Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Audio Glog - Dolch Sight words

Latest Glog.  This one has audio for first grade spelling words.  I used a free text to speech program online to generate the audio files.  The ones on ScootPad allowed download, but for personal use only and not to share.  I didn't want to break their usage licensing.  I could have recorded these myself, but likely, my kid would talk in the background.  Perhaps, as a fun project, I can have him record all the words and spell them out loud.  He loves to record his own voice.  And I can edit the audio files later on.

The words are chosen from the first 4 word lists on ScootPad's Spelling section.  I'm going to use it as an end of the week word review.  To further the exercise, I may have him write a sentence using the words.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Scootpad Fundraiser

I've been adding in more assignments today and fully setting up my Scootpad profile.  So far, I really like this site.  Very clean management and it has core aligned assessments and assignments included.  I'm going to start a fundraiser so we can have the Premium plan all year long.  You start with a trial, which mine ends the second week of school.  The Basic does not include spelling, etc.  But it is a good start for Homeschool plans.  Otherwise, you can go through your school and they can set up a free administrator account.  I set up Three Creeks as my school, as that would be the school Chase would attend if he weren't homeschooling this year.

I was not referred to the site, but one way that you can earn Premium time ($4.99/month) is via referrals.  So, if you already are on Scootpad, I can list you as my referral to help you earn time.  This is a one time offer, since I can only be referred by one person.  If no one requests me, then I'll just make it one of the teachers from my district at random.  Here is my URL if you would like to add me as your referrer: MsGillianIvy.

Okay, so about the fundraiser.  I'll be holding fundraisers throughout the year to help negate costs for homeschool.  I'll be offering things like my artwork, crafts, and maybe mailable baked goods.  I found an awesome cookie that tastes like a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup!  For this fundraiser, I will be offering prints of my artwork 8x10 "Das Faerie Gotik" on donations of $10+.  If donations are higher, then I may add extras into your shipment.  Do not overpay on this fundraiser.  The funds only can be used on this site.  I do not know if funds are transferable to other accounts, etc.  If the goal is reached and you would still like to support us, please check my Etsy store, Miscellaneous Juxtapositions,  for other artworks on sale.

Ms. Gillian Ivy Homeschool Fundraiser

Friday, July 26, 2013

Sokikom Invitation

Gillian invites you to Sokikom for class management.
Join Sokikom for Class Management and Math games
We'll be using Sokikom to encourage good class behaviors with their avatar cash reward system.  Kids can earn rewards via games and being rewarded for good behavior.  I'm inviting friends' and family's kids to join Chase's class to play the games with him.  I will reward them an equal amount of behavior cash each week so they can customize their avatars as well.  If you are interested in having your child join his class, message me privately for an add.

I will need:
  • Your e-mail: yourname@provider.com
  • Child's name: First Last
  • Login: Nickname
  • Password: *****

Only I will see this information, it should be easy for the child to remember.  I'm only accepting friends and family to participate.  I would like to get to know other homeschooling families in his age group for him to socialize with.  Please feel free to comment and become friends ;D

If you are interested in signing up your own class as either a homeschooler or elementary teacher, it's free and comes with a 2 month trial to the Math Games section.  They have a referral program to extend the trial by a month for each sign up.  Mine ends in September, so please, if you sign up, help me out by extending my time!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Start of Year Welcome

I made a Welcome poster in Glogster, it's set to private, so you'll only see the preview here and the links don't work.  Besides, their embed is kind of a big file.  It's an interactive newsletter welcoming him to the class and getting him familiar with the digital tools we will be using.  There's a wonderful repository of classroom apps (we don't have an iPad or a whiteboard) in the Google Chrome Store.  We'll be using some class management ones for rewards and behaviour incentives.  Because nothing else works for very long!

I spent hours picking apps.  I'd find multiple versions and try them to see what fit our needs.  I've divided my Google home page into 3 app pages, first page is my regular Drive/mail/games/etc.  Second page has the apps that I will be using as a teacher with him.  And the third page are the ones I installed on his.  For this, it requires that the students would have  a Google Chrome account.  Chase has one, but he does not know the password for it, I manage it for him.  But most of these apps are links to sites where the child can sign up from any browser.  Some have parent sign ups as well.  The teacher can send out behavioral reports without needing to exchange numbers and e-mails with all the parents.

Most of these apps are free.  I didn't really check into the pay ones.  Mathboard Addition is a great practice, the full version has full equations.  You set how many questions and the parameters.  They can save the quizzes.  This app requires A Google mail account, so maybe teachers would prefer to set up a 'class account' where they log in and let students take turns using the apps.  Fraboom looks really great, but it doesn't seem to be fully released yet, there were things that said "coming soon".  Also, I hadn't set up an account.

Some of the apps Chase will be using are not on here, I didn't put them all, but I gure we will be cycling through them as we go.  So, I expect this to change a lot.

For Scoot n' Doodle, it utilizes GoogleHangouts and a whiteboard for group drawing.  The Hangouts are private, by invite only, so may be a fun way for classes to interact.  Webcams and mics are not required, there is still a type chat.  But you can also add people via phone calls, so I can call Grandma Ginny and add her to the conversation.  You can even save pictures beforehand to set up the classroom.  I did this last year for Chase's 100th day of school.  He and Grandma Ginny had a lot of fun drawing together.  I thought this would be fun for first day as well as special occasions.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Common Core

Getting ready for Homeschool, we're looking into information about Common Core State Standards and curriculum for our son.  Just a brief skim of YouTube videos shows me people are very passionate against or for CCSS.  Personally, I am not seeing a problem with having a National set of standards across the board.  Yes, there are some very valid points about laws being snuck under the rug when no one is looking (isn't this the Congressional process?).  And companies for profit are backing the Standards with big bucks to dip into the honey pot.  (Bill Gates/Microsoft, in particular)  Schools become required to have computer technology and shell out $$ for programs, hardware, upgrades, etc.  A generation of children trained to use and want electronic gadgets for everything = $$.  But, on the plus side, and this is a big plus side, the funding is going towards children using technology and understanding it.  The technology enhances their education outside of their classroom and to the global knowledge database which is our glorious (and not so glorious) internet.

No, I don't like how the government implements these laws.   I don't really understand how things are just sneaked in since it is their job to be reading and listening and paying attention to every one of these laws as they come across their desks.  If Congress isn't paying attention, to either the law drafts or to their public they represent, then what the hell are they doing? $$$  I know, they do as they're told and get paid.

A bit of background where I'm coming from.  I went to five high schools in three states over a four year period and missed about a month's worth of school between each.  I am a high school drop out.  Every school I went to taught different subjects in different orders.  Some required things that others didn't.  I tried make-up classes and going to a career center (which only made my credits worse).  Each high school had a different number of credits required for me to graduate.  In SC, I was short about 3-4 credits, I think.  Where as MD only required 18 and I would have graduated.  But my final school, I didn't have enough.

I learned different subjects, partially.  Leaving mid-semesters would ensure I got zero credit for half a year of school.  And it was before schools had fax machines, so it would take 6 months to transfer my credits.  By then, I had passed the second half, only to learn I needed to retake the first half the next year. Disenheartening.  Besides the fact that I was homeless for half my Senior year, I had to make up entire classes in order to graduate with my class.

Had there been standards then, in 1997 when I should have graduated, my life may have taken a completely different course.  A High School Diploma is a big deal.  I have had to work harder at jobs to prove my worth because I didn't have that certificate that said it.  But most places wouldn't even have hired me.  And it is not that I am uneducated.  I have an interest in my own hands on learning.  I have taught myself several things.

I know I'm an oddball to have gone to so many schools in so little time.  People would automatically ask if we had a military family.  No, we were just poor and couldn't afford to keep our homes so had to move on.  Circumstance and opportunity too us up and down the East Coast several times.  I learned how to efficiently pack a moving van.  It was like playing Tetris.  But in this huge country, I know I am not alone in this nomadic in and out of the school system.  Now there are standards, so a kid who moved from WV to CA would be getting the exact same level of education as their peers.  Hopefully, they would be placed and transition into their new school without huge gaps in their education.

So, as bad as corporations may be, I do not see ill in standardizing.  I have heard horrible things about the No Child Left Behind, which, as I understand it teaches children how to pass a test, not how to study and learn things.  I definitely think there is an epidemic of dumbing down for younger generations.  They aren't even taught to be fully literate.  Did you know that cursive is not taught at all any more.  I learned cursive in Third grade.  Yes, it is important.  It is about the ability to read it, regardless whether or not it will be frequently used.  I am teaching my son cursive, I do not want him to grow up thinking 'Handwriting' is a font style.

I am glad there is a standard as a guideline for me to follow.  As Indiana does not have requirements for a curriculum that even follows the school.  And we cannot afford a curriculum kit or program which has all his assignments boxed, scheduled and graded.  So I need a baseline so that I know I am teaching him what he needs to know.  Of course, I am still wary about how to deal it out and how much work I give him versus other classroom activities.  I know they change things up a bit.  Which is why I hit Google Apps hard to scour some great 1st grade apps he showed interest in.

I let him pick a few of the subjects.  He chose Japanese Kanjis and Game Design and Coding.  He has advanced skills at computers and maybe he'll be making the apps the other kids are playing.

I'm rambling (I do that when I'm tired, along with typos, but I fix those before you can see them).  What I want to know, what are your first hand experiences with Common Core Standards?  As a Parent?  As a Teacher?  Or, as a Student...  Do you agree with Common Core or do you think there is a better way?  Homeschool frees me from the constraints of it for this year, however we intend to return Chase to Public schools and he will need to be inline with the level of education there.  His Kindergarten teacher and Principal and Guidance Counselor all said he was intelligent and above his reading level.  So I am not afraid of that too terribly.  Just that he may not be as proficient in some subjects as others.

Feel free to open a discussion about Common Core and what you think of it.  Keep in mind my rules on debates in my About section.  Basically, no griefing and no hate.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Addition Story on Glogger

Addition Stories

To use these, you sign up for GlogsterEDU as a teacher and add it to your glogs.  You would assign it to students so they can edit it and send it in.  Editing is fun.  Here, the student would edit "add" for the total and copy & paste extra birds and cats into the blank area, then edit "#" to answer the last two questions.  For tactile application, they should use counters to count out the story.  I like to use Lucky Stars as counters.  I can quickly make a dozen!

Summer Preparations

We've decided Chase isn't ready for school this year.  He still is of the attitude that he doesn't want to be there, be away from Mommy...  So we're homeschooling again.  Trying to get a head start on preparations.  Since last year, we started in the middle of the year.  After having already purchased school books and school supplies, etc.

Today I've gotten the school calendar ready so I can mirror the activities that are going on at the public schools.  Hopefully, we will have more outings, as I want to do field trips and social outings.  I've added a new page to the blog for Chase's First Grade Calendar.  I have 185 days marked, leaving 5 days for days off.  Guess we'll use those for sick days ;)  But hopefully, with little access to the germ cess pools (I mean, school) then we won't be sick so much this year.

I think I'll be giving him more real time application math assignments, like helping me halve or double recipes, figure out the grocery budget and making purchases.  He already knows to round up when he sees something marked as $9.99, it means $10.

I better check the Shelby Library's hours and activities list, since going to Lowell's Library every week may not be as easy.  The Shelby Library is small without much of a selection, but we can request books be transferred to this location.

I may be looking into used curriculum books or reduced rates, rather than attempt to purchase kits.  I've been looking over the Indiana Department of Education guidelines and suggestions.  In Indiana, we do not have a strict or suggested curriculum to go by.  I think he earns better when things are not presented as a worksheet.  Today, he curled up in the chair with me to look up what an Adam's Apple was, since he was concerned about his.  So we found several diagrams illustrating the parts of the throat and read aloud a description of the purposes and differences in genders.  As well as the two origins of the name.

He has always had an interest in anatomy, having said he wanted to be a doctor. Now, he wants to be a game designer, of course.  I may teach him some HTML and CSS.  Since those would both be very good skills to have and I am fairly knowledgeable in both.  I've found an easy to learn code site, which can take it a step at a time for young learners.  Maybe give him a step up from all the technology advanced students in school who have iPads and laptops.  Granted, he has had a computer of his own since he was 2 years old.  Well, with us on there with him.  But he has great computer skills.

Last school year, right before the end of the year, I found out about GlogsterEDU which I had already known about regular Glogster, I had an acct for fun once.  So I already had an idea of what I was doing.  So, basically, you make a worksheet or info fact sheet, or really anything you want, and give your students codes to access online and turn in their assignments online.  They edit the Glog and put in their own answers.  Or you could even just print out sheets for hand outs.  They have a lot of resources for free, so worth checking out.  I plan to buy a year so I can have the full educator account to add him in a classroom.  He enjoyed doing his assignment on the computer instead of as a worksheet.