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    homeschooling, scouting, biology, history and government, anthropology, house rabbits, monarch butterflies

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    Northern VA
  • Interests
    homeschooling, scouting, nature, anthropology, house rabbits
  • Occupation
    homeschool instructor & consultant for social services program design and evaluation
  1. PM me if you know someone with a high school student or very recent high school grad who might like to arrange an informal student exchange this summer. We're thinking the DF (aka CDMX). We live near Washington, DC and would be happy to trade hosting with some overlap. The Mexican student needn't be fluent in English.
  2. A good reminder that YMMV. We once had an experience with an instructor whom others loved and recommended wholeheartedly (and still do), but whose particular pros and cons were a real problem for us. Lots of variables, for sure.
  3. We used both of those, too! Along with Susan Benford's Masterpiece Cards and museum visits. Good stuff. I'd love to visit a museum with Sharon Latchaw Hirsh someday. To OP, ditto on other comments. For your self-study student, even if you don't work up your own syllabus, be sure to read the newest College Board course description seriously, focus on the 250 works, and figure out the essays well ahead of time. See especially the bit starting at p. 192. Third-party prep books are not always well-synched with the actual exam, so believe CB when in doubt. This exam isn't so much about knowing a lot of art history and being able to analyze and write about it, as knowing what to expect on the exam and being ready to ace that. Along the way, you'll get plenty of great art, of course. My view is that if you love art anyway, live an an art-rich environment and this isn't your only trip to the rodeo, you might as well "teach to the test" in this case. Here's my advice on the long and short essays, called "free-response questions." They take 2 of the 3 hours and are worth 50% of the exam. Be sure to read the CB's released free-response prompts, the scoring guidelines for them, the sample student responses, and how they were scored. Also read the comments about how the overall population of students did on each question. (You will soon notice some VERY similar points. For example, answering the question actually asked eludes many!) If your student can read an APAH prompt, read one of those posted student samples, and then assign it a score very close to what the readers did, with a logical explanation of how the points were earned, then he probably "gets" exactly what they want. Kudos. Next step: practice answering prompts in the long and short formats. It's not heavy-duty writing, but the responses are scored in very particular ways.
  4. All I have heard is that she has a AWESOME coat . . . .
  5. I'll chime in with a recommendation for a teacher you didn't ask about: Ray Leven in Pennsylvania. He's known for teaching AP Spanish via PA Homeschoolers, but also teaches other levels of Spanish. Because I just asked him about something else, I happen to know he has a couple of openings in his Spanish 2 and 3 now. I've had two students with quite different learning styles work with him over several years and would be happy to share our experiences with you via PM, if you want to know more. Ray uses Skype for live, small classes and (for some levels) Vista Learning's "Descubre" series of textbooks with an e-component. You can find his email and other info here: https://sites.google.com/site/spanishlearningonline/ Before you start, Ray meets with your student via Skype to chat a bit and determine placement. He's very astute, but gentle and encouraging. I've found that the name/level label of the class is less important than his ability to figure out where a student is, and then help him or her become more confident and proficient. My students had different goals, but both found the workloads very manageable and assignments well-chosen. I speak Spanish, so can tell you that both made excellent progress. (One corrects my terrible grammar now; I love it!) Sheesh, it sounds like I get a percentage. But you know how it is, when you find a good fit -- you want to share! Good luck with your transition.
  6. Posting for a friend. She has a student who's finishing up AP Calculus BC and they're looking at multivariable calculus and/or differential equations for next year. The student is currently a sophomore. Can anyone suggest homeschool resources, or is an online or in-person college course their best option?
  7. I'd love to hear from anyone whose student recently took the AP Spanish (either language or lit) exam. I have a student who will be taking the language course and exam next year (2017-18). Favorite providers? Surprises? Other thoughts? The curriculum description has not changed in several years. See College Board: http://apcentral.collegeboard.com/apc/public/exam/exam_information/4554.html Our instructor will be the lovely Ray Leven, who teaches other Spanish classes, but offers AP via PA Homeschoolers.
  8. "College prep" should mean that you hit the big five SAT Subject Test topic areas for biology, but ALSO get experience with scientific thinking, experimental design, and interpreting data tables and graphs. Basic algebra is very helpful for that last one, not to mention things like probability and the Harvey-Weinberg equilibrium in population genetics.
  9. Congratulations! Doing a last-minute dust-up of my APUSH syllabus, just in time for the holiday rush. Soooooo many CRs! If we could use images, I'd stick in one of a count-down clock with glowing red digits, wired into a suspicious electronic mess. I'd also look like an action movie hero. Tia
  10. Workingmom, get the College Board's big, fat blue book called Official Study Guide for All SAT Subject Tests, Second Edition. You can find used copies everywhere, cheaply. It has at least one bio test . . . actually, I think only one (can't lay my hands on mine right now to confirm), but with questions from both the E and M versions (they share a common core set of questions). Alas, unlike the US and world history subject tests, you can't buy an additional skinny volume to get an extra practice test from the College Board. (That skinny history book happens to have two tests each for US and world, with one each that are NOT duplicated in the big, fat book.) If you can't Google the answer to a question, try the College Board order-takers on the phone. I had good luck there once when I was very puzzled about something.
  11. Working on curricula so fall goes smoothly!

  12. Searching Maryland law turns out to be MUCH harder than searching the Code of Virginia (sheesh!) but here's a good place to start: http://www.marylandpublicschools.org/msde/nonpublicschools/npdocs/fact_sheets/np_fact_home_instruction.htm It has links to regulations in COMAR and statutes via LexisNexis (shudder).
  13. "not too intimidating or rigorous. Fun is okay as long as he is learning vocabulary, sentence structure/grammar, practical conversation practice, but I would also like assessments to garner a grade and also if he's understanding." Dianne, based on those goals, you both might like one of Ray Leven's live, online, small group classes for high school students. You wouldn't have to do anything but make sure DS is at the computer on time. Ray is extraordinarily patient, gentle, and respectful -- while still insisting that students turn in their work on time! He covers grammar, usage, vocabulary, and some cultural context as well as speaking, writing, and listening skills. He uses textbooks by the publisher Vista to supplement what he does with conversation and other materials. You can search on his name here at WTM. He also teaches AP Spanish with PA Homeschoolers. See his site here: https://sites.google.com/site/spanishlearningonline/ Based on our experiences, Ray would place your son in one of his levels after a phone or Skype conversation. Asking him about time commitments and rigor would help you make a good fit. I wouldn't worry about the level designation for the class. Sounds like he has time to get the credits he's aiming for.
  14. Your mileage will vary, but here's what I think. Because of where he is, in terms of motivation and ownership (and age), I'd take a long, close look at the curricula he's using for the subjects you think he'll take SAT Subject Tests on. Before worrying about any prep books, you (not him) could drill down into the real, released subject tests available in those big, fat College Board books or on their website. See what the material tested actually is. Look at CB's web pages where they tell you the percentage coverage for specific topics tested. Check out the practice questions they provide online. Then tweak the coursework so that he's got the best possible shot of covering and understanding the actual material they will be testing on, next June. Check the content at midyear to see if he's on track. If he's a lukewarm student anyway, but really does care about the eventual test scores, for whatever reasons of his own, then this sort of "teaching to the test" won't ruin anything for him, but could help set him up for success. I'd make sure he does cumulative review all year so that the chances of content "sticking" increases. Then his review will pay off more handsomely. If he's done with his courses by early May, then he'll have nearly 4 weeks before the Saturday, June 3 testing. If you can get for him TWO real, released exams (not prep book exams) for each subject, that would be beautiful. (Two might be close to the maximum number you can get, by the way, so I wouldn't squander them by using them earlier in the year for review or practice.) Your student could start by taking one of these the moment his course is over. This would be JUST a place-marker. Tell him the number really doesn't matter, except as a bookend. He would use its results, though, to make a list of exactly where to focus his efforts -- and he may enjoy the idea of investing as little as possible for the maximum reward possible, based on what you wrote. On the other hand, if that score happens to be a rude wake-up call because it's a lot lower than hoped, that might help him light his own fire. As long as he knows the first score is JUST a starting line, and NOT an assessment of his self-worth or intellect or place in the universe and your heart, then he might enjoy the competitive aspect of beating his score on the second round. For 2 weeks, he can focus on those areas of review that he thinks would give him the most payoff. That's where prep books can come in handy. He'll be glad he did cumulative review (if he did) when he realizes his brain is better able to take in materials it has seen at some point in the past. Then, taking the second real, released test with about a week to go would allow him to make a serious comparison. Hopefully, his score would go UP (!) and that would encourage him. Bonus: he'd still have time to brush up on a couple things before the real exam. Compared to what he'd learn by relying on prep book practice tests, I think that using the CB exams in this way may give him a more realistic notion of where his scores could likely fall -- plus or minus some margin for the weirdness of real life. That can be a psychological boost. It's about attitude! If you think only a 780 will do, you could be bummed by a 775. But if you're working in the 580 zone and end up with a 615, you may feel very cheerful indeed. One last thought: some 9th graders find that one Subject Test is plenty. If they are fearful or reluctant, or just not big scholars yet, then scoring well on ONE instead of "meh" on two can give them some nice confidence for their next year, when their academic skills may be better anyway.
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