Tag Archives: high school

Math Success (CTCMath) ~ a Crew review

Math Success with CTCMath

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

CTC-Math

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

login record

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

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

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

question bank wizard

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

CTCMath picture

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

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

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

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

7 Critical Life Skills Checklists

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

three checklists for life skills

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

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

four checklists for life skills

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

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

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

How To Teach Kids Life Skills from Boston Mamas

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

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

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

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

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

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

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

Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses – ABC of Homeschooling

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

Erin @ For Him and My Family – Large Family Homeschooling

Lori @ At Home Where Life Happens – Learning Life Skills

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

Monique D. @ Early Learning Mom – Homeschooling With Autism

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

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

Amanda @ Hopkins Homeschool – 5 Days of Homeschool Questions

Amy @ the WRITE Balance – Year-Round Schooling

Annette @ A Net in Time – Homeschooling.

Betty @ Lets Get Real – Homeschooling High School

Cassandra @ My Blessed Mess – Eclectic Homeschooling

Kimberley @ Vintage Blue Suitcase – Roadschooling with a Teenager

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jacquelin @ A Stable Beginning – Homeschooling my final 4 

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

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

Kim @ Good Sweet LoveLast Year of Elementary

Project Passport: The Middle Ages ~ a Crew review

The Middle Ages

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

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

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

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

Topics and activities include:

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

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

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

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

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

Image of a stop and related files

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

hands-on history

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

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

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

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

Please click on the image below to read more reviews.

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Jump In – a writing program ~ a Crew review

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

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

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

example of typing answers into the PDF

example of typing answers into the PDF

 

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

explaining how they have changed the process

explaining how they have changed the process

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

Table of Contents

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

worksheet on Create Your Own Paragraph

worksheet on Create Your Own Paragraph

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

cover of the Teacher's Guide

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

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

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

some of the assignments to be done

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

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

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

grading grid for opinion essay

Grading Grid for an opinion essay

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

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

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

Example of the answer key

Miss L’s Thoughts:

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

My Thoughts:

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

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

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

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

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

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

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

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

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.

Wars endnotes

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.

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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