lesson for creating a works cited page is online. The text tells the student to visit the website for the lesson so that it can be kept up-to-date in this world of every changing technology. What a great idea! No more obsolete texts.

cover of the Teacher's Guide

The Jump In Teacher’s Guide is 123 pages long. It is so much more than an answer key. You do get the answers for each of the skills in the student textbook but prior to that you get a whole lot more. There are three different schedule options – 1 year, 2 year, and 3 year schedules that you can use to help guide you in setting the schedule for your student. A competent, confident student can use the 1 year schedule while a young student will likely be better suited for the 3 year schedule.

Following some random facts (98 lessons called Skills plus 19 more that are assignments and worksheets; “moments of humor may pop up randomly”), there is a list of all of the writing projects or assignments in the program.

some of the assignments to be done including opinion essay, persuasive essay, and cause-and-effect persuasive essay

some of the assignments to be done

Then we get to The Teacher’s Backpack. This contains many of the materials found in the student textbook under My Locker. Plus, we get additional Do’s and Don’ts for different styles AND it is noted on the pages where it is located in the student’s materials.

As a writing teacher, one of the most intimidating parts for me is grading the writing. Sharon Watson removes that intimidation for me by giving us pages of sample essays and grading grids (rubrics or scales). There are sample essays for giving an A, B, C, D, or F. But not just the essay is there. She also includes an explanation of the things that were done well and where improvement could be made for each essay. This is super helpful.

The grading grids are fabulous, also. Not only do we have the example, but we have the rubric which takes out the guess work. Each piece of what should be included in a high-quality essay is listed along with how many points should be given for that skill. (These are found at the end of the guide.)

grading grid for opinion essay

Grading Grid for an opinion essay

There are Ten Minute Writing Plunges included. There are enough plunges (prompts) to be able to use a plunge four days a week each week of the year. They are labeled by month and there are some guidelines to help determine when it is best to utilize these plunges. There is a lot of flexibility with these. These will provide good breaks from the workbook or give some warm-up writing when working on assignments.

The answer key portion of the Teacher’s Guide is well labeled. You can find exactly what the student should be doing with answers to the daily lessons, writing assignments, and schedules. Even when there is no specific answer, there is enough information included for each answer that grading is easy.

example of the answer key showing a skill and what the student must do for that skill

Example of the answer key

Miss L’s Thoughts:

I felt like the amount of instruction given made what I was supposed to do very clear. I like that there are intriguing prompts. The way I was encouraged to do things and the way the examples were given made a lot of sense. As a PDF, this was easy to get to and use. I do think other students would enjoy and benefit from this program.

My Thoughts:

This is a quality program that is adaptable and flexible, making it easy to work with what your student needs. It is easy to use. Miss L completed one skill a day, about three days a week with more time dedicated to the final writing assignment in the style. Opinions was not a simple style for Miss L to start with. But, we felt like it was important to work through the styles in the order presented so that the skills can build one on another.

This is a high quality program that empowers the student to work hard while learning skill by skill what is needed to write strong, effective works. Whether a young 6th grader or a high-schooler who needs a bit of help with writing, this program will provide the encouragement and support the student needs to become a strong writer.

Visit the Writing with Sharon Watson website to get a sample of Jump In, 2nd Edition.

Also, if you are looking for a high school literature course, take a look at the review we did of Characters In Crisis. It was a great program for high school that my oldest giggly girl really enjoyed.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Please click on the banner below to visit the Homeschool Review Crew and read more reviews. Many families have been using Jump In so you can read how it worked for their students.

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The Wars of the Jews (Memoria Press) ~ a Crew review

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Memoria Press is a classical education company that publishes high quality materials. We recently received The Wars of the Jews set to review and it was the perfect finish to Miss E’s 9th grade literature for the year. This is a ten lesson course that takes a look at the historical fulfillment of the prophesies regarding the fall of Jerusalem, which happened in AD 70 at the hands of the Roman empire.

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The Wars of the Jews is recommended for grades 9 and up, which seems to be a solid recommendation. The set includes three books:

There are samples on the website for each of these books.

The text The Wars of the Jews: The Fall of Jerusalem is an English translation (by William Whiston) of the writing of historian Josephus. Josephus was a Jew who was captured and became a Roman advisor and citizen. He is considered to be a leading historian of the times and was present with the Roman army at the siege and fall of Jerusalem.

The 141 page long soft cover text is Book V, chapters 6-13 and Book VI, chapters 1-10 of Josephus’ writings. There are also endnotes in the text. This is an historical text and as such, it presents some challenges. The language or phrasing can sound different to our ear and that means that it is sometimes beneficial to read a passage out loud to help understand it. Also, there are many people presented that had a role in this event and it takes some effort to keep them straight.

It is a classical text and so is not a fast read. The time spent in reading the text helps the reader to really understand why Jerusalem was an important city and why it was one the Romans felt it necessary to overtake. The Jews were fighting a lot amongst themselves and the Romans really benefited from this disunity. The text begins by introducing us to the Jews in the city. It then carries us through the Roman siege, the change in leadership of the Roman army, and the final destruction of the city.

Wars map image

The text has included helpful maps of Jerusalem so that students can understand the movements of the Romans and the Jews and how the strategy of attack worked. There are photos of historical sites, such as the wall of Jerusalem and the site of Antonia. There are drawings of what the temple looked like and Roman siege weapons such as the catapult. There is also pictures of statues such as the one of Titus and another of a curved trumpet. These all help the student to understand the historical context and importance of this event.

Wars catapult

The endnotes are related to people and places in the text that benefit from further explanation. They are correlated to the text through numbers and are easy to find. They are helpful and interesting.

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The start of the endnotes section in The Wars of the Jews.

The Student Guide for The Wars of the Jews is also a softcover book that is about 8 1/2 x 11 inches. It includes 26 pages of work for the student. It has a Table of Contents, the lessons, and a review. Each lesson covers two pages. The lesson includes Facts to Know, which are important people, places, words, and quotes. It then has several comprehension questions with blanks for the student to write in.  Some of the lessons include vocabulary words. The final review is three pages long and reviews all ten lessons in preparation for a test.

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The Teacher Guide is the same size as the Student Guide and is almost an exact replication of it. The difference is that the Teacher Guide includes the answers to each of the comprehension questions and part of the review. It also includes a reproducible test and test answer key.

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Our Thoughts:

I really enjoyed this text and appreciated that it was a short study to fit nicely at the end of the school year. Miss E was able to complete the study in about three weeks, working on one lesson per school day.

We had listened to an audio drama earlier this year about the fall of Jerusalem so it was good to be able to follow that up with the historical account of the events. That kind of connection is beneficial.Wars of the Jews Teacher Guide

One thing I would love to see included in the Teacher Guide is a page number reference for where the answer is within the text for the comprehension questions. I read through the text and I struggled to help Miss E with some of the questions that she had because I couldn’t find the passage. I could read her the answer from the Teacher Guide but it always makes a lot of sense to be able to go back to the text and read the passage, putting the answer in context.

Miss E’s Thoughts:
The Wars of the Jews was really interesting. I did find some of it hard to understand because of the language. I have read, and really enjoyed, a fiction book that was set right after the fall of Jerusalem. Some of the characters in The Wars of the Jews were mentioned in the book I read. This gave me a little bit more of an insight into everything that had happened before the start of that book. I think that this was a really good “school thing” but I don’t think I would recommend it to anyone for just reading, though I have a friend who would probably enjoy reading it for pleasure. It would be a good fit for probably as young as some 7th graders (my sister could have used this set) and be too easy for some high schoolers.

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We have had the pleasure of reviewing many things from Memoria Press. These include:

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Be sure to visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read the reviews from other families who reviewed The Wars of the Jews, as well as

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