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    Writer, editor, curriculum developer
  1. Thank you, all! I'd looked into TTU and the other handful of institutions in this space before leaning toward IUHS. It's good to hear feedback on experiences with those online high schools. I know it's challenging for online instructors to give substantive, timely feedback (much easier to do it in person) especially when there are a lot of students. That definitely affects quality. Other factors can make online more difficult than it has to be, too (unclear policies, poorly designed LMSs, etc.) IUHS appears to be set up in a way that makes sense, if you're okay with self-directed (and I think we are). But web sites can be deceiving! I probably wouldn't be looking into this option if it weren't for the pandemic, but.... Pandemic! I am grateful that we homeschooled for so many years, as I'm used to doing a lot of research, monitoring, supplementing, creating when necessary, etc. I'd hoped for a break during this what-was-supposed-to-be-a-four-year period, but best laid plans... I don't know how parents new to this kind of thing are dealing with the whiplash. I'll move forward and adjust as we go, based on what happens... Thanks, everyone.
  2. Thanks, Lanny! Yes, I saw a few very old posts on the WTM forums about IUHS. They seemed positive overall,, but a whole lot can change in several years. I'm hoping someone has a little more recent experience to share. Good luck to you and your kiddos, too! Online school absolutely requires more skills in time management and self-discipline.
  3. Hi, all, It's been ages since I posted. I homeschooled my kiddo until the end of 8th grade, then enrolled her in a private classical prep school about two-and-a-half years ago. (Wouldn't have been my first choice, but it made sense to do so for my family at the time.) She's now in her junior year and has been more than keeping up academically. Her school reclassified itself as a college last week to get around the state mandate where we live that requires all public/private high schools to move online temporarily. This happened with no warning. (Her school pivoted last year, in March, and finished the rest of the year out online and did, in my opinion, a fantastic job. They started face-to-face this year, moved online for a few days when the mandate hit, and then--boom--back to face-to-face as a "college." We had less than a day's warning that any of this was going down.) We chose not to have her go back F2F because the Covid numbers where we are are going through the roof, and because online--for her, at this age--seemed to be working well since March. However, because 99% of the other students decided to become instant college students and are now back to meeting face-to-face, my kiddo -- one of only a very few online -- is increasingly being ignored (web cam to the wall, audio problems that don't get fixed even though she can't hear, notes on the board that everyone gets to see but her, missing out on instructions delivered in person, etc.) So while I believed strongly in the school up until this point, it doesn't seem workable going forward. My question to you good folks is: Have any of your kids attended Indiana University High School? How did it go? My understanding is that IUHS is asynchronous (meaning no scheduled lectures) which in my opinion isn't ideal, but honestly works out to the same thing we're beginning to experience. If your kids did attend, do you recommend it? Highly or grudgingly? Anything to watch out for? Thank you for any insight you can provide! (And... can I just say how grateful I am to have this forum to turn to?)
  4. Rats! I was afraid of that. I don't understand the requirement of a separate computer (unless it's for editing), but that seems to be the way all of these products are structured. Thank you, FawnsFunnyFarm.
  5. Hi, domestic_engineer, I'm looking for something stand-alone (meaning no extra hardware, so no tablet, PC, or other device.) I'm starting to suspect that what I'm looking for doesn't exist. Julie of KY -- thanks for this lead! I hadn't heard of it. It doesn't look like it's stand-alone, though (it comes with software, and the description talks about a USB connection).
  6. Hi, all, My middle schooler has expressed interest (about a thousand times) in experimenting with stop-time animation. I was thinking of getting her a kit for the next gift-giving occasion. Does anyone know of any stand-alone options -- i.e., a video camera and playback unit--that doesn't require a PC/Mac? My goal is to have this be a self-contained unit, without the need for a separate computer. (If this means limited or no editing capability, I'm fine with that.) Any recommendations? Thank you kindly!
  7. I agree with mathmarm -- making etymology visible isn't (shouldn't be) grade dependent. I'm not a huge believer in flash cards for Latin/Greek roots, either, although they're certainly not going to hurt. My approach has been to study the root concurrently with vocab, and then expand. So, for example, if a kiddo is learning the word "convert," I point out that "con" means "with" and "vert" means "turn," which explains why "converting" something means "turning to go with" something else; and I give some real-life examples of the word used in different contexts. And then I immediately point out that because "ad" means "to" or "toward," "advertising" means trying to make someone "turn toward" something and buy it. And because "intro" means "inside," an "introvert" is someone who enjoys turning inside for pleasure/company (and an "extrovert" is someone who enjoys turning outside of himself). And because "re" means "back" or "again," "reverting" means turning back to an earlier state or approach. And at some point I ask the kiddo, if we know that "sub" means "from below," what do you suppose we mean when we say someone is being "subversive?" You get the idea. Doing it this way takes a bit of time at the very beginning, but in my experience it changes how kiddos think about words by teaching them to begin looking at words as collections of rational, constituent parts. Eventually, with repetition (and there's a ton of repetition, which is precisely what makes studying roots so valuable), vocab stops being a disconnected word list and starts, for the most part, to be sensible. And soon you're spending a whole lot less time on vocabulary than you were, because kiddos are no longer pattern-matching and guessing; they have the tools to figure things out for themselves. There are several Latin/Greek root books on the market aimed at different ages/grades, although I'm not 100% enamored with any of them (and so am in the process of writing one myself). Yes. I am a word nerd. :-)
  8. I'm currently listening to a Great Courses audio book (http://www.thegreatcourses.com/courses/american-ideals-founding-a-quot-republic-of-virtue-quot.html) by Daniel Robinson called "Founding a Republic of Virtue" that sounds like what you're after. I have a few of the Great Courses, and some are definitely better than others. But the ones lectured by Robinson are incredible. He did one on philosophy that is my all-time favorite, and in the "Virtue" title he approaches the Constitution (and related documents) from a philosophical context. And he drops names! (i.e., primary sources for further study). I highly recommend it. It's a little over my middle-schooler's head, but I'm interested in the topic--and if the kiddo's in the car when I'm listening, we both listen. (We often use audio for "stretch" listening.) But it would be perfect for high school. It comes with a book outline, too.
  9. At that age, my kiddo ate up everything by Marguerite Henry and the Oz series (L. Frank Baum)... And anything by Geraldine McCaughrean. (None of these are graphic novels, though.) You just never know what's going to be a giant hit--at least, I never know!
  10. I haven't heard of Jim Nance, so I can't weigh in on that topic. We're using Critical Thinking Book One and I love it (and DD gives it a thumbs up, too). It's targeted for 7th grade and up, but we started when DD was 5th grade and are continuing it in 6th grade. I had very little formal logic in college, but have found most of it turn key. I've been able to backfill the few concepts I was shaky on very easily. http://www.criticalthinking.com/critical-thinking-series.html
  11. Hist Whist (e.e. cummings) and Poe's The Raven. It wouldn't be Halloween at our house without 'em!
  12. I'm with a previous poster--writing is non-negotiable. Yes, it's hard. Yes, there's a lot going on that you have to deal with, from spelling, punctuation, and grammar to handwriting and--the most important thing--thinking. Valuable things are ALWAYS hard. Do them anyway! My DD is a sort-of reluctant writer. She'll write volumes (literally--she fills up entire notebooks) when she wants to, but often screams bloody murder if she's assigned a simple, short paragraph. After "knowing" for years that every sentence begins with a capital letter and ends with a punctuation mark, she'll (purposely? I'm still not sure) leave them off half the time on stuff I've assigned. There's a big difference between knowing and doing. The approach I've found the most success with is to separate positive feedback and the editing process. When she first turns in an assignment, I praise what she does well (which is a lot) and try to keep my mouth shut about the stuff she's still not paying attention to. On the second day, I point to each sentence and ask if she can spot what can be improved. I used to point out misspellings, run-on sentences, etc. but I don't anymore; my ultimate goals is for her to edit herself. If she really can't tell what needs to be changed, I prompt; if she still doesn't see it, then I point it out. But mostly, at 11 she can spot her own mistakes. She learned proofreading marks a couple of years back, so if we're rushed for time I have her proof her own work using proofreading marks. If we've got time--and at least once a week I make the time--I have her not only proof her own writing, but rewrite it. She hates this, but it's a necessary part of the writing process. Some stuff--short stories and poetry, for example--I don't critique like this; I just praise. I've seen great improvement in her writing using this strategy, and the push back is lessening, too. (It didn't disappear, though :-) If your sweet kiddo has a learning disability, of course, disregard.
  13. I do 1-2 hours' worth of prep each weekend without fail. If we're going to be out doing fun stuff (hiking, road trip, etc.) I get it done Friday night. My prep takes the form of a daily, ordered checkoff list that is VERY specific (i.e., for each subject on each day, I include lesson plans down to lecture topics, which pages to read in which books, and detailed instructions for activities and graded assessments). This allows me to flesh out and track our progress toward the goals we're shooting for each year. If I don't do detailed lesson plans weekly, it doesn't get done. I work outside the home and only have early mornings, evenings, and weekends to work directly with my kiddo. My husband takes over during the day while I'm at work (except for those things we've outsourced, such as jiu jitsu and fencing classes). My husband isn't the most organized person on the planet, and having a list in front of him makes it possible for him to keep on track with the subjects he teaches and remind DD (or check work, when that's possible) on the subjects I teach. That's crucial, because if she hasn't read something (for example), I lose the time I'd planned to discuss it and work with her on that topic, because she's not prepared--and that's a day gone. Might not seem like a big deal, but those days add up. My brain's typically fried after a 9-hour day in an office. Without a detailed plan composed when I was alert and functioning, a whole lot of stuff would slide. BTW, I also build in a weekly "makeup" day so that if an activity takes longer than I've budgeted the time for, I can reassess and either have DD catch upon the weekend, or push the work out.
  14. OP, your kiddo sounds like mine at that age. I've always kept a giant bin of art supplies, but it was paper and scotch tape that were the go-tos for years. DD did things with paper I would NEVER have dreamed of, like clothing (!), dolls, and 3-D sculptures of animals. And it had to be tape (and not paste, glue, or staples). Instant gratification junkie. No idea where she got it. As other posters have noted, fabric is a good choice; you can hole-punch and use a blunt bodkin & yarn to teach sewing if your kiddo isn't comfortable with sharp needles just yet. Clay (modeling, air-dry, salt-dough, and Sculpey) was also a hit for us, as were mosaics (although when DD was 6 I used purchased tiles and flat see-through marbles vs. broken pottery). Oh, and making maracas and pinatas out of lightbulbs/ballons and papier mache and the classic drum-out-of-an-oatmeal-box were also winners here. I always kept old magazines for cutting and making collages, but DD never showed the slightest interest. (Now, however, she pokes through them to identify propaganda techniques :-) Oh, yes, and dioramas, which can be pretty simple at that age (construction paper and plastic animals). Dioramas are fun for littles and older kids...also a great way to use up old boxes. You just never know!
  15. This is so interesting! I work in education (in addition to homeschooling) and am always amazed that "boring" so often equates to "no value" (or, conversely, that if something is entertaining, it *must* have educational value). I have a different view: things of value have value, and those that don't, don't (regardless of how boring or entertaining they are). Now, unfortunately for my DD, I place a high value on copy practice... It's unfortunate because my kiddo hates it. Partly because it's boring, and partly because it's not something she sees value in. (Happily, I don't factor in a 10-year-old's buy-in for things I deem necessary. I assign it anyway!) I found a fabulous book on Latin and Greek medical roots, and if the sass factor goes off the charts for a particular day, copy work Is assigned--period. Last week, when I was lecturing on the marine biomes, I stopped and asked what the heck epipelagic meant. And my kiddo shot back that "epi" means "on," and she knew this because of her copy practice. (And therefore she was able to to make an educated guess as to what we were studying.) Cracked me up. It's working! Years ago, I was sure copy work would also model writing style and ethics in a useful way. I spent a lot of time choosing the perfect poetry and the perfect quotes.... Honestly, I have no idea whether any of that is sticking. I actually think reading and discussion have helped with that more than the copy practice. But facts from copy practice surface fairly regularly, so there's not doubt it's working on that level. Anyway--I add my vote to those who find value in copy practice, for what that's worth.
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