Tag Archives: high school

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

Wars of the Jews FB

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.

Wars of the Jews Pin

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.

Wars of the Jews Twitter

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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Hands-on Science with Supercharged Science ~ a Crew review

Supercharged Science

If your students are anything like my girls, science that can be either really exciting or teeth-pulling stressful. We have been having some really excellent science days lately with Supercharged Science. The online science curriculum we have been working with has options for K-12 (and beyond). I am so glad we are going to have access to the  e-Science Homeschool Science Curriculum for a good bit longer because we are having some good fun with it. Oh, and learning science, too!

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Aurora Lipper is the founder and educator for the online classes. With the tremendous science background Mrs. Lipper has, your students get to say that they are taking science from a rocket scientist. And they are! Mrs. Lipper knows her materials very well and does a great job presenting them in a way that keeps the student’s attention while filling their heads with the knowledge they need for the topic.

The online science space for Supercharged Science can be navigated by grade level or by topic. You can choose either one and you can easily jump back and forth between the two navigation options. You have a single login for your family and so from there, they each will go to where their current work is located.

If you are navigating by grade level, you will see an image for each grade level, K-8. High school level material is found in the topics. Under each grade level is the list of the concepts taught in that level. Some of the concepts are found in multiple levels as the material increases in depth and some of the hands-on activities/experiments are repeated in different levels since the material is appropriate in multiple places. The placement of materials is based upon Mrs. Lipper’s experience as an educator and the national science standards.

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If you are navigating by topic, you click that at the top of the screen and it will take you to a list of all possible topics. There are total of 26 units. If you are new to science, or formal science, there is an overview of science and an introduction to the scientific method. There is also a unit on science fair projects, one on math activities, and one on teaching resources. Add in all the units on electricity, chemistry, physics, and other expected science topics and that’s a ton of materials!

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The units, whether accessed by level or topic, contain basically the same materials:

  • written introduction
  • video introduction
  • shopping list for hands-on activities/experiments
  • reading downloads
  • experiments with a video for each one
  • downloadable student worksheet and exercises for each experiment (often one for younger students and one for older students)
  • exercises for each part of the unit to check understanding

reading and exercises

How We Have Been Using Supercharged Science

When we received access to the program, I logged in and became familiar with how to navigate the program. (We reviewed this program previously and the navigation is the same at this point. However, see my note at the end of the review on the soon-to-be-released new site with better navigation.)

Screenshot 2019-05-27 at 5.52.42 PMThen Miss J and I sat down together and I let her just explore the options. We looked at grade level and then at topics. I let her watch some of the videos and look at the possible experiments. After looking at the grade five level, she decided that she wanted to do some things with gravity and magnetism. So, she started working on Unit 1: Mechanics through the topics menu. I bookmarked the main page of this for her, with her name next to Supercharged Science, so that she could easily find where she was.

Miss L sat down on her own and explored the options. She chose to work with Unit 10: Electricity. She really wants to tackle Unit 14: Electronics but realized that it would be good to have the background of electricity first. So, she has been working through that unit first. She also has the unit bookmarked with her name on it so that she doesn’t have to click through many pages to get to where she is in the unit. We have updated the pages a couple of times as she works through the unit so there is less clicking needed. (It looks like the number of clicks that will be needed is going to be a bit less on the new site.)

Miss E has been watching the videos on the high school level Unit 15: Chemistry 2. She did a chemistry class this year and so seeing some of that chemistry put into use has been a great extension of her course. She watches probably two experiments per day. Since this is “bonus” work for the chemistry class she took, she is not doing the worksheets.

Mechanics: 

This unit covers force, gravity and friction. There are 9 experiments to go with force. There are two teleclasses and three experiments to go with gravity. There are seven experiements to go with friction. We work on science 4 days per week and we generally do one video and experiment per day. We are in the friction section now and it has been a blast getting here.

Miss J enjoys hands-on and so this is obviously just right for her. She likes to see things done for her (the video to go along with each experiment is perfect for this) and then she likes to do them. She has found most of the experiments are able to be replicated, though not as easily as the video makes them look. (But isn’t that a great lesson – try, try again?)

hovercraft

Some of her favorite lessons have been the barrel roof, the paper airplanes, and the simple hovercraft. She has also done several experiments with balls (dropping them, throwing them, comparing them).

 

While those demonstrated concepts well, the real fun comes when you make something. We made a simple compass, made a paper clip fly, and registered the minute movements of the earth’s electromagnetic field with a machine we made.

 

She even used static electricity to move objects.

Each of these lessons varies widely in the amount of time required. If you are viewing a teleclass, the video can be close to 50 minutes. If you are doing a simple experiment, like the one we did about force using a rope, it can be just a couple of minutes for the video and five more for the experiment. Some days, you can easily get in more than one experiment and that is why the shopping list is great. You can use it to gather all the materials you need for the unit before even starting the unit. That saves time in the long run because no one likes to spend time gathering materials for the experiment when the student is ready RIGHT NOW for the experiment.

Electricity:

Miss L has been able to do most of this unit on her own, though some of the experiments she has skipped because I couldn’t find the right materials (that I KNOW we have some where). *See note above about the shopping list and gathering materials prior to the unit.* She works very independently so I am not exactly sure just how far she has gotten in the unit. She does one video and experiment each day. electricity experiment 1

This unit has two lessons: circuits and components, and robotics. In the circuits and components sections, there are 13 experiments. In the robotics section, there are 15 experiments. Miss L has made some interesting looking contraptions with her experiments, some of which have worked well and some which have not. For one that did not work we were able to determine that it was probably due to the humidity levels (over 90% that day) so she plans to try it again soon. It is a good lesson for the student to have to figure out why something isn’t working like Mrs. Lipper says it should. Lots of lessons are learned that way.

Chemistry:

chemistry video

This unit includes 2 lessons. The first has one teleclass and nine videos. The second has one teleclass and 38 (yes! 38!) experiment videos. Many of the videos in this unit are for things we cannot do at the house so it is amazing to have good videos of the chemical reactions and excellent explanations of the results that are being seen.

Miss E spends about 20 – 30 minutes on this each day. Because we are using this as an extension of her previous chemistry class, I am not requiring the worksheets or exercises from her.

Overall Thoughts

This is an exciting online science program with solid explanations and clear examples. With all of the visual examples of the concepts being show in the experiments and then being able to do most of the experiments, this truly is a science program that teaches and shows the concepts. The students are truly able to see and understand better because of this.

When we reviewed this previously, it was just as good of a program but it didn’t fit us as well. The girls were younger and so it took a lot more preparation on my part (gathering materials and deciding what videos to watch, etc). I had to do all of the navigating and they didn’t always want to work on the same materials. With them older and more independent, this is a much better fit. I don’t know that this program will peter out of use as it did before since the girls are each working on something that is of interest to them. They all seem to be getting much more out of it this time around.

Note on New Site

There will be a new Supercharged Science site introduced soon. The content is all going to remain the same. There will still be all the same parts of each unit and the worksheets and videos will all still be available as they are on the current site. The new site will have easier navigation and is easier on the eyes. There is less of the stark white and more soothing blue, which makes it a pleasant experience. The girls and I have been given a sneak-peek at the new site and I really do like the way it is going to be set up. It will make navigation easier. We will still bookmark each girls’ part of the site in a different bookmark so they can get to their own unit easily but overall, it is much easier to go from place to place and to get to the worksheets or videos or whatever you need within the unit. Be looking for this new site to roll out soon.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

A number of families from the Homeschool Review Crew were given the opportunity to try out Supercharged Science.

Head over to the Crew blog to read about their experiences.

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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.

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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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CashCrunch Careers ~ a Crew review

Screenshot 2018-10-02 at 10.33.35 PM (1)

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.

Capture

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.

CashCrunch-Careers-Homeschool-Reviews

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