Friday, April 24, 2015

"Capture the Moment" book review

I'm a sucker for a beautiful book cover, and Sarah Wilkerson 's Capture the Moment  captivated me


This book bills itself as "the modern photographer's guide to finding beauty in everyday and family life".

As a novice photographer with a good camera (Nikon D7000), I am slowly trying to learn how to use my camera and wean myself from program mode.

Slowly, but surely, I am venturing into other modes, and books like this help me by showing photographic examples and giving short assignments.

Often, in most families, the camera only comes out for special events and occasions.  This book wants to help us to remember to capture everyday life  

The author says on page 102, "Most of us do a great job of documenting extraordinary outings, celebrations, and milestones, forgetting that many of our most cherished memories are derived from everyday moments.  it can be difficult to step back and appreciate the beauty of life as we experience or observe it day in and day out, but the fact is that our daily activities do change - sometimes incrementally and imperceptibly.  The rituals and routines that we so often take for granted are gone before we know it."

Looking through photo albums from when my children were younger, I noticed that most of the every day photos were taken by me because my husband was usually at work when the normal, every day stuff was going on.  Consequently, we don't have many every day life photos because I rarely thought to grab the camera and take a photo.  Or maybe there was no film in the camera !  (remember those days?)

Capture the Moment has 6 chapters full of beautiful photos.  Each chapter has 3 "creativity exercises" at the end to help you create beautiful photos of your own.

You can learn more about Sarah Wilkerson and Clickin Moms here.

"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."  Opinions are my own.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Why Sentence Diagramming is Important

 I use Rod and Staff grammar curriculum and as a result, my students have had many years of sentence diagramming.  

Year after year, they diagrammed increasingly more difficult sentences as part of their English lessons.  Many times wondering, "What is the point of this?"

Oh, I know, many adults see sentence diagramming as useless, busy work.  But, I had my students do it, knowing it provided a skill they couldn't quite understand yet.

The light of understanding dawned on my high school junior last week.  She is taking Spanish at the community college and said to me, "I'm glad I had to diagram sentences.  It helps me understand Spanish sentence structure."

Apparently, her professor had referenced English sentence diagramming to illustrate how words work in Spanish sentences.  When she asked the class how many knew how to diagram sentences, only 2 students raised their hands- my daughter and another student (also homeschooled).

Joining the conversation, my high school senior said sentence diagramming helped him on his standardized tests (SAT and ACT).  Because he knew correct sentence structure, he could easily identify the incorrect sentences.

He went on to say, " I will use those Rod and Staff books to homeschool my kids, but I will rip out the poetry sections."

The poetry sections made no sense to him and therefore were very frustrating.  Rhythm, meter, and scansion aren't really important to me, so I'm sure I assigned the lessons and we did the best we could!

I understand why sentence diagramming is important: 

1.  It helps students understand sentence structure
2.  It helps students learn a foreign language
3.  It helps students on the SAT and ACT

Can somebody please tell me why understanding poetry structure is important for the non-poet?

Shared with Hip Homeschool Moms

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Regularly Writing Reaps Rewards

stossel in the classroom winner

One or more of the student essays you submitted to our "War on the Little Guy" Essay Contest has been chosen as a WINNER!"

When I received this email notification,  I was very excited to see how my son had placed in this contest. I clicked over to the winners page of the website as I hollered the news to Jesse in the next room!

View list of Finalist Winners.
Scan list.  His name isn't there.

View list of Semi-Finalist Winners. (what he won last year)
Scan list.  His name isn't there.  OK.  Maybe he only received Honorable Mention this time.

View list of Honorable Mention Winners.
Scan list.  His name isn't there.

Was the notification a mistake?   I decide I will look more closely later when I have time.  My son continues to browse the winner's lists.

Soon, he calls from the other room, "Mom, I figured out why I wasn't on those lists!  I won 4th place and those winners (1st - 5th) are listed on the side bar!"

What???  How exciting!  I have to see this for myself.  Yep, there it is, right there in the side bar with his name and everything.

You can read the winning essays of the top five winners, including Jesse's essay, "A Gradual and Silent Encroachment". 

It's nice to know that all the years of plodding through the tedium of learning to write correctly is paying off and he continues to improve his writing skills.

I try not to brag too much on my students, but sometimes, you just gotta give an 'attaboy'! 

 Shared at:
The Homeschool Post

Friday, April 10, 2015

From Homeschool to College, An Expert Opinion

 I recently had the opportunity to be a podcast guest with Lauren Gaggioli at Higher Scores Test Prep.
homeschooling expert
 Lauren introduced the podcast by saying this:
 Karen shares her tips on how to prepare homeschooled children for the college admission process. While Karen’s tips are great advice for the homeschooling families in our audience, she shares great tips that – frankly – all families (even traditionally schooled ones) will benefit from. 
A mother of 7, Karen has been homeschooling her children for the last 23 years. While she still has a high school senior and junior at home, her 5 oldest children are homeschooled high school graduates – 2 of which were National Merit Finalists and 3 of which were National Merit Commended. Karen has valuable knowledge and insight into what the college admissions process looks like for a homeschooled student today.
Lauren has been promoting the podcast and I found it interesting that she billed me as a 'homeschooling expert'.  I laughed at that at first because I don't really feel like an expert, but when looking at the definition of the word- 
noun: expert; plural noun: experts

a person who has a comprehensive and authoritative knowledge of or skill in a particular area.

  I realized that, yes, I guess I am a bit of an expert in this area.

 Graduating my sixth student this year, I have been involved in the homeschool college admissions process for over 10 years.

 I know what the process was 11, 9, 7, 4, and 3 years ago, but more importantly, I know what the process looks like TODAY. 

 The college and scholarship application process has changed over the years.

 Advice from someone who graduated a student even 3 years ago will not be the most up-to-date information for someone graduating a student today.

 Go listen to the podcast and let me know what you think.  Did you learn any helpful tips?


At Higher Scores Test Prep Site (full blog post):

On iTunes (iPhone/iPad):

On Stitcher Radio (Android)

While you are visiting Lauren's site, check out some of her test prep tips and see how she might be able to help your student.

Unlike other test prep places, Lauren actually takes the SAT and ACT regularly to be up-to-date with the tests and know first hand how to help students.

If you found the podcast to be helpful, please share.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Can Homeschoolers Get into College?

homeschool college decisions

Can home educated students get into college?

Yes, absolutely!

If you read my blog, you will know that my sixth homeschooled student is graduating this year and headed to college, like his siblings before him.

The homeschooling movement is growing, so you probably personally know a homeschooled student who has gone to college, too.

In February, I up-dated you on my son's application process.   Most decision letters were sent by the middle of March and Financial Aid packages are trickling in.

People, by nature, are curious, so I'm sure everyone is waiting for this up-date on Jesse's decision letters and financial awards!

1.  In state private school (first choice)
          Received scholarships from the University, the school  of engineering, and the music department totalling $39,000/year.  Other awards and grants total $8,000/yr

2.  Public in-state branch of a large University (2nd choice)
          Received scholarships from the school totaling $8000/yr.  We have not received the complete financial aid package from this school.

3.  Large in state University (3rd) choice
          Received $2000/year from the music department.  We have not received the complete financial aid package from this school.

4.  In state private school (not considering)
            The music department accepted him after his audition.   Four weeks ago the university sent him a 'we had so many qualified applicants, but we didn't accept you' letter.  No problem, we had already crossed this school off the list (see the reason here)  BUT, last week he received a fancy acceptance letter with a $38,000 (total) scholarship offer.   As my 16 year old said, "If they can't get their act together why would you want to go there?"

5.  Out-of-state private university (so very far away)
             He did not get accepted to this school.  He may have applied on a whim, but I am totally okay with this school not being an option.  

He has not made his final decision, but is leaning toward his first choice school.  Finances do play a big role in the decision.  Knowing that the Expected Family Contribution (based on FAFSA) will be the same at every school, it is likely that his first and second choice schools will require the same amount of money out of pocket.

Even though his first choice school costs more, it is also more generous with scholarships and grants.  

All the scholarships do require that he maintain a certain GPA to retain the scholarship, but he should be able to do that.

Can homeschoolers get into college?
Without a doubt, many homeschool high school seniors are in the same decision making process as my son - deciding which school to attend and which scholarships they will accept.

The question shouldn't be "can they get in?"  The question should be- 

What college will homeschoolers choose? 

Shared at Finishing Strong

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Landry Academy Review and a Giveaway

Chemistry is not my favorite subject.

I did not have a good introduction to it in high school and avoided it as much as possible in college.

How is it then, that I have gotten to my seventh (and final round) of high school Chemistry in my homeschool without actually teaching it?

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The World Needs More Love Letters Review

The world needs more love letters.

I don't think anyone would argue with that statement.

So, why doesn't the world write more love letters?
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