Archive for the ‘curriculum’ category

High School- So Far, So Good

September 15, 2008

I just started week three of our high school journey.  For several years, I’ve been dreading the thought of teaching high school.  But, as the time got closer, I got calmer.  Everything seemed to click- in the planning mode, at least.  After 3 years of homeschooling, I’ve realized the right curriculum has to not only be right for my son, but also right for me.  I can find a curriculum that I think he would love.  But, because of everything else going on in our lives, I have to be realistic, too.  And, if there is a ton of planning involved in making that curriculum effective, I’ve realized it’s just a waste.  So, this year, I successfully found curriculum I think we will all like.  It has each day specifically outlined and he and I both know what he has to do.  I think this make us both feel better.

I, once again, created a goal book for the year.  I was actually proud of myself for keeping that up last year.  And, starting high school, it makes me feel better to be able to show what he has accomplished.  I think it’s good for him to see as well.  Some additions to the book this year are the weekly sheets.  My son actually created it the first week of school as part of his computer class.  Using excel, he made a list of his classes and the days of the week with boxes large enough for me to write his assignments in.  Although I love the homeschool tracker, it became a chore and not portable enough for us.  So, now I write his assignments in sometime the week before and he knows what he has to do each day.  There is a small box in the upper left hand corner of each assignment box.  He writes one line of an X when he finishes an assignment and I write in the other line when I confirm or correct it.  So far, so good.

So, as I said earlier, as the time was approaching, I was getting more confident that I was doing the right thing.  And then, a phone call confirmed it!  My friend has a daughter the same age as my son.  This summer, I borrowed her biology curiculum to give my son a jump on his classes.  Unfortunately, we weren’t able to do most of the experiments and only got half way through the book.  So, she agreed they could do the experiments together at her house each week- a true blessing to me since I didn’t know how I was going to get them done!  But, that left me one other subject to worry about- foreign language.  I really wanted to start him in Spanish this year.  But, the program I wanted was way too expensive for us right now.  So, I wasn’t sure what to do.  And then my friend called.  Her daughter was going to take Spanish from a friend of hers and she said my son was welcome to join them- free of charge!  I am so excited!  They aren’t starting until the end of September so that will give him time to get into the routine of everything else.  But, I am sometimes just amazed at how things work out.

So, is everything wonderful in the world of high school?  Well, not as much as I had hoped.  But, for a teenager with hormones and mood swings, we are doing pretty well.  He whines about this or that.  But, usually gets it done.  (If only he’d realize how short his school day would be if he cut out the whining and daydreaming!)  He has his regular subjects and then 2 electives- typing and computers for this semester.  He’ll be joining the YMCA once the weather gets too cold for him to be outside for recreation.   So, I think it’s a well rounded day. 

So, I’d have to say that so far we’re doing ok- pretty well, actually.  At least we will be once he finishes Moby Dick!  Why he chose to read it, I don’t know but now I’m determined to make him read it all the way through!  Don’t tell him I never read it!

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Saving Over $120 a Month- And Counting!

September 10, 2008

     The economy has been on the minds of many Americans lately.  Either it comes up in campaign speeches and television ads or it hits closer to home with many families feeling the pinch.  Because I am one of those feeling the pinch, I got to thinking about what I have been doing to compensate for the change in lifestyle for our family.  And, then I started wondering what others are doing to help during this time of economic struggle.  Maybe someone else has done something that I can do to save a few dollars here or there.  And, maybe something I’ve done could help someone else.  So, here are my ideas.  Please share yours, too.  And, hopefully, together we’ll all get through it!

     I took a look at every bill I pay each month.  There were some things I really didn’t need- one organization I paid fees for that I had never used.  So, that got cancelled and saved $10 a month.  Then, netflix had to go.  Thank goodness we have a wonderful library that has anything i ever wanted!  That was another $10 a month.  Yesterday, I found a car insurance company that was $30 less a month for the same coverage I had before.  So, yes, I must say, I switched to Geico! 

     In April, I got a new car.  Although that sounds like spending instead of saving, I actually broke even.  Because I drive so much, gas and my new car payment is actually the same- or less- than what I was paying in gas every month.  So, I got a better car that will eventually save me a ton of money!  When I have an errand to run close by, I really try to walk or ride my bike.  Of course, as it gets colder that will change because I hate being outside in cold weather!  But, for now, it gives me some exercise and saves on gas.

     Lately, I have been making a huge effort to make a menu and shopping list for the week.  This saves me money and also keeps me from having to think at the end of the day!  The hardest thing to do for dinner at night is decide what to make.  So, this works well in several ways.  I’ve been able to stay under our $30 a week budget and make some tasty, well balanced meals! 

     We don’t go out to eat now.  We joined the $5 club at the theatre.  But, we very rarely go.  There’s always fun things to on weekends during the summer that are free.  When winter comes, we’ll probably have to work a little harder to find things.  But, I know they’re out there.  So, I cut out our $18 a week entertainment budget.

     On the homeschool front, I’ve had some luck- I call it God!  A friend has a daughter about the same age as my ds.  So, we’ve combined some classes, shared some curriculum, and been able to save money.  I also have some other people in my homeschool group that I am swapping curriculum back and forth with.  I think this is a great thing for homeschoolers to do- either as part of a homeschool group project or just as individual homeschoolers that know each other.  It can get expensive and most people use it and then it sits on a shelf or in a box and collects dust.  I’d rather see someone else get some use out of it.

     On the good side, evaluating how we spend our money has made me become much more aware of where it’s all going.  I have always thought of us as very frugal.  But, now that we are forced to live on my income alone- and are still eating with a roof over our head- I see that we could really save a lot of money away when my husband does find a job.  So, hopefully, this will all be good for us in the long run.

     I’m sure there are other things.  But, those are the main ones off the top of my head.  What have you done?  What are you planning to do?  How has the economy effected you?  Let me know your thoughts!

Going Off Autopilot

February 26, 2008

It seems my life is reflected in my writing.  I guess that makes sense.  But, it isn’t always a good thing. 

It’s been a long time since I’ve written a homeschooling blog entry.  And, that’s about how it’s been lately.  With everything else going on, we’ve pretty much been going on autopilot in that department.  But, I’ve been wondering lately if we’ve been flying in the right direction. 

So, last night when I couldn’t sleep- not sure if it’s the chocolate I ate just before bed or the mom panic that was setting in- I thought alot about our schooling this year.  It never fails that in the beginning of the school year I have a million ideas about what we are going to do in the new school year.  And it never fails that by December most of them have been  changed, ended in failure, or forgotten with the busyness of life.  So, I guess it’s about time to come up with some new ones!  Eventually, I should get it right!

So, idea one!  Remember my brilliant organization method for the school year?  It was a great excuse to go to Staples and get supplies!  I created a binder with a section for each subject that listed the state standards which I then used to create our goals for the year.  From now on, our goals will be the main focus of his learning.  Since these are the things I want him to know, these are the things we should be doing.  So, right now, all books and curriculum are going to be resources- not daily work.  I gave him the binder and told him to pick what goal he wanted to work on.  Some are short term and others will take him awhile. 

Today he completed 1 goal- know all states and capitals.  He also got a book of Edgar Allen Poe stories.  And, he got half of an algebra chapter done.  Since he sometimes has a hard time with change, I think this was a pretty good first day for him.  His incentive is that after completing 10 goals, he gets an entire day off.  That doesn’t happen much around here.  No snow days or teacher institute days for us.  Sometimes we even skip the holidays- actually probably most of the small ones.

And, I feel better knowing we are working directly on our goals and not just eventually getting to them.  I am sure by doing his research he will learn things other than the goals.  Also, some of them are pretty in depth and cover alot of information.  So, I now feel like we are back on track. 

The second thing of the day is this.  I was just researching to find study guides for Poe- not my favorite author (or even close!).  I came across this site and am amazed that this is all free!  http://www.sparknotes.com/ Most of the things I was finding were subscription things.  But, to find this many study guides and tests on so many subjects was amazing!  I am familiar with their books because I have bought several for my ds to use.  He loves the critical thinking one.  So, I am really happy to share this with you and hope you find it as useful as I have so far.

Thought number three.  I am so glad I am homeschooling!  Where else can I teach my son what I ant him to know and make sure I am teaching in a way he understands and retains the information?  And most importantly, where else can I change mid way through the year if it’s not working and still accomplish what needs to be done? 

And, with that, I’ll end. 

7 Habits- Be Proactive

October 17, 2007

Today we started with the first habit- be proactive.  We watched the segmenton the first habit on the webcast. 

I’m not sure if my son was completely awake since we started almost immediately when we got up- which is when I like to work out.  But, I think it was a good introduction to the habit.  We will follow it up with the chapter from the book for highly effective families tomorrow.  Since I haven’t had a chance to get the audio from the library, my son will read the book out loud (the treadmill has a place to put the book and the bike doesn’t).

It seems that 10 minutes is a good time frame to start with.  As we progress, we may increase it. 

We started with this quote from Viktor Frankl- “When we can no longer change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”  I love this!  It took me a long time- and some hard lessons- to learn this.  But, learning it and living it have made me a much happier person.  When I stopped relying on others to make things right and started looking at what I can do to change it or how I relate to it, then life got alot easier! 

They discussed making choices and being responsible for them.  Ineffective people would become products of circumstances whereas effective people would be products of choices.  Basically, the way I see it, instead of making excuses for why things aren’t happening, we should look for ways to make them happen. 

7 Habits

October 16, 2007

One of my ideas this weekend was to start a new class for Rafael.  Actually, for both of us.  So, Monday we began our study of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families.  I think this will be a great time of learning and bonding for both of us.  I’m really excited about it.  In an attempt to improve on the outside as well as the inside, we will be watching a webcast, listening to an audiobook, and discussing things while I ride the bike and he walks on the treadmill.

Since this is an experiment and I will be continuing to figure it out as I go along, I’ve decided to take you along on the journey with us.  So, beginning today, I’ll be sharing the class plan and our experiences with you.  I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences, too!

Monday: My son created his mission statement.  I am going to do this again at the end of the study.  I’m curious to see if it will be the same or different.  I will do the same myself.

Here’s the link if you want to follow along. http://www.franklincovey.com/missionbuilder/flash/missionIntro.html?c=MissionStmntC

Tuesday: We listened to the beginning of the webcast found here- http://www.franklincovey.com/fc/library_and_resources/webcast_archive 

Then go to this one- “March 2007 – The 7 Habits with Todd Davis and Gary Richins”

We listened to the first 10 minutes or so.  They talked about the program and 2 key terms.

1) Effectiveness- “Getting the results you want today in a way that allows you to get them over and over in the future.”  Doing something that will make a difference not only right now, but also in the future.  I used the example of getting him to do his chores.  I could yell at him to do something right now.  But, it probably wouldn’t get him to do his chores 2 weeks from now.  But, hopefully, by developing a plan that we both agree on see chore lotto below) hopefully, we have an effective way of getting chores done.

2) Paradigms- “The way we see, understand, and interpret our world.”  I used the example of the movie Crash.  Depending on the age of the child, this may or may not be a good movie for them to see.  I was lucky to have a cousin who had the edited version that was acceptable for him to watch awhile back.  So, he had seen enough of it to understand that paradigms are basically, our perception of the way people or things are based on our culture and experiences. 

We ended there.  I thought that was enough for day 1.  It is bringing up some interesting conversation.

Free Homeschool Resources

September 19, 2007

http://homeschoolingforfree.blogspot.com/

I just got this link from my homeschooling support group.  I haven’t done anything more than browse through the first few posts.  I can tell already this is going to be a great resource for me!  Not only has she done the searching for me, but everything on there looks like free resources!  Those are my favorite kind!

The most recent post is a bunch of links to Civil War sites.  That is just perfect for me right now.  It seems I am now finding Civil War info everywhere.  We could probably take a whole year to study everything in depth.  But, we probably won’t.

Now, if only I could find some great sites for algebra.  That is my next quest since I need to work on making practicing algebra properties more enjoyable for everyone involved.  Like that’s possible!

Anyway, check out this site.  I’m sure you’ll find something worthwhile. 

I Need a Vacation!

September 19, 2007

One of the joys I have found on our homeschooling journey is that we can take a wonderful, relaxing vacation and avoid the summer rush!  I love being able to go places and not have a swarm of people and cars everywhere.  Also, the price of gas usually goes down, which really adds up to quite a savings when we are driving a long distance. 

One of the other cool aspects about vacation since we started homeschooling is that we can coordinate our trips with what we are studying.  Last year, we went to the Henry Ford museum (http://www.hfmgv.org/museum/) and Greenfield Village.  Although my son didn’t like my constant questions relating exhibits to his school, he absorbed the information anyway.  And, quite a few times, he commented that an exhibit was something that he remembered studying.  How cool is that?  Before, we rarely knew what he was learning until he was on to the next thing.  So, we never had the chance to bring it to life.  Now, it’s time to make up for lost time!

So, next week we will all be on vacation.  Bringing geography into the trips is easy.  (Except for the fact that I hate stopping when I am on my way somewhere and we will have to stop to pick up information in all of the states we go through!)  We are blessed to live close enough to many great museums to make day trips possible.  So, I am sure that will be on the agenda for the week. 

Next Saturday is National Alpaca Day.  (Of course, you already knew that, I know!)  Although he doesn’t know it, this will be a class in itself.  My son, who works at the alpaca farm, will be there for the day helping with the open house.  This will give him a chance to demonstrate some of his speach skills that are required for 8th grade.  I have talked to the owner of the farm about writing a letter confirming his mastery in some of the skills.  If I told my son this, he would likely be nervous, but without knowing, he will do quite well.  He has taught me everything I know about alpacas! 

So, we are very excited to be visiting family this weekend, spending time together, and learning without even trying!