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Renaissance Mom

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    Lancaster County, PA

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  1. The vast majority of the literature assigned in Tapestry of Grace is not excerpts but whole works. Their literature component is rich and quite comprehensive. Most families need to trim the lit list each year, which TOG makes easy by including trimming and cutting charts. (Ninth graders typically should use a lightened up list of works rather than attempt to tackle the entire lit component.) TOG history covers both American and world history quite thoroughly. As a matter of fact, i hunk it is better to teach history this way rather than teaching separate American history and world history courses. The student learns about American history in context with world history. There is no danger of not having enough of the right types of credits for a transcript. We never had any college question whether or not our history courses met their requirements. Admissions counselors complimented my dd on the rigor of he credits on her transcript including all of the credits from her TOG work. There are optional but included components for the history and development of government which more than satisfy any requirement for a government course. (You would need to supplement details about your own state and local government, but we covered that in basic civics in middle school.) There is no economics in TOG. I would not minimize the value of the suggested discussion guides for history, literature, government, philosophy, etc. They are excellent, especially if you don’t prefer to come up with deep discussion questions yourself. I found that I leaned heavily on those guides the first couple of years. They helped me find my own rhythm in discussing these subjects at a meaningful level. I have done this so long now that sometimes I just glance at the suggested questions and then go my own way. There are still weeks, however, when I prefer to use what they have because I haven’t had prep time or because hey have done it so well that here is no sense in reinventing the wheel.
  2. This is an awesome course! We worked our way thru this one then visited lots of art museums to apply the skills we learned. Best credit we did in all four years of oldest dd’s high school IMHO.
  3. We borrowed the biology DVD from a friend this year. It is excellent! The additional exposure to the material from the text helps my kids understand and retain the information. The extra examples she provides and the visuals provide another pathway into my kids’ brains. I can’t address whether or not it is worth the price since I didnt pay for it. I do have to admit that I am very disappointed that I don’t have the option of this type of DVD for chemistry next year. (I won’t use the 3rd ed of Apologia chemistry. There is no video series for the 2nd ed or for Dr. Wile’s newer text. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I will have to be the video for my kids for chemistry next year. THAT ought to be entertaining!) Several families in our co-op subscribe to Catie Frates teaching videos for high school sciences. http://www.catiefrates.com/ These families rave about these videos. One dad in our co-op is a PhD chemist, and he insists that his sons use these videos for not only chemistry but for all their basic science courses.
  4. No, I don’t allow my kids access to the solutions until we have gone over them. I handle grading proofs just like I handle our Socratic discussions for history, literature, philosophy, etc. If a proof step or a reason isn’t correct, I ask questions that hopefully spark a thought. Once my student has grasped basic proofs but he or she has a different solution than the answer key, I allow him or her to explain the answer all the way through. Sometimes I give credit if their answers actually arrive at the proof step logically. However, I do want them to see how the teacher guide arrived at the same endpoint as that is often more direct. We use the first version of TT Geometry without the automated grading. When TT first launched the self-graded version, I asked a question at the TT booth at a homeschool conference. The rep whipped her phone out, called one of the Sabouri brothers, and handed me the phone. He told me that the self-graded version started teaching proofs by providing some of the statements and some of the reasons in the proof and then allowed the student to choose from multiple choice lists to fill in the missing pieces. As the student grows more confident with proofs, he suggested gradually weaning the student off the multiple choice component and then off the partially completed proofs until the student could complete proofs from start to finish without these prompts. I did not upgrade to the self-graded version, but I did adapt that strategy to use with my kids. They ALWAYS struggle with and hate proofs at the beginning of the year. However, we sit side by side and do them together with me asking leading questions and prompting where necessary at the beginning. After a chapter or two, my kids typically do most of the proofs on their own, and then we sit together to grade them. I’m fairly lenient and give credit for second chances too. That builds confidence. Let me say that I am not a geometry expert...I am not even really competent! I teach writing, grammar, and literature in our co-op and for an online academy. Truthfully, teaching and learning proofs requires the exact same skill set as teaching and learning essay writing does. Have a clear view of where you begin, have a clear view of where you want to end up, break down the middle so that it logically gets from the beginning to the end, and then work on accomplishing all that clearly, concisely, and elegantly. I wouldn’t start teaching a beginning student how to write an essay without plenty of examples, without modeling, and without lots of opportunities to succeed with shorter pieces, so I approach proofs in the same way. I don’t need to be an expert in geometry, but I do need to be willing to work alongside my student for a time. Edited to add: Two proofs a day are certainly not time-consuming considering that my kids rarely need help with any other component of their geometry lessons. I don’t consider it onerous to devote 5-20 minutes a day to working through whatever questions or issues they have for proofs. Even if we have to do both proofs together from scratch, it never takes more than 15-20 minutes.
  5. I just want to chime in about curricula which require proofs. In my opinion, one of the long term benefits of taking a proof-heavy geometry course is to learn a logical and systematic approach to problem solving. I want my students to be able to not just regurgitate what they’ve been given but to be able to apply it to different situations. Proofs require them to understand the principles, think through which ones are relevant in a given situation, and apply problem solving skills to get from the beginning to the end. I don’t care if they memorize theorems, but I do want them to be able to argue coherently for the approaches they choose to take in their proofs. (I allow them to look up theorems on a master list to use in proofs.) This is why I have all of my kids work through a geometry program heavy in proofs regardless of whether or not they will ever go beyond college algebra.
  6. Not that you asked for another resource...but my favorite resource for teaching essay writing it The Lively Art of Writing. The author provides a basic structure for introductions that is both effective and flexible. In a nutshell, she suggests the writer begin with a general, non-controversial statement related to the topic and then gradually narrow in focus to the specific, arguable thesis statement. I grade a lot of essays, and when students do this well, it sets up their arguments perfectly. As the previous poster said, it is a good place to define key terms as part of that transition from general to specific. I always instruct my students to never begin arguing their thesis in the intro. If they preview their main points, it can be done very, very briefly in the thesis statement itself for most essays.
  7. My oldest dd did Spanish I at home with me then took II and III with Sr. Gamache. She then took the CLEP test and received credit for four semesters of college Spanish. To add a Spanish minor to her degree, she only needed to take three more courses. We were very pleased.
  8. Analytical Grammar teaches all of the diagramming a student needs to know. We go through the entire book at a brisk pace—typically one unit per week. AG is a very thorough grammar component. Yes, the course is intended to be a complete English course including grammar, literature and writing. The students complete weekly writing assignments plus a number of bigger, multi-week writing projects. We do use The Lively Art of Writing to teach the fundamentals of writing essays, but our writing assignments are in no way limited to essays. We assign four novels over the entire course. Students track certain aspects of each novel throughout the unit, discuss them in breakout groups, and complete written literature projects at the end of each novel. It’s a good balance and mix of grammar, writing, and literature for this age group. My first name is in my signature. I am the only teacher for that course with the first name of Monica. :)
  9. I teach a section of the Foundations in Writing class. I would be happy to answer any questions you have. I realize that you seek feedback from families who have had students enrolled, but if you have specific questions about the course, let me know. As a teacher, I try to give specific feedback to each student according to his or her level. I have a few students who are very capable writers for their age. I do give high scores on their assignments because they earn them. However, I try to give them feedback to help them grow beyond their current levels as writers. I also have students at the other end of the spectrum who struggle with every assignment. I give feedback to each student according to what I think they need.
  10. The HSLDA Online Academy Foundations in Writing course is for 8th and 9th graders. There is a live, 90-minute class each week plus a huge amount of interaction through forums and assignments during the week. The teacher grades and gives feedback on all assignments.
  11. Yes, I have used all three of those LMSs teaching in a virtual co-op and/or teaching as a paid instructor for an online organization. I am asking about organizations or schools like Wilson Hill Academy or HSLDA Academy or the Potter’s School or ??? I seek reviews or recommendations from anyone else who has taught for these or other organizations. (I teach for one now and am happy doing so. I am just checking to see what others have to say about their experiences teaching for various online providers.)
  12. I am teaching a high school level English class for a Christian online academy as an indepedent contractor this year, and it has been an overall good experience. Although I’m not looking to teach more than one or two courses until my younger two dc are a bit closer to graduation, I am starting to look around to see what other online course providers have reputations for not only quality courses and quality teaching but also for treating their teachers well. At this point, I’m not interested in starting my own business chiefly because I don’t want to deal with setting up and maintaining technology platforms or worrying about billing. (I’m very comfortable USING the technology, I just don’t want to select, lease/contract, troubleshoot, etc.) I would appreciate hearing from anyone who teaches or has taught live/synchronous online courses to homeschooled students and would recommend the organization/provider for whom they teach/taught. What do/did you like about teaching for them? Do you feel you were fairly compensated? Are/were there any drawbacks or things you wished were done differently? Feel free to PM me if you’d rather not share specific details in an open forum. Thanks!
  13. So, what does this look like? Do you have any examples you could share to help me visualize this? (Obviously, I would expect any examples to be adjusted for privacy reasons.) Thanks,
  14. I have no experience with the SAT2, but my oldest dd took Spanish 2 and Spanish 3 with Sr. Ganache and then earned 12 credits with her CLEP score. (She did not even study for the CLEP but simply took it during the summer after she finished Spanish 3. She was very well prepared by Sr. Gamache’s courses.) The college she attends accepted all 12 credits...four semesters worth of college level Spanish. She only needs to take 3 more semester courses to add a Spanish minor to her degree.
  15. Yes, we love the library! Our library has quite a few of the Great Courses series, but not the more recent releases. They also loan the series they do have for a two-week loan period with no renewals. I haven’t figured out how to have my kids watch and take a few notes on a 36-lecture series in two weeks and still work in their other subjects. :) I’ve considered selecting the most important 15-20 lectures to view in those two weeks. Some lecture series, however, are very linear or sequential, so we would just have to watch them in order and get done only what we get done. I still haven’t decided what direction to take. We still have about half of two series that we own on DVD to finish before we tackle anything new.
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