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Everything posted by Love_to_Read

  1. I saw one the other day called Short Lessons in Art History that I really liked. I hate to list that title...sounds like we're doing subpar to seek out short lessons, but I thought it was just the right amount of information paired with relevant art projects on a high school level.
  2. I did the 7 day trial. I loved the idea of it...it looked really, really wonderful in many educationally sound ways. I wonder whether I missed an introductory teacher video somewhere. though, because no matter how I searched the help area, I really struggled to find an efficient way of implementing it. As best as I could tell, I would have needed to assign every single assignment one at a time, even using the suggested lesson plan exactly as written. That can't be right. There has to be a way to auto-schedule the default. I *almost* went ahead and bought it with the commitment to just making time to set it up weekly, but a large part of why I was looking at it in the first place was prioritizing ease of implementation...I need something fairly independent and open-and-go this year for science. If you can figure out how to make it that way during your free trial, it looks amazing. Oh, one other issue was that I was looking for Earth Science, and it spent a LOT of time on the age of the earth. I want to cover the basics of evolutionary and creationist theories, but I'd really rather focus more on modern day observable phenomena...the rest of geology, meteorology, oceanography, astronomy, etc., etc. There was a ton of dense information packed into the evolutionary chapters, way too much to just skip or come back to, and it was scheduled right near the front of the book. I'd much rather start with a solid understanding of Earth Science in general before getting into the historical aspects, and I wasn't going to have time to prepare supplementary materials to do the debate justice. I ended up deciding to do CK-12's interactive Flexbook. It's completely customizable, so I can pull in some extra links where I want to, and the main emphasis for the Earth Science wasn't historical geology. It still has videos, and the Plix part of the site consists of interactive games on the same concepts as the Flexbook. The labs are links to stuff around the web, so that part is going to involve a bit more previewing than I'd like, to make sure links are still valid and we have all the supplies, etc., but it's very good for being free. It was still prepared by a committee of certified teachers, has tests and workbook pages available, some online practice questions besides the games, some teacher advice though not as much as Discovery. And then at the last moment we decided to postpone Earth Science one more year in favor of doing Physical Science with Conceptual Academy, but we have been using CK-12 for supplementing a few concepts. So far so good. Hope you get a review from a more experienced user, but based on what we've done in August, I'd recommend it. Not sure whether I'd rank it higher than Discovery, but it is more user-friendly to set up and fairly close. FTR, Conceptual Academy is based on a printed textbook, but has some interactive features such as videos and online quizzes. There's a thread here about it. We're enjoying it. Next year, we'll probably do CK-12 Earth Science, but might do the Discovery Techbook for Chemistry.
  3. Have you seen www.ConceptualAcademy.com? We were leaning toward that over Apologia because of the videos and such to go along with the textbook. It's a self-paced course for $65, run by the textbook authors of the Conceptual series.
  4. museum displays...that's taxidermy I read the other day in Dyslexic Advantage about someone getting a graduate degree in scientific illustration, so that is out there. Scientific photography? Writing illustrated field guides? Or children's scientific books, like the One Small Square series.
  5. Well, not the kind of calligraphy you see with our letters....their calligraphy is how to write Chinese characters. That's what they have instead of an alphabet, so I would expect it to start in 1st grade, with a brush not a pen. This demo is for American middle school students, but I could see it for 1st grade handwriting. Not the complicated words, but just learning the basic strokes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wM4BuhTFxho
  6. The Fire does disrupt our sleep rhythms if read in bed. It gave me insomnia even on the dimmest setting....just made it hard to fall asleep at a normal hour after staring into the light for long. However, the Paperwhite doesn't run any of the educational apps available for the Fire, nor does it play audiobooks or music. If you and the kids are big readers, go for the Paperwhite. If you want games and things to listen to, go for the Fire. Getting the Fire as a Kids' Bundle is worth while, because they do drop devices. If you don't get the Kids' version, do buy an Otterbox or such to protect it from falls.
  7. Well, we took back the glitchy floor model laptop and paid the difference to get one new-in-box from another brand. :/ Not sure if it was the refurbished status, the brand, or Windows 10 to blame, but this one is running more smoothly. I want to figure out how to make a restore disk to get it back to factory settings in case anything goes wrong before I start installing extra software, but I went ahead and bought Dragon after all ***see below***, with their cheapest USB microphone....but directly from them, so hopefully more accurate than our former attempts with a painfully junky mic and free speech-to-text on older Windows. My goal is to get that done over the next few days so we can practice before co-op comes around again, but it's been crazy busy this month just keeping up with other stuff. As far as the class...it's been a lot of good info so far but no actual writing. Mostly lecture, some class participation activities such as evaluating samples of what they're discussing...but they haven't actually started their first essay yet. Dd did type a few lecture notes...I helped her add some more while her memory was fresh, so it's not an efficient process yet for her, but I'm proud to see the initiative. I found a typing-spelling program called Read, Write, and Type for younger kids that was cheaper than Touch-Type Read and Spell, even taking into consideration the Homeschool Buyer's Co-op discount. It does have some mention of learning disabilities and describes spelling development in a way that is consistent with what I've read for research. So, I'm wondering whether it's good enough, versus TTRS being very much for dyslexia specifically and geared toward older children or at least less juvenile-looking. I need to buckle down and have the kids try the demos this week. I'm thinking that ideally, TTRS for the oldest, RWT for the next oldest with similar issues, and a nice cheap subscription to HWOT's Keyboarding Without Tears for my natural speller and youngest, because they don't really need the spelling aspect but I need to include them to be "fair.". But, there's a multi-student discount for both of the typing-spelling programs, and oldest has the right personality to possibly enjoy a more fun program even if it is for younger kids, and next oldest has enough dyslexia symptoms to make me wonder whether he might better have the stronger program if TTRS is more heavy-duty, so...decisions, decisions. ****The Dragon software we bought...they rolled out a new version, Professional Individual, and sent out a coupon to newsletter subscribers to get it for pretty much what we'd have paid for a lower version....67% off during that first week or two. So, gulp...we're really doing this. It's got all the bells and whistles, transfers easily between platforms, etc. So, as long as it isn't too glitchy from being too new...I'm getting excited and praying it works smoothly for dd. I will definitely update in a week or two once we get started using it on actual assignments. If her essay class doesn't assign one soon, I'm going to give her something to write from Bravewriter, history, or science.
  8. I would consider asking your evaluator for a letter, if you've used the same one for all four years...otherwise, I'd submit your copies of the actual evals with a cover letter explaining THAT is the record of compliance which demonstrates that your high schooler has received an equivalent education in your state. From what I understand from friends in NY with children this age, they have to request a letter of equivalence from the superintendent. All it really says is that they've handed in the required paperwork every year...basically a plan of intent, quarterly report cards, and standardized testing. That annual plan is required to cover the mandatory subjects for graduation (which are to be "substantially equivalent to the education received in public school," hence the odd phrasing), and all the paperwork goes through the superintendent or designee. So, translating that to another state, I would suggest just proving that you have submitted intent and done the evaluations, using whatever entity can testify to that (namely the evaluator or standardized test company). If they get into asking whether or not your child completed graduation requirements in the sense of what credits he received, I would think they could verify that by looking at your transcript, so I'd point that out if they mention it. If you need to see what graduation or homeschool requirements are for NY, try looking on their largest homeschool association's website, www.LEAH.org for their regulations manual, or on www.nysed.gov, section 100 is the part of the law that pertains to homeschooling. LEAH may have something on there regarding advice to in-state members as far as obtaining their letter and what it should say...it's not something the superintendents send out automatically, and I get the impression that some of them are just as hesitant as yours to issue it.
  9. The Saturdays (and the rest of the Melendy Quartet) Geronimo Stilton (but only up until the narrator changes...maybe book 9 or so?) Boxcar Children...gave up on reading these in order, enjoyed number #70 or #80 recently. For my older one, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, etc., and for school, A Single Shard, Amos Freedman, The Golden Gobblet, Across Five Aprils (one narrator was better than the other, listen to samples). I forget all the things she's listened to for school, but those are some of the favorites I remember listening to with her. I typically go through the lists for Sonlight each year, and gather up any that are available on audiobook.
  10. You might be able to get some answers from calling Amazon. Our Kindle is a bit older, so I don't know if it's still true, but it was nearly impossible to load it with more than a couple PDFs. It had virtually no memory, and the files had to be emailed to get on there, and I do not recall a print option. We tried using a school PDF on the Kindle once, and after that always did it on the laptop. That said, I think the newer ones come with a slot for a memory card, so maybe...but I still don't know if you can browse the web and open/save PDFs directly, or whether you still have to do that on a regular computer then email to the Kindle. Certain things just aren't compatible with mobile devices and won't open...I want to say even youtube videos. But again, mine is 2nd gen, I think, so maybe they've improved on that. I think printed materials are going to be easier...something like math that can be written in a notebook or a consumable workbook, Writing With Ease workbooks perhaps, and perhaps using the library to check out some of the classics that are used in WWE to read them in entirety for literature, and Story of the World with Activity Guide for additional book suggestions to try to get from the library (or not...or just SOTW as a laid-back approach for getting started the first year), and some kind of science. Years that we have pieced together from online freebies have always been harder, and that's with internet and with a large library system that does a great job allowing interlibrary holds.
  11. I think I'd be more inclined to go with a Windows device than a Kindle in terms of browsing through pdfs. There are some Windows tablets now in the $59-$79 range, and I think there may have even been a laptop of some sort for $79 or $129 or somewhere around there at WalMart and Best Buy.
  12. Yeah, if you edit the first post, it should give you the option of editing the title. On some message boards, if that doesn't show up right away trying to do a quick edit, look for an option that says something like "Go Advanced" or "More Options" that will bring up additional editing tools including a box showing the title.
  13. I think I would be demanding a meeting with everyone...the teacher, the principal, the other parents, the school counselor, the school officer if they have one, even the superintendent of the district. I'm not sure it would be wise to meet everyone at once, as they're all going to be defensive, and I wouldn't want to start out outnumbered, but I think I would gradually escalate it with each instance. First a meeting with the teacher and principal asking what they are doing any different than last week to improve the situation, and perhaps the counselor at that time as well, to discuss the implications of ongoing bullying. Then, when nothing happens despite "oh, we're talking to the parents, blah, blah, blah," I'd ask for a meeting that brings in both the parents and the school officer, to make sure they are clear on what's been going on and how this has escalated to where law enforcement may be necessary if the school cannot take action. Maybe before that, I might have a meeting with the superintendent and principal to basically reiterate the school change request and tattle that the principal isn't handling things, but that would short-circuit being able to impress upon the parents what's going on. If there is a school discipline policy that's being ignored, I'd trot that out as well in a discussion with the superintendent present. If you aren't sure whether the school officer will be on your side, that could be a private meeting first regarding the general situation and your options, before requesting that he meet with you and the principal and parents. And same goes for enlisting the counselor on your side...that could be a private meeting first to make sure she hears your side and concerns, before pulling her into a group meeting to discuss more formally what is or isn't being done. It is not your job to be there for recess every day to ensure your child's safety. I would absolutely do the same thing, and in fact I did a lot of intervening like that to pick up the district's slack before we pulled our child out of school, but I would make it clear that this is an unacceptable solution, a dereliction of their duties. I'd probably also find time to coolly mention to the other parents that your son is beginning self-defense martial arts classes to help provide a mechanism for defending himself that will not get him in equal trouble, as he has been thus far told to not fight back, which has been a losing strategy thus far. Because if they aren't doing squat to teach their child to knock it off, they probably subscribe to the school of thought that your kid is a wimp and deserves it if he won't stand up for himself...so yeah, I would mention the martial arts classes with a hint of threat coupled with a heavy dose of "but we are doing our best to make sure that we comply with all rules ourselves." Again, this is not an acceptable solution when the perpetrator is not being punished, removed, or otherwise prevented from continuing in his behavior. Even if your child is granted a school change, there will always be another kid to pick on. So, what are they going to do about that to make sure this kid doesn't grow up to be the kid who gets suspended in high school for fighting as a teen and arrested for assault in his twenties when he's already getting away with punching other children on a regular basis as an 8yo??? I like the idea of suggesting that he needs a behavioral evaluation and plan, including a behavioral aide to monitor and assist in his compliance, if this is going to be his baseline level of aggression despite having been addressed verbally so many times in a single quarter.
  14. That was our experience with Windows 7 Speech Recognition. (It's free under Ease of Access on the Control Panel.) I'm hoping Windows 10 with a decent microphone will be better. I'm going to try the mic that Amazon tends to bundle with Dragon Naturally Speaking, and if that doesn't work well enough with Windows compared to our last hilariously inaccurate attempt to use dictation, then we'll try buying Dragon itself. (for written projects at home, that is...we've done most of school orally for years, but I'm trying to step it up to where we have more written evidence of her education for high school and more age-appropriate independence.)
  15. Ok, so where we're at.... We went to Best Buy to look in person, and decided on a Windows-based 2-in-1...so basically it's small, lightweight laptop with a normal keyboard and processing power, but the screen can be used as a tablet when desired. It's someone else in the thread who had Macs...I was hovering over trying out an iPad because there are so many good apps and features, but I finally decided that besides the cost, we just aren't used to Apple products, so it would be a rough transition. Unfortunately, I've had nothing but problems the past few days trying to get the new laptop set up. The mouse touchpad disables itself at random, it wouldn't recognize the charger this morning, and it's having sporadic issues starting up but finding nothing via the diagnostics that it wants to run. It was an awesome clearance deal on an open-box floor model supposedly with no damage, but...I'm going to have to return it and try again. Looking at Toshiba, Lenovo, Dell, HP...trying to read reviews and hoping a new-in-box model will work more reliably. I think I figured out what I was trying to say earlier about word anticipation. On the Kindle, I can post faster even with two-fingered touchscreen pecking at the letters because of the way it gives suggestions for the next word. Some smart phones do the same while texting. I don't think you really can use that feature while ten-finger typing, because you need to keep clicking on the words you want to select, so your hands don't stay on the keys for long. But considering how dd does skim-read pretty fast with her stealth dyslexia, I wonder whether she could compose faster with that sort of feature. So, that's still at war with my desire to make her really type with all ten fingers on a real keyboard using good old MS Word or such. I'm hoping the 2-in-1 device will give her some time to play with both options...standard keyboarding versus two-finger pecking on a touchscreen with word anticipation. I just have to figure out what sort of tablet app will offer that when she's supposed to be writing entire paragraphs instead of sending texts. So, I downloaded a few Kindle word processing apps, and if any of them work well and have that feature, maybe we'll get the Windows version once we get a working laptop. No progress yet on trying out software, since the hardware has been such a dismal failure thus far. Co-op is this Friday already, and chances are slim of me getting this one returned/exchanged that fast. (And the old family laptop on its last legs is utterly dead now, so not an option until after some repairs...plus it's a big heavy beast.) On the plus side, I know she will definitely be ALLOWED to type in class. It's a great group with a great teacher. However, the room is teeny tiny, with everyone crowded around a table instead of individual desks, so that was part of the motivation to pick the smallest option available, and there just isn't space available for her to wander off to use speech recognition, and her typing skills are still rudimentary despite previous efforts to learn. So, it will be kind of a trial-by-fire trying to keep up in a writing workshop where she's supposed to compose during class time, using a new device and fledgling typing skills. But this is exactly the kind of thing I want her acclimated to doing before we get into high school with the possibility of dual enrollment classes down the road. The co-op is definitely a good, understanding, tolerant environment....it's just going to be more challenging this year than our usual art, music, etc., enrichment classes.
  16. Can I ask the name of that mindmapping software by chance?
  17. What about typing essays in class? I'm definitely thinking that a voice recorder such as a Livescribe pen will be awesome for notetaking, but what can we use for classes that expect students to write their answers in class? We should be able to hand it in via email, but at least one class is providing time (and tutoring) for students to work on written assignments during the class period, so either we find software to help speed along that process, or we give her a pencil and paper and watch her feel embarrassed as she gets down a couple sentences in elementary-looking handwriting while everyone else productively completes a couple paragraphs. I'm figuring she'll still need additional time after class to keep working on things other people finish there, but her limitations are mild enough to want to give this class her best shot rather than sit out and do nothing.
  18. I want this to be the year I get my stealth dyslexic teenager set up with appropriate technology, plus our current laptop is on its last legs anyhow. So, can you help me decide what to get or what apps/software to add? We do have a working Kindle Fire, if anyone has suggestions for using it, too. First, I was thinking about Dragon Naturally Speaking, and maybe Ginger grammar/spelling checker, to promote her being able to increase her writing independence by using speech-to-text, but that's only going to work at home for privacy's sake. So probably looking at putting that on a laptop or desktop, preferably with a CD drive to play audiobooks since we still use a lot of them to make sure she isn't mispronouncing new vocab. However, I saw Read, Write, Gold on sale...anyone know how that compares to Dragon and/or Ginger? I do have some PDFs this year that I'm hoping to have the computer read aloud, again for accuracy's sake, even though she is a reader since the dyslexia is mild. Oh, and I think we're adding Touch, Type, Spell because we've hit a wall on typing and phonics practice otherwise. For co-op class, though, I'm thinking I want her to have something portable, so that she can type instead of writing by hand. Speech to text isn't going to happen in a group setting like that, but maybe an app that gives word suggestions while she's writing so that she doesn't always have to spell out the whole word? I'm thinking maybe a tablet with one of those flat little keyboards? A netbook? An iPad? The big drawback here is that such a device still wouldn't play audiobook CDs, would it? (Or DVDs like our Math U See?) Do they make external players that I could plug in to it at home if I wanted her to use a CD-Rom instead of a download for something? Do they even have enough memory? And while I don't want a super-bulky laptop for her to lug around, I do prefer that she have enough of a keyboard on a portable device to use 10-fingered typing...so probably more of a 10" or 11" device instead of 7"...but maybe we could use the Kindle for now until we can afford a permanent solution... Money isn't unlimited, so if I could combine these two needs into one...get Dragon working on a device small enough to take it to class to type on, that would be awesome. I just don't even know where to start on tablets and portability, or what apps to be looking at. She's getting old enough that we have to come up with something to grant her more independence....I can't be scribing for her in class away from home, kwim? What do you use for your teens in terms of devices and software?
  19. Wow, that's not typical, but still way better than running off to the Bahamas. I second the suggestion to double-check everywhere possible (professor? registrar? department? online system?) if it happens again. I once missed the announcement for a room change, and no one posted anything on the door to indicate such, and the handful of us who stood around wondering almost got dropped from the class entirely for being absent that early in the semester. Sometimes freshman classes in particular, the kind with multiple sections of some common requirement, get re-scheduled into more/fewer sections than anticipated, due to last minute student registrations or withdrawals or bumped into a larger/smaller room, and it can happen any time within the add/drop period, plus building maintenance issues like water leaks or furnace quit blowing at random times of year.
  20. Typing Instructor for Kids comes on CD-Rom. Dance Mat Typing is available online...no download, but lesson by lesson if your internet connection is okay.
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