Category Archives: high school

Pathway to Liberty ~ a Crew review

Pathway To Liberty Review

History can be such an interesting study when approached with enthusiasm but by the same token can be a boring subject when approached from a flat, disinterested viewpoint. Pathway to Liberty Homeschool Curriculum takes more of the first approach and we are enjoying it more each week. We received levels 2, 3, and 4 of Pathway to Liberty’s World History from Pathway to Liberty’s History Curriculum. I asked for this level as it moved us forward in our study of history; we had been recently talking about the American Civil War.

Pathway to Liberty was founded by homeschool mom Jayme MacCullough. She found, while teaching her own students, that the curriculum choices she had did not meet her personal standards and desires. These included biases and what she described as incomplete or revised histories. To combat this, she began studying the principles on which America was founded and true liberty. Out of this study came this curriculum.

 

Pathway to Liberty consists of four years, which cover from creation through the 21st century. The four years, in order, are:

Year 1 – Pathway to Liberty’s Universal History,
Year 2 – Pathway to Liberty’s The Middle Ages,
Year 3 – Pathway to Liberty’s US History,
Year 4 – Pathway to Liberty’s World History

Pathway to Liberty

There are four levels for each of these years. These grade levels are approximate. My 9th grader used level 4 and we found it be not any more difficult than the level 3 materials, though it did use different source materials. The recommended grades per level are:

Level 1 – Kindergarten through 3rd grade
Level 2 – 4th grade through 6th grade
Level 3 – 7th grade through 9th grade
Level 4 – 10th grade through 12th grade

We received World History. This has been an overall good study so far and we are looking forward to continuing with it. I expected a more world-wide centered view from the curriculum. It is very US centered, though it does look around the world some in light of the fact that there are so many wars to cover. We have covered WWI pretty well at this point, and while we did talk about some of the causes of the war and the parties involved in it, the level 2 and 3 books really focused on the US presidents during that time rather than a wider world-view of the war. This is not bad, in any way, just not quite what I was expecting.

Pathway level 2 and 3

We have enjoyed reading the source materials for Pathway to Liberty. For levels 2 and 3, we are using books from the Joy Hakim’s series A History of US. Level 4 is using The Century by Peter Jennings and Todd Brewster. These are well-written materials that are age appropriate, though I wouldn’t mind seeing the level 3 source a bit more challenging as much of the level 2 and level 3 materials are exactly the same.

Pathway level 4

Pathway to Liberty book and video

There are also plenty of videos to watch that come from various sources on YouTube. There is a Pathway to Liberty channel on YouTube that has most of the videos linked there in a playlist. We did have to do searches for several videos and at least one would no longer play from the playlist but it was easy to find what we needed.

pathway-weekly-plans.jpg

Each week, the teacher guide and the student workbooks have the weekly overview plan. The material is exactly the same in both places, and in the student workbooks.  It gives the scripture for the week, the principle, and the leading idea. There are four lessons of materials for the week and each level has its own column showing what they are to do for each lesson. There are also some additional assignments for writing, expanded history reading, and vocabulary. We utilized the vocabulary but have not yet assigned additional readings or writings.

Pathway to Liberty workbook being used

Each day’s lesson consisted of two or three activities. Most days included a reading and completing some pages in the student workbook. Many days included a video also. Lesson 2 added the word study for levels 2, 3, and 4 each week, though we are skipping it for level 2. My girls added their vocabulary words, either doing a couple of them a day or choosing to do them all in a single day.

Each student workbook had a daily banner that stated which lesson it was, the topic and which level and week. Then it gave the instructions for that day, followed by the questions to answer. The teacher’s guide includes all four levels and the suggested answers for the student workbooks.

The time the daily materials took varied greatly. Some days it was just 30 minutes or so. Others, the videos were an hour or more long by themselves. When you added in the rest, the student could easily spend two hours on just history. This wasn’t a problem as the girls seemed to really be enjoying the study and we had some fabulous discussion. It just isn’t a clear cut amount of time to be spent and day to day can vary greatly.

Pathway girls working

I am now going to let the girls say a little (Or a lot!) about their thoughts on the program. Note please: some of the issues they mention were bothersome early on but we figured out how to work around them. Specifically, the issues that could have been caught by a different editor, we fixed by just handing the girls a highlighter and telling them to highlight any time they found something. This added in a language arts element to our history study! 🙂 I will come back at the end and add a couple more thoughts of my own.

Julia, age 10, using level 2 – 

I liked the reading on the Wright brothers but I did not like the other ones as much. I learned a little in each reading that I didn’t know before. The videos were interesting but many of them were long. Overall, I didn’t like it too much. Spelling mistakes, scriptures marked wrong, and things like the lesson headings being in the wrong place made it hard to tell where the next lesson was or when one ended or what I was supposed to be doing.

Louisa, age 12/almost 13, using level 3 –

I felt like this was a good curriculum, even though I have a balanced opinion on it. There were several inconsistencies within the lesson plans – what they would state in the weekly plan would be different from what was on the day’s work. There were several grammar mistakes and noticeable typographical errors. These were a source of annoyance for me but could potentially cause confusion.

I don’t think anyone in our family found the first required book (Chain of Liberty) helpful or beneficial to the learning. The way the questions were worded made it hard to tell what they were asking for. Many times what they were asking for turned out to be a word-for-word repetition of several sentences or more, which my sister and I found hard to replicate. I feel like this book was not beneficial and could easily have been removed from the curriculum and the curriculum would not have suffered.

I really enjoy the in-depth word studies that are done every week.  Each week we are made to create a paper on a specific word that is relevant or helpful to the lesson or principle we learn about that week. I find these to be helpful and enjoyable at the same time and would not complain if a second word study was added to the curriculum each week. One step in the process of the word study is to record scriptures that are relevant to the word. One thing that makes the word study slightly tricky is when the word you are studying is not included in a Bible’s concordance, but with a little bit of creativity and the use of a synonym, the scriptures are attainable.

Pathway level 3 vocabularyThere is a list of vocabulary word which each study is asked to copy out, define, and review each week. Each week the words are different and the number differs from level to level. Even though the study asks us to do this, there is no designated space for this. Since the rest of the curriculum is clear for this sort of thing, I was disappointed to see that there was not a specific space in which we were supposed to complete this step, and I was confused as to when to do it and where to document them. I enjoyed coming up with definitions for these words.

A bunch of the curriculum had online videos to go along with it. When I watched the videos, they were of a lower quality than I expected (Me being a spoiled 21st century kid!). There were a large quantity of videos, many of them almost an hour long. It was also a bit hard to navigate the website (YouTube) to figure out which videos I was supposed to be watching, since all the levels had videos in the same place. Sometimes it was unclear in the curriculum which video I was supposed to be watching.

I enjoyed the different elements that this curriculum brought to studying history. It had me writing things, which had me working on penmanship. It has a strong Biblical aspect to it. It encourages study of the scriptures. It has online resources and videos, as well as books with quality source material. Overall, I think this is a good curriculum which I enjoyed. I am confident that others would, too.

Elizabeth, age 15, using level 4 –

It was a fantastic program. The videos were interesting and the book “The Century” was interesting. I have learned a lot. I didn’t know much about WWI until I started watching the videos and reading the book. Now I know a whole lot more. I love the word studies. They are fun and I think they are very useful.

I personally did not see a reason to have the week’s scripture, principle, and leading idea. There wasn’t a connection for me to the lessons.

I did not like how the first three videos I had to watch were cut because they were cut in the middle of a word most of the time. There were several spelling mistakes in the workbook, including Corrie Ten Boom’s name. There were also a number of punctuation mistakes. These mistakes bother me, especially when they are on things like Bible verses or important people’s names.

Pathway level 4 written assignment

When I have to write something, there are large spaces between the lines. This makes it hard to write and takes up so much space that there are often not enough lines for the assignment. 

I also did not like the first book that we were assigned to read. It (Chain of Liberty) was biased and opinionated. I personally don’t agree with probably half of the book. I didn’t understand some of what was in there. Both of my younger sisters had to read the book, also.

While I think the word studies are a fantastic thing to do, it didn’t feel like the word studies were well thought out. I have done five of them. Three of these five were not in the Bible and yet I had to find verses for those words. I ended up having to work with synonyms for these words and still I only came up with one verse for one of the words.

Overall, this is a really good program. If you start after the first book that we had to read and edit the workbooks, this would be outstanding. I would enjoy continuing on with this program. The history that I was working on before was really fun but I think this is teaching me a whole lot more. I wasn’t getting very in depth before and now I am learning even little details that I probably would not have learned with the other program I was doing. I think other high schoolers would enjoy the program, as well.

Back to me, now. We have really begun enjoying this curriculum. It took a few weeks to catch our stride with it but have come to like it quite a bit. Is it perfect? No but nothing is. I would highly recommend starting in week 3 and just skipping the first recommended book (Chain of Liberty) and the “links” discussions. We found it to be a highly biased book and we had to have some pretty in-depth, serious discussions with the girls about the reality of the world we live in and the government that is over us.

 

While Pathway to Liberty is intended to make it possible for a family to all study history together, we did not find it to work that way. Students are reading different source materials and watching different videos. They have different vocabulary words and work at different speeds. They are, however, all working on the same ideas and so when one girl asks a question, all of them can pay attention and learn something and contribute to the discussion themselves. For some families, this may work beautifully as a family study.

Overall, I really like this curriculum. The history is solid and uses solid source materials. It has also opened up some fabulous discussions for our family. We definitely can recommend this one.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Be sure to click on the banner below to read what other families thought about Pathway to Liberty and how the curriculum worked for them.

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Stopmotion Explosion ~ a Crew review

Stopmotion kit

We are not a huge technology family. We don’t look for the latest things on the market and we don’t go for expensive cell phones. We are not tech-y, you know? When the opportunity was presented to review the Stop Motion Animation Kit, I just didn’t know whether to even try or not. After all, it felt overwhelming to me. But I presented the idea to Miss L and she was excited to get to try Stopmotion Explosion. It is right up her alley!

The Stop Motion Animation Kit is a set that gets anyone ready to begin creating stop motion videos. Stop motion is when a video is created by taking any number of still images that show minute changes in position, strings them together quickly, and creates a video out of that. Think a digital flip book. Did you ever have one of those? We had one that had a cartoon of the Road Runner in the corner of it and you flipped fast to make Road Runner run. This is like that only done digitally.

Stopmotion Explosion has created a kit to get newbies like us headed in the right direction. The kit includes

  • a 1080p HD video camera with microphone, manual focus and flexible clip;
  • CD with animation software (though you can download it from the website, also, with the book to provide the code word neeeded);
  • a quick start guide; and
  • a 294 page book full of history, tips, ideas, and instruction.

In addition to the kit, access to the internet will be needed if you want to access the step-by-step video tutorials and other materials available on the website or if you need to download the software. There are minimum requirements for the computer operating systems so be sure to check that before purchase.

The recommended age printed on the kit is 13+. This would be a great age for independence with the kit, though an 11 or 12 year old could probably use it if they are fairly tech-savvy. Younger than that and adult assistance will be needed, particularly in getting the software set up or in trouble shooting if issues occur.

Using the Kit20190308_201414

We were able to get started fairly easily with the kit. The Quick Start Guide is enough to help get the software loaded and figure out a few of the troubleshooting things that come up early on (like how to focus the camera or getting an image to show up from the camera – yep, had both of those and found the question right there in the booklet).

Once we had the basics figured out, Miss L just wanted to play with it and see what she could do. She had been thinking about ideas since we had asked for the review so she was ready to at least try. We decided it was best to just start with playing around, rather than try to make this a very formal process. So, she opened the software and starting capturing images. She used the bigger book to answer a couple of more detailed questions and we went to the website for some help, also.stopmotion software

One of the issues we had was that our software quit. (I have not yet figured out why that happens but it didn’t stop the creative process – just slowed it down.) So, I headed over to the Stopmotion website and guess what? Right there was a video showing how to grab those already captured images and move them into the software once it was running again to pick up right where it had left off. The only thing here was that the video showed a different version of the software than we had, as the import feature looked really different. Not a problem, though. It was enough information that I was able to assist Miss L in getting those images back to the software so she could keep going.

She figured out just how wonderful some of the features are, like the onionskin. It allows you to superimpose the previous image over the one you are about to take so you can see how your change looks before capturing the image. This was something she use. A LOT! It allowed her to make those changes as small as she saw them in her head.

Animate ANYTHING and Make MOVIES

20190416_084925This is the title of the 294 page book that comes with the kit. It can also be purchased separately. It is full of information, tips, ideas, and helpful things for stop motion video. It is not really designed as a class but could very easily be made into one. The book starts with a short history lesson. It then takes the reader through “actors”, creating stories, making sets, different cameras, lighting, and more. There are some chapter that address specific video sequences such as flying or fighting.

It would be very easy to make this into a high school elective credit but creating assignments to go with each chapter. For the one on different actor options, have the student come up with a certain number or to create an armature using the instructions in the book. The student could write a story script in the chapter teaching about that. Backdrops, lighting options, and more – each of these could have several assignments that build on each other and create a good solid film credit for high school electives. This book is so full of hands-on options that it could easily keep the student working creatively for quite a while. This is a great book!

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While Miss L has not read the book all the way through, it is something she has picked up a few times and read interesting parts of. It gave her some good ideas and spurred her on when she got stuck. We are planning for Miss L to go back through the book and actually read it later on this summer, when we are doing “fun school” stuff and have some extra down time. She has some ideas and would like to work on it.

Capturing images and Creating videos

Miss L has created two videos at this point. She figured out that she had to have a stabilizing element for the camera. Using a suggestion from the book, she created a stand for it from blocks.

camera

After getting it sturdy, she started capturing and has created two videos at this point. Check out her work so far.

I am sure there will be much more use of the kit in the future. End of study projects can take on a whole new meaning. Creating a literature summary or filming a science video – all options have a new possibility now. I can’t wait to see what she and her sisters come up with.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

There have been some pretty amazing videos created by other students using the Stop Motion Animation Kit from Stopmotion Explosion. Visit the Homeschool Review Crew blog by clicking the banner below to find other videos to view.

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Transcripts Made Easy ~ a Crew review

Transcripts Made Easy

Transcripts for high school make so many of us home educators cringe. But they don’t have to! Transcripts Made Easy: The Homeschooler’s Guide to High-School Paperwork is a walk through the transcript options and paperwork requirements, made simple for home educating parents. Janice Campbell from Everyday Education has put together a book that will walk each of us through the nitty gritty of getting it right.

In its 4th edition, this updated version of Transcripts Made Easy includes all that we need to know from one who has walked this path before us. A home educator herself, Janice Campbell helps us to see just what it can look like for the end of the high school years. Whether there is college in the student’s future or a great trade job coming, the encouragement, ideas, and information included here help us guide our students to be prepared with the necessary paperwork for stepping out into the world.

What You Get –

Transcripts Made Easy came to me in an ebook format. It was easy to download right onto a Kindle so that I could easily read it. There is also a paper format available for purchase. The book has almost 140 pages in it, guiding me through all the different aspects of high school planning, record keeping, grading, and transcripts. It also includes a number of reproducible forms so that you don’t have to recreate all the forms to get started.

Transcripts Made Easy and easy to read

There are six sections to the book:

1 – Meet The Transcript: This section is about what a transcript is and what the parts of the transcript include. It also guides where to begin in the book since we need different things at different stages.

Transcripts Made Easy get started

2 – Plan With The End In Mind: This section packs the punch with immediately applicable information for our family. When I look at the end of the high school journey, where does my student need to be? That is what this sections helps with. From choosing classes to ideas of what to do during high school, from how to schedule courses to which tests to take, this section has the nitty gritty of what I found most intimidating about high school.

3 – Keep Simple Records: Here we are guided in putting together a binder to help contain the samples and schedules and course descriptions. This sections also includes special needs records and transcripts from leading educators Judith Munday and Kathy Kuhl.

4 – Grades, Credit, and the GPA: This sections walks through how to grade, how to award credit, and how to calculate a GPA. There is information here that helps when you are awarding credit for things like dual enrollment or advanced education classes. There is information about weighted GPA vs. regular GPA and how a college might view that. There is a lot here.

5 – Creating The Transcript: Here you will find a look at all the different types of transcripts there are and samples of each one. Whether a transcript is needed tomorrow (hello check-off transcript) or planning ahead while the student is still in elementary is the current basis, there is something here for everyone educating a child.

6 – References, Resources, and Reproducibles: This section has the remainder of the information needed to be prepared. This is where the ebook comes in super handy – just print the blank forms directly from the book.

Things to Note –

There are some special needs articles included that will show a family how to create the types of records that they need. There are some additional short articles on things student can do to be successful in college. These are helpful articles that I will be having my daughter read in a few years as she prepares to go off to whatever she chooses after high school.

How Did I Use This?Transcripts Made Easy

I downloaded this onto my Kindle and I found myself reading through the book a couple of times to absorb all that is written here. It was not difficult to read; it just did not stick in my head. The easy-to-read writing style makes it feel like I was sitting with a friend who was sharing her wisdom gained in the struggle and that she didn’t want me to feel the struggle.

I appreciated the knowledge shared about planning and scheduling options. I felt much better after reading that section since we are doing a modified schedule for high school this year with two days focused on science and two days focused on history. This really made the schedule feel more manageable and my student to feel like she really had time to dedicate to the learning.

While we don’t know what the “after high school” time period will bring, having these resources at my fingertips now will allow us to be prepared to create whatever kind of transcript will be needed for her dreams.

I felt like I was doing pretty well with our planning and record keeping. But this book showed me that there were a couple of ways to do this better. One of these is the activity log. Keeping an activity log will allow me to give credit for the activities that my daughter is participating in that don’t truly fit elsewhere. For example, tonight my daughter was scheduled to be the sign interpreter for a little league game. With the activity log form from the book, she can now note her time dedicated to this. When she gets enough, I can give her either an applied sign language credit or volunteer hours or something else entirely that I haven’t thought of yet.

Transcripts Made Easy check off transcriptsAnother of the helpful forms was the check-off transcript. We do not have need for this yet but it will allow me to see at-a-glance what is done or being worked on so that the plan can fall into place.

Transcripts Made Easy class pageI also printed out the class profile pages so that I can keep good track of the classes that Miss E has taken in the last year or year and a half that will go on the transcript.

Transcripts Made Easy cover

All-in-all, this is an easy to read ebook that will help guide you through the sometimes scary world of high school record keeping, transcript writing, and creating a special diploma. These things are all part of homeschooling high school and it is an exciting time. This book keeps the focus on the exciting parts and not the difficult things.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Be sure to visit Everyday Education to find their Transcripts Made Easy: The Homeschooler’s Guide to High-School Paperwork. Or click on the banner below to read more of the Crew reviews on this product. You can also find a review of another product from Everyday Education that I have done: Working It Out, featuring the poetry of George Herbert.

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Romantic to Victorian Age Poetry Set ~ a Crew review

Poetry set from Memoria Press

My middle daughter really enjoys poetry. Finding her often reading or writing poetry, this review seemed a natural extension of her interest. Memoria Press has sent us the study set for Poetry Book Three: The Romantic to the Victorian Age Set.

Miss L has been working with this set, which included the poetry anthology, the Student Book, and the Teacher’s Guide. In addition, we have needed a notebook for which we are using a simple composition notebook. Each of these pieces are indeed necessary for the study as designed by David M. Wright.

poetry study anthology

The poetry anthology is The British Tradition: Book Three – The Romantic to the Victorian Age (1785-1901 A.D.). It is a comfortable softback book that is about 9×7 inches. It is broken up into two sections – the Romantic Era and the Victorian Era. Each section begins with an introduction to the era and its poets. The Romantic Era covers eight poets, including Robert Burns, John Keats, Thomas Grey, William Wordsworth to name a few. Many of the poems are well recognized, such as Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Ode on a Grecian Urn. The Victorian Era includes poets such as Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Robert Browning, Robert Louis Stevenson, Rudyard Kipling, and Emily Bronte. The poetry includes well known selections such The Charge of the Light Brigade, Sonnet 43 (by Elizabeth Barrett Browning), and The Land of Counterpane. The anthology is solely a book of poetry, plus the introductions. It is beautiful with black and white illustrations on almost every page. This book alone would be a lovely poetry book to add to any collection.

Poetry anthology for Memoria Press Poetry Set

 

The anthology works in conjunction with the student book Poetry Book Three: The Romantic to the Victorian Age Student Guide, Second Edition. This book is not consumable and guides the student through each poem with questions, discussions, vocabulary, and background information. The poems mostly follow the same pattern of four stages – Pre-Grammar/Preparation, Grammar/Presentation, Logic/Dialectic, and Rhetoric/Expression.poetry study student book

  • In the Pre-Grammar/Preparation stage, one or two questions are given draw out prior knowledge and help them understand the poem.
  • The Grammar/Presentation stage presents Reading Notes and Words to be Defined. The Reading Notes generally has words that are a bit different that our common usage or facts and background that will help the student understand the poem. The Words to be Defined section is just that – words and their definitions. There are also Comprehension Questions in this section that include things like rhyme scheme, meter, the use of imagery, and other ideas.
  • The Logic/Dialectic stage Socratic Discussion Questions to force the student to dig deep into their abilities to think and reason, struggling with abstract thoughts.
  • The Rhetoric/Expression stage has the student summarizing the poem and focusing on the Central One Idea.

Student Book for Memoria Press Poetry Set

 

Not every stage was included in every poem. Especially with some of the shorter poems, the Logic and Rhetoric stages were not included.

Lastly in the Student Book, at the back, you will find a master list of the Words to be Defined, information on how to memorize a poem, and a rhetoric essay template.

poetry study teachers guide
The Student Book works hand in hand with the Teacher’s Guide. The Teacher’s Guide has the same questions and information as the Student Book. Each page has an exact copy of the Student Book with a border of the answers to each of the questions or discussion points. The back of the book also includes reproducible tests for each poet along with an answer key. The Teacher’s Guide is very handy and I would not recommend trying this program without it.

Teachers Guide for Memoria Press Poetry Set

How We Used This

We have been using the program every day. Each day, Miss L works on one or two parts of the Student Book with the current poem.

On the first day of a poem, Miss L would work through the Pre-Grammar stage, writing the answers to the guiding questions in her notebook. She would then read through the Reading Notes. Next, she wrote the Words to be Defined in her notebook along with the definitions of each. She then read the poem.

Student notebook work Memoria Press Poetry Set

On the second day, she would read the poem again and then write the answers to the Comprehension Questions in her notebook. She almost always needed some help here because there is no instruction in the book for meter or rhyme. We had to look up an online resource to help us figure out what the meters are or what the answers in the Teacher’s Guide meant for the meter.

 

The third day, Miss L and I would tackle the Socratic Discussion Questions. She had her Student Book and I had the Teacher’s Guide. We only had one copy of the poem, though, so it kept getting passed back and forth as we discussed ideas and words directly from the poem.

The fourth day, Miss L and I would sit together and work on the Rhetoric stage. She would write her summary in her notebook and I would give her the rest of the information. We found the Central One Idea very difficult and unclear. So, I generally just fed her the information and she would copy it down into her notebook.

As I stated, not every poem has all of the stages so sometimes, she would only spend two days on a poem.

Thoughts On The Program

The program is labeled as grade 8+. I have an advanced 7th grader working through the program and she has needed a good bit of help. She loves poetry but this program has challenged her. A lot. I definitely consider this a high school level program.

I would like to see more instructional information included. As I stated earlier, we needed to find some additional resources to help us do the basics with the program. I had no idea what “trochaic tetrameter with catalexis, with a few lines in iambic tetrameter” meant. The word scancion was unfamiliar to me but was used in almost every lesson. (It means the rhythm of a line of verse, in case you don’t know either.) The description for the program did not indicate that the poetry series needs to be completed in order; in fact, the descriptions for all of the books in the series are extremely similar. However,  these things have me questioning whether that is indeed true, as this is called Book Three.

Overall, I think this is a fabulous program when adapted for your student and her needs. We did adapt some of this, not requiring some of the writing and eliminating the Central One Idea by the time the review period had come to a conclusion. I believe we have both learned a lot about formal poetry.

We are going to further adapt this as we continue on with it. Miss L has chosen to continue with this program but our modifications will fit her a bit more personally. She will now focus on each poem for two days. The first two days of what I described above will be the study for each poem. We are dropping the Logic and Rhetoric stages for now. Perhaps we will revisit those when she is in 10th or 11th grade. For now, we are going to focus on the poems, their language, and their imagery. Miss L will really enjoy that.

We are also looking forward to studying Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning, as we will take a trip to the Browning Library here in town during those poet studies.

Want even more Memoria Press? You could also read our previous review of First Form Latin from Memoria Press or one on their Traditional Logic program. We have also used their 6th grade Literature Set and their Greek Myths program.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Please visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read about other families using products from Memoria Press. In addition to different poetry sets, families have been reviewing phonics and Latin program. Click the banner below to head over to the Crew blog.

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IXL for online, individualized learning ~ a Crew review

When it comes to online learning, a personalized fit is key. IXL Learning has that personalization and came to us for review at a time when we were looking for some fresh ideas.

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IXL is an online program that requires a subscription, a computer, and internet access. We are using the full annual membership and that gives us access to all grade levels and all subjects. This is a really good thing for us since we have a student in late elementary, one in middle school and one in high school. There truly is something for each of them with IXL.

IXL is a comprehensive curriculum for the elementary levels in math, language arts, science, and social studies. What this means is that the subject and skill areas covered is comprehensive – everything you would need for those levels. It is comprehensive in math and language arts all the way through high school. Science and social studies are available through 8th grade. There is also a Spanish class to take that covered many areas of the language.

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IXL is not a complete curriculum in that it does not include the teaching necessary for students to understand the concepts/skills if they don’t already know them. A parent/teacher would need to be available to preteach or teach when questions are missed. In a previous review, this is how we used IXL and it worked well. We used it to teach the skills the girls needed help with as they went along. They also used it to practice those things they already knew or could pick up easily.

HOW IT WORKS

When a student is ready to work in IXL, they log in. Each student has their own profile but it is under a central login. The student then chooses which subject area they are going to work in. After clicking, say, language arts, the student then chooses the grade level to work on and the specific skill area within that subject. So, Miss J might choose math, grade 4, and patterns. It will then begin her work.

She will read and answer questions. As she answers correctly, the questions get progressively more challenging, requiring the students to think harder to get all the way through the question set. This dynamic system keeps the questions fresh and the student working hard at mastery. When a questions is answered incorrectly, the program gives them an explanation page. It gives the correct answer, the answer the student gave, and a step-by-step explanation of the correct answer. The student must read through that or have someone read and explain it to them. There is not a “read to me” option and there are no video explanations with additional examples to help grasp the concept.

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Each question set has a goal. For many it is to reach 100. For others it is to answer a certain number of questions correctly. As they near the goal, it becomes a challenge zone, which is a key to the student that the questions are getting more difficult and they will have to work harder.

Alternatively, there is a second way to approach using IXL. When a student first begins, they can take a diagnostic test. Each question on the test is designed to narrow down the skills the student needs to work on, honing in on specific areas. The more questions the student answers, the better the program can identify needs. This is very good. However, you need to know that ahead of time because it otherwise becomes the never-ending test. It doesn’t stop, as far as I can tell. It just keeps honing. You can just have your student stop after a certain period of time you choose or answer a chosen number of questions.

Once the diagnostic test is stopped, there are recommendations made for the student. These recommendations do change when a different child clicks into their account. If the child has not taken the diagnostic test, they will still receive recommendations based on what they have worked on. The child can choose to tackle the recommendations or just go on to what they want to work on. The recommendations include all subject areas.

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HOW WE USED IT

IXL patternsMiss J is 10 and working at a 4th/5th grade level. She is using the program mostly for math but also doing some science, social studies, and Spanish. She is using the program almost every day for her math. She works for about 30 minutes on math each day, which takes her through 2 – 3 skill areas. Once a week, I sit down with her to go through Spanish. This is more of a review for her at these early stages, working on letters, numbers, and such. It does eventually become more conversational but she has to learn to spell the Spanish words for things before we move too much further with it. In science, she is exploring the gems and minerals part of the topics about once a week. And she is working on the American History topics once a week with me, also.

Miss J loves that she is getting some little “prizes” when she reaches certain goals – answer 100 questions or spend 2 hours on math. I also receive an emailed certificate for each of those goals. I can print that out or just show it to her online.

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Miss L is in 7th grade. She has had some math topics that she has struggled with. We have used IXL math as a review for her. I have given her a list of topics/skill areas that I want her to practice. She gets on and work through that list. I have seen those skill areas, as well as her general attention to detail in math, grow through using IXL.

IXL Learning for history FBMiss E is in high school. She has been using IXL to work on some of the history topics that relate to the project she is working on. She is creating cards related to the big happenings in American history. She used IXL to see how her retention was and to challenge herself in her memory. She has looked at some of the math topics, as well. They are relating to her math book very clearly and so when she needs some review or extra practice on math skills for algebra, she can log in here.I

WHAT I LIKE

IXL science personalized learning pin

I like that there are an abundance of topics and skill areas for the girls to work on. I like that there is something for everyone. I like the variety of question styles and answer options, such as the picture choices when working on minerals. And, I like that I can see progress.

There is a parent/teacher side to the site that gives you all sorts of diagnostic information. You can see how long any one student has worked in a given day or week. You can see the exact skills and questions they worked on. You can see if they need additional work. You can also see their progress. I like that this exists and can see how I might use it sometimes but I am not using it a lot. I do, however, see the benefits of this and am thankful it is there for those parents/teachers who want and need to see these for grades and planning.

All in all, there are some great things about IXL. It is a solid program for review or to work alongside an active parent/teacher. It is worth checking out.

If you are looking for a Spanish version of the site, there is one available. If you are in another country, it also possible for you to receive the site with the appropriate math skills for your area. It should redirect you automatically to the IXL site for your country.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

The Homeschool Review Crew had many families using IXL Learning for the past few weeks. Reading several reviews will help you understand more about the benefits and flexibility of this program. Please read more of the reviews by clicking the banner below.

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CashCrunch Careers ~ a Crew review

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We were recently were given the opportunity to review a career attributes survey from CashCrunch Games. This career testing is suggested for students from middle school up through adult. CashCrunch Careers can be a useful tool in deciding what you want to do with your work time. The vendor site has a game or two to use to learn about money and some other purchase options but we spent the majority of our time on the careers part of the vendor sites.

The theory behind CashCrunch Careers is that traditionally we approach careers backwards. Looking at what we have been trained for and finding an appropriate job is what they say is typically done, leading to wasted time and money. CashCrunch is suggesting that you take their survey to find your best fit careers based on inherent attributes.

CashCrunch Careers is based on corporate recruiting tools and the US Department of Labor. That means there is a bias to the types of careers that come up and it was very obvious in our outcomes and reports. We found almost no artistic and creative based jobs on the site. We found musicians and singers but there was no information about them. And there were some marketing jobs and choreography mentioned. Other than that, we struggled to find active and artistic careers that would be of interest to the girls.

The CashCrunch Careers survey is 75 questions long. It takes somewhere between 10 and 20 minutes to complete. The survey gives you sets of either/or questions and you are to decide which one of the two options fits you best. These terms have nuances that affect the outcome. For example, one of the choice sets is thoughtful OR deep-thinking. It is possible to hover over the term to get a definition if you aren’t sure about the word. These nuances were really difficult to work with because they sometimes put the girls at odds – both well described them so it was hard for them to pick one over the other. Miss L described it as feeling like “my brain is blowing up.” At the end of the survey, you are given a report.

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The report lists work styles that should fit you. It lists things that should motivate or de-motivate you. It lists what it determined to be your strongest career attributes. It ends with a listing of 20 career matches that it has decided fit you perfectly.

After you have read through your report, you can click on any of the career matches and it will take you to a page for that main career. Each page has the projected growth of the career, possible needs to fill the openings projected, and a description of the career’s tasks and activities. There is also a section that shows you the attributes of people who typically fill these positions and checks them to show you fit them. You can click a different tab to be shown a list of colleges that offer education in this field; this is not an exhaustive list. (I do wish I understood how they chose these particular colleges. That part is unclear.) There is another tab that will show a short video about this career.

part of a career's specifics

What We Thought

Miss E, age 14, and Miss L, age 12, took the quiz and received reports. We saw some differences in the reports but felt they were overall very similar. Even their job listings were almost identical. Funny thing is, these two are extremely different. I cannot see either one of them doing the majority of the jobs listed. Management is not appealing. On top of that, these are end-point positions, not starting jobs where you can build up to it. Management is not where one starts fresh out of college and these reports and job descriptions did not direct the girls toward where you would start in this type of a career.

Miss E said that her list showed a lot of administrative jobs where you sit behind a desk and tell others what to do. She doesn’t like that; she wants to “do.” Miss L said something similar, noting that the list did not have her ideal job. By searching through the careers not included in her list, she did find a couple that she thought might be interesting for her (PK teacher and child care worker).

The girls enjoyed spending time looking through the website and seeing what careers they could locate that sounded somewhat interesting. But, as I mentioned earlier, since the girls are looking at wanting to do things like teach dance, play violin, be a sign language interpreter, or write, (all of which meet their strengths as shown in this report) there were difficulties with feeling like this report was accurate for them.

a few career categories

some of the general career categories that can be explored by clicking on it

After choosing one of the general career categories, a list of some specific careers comes up and you can read more about each one by clicking on its title.

some specific careers

Needed Changes

  • The videos on the site are approaching 20 years old, as indicated by Congressional acts mentioned and the technology shown. They are not very appealing to young teenagers and it is hard for them to feel like this is relevant to them. Additionally, the video quality is just poor for the technology we have available at this time.
  • Some videos were used in multiple careers so it makes it feel like it is just filling space and not truly representative of the career.
  • There is no place for this to take into account the personality of the person looking at career choices and that is huge in discussing career options. This would be a much better survey if it were to use not just the attributes survey here but also a personality survey and a preferences survey. Miss E noted while working through the questions that she felt they were not asking the right questions and reiterated this after she got her report with nothing but management or administrative careers.
  • Miss E noted that a search function on the site would be very helpful. To be able to search for careers that sound interesting to them but are not on their list would be really helpful. Some of the positions were not where we expected them to be and so were difficult to find.
  • Miss E also noted it would be helpful to know how the attributes and skills listed in their final report fit into different careers. Along those lines, it would be great to be able to search for how a skill fits into a job. For example, if you want to use ASL in a career, searching for the careers that include this skill would be great.

While the list was different than we expected, there is much that we gained from this experience – lots of discussion about what the girls WANT to do, what interests them, what they think about different options and frankly, whether some of the careers mentioned are Christian occupations. Their experiences in searching the careers listed OUTSIDE of the list given was fun for them and they enjoyed reading about different options, talking about whether it was what they would have expected for that particular career. Looking hard for options that sounded interesting to them led them to open up files about some they would never have come across.

So, while this wasn’t quite what was expected, we gained some great insight into options (or paths to avoid) for both of the girls who took the survey. Overall, this was a good experience.

One additional note: This company also produces games that help teach financial responsibility. There is at least one that we found on the website that is free to use online. Others are available for purchase. If I understand it correctly, the company is about to roll out a new version of the game that should make it much easier to use. The game we played (as a team) was about how to make financial decisions and to spend and save money wisely. An interesting idea for a game.

Blessings,
At Home.

Please visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read about the experience other families had with CashCrunch Games and their CashCrunch Careers survey.

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Take a Look at Curriculum ~ 5 Days of Homeschool Encouragement

Take A Look Tuesday
Curriculum is such a personal choice – not just from parent to parent but child to child. Each child may need something completely different for the exact same subject and grade level. That can be challenging. But I have found that taking a look at things others have used and reading their honest comments about it can help get me some ideas to discuss with my girls and give them options.

When it comes to curriculum, we have some non-negotiables. But there is plenty for them to have a say in and help make the decision of. So, as I go through this list, I’ll share with you the input that we had and the input the girls had. Maybe it will give you some encouragement to include your children more as they get older, giving them more say in what they are interested in.

morning time

Morning Time –
This is a non-negotiable time. We sing a hymn and work on Bible memory work. We do some folk music and poetry. And we have at least one read aloud going on. For now, that is plenty. Our hymn comes from Hymns of Faith, which is an Ideals book. We also have several hymnals that we keep in our stack for use. The Bible memory work is from the KidSing cards. They are important things from the Bible and memorizing where to find different things. For example, Acts 2 covers the birth of the church and Hebrews 11 is about faith. Acts 20:7 gives us the example of Sunday worship and preaching and I Timothy 3 discusses the qualifications of elders and deacons. We are using Diana Waring‘s history through music to do folk music for now. We are currently using the one about Laura Ingalls Wilder’s musical experiences. Our poetry work is coming from Poetry Memorization from IEW. Our current read-aloud is A Tree for Peter by Kate Seredy. These are all things At Home Dad and I chose for us to do as a family.

9th Grade Curriculum 2018

9th Grade
Math – No Nonsense Algebra – algebra I program that is both book and video based. At Home Dad did the majority of the evaluation of this program but with the video aspect, Miss E was okay with it. We knew that she wanted video based learning but that wasn’t so advanced that she couldn’t understand it. So far, so good.
Science – Friendly Chemistry – She loved this program and asked if there was a follow-up to it. When I did my research, we found that we had completed about 1/3 of the actual program. So, I contacted the company to find out what we needed to continue on and it arrived yesterday. She is very pleased to tackle this course and she chose it. Obviously we had the final say but it was easy – begging to do a chemistry program? We’ll take it.
History – timeline – We decided that everyone would tackle American History this year. For Miss E, we found timeline books that give dates and events from about 1100 to the present time. She is using these to research each event and write a summary of the important information from each one. She has a notecard binder (a cute little thing!) that she is keeping her notecards in. So, this gives her both history, research, and writing experiences.
Language Arts – She is finishing the Characters In Crisis book from last year. Then she will take on Learning Language Arts Through Literature – American books (Gold Book). She attempted Grammar Planet but that kind of fell through for a number of reasons (review next week). She is also completing a daily writing assignment from the Daily Writing and This Day In History prompts on SchoolhouseTeachers.com. She has loved the writing and is keeping it all in a single notebook. Again, she has to research for a lot of the history prompts so she is hitting several areas that she needs skills in. She wanted to do some daily writing this year and when we came across these prompts, she feel in love with them. Do note – we had tried these before and they were a complete fail. So this is something she grew into – don’t give up if your child doesn’t like the writing early on. Maybe it will come. She loves it so much that she writes every day, even Saturday and Sunday, most days completing more than one prompt.
American Sign Language – She adores sign class with Mrs. Pat and is looking forward to it again. She chooses sign but Mrs. Pat chooses the curriculum course.
Logic – Miss E is not terribly excited about the Logic course from Memoria Press that she is continuing but it will be beneficial to her in the long run so we are enforcing this one.
Speech – When told she needed to work on a speech class, she wasn’t excited. Until I showed her the class from SchoolhouseTeachers.com. She is really liking the speech class offered there and I know it will benefit her when her debate class begins meeting in the spring.
Latin – Miss E is working on PictaDicta, a website based program for learning Latin vocabulary. So far, she isn’t loving it but this is a call I made that she would do and continue. I believe she will be tackling Latin once more before too much longer through Memoria Press’ First Form Latin so we are starting back to it with this program. Review to come.
PE – Miss E is taking 5 – 6 hours of dance a week so this is a solid PE credit for her and she loves it! Ballet, tap, and jazz are what she is taking but she enjoys tap most.
Code for Teens – I thought she had a pretty full course load until she asked if she was going to get to continue this book. Well, when I said something about not scheduling it, she was very disappointed. So guess what? We changed course and added it back in.
Extras – She also wants to take voice lessons, so we are looking into that right now. We’ll see. Another option that she is really considering is volunteering at the library during her sister’s violin class.

What happens when you schedule the courses that the student is interested in? Yes you may get some pretty long looking lists but guess what? When they are interested and their input is given weight, they feel valued and things just work better. Our original list looked quite different for the first year of high school. But, by taking her input into consideration and having conversations with her about her needs and requirements, we came up with a program for her freshman year of high school that makes tons of sense and is of interest to our daughter.

Definitely, I encourage you to have conversations with your students about their course of study. Take their ideas under advisement and pay attention. They may be telling you a whole lot more about themselves than just what book looks interesting.

With this getting so long, I will share our 7th grade and 4th grade curriculum choices in another post. (Hope I don’t forget!)

Blessings,
At Home.

There are more than 40 homeschool moms writing encouragement posts today on this Take A Look Tuesday – from school rooms to curriculum to a bundle of ideas, go take a look! I encourage you to visit the anchor post for the Crew and also some of the ladies’ blogs to gather more encouragment to yourself. You can do that by the linky on the Crew blog or by visiting some of the blogs below.

Nicole @ Bless Their Hearts Mom
Patti @ Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy
Rebekah @ There Will Be a $5 Charge For Whining
Rodna @ Training Children up for Christ
Stacy @ A Homemakers Heart
Tess @ Circling Through This Life
Wendy @ Life at Rossmont
Yvie @ Gypsy Road

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