Lots of chatter about "back to school" everywhere...I just smile, because we never *left* school. The ladies at Denny's this AM were...shocked, and "poor kids!" all over the place. My 2 just looked at them quizzicly, and said "But....we only do 3 - 4 hours a day, then we get the rest of the day to do what we want! AND, we don't have to review stuff because we forgot it over the break! AND, we can take field trips whenever we want, and movies are part of our schoolwork!" :lol:
Speaking of, I just bought an app - it's iPad only right now, but the developers said they'd like to try and port it over to Android. It's Homeschool Helper....and it was only $4.99. It's.....limited to record-keeping only right now, but they say they've submitted an update that will allow lesson planning as well. I don't care - I use Planbook and LOVE it, but this? This tracks GRADES for me. And was EASY to set up.
I've tried a LOT of gradebooks......none of them were that user-friendly. Gradebook was simple, once I figured out how to enter the assignments, but I didn't like the interface. HomeSchool Tracker is Windoze only...I tried it, but HATED the way you have to input info. Ditto Olly - it's Mac-only, and I beta-tested it...but didn't buy it. Again, HATE the way you have to put in your stuff - you HAVE to do the full year at once, because then you have to drag-and-drop the lessons onto your student's grid...and I kept screwing up the days. HATE it - it isn't (to *me*) intuitive. Planbook *is*. (Planbook - also for Windoze!) is set up like a weekly planner. You first set up your subjects, and tell it what day/s you have them. You can set up times so that it puts them in "order"...then you type ON THE GRID what you plan on doing that day. Easy-peasy, prints nice, and you can set up custom boxes...I have 3 boxes set up: Classwork (both kids combined), Himself, and Herself. I can print a report of everything, I can print Classwork and 1 kid....it's GREAT. I just wish it had a way to track grades....
Enter Homeschool Helper. It took a bit to set up - right now, you can't reuse subjects - but in about 15 minutes I had both kids set up, and all the grades they've currently earned entered. I can see at a glance how well they are doing (he's doing OK...she's not. :sigh: I think I need to go back and "weight" classwork in Math, because they both get at least 80% correct (I make them re-do if they miss more than that)..but they test HORRIBLY. :sigh: We'll see.....(yes, I am keeping grades. Need to for Himself's transcript (should we be here, that is :wink:) Herself...not so much, but I want to be able to "prove" her graduation in 2.5 years. Just in case....plus, you never know when laws might be changed. This? Is a CYA type thing for me.)
Now.....I gotta talk about History. I know a LOT of Homeschool folk LOVE Story of the World.....I don't. I have...issues. However, for younger kids, those issues are minor (it doesn't matter, for young kids, if you change dates so that "the story flows better" (yes, that's a quote. No, I didn't make it up....:sigh:) For *older* students, however, I have a problem with present fiction as if it were as true as Biblical stories and archeological fact.)......but, fortunately for *me*, the books are a bit too young for my 2. :whew:
Anyway....we started Mystery of History III 3 weeks ago. I gotta tell you, I like it. I like it a LOT. It's....SOTW, but....more.......meaty. I went out and bought the first 2 volumes for me to read (why yes, I DO read History textbooks for fun, why do you ask?) and am impressed. The author did get a few things wrong in Vol 1 (the names of the Hebrew months are WRONG, but.....those are in a supplementary exercise, not the text.)....but, for the most part, it's good. And.....there's not too much evangelizing. Some (it IS a chrischun text, after all!), but they are easily "edited" out of the narrative (I am reading it aloud to the kids - that way, I KNOW they are getting it. And we discuss as we go.) It's written in small, living-history-type chunks, each lesson focusing on 1 historical character. We're enjoying it. Haven't done a lot of the extra exercises yet - but we will, as we settle into a routine. You have a pre-test before each weekly section (3 lessons), then you have either a quiz or exercise at the end. With a Review after every so many weeks. Pre-tests don't get graded, but the rest does. It's cool, because it gives the kids a "heads up" on what they'll be studying that week, and it makes them keep their eyes open. :heh: The Reviews are cumulative; they go back to the beginning of the book, it appears, to make sure the kids are *retaining* the info. Pretty cool!
We've started to get a daily routine down, which is good for Herself. I'm adding back in a "formal" writing program (Writing Strands - we'll start with #4 this year; last year I tried #3, and had a mutiny on my hands. It was kinda stupid.....#4 looks MUCH better. Himself NEEDS this; he has a mental block about writing, and BraveWriter isn't rigid enough for *him*.) We're also going to start a Critical Thinking course in a few weeks (I want to finish "Excavating English", first. We're almost done with it. :huzzah!:)
Oh! I found a site that lets you put in your location, and it pops up a list of letterboxes/geocaches in your general area. I think we're going to start visiting those soon....looks like fun! (Sounds like a fieldtrip to me! :lol:)
I'm still happy, overall, with Singapore's Discovering Mathematics. I'm remembering a lot of Algebra and Geometry I had forgotten....which is good for me. We'll see if I remember my Trig in the next 2 years.....:shudder: (Solving simultaneous linear equations is kicking Herself's butt right now. They're EASY equations.....but she has a problem with long-term retention of math stuffs. Not sure what I need to do about it.....so we're slowly working each problem in tandem. For the most part, anyway. :sigh:)
Apologia's still a hit in the Science department. Hebrew....:sigh: I have GOT to get back to Rosetta Stone; we've been slacking there. I stopped it to focus on *reading* Hebrew....but I'm not seeing a lot of retention *there*, either. We just finished "Sarah and David and You Read Hebrew, book 2"...and yet, NONE of us can remember all the letters. So...we're reviewing. And reviewing some more. :sigh: Latin...Minimus Secundus isn't as....interesting as Minimus was, but we're moving on thru it anyway. Then we get to start - :gasp!: - Wheelock's Latin. I'm...nervous about it, but I've found videos and mp3s to help......we'll see how we do. Probably take it Very Slowly.
Geography is moving along. Ch. 5 starts the actual, you know, GEOGRAPHY part, with the US and Canada. We're going to plan a meal from each country as we get to it, and maybe do an art project or something, too. Should be fun (we've just started Ch 4....:sigh:)
Oh! Check out the Homeschool Buyer's Co-op if you haven't already. They have a deal going right now on a CD for virtual dissection. I'll be picking that up on payday...Himself doesn't want to do a real one...but labs are necessary for Biology (next year). Virtual will work.....:huzzah - no smell!:
This is getting long...better sign off. :lol:
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