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May 2015

by Mary Ann Kelley
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Life Cycles, College Courses, Ford’s Theater, Teen Tech Project, and More

From the Editor

By now many of you are probably wrapping up your year and planning for next year. I find May to be a satisfying month – checking off boxes, filling out transcripts and course planners, and reviewing how much was actually learned over the course of the year. I always find the blank slate of a new year to plan invigorating, but this year for the first time that only consists of guidance with college enrollment. My eldest will be entering her final year at UVA in the fall, and my youngest is graduating high school early and continuing at the community college.

One of my primary goals for my girls has always been that they know how to learn. Almost everything I use in my daily life was learned outside of the confines of a classroom, and a love of learning along with a knowledge of where to find resources will serve a student much better than a brain full of facts and figures. Nevertheless, for anyone continuing any kind of formal learning, knowing how to absorb information in a classroom is an important skill to master. TheHomeSchoolMom has partnered with The Great Courses to give away a copy of How to Become a SuperStar Student.

The course includes 18 lectures – 12 for students and 6 for parents – on such topics as understanding your unique intelligence, developing effective habits in class, managing time and organizing spaces, developing a creative mind, and more. The video course from National Teacher of the Year Michael Geisen gives students the tools they need for success in high school, college, and beyond. Don’t miss your chance to enter to win a free copy of the DVD course!


Enjoy the newsletter!

Warm regards,

Mary Ann Kelley

Teaching Calendar

May 14, 2015 — Lewis and Clark Expedition Commenced – 1804

May 16, 2015 — National Armed Forces Day

May 23, 2015 — South Carolina Admission Day – 1788

May 25, 2015 — Memorial Day (Observed)

May 29, 2015 — Rhode Island Admission Day – 1790

May 29, 2015 — Wisconsin Admission Day – 1848

June 1, 2015 — Kentucky Admission Day – 1792

June 1, 2015 — Tennessee Admission Day – 1796

June 2, 2015 — Native Americans granted US citizenship – 1924

View the entire calendar »


Educational Resources

FreeSchool Videos

FreeSchool is a YouTube channel that covers art, literature, classical music, and natural science at an elementary level. Videos range in length from a couple of minutes to around 7 minutes and new videos are being added regularly.

Ford’s Theater

In honor of the 150th anniversary of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, Ford’s Theater hosted a live virtual field trip to explore the theater, the 16th President, and the events surrounding the assassination. The event was recorded and is available on the Discovery Education website along with links to teacher resources, student resources, a virtual tour of the theater, and a collection of responses to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Ford’s Theater has a variety of other resources on its website. The virtual field trip is 51 minutes and is engaging and informative.

Arizona State, edX to offer entire freshman year of college online

From Fortune magazine: “Arizona State will allow students to take their entire freshman year of courses online, for credit. The program is the first of its kind … Like other MOOCs, the courses are free, but if a student wants to earn college credit for them, he or she would pay $200 per credit only after the course is passed by the student. There will be no required SAT, transcript of high school grades, or application to join what is being called the Global Freshman Academy. Because the series is hosted and administered online, learning can occur anywhere, at any time of day, on any day of the week.”

Exploring Life Cycles With Bird Cams

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, this download includes activities designed to make the most of the learning experience of watching nesting birds via their Bird Cams. Their goal is to “guide you in supporting students as they watch the streaming videos (as well as archived footage and still photos), make careful observations, and collect data. These activities cover topics such as habitat, life cycles, bird diversity, and animal behavior. As you move forward with the activities, we hope you will begin to notice your students making connections to the natural world and to birds.” Links and resources for the activities are found here.


Recent Blog Posts

Juggling Act: Homeschooling Multiple Grade Levels

TheHomeSchoolMom Blog: Homeschooling Multiple Grade LevelsWhat’s it like to educate siblings at home? I caught up with three Vermont homeschooling mothers who do just that. Meghan has six children, aged 11, 9, 7, 6, and eight month old twins. Michaeline’s children are 7 and 5, and she cares part-time for two additional children aged 2 and 1. Pam runs an in-home daycare for three children aged 4, 3, and 1 while homeschooling her own children, aged 13, 7, and 5. Read More…

How Challenges & Mistakes Promote Learning

TheHomeSchoolMom Blog: How challenges & mistakes promote learningInteresting problems and exciting risks are life’s calisthenics. They stretch us in directions we need to grow. Children are particularly oriented this way. They think up huge questions and search for the answers. They face fears. They puzzle over inconsistencies in what is said and done around them. They relentlessly challenge themselves to achieve social, physical, or intellectual feats that (from a child’s perspective) seem daunting. They struggle for mastery even when dozens of attempts don’t provide them any success. It’s a testament to courage that they continue to try. Read More…

Swapping Homeschooling Activity Bags

Put homeschooling in the bag with a homeschooling activity bag swapPut Homeschooling in the Bag – Your homeschool group or co-op might enjoy working together to create homeschooling activity bags for a swap. This was a fun idea our family did with a homeschool group, and it sort of works like a cookie swap at holiday time. You gather inexpensive supplies for a single hands-on pre-school activity, homeschool craft, or simple science experiment or demonstration (up through elementary age), and you put them in a zipper plastic bag with instructions. The beauty part is — you make up ten or twenty identical activity bags (according to the number of families participating), and you take them to the swap. Read More…

Featured Article

Teen Tech Project: Building a Computer


TheHomeSchoolMom Blog: Teen homeschool technology project

This week I visited with a homeschooling family whose son was anxiously awaiting his shipments from New Egg and Tiger Direct — full of the components he would assemble into his own PC.

This brought back fond memories, since two of my three sons undertook this same project during their teen years, and my oldest actually did the same after he graduated.

In our case, each son saved his own money for parts and was driven by the desire to have a PC optimized for his specific purposes, rather than sharing the older, slower, family computer.

I can’t pretend to have expertise to share about building a computer, and I didn’t at the time. However, I was able to make an arrangement with the owner of a computer shop. My middle son — the first to embark on the build-your-own-computer project — would sweep, do errands, and work around the shop in exchange for the owner’s advice and guidance.

As it turned out, we hit the jackpot in finding a mentor. He was careful not to give our son easy answers, but sent him to research which parts would be compatible and best for his end use. He asked leading questions to get him on the right track. He was pleasant and supportive, but he didn’t do any thinking for our son.

He then donated time and space in his shop for the actual assembly, leading our son through best practices, including avoiding the dreaded static electricity.

Years later, this son helped younger brother when the build-a-computer bug hit him. I was interested to see he employed the same strategy as the computer shop owner, not telling his brother what he needed or should buy, but encouraging him to read up on various components and study how they would work together. Then they’d discuss the pros and cons.

The years around our kitchen table have been full of talk about processors and graphics cards and motherboards, and our family computing power has been boosted multiple times by boy-bought, boy-built computers.

As my sons have pointed out, building a computer is not as complex as designing chips, but the projects have certainly been an education. Not only did they learn a lot about computer hardware, but they also had to read deeply to understand specs, and they had to think critically to compare the attributes of various parts. Then they had to put their own money on the line, meaning their decisions were financially important.

Thinking back on this teen homeschool technology project, I realize that it demonstrates a lot about homeschooling in our family…

Read the rest on TheHomeSchoolMom »

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