Monday, February 10, 2020

Math - The Times Tables - A Fork in the Road

There's way too many people around who are fearful of math and think they are bad at it. There are many reasons for this including a math curriculum that veers off into advanced algebra and calculus rather than teaching more applicable math skills such as basic statistics, probability, algorithms/logic, and basic finance.
Time4MathFacts: Free to Time4Learning Members

But one very simple reason for this is that many students fail to become fluent with the math facts so as math conversations happen, they feel lost and confused.  For instance, by 5th grade, a teacher might explain that:

There are 5 baskets of a dozen apples being sold for 120 dollars. So what is the price for each apple. So we have 60 apples selling for $120 so they are $2 each.  

To a student fluent with the fact 5 x 12 is 60, these sentences would be relatively easily to follow.  But to a student without automaticity with these numbers, these sentences could be very confusing.  Perplexing. Where did the 60 apples come from? Where did the $2 come from? Not being able to follow leads to panic and a feeling of inadequacy.

To learn the math facts, there's a need for extended practice over months.  This can be done through grit and determination and discipline. Or it can be accomplished with a really fun game based system that kids like to play and which leads to proficiency through a sophisticated time-proven design.  The sophistication involve emphasizing that the math facts come in "families".  So rather than learn four different facts that are related, one fact can be learned along with all of its permutations.

Specifically, learning 6 x 9 = 54, 9 x 6 = 54, 54 / 9 = 6, and 54 / 6 = 9 can sound like four math facts but the best math fact learning systems emphasize how this is one family and can be turned in any direction.

Time4MathFacts was added for free for Time4Learning in 2019.
In 2020, Time4MathFacts became available to all families and homeschoolers directly.  The program is the consumer version of ReflexMath by ExploreLearning which is now only available to schools through ExploreLearning.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Homeschool Writing - What about apathy?

I just received the nicest email from Time4Writing. Not that it was a personal email but they seemed to really describe and understand my challenges:

Dealing with "Writer's Apathy?"

 Occasionally, you probably hear things along these lines from your child or teen:

How to Help a Child with Writer's Apathy
  • "Writing doesn't really matter, anyway." 
  • "Writing is boring." 
  • "I'm not good at writing, so why should I bother?" 

As a parent, you recognize that your child needs to be well-grounded in the basics of writing to have school and career success. Yet, you may be hard-pressed to convince your child of the importance of improving writing skills. How to Help a Child with Writer's Apathy

If you have a child who puts little to no effort into writing assignments or even balks when it's time to practice writing, this month's writing blog on   battling writer's apathy  will be a welcome read! No parent wants to have to cajole, coax, bribe, or nag their student into doing something as basic as becoming a good writer. Instead, help your child find his or her internal writing motivation with our helpful tips.

 Now I know some kids who have taken T4W homeschool writing courses and they all seem to say the same things: "Useful" - "Not too hard or awkward" and "really helped"etc. Basically, they get a chance to work with an experience writing teacher who gives them positive feedback on their interesting thoughts, use of language, and writing techniques. And helps them understand where better structure, clearer word choice, or a different sentence structure would work. Parents particularly like that someone else does the heavy lifting of giving feedback to their kids about writing.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Third Grade Resources Focus

Guess who has a third grader? Yes, I do. Actually, I have some children. They are people first.  But they have certain attributes such as what grade level they are working at. Mine are working at the third grade level. Of course, I'm writing facetiously here but the People First movement is actually something I leaned about from Kelly S when I one day spoke or wrote without paying attention and put myself in a category of people that categorizes people unsympathetically. Since then, I can't even say "I have a third grader" without my inner voice coming after me.

Betthatasitmay, in third grade:

Collection of Third Grade Spelling Word Lists and Vocabulary Lessons

From there, you can find and I quote:
Third grade vocabulary lists are also available on VocabularySpellingCity. Vocabulary lists include antonyms and synonyms; homophones and homonyms (multiple meaning words); and third grade content specific lists. Content area vocabulary covers concepts, such as third grade science vocabulary words (matter, motion, and scientific inquiry) and third grade math vocabulary (fractions, base ten, and weight/volume).

Lookign elsewhere, there's Time4Learning's third grade homeschool program and Time4Writing's Third grade writing program for homeschoolers.

And again, I quote from T4W this time:

What is 3rd Grade Writing?
In third grade, writing becomes a key component of school curriculum. Third grade students write more independently than in any previous grade and spend significant blocks of time engaged in writing on their own, as well as in assigned projects. Students hone their paragraph writing skills and write multi-paragraph compositions. As specified in third grade writing standards, students learn to organize their work using a beginning, middle, and end, focusing on sequence of events. Students are also taught to use descriptive detail and literary devices, such as dialogue, point of view, and figurative language (metaphors and similes). Third-graders continue to expand their knowledge of grammar, spelling, and mechanics, as well as how to evaluate writing and conduct research.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Art & Beauty Everywhere

One of the opportunities in homeschooling is for parents to help their children see the art everywhere.  In nature, in people, in society, even in the jokers of decks of cards.

What? The beauty of jokers in the decks of cards? In fact, yes, Check it out. These jokers are from the best online joker collection.  I think collecting is a great way for kids to learn about the world. My generation and the generations before me learned about the world and history through stamp and coin collecting. We built organizational skills. We socialized and learned a little bit about commerce.  Today, that's much less interesting but I still think collecting has a role to play in education. Anybody out there with a homeschool collections website, community, or facebook group?

These next two jokers are by Peter Wood from his 2000Pips transformation deck.

Thats the highlight of the first 9 jokers in the art section. They are colorful and imaginative, some are abstract.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Spelling Practice!!!

Despite all the excitement about big ideas and constructing knowledge and understanding, there is still some places where rote memorization for rapid fluency and total automaticity is important.

Math facts and sight words. We need to practice these so that there's not a slight hesitation and so we can really think quickly about other things.  This requires practice practice practice practice.
Fortunately, there's technology to help us practice and practice and practice.

To help practice, there's VocabularySpellingCity with lists of words by grade level and over 35 different learning games to practice with. Take a look? YES!

1st Grade Word Lists
2nd Grade Word Lists
3rd Grade Word Lists
4th Grade Word Lists
5th Grade Word Lists
6th Grade Word Lists

It's free. Free. Well sort of free. The saving of lists and setting up of parent homeschool accounts is free. The vocabulary and writing exercises and the student login cost some money, around $35 per year. So, a good deal. Enjoy

Friday, March 18, 2016

Let's Stop Contraction Abuse!

When my kids were learning to read and spell, contractions were one of the thing that seemed to trip them up the most. They can be tricky buggers! Trying to explain to a the concept to a child can be a bit difficult. Thank goodness for sites like spelling city that help to make learning about contractions easy and fun.

Now my kids get annoyed when they see a contraction misused. Such as using they're in place of their or your for you're. That happens all too often on Facebook and other social media sites. Quite frankly it annoys me when I see it too.

Perhaps if we raise awareness then fewer people will abuse poor innocent contractions! I mean what did they ever do to these people anyway??

Saturday, January 30, 2016

A Redesign of the SAT; It's Finally here!

It's 2016 and there is a a  Redesigned SAT!!!

The SAT® has changed. Rather than drift off into oblivion, the SAT folk (ie the College Board) changed directions!

In March 2014, the College Board  announced a complete overhaul of the test. It's becoming much like their arch rival, the ACT!  

The new SAT is no longer referred to as the Scholastic Aptitude Test. Its an test of academic skills, not than the old of aptitude or IQ. Basically, it tests what you've learned in Math,  Reading. and Writing. 
Prepworks software helps student prepare by both familiarizing them with the test questions, providings strategies for approaching the questions but most importantly, it actually builds the skills that the SAT tests. In some ways, its a course totally focused on the skills that the SAT will measure. 

In terms of knowing the strategy for test taking, here is some of Prepworks info on scoring:

The Redesigned SAT scoring breakdown is one of the most noticeable changes to the College Board’s test.
The Old SAT penalized students ¼ point for an incorrect answer and was scored on a 2400-point system. Starting March 5, 2016, students will no longer be penalized for wrong answers and the composite score (a.k.a. overall score for the test) will use a 1600-point system, pulling from 2 section scores that range from 200-800 points.
The new SAT Score Breakdown:
  •    Math: 200 min./800 max.
  •    Evidence-Based Reading and Writing: 200 min./800 max.
  •    COMPOSITE SCORE = 400 min./1600 max.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Summer Homeschooling Ideas

Many parents like to have a different less intense schedule in the summer but they also want to maintain educational momentum. Reading can be a mainstay of summer intellectual activity.  Here are some other ideas for summer supplements or programs:

Time4Learning’s automated learning system has been helping over 200,000 homeschool families for over a decade by teaching concepts and promoting computer literacy through entertaining and engaging tools. Students love the "outside the box" combination of animated activities, instructional videos, and interactive lessons that allow them to learn at their own pace. Try giving Time4Learning for summer study!

Alternatively, many parents take advantage of the summer to work on their student's creativity and writing skills.  A good way to get one-on-one writing instruction over the net is with Time4Writing's summer writing courses.

The incredibly popular VocabularySpellingCity has a summer program that they provide to their premium members. Sign up for a family membership and get their summer vocabulary program included. They have 40 word learning games and activities for each level.

Learning Programs for Summer Study


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Elementary Science Education

Learning about science can be a lot of fun. It can be a walk in the garden, it can be a series of "thought experiments."  It can be hands-on, you can tinker, you can play, you can build, you can make, and so on.  Many homeschool parents really enjoy and do a great job of providing great hands-on experiences for children. Pets, field trips, use of the garden, and all sorts of experiments are popular with homeschooler.

But what's best?  For what age?  Realistically,  it's a mix of hands-on with a structure that provides a good science foundation.

S4U features physical science for elementary, earth/space science, life sciences, and inquiry.

Here's my favorite science songs for elementary students.

I think the way to go is use Science4Us for PreK, K, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade. It provides a structure for the program and makes sure that you cover the basics. Left to their own devices, many  families will probably put together a science program which is heavily biology and avoid physical science.  S4U will make sure that parents provide a balanced program. Parents can still do lots of hands-on either using the Science4Us lesson plans or invent your own.

Science4Us has hundreds of suggested hands-on elementary science activities most of which can be done with equipment that can be found around the house!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Thank You!

This past week we celebrated the 4th of July, a day of independence. There are so many military homeschoolers out there. I would like to say THANK YOU, to those who serve and those families that are out there that we often forget.