Monday, November 21, 2011

Time4Writing Review

Our two-week trial has sadly come to an end. It's time to share our thoughts about this program. Note: My son (age 8) was signed up for the "elementary paragraphs" course. 

-The course lessons could be completed at his pace. This is a huge bonus for my competitively-spirited ds. He loves working toward a laid-out goal of this type. The complete course was an 8-week course. During our 2 weeks he was able to finish 3/8 of the lessons. 
-The program lessons for this introduction to writing paragraphs were put together very well sequentially. The lesson was usually introduced by a video in which a teacher would tell what the new concept was. It was followed by some computer-graded lessons which would test whether the student understood the concept. There would then be a writing assignment that was turned in to an actual teacher. Within 24 hours the teacher would respond with comments and a grade.
-The teacher was great. Her feedback was given in a very positive manner and he took each suggestion very well (much better than he does from me).  :)
-Before beginning the program I wondered what the grading criteria would be. For this course a certain number of points were taken off for spelling and grammatical errors. This was clearly stated at the beginning which was very helpful. 

-Ds worked just about every weekday on a lesson during the first week. The second week was much busier around here for us and unfortunately he didn't get much of a chance to log in for the second week. That was certainly a missed opportunity since he really enjoyed the program. I suppose if I had purchased the 8-week course and then had some unexpected things had come up (preventing us from logging in as much as we'd like) I might feel as if I wasn't "getting my money's worth".  
-Since ds successfully completed his teacher-graded writing assignments, I can't say what would happen if a student didn't. For example, for an assignment to "write three supporting sentences for each topic sentence below" what would happen if a couple of the supporting sentences didn't really have a lot to do with the topic sentence? Would the student be asked to re-do the assignment or would points be taken off?
-This was my first experience using an online course with an actual teacher. I don't know what the average price is for such courses so I can't compare it numerically with anything. I can say that I would have a difficult time paying quite this much for an 8-week course for my third-grader. I might be willing to do so for a more advanced student, however, if I felt that he or she could really benefit from the expertise (think high school transcripts). I also wonder what would have happened if I purchased the 8-week course and he finished in 4 weeks. Have I purchased the course or have I purchased 8-weeks?

I would sincerely like to thank for this amazing opportunity to try their Elementary Paragraphs Course.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Celebrating 11-11-11: Just For Fun

Just for fun, the kids didn't get started with any schoolwork until 11:00.

Also, we're doing "eleven" activities both today (11-11) and tomorrow. We just had too many ideas that the kids wanted to do. So we'll celebrate both days.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Celebrating 11-11-11: Compiled List

As promised, here's our starter list of things to do with "elevens".

Ds8 decided that we could do 11 minutes of each subject. He also thought we could get 11 minutes of something extra-special. Maybe it could be electronic time, reading time at night, etc.

Other ideas:

-Can you use 11 coins to pay for these items in our pretend store?
-List 11 or more ways to make $11.11.
-Practice these 11 addition (or subtraction, multiplication, division) facts.
-How much money is in 11 pennies? What about 11 nickels, 11 dimes, 11 quarters, 11 half dollars, 11 ten-dollar bills, or 11 hundred-dollar bills?
-How many minutes are in 11 hours? How many seconds?

-Practice writing (print/cursive) these 11 letters.
-Use these 11 letters to come up with at least 11 different words. Use them to practice handwriting.

-In your journal, write about what you will be able to do when you're 11 that you can't do now. What won't you be able to do anymore that you can do now?
-Write a paragraph (topic, details, concluding sentences) about why I should give you 11 (fill in the blank).

-Use 11 spelling words this week.

-Put these 11 words into a vocabulary crossword puzzle using definitions as clues.
-Look up the definitions of these 11 words. 

-Find 11 nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, these sentences.
-Put these 11 words into alphabetical order.
-Make complete sentences with 11 words.

-Locate these 11 world capitals on the wall map.
-Find out what locations are within 11 miles of your home.

-Find out who was president 11 years ago. Ask someone to tell you what they remember about that person's presidency.

-Use Finale Notepad to make an original song using these 11 notes (the notes can be repeated more than once).

-Locate these 11 books at the library using their letter/number codes.

-Do an 11 minute walk/jog.
-Do sets of 11 jumping jacks, windmills, toe touches, etc.

-Count to 11 in the language you're studying. 
-Count to 11 in 11 different languages.

-Bake 11 (pretzels...) or make pancakes with 11 chocolate chips each. How many chips will we need for 2 pancakes each and 5 people?
-Estimate and check: how many M&Ms in 11 grams?

Celebrating 11-11-11: A Book List

I thought I'd post a list of some books with "eleven" theme you may be able to get from your library:
(Please note that there are quite a number I haven't read, so I *can't* vouch for their content.)
-Eleven (Winnie Years) by Lauren Myracle 
-Eleven by Patricia Reilly Giff
-Eleven Birthdays by Wendy Mass
-Santa's Eleven Months Off by Mike Reiss and Michael Montgomery
-Eleven Lazy Llamas by Dianna Bonder
-Eleven Kids, One Summer (An Apple Paperback) by Ann M. Martin
-Eleven Nature Tales (World Storytelling from August House) by Pleasant DeSpain
-Eleven Turtle Tales (American Storytelling) by Pleasant DeSpain
-Westward Ho!: Eleven Explorers of the American West by Charlotte Foltz Jones
-Eleven Elephants Going Up! by Bethany Roberts, Patricia Hubbell and Minh Uong
-Eleven Hungry Cats by Noboru Baba

More of our "eleven" themed activities to come...

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Trying Time4Writing has given me two weeks to try one of their teacher-led, online writing courses in exchange for an honest review.  Be sure to come back and read about my experience. To find out more about Time4Writing or how to write a review, contact them for more information.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Celebrating 11-11-11

Next up this week--the kids are helping brainstorm ways to celebrate 11s for this out-of-the-ordinary day.

We'll update you when we've got our list ready!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Edible History "Report"

My kids are a little young yet to do formal history reports. Yet they are old enough to learn a lot of good information about the history we read. So how do they share that information?

Last week we learned about Martin Luther and the Reformation. I happened to find some cookie cutters at an estate sale this summer that were perfect for a tie-in: Robin Hood (probably the person sent in UPCs from Robin Hood flour years ago).

We used the Friar Tuck cookie cutter to make Martin Luther the monk as well as John Tetzel. The castle and the knight cookie cutters became Martin Luther as Knight George hiding at the Wartburg. The Maid Marion and lute-player cookie cutters became Katie and Martin the family man. To fill in some dates the kids used number cookie cutters. We used a knife to cut out a church and a paper for the 95 theses.

We took the cookies to a get-together (with good friends) and they presented the recap of Luther and the Reformation. Unfortunately I didn't get pictures *before* we started eating them. It was great oral-presentation practice. Yummy, too!