This one is “Mastery-based” and that one is “Spiral”. Do you know the difference? Getting math figured out can be frustrating and confusing! Today I’m over at The Homeschool Post discussing the different types of math curriculum, and which helps what type of kid. Click the graphic to go there!
With winter hanging on for another couple of months here in the Northwest, and spring right after, we have plenty of weather yet to look forward to. In the past two weeks alone, we have had extreme cold down to –4* and 8” of snow, to 30mph winds of 45* that melted everything and caused a lot of flooding. This is the perfect time to do a unit on weather! It is always interesting and can be really fun and hands-on for the kids.
There are so MANY websites with helpful things for unit studies. This is just a small selection of the great sites out there, but some of the best, in my opinion.
Weather Unit Resources at HomeschoolShare.com
Climate Kids NASA’s eyes on the earth.
National Geographic Kids has lots of games, videos, and interactive weather resources.
KidStorm: All About Storm Chasing at SkyDiary.com
National Weather Service Government weather tracking site
Science For Kids Weather experiments, projects, and games
NeoK12 Educational Videos, Lessons & Games
I love incorporating multi-sensory experiences into unit studies. Did you know that when things are set to music, kids are better able to absorb and remember them? Even dry random facts are easier when memorized with music! My favorite weather related music for the younger kids is from weatherman Nick Walker, “The Weather Dude”. You can download his CD Sing A Long with the Weather Dude from Amazon.
Forces of Nature videos at National Geographic Kids
Amazing Weather 60 Minutes of amazing weather footage from Discovery Channel (YouTube links lead to other videos. Parents please be aware of what your kids watch.)
Steve Spangler Science Weather Experiments are some of the BEST!
Weather and Seasons Science Projects at How Stuff Works
There are no shortage of educational games online, and there are a good assortment of weather-related ones. Let your kids have fun while learning! Great for reinforcement of concepts or to illustrate something that is difficult to understand.
Tornado Chase at Discovery.com
Weather Whiz Kids Games and Puzzles
Tornado Quiz at National Geographic Kids
Interactive Weather Maker at Scholastic.com
BrainPop Weather Games (Subscription required after initial trial)
The Young Meteorologist Game helps prepare kids for extreme weather.
I hope that you find fun things to add to your weather unit. If you find something really cool that I don’t have listed here, leave me a comment with a link. I’d love to add more!
It’s hard to believe that the first of our “Round 2 Kids” will be a 9th grader next year.
A High Schooler. Yikes! And his brother is just a quick two years behind him.
It happens so fast. They were just toddling around my house last week, pulling all the cushions off the couch and playing “Timber!”, falling off the couch on to the cushions with hysterical laughter. These boys will soon be moving into their own lives. What I’m struggling with is how to get them there.
How, when I know that he has an amazing factual auditory memory, will I quantify high school credits when he is unable to produce the paper trail that proves it?
This is the question of the week.
And his brother, without the elephant-like memory but with plenty of school smarts (and a hefty case of dysgraphia), in a similar situation… HOW? How do we do this? The only answer I’ve come up with is digital curriculum.
I have a category over in my sidebar, “Tech School”. That’s what I’m talking about. My search for technology-based applications to solve our education issues isn’t new. I’ve long known that this medium is what works the best for both of my boys. Where would we be without years of great spelling help from Spelling City, or the math curriculum that JUST WORKS, Teaching Textbooks, and the amazing, wonderful WonderMaps software?
Technology and these boys go together “like peas and carrots”, as Forest Gump would say.
What has just recently occurred to me though is that a tech-based program is really the only way they will be able to show what they know, short of being in school full time and probably having an IEP to go along with it. That’s not really an option.
I have been searching high and low for resources and I’ve found quite a few! Some I’d never heard of before. Others, I’ve used in the past. A few I did know of, but hadn’t had the time/money/desire/need to try them out. I’m still on the hunt for them.
One huge disappointment is that good, Christian options are limited. As in, nonexistent. The only Christian program I’ve found is Alpha Omega’s Switched on Schoolhouse, or Monarch, which is SOS but online rather than on CD/stored on your computer. They serve their purposes for some families but they are not interactive enough for these guys.
Interactivity is the key here. Textbooks on a screen with questions to answer are not what I would call interactive.
I’m compiling sites to look at and test out. We may very well make this move now, while we’re at the mid-point of our year. The only thing I know for sure is that since we’re back using Teaching Textbooks, it’s not broken so we’re not fixing it. It works for them. Everything else is open!
I asked about this yesterday on Google+ too. (Are you on Google+? You should circle me! I spend more time there than Facebook.)
So tell me, what are your favorite interactive curriculum programs for Jr. High and High school? Throw them all at me!
I’ve been there. I feel ya. It’s been 16 years and I’ve been waiting to finally have a year where it doesn’t happen… so far that’s just not been the case. I’m over at The Homeschool Post today talking about how it happens and what to do when it does. Because it will.
(Click the graphic to go there.)
Keyboarding is a necessary skill in our new digital world.
Having the ability to type by touch gives students a speed advantage over others, because as muscle memory begins to take over, words can literally flow from their fingers without a lot of time between the thought and seeing it in print. Since I have kids with special needs, their needs are always at the forefront.
Keyboarding has additional benefits for special needs students, including:
Strengthened hand-eye coordination
Prevents letter reversals in dyslexic students
Enhanced spelling practice
Reduction in handwriting. This is HUGE I tell you, huge.
The ability to produce written work for students on the Autism Spectrum, which many are unable to do with pencil and paper because they get caught in the process of it.
Dramatic speed increases over hand written work.
Audio reinforcement: Computers can read back what a student has written, helping him to ensure that what he wrote is what he meant to say. (This is a built-in Microsoft setting under Accessibility!)
Work begins and ends in an uncluttered setting: A blank word processor page rather than a cluttered worksheet or notebook paper with lines on it.
A number of years ago I had a really great keyboarding program for my girls (my “Round 1 Kids”). They enjoyed it, and they both learned to type. I had hoped to continue using the same program with our younger boys, but technology as it is now tends to change rapidly. Windows 95 gave way to Windows 98, which gave way to XP which sadly gave way to Vista. And with Vista, our wonderful typing program was no more. To make matters worse, the publisher quit making it.
Enter my “Round 2 kids”, both boys with writing and/or developmental disabilities. With the seemingly simple act of hand copying sentences from a model taking up to 10 times the length of time that it does for most kids, keyboarding is essential for their academic success, as well as my sanity.
I searched for over 2 years to find a good keyboarding program that was appropriate for preteens, would teach them good habits and “the basics” as well as work on speed without the distraction of obnoxious cartoon characters. It was hard search. When I was offered the opportunity to review Keyboard Classroom, I jumped at it.
Keyboard Classroom is a fairly simple program. It is unique in that they provide plastic guides which attach to your keyboard to help your students place their hands correctly on the keys. The guides are a big strength of the program because proper hand placement is something many kids struggle with when they are first learning to type. Unfortunately, the guides didn’t fit either of our keyboards, so we went without.
There was just no way to make them fit without them sitting on a row of keys. Lessons begin with learning letters on the home row, progressing to letter combinations, words, then sentences. Each level has a practice mode and a timed mode. They can choose which they want to work on.
The practice mode has no consequences for missing a stroke. They have the time to just practice with no pressure to perform. A missed stroke just keeps the cursor there until they hit it correctly, and then it moves on. The letter trainer has boxes that are highlighted, making it easy to know exactly what they’re working on.
The Practice Mode for Typing Words gives them a cursor underneath the set of letters that they are working on. A space at the end of a set prompts the cursor to move over or down to the next line. It allows them to correct errors as they go. As students work through each level’s parts, they gain ranking, from Cadet on up through General. Rankings earn them coins, which give them game play time as a reward for their hard work.
In Timed mode, they are supposed to complete each exercise with 5 errors or less.
The nice thing about Keyboard Classroom is it is powerful in it’s simplicity! Graphics are simple, easy on the eyes, and not distracting for my oh-so-distractible son. They are rewarded for their work, which for my gamer guys really does help keep them motivated.
I decided to try it out too, and spent an hour working my way through some of the lessons. My typing speed is somewhere around 60-70wpm, and I can tell you that after working with this program for a while, my accuracy and speed both improved. Your kids do not need to be beginners to see gains from this program! If they are beginners, or have special needs, I am confident that you will see great gains if they work on it regularly, as I have with my own sons.
Full Disclosure: I received one copy of this software program for evaluation purposes.