Thursday, August 21, 2014

2014-2015 Homeschool Reveal

Here we are, at the planning stage of a new school year!
Actually, my planning probably started last March, when I had tax refund money in my pocket and catalogs arriving in my mailbox.  But in another sense, I'm making very few changes this year, so there wasn't as much "plan" to it as usual.  Nevertheless, here it is:

The Sleeping Giant is the one who is this year.  I'm being cheated of my last year at home with her as well as her last year of school, because she's decided to finish early *and* she's doing half her stuff in dual enrollment.  I'm teaching her hardly anything!  :(

At the start of the year in July she had two English credits left to get, both of which will be taken at the College.  Intro to College Writing happens soon, in Summer Session 2 which starts in two weeks.  She'll take another English credit in her Spring semester at the college.
She also has two History/Social Studies credits left to get.  One of these is the combination of Economics & Government, which she'll take at our local co-op, whether she wants to or not!  I'm thankful that this teacher makes this class available, and I enjoyed the one I sat in on (I didn't help) last year, so I think that will be great.  Her books for that aren't shown in the picture, because I don't have them yet.  The second History class is going to be a Western Civ. class in the Fall semester at the college.
That takes care of the things others are teaching her and her requirements.  I was going to let her stop taking Math and Science now that she has accomplished what the State of NY requires, but she decided on her own that colleges would want more, so she's taking more.  Teaching Textbooks Math has worked really well for her and for me; I don't do anything, which is in an improvement over re-learning algebra so I could discuss it with her a 10 pm, which is when she likes to do math.  That arrangement just wasn't working for me!  This series allows her to work at her own pace and on her own, and her grades are better.  Special thanks to my friends, Katrina for allowing us to try hers and Susan, for selling me the next one in exchange for Chinese lessons.
For Science, the Giant has also decided on her own to take a shot at Physics.  We picked Lifepacs.   I have some experience with Lifepacs and I while I didn't love it, I feel like it would be ok to use for a self-motivated older student for some electives, which is what this is at this point.  I had to spend some money on materials for experiments, but I didn't mind doing that because experiments are what makes Science fun.
And finally, because she realized that colleges want 2-3 semester of language credits, and because every year we try to do Latin and don't, she's doing German by herself with Duolingo and other resources we're picking up at the library.  Her goal here is to eventually take a CLEP test.
Hannah will be continuing with Violin lessons for music credits, and needs two half credits of gym this year.  Her Hapkido commitment has always been enough for her to get the half credit each year, but since she's trying to do two years at once, she applied for some financial help to get a Y membership so she can take up Yoga or some other classes.  

Just for fun She's also doing PSAT and SAT prep books as time allows, because those tests are looming in the fall of this year.  The idea of graduating a year early and doing two years at once came upon us just this spring, otherwise we probably would have taken the PSAT last year.  Live and learn, this kid is my experimental one.

The Girls who Loves to Be Blogged has a light load this year.  Her interest in athletics (soccer and tae Kwin do- she'll be a 2nd degree black belt by spring) made it hard for her to get her classes done last year, so I made this first year of high school a no-electives year.  She will be playing soccer with a local Christian school Aug.- Oct., and the rest of the time spends 6-10 hours a week at her do-jang.  I'm all for letting them focus on things that they love, but some coursework is required and I want to see her be successful in the classes she does take.  So, her load this year is English, History, Science, Math, and Gym.  That's it.  If she's doing well, I might throw in her Health course in the second half of the year (another NYS requirement sometime in high school).

Let me just say here that when I decided to switch to Tapestry of Grace as the core of our homeschool, I envisioned having everyone do it together all the way through.  Just as it makes me sad that The Giant is doing her History and English credits at the college this year, it also makes me sad to say that Tapestry just isn't quite working out for The Girl.  Tapestry is a literature-based curriculum; the Girl is not a big reader.  More importantly, she's not an independent learner. She's a social learner.  What?  And, worse for me, she doesn't like history.  *Sigh.*  Anyway, this past year she participated in an on-line co-op via Tapestry for History, Literature and Writing.  We've been with this co-op for three years.  By the end of the year I became convinced that she wasn't learning much.  I don't mean to criticize any of the other families in our co-op; this is just a learning style issue.  If they were here live and in person, she probably would have done better, but it was just too easy for her to tune out in the on-line environment.  And so, I'm making some adjustments to my beloved Tapestry.

Speaking of Tapestry, we're coming back to Year 1 this year.  This will be my first repeat of a year.  I will have one LG student and 2 dialectics, which is also a first for me.  I'm already getting a little confused checking over my book lists because I am so used to getting ALL the books for every level, but that's all changed up this year.  The books you see are just a sampling of the ones I have purchased and currently have out from the library. As you can see, those stay the same when I switch from The Girl to The Mayor.

So, for History we are continuing with Tapestry of Grace, but I will lead the discussions at home with The Mayor.  They will both be in dialectic.  In the picture are some of the books that are part of our history studies.  The Girl will be doing her Writing/Literature at our local co-op with the same teacher that teaches The Giant's Econ & Govt class.  We had a chat and she said that I can sub in some books from Tapestry lit when the kids have a choice.  We will also start our Tapestry year about a month sooner than co-op begins, so The Girl can start and finish the year with my selections from ancient history.  I am hopeful that a live class full of her friends will be beneficial for keeping The Girl on track this year.  This is my plan for doing Tapestry but seeing her get a little more work done.  For Science, she'll be doing Apologia Physical Science at local co-op.  For Math, I've got the Saxon Algebra 1/2 book but I've also got some concerns about finding time to sit with her every day while she works through it.  If someone wants to volunteer for that job, they can have it.  This year that we've just finished was a tough one for math, and that's all I am going to say about that.
Gym class is more than satisfied by the hours she spends in soccer and tae kwon do.

The Mayor, as I already said, is moving from Upper Grammar to Dialectic this year.  He's a big reader so I'm hopeful this will not be a big deal for him.  We'll have weekly History discussions with The Girl. He's also doing the on-line co-op for Literature at the Dialectic level.  To round out his English class, we will be using Rod & Staff English 6, and we'll use that for Writing as well.  I have been skipping the Writing portion of Rod & Staff or using it only to supplement the Writing assignments in Tapestry, but he finds Writing such a struggle that I am just going to stick with Rod & Staff Writing this year.  Even if he just has the impression that it's easier, because I am not sure that it is, it might help his attitude.  The final piece of his Language Arts pie is Spelling Power.  Tapestry also includes a Church History component that he will do, but I'm also teaching a church history class in local co-op that he wants to participate in.
For Math, he'll be in Saxon 8/7 (we use older versions, I believe Math is Math and I'm too cheap to worry about the newest edition).  What else?  For Science he will be doing the new Apologia Chemistry and Physics for Elementary ages.  This will likely be his last year in the Elementary series and he has done all of the Apologia series except Land Animals.  He'll be doing General Science next year.  Finally, The Mayor will continue Chinese Studies with the Go! Series 200 book.  I teach that, and this year we had another student come study with us, but that student is going to a private Christian School this year and won't have time for this.

The Little Princess is getting serious in her studies now that she's in second grade.  We are about 1/3 of the way through the Saxon 2 Math book.  She finished Explode the Code 4 this year and is a pretty stellar reader at this point, so I don't plan to continue with Phonics.  She's also about halfway or more through Rod and Staff Spelling 2, so once she finishes that we will move to Spelling Power.  She's very excited to be in the Rod & Staff 2nd grade English book this year.  (As an aside, I think starting from the beginning is the only way to do Rod & Staff- it's a pretty intense series, although I will admit we skip some of the lessons that seem to be geared toward addressing redneck grammar issues like double negatives, etc.  You could possibly start it in 5th grade, but no later than that if you want to use the upper level books.  Some people I know also recommend doing half a book per year after 5th grade.)  She definitely needs to do more writing this year, and I also got her a handwriting book.  In addition she will participate a bit more with Tapestry this year, completing maps and reading in her Bible.  I think I will be using Story of the World, which is an Upper Grammar alternate resource, with her for much of it because my library system is short on ancient history resources for her level.  For Science, The Little Princess will use Apologia Botany, which dovetails nicely with Tapestry Year One, as well as taking part in a Science class at local co-op.  That reminds me, she's also participating in a US Geography class, a missionary heroes class and God's World News class at co-op.

Finally, just for balance I am including a picture of all the teacher's aids and guides that I will have on my desk.
It's missing the math guide for The Mayor because we're still using it for The Girl, and after I took the picture I turned around and saw it on the hutch.  Perfectionist, I ain't.
The purple binder is where I store about three weeks at a time of Tapestry notes that I'm using for planning and discussions. It goes back and forth to the library with me because it has the book lists in it.
For my next post, I might show you my color-coding madness.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Summer Opportunity Overseas

We recently got a request for Todd to come along for a tour or two in Turkey this summer.  He is beyond excited to be able to accommodate this request at least once.  The official dates are a little “soft” at this time but it will be about June 23rd– July 9th.  The tour begins in Diyarbakir in the south near the Syrian border.  Todd has been there once before.  The artists for the tour are a hip-hop/rap group CTZN .  Yes, they will share the gospel with rap music.
A skilled soundman is a great thing to have for a hip-hop tour,  as it’s a genre with specific needs.  But there’s a second important role Todd will play this time, as well.  They like to have him drive the tour/equipment busses, and this year that ability is especially needed.  One of our other team members is temporarily without the commercial driver’s license required to drive the van and his licensing test has been delayed.  Since Todd’s been driving a school bus this year, his New York State CDL allows him to drive that van while in Turkey. 
A second tour is available to him in August.  This is with NLM, No Longer Music, a rock drama group that has been going on these tours for years.  He would run technology and help drive for that tour as well.  Whether he goes on that trip depends on whether he can get the needed time off from his summer job, and whether we can get the necessary financial support.  If you’d like to help, please let us know.  We’d also like to hear from you if you would consider going along as an artist or crew member.
These tours are often nebulous things.  Dates change and weather, politics and  public opinion change rapidly.  The team will need to be flexible and ready at all times.  A list of prayer requests can be found on the left.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Perspectives Class

In my last post (we won't talk about how long ago that was), I mentioned that I was working towards coordinating the Perspectives class.  Things are moving along for the class to happen in the Fall semester, so I thought it would be good to tell a little more about it.

Just a few years ago when we were chatting with some leaders at our missions sending agency, we talked about our feeling that the Christians of our part of NY misunderstand mission work somewhat.  They are somewhat more supportive of what we call need-based ministry- work that cares for felt needs of people who are poor, oppressed, hungry, handicapped, etc.  We felt some resistance to the nature of our music ministry, which focuses more on sharing the truth of the gospel with those who are spiritually poor, oppressed, hungry and yes, even handicapped.  In addition many will argue that the need is so great here at home, we hadn't ought to go overseas to do ministry at all.  Our leadership suggested that we try to get the Perspectives class to come to the area, because it could address some of those concerns and help to broaden the understanding of kingdom work.

At that time, I looked into bringing the course to the area but it seemed like too long and intimidating a process.  For one thing, neither of us had taken the course, although we were familiar with the core teachings.  To coordinate one has to first take the course at Certificate level, which costs some money and takes 4 months.  So that idea was scrapped and we tried to start a Bible study which taught some of those principles through other means.  That was not well attended, and let's face it, Todd and I are not gifted Bible study leaders.  That's why we were trying to go to the mission field in support roles!  But I digress.

A couple of years later, I suggested to the pastor at our new church that we ought to see the course run here.  He agreed and asked if I would do it, but I said I couldn't because the process was too long, and we were hoping to leave for the field.  When that didn't happen, I volunteered myself and the church supported me to go down to Lancaster, PA (that was a long drive all by myself!) and train to be a coordinator.

The job turned out to be a bigger one than I had realized.  My original start date as I mentioned in the last blog was January, but it quickly became clear that we could never do the work required in such a short time period, and at Christmastime.  Undaunted, I have pushed forward, formed a committee, and am about to submit our plans for a fall course.  That's where you come in.

This class is for everyone who loves God.  Although it started as a way to prepare young professionals for the mission field, it's purpose has expanded.  It will train you to be a better pray-er, welcomer, sender and mobilizer.  It is for pastors and people training for ministry, and they can earn M.Div credit for it.  It's for missions committee members, for parents & friends of missionaries, people who have friends or neighbors from other countries, for people who think God is worthy of's for you.

I don't consider myself a leader.  I've taken gifts inventories- as much as I'd like that gift to show up, it doesn't.  This shows in choices I've made- I don't volunteer myself for leadership, but for service.  For this class though, I am serving by leading.  I got the training, and I have spent the last 10 months, working to build up a support base and a committee.  I'm leading meetings.  I am approaching all sorts of people.  I even went to Potsdam with my friend Kelly last fall and taught one of the sessions for their Perspectives class!  I'm excited that I have formed a great committee and am starting to see some energy around the idea of the class.

I still need help, though.  One position we have not yet filled is that of Prayer Coordinator. Perspectives is a spiritual exercise, and it challenges students to make life change based on what they are learning.  We need it covered in effective prayer.  It would be best if we had someone dedicated to presenting the class for this.  And of course, you can pray for us.
Next, we need students!  Please help me promote the class.  If a member of my recruiting group can come and speak to your Bible Study, adult Sunday School class, missions committee, quarterly meeting, etc., we would love to!  We have a great line-up of instructors for you from all walks of life.  We need to fill the room (it seats 40) to keep our costs for the class reasonable.
Finally, if you can't commit to take the class this time, consider donating to make it possible for someone else.  I have already had young people tell me that they'd like to take the course, but don't think they will be able to afford it (it's a steal at $275 when most college credit courses are $500).  We're not set up for donations yet, but if you let me know I will get you that information when it becomes available, or you can just let someone know you'd like to help them privately.

Please take 2 minutes (you've made it this far) to watch this video and understand more about the course.