Writing in a digital age

Oddly, kids are said to be writing more today than in yesteryear.  But, it’s mostly texts and chats and it’s frequently written using a language unknown just a decade ago. OMG :->

They use abbreviations and emojis, is it really writing? You bet it is.  WTF, the current president got elected largely on the basis of his tweets. How much more validation does short form writing need before the educational establishment wakes up and starts teaching it.

I just read about the Easy Writing Tutor’s support of Four Trait Writing. Very interesting. They foresee that these programs will support this innovative approach to writing instruction and formatting.

The Types of Writing
Blending Writers Workshop
Student Writing Practice

And I quote them:

Four-Trait Writing© is an update of a traditional approach to the learning of the craft. Under pressure to correctly create an essay to fit the rigid standardized testing guidelines, students are not usually given the opportunity to broaden their writing horizons for today’s electronically connected world.
Four-Trait Writing provides students a framework both to write successfully for today’s high stakes test and to discover writing beyond the formal essay. Students have the chance to find their voice when writing for the internet, editorials, and even dialogue.
So, what are the Four Traits of successful writing? They are:
1. Content – Story and Logic
2. Style (Sentence Variety and Structure)
3. Mechanics (Spelling, Punctuation, Capitalization Rules)
4. Media & Voice (Persuasion; Objective Journalism; Internet Writing; Dialogue: Plays and Scripts)

Parenting with Digital Educational Programs

My kids have been spending a lot of time recently on VocabularySpellingCity doing advanced educational materials that help them with fluency on sight words and phonics on the other words.  They have several sets of learning activities:

Spelling games: spelling test, word unscramble, hangmouse

Vocabulary games: crossword, which word, and WordFind

Writing Activities:  sentence writing practice and paragraph writing practice

Language arts games: There are a set of activities such as hand writing practice and identifying the parts of speech.

Phonics and phonological skill building activities: This includes the Silly Bulls, Sound it Out, Initial and Ending Sounds, which Sound speller.

And of course there are activities for each of these grade levels:

2nd Grade Word Study

3rd Grade Word Study

4th Grade Word Study

5th Grade Word Study

 

On a completely different note but still within digital programs, I’d like to find or build a STEM program that teachers using bicycles.  Any ideas anyone?

Streaming and Learning

Not all that long ago, the only time I ever thought about using the TV (in any way) in my homeschooling, would have been if we needed a sick day for mom. And mom would have to have been really sick to default to that, lol.

But, how does that Bob Dylan song go? Times they are a changin’.

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Streaming video services have been on the rise. Why wouldn’t they be? They are cheaper than cable and you basically have everything on demand; you’re not looking through a guide waiting for something to air at a certain time or on a certain channel. Just as with so many aspects of technology, streaming video services are becoming valuable to homeschooling families, and not just for the latest season of The Flash! 😉

Do your kiddos have an interest in bees? There’s a documentary for that. Are they interested in cooking? There’s a TV show for that. Maybe as family, you guys are interested in learning about other world cultures? Yep, you can find films for that.

Here are a few links that have been recommended by other homeschoolers, covering many ages/grade levels:

**DISCLAIMER — only you as a parent can judge what’s appropriate for your kiddos. Goes without saying, but please understand that these suggestions come from many homeschooling families, each with different ideals and belief systems. 🙂

Netflix

Amazon Prime Video

YouTube

Do you have favorites that you’ve discovered? Add them in the comments below and we’ll update our list to include them!

 

 

Homeschooling Through High School

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Many homeschooling families fear the high school years. Not necessarily because their kids will be teens or going through adolescence, but because they are terrified of “doing it right.” The curriculum, the transcripts, the diplomas, what happens next — it can be overwhelming, even to those who have been homeschooling since preschool.

While most people think they need local resources, don’t forget about all of the online help that’s available for homeschooling high school. Not only can you research, purchase and successfully use an online homeschool high school curriculum, you can find support groups, transcript and college admission help, even find online co-op/video tutorials for labs and experiments.

If you’re currently homeschooling a high schooler, or you’ve graduated a homeschooler, please share your resources and experiences in the comments. Your encouragement could make such a difference!

Giving, Hope, and Family

There are so many winter holidays to celebrate! Regardless of which one(s) your family participates in, there is always a general theme of giving, hope, and family.

Homeschool parents (all parents, honestly) can find this time of year exhausting. Trying to balance education, jobs, family gatherings, plans…it’s hard to take a breather and remember that you can get a little help. You can delegate some things, even your homeschooling!

This themed unit study for December from Time4Learning is such a great resource. They have collected some lessons and activities that revolve around or tie into the giving, hope and family theme and they’ve put them in one easily printable/downloadable document. There are even links for fun activities and resources from other sites too…spelling lists, books to read, songs and games, and more!

Head on over (just click on the photo below) and take a look at everything packed into this FREE unit study, then comment on this post and share how YOU ease some of your holiday burden.  🙂

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Learning with the Election…

More so than ever before, technology and the internet are making sure we know it’s election season. More than just the commercials on TV, and more than just billboards, every single time we turn on our computers or check our phones, chances are we’re going to see something related to the election.

That’s not always bad. I mean, I do think it’s necessary to make sure that each voter knows about all of the candidates as much as possible, but it can get overwhelming when there is SO much information out there. How do you handle questions when  your kids ask about candidates and what’s in the news about them? How do you balance wanting them to learn about politics, yet shield them from the controversy when you need to?

There’s no one right answer when it comes to teaching politics, but there are resources out there to help! For instance, these fun election-themed writing activities are wonderful resources. Broken down by elementary, middle, and high school, there is something for every grade level.

Image via Time4Writing.com

Image via Time4Writing.com

Give these a try, and drop a note in the comments, telling us how you teach and/or shield during the election seasons.

Organization for the New Homeschooler

Being new to homeschooling can be a little daunting, even for those who plan(ned) to homeschool right from the start. Getting and staying organized is great step you can take, to try and help keep those newbie nerves at bay.

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Here are some quick tips to get organized:

  • Start with organizing yourself, as the teacher – seems silly, but making sure you have all your ducks in a row is important! Make sure you know exactly what your state requires of you. Get yourself a binder or folder system, so you have a place for all of your forms and reports for each student/year.
  • Work boxes – work boxes are a great way to keep each child organized! This is where you can put all of their materials they’ll need for the week. Art/craft supplies, experiment components, books they need to read, pencils, papers, etc.
  • Make sure the homeschool curriculum you chose is a good fit – If your children prefer textbooks and workbooks, then realistically, a computer program won’t work for them. Alternatively, if they prefer everything techie, then an online curriculum would be better. If they are struggling or bored, then they’re going to be distracted. If they are distracted, disorganization will likely follow.

What about you? What organization tips did you discover that helped you keep your homeschool organized? Make sure to comment below and share!

Foreign Language Learning

Foreign language is such an important elective, and one that many homeschoolers have struggled to add to their curriculum. Fortunately, this just got a lot easier!

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Time4Languages, an optional online language learning add-on available from Time4Learning, recently launched. Time4Languages courses allow students to learn another language without memorization or even translation. Students learn in an easy to follow, self-paced method. In fact, the program teaches a new language in a way similar to how they learned their first language.

At launch, students can choose to learn English, Spanish, French, Chinese or Latin. There are also great tools available for parents, like lesson plans and reports.

Have you tried Time4Languages yet? Comment below and share with us what language(s) your kid(s) chose!

 

Gearing up for Back to School. Or…Not?

Homeschoolers! It’s that time of year again. School supply shopping is in full swing, families are getting in those last minute vacations, and kids and parents seem to be counting down the days until the school doors open again.

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Then there are the homeschoolers. If you’re anything like me, you’re sitting back, totally chill. 😉

We school year round for most part, so we’ve never really had the big AAAHHH IT’S BACK TO SCHOOL TIME thing. We also don’t officially start our next grade until after Labor Day, which is way after the back to school frenzy, so the excitement has passed, lol. It’s just another day. We do commemorate the start of a new school year with a picture (think this year’s “school picture”), and some sort of event. Whether it’s a froyo afternoon with us, or a party-ish thing with our homeschool group, we do something.

I like to wait until the mad rush of school supply shopping is over before I go in and pick through what’s left. My boys are older now (6th and 11th grade), and they both use an online homeschool curriculum, so there aren’t a lot of needs. I’m good with the leftovers. Plus, what’s left after school starts back, is marked down even more. Score!

This year we will probably not have a lot of fanfare. Our schedules have been the fullest they’ve ever been and to be honest…neither of the boys will be ready to start the next grade by Labor Day. There was a time when that would be hard for me to admit, but not any more. One of the benefits of homeschooling is working at your own pace. 🙂

What about you guys? Do you guys have any Back to School, or Not Back to School traditions? Share in the comments!

Summer plans?

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Summer can mean different things for homeschooling families. For some, it’s down time. The school year is over and it’s time for vacay and fun! For other families, summer is just business as usual as far as the school year goes (year-round’ers). Maybe kiddos do “School-Lite” while mom and/or dad are busy filling out next year’s homeschool planner or looking for curricula and materials.

Maybe you’re somewhere in the middle — you want some play time, but you also want to keep summer learning at the forefront of your plans.

Some activities that are both play AND educational?

– Museums

– Science Centers

– Art Shows

– Libraries (yes, really! especially for your wee ones…lots of libraries have dress-up story time!)

Share with us. What are your summer plans?