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Foreign Languages, Early High School Science, Keeping Records

By Heather Idoni

Added Thursday, July 16, 2009

                The Homeschooler's Notebook
     Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
   Vol. 10 No 51                           July 16, 2009
                      ISSN: 1536-2035                              
   Copyright (c) 2009 - Heather Idoni, FamilyClassroom.net

  Welcome to the Homeschooler's Notebook!

  If you like this newsletter, please recommend it to a friend!
  And please visit our sponsors!  They make it possible.

                  PLEASE VISIT OUR SPONSOR:

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  Notes from Heather
  -- Rosetta Stone vs. Auralog Again!
  Helpful Tip
  -- High School Science in Middle School
  Winning Website
  -- Have a "Slice" of Math
  Reader Question
  -- Keeping Records/Notebooks
  Additional Notes
  -- Newsletter Archives
  -- Sponsorship Information
  -- Reprint Information
  -- Subscriber Information

       Notes from Heather

  Rosetta Stone vs. Auralog's Tell Me More AGAIN!


  This was just a topic of discussion on our Homeschooling Gifted
  group, so I thought I'd share since Auralog (Tell Me More) happens
  to be a sponsor of this issue! -- Heather :-)


  From a 7/12/09 discussion on our Homeschooling Gifted group --


  "My homeschooled son is 14 needs 3 years of Spanish. He is a math
  and science whiz, so Spanish is not going to be his major or minor
  in college. He does get bored easily. We live in Texas so I would
  like for him to be able to converse and understand Spanish enough
  to talk to those he comes in contact with that do not speech English
  well. I know many use Rosetta Stone. Thoughts? Other recommendations?
  I appreciate all your help." -- Stephanie

  And an answer:

  "I would really recommend Auralog Tell Me More, especially over
  Rosetta Stone.  It's more comprehensive, all levels are included,
  and -- in my opinion -- will have more to hold his attention.  In
  the long run, it's also a lot less expensive, especially if you
  need three years' worth." -- Jen


  And from a previous newsletter...

  "I wouldn't pay one red cent for Rosetta Stone.  I know it's
  supposed to be the greatest thing since sliced bread, but it
  really doesn't live up to its reputation.  It's really good for
  vocab review - if you can get it free or cheap - but that's really
  all it is.  Glorified vocab and phrase review.  It doesn't really
  go into grammar, culture, syntax, or anything deductive - it
  assumes that older children and adults learn completely inductively
  (like a young child), which just isn't true much of the time.

  If you're going to pay for something, I'd go with 'Tell Me More'
  from Auralog.  It's got the good things about Rosetta Stone (the
  interactive computer-based program) without the deficiencies.
  It's also a full course, beginning to fluency in one program, and
  allows you to have multiple users (I think up to 8?).  It costs
  much less, as well.  It covers vocab, culture, grammar, usage,
  syntax - for all levels.

  I majored in linguistics and teach foreign languages; I've never
  had a student who has had a good experience with Rosetta Stone yet.
  It was originally made for people like international business reps
  and peace corps volunteers - people who had to be able to quickly
  function in a language - not for actually learning the language.
  However, they figured out that they could hit the homeschool market,
  so they did.  In my opinion, it's just not worth it." -- Jen


  Save 20% on TELL ME MORE® Homeschool Edition when you use promo code
  HMNB at http://www.tellmemorestore.com or by calling 888-388-3535.


  Do you have comments to share?  Please do!
  Send your emails to:  mailto:heather@familyclassroom.net

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      Helpful Tip

  When Can Your Child Begin High School Level Sciences?


  Did you realize that high school level work can be counted for a
  high school transcript as early as 7th grade?

  Often the "middle school" years are considered a waiting time --
  waiting for a child to get through adolescence, waiting for brain
  connections, etc.  If you happen to have a child who wants to dig
  in to some serious science work, there are some great options!

  Greg Landry, from http://www.HomeschoolScienceAcademy.com offers
  2 courses you can put right on a high school transcript -- and they
  are offered for 6th to 9th grade!  Pre-Biology and Intro to Anatomy
  and Physiology, believe it or not.  Get on his mailing list to
  find out when these interactive online classes will be offered.

  A few years ago I interviewed Dr. Jay Wile of Apologia Science.
  He went "on the record" as saying that if you do ANY of his high
  school science as early as 7th grade, it absolutely should be
  included on the high school transcript.  Why wait -- especially
  if you have an interested child?

  I also used to host college prep seminars with William Tyndale
  College in Michigan.  The homeschool rep told me that colleges
  don't really care when the work was done -- if a student can
  show mastery of a high school level course as early as 7th grade,
  that is perfectly acceptable.

  You can take a course like Greg's Pre-Biology and even go on to
  his new Biology CLEP Prep class -- and earn college level credit!

  Did you know there is NO age requirement for CLEP exams?  They
  cost about $72 and are accepted by over 2,900 colleges and
  universities.  Age 12 is not too early if your child is prepared.
  Even a precocious 7 year old could walk in and take a test --
  and the credit is permanently recorded!

  If you are wondering how to make those middle school years more
  productive, this is something to consider.

  -- Heather

  Do you have an idea, experience, or tip to share?  Please write!
  Send to:  mailto:HN-ideas@familyclassroom.net

      Winning Website

  Math Slice - www.mathslice.com
  From basic addition to high school math topics, Math Slice offers
  interactive worksheets that can be done online or printed. There are
  basic instructions for most skills, but the site is best used to
  reinforce and review material already learned. (The site does have some
  ads, but they seem to do a good job of staying relevant to math topics.)

  -- Cindy, www.HomeschoolingFromTheHeart.com

      Last Issue's Reader Question

  "I will be starting my 2nd year of homeschooling this fall.  My son
  is 6 and will be starting 1st grade.  This is the first year I need
  to send in my letter of intent to the state.  I am required to keep
  records, don't have to report them to the state, (I live in CO),
  but I need to keep them in case anything happens.  I have heard of
  homeschoolers keeping notebooks year-to-year of what their child has
  accomplished during that year.  I am interested in knowing what kind
  of notebooks others keep and what resources you use to keep a notebook?
  Also, I am wondering what kind of grading system others use with their
  kids?  Do you use check marks, letter or number grading -- or something
  else -- and what method do you use to decide grading?  I am new to all
  this yet want to keep in touch with my son's progress from year to
  year.  I can already tell where he is struggling and where he needs
  work, but kids also need to do their best as unto the Lord.  I am
  curious as to others' input in this area. Thanks!" -- Kris in CO

      Our Readers' Responses 

  "Kris -- We have kept notebooks through the years.  I try to keep
  things simple and stress free, and also work at having our children
  be accountable for their own schooling.  If attendance is part of the
  required record keeping (or something you wish to do) a 6 year old
  can most certainly check off to mark a school day. This way, little by
  little, you have your child keep part or most of his records rather
  than you doing all the record keeping.  I use spiral notebooks to write
  up our lesson plans, and recently began to write them on the computer
  and keep the printout in a binder, where I also keep a daily journal
  entry, field trips, and library book records.  Not something we are
  required to do -- it's just a habit I have gotten into.  It is rather
  nice to be able to look back and see how much we've accomplished.

  As far as notebooks, we have always incorporated Diana Zike foldables
  into our entire curriculum (children are now entering 10th and 12th
  grades). I also use mini books for assessments/tests.  Ms. Zike now
  has individual subject books for elementary grades, as well as middle
  and high school.  I used to place the mini books in sleeves and file
  those in our notebook binders, but her newest books are designed to
  be foldable specifically for notebooks.

  One of the options in our state is to do portfolio evaluations instead
  of testing. Toward the end of the school year we pull from each of our
  subject notebooks what we feel reflects the student's best work.  The
  student makes the final decision about what goes in the evaluation
  portfolio.  After the evaluation, we put back the material in our
  subject binders. We tended to keep these notebooks and build upon them
  each year.  Sometimes we pull something out and replace it with more
  'grade level material' -- we consider doing this as updating our
  notebooks.  Since both of our children are now in high school, their
  portfolios look nothing like what they did say, 10 years ago, but in
  most cases it's the same 2 inch binder they started out with (I use
  wide clear tape at the seams to avoid the binder breaking).

  As far as grading material, when our children were in the elementary
  grades my grading system was simple -- if the material was correct,
  or it needed some more work (correction), it would be considered as
  completed.  No percent grade, no letter grade, no pass or fail, just
  finished/completed or incomplete/needs more work.  I wanted to teach
  them diligence, and to excel, by only putting in their notebook their
  best work -- no errors since they always made corrections.  Assessments
  -- as already noted I used the Zike system and they made mini-books
  using what they learned to create the books (a sort of test).  For
  middle school I started to do school a bit more formally and introduced
  actual grading percentages and letter grades.  Still, however, they
  had to make corrections to have work be considered complete. I deducted
  grade points if the work needed correction.  For high school they are
  permitted only one try on a test and they are required to get 80% or
  better.  They can, however, raise their grade through projects --
  usually creating mini books/foldables as an additional assessment.

  Hope this and what others write gives you creative ideas on how to
  organize your school and your notebooks." -- Judy A. in Florida


  "Kris -- I have been homeschooling for 8 years.  I have seven children
  -- five in school and two toddlers.  Living in Delaware I am not
  required to keep notes, or turn in anything but the two reports the
  state sends each year for me to fill out (one for expected attendance
  and one for aggregate days in school).  From the start though, I kept
  a record of my children's work using a school plan book for each child.
  I keep track of the weeks and write in what they did each day under
  each subject.  This way I have a record of their progress.  We are
  trying to sell our house and move to another state that requires
  quarterly reports, so I'm glad now that I have been keeping track as
  this will make it easier for me to prove what we did and what we are
  doing.  You never know where life will take you -- and even if you live
  in a state with easy homeschool laws, you may one day have to move to
  one that is not so easy.  Good luck in your homeschool journey."
  -- Mary from DE


  "I am also starting my 2nd year of homeschooling. I live in Texas
  where we seem to be very homeschool friendly, but we are advised to
  keep some sort of record and grading system as well. So here goes...

  For record keeping I got one of those teacher planner books from the
  teacher store for about $4.00 and I use it by the layout -- that way
  I have a planner and records at the same time. I also throw all our
  school work in a bin and sort through what I want to keep and toss
  later.  I keep mostly the stuff that is vital (tests and quizzes), and
  then the stuff we really had fun with.  They make excellent doubles
  for memory boxes.  With that said, my grading system is the traditional
  way as in public schooling.  I spent $2.00 on the numerical grader at
  the teacher store and use it as it instructs.  Then, at the end of my
  grading period (which I only did at the end of the year this last
  session), I simply add up all the grades and then divide that number
  by the number of papers I added.  That sum is where I get my average
  for the subject.  Hope this helps, and have a great school year."
  -- Stephanie


  "Kris -- Great question! I think you are very wise to be looking ahead.
  I currently live in a state where reporting to a local school board is
  not required -- and I am very grateful for that.  However, I also know
  that because of the hubby's job, we could have to move anywhere.  With
  recent events in the state of Pennsylvania, it is wise to somehow keep
  a record of what my children do.  But where to start?  What to put in?
  What medical records might I need?  What might be required?  Our family
  did something unique.

  Each year we create a memory book -- a yearbook of sorts.  I go to the
  office warehouse and get the widest 3-ring binder I can find.  I get the
  ones with the clear plastic front that you can slide stuff in and the
  family personalizes it.  I put the following items in it:

  I keep a notebook where I give a brief explanation of what we do that
  day; whether it be book work, field trips, experiments, outside classes,
  dates of attendance -- whatever.  At the end of the year, I punch three
  holes in it and put it in the binder.

  I also purchase picture album pages to fit and put in all pictures from
  field trips (as well as brochures from places visited), special events
  or social events during the year.  You can not keep ALL the projects you
  do, so I take a picture of the kids with whatever they have made, samples
  of work (various worksheets, special projects, lapbooks, tests and stuff).
  Let the kids pick out several examples they think is their best work! 

  I keep a folder with receipts for all books, supplies and field tips,
  as well as pictures torn out of catalogs to show what curriculum was
  purchased as well as proof of membership and fees paid for various
  Homeschool groups.
  I keep another folder with all medical info (vaccinations, sick excuses,
  appointments, etc.)  I keep a letter that I add to all year long.  I
  start out with our goals for the year and add special events as they
  happen and I finish the letter talking about how it ended.  I also include
  an honest assessment of how well we did and my plans to improve things. 

  Grades –- some curriculum guides have these sheets and an explanation on
  how to grade.  At your kids' ages, I would not worry about that right now.
  I have up to 4th graders and I really do not do much on grades.  You can
  use a basic grading scale.  Take the number of questions on a test and
  divide by 100 to see how many points each question is worth; 100-90 is
  an A, 89-80 is a B and so forth. 

  This can become not just a great way to show the work your children are
  accomplishing; this can become a great family keepsake!" -- Danielle T.

     Answer our NEW Question

  Weepy Girls

  "Ugh -- this was not a problem when I homeschooled my two boys.  I am
  at my wit's end with my two girls, ages 13 and 10.  I know they are at
  an age that is often 'trying', but they are driving me batty with their
  over-emotional natures.  A little background -- I am not a weepy person
  -- I'll cry tears of happiness watching a school play or a graduation,
  but I am not one to cry in frustration.  My girls, however, start the
  waterworks at the drop of a hat!  It pushes my buttons to the max.  An
  example would be:  I give my 10 year old daughter a placement test in
  spelling, prep her by telling her I don't care how she scores -- it's
  designed for her to miss some -- no pressure, just for fun, etc.  She
  does the test, I tell her 'Nice job', and STILL the tears, because 'I
  could have done much better'.  The 13 year old had tears (same day) when
  the 10 year old read aloud her little composition and she realized it was
  better than hers.  These aren't bratty fits -- they are weepy tears about
  performance.  I really don't get it -- I don't grade, don't yell if they
  get something wrong, and I'm about the most relaxed homeschooler I know.
  I also don't give them attention for this behavior, but mostly tell them
  to leave the room until they can get a hold of themselves.  We do lots
  of different, fun activities, and I have no qualms about dropping school
  altogether for the day if some fun field trip comes up.  Why do they put
  so much pressure on themselves?  My encouragement and 'no big deal' pep
  talks are not cutting it.  Is this something I just have to wait out,
  or does anyone have ideas?  Thanks in advance." -- KleenexMom


  Do you have some thoughts or an experience to share with our "KleenexMom"? 

  Please send your answer to:  mailto:HN-answers@familyclassroom.net

     Ask YOUR Question

  Do you have a question you would like our readers to answer?

  Send it to mailto:HN-questions@familyclassroom.net and we'll see
  if we can help you out in a future issue!

     Need Immediate Help?

  Visit our Homeschool Encouragement Center!  This is a live 24/7
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  by typing in a box.  When you get there, just introduce yourself
  and let them know that Heather sent you!

  This ultra-safe chat is supervised by experienced moms who are
  there to serve and share their wisdom... or just offer a listening
  ear and encouragement.


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Next - My Michigan Friends, U.S. Geography, Cheering Up Kleenex Mom!

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