Wednesday, March 9, 2011

So here is what I bought...Walking in Memphis Part 2

As promised here is everything I bought in Memphis and a few things that I just fell in love with, but will have to wait until next year or a few years from now....

My most exciting purchase was a new math program for both girls!  What we have been doing,  just isn't working for us.  Karsyn was beginning to get frustrated in math and wanted to know WHY things were and to be honest, I didn't know.  Kamryn was doing a very watered down math curriculum (didn't know it was watered down when I bought it) and we have realized that she has a knack for math that was literally being extinguished before our eyes.  Every day she has been begging for something harder, and I just didn't know how to give it to her.  Then I met the writers of Right Start Math and finally things began to make sense.

This program is the premier choice as an elementary math program by the creator of VideoText, which I will explain to you more in a minute.  He had many wonderful things to say about this program and I fell in love with the writer.  I knew it was right for us.  I asked her if she thought it would be okay to change programs in March and she used the perfect analogy.  She said,
Did you have a boyfriend before you met your husband?  Did you break up with him?  When did your break up with him?  Was it the first minute you realized this wasn't working or did you wait until you absolutely couldn't stand the sight of him ever again and you were D.O.N.E?  Imagine the heart ache, frustration, agony, money, and time you could've saved yourself if you would have just ditched him the first moment something felt wrong.
Hello...that was such an ah-ha moment for me.  This program should be arriving via UPS on Thursday and we are hoping to begin on Monday.  Karsyn will begin in Level C and Kamryn in Level E.  Another great thing about this program is that it doesn't deal in grade levels.  Instead, they use the level system that will allow the students to stay for as long as they need in each level or move as fast as they are comfortable.

The rundown:  Very little worksheets, lots and lots of manipulatives and games to reinforce concepts.  It is a teacher intensive curriculum that will require us to do math together, but I am very excited to LEARN math and learn how to think mathematically which is what this program will do.   After Level E, students move to the Geometry Level {6th grade} and then onto VideoText for higher level mathematics.

So, about VideoText...what can I say besides WOW!!!  This program is unreal.  It is a very thorough, concise, and deep interactive, computer based math program for Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Geometry.  The author says that once these levels are completed the student should immediately go to the local college and test out of Algebra and then go on to Calculus at a university to obtain college and high school credit at the same time.  That is what I'm talking about.

I am hook, line, and sinker in love with these math programs.  Dr. Jay While is too.  He was hanging out at the VideoText booth and chatting with us about why the program is so great!!!  I couldn't be more impressed and would encourage everyone to hear either the author Tom Clark or Dr. While speak on this program.  I would also encourage you to attend the other Great Homeschool Conventions to talk to these folks in person to see how amazing Right Start and VideoText are!!

Another purchase that I am over the moon about is All About Spelling.  I was in love before the conference, but then I went to a workshop on the Institute for Excellence in Writing and they recommend it.  I was pumped.  I totally respect Andrew Pudewa and the entire program and was so excited that they not only recommended it but also were selling it at the conference.  I high tailed it to the IEW booth and bought them out!!

The rundown:  I'm starting both girls with Level 2, even though both of my girls are way above this level.  They recommend starting way low and just moving quickly because it is a program that teaches you how to put words together based on common patterns and the only way to learn all of the patterns is to begin early.  Both of my girls had Abeka phonics so I felt really good that they would do fine in Level 2.  We will begin this on Monday as well.  No lists, no writing words 5 times.  Lots of games to reinforce patterns.  They use letter tiles to piece words together in common patterns and then use the tiles and games to write more words with the same patterns.  The only words you write are the ones that have that pattern that you are practicing that day.  I'm just giddy I tell you!!!

And speaking of IEW, they have a brand new Grammar program that I bought and will start next year just with Kamryn.  I have been wondering how long to teach grammar, and how could a student possibly understand high level grammatical concepts by learning rules.  This program is my answer!

The rundown:  This program works alot like Easy Grammar as it is just a sentence per day that students who have had basic grammar instruction will dissect and correct.   What I love about it is that it is $30 and it is for grades 3-12!  All right there in one book.  Never buy a grammar book again!!  I love it!!  It is divided by level with a set number of sentences per level.  No need to worry about what to do if your child hasn't learned a particular part of speech that comes up to be corrected, no biggie, because if they miss it, you teach it right there using their notes in the margin!  Perfect-o!!!

And I guess it goes without saying that we will be starting IEW next year!!  I love that program, it just had to take a backseat for now!!!

So that is what the remainder of this year and next look like for me!!  I had such a great time in Memphis and learned a ton!!!  If you are near another convention location GO!  You won't regret it.  Just prepare yourself ahead of time that the food will be gross and there is no wi-fi!!!

I am taking a break from blogging for Lent, so I will see you guys soon!!!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Walking in Memphis Part One

As you may already know, the MidSouth Homeschool Convention was this weekend in Memphis!!

Kayce, from Pastorette's Progress, and I left for our road trip early Thursday morning and arrived in Memphis around lunch time.  We unpacked and headed to Beale Street to see the sights and grab some lunch.  We immediately fell in love with the city of Memphis and the soul that just oozed out of the people. It is an amazing place!  But our tour ended pretty quickly as we rushed to the Memphis Convention Center to check in, get a game plan, and get ready for back to back workshops, a HUGE exhibit hall, no wi-fi, no coffee, overpriced food, 30 degree weather, and rain!!!

And for the next 2 days we wouldn't see the light of day...And every second was worth it!

While the lack of wi-fi and overpriced gross food {think JUMBO HOT DOG} were both equally devastating, the workshops and exhibit hall did not disappoint.  We learned so much!!!  Tomorrow I will be back to tell you what I bought in the Memphis greatness!!

To start though, I think I should just tell yall what sticks out with me the most out of the whole weekend.  What I learned this weekend could never be summed up in 3 sentences, but I will say, this is what I walked away with!  Some was taught to me in a workshop, some was taught to me while I chatted with vendors, and some I learned while Kayce and I laid in our hotel beds chatting at 3 am.  Here are the highlights...

1.  Whether they choose Harvard or home, our children should be ready!

2.  Shyness is not a disease, it is a by product of a very unique package of wonderful qualities that God is going to use!

3.  We must expose our kids to the wrongs of this world NOW...while we  are with them all day to defend what we believe.

Maybe these 3 things don't sound like rocket science to you, but for me, it was like I had never thought about them before in the way that I think of them now.

The very first thing that the very first speaker said was that her family's homeschooling goal was whether her children chose Harvard or home, they would be ready.  That was like the "ah ha" moment of the weekend for me...and it happened in the first 20 minutes of the first speaker.  I have just not been confident in my homeschooling philosophy so far this year.  One minute I am on the Susan Wise Bauer train, the next I am nature studying in the backyard, and a week later I am all about unit studies.


How about that?  Its okay that I want my girls to be prepared.  That doesn't make me an overachiever, it makes me a Momma.  Sure, I almost always wish my day looked like someone else's but truly, my goal is for my children to be prepared.  Period.  And if that means that our day may look different from yours, that is okay.  I learned this weekend that as much as I wish we could just read all day and somehow math would just evolve, that isn't reality.  Its not reality for the girls, and its not reality for me.  I am very hands on...I am very visual, I need manipulatives, and so do my girls.  And what is my goal?  For them to be prepared for whatever comes their way.  So, what should I do?  Fill my day with as much of those things as I can.  I don't want my girls to just know 3+3.  I want them to understand math concepts.  I want them to be able to think mathematically.  I want them to be confident in this subject.  And they can be!

So empowering huh??  Im telling you, I was just amazed at some of this stuff.

So tomorrow, I will be back to tell you all about what I bought and what Im starting when!!  Mr. UPS should be paying us a visit on Thursday and I can't wait!!!

I am so thankful for this weekend and for all that I learned {and bought}!!!  And I can't wait to tell you all about it!!!  But its late and I'm rambling so it will have to wait until tomorrow!!!!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Planning, Reading, Shopping, Learning...

I am getting all packed for Memphis!

I am leaving tomorrow morning early for the Mid South Homeschool Convention and I have lots to do.

Because I am such a planner, I have to have all of the remainder of my week's worth of work done before I go, which means that the better part of my day will be spent vacuuming, mopping, cleaning toilets, and doing every stitch of laundry in the house.  Do you do that?  Or is it just me that can't possibly leave the house out of order.  It is really ridiculous.  I will be late somewhere before I leave dishes in my sink.  Big Daddy's grandmother told me once before she died that she had been lazy for a few days and had let things go in her house when a neighbor came rushing over one morning.  He was actually having a heart attack and came into her house where she called 911 and his family and everyone to come help him.  She said that she was so embarrassed because there were dust bunnies on her floor, dishes in her sink, and rings in her toilet.  Best advice anyone has ever given me.  I learned from that happening (in theory at least) and try very hard to keep things presentable around here...just in case.

Thank goodness we are taking next week off as our Spring Break so I am not working on next week's lesson plans before I go.  Whew!!

Next week I plan to dig deep into everything I learn over the weekend {and all that I purchase} and completely transform our school.  I am so disappointed in several of our curriculum choices and some we will be completely finished with in March, but I feel like we haven't learned very much, so I have already made the decision to school "almost year round" and following this schedule at Five J's blog.  I want to spend the summer months making school more meaningful and advancing the girls to where I would like them to be before the next year's official school year kicks in around August.

I am knee deep and up to my eyeballs in 1,000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp.  WOW!  If you don't have this book, I would strongly recommend it.  It is life changing. And you don't have to take it from me.  I truly believe that every person who is reading it feels that their life will never be the same.  INCLUDING ME!  You can follow Angie and Jessica from the Bloom Book Club visit with Anne after each chapter as well at {In}Courage.  LIFE CHANGING I tell ya!!!

I am also reading every book I can get my hand on regarding right brain learning and Charlotte Mason.  Not necessarily related, but I just learned that one of the girls is struggling in Math because of my curriculum choice which doesn't in any way teach to her right brained, visual, learning style.  In addition,  I have been longing to do more living math with both girls because the more confident I become in homeschooling, the more I realize that I DESPISE workbooks and 47 workbook pages that don't allow me to see where the girls weaknesses are.  But that is a whole 'nother post, and really, I guess its not the curriculum's fault...its mine because I am exclusively depending on it to teach, and now I am realizing that I am only going to find things if I investigate them myself!!

This weekend I plan to buy a new Math curriculum for both girls at the convention.  Because Kamryn will be finished with hers by mid March, I am switching her to a Singapore mixed with Life of Fred concoction.  She has been begging for MORE in Math....why on earth am I not giving it to her?  Her curriculum was good, just very behind for where she was going into the year.  There have been days where she {4th grade} was "learning" the same thing that I was teaching Karsyn {2nd grade}. BRUTAL!

I am also getting All About Spelling for Karsyn and Kamryn will begin Spelling Power when I return.  We bought it but I was too intimidated to start it.  But, again, I am learning that my girls don't do well with memorizing lists of words just for the test.  And now that I am becoming more confident, Im very excited about using the 2 curriculums together!!!

I am also on the hunt for a new science curriculum for next year.  I love Apologia, but for next year we need more.  For me, it is just too easy to not do science when we are just reading a few paragraphs a day and it is the only thing left to do after lunch and its what is standing between me and a cup of coffee and Food Network {did I say that out loud?}.  We will keep up with this unit study for the rest of the year because I do love it, but Im going to need to blow something up next year!!

As you can see I think I am finding my way through this Homeschool maze and beginning to really learn alot.  I cannot wait to get to Memphis and sit in on many many workshops {there are over 200 to choose from}.  I will be on HOMESCHOOL OVERLOAD by Sunday, but I cannot wait!!!

I hope everyone has a great weekend!!!  This weekend is the official beginning of Mardi Gras around here as well.   Besides the fact that our entire state shuts down next week for the festivities {I'm talking schools closed and all}, we also are enjoying these every weekend....

Here is a hint....  This can only mean one thing...

That's right!!!  CRAWFISH TIME!!  

But, just so you won't feel left is a little video for you to enjoy....

We don't go to any of the parades or participate in any part of Mardi Gras, but the music and the king cakes are something that WE JUST LOVE!!!!  Here is what every other person in Louisiana will be spending their weekend....

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