CTCMath & College Prep

My son started dual enrollment at the community college this past fall. The assessment test placed him in Intermediate Algebra. I felt confidant that all would be well – after all, his sister had forged the same trail two years prior.

Things didn’t go quite as planned however. He struggled to manage his time well and follow through on the homework. We thereby decided that he should repeat the course. He improved the second term, particularly in the latter part of the term.

This term, however, the instructor he wanted to take was not teaching the next course. He thereby opted to wait until Fall. Yet, I wasn’t comfortable skipping two terms of instruction time for fear he would slip back after the gains he has made.

I received access to this product in exchange for a review. I was compensated for my time and was not required to make a positive review.

Teen boy using CTCMath online math program with text overlay CTCMath & College Prep

CTCMath College Prep

When I discovered CTCMath I was immediately intrigued. I loved that the concepts were introduced with video tutorials. My son is a visual learner and excels when material is presented in this way.

CTCMath video tutorials are perfect because as my son puts it, “They are S cubed!” Simple – there is no gimmick designed to entertain which he finds annoying (let’s be honest, he often finds ME annoying!), Short – each video ranges between 4 to 9 minutes, andStep-by-Step – the problem solving method is explained succinctly and clearly.

The CTCMath video tutorials also use synchronized audio and animation which harnesses both audio and visual learning styles simultaneously.

He especially likes to skip forward or speed through the concepts he understands. Often, he’ll jump right to the practice problems and only refer back to the videos when he gets stuck.

We have been using CTCMath for a short time and I’m already seeing his confidence grow. Thus far, he has been skipping around and trying out concepts that he is both familiar with (polynomials and simplifying equations) and even challenging himself with higher trigonometry concepts.

Parental Support within CTCMath

I also like the detailed summary report that is provided. It’s broken down by course and can also be download as a PDF if, for example, I needed to provided documentation to a learning partner or charter school.

I like that there is also an optional worksheet that he can download and print out for extra practice. Upon entering his answers into the online portal, the solutions are shown to help him identify where he went wrong.

My son was interested in the Speed Skills activities. Unfortunately, these skills do not exceed level four, order of operations. As he played around with this, he decided it wasn’t as useful as he had hoped.

As we continue to progress, I am excited to try out the tasks (where I can assign specific problem sets). I want him to review concepts he struggled with previously and then also begin to work through the material he will encounter in the college course this fall. I am confident that his confidence will continue to grow and he will rediscover the joy of math he had in elementary school.

Want to try CTCMath in your homeschool?

If you have multiple children or simply want a budget friendly curriculum, CTCMath is perfect! As a homeschooler, you can receive a massive 60% discount off of the regular price.

Better yet, if you purchase any 12 Month Membership and receive a bonus 6 months for FREE! That’s a total of 18 months of online math instruction for under $7 a month!

Purchase a 12 Month Membership Here

Still not convinced? You can test CTCMath before purchasing. Simply sign up for the FREE CTCMath trial and check it out before you commit.

CTCMath Giveaway!

Right now, CTCMath is also doing a giveaway! One lucky family will have a chance to win a free one year membership for their homeschool. You can enter below. Best of luck!!

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Homeschooling High School: GPAs and Transcripts

My daughter is a junior in high school this year and has begun to apply for scholarships and is considering early admission to the university. As the year begins to wind down, we are giving more thought to her high transcript.

Teen girl holding hands in shape of peace symbol with text overlay "GPAs and Transcripts", magnolia tree in bloom in background

Many homeschool families get stressed by this aspect of homeschooling and fear the university will not accept a “homemade” transcript. The process of calculating your child’s GPA and creating a transcript is not difficult. There are many tutorials online to help guide you through this process.

Through our research – talking to local high school teachers and admissions counselors at our state universities – we have found it is best for high schoolers to use an unweighted GPA. In other words:

  • A’s receive a 4.0
  • B’s receive a 3.0
  • C’s receive a 2.0

I strongly suggest that the course be taken over again if the student earns anything lower than a C. Though our preference is to keep it simple, you can use half-points or quarter-points if you want to use a plus/minus grade system.

However, as many of the courses my daughter has taken are dual-enrollment course at the local community college, I opted to not use letter grades on her high school transcript. Instead, we will use a mastery approach. We do not consider a course complete until the material is mastered at the appropriate level.

The Core Courses

To apply for admission to a university in Oregon, the courses that students must have completed are outlined as:

  • Language Arts – 4 years (12 trimester credits)
  • Math – 3 years (9 trimester credits)
  • Science – 3 years (9 trimester credits)
  • Social Studies – 3 years (9 trimester credits)
  • World Languages – 2 years (6 trimester credits)

In a future post, I will share more details about the language requirement and different avenues by which to fulfill it as homeschoolers.

What About those Electives?

In addition to the student’s GPA, admission requirements also assess student preparedness and academic potential by looking at the unique context of each student’s personal experience.  Academic performance is not the sole criterion and successful applicants demonstrate a wide range of passions and life experiences.

Teens have many different interests and as they pursue their passions, homeschool parents often wonder how they might translate these hours onto a transcript. I previously wrote a post detailing the ABCs of High School Electives and provide a peak into how this can be done easily.

Academic Rigor

Often homeschool families and/or high schools will weight the GPA because they want to show that students with a weighted grade have completed an academically rigorous course (as in 5.0 for a rigorous course instead of 4.0).

However, it is much easier and more effective to show academic rigor by simply including the level of rigor in the title of the course on the transcript. For example, if your homeschool high schooler completed an honors level language arts course their senior year, the transcript might say: English Language Arts IV (Honors).

Please note that the College Board owns the term AP, so all courses that call themselves such must have approval. However, students may prepare for and take AP exams without having completed an approved AP course. It is important to confer with the university of choice whether they will accept AP exams for university credit.

For more information on homeschooling high school transcripts, two of my favorite resources by fellow homeschoolers are:

The Ultimate Guide to Creating an Unschooling High School Transcript from Joan Concilo at Unschool Rules

Do You Make This Big Homeschooling High School Transcript Mistake? from Heather at Blog, She Wrote

Typesy Homeschool Typing for the Win!

I have vivid memories of sitting in front of an electric typewriter in a room with 36 of my peers typing as rapidly as we could, “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy moon.” The clack clack clackety hum of the keys would inevitably cause me to develop a mild headache by the end of the class.

I remember asking my parents for a typewriter for Christmas. My parents didn’t see the value of a computer at the time but agreed. As a college student, I would be expected to write many papers and a typewriter would be a tremendous help.

Image of two teens using the Typesy Homeschool Typing program

By the time I chose to homeschool my own children, the presence of a computer and keyboard was common place. It seems they have grown up typing – composing short essays and writing emails to Grandma and Papa. Though they are familiar with the key placement, they have not had formal typing lessons since primary school.

Both teens are now dual-enrolled at the local community college and like myself, they are expected to write a significant number of essays and research papers. When my son claimed he could type faster than me, I took him on. While he is in fact faster, his accuracy is less impressive. I knew it was time to dedicate time to improving our typing skills.

Our family received access to the Typesy Homeschool Program in exchange for our honest review, and I was compensated for my time writing the review. All opinions are our honest thoughts and we have been using the program during our school time. Please see our disclosure policy

What I Love About Typesy Homeschool Typing Program

Cloud-based Program

I love that Typesy is an online program – everything is stored in the cloud and thereby we can log in from anywhere and automatically stay in sync. You do not have to download anything. We can begin training on our desktop at home and continue with lessons when we travel. Students have access to the same account, results, and course content no matter where they are physically located.

Individual Instruction

Typesy can also be used by multiple children – each at their own level. The lessons are adapted for each child; adapting to their individual needs. If a student is struggling with particular letter sequences, these will be repeated. The level of difficulty within the games will also adjust based on student progress.

image of a teen boy practicing typing skills with Typesy Homeschool Typing programThere are over 375 lessons broken into units that focus on specific areas of the keyboard (home row, top row, bottom row, shift keys, punctuations, numbers, and symbols) and many games.

With this program, students have the option to take the typing courses to learn proper fingering and key placement or play games to increase speed and accuracy. The games keep it interesting while the progressively challenging lessons ensure skills are taught correctly.

screen schot of Typesy Homeschool Typing Program

Each of the study units includes a step-by-step video , effective exercises, and fun games. Proper hand positioning is demonstrated and the keyboard strokes are explained – for visual learners, this is huge! I haven’t seen another program that provides this.

Goal Setting

While my teens are independent learners, I still find that I need to check in occasionally and encourage them to stay focused (particularly my son).  I love that I can schedule or assign lessons and keep track of their progress. I can even set word per minute goals and accuracy goals for each child.

Progress Reports

With Typesy Homeschool Edition’s admin accounts, parents can easily see student progress and print reports. Individual students can also see their own progress on their account pages. The stats page shows students several graphs: Typing Competency, Typing Speed, and Typing Accuracy.

screen shot of Typesy Homeschool Typing ProgramThe student dashboard also gives students their current typing speed and accuracy levels, thirty day progress, and their current level. There is even a “Hall of Fame” that lists the top fifty Typesy Homeschool Edition students based on points. If your child is like my son and thrives on competition, this is really great.

Well-Organized and Teen Friendly

I am grateful to have Typesy available for my teens. The lessons are very well organized and thorough – focusing on teaching accurate skills. This is a huge help for us homeschool moms who juggle so much. It is nice to know this skill is covered.

My daughter appreciates that the program is clean and that there are no cutesy graphics to distract from the material. “It’s not babyish and boring like most typing games,” she stated.

Typesy Package Details 

It only takes a few minutes to get started with Typesy. They have several different plans from small family (up to four users), large family (up to ten users), or even co-op! Each subscription also includes accounts for two or three parent-teacher admins.

Perhaps best of all, the entire site is 100% ad free and the subscription package is good for FIVE YEARS! 

I definitely recommend Typesy Homeschool if you are looking for a typing program. Visit Typesy to get started with the best keyboarding program today!  I plan to continue using it myself, also. Maybe I can even surpass my high school PR.

 

 

Connecting with the Night Sky: Activities for Spring

Of the many ways Earth is polluted, light pollution may be the least talked about. Defined as excessive or obtrusive artificial light, light pollution has consequences. It can wash out starlight in the night sky, interfere with astronomical research, disrupt ecosystems, have adverse health effects, and waste energy.

Take a moment to watch this short film that shows how the view of the cosmos gets better in less light-polluted areas.

I would also argue that light pollution causes many students to develop misconceptions. These misconceptions arise because we often fail to provide children with the time and opportunity to simply observe the night sky. After all, if you live in a metropolitan area, it does take some planning and a little driving to get out of the city.

How many young children today realize that during the course of a year, our view of the night sky changes from month to month? Some constellations are always in the sky, while others appear and disappear over different regions. How many children – or adults for that matter – can explain the rotation and revolution of our nearest celestial neighbor, our moon?

If you would like to learn more about common misconceptions in science, read my my five-part series.

image of a book laying open to show the constellations visible in March

The Night Sky Each Month

Early in our homeschool journey I read the works of Charlotte Mason. Her words, particularly in regards to the natural world resonated with me,  “We are all meant to be naturalists, each in his own degree, and it is inexcusable to live in a world so full of the marvels of plant and animal life and to care for none of these things.” 

With her words in mind, I have always tried to provide my children with ample time in the outdoors and to develop their observational skills. I also love living books that guide them on their discoveries. One of my favorite for astronomy is The Night Sky Month by Month.  This book, written by Will Gater and Giles Sparrow, shows the sky as it is seen around the world in both the northern and southern hemispheres. It is the perfect guide for amateur astronomers – the illustrated pictures and monthly sky guides will help you recognize patterns and track changes in the each hemisphere.

Another great story that will delight younger readers is The Moon Over Star which puts the historic moon landing into historical perspective through the eyes of a child.

Astronomical Events for Spring 2019

Charlotte Mason and I would encourage you to get outside and observe the night sky year round. Encourage your child to begin documenting his or her observations by keeping a moon journal. Sketch the appearance of the moon each night and note the location it is visible in they sky. To get you started, here are a few key events this spring.

March Equinox ~ The March equinox occurs on March 20th whereupon the Sun will shine directly on the equator and there will be nearly equal amounts of day and night throughout the world. This is also the first day of spring (vernal equinox) in the Northern Hemisphere and the first day of fall (autumnal equinox) in the Southern Hemisphere.

Worm Moon ~ This full moon phase occurs on March 21st and was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Worm Moon because this was the time of year when the ground would begin to soften and the earthworms would reappear. This is also the last of three super moons for 2019. The Moon will be at its closest approach to the Earth and may look slightly larger and brighter than usual.

Mercury at Greatest Western Elongation ~ The planet Mercury reaches greatest western elongation of 27.7 degrees from the Sun on April 11th. This is the best time to view Mercury since it will be at its highest point above the horizon in the morning sky. Look for the planet low in the eastern sky just before sunrise.

Fish Moon ~ The Moon will be located on the opposite side of the Earth as the Sun and its face will be will be fully illuminated.  Early Native American tribes called this full moon the Full Pink Moon because it marked the appearance of wild ground phlox, which is one of the first spring flowers. Many coastal tribes called it the Full Fish Moon because this was the time that the shad swam upstream to spawn.

Lyrids Meteor Shower ~ The Lyrids is an average shower, usually producing about 20 meteors per hour at its peak. It is produced by dust particles left behind by comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher, which was discovered in 1861. The shower runs annually from April 16-25. These meteors can sometimes produce bright dust trails that last for several seconds. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Lyra, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

You might also be interested in my earlier post, Autumn Astronomy Activities for Middle School

Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower ~ The Eta Aquarids is capable of producing up to 60 meteors per hour at its peak in the Southern Hemisphere and about 30 meteors per hour in the Northern Hemisphere. It is produced by dust particles left behind by comet Halley, which has been known and observed since ancient times. The shower runs annually from April 19 to May 28. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Aquarius, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

Blue Moon ~ This full moon will appear on May 18th and was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Flower Moon because this was the time of year when spring flowers appeared in abundance. There are normally only three full moons in each season; a fourth full moon occurs only happens once every 2.7 years, giving rise to the term, “once in a blue moon.”

Nature Book Club

Welcome to the Nature Book Club Monthly Link Up. Devoted to connecting children to nature, the monthly link up will begin on the 20th day of each month. We welcome your nature book and activity related links. Read on for more details.

The Nature Book Club is brought to you by these nature loving bloggers which are your co-hosts. Are you following them? If you don’t want to miss anything, be sure to follow each one.

Here are the co-hosts, their choices of books, and activities for February 2019:

Stargazing with Children by Thaleia at Something 2 Offer

The Rocket That Flew To Mars Online Book Club by Dachelle at Hide The Chocolate

Along Came Galileo Telescope Craft by Emily at TableLifeBlog

If You Decide to Go to the Moon Phases Activity by Karyn at Teach Beside Me

The Night Sky Events for Spring 2019 by Eva Varga at EvaVarga

Follow the Drinking Gourd Free Unit Study Resources by Jenny at Faith & Good Works

Party Rules

Choose an engaging nature book, do a craft or activity, and add your post to our monthly link up.
The link up party goes live at 9:00 a.m. EST on the 20th of each month and stays open until 11:59 p.m. EST on the last day of the month. Hurry to add your links!
You can link up to 3 posts. Please do not link up advertising posts, advertise other link up parties, your store, or non-related blog posts. These posts are removed.
By linking up with us, you agree for us to share your images and give you credit of course if we feature your posts. That’s it.


Tim Tim Tom Bilingual Books Teach Languages the FUN Way!

My children have been learning Mandarin since they were each five years old. We have been fortunate in that they have had the opportunity to work with a native speaker since the beginning. As a learning partner, I am always looking for resources to augment their language studies.

Image of a child reading a bilingual bookI especially love bilingual story books that provide them with rich text and an immersive storyline. While my own children are now teens and are more selective of their reading material, children’s books still provide a great way for them to practice reading in their target language.

Our Mandarin tutor has a family of his own now and we have enjoyed getting to know his daughter as we’ve continued our own language studies. When the opportunity arose to review the new bilingual books from Tim Tim Tom, I immediately thought of her.

Image of a child reading a bilingual bookI was most intrigued that the bilingual stories from Tim Tim Tom allowed for personalization. Not only is the text in the language of choice, but so is the character. I was able to customize the little girl in the story to look much like the little girl in my heart!

I had the book shipped directly to her and added a personal dedication to her in both languages. Her father shared with me that he read it with her when it arrived and that she looked at it herself throughout the day. “This girl is me! I just like Auntie Eva. She’s so nice.”

image of bilingual book covers labeling title and author Tim Tim Tom Publishing

Presently, they have three books (or adventures) currently available, each in either one or two languages of your choice.  You can simply order the book that you think you or your child might have the strongest connection.  As a volunteer at our local marine life center, my personal favorite is the underwater adventure so I chose it for my niece.

The ordering process is super easy. First, you choose the language or languages. I was then able to choose the name and the look of the main character as well as write a personal dedication.

As my niece is herself learning both Mandarin and English, I selected the dual-language option. Currently they offer the stories in TEN languages: Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Chinese (Simplified or Traditional). You can choose any two of these to appear in your chosen book.

An illustrated image of children reading a book - the 2019 poster image for Multicultural Children's Book DayMulticultural Children’s Book Day

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2019 (1/25/19) is in its 6th year. It was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Their mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.

MCBD 2019 is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board! View our 2019 Medallion Sponsors as well as our 2019 MCBD Author Sponsors.

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also work tirelessly to spread the word of this event.

Collage image of each of the Multicultural Children's Book Day Co-Host Team

Co-Hosts and Global Co-Hosts

A Crafty Arab, Agatha Rodi Books, All Done Monkey, Barefoot Mommy, Biracial Bookworms, Books My Kids Read, Crafty Moms Share, Colours of Us, Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes, Descendant of Poseidon Reads, Educators Spin on it, Growing Book by Book, Here Wee Read, Joy Sun Bear/ Shearin Lee, Jump Into a Book, Imagination Soup,Jenny Ward’s Class, Kid World Citizen, Kristi’s Book Nook, The Logonauts, Mama Smiles, Miss Panda Chinese, Multicultural Kid Blogs, Raising Race Conscious Children, Shoumi Sen, and Spanish Playground

Twitter Party

Sponsored by Make A Way Media: MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual Twitter Party will be held 1/25/19 at 9:00pm.E.S.T. They are giving away TONS of prizes and book bundles during the party.

Resources from MCBD

Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

Winter Trees and Poetry

Winter is Coming. At least in our part of the world. As a child, rain was the constant companion of winter on the Oregon Coast. Though it is still yet a constant, we do now see more sunshine and snow is as infrequent as ever.

a trail through along the river in late winter, coniferous trees border the trail and the trail has been cut through a fallen logWhat I love about this time of year is the opportunity to really see the trees. In winter, the bare branches stand like skeletons against the sky. While I have grown accustomed to identifying trees by their cones and leaves, I am now challenged to identify them solely by their branches and buds.

Trees that once had leaves are bare.
They’re dressed instead in lacy white.
Snow dusts their trunks and coats their limbs
with flakes that outline them with light.

Winter Trees 

One of the books I most enjoyed sharing with my children when they were younger was Winter Trees by Carole Gerber. In this story, a boy and his dog use their senses of sight and touch to identify seven common trees in the snow covered forest.

Providing clues about how to identify trees in the winter, the text invites readers to explore the outdoors on a more intimate level. Intricate yet simple illustrations and lyrical text make distinguishing different types of trees easy, even in the middle of winter.

It’s a sweet little book. The verse is uncluttered and reverent. Leslie’s brightly-colored block prints, decorated with watercolor and collage (with some digital enhancement, as well), are striking. It is a beautiful blend of play, science, poetry, and art.

Do You Know That Tree?

Close your eyes and picture a tree. How big is it? What kind of geometric shape is it? How are the branches arranged? Does it have leaves or needles?  Does it have any kind of fruit. Now open your eyes and draw what you pictured in your mind.

Now grab your coat, your nature journal materials, and head outside. Walk around your neighborhood or along a favorite woodland trail. Find a tree of interest to you – perhaps one you have taken notice in the past. Note the trunks.  Is there one main trunk or does it split into multiple trunks? Are they straight or bent?

Look at the overall shape of the tree.  What geometric shape is its leaf/needle crown? Look at the bark.  What color is it? Is it smooth or rough.  Does it peel?  Feel it. Describe how it feels.

Tall yellow poplar’s furrowed bark
surrounds a trunk that’s straight and neat.

yellow poplar leaf on the trunk of a treeDoes it have many large branches, or branches that have lots of twigs? What colors are the leaves or needles? How are they shaped? Do they have any distinguishing characteristics? Are there any seeds, flowers, fruits, nuts, or cones on the tree? There may be some on the ground.

If the weather is conducive, sit down and draw a few sketches of your tree. If it’s raining, take a few photographs and do the journaling when you get back inside.

Record words, ideas, and impressions that enter your mind. Use your sense of touch, smell, sight, and sound to generate more words.

Poet-Tree

Now, compare and contrast your two drawings. Finally, challenge your children (or yourself) to convert their (your) thoughts into a poem. There are several forms to choose from: Haiku, Diamante, Fluxus, or a Shape Poem. Download the free Poet-Tree guide from Project Learning Tree.

simple graphic image of green grass on white background with text Nature Book Club

Welcome to the Nature Book Club Monthly Link Up. Devoted to connecting children to nature, the monthly link up will begin on the 20th day of each month. We welcome your nature book and activity related links. Read on for more details.

The Nature Book Club is brought to you by these nature loving bloggers which are your co-hosts. Are you following them? If you don’t want to miss anything, be sure to follow each one.

Here are the co-hosts, their choices of books, and activities for this month:

Sky Tree Art Project by Emily at Table Life Blog

Winter Trees & Poetry by Eva at Eva Varga

The House at Pooh Corner Online Book Club by Dachelle at Hide The Chocolate

The Busy Tree Flap Book Activity Activity by Katrina at Rule This Roost

Plant a Tree, Nature Study Printable and Candle Holder by Sharla at Minnesota Country Girl

Party Rules
Choose an engaging nature book, do a craft or activity, and add your post to our monthly link up.
The link up party goes live at 9:00 a.m. EST on the 20th of each month and stays open until 11:59 p.m. EST on the last day of the month. Hurry to add your links!
You can link up to 3 posts. Please do not link up advertising posts, advertise other link up parties, your store, or non-related blog posts. They will be removed.
By linking up with us, you agree for us to share your images and give you credit of course if we feature your posts.That’s it.

Let’s party!
Welcome to the Nature Book Club!
*November theme: Trees & Twigs*