Sunday, October 27, 2013

SAT Prep Resources

 Most colleges now accept the SAT or ACT test for admission.  College consultants usually recommend that students take both the SAT and ACT to see if they do better on one or the other.  Then, if they want to improve their score, the recommendation is to take the test that they did better on initially.  

Do students need to take a prep course before taking the test or before taking it a second time?  That probably depends on the student.  Some students will study well on their own.  Others do better with tips they learn from a class and completing homework assignments.  Some, may do best with one-on-one tutoring.  

My son took a class and did some private tutoring.  I didn't have experience with kids taking SAT tests and I was on my own figuring out how to help him prepare for the test.  For those of you in that situation, I'd like to share some resources for SAT test prep that I found.  Some of then also help with ACT prep but this list focuses on the SAT test.
 
When we lived in the States my son could attend a local test prep class.  But, once we moved to Germany that wasn't available so I looked for resources that we could use here.  So, whether you live in the US or another country there are SAT test prep resources available.  

 





SAT Test Prep Resources: This list generally goes from least expensive to most expensive.
 
The College Board's Official SAT Study Guide
A book with DVD.

Student works on his own or he can work with a group of friends/students.
$31.99
 Or, students can sign up on the College Board Website for the Official SAT question of the day.
Online course is $69.95.
  
 "Google" test prep courses in your local area

You can do an online search for local SAT test prep courses and find a course that fits your time frame and budget.
 You can also find tutoring companies in big cities such as Sylvan Learning Centers.

 Brave Writer
Four week SAT/ACT essay class online.  
$229


Write at Home
Two week crash course for SAT/ACT essay.
$99 

CollegePrepGenius   
Twelve lesson DVD course
$99
or
Local Two Day Class
$149 (early-bird), $199

 ePrep
On demand videos and interactive lessons
Starting at $99.
You can get discount codes.  Contact Katherine O'Brien about getting a discount at Celtic College Consultants


Princeton Review 
Many choices from in-person to online test prep.
Prices vary depending on which method and course you choose.

 SAT Success Secrets
Private individual tutoring company.
Can do sessions via Skype.
Choose single lessons or a twelve or sixteen lesson package.
Each lesson is two hours.
Contact Jeff Bergman for prices. 

Nurturing Wisdom 
Test prep and tutoring
They can sessions via Skype.
Contact them for prices.

Many students prepare for the SAT test on their own.  Some have their parents help them.  I'm sure some don't do any preparation! 


What do your students to do prepare?  
Has the test preparation improved their score?





Sunday, October 20, 2013

Homeschool Graduation Ceremony

I blinked.  Then, I realized that my oldest will graduate in the spring.  Spring.  I don't know the specific date yet, but it will probably be at the beginning of June when the local military public school graduates.

Until last year I never thought much about a graduation ceremony for my kids.  One of the thoughts I did have was, "Maybe they would have a party for me as a thank-you for teaching them."  Okay, so that was a fleeting prideful thought- just being honest here.

Then I thought, I'm kinda burnt out.  I'm not going to "do" a graduation ceremony.  We'll just finish school and get ready to send my son to college...kinda act like it's no big deal

Two things made me realize that it IS  a big deal.




1.    Modern Day Knight
We've been doing the Modern Day Knight (MDK) program with our two oldest boys and plan to continue it with our two youngest sons.  The program helps parents to "courageously lead your son into a biblical masculinity that will impact others."  It's helped us intentionally train our boys to become Godly men.  It's a process.  A journey.  A long one.  One suggestion the MDK program has is to celebrate your sons' milestones throughout their life.

We started with a ceremony when they turned 13. That was awhile ago!  I realized we need to celebrate their graduation milestone and commission them...to bless them as they prepare to leave the house. 

So our family will celebrate our children's homeschool high school graduation.


2.  It's a Spiritual Journey.

The second impetus prodding me to have a graduation ceremony is that someone mentioned that our schooling is a spiritual journey more than an academic one.  I knew that, but somehow I forgot.  I've been intent on having my son apply to college this fall.  My main job has been attempting to perfect his transcript- ha.  As a homeschooler, his transcript will look "different."   Hopefully, that "different" will translate to "wow- we want him!" in college admission offices.

So, while my focus recently has been on academics, thankfully a fellow homeschool mom reminded me that homeschooling is also a spiritual journey.  It's NOT about academics.  Really.  It's about what God has been doing in the life of our family and in the life of my son.  God is good and He is doing good things for His glory.  We are going to celebrate that. 


 What will we do?
You might be wondering what I'm going to do for our homeschool gradation ceremonys.  I'm sure that will differ for each child.  We could be living in a different place for each child's graduation.  

Here are some ideas for our first graduation ceremony in the spring:

1.  Invite friends over to our house for dessert and a celebration.

2.  Or, rent a facility and have a ceremony there.

3.  Have my son wear a cap and gown, let him make a speech and present a diploma during the celebration.

4.  "Roast" our son.

5.  Have my son make a speech- if he chooses.

6.  Tell the story of what I see our son's life can be, of how I see him carrying out God's will for him in his life.

7.  Present him with a life verse.  I think I found one!

8.  Give him keys to his brand new Porche.  (Just kidding about that last one!)


While I don't expect our celebration to be extravagant, we will celebrate the young man he has become and bless him as prepares to move to a different continent (we're in Germany and he'll move to the US) for college.  




What are your homeschool high school graduation traditions and plans?



Saturday, October 12, 2013

Sources to help you teach writing.




Are you looking for some help with teaching your kids writing at home? I can relate.  Although I like writing, I'm not always sure of the best way to teach it.  

There are numerous companies available to homeschoolers offering anything from grading papers, editing papers, coaching your child for a specific project or teaching your child writing for the whole year. 

The courses can either be synchronous (the students must log online at a certain time for their course work), or asynchronous (the students do not have a specific time to be online and can access the class/work anytime).  

 
TEN SOURCES TO HELP YOUR CHILD LEARN TO WRITE



1.  WriteGuide.com 
They provide asynchronous individualized online writing courses for students in grades 4-12.  The courses range from one month long and continue up to an entire school year.  You can tell them what you want the student to work on or their writing coach can determine what the student will work on.  Students work at their own pace.  This company also has a 12 week grammar course for students age 12 and up that covers all the basics of grammar.  They will help students perfect their SAT/ACT essays and college application essays.  My son just started using this company and so far the coach has given him wonderful guidance on his project.


2.  Institute for Excellence in Writing
Intitute for Excellence in Writing offers classes for all grades on DVD, so you can have Andrew Pudewa teach your kids as you learn with them.  They also have a link on their website where you can find tutors who will grade papers for people using the IEW curriculum. 

3.   Tapestry of Grace
Tapestry of Grace offers numerous online classes that correspond to their curriculum for grade 6 and up.  These classes are synchonous.  The classes are small so that the teachers and students can have meaningful discussions and interaction.  Register early;  the classes fill up quickly.
 4.   Landry Academy
I am always amazed at the number and variety of courses Landry Academy offers.  Their classes are synchronous one and half hour online classes that meet once a week.  The company is professional and accommodating.  Teachers work diligently with students.  
5.  Memoria Press
Memoria Press offers synchronous online courses for grades 4-12.  The courses generally meet once a week for about an hour and a half. 
 6.  Tutor.com for military families   or Tutor.com   
If you are a military family and need help with school work this is a great free resource.  My son used it for some help with calculus and the tutor was knowledgeable and an adept tutor.  Non-military families need to pay for the service. You sign on when you need help.  Tutors are available 24/7.

 7.   Brave Writer
 Asynchronous 4-6 week online classes and home study courses for grammar school to college.  They offer a great variety of courses.
 8.  WriteAtHome
This source offers asynchronous year-long middle school and high school writing courses and SAT essay courses and they also offer workshops.  Another great resource they provide is a pay per paper service which is great when you need short term help or just help with grading and not with teaching.
 9.  Dual Credit Courses at Regent University  
Regent University and other universities such as Liberty University and Patrick Henry College offer dual credit English composition courses.  Your high school student can take college level writing courses in high school through countless colleges and universities either online or on-campus and earn both high school and college credit.
 
10. Education Portal- FREE courses 

While I  was writing this post I found this resource.   They offer a college composition course.  They are fans of Khan Academy and have some similarities.  One difference from Khan is that they "offer a clear path to college credit"   so students in their courses can take the CLEP after completing the course.  (education-portal.com)   Review of Education-Portal

I've used the services of number 1-6 for my kids and highly recommend them.  Number 7-9 are well known and respected, but I haven't used them.  Number 10 has 73 video lessons on college composition. 

Have you wanted someone to help you teach writing or just grade papers?



Friday, October 4, 2013

Real Refreshment Retreat in Europe

Tonight was the first night of a two day Real Refreshment Retreat.  Rachel Carmen started these retreats for homeschool moms after she and her husband bought Apologia a few years ago.

I met Rachel last year year at the first 2:1 Conference, which is a conference for homeschool bloggers.  Rachel is real, encouraging, Godly and a fellow Texan!  She tells it like it is which is my favorite type of person.  So, when I found out that she was coming to Germany to speak at a conference, I immediately bought my ticket.

Buying the ticket is the easy part.  Actually getting out the door is not quite so easy.  Before I left I had to:
1.  teach school (it was a "half-day" today!)
2. buy groceries so the fam wouldn't starve while I was gone for 24-whole hours
3. get everything together for my oldest's SAT test tomorrow (print ticket, find #2 pencils, get extra batteries for his graphing calculator, etc.)
4.  pick up a car from the "car hospital"
5.  make sure dinner was covered
6.  tell my husband the schedule for the next 24 hours and get his concurrence that he would get the kids where they needed to be...football game, SAT test, Cross Country Meet, Homecoming dance, etc.

When I arrived at the conference, I hugged Rachel and sincerely thanked her for coming.

You see, my oldest is pretty much done with being at home, with being homeschooled, with being "confined" to living with his family.  He's ready to go.

My dear friend Connie from The Daisyhead Blog keeps reminding me that this is normal for teens.  She says to keep on keeping on.  To have faith.  Give him independence.

I just want to give up-  and my son would like me to give up too!

But tonight, Rachel confirmed what Connie has been saying.  She said that, "When you step out in faith, that's when God shows up."  America has two idols.  They are, "1) quick and 2) easy."  But, we are called to have be diligent.  To stay the course.  To embrace what we were called to do.  Be counter-cultural.  Raise world changers.  And here's the clincher...she said that homeschooling is hard...it's painful because God is using it to strip us away and interject His Son. It's not about us.  It's about becoming more like Him.

My son is taking the SAT test again tomorrow to try to improve his score. 

In her speech tonight, Rachel said what I needed to hear again.  "It's about raising a generation of world-changers, not about acing the SAT."

That's right. 

Here's a copy of the message I wrote to my son tonight as a result of hearing Rachel:


 I've been praying for you to do well on your SAT test tomorrow. The truth is, you've already done well when you took it before. The colleges that we visited said that you would be admitted based on your current scores, your transcript and your amazing accomplishments. I will still pray that you do well on the test tomorrow, but doing well on your SAT is not what's really important. What's really important is that you use the gifts, skills and abilities that God gave you to do His will...to become a world changer. What I've always seen in you is strong leadership. People follow you. You lead well. My prayer is that you will continuously strive to hear God and do what He wants you to do. Our country needs you. Our world needs you. God is with you. In the past 14 years that I've been homeschooling you, I've never lost faith that- no matter how poorly I do- as long as I am faithful in my calling to homeschool, God's plan will be carried out in your life. It has been wonderful to see you working so hard preparing for this test tomorrow. That diligence and determination will carry over in the rest of your life and you will be able to do great things for God's glory. I love you and I am thankful for the courageous, diligent, Godly young man that you have become. Love, Mom

Now, instead of rejoicing at being finished homeschooling my oldest at the end of the school year, I will rejoice in the young man he has become and I will send him off with praises and a blessing.

How do you send your kids off when they graduate?  

What are life verses that you have given to your kids?





Click on link above to learn more about homeschooling high school.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

My GPS Bag. Worth Every Penny.

I use my GPS...a lot. 

Even when I'm not traveling on vacation, I use it to get around whatever town, state or country I live in even if I've lived there for a year or more.  I rely on it.  Hopefully I don't rely on it to the extent of that older woman from somewhere in or near France, who a few years ago, relied on it so much that she followed it about 700+ kilometers out of the way.  When she started seeing signs in Eastern European languages for a trip that should have taken about two hours, she knew something was wrong.  Ya think?! 

Now that we just moved back to Germany I'm using my GPS frequently.  We don't have one installed in our van so we have a portable one named Michelle. 


Meet Michelle.


My need for organization and pragmatism mandated a bag to put my GPS in when I'm going to and from the car, and for storage at home since I don't normally leave the device in the car once I get home. 

Before we left the US, I stopped in a TJ Maxx store and store and saw a cute-small-thermal-tote for $3 so I grabbed it without knowing what I would use it for. 


It says, "Paris," has the Eiffel Tower on it...and pink heels.

I already had a bag for our family's passports.



We have a lot of passports:  we each have an official military passport, provided by the Army, and a tourist passport.



One day as I was running our of our temporary home (the Army hotel), I grabbed my new bag and put the GPS in so I wouldn't drop it!  Perfect.  The thermal part makes it more protective then ordinary totes.  The size is great.  It has just enough room for the GPS and a few other small articles, but not enough that I'm going to toss large, heavy items in there that might damage it.



I added a local map and some medicine. 

My husband grabbed it one day when we were going house-hunting.  As he strode through the hotel lobby, the friendly woman-behind-the-desk smiled and said, "Nice bag."  Men who have been married long enough usually take comments about pretty bags they carry in stride. 

 
If you use a portable GPS where do you store it? 
 
Do you look at a map before you travel or keep a map in your car in case you want to double-check the GPS route?
 
If you named your GPS what is it's name and why did you chose that name?