Thursday, September 20, 2018

What's New and Exciting for September 2018

A post to update folks is long overdue.

We got a family photo taken (above) the day my youngest celebrated high school graduation. I'm on the far left, then Dad, then my youngest, then my oldest, then my son-in-law, then my middle "child". (I don't use names -- want to protect some privacy." Then there are the dogs -- Cody on the left, and the yellow blur on the right is my oldest's dog named Coda.

My high school graduate was not able to find summer work. He spent his summer promoting his home business - Eagle Whips (you can find him on Instagram). And he built up his inventory of whips so they could continue to sell even while he is away at college! (He's not allowed to make them at college. They are considered to be a weapon. Go figure.)

He also finished his requirements to be promoted to Cadet Senior Master Sgt.
August arrived. The college freshman packed his bags, and we flew to Arizona.
 We landed in Phoenix to a temperature of 108, then we drove to Flagstaff.

Getting moved into the dorm was such a small part of that week. He had to get his new ID card first...

 There was an expo, where he met the Lumberjack...

There were days of orientation. The lad plans to participate in CAP in AZ, working to achieve rank of 1st Lt. He also plans to participate in AF ROTC, but that has been postponed til the Spring semester.

Since launching the lad I've been working to stay motivated. I've got loads to do -- I just need to stay on track. I'm making maternity clothes for the momma of my first grandchild...

I'm quilting...

I'm trying to sell off 27-years-worth of homeschool books...

And there is plenty of decluttering and cleaning to catch up on now that I am done home schooling.

But... I still love reviewing home school products... So right now I have in the hopper:

Teach Sunday School Bible-At-A-Glance

Brinkman Adventures Season 6

and Heirloom Audio Adventures St. Bartholomew's Eve

Can't wait to tell you more! 

I will try to give a new update in mid-October. So what is new in your world?

Monday, September 17, 2018

Menu Plan Monday for 9/17/18

Another week, another plan. Here's what we decided on this week:
Saturday:  Date night bumped from Friday this week.
Sunday: Chicken Caesar Salad, rolls
Monday: Lasagne (from freezer, prepared in advance), salad, garlic knots
Tuesday: Pork chops, stuffing, steamed yellow & zucchini squash
Wednesday: French Bread Pizza, salad
Thursday: scallops, noodles, asparagus
Friday: Date night: Dinner out

Well, that was the plan. We followed it Saturday, Sunday and Monday, but then the Civil Air Patrol was activated to go to the Carolinas to shoot photographs of the hurricane damage from Florence. So my hubby, who is trained to do those missions, went to South Carolina and will be there all week. I have too much food in my fridge to make more meals, so I am eating leftovers all week: lentil soup, lasagne, some things my neighbor (who is going out of town) gave me... So, the plan became Caesar Salad, Lasagne, then leftovers, leftovers, leftovers.

Hope you're having a great week!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Picta Dicta - A TOS Homeschool Crew Review

In early August I learned I would get to review a product by Roman Roads Media. I've loved every Roman Roads Media product I've ever tried, so I was delighted!
Roman Roads Media
I received, by email, digital access to Picta Dicta Vocabulary Builder.
Roman Roads Media
I received two emails. One instructed me step-by-step on what I needed to do to get going with Picta Dicta. The second email gave me a link to set up my account as well as an Order ID and a Base License Code. As soon as I received these emails I went to the site and set up my account, with two student seats. Once I had done that I started poking around, learning how to use the program.
Roman Roads Media Picta Dicta Vocabulary Builder

Picta Dicta Vocabulary Builder is a program to build Latin vocabulary. For a high school student it would probably be best as a supplement to a primary Latin curriculum. Without a primary Latin spine, it is still a great educational tool. Picta Dicta can actually be used over a broad spectrum of student ages, from beginning reader to retiree. I was so happy to have this opportunity to review Picta Dicta because I have been working on my Latin on and off for about six years, and I welcomed this opportunity for a new way to increase my vocabulary.

When one logs in to Picta Dicta, Vocabulary Builder, the first page is always the following:

The page you see above shows the program has 36 pages (each page has its own focus, so think of each page across the bottom row as a unit, each number on a page as a chapter). Each page has 6 chapters. If the student is able to keep to a pace of one unit each week, the program can be completed in one school year. (A typical school year is 36 weeks.)

The green stars you see show the student's progress and how well she did. As you can see, I did not do well on Test Forms. I decided to go back into "Test Forms" to see if I could improve my score.
Once you have clicked on a lesson you get an introductory page. To continue you click on the pointing finger-hand in the bottom right corner of the page.
When you click there on the Test Forms lesson, you are taken into the test questions.

Revisiting this page reminded me why I got only one star. I'm not good at this particular section of the program. I haven't been focusing in the genitive case, the dative case, etc. I would need to back up and redo a previous section focusing on these cases to improve my score.

So if you change your mind and want to go to a different lesson, you click the arrow in the bottom left corner of the page. (It is on the "quid" page; I just cut it off of my snap shot above.) When I did this, I had to log in again. This isn't too difficult if you let your computer save your log in ID and your password, but it is still a very good idea to write these down somewhere when you first set up the program.

My progress on this program has been slow. I really want to learn this material well, so when I don't do well on a chapter I go back and do it again. And again if necessary. I find I am really motivated by the stars. I really want four or five stars when I can get it.

I went to Unit 2, where I am currently working, so I could show you how the program works. When you have completed a chapter but want to improve your score, you can go back in and work on it again by clicking on the little blue arrow to the right of the Chapter information:
By doing this on Chapter 7, I can also show you examples from the different chapters in a unit. Unit 2 (or "Page 2") is not the same as Page 1, so maybe these aren't exactly units... 
Clicking on the hand again, the student receives a word and hears the pronunciation.
Click the hand and on the next page the student picks which picture/word grouping the vocabulary goes with. Sometimes this is trial and error, but it is a very effective way to help the student learn the vocabulary (when the student repeats chapters with poor scores).
Then when the student gets the answer correct, there is a green check, and the full sentence is heard. If the student gets the answer wrong, there is a red "X" and the full sentence is still heard. The student gets another chance later in the lesson to try again.
I improved my score to four stars!

I opened the next chapter, "Spell".
I liked the advice given in the bottom of the Spell intro page. It reminded me to mention that you can review a word by pressing the info icon on the lower lefthand corner. What I didn't like is that this is a "thumbs down" icon, like "I give up!" And when you press on it, you have gotten the answer wrong and get a red "X". On the other hand, if the student just plans to go through twice, this is no big deal. The first time can be for learning. The student can press the lower lefthand icon on each word, take lots of notes, and when done with all the vocabulary for the chapter the student can go through again and answer the questions accurately. This writing of the vocabulary helps to cement the information into the brain with many learning styles.

I have really enjoyed working with Picta Dicta and plan to continue working on my Latin vocabulary. I strongly encourage you to consider adding this program to your arsenal of curriculum products this year if you are studying Latin. 
Roman Roads Media
Other members of the Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Review Crew also reviewed this and/or other products by Roman Roads. To read more reviews, please click the button below.
Classical Rhetoric and Picta Dicta {Roman Roads Media Reviews}

Monday, September 10, 2018

Menu Plan Monday for 9/10/18

Time to post the menu plans for this week. I've had some weeks of less than healthy meals -- I'm finally ready to walk the straight and narrow. This week's meal plans reflect healthier choices -- no sugar, no processed foods, blended with selections my husband will appreciate. Here's the plan:

Saturday (9/8):  spaghetti, salad, knots

Sunday (9/9):  Leftovers from Friday's dinner out

Monday (9/10): Lentil soup, salad, rolls

Tuesday (9/11) (CAP): steak, brown rice stir-fry, green beans

Wednesday (9/12): shrimp, Thai Buddha Bowl, rice

Thursday (9/13): pan fried chicken, rice, broccoli

Friday (9/14): Creamy vegetable alfredo, salad, rolls

Friday, September 7, 2018

GrammarPlanet - A TOS Homeschool Crew Review

Over the past many weeks I have had the opportunity to work with a new on-line grammar program called GrammarPlanet.
GrammarPlanet was created by the makers of Analytic Grammar. I have never gotten to try Analytic Grammar, but I have heard good things about it. GrammarPlanet has two ways the program is available to families. You can either use the free version, which includes commercials (I really disliked these -- over-loud commercials at the end of the lesson) or you can pay a one-time (forever) fee of $39 for a student account. (Great price for a lifetime purchase of this program!)

GrammarPlanet goes through the concepts of grammar in a very systematic way. When I was teaching my oldest grammar for the first time, I remember teaching that there are eight basic parts of speech:  nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, articles prepositions. However the method of teaching these parts of speech was no where near as clear and easy as the way they are taught in GrammarPlanet.

The method used for each lesson of GrammarPlanet is:
1) Print out and read pages for the lesson; student keeps handy while doing lesson;
2) Watch video for lesson;
3) Do exercises/practice for lesson;
4) Take test for lesson.

If the student misses too many items, the parent needs to reset the lesson for the student using the teacher account so that the student can repeat the material. This method keeps the parent/teacher in the loop so there is no question as to how well the student is doing, and no ability for the student to ignore a lack of understanding and just keep trying to move forward in the lessons.

The grammar material is introduced in a specific, carefully thought out order. It begins with nouns, and explains very well that "Noun" does not only refer to things (the old "person, place or thing"), but also includes concepts. 

The lessons work through adjectives, articles, etc. Each lesson carefully introduces and covers the concept of the lesson and reinforces the lesson in the video and the practice.

I worked on the material as a student, and there were some times when the first practice question would immediately stump me as to how to label and diagram the sentence. I decided that for me actually doing the problem examples (and sometimes getting it wrong and having the program tell me the correct answer) was part of what I needed to learn the material. It caused me to realize I would not want to jump on my student too quickly for wrong answers either. That was a new thought...

When the student first logs in, they see the profile page.
I know that is kinda small in that snapshot -- it is easier to read when it is full screen. Next the student clicks the green "Continue Progress" button under their name (which I have wiped off for privacy). The student next sees the following page:
I am displaying Lesson 9 above out of 13 units. The first thing the student is to do is to open the document for the lesson and print it out, and then read it.
Next the student watches the video,

and last the student works on the practice. 

During the lesson, practice and test the student is encouraged to keep the printouts handy to refer to. Part of the course work also entails the actual diagramming of sentences, the old-fashioned way (not just labeling the sentences as seen above):
Sorry for all the blotches -- there is writing on the back of the page as well and the ink bled through. The diagrammed sentence says: "According to witnesses in another village, the sky split in two and fire appeared over the forest."  I think it is amazing to know how to diagram that sentence!

So, GrammarPlanet is just an amazing product that you can get even for free (with commercials) to help your students learn and understand our English language. I am really pleased with this program. I highly encourage you to give it a try for your students this year.

Other members of the Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Review Crew also reviewed this product. To read more reviews please click the button below.
Grammar Program Online {GrammarPlannet Reviews}

Monday, September 3, 2018

Menu Monday for 9/3/18

Greetings, my friends! Welcome to September. I can barely believe it.

My youngest is starting week 2 of college out-of-state, and I am adjusting to cooking for two. I haven't got the healthiest meal plan this week, but it is honest. Here we go:

Saturday: Grilled cheese sandwiches, tomato soup

Sunday: visiting daughter and son-in-law--dinner out to celebrate their anniversary (seafood)

Monday: cheeseburgers, corn on the cob, potato salad, pickles, chips

Tuesday: Taco Tuesday: Tacos, quacamole, black beans, chips, etc.

Wednesday: Pan-fried chicken, rice, steamed green beans

Thursday: spaghetti, salad, garlic knots

Friday: Date night (dinner out)

Monday, August 27, 2018

Menu Monday for 8/27/18

Sorry I didn't post a menu plan last week. I was actually traveling. I don't ever post that on my blog, but I do usually post a menu plan anyway to suggest that I am home, for home security and that sort of thing. Anyway... This week's menu plan:

Saturday: Arrived home from airport having picked up a pizza on the way. Ate at about 8:00 -- way late for us.

Sunday: Our neighbor blessed us, knowing we had no food in the house, and gave us dinner -- Chinese food of duck, noodles, and vegetables. Very yummy!

Monday: Pork chops, buttered noodles, steamed green beans (right out of our garden!)

Tuesday: Salad plate with romaine, tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, tuna fish salad, hard boiled eggs and chunks of cheddar cheese

Wednesday: Lentil soup, salad, rolls

Thursday: Lasagne roll-ups, salad, garlic knots

Friday: Date night - dinner out!

What's for dinner at your house this week?

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Homeschool High School - Fitting it All In

I've come a long way since my first student was in high school. First time through high school, I was just trying to figure out how to complete the "required" high school courses. (The state of Maryland has required courses for public school students. I wanted to follow these guidelines in case my students wanted to go to college.)

My oldest graduated in 2004. My student was part of a co-op for History and Literature. I got her into outside classes (usually that means I paid someone else to teach her) for Algebra I, Geometry, Biology, Anatomy, Chemistry, Latin and flute. I created a chart of the requirements and turned it into a transcript, filling information in as she completed courses. She started some of her high school work in 7th and 8th grade, which gave her extra time in later grades to work part time and pursue many outside interests. 

She was passionate about violin, and joined the local Montgomery County Symphony Orchestra, which met once a week in the evening.

Getting her violin restrung, she was offered a part-time job at the violin shop and developed skills as a luthier. 

She was very active in 4-H, and loved baking, candy-making, and did a significant amount of sewing, crochet, and knitting.

Eventually she was crowned 4-H Queen of the Montgomery County Fair.

How did we do it? That is the question.

In 8th grade #1 began high school coursework through a co-op (Tapestry of Grace) in English Composition and Literature, Latin and History. #2 had co-op classes as well, which I helped run. She also took flute lessons. There was no child #3, and I announced my pregnancy in May.

In 9th grade, #1 continued in co-op, but I think we gave up the co-op for the younger group. #1 was also taking Latin at the same location, and taking Biology and flute lessons at locations near home. We may have been working on Algebra 1 at home, or she may have taken it at someone's home, I can;t remember.  #3 was born in November, days after we had a unit celebration of a Medieval Feast.
For awhile after the birth friends helped me out transporting #1 to classes. I did my best keeping #2 on track at home. Eventually I was able to get back to actively transporting her to activities again.

In 10th grade #1 continued on in the co-op, taking Latin 2, Anatomy, and flute as outside classes. Can you see a theme here? For most of high school I was a taxi. Since the classes she took were co-op, that meant I taught a class about every six weeks in rotation with other parents. She began working at the violin shop this year.

In 11th grade #1 took her fourth co-op year of high school level English Composition/Literature, her fourth year of high school level History/Government, and continued flute. She took Driver's Education and got her license. She took Chemistry outside the home as well.

In 12th grade #1 was done with most of her classes. She spent more time reading, playing violin, and working at the violin shop. It was 15 years ago, so I may have gotten some of the order wrong - she may have taken one of the earlier-mentioned math or science courses this year. She graduated with a group of home schoolers from our church's home school group.

As I think back on those years, I have glossed over the struggles we experienced, the tears, the stress, etc. I don't mean to white-wash things. It was a very difficult time for our family, and the stress on our first-born was huge, and she suffered as a result of it. We did the best we could. For us, getting it all done, fitting it all in involved a lot of outside classes. I know that doesn't work for everyone.

What is working in your homeschool high school?

Other members of the Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew are also blogging the 5 Days of Homeschool Encouragement. To read more posts, please click the button below.