Monday, May 30, 2011

Articles & Reflections: Homeschooling for the Middle and Highschool Years

As my boys grow I can certainly see how our homeschooling is evolving.  I sit back and really take in how my boys have changed in both their thinking and also in how they take more and more control of their own education.

I had seen these two articles this morning and thought I would share them with my readers here at my LAH blog; A Montessori Education for Middle Schoolers and also A Montessori Education for Highschoolers
I thought these articles were very timely for us.  As I read through these I considered where my boys are now in their learning and where they came from and how their learning has developed.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Summer Reading ~ An Idea to Share

I can't take any credit at all for this "neat" idea to use as a tool for reading over the summer months.

Over on our AKOL e group a member was posting about trying to get some ideas for creating a summer reading program.

One member posted this resource on the group and I thought I might share it here because I just think it is a really neat idea for all age levels and readers.

It's called Reading Bingo

Be sure and check it out if your looking for a reading incentive for your learners over the summer months.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Division Struggles - and a favorite Math Reader Series to Share

I might have shared this series before but just in case I have not I wanted to share a REAL FAVORITE of ours ~ it is by Enslow Publishing called Making Math Easy. We started with this when my youngest was struggling learning subtraction. He just couldn't get it so I looked over some books (instead of more textbooks or programs) to help him and found this Making Math Easy Series. We just love it.

Now we are working with division and have written above how he struggled in subtraction I think I understand why division might be yet another difficult concept for him to grasp. He works through the problems fine with the steps but lacks the basic understanding (even using manipulatives of just what he is actually doing and I want to nip that right away so he has a better basic understanding of the concept/skill) I am going to be getting from our local library Division Made Easy. I think it will really help him understand things much more. If we want we can even try some of the worksheets if he wants that is provided on this site. ~
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Here is a preview of the book you can probably quickly see why we like these SO much.  I plan to go and get this today so we can stop right where we are in our math learning and go through this over the next couple of weeks to get a better foundation.

This series can be found in many libraries so be sure and check it out!

Math E-Books - Some Resources to Share

In an effort to find free, helpful resources for our home learning, I wanted to share these new resources we plan on using as we work into our higher levels of learning.
XP Math has a section of downloadable math reference books that I am adding to my boy's learning assignment blogs.

FreeBookCentre.Net is another site with free math e-articles and books on various math topics/skills.

I found Totally Free Math a real gem! This book is completely free and can be used as a great learning tool for those learning the basics of Algebra. Please read through the site for more information. 

* Note for further reference ( not ebooks) I found this link to be very helpful.

* Online Mathematics texts is yet another resource for areas of Calculus and Algebra

More online resources for help with math~
Algebra Help
Purple Math
Help Algebra
Kahn Academy
Shmoop - pre-algebra

Happy FREE math learning!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Literature for Summer ~

Lately we have been planning on what we will be doing this summer. We continue our learning, just at a much more relaxed pace. We don't work all subjects per week but we are planning on continuing with Reading, Math and Writing.

Here is a new site I found while downloading some free ebooks for my Kindle PC. I thought this might be a neat idea to have us do either together or separately and have the daily readings sent to their emails~ The site is called DailyLit. You read books online daily through your email or RSS feed.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Textbook Dilemma-

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Over the past few weeks I have been working on transitioning my teen from 8th grade studies into Highschool. I have been reading over lots of information and plans I had outlined previously for our 9th grade are being tweaked just a bit as I observe further into my teens unique abilities, interests and needs.

I have long avoided using textbooks. I don't think I have ever really liked them except for the pictures, I just really never found them to have all that much to offer a child.  Many can be tainted with agendas and offer inaccurate information especially in the areas of science and history.  They quickly ( like many reference materials ) can become outdated and irrelevant and I just didn't wish to deal with all of that.

My thinking has really evolved over time.  With my teen going into Highschool and reading more and planning things out in greater detail for this new year, chatting with colleges he shows real interest in attending and speaking to professors and also veteran homeschool parents of children who have now moved on from the homeschooling environment, I have a bit of a different perspective on them.

I have learned over this past year that for my 8th grader it has been a "growing year" for him and also for me as his teacher and now facilitator.  I am learning to let go more embrace his way of learning with his own needs and abilities.

Here is some brief insight I have picked up on over the past month or two;

1. All textbooks are not ALL bad. They CAN have a place in your home learning. ( used as a guide for a general theme or starting point on a topic, these texts can be useful).

2. Special Needs children CAN benefit from using these as your guide and starting point for learning more in depth concepts about a topic.

3. Errors occur not only with textbooks publishers and writers but also with authors who do not write for textbooks.  Unless it is a primary resource or something similar you will run into the same thing because it depends on the authors purpose and ideals of what they are trying to bring forth.  Also, these errors we might find can be a real opportunity for our children to dig deeper and using critical thinking skills to processing these errors also. * this is something much more conducive for learners who are gifted/twice exceptional or are more Middle/Highschool age. This would NOT be something I would recommend for younger learners in Elementary grades*.

4. Children with APD or Dyslexia can take advantage of using textbooks or similar learning books because the information is presented mostly in little chunks and as a very high level of understanding and can be used as an overview and guide and then you can dive deeper more complex concepts for your special learner to understand and in doing this, you may use many other books to bring this information forward.

5. Upper level (highschool textbooks and college level) can be helpful in learning about a topic since they are so much more in depth and cover much more material.  I have found the younger textbooks act more as a workbook approach and are not as valuable.

6. Pictures and links ( now available in many textbooks or media texts) can be a real advantage for our more visual children when learning.

I am still not satisfied and never will be completely satisfied with using ONLY textbooks for our learning but Textbooks can play a role with a combination of good literature and resources to surround your subject or topic.

Allowing the textbooks to be your guide to enter into a more organized, laid out approach to tackle a large subject like Biology can really be helpful in teaching and for helping our children learn about such a vast topic that has so many sub-topics. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Biology Learning

We are currently working in the area of Biology with both boys and I just learned about this site from my Teachers First Newsletter I subscribe to~ For us, this site could not come at a more perfect time! I just love it. It is called Practical Biology.

The site offers free learning resources, experiments, activities and downloads for learning about this topic. It is has a multi-level material component that is perfect since my teen is working through an online Biology text from CK12 all through this summer and my younger son is working on a cells unit study and creating his own lapbook with resources we put together.

Be sure and bookmark this or check it out if you have a chance. ~

Saturday, May 14, 2011

FlipSnack - a new reader tool

I just learned about this new, free online tool for taking PDF's and converting them into an online reader format. I have a few PDF's that I wanted to convert into a book format for my dyslexic son and this is a perfect tool to do just that. Its called FlipSnack. A free program to use~ but a premium membership is also available, that removes watermarks and has a few more capabilities.

Below is one I had tried out with a PDF download I had for my son to use as a writing resource.
Your able to customize how you want your book to look (spiral, hard bound, colors etc..) - there is a limit of 500 pages per pdf upload.

A neat tool to try out!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Thoughts from a Dyslexic ~ Something to Share

 We were watching the news this morning and there was a father/daughter on TV  that explained how she "had" dyslexia but no longer "has it" ( ok lets not go there right now, lol  but anyway) she explained how her dad helped her overcome her struggles by every Saturday evening he would read to her and they explained how this REALLY helped her problem with her Dyslexia. - my son heard this and said. " That's really good mum, but I know that reading more and more is what really helps me and kids. And the thing is, when you read alot like that you do better in everything else. Reading helps all the rest of the stuff, from what I can tell". WOW ~

Oh my goodness its days like this that I just feel so blessed to be able to do what I am doing.  ( Background- my son started off homeschooling at the end of 2nd grade and they said he was reading at 1.8 reading level ( his IEP read) and I had him tested and he was at a K level, just beginning sounds. He now is still working hard at reading but is at a fourth grade level at this point he has made significant progress "in all areas of study" as you heard from him,- and it takes alot of hard work but as you hear from him it's worth it. 

Onward and upward~ 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Summer's Relaxed Learning-

Summer is coming and for us that means we still continue with our learning, but in a more relaxed way. We still learn all areas of study but more freely and interest driven.

Our shelves get a good organizing. We work together on sorting books, placing others in boxes for sale or to give away. ( I have us work together because when I do the boys have a chance to really go through our shelves and see books that they might have forgotten about and so it helps to get more use out of them- I caught them several times flipping through certain books and I would make a note of them since it told me what they might want to explore even further- GREAT way to get ideas, I know sneaky but it works!) We also go through our programs, finish up any writing assignments left in our Writing Organization Folder and give our room a good spring cleaning. Here is another archived post you might like or find helpful for organizing.
I also like to look at links and things to change things up for us that makes learning and practicing more fun and relaxed instead of all the book work we do through out the year. Today, we while taking breaks from our "homeschool cleanout" we needed to get our Math in so we did a quick two pages in our workbooks while also spending some time practicing some skills on the computer. My younger son found a neat (new to him) game for practicing his multiplication facts. - called Sketchworld ( For summer I plan on sharing some goals we have one of which is really nailing down the multiplication facts) He worked this morning laughing and doing pretty well as he progressed along. I love mornings like this because he is having so much fun, yet learning an important skill as he goes further and deeper into his division concepts.

Here is another neat and funny site Torture the Teacher from Mr. Nussbaum's site to practice spelling. Both boys had fun with this one this morning~ Some can be very tricky - what a great fun way to practice those tricky words! 

Each Spring I end up creating a folder on their desktop and adding practice games like these into each folder for each subject. There are many and as I find neat ones and add them I will share them.

One other thing we added for our  relaxed learning is a computer game called Minecraft. It is a first person building game. Similar to legos where you can make virtually anything you would like. A neat game that the boys have been hooked on lately and is perfect timing since we had recently downloaded Blender for my teen. I think it is a great way for the boys to spend their "downtime".

Off to do more organizing~!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Weekly Wrap Up-

What a week!

In Science we started working with my teen his new Biology Unit ( resources are posted over on my science tab also see the resources below under "NOTES") and I found some great resources. I have one resource I wanted to highlight and that is CK-12 Flexbooks. 
This is a free program. You join and register for free and can browse through their text listings for what you might be looking for.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Practicing Pronouns~

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We are working through our Analytical Grammar program and it was recommended that one of the best ways to really be able to know the pronouns in a sentence is to just memorize them.

Since memorization isn't actually fun or a strength for my teen I decided to use Study Stacks to perhaps help him while he learns his pronouns. I plan on adding a few more ways to study these but this is just a "start".

Study Stacks is FREE you only need to sign up and create a user and password name and your ready to go. There are Q & A in order to help you learn how to use the program. I am still learning how I might like to use this program and I think it is a great tool for "rote" learning.

Once I created the Study Stack for Practicing Pronouns, I embedded the html code into my teens learning assignment blog so he could study daily ~  here is what it looks like and you can try it out~

More educational activitites at

Here is one I made from quizlet:

There are many more to try out also~ happy learning! * here is one I found that someone made on quizlet*

Monday, May 2, 2011

Adding to our Learning Assignment Blogs-

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As time goes by and as I find specific resources to help in our studies I have been adding them to the boys Learning Assignment Blogs. I found this particular resource lately and it has been one that I have been glancing at back and forth for a few days now so I thought I would add it to my middle son's blog and share it with my readers.
Many might already be familiar with Harcourt School Links for Math but Science was new to me~ I just learned they had these great interactive links and am finding a bunch of neat things to use - even for our cells lapbook!
I started looking for some fun resources to use for our cells unit and as usual, I end up finding more than just cells for us! Its always the way when it comes to the internet. I try and be better about things though because I really try to look more closely now at the different sites to really see if I will be able to incorporate certain things into something we might be learning- this is definitely one of them~

I really liked the"Cell Inspector" interactive and think it will be a great addition to our unit and also I like "How do Plan and Animal Cells Differ"? great for a Venn Diagram for our lapbook~ I could go on but I will stop there. Be sure and check it out if you have the time.  The site is for K-6 grade in case your looking for a specific content level.

You might like these~

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