Friday, July 3, 2015

Fourth of July—6 Years Ago

 

This is a revisit of a post I made 6 years ago, when my blog was brand new! My little girl certainly has grown up since then. I think we’ll make some patriotic yogurt pops this weekend!

Fourth of July Yogurt Pops

Emily tried out a new fourth of July recipe this weekend (a bit early). She mashed some blueberries and mixed them with blueberry yogurt, then mashed strawberries and mixed them into strawberry yogurt. Then she layered the blueberry yogurt, vanilla yogurt, and strawberry yogurt into plastic popsicle molds. This could be done as well in paper cups. Very easy for a 9 year old to do all by herself!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Planning Out a High School Program

Homeschooling High School Blog Hop 2015

We’ve homeschooled through the years using a variety of methods, from Five in a Row to unit studies, literature-based history studies, with an occasional traditional workbook or textbook thrown in. Likewise, I’ve used a variety of planning and record keeping methods. When my children were little, I found it easiest to do informal planning on scraps of paper, then to journal what we had done. As our curriculum become more structured, I started doing more formal lesson planning. Still, our planning was basically year-to-year. Often we would carry over a text or study from one year to another if we hadn’t finished it. Generally, in the spring, I start to think about what topics we’ll be studying and which resources we’ll use for the following year.

High school, however, requires longer-term planning. Because I want my daughter to have a traditional transcript, covering all the subjects that our local public schools cover, I need to be sure that I cover each subject and that schoolwork is separated into specific courses for which credits can be awarded. Although Emily is not required to meet the same standards as public schooled students, I do look at those standards and use them as minimum  requirements for our homeschool. First, because I expect her to have an education that is at least as good (hopefully better) than she would receive in public school. Second, because when colleges look at her transcript, they will expect to see something comparable to what traditionally schooled students have completed.

Requirements vary by state, but in Alabama, the current high school graduation requirements include:

  • 4 credits social studies (world history, US history, government, economics)
  • 4 credits math
  • 4 credits science
  • 4 credits English
  • Physical Education (1.0 credit)
  • Health Education (0.5 credit)
  • Career Preparedness ( 1.0 credit)
  • Electives (including career/technical education, foreign language, arts) (5.5 credits)

There are several ways to accumulate high school credits: completing a text book or structured program, taking an online course, taking an outsourced course (through a homeschool co-op for example), independent study (60-80 hours of work per 0.5 credit hour), and dual enrollment through a community college. We plan to utilize several of these methods.

The bulk of Emily’s courses are either textbook or other structured programs…Apologia science, Sonlight history, Sonlight and Lightning Literature for English, and so on. We have a group science lab, but since I teach it, it isn’t exactly outsourced! It does provide group interacting and a different learning experience, though.

This coming year, Emily will be taking psychology and criminology online through Landry academy. She’ll also be doing some Landry Academy science lab intensives (2 day on-site programs) and will likely take some online classes the following year.

I hope for Emily to take a few classes at community college her junior and senior years. I think that will be a good transition to college life as well as allowing her to accumulate some college credits ahead of time. I love the time-saving aspect of courses counting for high school and college at the same time!

We already have a tentative plan for Emily’s courses through high school. There is still some room for change, depending on her interests, but it feels good to know there is a plan that includes everything that is necessary for graduation.

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Read more about how others are planning for high school with the Homeschooling High School Blog Hop!

Meg from Adventures with Jude on Planning Your Homeschool High School
Chareen at Every Bed of Roses with thoughts on Planning to Homeschool through the High School Years
April from ElCloud Homeschool shares Homeschooling High School: Planning For High School
Debra over at Footprints in the Butter asks: You mean I have to PLAN our Homeschool High School?!?
Michele at Family, Faith and Fridays shares Here's the Plan
Lisa at Golden Grasses says Don't Panic! Homeshcooling High School Blog Hop
Debbie at Debbie's Homeschool Corner Planning Out a High School Program
Gena over at I Choose Joy! shares her The Top Tip for Planning Homeschool High School
Kym at Homeschool Coffee Break shares on Planning and Preparing for Success
Tess from Circling Through This Life shares on Planning the High School Years
Erica over at Be The One shares Planning and Record Keeping for High School
Jennifer from A Glimpse of Our Life on Planning For Homeschooling Highschool
Carol over at Home Sweet Life on Making A Plan
Wendy at Life at Rossmont shares thoughts on Planning for High School
Cristi from Through the Calm and Through the Storm shares on Making High School Plans
Dawn Oaks at Double O Farms shares Planning for the High School Years
Leah from As We Walk Along the Road shares her thoughts on Making Plans for Homeschooling Through High School
Leah from As We Walk Along the Road shares her thoughts on Making Plans for Homeschooling Through High School

Monday, June 22, 2015

SmartKids Media (Schoolhouse Review)

SmartKidz Media Review

Over the past month, our family has enjoyed exploring the SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers, by SmartKidz Media for a Schoolhouse Review Crew review.  The first aspect of the site that we noticed was the large collection of educational videos. The majority of the videos focus on science and nature topics, but there are also shows for history, exercise, fine arts, culture, and cuisine. The site is rapidly expanding and many videos have been added just in the past few weeks. The videos will appeal to a range of ages. While the series we’ve been watching on the Cold War is probably of most interest to teens and adults, many of the nature videos (particularly the Nature’s Soap Opera series, which features funny dialogue added to animal footage) would  also be of interest to young elementary-aged students.  As with all media, parental supervision is advised. I was a bit surprised at what seemed to be an anti-American bias in the British-produced Cold War series. It is sparking some good discussions between my daughter and me, but I am glad that we are watching it together so that we could discuss the bias.  She’s been picking out  and viewing nature and science videos on her own, though, according to her interests. Videos are similar to what you would find on some cable TV channels or at the library, but are conveniently collected in one place. Most episodes run about 25 minutes long.

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The second media category is music and fine arts, which offers selections of music by classical composers, jazz and blues, and cultural music from around the world. My very favorite section pairs music of a classical composer with the works of a great artist. The paintings cycle through as a slide show as the music plays. What a wonderful way to expose young children to both great art and great music!

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But, wait, there is even more! The Reading and Learning Center offers a variety of other educational resources. Most of these are for young children—baby sign videos, e-books for ages 2 to 8, sing-along songs, interactive e-books for special needs children, etc. We didn’t really investigate these areas closely  since I don’t have any young children. (Please read other Crew reviews to learn more).

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Timagehere was one section in the Reading and Learning section that was perfect for Emily—Study Guides! The collection of study guides covers a variety of topics, from punctuation and grammar to high school math, presidents, government, accounting and foreign language. Emily looked through the Geometry guide and found it to be a good resource for keeping track of all those postulates and theorems that she needs to remember. Clicking on any one of the topics brings up the rules about that topic, complete with pictures.  Spanish Grammar is  still in “coming soon” status, but I anticipate that it will be very useful if it includes verb conjugation charts!  Because the spelling study guide teaches spelling rules, with examples, it could used as a refresher for older students, or even as a basis for designing your own spelling program based on your student’s particular needs.

We think that SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers is a very useful resource. It can be used for keeping preschoolers entertained and learning at the same time, to supplement topics from another curriculum, or for wholesome family viewing.

SmartKidz Media Review

I received this product free in exchange for my honest review.

 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Thankfulness

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.

                                                                             Romans 1:21-22

In her One Thousand Gifts Devotional, Ann Voskamp reflects on thankfulness and finding everyday graces. We are commanded to be thankful for all God has done, large and small. Our spirits are lifted and we see God more clearly when we are grateful. Thankfulness blesses us by pointing us toward God.

But what is the result of failing to give thanks? Sure, we may not be noticing those small touches of grace each day; we may be grumbly with others; we may tend to take credit for our successes and ignore God’s part or others’ part in our good fortune. But is that all?

Ann Voskamp points to Romans 1 and suggests that man’s biggest sin is our refusal to glorify God and our refusal to thank Him. The result of this sin is “futile thinking and foolish hearts.”  Neglecting to give thanks is a big deal.

I know of people who were unsatisfied with their lives. They didn’t appreciate the people who loved them. They turned from God and abandoned everything to search for “something better.”  I am quite sure that, without  appreciation for others and without a profound gratitude to God, the “other side” will never be greener.

I see in my own child a lack of gratitude, resulting in anger, resentment, and defiance. She doesn’t appreciate all that she has, nor does she honor God. Her thinking is indeed “futile.” Her view of the world and how it works is quite skewed. I know that some of this is just immaturity—the early teen years are seldom associated with rational thinking, but much of the attitude springs from an ungrateful heart.

And me…How often do I dwell on the problems of today when I could be remembering what God has done in the past? How often am I so distracted by the busyness of life that I don’t stop to just sit and really appreciate the birds singing or a moment of silence or a good meal?

I am wondering how to encourage more of an attitude of gratitude in my home. I think I will try to add to the “thousand gifts” list that I started a few years ago. I also think that speaking my thanks aloud more will encourage others to also be grateful.  “Giving thanks in everything” is a big deal to God and I want it to be more a part of my life.

Monday, June 15, 2015

CTC Math (Schoolhouse Review)

CTCMath Review

One concern that many homeschooling parents have is teaching math. What’s the best curriculum? Can I teach math to my own child? That’s one reason that computer-based curricula are popular for math. Even parents who have no concerns about using a textbook with their elementary-aged children may look for a way to outsource math once their children are in high school.

CTC Math, an online, video-taught math program is a comprehensive program, covering Kindergarten math through Calculus. As part of  The Schoolhouse Crew, I had the opportunity to try out the 12 Month Family Plan. The  Homeschool 12 Month Family plan costs only $118 per year for the entire family. The membership allows access to all levels, so a child is able to switch levels mid year, or review easier material at any time.

CTC Math is a complete curriculum for grades K-6, and is recommended as a supplement for upper grade levels. Upon examining the scope and sequence and the lessons, particularly for geometry, which Emily used, even the upper levels seem to be quite comprehensive and might be considered as a primary curriculum.

Emily has been using the geometry lessons for the past month. The material she is covering is partly review and part new material for her. I set up an account for myself and have been doing some lessons in Algebra 2 in order to try out the program as well.

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Once the user signs in, he sees this home screen, showing every grade level. Once a level is selected, lesson options for that course appear.

 

 

 

 

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Each lesson begins with a short video. The videos are only about 5 minutes long, just long enough to explain a concept and show some examples, but not long enough for the student to lose attention. Because this is an Australian-based program, the teacher, has a delightful Australian accent. That alone made the videos more fun for Emily!

After the student watches the video lesson, he views or prints the lesson worksheet. (Elementary levels answer questions online instead of printing worksheets.) Once the worksheet is completed, the student chooses the correct answer from a list and enters it online. This method is used to eliminate the difficulty of typing mathematical symbols on the computer. If the student doesn’t make a passing score (set by the parent), she may do the lesson again and the grades for each lesson are combined for a final score. Lessons that require drawing, graphing, or other tasks that can’t be answered through  multiple choice are graded by the student or parent and the grade is entered manually.

Every topic in the elementary level and some topics in the upper levels include diagnostic tests that can be taken before beginning the topic. This is a great feature and I would like to see it on every topic. This enables the parent to see what the student has already mastered and to assign selected lessons instead of every lesson.

One feature I look for in any online program is a useful parent page. From the CTC Parent Login, I’m able to see scores for every topic my student has attempted, the number of times the activity was attempted, and the date. It was helpful for me to see this quick summary. I did wish I had the ability to reset the random Parent Login password, though to something I could remember. I had to look it up every time I wanted to log in!

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The student summary page also shows “efficiency ratings” and high scores for each topic, but includes slightly less detail. Scores from each attempt are combined to create the efficiency rating, with the first attempt weighted higher. Although this can be frustrating for the student, it does encourage her to do careful work the first time. Fortunately, the student can pass a topic on the basis of the best test score.

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What I liked:

  • The video lessons are short, but explain concepts well. Multiple example problems are demonstrated.
  • The worksheets are also fairly short, often containing 10 problems. This isn’t overwhelming to a student.
  • Although the answers are in a matching format, there are far more answer choices than questions, reducing the chances of a student guessing.
  • Most assignments are graded by the computer. A topic average is also calculated by the computer
  • The diagnostic tests and topic tests are very useful. (I wish they were included for every section.)
  • The scope and sequence is comprehensive.

Emily has enjoyed using CTC Math and wants to continue with it. We had a bit of trouble with keeping up with worksheets, so I think I will print them ahead of time and put them in a binder so they will be in order and all in one place. The only problem we’ve had with CTC is Emily’s tendency to guess answers and to check out mentally during the videos. This isn’t a reflection on CTC, though, because she does the exact same thing for every computer based program (in any subject) that we have used. I just have to remember that she needs to be supervised closely. Most students would be able to use CTC Math independently.

I think that CTC Math is a very comprehensive and easy-to-use program at a great price and highly recommend it.

CTCmath Review

I received this product free in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, June 12, 2015

WordBuild Online (Schoolhouse Review)

JazzEdge  Review

One of the fastest ways to build vocabulary is to learn the Greek and Latin morphemes that make up many of our English words. A person who knows even a small group of morphemes is able to figure out the meanings to hundreds of words made from those morphemes. WordBuildOnline, a product published by Dynamic Literacy,  is an online program designed to teach morphemes to students.

WordBuildOnline ($30) offers four levels: Foundations Level 1 and Level 2 are for 2nd-5th grades and teach prefixes and suffixes. Elements Level 1 and Level 2 are for students who have completed the Foundations levels or who are beginning with the program at 6th grade or higher. Elements focuses on Latin and Greek word roots, but reviews prefixes and suffixes as well. Emily used the Elements 1 level.

The first unit of WordbuildOnline (Elements 1) teaches or reviews prefixes and suffixes. Each affix is defined, then the student is required to form and define a word made from the affix and a word root. Then the student chooses a sentence in which the word is used correctly. Every affix follows the same procedure. Although the student is required to type out a definition, it appeared that anything written would be marked as correct, so some honesty and attention to detail on the part of the student is important here.

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Once the first unit is completed, the student begins learning word roots-one root per unit. The units each include instruction on a few affixes and five activities to practice the word root. Lessons are timed at 10-15 minutes in order to keep students on task. Most can easily be completed in less than 10 minutes. Students may complete more than one activity a day, but are expected to spend only 15 minutes a day on the program.

A short video introduces the word root:

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Practice games include defining and creating words using magic squares and stair step puzzles.

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Each lesson ends with a quiz:

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The parent/teacher page allows the parent to see the results for each activity, including date completed, score, and time taken to complete. Additionally, the parent can choose to receive an email notification for each activity completed.

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What I liked:

The program is bright and colorful, making learning seem more like a game than a workbook exercise. Each activity uses the word roots in different ways, exposing the student to many different words derived from that particular root. Some activities are quite challenging, as the student is required to think of words using a root that have not yet been seen in the lesson. (I was stumped myself by a few.) The activities are short, making this program easy to fit into an already busy day.

What could be improved:

Despite the colorful interface, the activities were the same for each unit. The word root games were diverse and enjoyable, but the prefix and suffix activities became dull quite quickly—form a word, define a word, choose the correct sentence over and over again. I didn’t like that definitions were automatically marked as correct, encouraging a careless student to rush through too quickly.

I would love to see a list of units, or, better yet, a progress chart on the student page and the parent page. The student logs on daily and is presented with the next activity or two, but isn’t able to see an overview that shows how far he has progressed, his success rate, or what is coming next.

Although the parent page gives detailed grades for each lesson, the emails do not. They merely report that an activity has been “completed.”  If the student receives scores of zeros, the parent will assume that the activity has been mastered, which may not be the case. After completing an activity, the student goes onto the next activity unless the parent resets it from the parent page. I would like to see the program refuse to let the student move on until an activity has been mastered.

Some pages require hitting “enter” after an answer; others  require clicking, “go,” and others require clicking “I’m finished.”  I would like to see more consistency, especially since choosing “I’m finished,” will exit the activity instead of going to the next page, resulting in a lower score. I made that mistake myself a few times while trying the program out.

Despite these concerns with WordBuildOnline, I do think it is an enjoyable and efficient way to improve vocabulary and we will continue to use it in our homeschool. Would you like to try  WordBuildOnline? Use the coupon, “thecorner” at dynamichomeschool.com for 25% off the  Word Build books or at www.wordbuildonline.com for 10% off the software.

Dynamic Literacy Review

I received this product free in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Single Mom Life and Dryer Woes

One of the biggest trials of my single mom life is taking care of my home. Now I don’t mean cleaning, yard work, and general maintenance. Painting, caulking, no problem. But I am not a handy person for fixing things. I don’t have money to pay someone to fix things for me. Frankly, I’ve just learned to live with a lot of dysfunction. I have a bucket in my attic to catch the leaking water. I’ve learned to live without power in the bathrooms because none of those outlets work. For many years I was fortunate to have a husband who could fix nearly anything. But when he left, all that changed.

Generally, when I’ve tried to fix things, I’ve regretted trying because it just ends in frustration. I’ve fixed leaky faucets (an easy repair), but it takes me hours to do. A couple of weeks ago, when my dryer stopped heating, but still tumbled, I looked on the internet for what the problem might be. I was surprised to see several possibilities, all of which seemed easy to repair. So I took a chance and tried.

  1. Check the filter and duct for clogging. All was fine, here.P1050327
  2. Check for 220V at the dryer. Apparently the dryer will run, but not heat if it is only receiving 120V. I flipped the circuit breaker off and on a few times. Nope. I wasn’t about to plug in the dryer and check the voltage. I don’t do electricity! I did read that the timer and heater are on the same circuit, so if the timer progresses, then the dryer should be getting the proper voltage. The timer worked, so I assumed all was fine here.
  3. Check the thermal fuse. This took me mere minutes to locate and remove. I checked it with the volt meter and it didn’t seem to work. Woo hoo! I ordered a new part from Amazon ($3.60 with shipping) and waited for it to arrive. When it arrived, I put in the new part. Still didn’t work. I checked the old part again and found that it was good after all. Oh well.P1050331
  4. Then I checked the thermostats. They both were fine.P1050329
  5. Last option—the heating coils. I checked them and got no conductionP1050334 reading. I ordered a new part ($15) and waited again. While I waited, I spent hours trying to figure out how to remove the coils from this case. The very helpful you-tube videos failed me here. The dryers shown did not look like mine. I finally discovered (through reading Amazon reviews of the part I had ordered) a couple of hints about how to remove the heating coils. Only one screw, but it was attached from the back, wasn’t visible at all, and was difficult to reach. Eventually that happened, I installed my lovely new heating coils, and my dryer worked!

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I am very proud of myself. I actually fixed an appliance! Yay for You-tube. Now I’m just hoping that nothing else breaks for a while!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Homeschooling High School

Homeschooling High School Blog Hop 2015

Do you have a high school student? Or will you have one soon? For many homeschooling families, homeschooling for high school can be a daunting prospect. Do you worry about counting credits, making transcripts, and giving grades that “count?” Do you feel competent enough to teach literature and writing and physics and trigonometry? Are you wondering how to change paths   from a delight directed learning or unit study approach to a more traditional academic approach in order to count those all-important credits?

I started teaching high school last year. Although Emily is my fourth child, the others went to public high school, so this is the first time I’m navigating these waters of homeschooling a high school student. Over the past year, I’ve read and researched a lot, become more organized, and become more confident in the task.

Over the next seven months, I’ll be participating in a monthly blog hop with the sole focus of homeschooling high school students. Each of the participants will write about the following topics:

•  24 June - Planning for High School

•  29 July – Electives

•  26 August - Math, Science, Biology

•  30 September- Language Arts

•  28 October - "How am I going to teach High School ...?"

•  25 November -   How do you fit it all in ?

•  30 December – Graduation

I expect to learn a lot and hope that I will have valuable information to share as well. The participating blogs are:


Chareenfrom Every Bed of Roses - Introducing the 2015 Homeschool High School Blog Hop
Jennifer from A Glimpse of Our Life - Meet The Bloggers of The Homeschooling High School Blog Hop
Meg from Adventures with Jude - Hints for Homeschooling High School
Cristi from Through the Calm and Through the Storm - Some Homeschooling High School Friends
Debra from Footprints in the Butter - My Three (Homeschooled High School) Sons
Leah from As We Walk Along the Road - Are You Really Homeschooling Through High School?! The Homeschool High School Blog Hop
Michele from Family, Faith and Fridays - Homeschooling High School Blog Hop
Lisa from Golden Grasses
Wendy from Life at Rossmont - Introducing High School Homeschooling ... {A Monthly Blog Hop}
Gena from I Choose Joy!
Kym from Homeschool Coffee Break - Meet the Homeschooling High School Bloggers!
Debbie from Debbie's Homeschool Corner - Homeschooling High School
Carol from Home Sweet Life - Homeschooling High School ~ What is it REALLY like?
April from ElCloud Homeschool - Introducing Homeshooling High School
Erica from Be The One - Homeschooling High School
Laura from Day by Day in Our World
Tess from Circling Through This Life - Introducing the Homeschool High School Blog Hop!
Dawn from Double O Farms - Tapping into Great Resources for Homeschooling High School

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Piano With Willie (Schoolhouse Review)

JazzEdge  Review
 
I was thrilled to have the opportunity this month to review PianoWithWillie, one of several music education programs offered by JazzEdge. Last year, we reviewed Homeschool Piano, a fabulous beginning piano program from JazzEdge.  While HomeSchoolPiano is perfect for the beginner of any age,  PianoWithWillie is geared more for the older learner or the intermediate to advanced student. Although Emily used it a little bit, I was the primary user this time.
 
What is PianoWithWillie like?
 
PianoWithWillie is a resource library of hundreds of online piano lessons. The video lessons are streamed over the internet, allowing the student to learn from anywhere with an internet connection. The format is compatible with phones and tablets as well as computers, making it very convenient. I was able to put my Kindle Fire on the piano for my lessons instead of having to carry my laptop to the piano or move back and forth between my desk and piano.
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At first glance, PianoWithWillie may seem overwhelming. It includes over 300 lessons, ranging from beginner to advanced levels. Some lessons teach specific songs; others focus on technique and theory. Each lesson includes multiple videos and sheet music for printing and will take at least several days to complete. You can learn to play a wide variety of pieces, from classical music by Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven to works by pop legends like Billy Joel and Michael Jackson. Do you prefer show tunes, hymns, or jazz? You’ll finds these genres as well.
 
A user of PianoWithWillie can look through the lessons and begin anywhere of interest, but there is a more methodical way to use the site as well.
 
The “Piano Start” section is the ideal place to begin. In this section, you will find videos that explain the program, 30 short piano lessons that teach basic concepts, and “piano foundation” lessons that expand upon the 30-day success playbook. It is suggested that if the student has difficulty with the first 18 lessons in the 30-day success playbook, starting with the HomeschoolPiano program might be helpful.
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Once this section has been completed (or even earlier if you want to see what’s ahead),  taking a quiz to assess your ability, goals, and preferred music styles will generate an individual “Piano Plan,” a set of lessons that include both foundational and “fundational,” concepts. I created one for myself  on Church and Worship Performance, then took the quiz again, changing some of my preferences to create a Jazz and Cocktail music plan. Each of these plans had 4 lessons: 2 that taught songs and 2 that taught theory. These lessons are tailored to the user’s abilities and interests. After working through plans for a while, I realized that I needed more grounding in chord basics, so I searched the lesson database for a lesson that would teach me chord theory and added it to my favorites.
 
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In the lesson videos, the student is able to see both the keyboard and the teacher at the same time. I found this very helpful. It would have been even better to see the sheet music as well, but I either kept the printed music next to the computer or put the PDF up on the screen at the same time. It really is necessary to look at the printed music while the teacher explains it.
 
My Experience with PianoWithWillie
 
I read music fairly well, but I have don’t know how to play by ear (beyond a melody line) or to add the proper chords to a piece of music. The only improvising I have done is through some lessons on HomeschoolPiano over the past year. Sadly, in my many years of piano lessons, I was taught very little theory, just how to play from sheet music. Already, in just a few weeks of practice with PianoWithWillie, I have learned so much! I know how to play major and minor triads in every key, including inversions. I am learning about dominant and diminished chords. I can now actually play from music with just a melody line and chord markings!
 
I’ve been practicing 4-5 days a week, including about 10 minutes of video time and 10 minutes of practicing—not a lot, but feel like I’m making strides forward with just that small time commitment.
 
The neat thing about the lessons is that they are useful for a variety of abilities. Most of the lessons I’ve used have parts that are very easy for me. Then, Willie will jump to concepts that are challenging or confusing. He encourages the student to learn what he can from each lesson, but not to worry about the challenging parts because they will be studied later.
 
Emily has taken a break from piano practice for much of the last year and needed a refresher course, so she has been working through the 30 day  success playbook. The early lessons are a good review for her, but I know the later lessons will be quite challenging. She’s looking forward to learning some Beatles songs soon!
 
I plan to keep working with this program and am happy to have the opportunity to improve my  piano playing skills on my own time schedule. I think it is ideal for the intermediate to advanced player who would like to branch out into new techniques and piano styles. There is truly a wealth of instruction here!

A Studio Membership to PianoWithWillie costs $49 a month or $399 a year—a bargain when compared to private music lessons! A Premier Membership is also available and includes perks like access to additional piano courses and monthly live instruction with Willie.

Connect with PianoWithWillie:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PianoWithWillie
Twitter: https://twitter.com/PianoWithWillie
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jazzedge
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/JazzEDge
Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/jazzedge

Other Crew members reviewed Easy Piano Basics, a piano course for beginners, or DrumsWithWillie, You can read more about those programs at the Crew blog.

JazzEdge Review

I received this product free in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Blogging Woes

I have been a long time user of Live Writer. I find it easy to compose my posts offline, especially since I may work on a post off and on for days, especially for reviews. I was dismayed to discover earlier this week that suddenly, Live Writer wasn't able to post to Blogger. Google has changed their authentication system, and suddenly Live Writer, which hasn't been updated in several years was not compatible. After considering several options, including composing directly in Blogger; composing in Live Writer, copying the HTML to Blogger, then adding in the pictures manually; and posting from MS Word (still no good because it won't upload pictures in a post), I learned of a simpler solution.
Apparently, I can upload posts through email. This video explains the simple process: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GvxtHig5Qeg.  This is a test post, so I'm hoping it will work.
And here is a test photo:

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Evaluating Our Year

Recently, I had a new idea to involve Emily more in the evaluation of our past school year. I pulled out all of the resources we have used this year and spread them on the kitchen table. I wrote the names of online resources on index cards so that they would be represented as well.

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Then I gave Emily a pad of sticky notes and asked her to rate and label each item with numbers from 1 (high) to 5 (low) according to how well she liked each book or program. I was actually a bit surprised with some of her assessments—quite a few programs/book received 1’s or 2’s. We discussed why she liked or disliked each item. Then we talked about learning styles and about which learning methods were most helpful for her.

Not surprisingly, her favorite activity was reading—anything from a novel to a textbook. (Her Apologia Biology is actually the only traditional-type textbook we use, though.)  She also thought she learned well through videos. She also enjoys writing and some computer-based instruction.  Hands-on activities tended to be her least favorite (and the assignments she tends to procrastinate on). She really enjoyed these when she was younger, but I’ve noticed that her tastes have changed in the past few years. Since we’re going back to Sonlight Curriculum next year for history and English, I anticipate a great year with all those wonderful books!

This was a fun way to evaluate our year and to get Emily thinking about how she learns best and I plan to make it a yearly tradition.