Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Wordless Wednesday - September 2, 2015

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one of the last roses of summer - Wordless Wednesday on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

This post is linked at Wordless Wednesday, hosted by Life at Rossmont.

Wordless Wednesday at Life at Rossmont

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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Easing Into the School Year

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Easing Into the School Year on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com
So here I am, trying to wrap my brain around the fact that it is now September 1st and we really have started school. And I have two high schoolers this year, one of whom plans to graduate. It's a lot to take in. I thought I was ready, and for the most part I am, but there are still things I am trying to pull together or figure out how is the best way to get it done.
Easing Into the School Year on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com  Easing Into the School Year on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com
This past Saturday morning was our homeschool group's mandatory orientation meeting, the one where we go over the record-keeping requirements and remind everyone of the expectations, as well as give some encouragement and just celebrate a new year. Just before the meeting gets going, those of us with graduating students have to decide on our first grad planning meeting, and a tentative date for the ceremony. Are you kidding me? Put a date on my June 2016 calendar?! It seems crazy, but here we are. When I took a look at Landon's transcript so far and double checked that my records matched those of the administrators, it got real in a hurry. Seeing in black (and red) and white the credits he needs to complete this year in order to graduate with the Class of 2016.
Back to Homeschool With a Plan on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com #TOSReviewCrew #HSConnect #homeschool - An overview of our four-year high school plan, our lesson planning tools, and our weekly schedule.
And another reality check was this... even after submitting grades for seventeen years, a lot of them high school level, I can still screw it up. Not only had I forgotten to put an entire SUBJECT on Landon's second semester report card from last year (I caught that mistake immediately and sent an amendment), but I missed writing in a Course Title for his Phys.Ed. in second semester so that credit was missing from his transcript. OOOOOOPS. Sent that amendment and wrote myself a note to not be cocky and think that I can do this stuff in my sleep by now.

Speaking of sleep. Biggest challenge for this school year? I am pretty sure it will be starting on time each morning, because these kids are darn good at sleeping right through their alarms.
the Real Homeschoolers series - The Real Homeschooled High Schooler @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com
Still sleeping in...
Yes, we'd already started and our first official day of school was two weeks ago, but this was the first week in which I expected full days of school, and we added more subjects this week. Kennady is working on Science, Math, and Grammar already; and sometime this week or next will start on Health, Geography, and Brit Lit. Landon is working on Science, Drafting, Grammar and Percussion as of this week; and by next week will add American History/Lit/Bible and Consumer Math.

We had planned to start Composition today, but like many of my well-laid plans, this one went awry. We headed down to the family room to watch our Student Writing Intensive DVD and get started on the writing assignment... and that one disc was missing from the case. Hmmm. Must have left it in the DVD player. Nope. On my desk? Not that I can find. (And it's a mess, but still. Don't judge me!) So I abandoned that plan, put out a call to borrow the disc from someone else just in case I can't find it in a timely manner, and added "search for disc" to my to-do list. Which was already long enough, believe me.

Oh, the desk being a mess... After I'd tidied up and organized all my school books for the year, I managed to make a mess of it over the past couple of days, pulling out this book and that to check my lesson plans and hunt up information, and decide what to do when. Right now it looks like this...
Easing Into the School Year on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com
 so guess what I'm going to be doing tomorrow? That's right, looking at it and doing nothing. No, seriously. I had to get a couple more three-ring notebooks out of my stash so I could organize this stuff, and I've already started. I'll finish tomorrow, for real.
Easing Into the School Year on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com
This is how it is SUPPOSED to look - how it looked up until
a day or two ago.

I spent a fair bit of time yesterday printing out assignment lists - or daily tasks, as Homeschool Tracker Online calls them. My plan at this point is to do those lists by subject for each month, and not scheduling from the lesson plan into the assignment grid much more than a month at a time, so it will be easier to adjust if needed. One thing I've found out that is different about Homeschool Tracker Online compared to HST+ is that any printable reports are generated for me to download to my computer and then print if I still want to. So I can't see a preview of it before I save it, but I CAN print only certain pages of it if I don't want the whole thing. And if I look at the saved report and realize I should have set the parameters differently, or that something is still showing as incomplete that shouldn't be, I simply fix that and then save the corrected report to replace the first one. Overall, I like it better. I'm still figuring out how to mark things on Homeschool Tracker Online but I'm getting there.

Landon earns credit for participating in Civil Air Patrol, and although that has been ongoing through the summer, tonight is a big deal... He is promoting tonight, which is a pretty cool way to start off the school year! I've got to watch the clock and make sure I get there in time to see the promotion ceremony.
Customized Education and Electives (part of the Homeschooling High School Blog Hop) on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

Kennady is ready to get her extra credit courses going too. She starts guitar lessons on Monday and chorus rehearsals on Tuesday.
Middle School Monday - Choral Singing

Are you easing back into school, or just jumping in? How are the first few days and weeks going? Leave a comment and let me know!

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 ©2006-2015 Homeschool Coffee Break. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. http://kympossibleblog.blogspot.com/

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Homeschool Weekly - Fun and Games Edition

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Homeschool Weekly - Fun and Games Edition on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

In our homeschool... well, I thought we would add a subject or two for each kid this week, and then hopefully be ready to go full schedule next week. We didn't really add anything, just kind of... stepped up the pace? Something like that. Anyway, Kennady did some work on  Illuminating Literature curriculum from Writing with Sharon Watson and I shared our review on that. (See it here.) She also has been reading a book about C.S.Lewis from YWAM Publishing for an upcoming review. And loving it, I might add. Yesterday we chose a couple of activities from the accompanying Unit Study for her to work on. I have a feeling she avoided math.

I know Landon avoided Math, but that's because he couldn't watch his VideoText videos online this week, so I won't be too hard on him for that. He did work hard at History. And he had his first drive time with a Driving Instructor this week, so he wasn't completely lazy.

This morning I was at the beginning of the year meeting of our homeschool group. So now it really is official - the school year has begun!

In other news... on Sunday afternoon some of the members of the children's choir sang the anthem at the local farm team's baseball game. It was a beautiful sunny day, perfect for baseball, and the hubster and I had great seats!
Homeschool Weekly - Fun and Games Edition on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

Homeschool Weekly - Fun and Games Edition on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

Homeschool Weekly - Fun and Games Edition on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

Landon had Civil Air Patrol on Tuesday, and on Wednesday Kennady and I went to a concert by a boys choir from France. They were very good. While we were doing that Spencer and Landon went to youth group and instead of just hanging out that night, they helped the men start building a shed on the property. On Thursday evening, the hubster went over with them to help get that project finished.

Things that made me smile... the fun we've had in the just the couple of days since these games arrived for us to review!
Homeschool Weekly - Fun and Games Edition on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

Homeschool Weekly - Fun and Games Edition on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

Homeschool Weekly - Fun and Games Edition on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

I recommend... looking back at this month's entries in the Homeschooling High School Blog Hop. We discussed Math, Science (especially Biology!), and History in our posts on Wednesday.




On the bookshelf...

The Suspicion at Sanditon by Carrie Bebris
Murther and Walking Spirits by Robertson Davies
Bathsheba: Reluctant Beauty by Angela Hunt

I finished The Potter's Lady by Judith Miller and Summer of Promise by Amanda Cabot. You can read those reviews and other book-related posts on my book blog, Just A Second.

A parting shot...  






Weekly Wrap-Up      

This post is linked at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers, and on the Homeschool Mother's Journal co-hosted by NextGen Homeschool and Vibrant Homeschooling.

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 ©2006-2015 Homeschool Coffee Break. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. http://kympossibleblog.blogspot.com/

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Virtual Refrigerator - M.C. Escher

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M.C. Escher artist study on the Virtual Refrigerator, an art link-up hosted by Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com #art #VirtualFridge

Welcome to another edition of the Virtual Refrigerator! This weekly blog hop is co-hosted by A Glimpse of Our LifeHomeschool Coffee Break, and Every Bed of Roses. We all cordially invite you to add your link sharing the art that's on your Virtual Refrigerator and then hop over to the other blogs and admire what's on their Fridges!
Virtual Refrigerator - Art Link-up

  Every Bed of Roses

August's Art Challenge: Modern Art
During the month of August, I have been sharing some short studies of a few modern artists and our projects inspired by their work. We'd be especially interested in seeing your modern art themed projects as well, so be sure to link them at the bottom of this post! (ICYMI: Week One was Piet MondrianWeek Two was Gustav Klimtand Week Three was Alexander Calder.)

Coming in September and October...
 During September and October, our other Virtual Fridge hostesses will be bringing us their artist studies. Next week A Glimpse of Our Life will be focusing on Eric Carle. Keep an eye out for more studies to follow!

M.C. Escher (1898-1972) was a Dutch graphic artist known for his art tessellations, optical illusion drawings, and perspective artwork. In fact, he used tessellations to create the illusions! He is famous for his "impossible structures" such as the one shown in the the lithograph "Relativity" (See it here: Relativity lattice on WikiArt). Escher portrayed mathematical relationships among shapes, figures, and space in his many woodcuts and lithographs. His work features black-and-white interlocking figures, mirror images, and geometric grids. Interestingly, although his work shows strong mathematical components, he didn't have training in mathematics; his understanding of the subject was mainly visual and intuitive.
I try in my prints to testify that we live in a beautiful and orderly world, not in a chaos without norms, even though that is how it sometimes appears.My subjects are also often playful: I cannot refrain from demonstrating the nonsensicalness of some of what we take to be irrefutable certainties. It is, for example, a pleasure to deliberately mix together objects of two and three dimensions, surface and spatial relationships, and to make fun of gravity.        Are you sure that a floor cannot also be a ceiling? Are you absolutely certain that you go up when you walk up a staircase?  Can you be definite that it is impossible to eat your cake and have it? ~M.C. Escher

A tessellation is created when a shape is repeated over and over again, without any gaps or overlaps. Escher's interest in tessellation was inspired by his visit to the Alhambra and other sites in Spain that featured tessellated mosaic tiles.
Tassellatura alhambra
tiles in Alhambra
Kennady wanted to make a tessellation design, but we didn't have a lot of time this week. We found these step-by-step instructions, which she used to make this cat design.
M.C. Escher artist study on the Virtual Refrigerator, an art link-up hosted by Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com #art #VirtualFridge

The shapes are exactly the same, and line up perfectly, top to bottom of each and left to right of each. Then Kennady drew in the details and gave each cat a different expression and color.
M.C. Escher artist study on the Virtual Refrigerator, an art link-up hosted by Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com #art #VirtualFridge


M.C. Escher artist study on the Virtual Refrigerator, an art link-up hosted by Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com #art #VirtualFridge
Tessellated Cats by KAT, 2015

Another well-known piece of art from M.C. Escher is a close-up study of an eye. (see it here: Eye on WikiArt) In his original, you can see a head reflected in the dark pupil of the eye. Kennady did a pencil study of an eye, but she declined to put the reflection in. This time. Since Escher did several pieces showing reflections in a sphere, including some self-portraits (like this one: Hand with Reflecting Sphere on WikiArt), Kennady wants to try that sometime as well.

M.C. Escher artist study on the Virtual Refrigerator, an art link-up hosted by Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com #art #VirtualFridge
Eye by KAT, 2015

The ideas that are basic to [my work] often bear witness to my amazement and wonder at the laws of nature which operate in the world around us. He who wonders discovers that this in itself is wonder.  ~M.C. Escher
You can view M.C. Escher's work at the M.C. Escher website gallery, or at WikiArt, and see some related artwork and our ideas and inspirations on our M.C. Escher Pinterest board.

There are two lesson sets on M.C. Escher in Everyday Easels at SchoolhouseTeachers.com, as well as many other art lesson resources, including art techniques and art appreciation studies, and until September 21st, there is a Back to School Sale, so you can get two years membership for the price of one.





What's on your Virtual Fridge this week? Leave a comment, share a link, and let us know!


You can grab the button above and add it to your post. Add your link here to share your child's art or your arts and crafts how-to posts. Please visit the other blogs and admire what's on their Virtual Refrigerators!






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 ©2006-2015 Homeschool Coffee Break. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. http://kympossibleblog.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Homeschooling High School - Math, Science, and History Round-Up

This post may contain affiliate links - using affiliate links from Homeschool Coffee Break helps fuel this blog and our homeschool - thank you! 

High school means the pressure is on to get the perfect math, science, and history curriculum for your student --- or at least that's what it feels like sometimes! Of course we know there probably isn't a truly perfect curriculum, and if there was, it probably would work for everyone but my kid. Ask me how I know... yeah, been there, done that.

Choosing curriculum can be a daunting task, simply because there is so much out there to choose from, and as homeschool moms we worry that we'll somehow mess our kid up if we don't pick the right thing. Relax, mom! The good thing about so much curriculum to choose from is that we have options, and have a pretty good shot at finding something that will work for our situation. If you've been homeschooling for a few years already, you should have a pretty good idea about what your student's learning style might be, and know their interests, strengths, and weaknesses. That should help you narrow it down.

With my fourth child now entering high school, I've had the chance to try quite a few different things, and being a part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew has given us opportunity to test drive lots of curriculum. Each of my four kids has different abilities and interests, and what worked fine for one kid doesn't necessarily work well for another. 

Today I'm going to share a list of some of the high school level curriculum we've tried and some thoughts about how they work for different learning and homeschool styles.

Math
Algebra is probably the subject that causes the most anxiety for homeschool moms, because most of us just don't remember much of what we learned in our own high school math classes. Fortunately, there are plenty of choices for math curriculum that don't put the pressure on mom to do much teaching. In fact, some do the teaching and even the grading for you! 

VideoText Interactive has earned top grades from Landon (and from me!) since we reviewed it about two years ago. This one is comprehensive and taught expertly. Lessons are taught in short videos and followed by student practice problems and quizzes. The teaching is done for you, but you will still need to check lesson practice and tests.
Good for: student that needs to see and hear information; student that can work well independently.
Might not be best for: student without access to high speed internet. 
 photo Algebra_productimage_zps6b262264.jpg

Kennady needs a very different type of math instruction than Landon. She is using Life of Fred, although she may switch to VideoText in a year or two to finish up. Life of Fred teaches in a story format, and doesn't offer nearly as much in the way of practice problems as many folks prefer.
Good for: student that "hates" math or struggles with it, but likes a good story.
Might not be best for: student that needs a more rigorous or traditional math program.
Middle School Monday - Looking Ahead to Grade 9 on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

My oldest two boys used Saxon, which teaches using a spiral approach. It is thorough and familiar, though very dry, in our opinion.
Good for: student that needs an uncluttered book to avoid distraction.
Might not be best for: student that is easily overwhelmed by pages full of problems.

My second son struggled with geometry until we reviewed a web-based math instruction program at ALEKS.  (You can read my review HERE.) He enjoyed using the program and I loved that I didn't have to grade it myself.
Good for: filling in gaps in learning
Might not be best for: student that needs paper and pencil problems

And finally, we reviewed the Pre-Algebra course from UnLock Math earlier this year and found it to be very helpful. (You can read my review HERE.) Algebra I is currently available, and Algebra II, Geometry, and Calculus are coming!
Good for: student that needs a creative presentation to help them learn
Might not be best for: student without access to high speed internet
Unlock Math Review


Science
Graduation requirements generally include two or three science credits, and almost universally, it's required that one of those credits is for Biology. This has been the subject area that we have struggled with at the high school level, because none of my kids have been particularly interested in Biology, which does make it a challenge to find a curriculum that's a good fit. My goal has been to have my students gain a general working knowledge of high school level Biology, but not necessarily study in-depth or have a lot of lab work. None of my kids are pursuing a college or career path that is science-oriented, so a general biology course is "good enough" for us since it's not an area of interest. My thinking is that if they were to change their mind, they would be required to take Biology again in college anyway, so as long as they've got a decent foundation with it, the details will fall into place. Since my students are required to take one full credit course in Biology (which they don't care for), I allow them quite a bit of latitude in choosing their second science credit (we are required to have two science credits). My oldest chose to do some Physics and some Human Anatomy and Physiology; my second did Chemistry and Classical Astronomy; Landon did Classical Astronomy and will do a general science history course this year. Kennady will be doing the same general science course, so it remains for us to find a Biology course for her to do at some point.

Supercharged Science provided the main text and activities/experiments for Landon when he studied Biology, but in my opinion does need some extra reading or assignments to make it truly high school level. (Read our review HERE.)  It's simple and makes science accessible and fun.
Good for: student that needs only a basic course, and is willing to do some extra to round it out
Might not be good for: student without access to high speed internet; student who requires a more substantial and in-depth program.

We also reviewed High School Biology in Your Home, which is on the other end of the spectrum - a very in-depth program with a lot of research and lab work. At first I thought we could make it work, but we decided it was not a good fit for us. However, I would recommend it for families that need or want a more rigorous science course. Because of the reliance on labwork, this course requires the student to have access to a microscope and other equipment, and be willing to acquire specimens and do a lot of dissection. (Read our review HERE.)
Good for: student that enjoys science and is interested in lots of lab work
Might not be good for: student that is ambivalent about science, or has trouble with self-motivation.

Signs and Seasons : Understanding the Elements of Classical Astronomy - This was the excellent science elective course that all three of my kids did a few years ago.  The boys both earned high school credit for it. The book itself is non-consumable, and there's an optional field guide you can purchase, which contains chapter tests, templates and instructions for all the field activities, and places to keep records. (See my post C is for Classical Astronomy for more details.)
Good for: whole family study.


Survey of Science History & Concepts is the general science elective that Landon and Kennady will both do this year. This course is an overview of Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics; so it provides the foundational knowledge in the concepts of each of these branches of science.
Good for: general science study from a Christian worldview; a first-year high school study or an elective.
Might not be good for: student that needs a more rigorous course.

Back to Homeschool With Pencils, Papers, and Programs on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com #TOSReviewCrew #HSConnect #homeschool

History
This is by far my favorite subject, and I could probably go on and on about it! However, we do have a clear favorite curriculum for high school history - Notgrass. I will probably discuss this more in next month's Homeschooling High School blog hop post, because History and Literature study go hand-in-hand.

Notgrass has been my go-to for high school history (combined with Bible and Literature) for several years now, and it tops my list of favorite publishers for History curriculum. All of my kids have studied or will study Exploring World History and Exploring America. (See my post: E is for Exploring America for more info on that one.) Each of these courses is worth three full credits - one each in History, Bible, and English or Literature.
Good for: students willing to do a lot of reading; those who want history taught from a solid Biblical worldview
Might not be good for: struggling readers
Midterm Evaluation - 10th Grade @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com   Photo

Kennady has been working on Cultural Geography, using this Grade 9 level text from BJUPress. She requested cultural geography last year (for Grade 8) but wanted to study Europe specifically. So we worked on the introductory units in the text and then the chapters that dealt with Europe - along with some additional reading and map studies. This year Kennady will finish this textbook, we'll throw in a few projects along the way, and she'll have her first high school history/social studies credit.
Good for: student with an interest in geography and culture.
Middle School Monday - Looking Ahead to Grade 9 on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

Some related posts here on the Homeschool Coffee Break:

C is for Curriculum
Middle School Monday - Looking Ahead to Grade 9



Homeschooling High School Hosts Share this Month:

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 ©2006-2015 Homeschool Coffee Break. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. http://kympossibleblog.blogspot.com/