Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz - Lesson Plans, Videos, and Books for Kids


                                      A portrait of Juana during her youth in 1666, which states she was 15 at the time

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz has been on my mind a lot lately. She was a 17th-century nun, self-taught scholar, and poet. Her passion for women's education has led to her being recognized as the first (published) feminist in the "New" World. 

In fact, Juana was a child prodigy who learned to read and write in Latin when she was three and wrote her first poem when she was eight. A voracious reader, Juana was mostly self educated as women were not allowed to attend the university. But her pursuit of knowledge and great intelligence soon earned her a reputation and the nickname "The Tenth Muse."

Juana rejected many marriage proposals and instead embraced the church, becoming a nun so that she could continue her freedom to study. Her library is thought to have been one of the largest with more than 4,000 books. And she was quite a prolific writer, but few of her writings remain. She wrote poetry in all its various forms (sonnets, ballads, odes, etc.), plays, and even villancicos (carols). 

Unfortunately, Sor Juana's outspoken nature eventually resulted in punishment by the Catholic church. She frequently challenged the church's patriarchy and the final straw was her critique of a sermon by a Jesuit preacher. It led to the confiscation of her library,  as well as her scientific and musical instruments. Sor Juana's final written words appear to have been a document of penitence which she bitterly signed "Yo, la Peor de Todas" ("I, the worst of all women").

Despite this, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz is recognized today as one of the most influential writers of her time, and is considered a national icon of Mexico. She is said to embody the bridge between the Spanish Golden Age and the Enlightenment, Spain and New Spain, and Catholic philosophy and scientific pursuits.

Equally important, Sor Juana’s outstanding poetry and other writings make her a major figure at the beginning of Mexican literature.

She really was a fascinating woman and remarkable historical figure. There's so much more I could write about her, but I'll let you or your students do some research. And the videos included below are wonderful. 

I truly wish there were more resources for children about her. I have listed a few materials below and am working on some printables for a variety of ages. I'll add them to the bottom of this post when they are complete. 

Retrato de Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (1648-1695), painted by Juan de Miranda


Lesson Plans


Books



Videos

I really enjoyed this video from TED-Ed, though I think the title is not quite accurate:


Another good one from BESE (best for older students):




Printables




Two coloring and counting activities to introduce little ones to Sor Juana. Strengthen number recognition and number order with this simple set of activities.


(4th - 8th)

This is a brief history of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, the 17th-century nun, self-taught scholar, and poet. Learn who she was and why she is significant in world history. This informational text is written for students in 4th - 8th grade. It includes an 6-question comprehension quiz plus answer key.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Online Technology Education Classes with MYTEK LAB

Online technology education classes

The following is a sponsored post in collaboration with MYTEK LAB and MommyMaestra. All opinions are my own.

Technology Education

Without a doubt, computer science is one of the classes I was dreading trying to teach my tech-savvy kid. At 14, he already can easily understand technology in a way that has taken me years (decades?) to become familiar with. So MYTEK LAB has been a fantastic addition to our homeschool curriculum.

Now that my son has started 9th grade, technology classes are on our list for the next four years. Most states don't require them for graduation (although, did you know that in Texas, computer science can also fulfill a foreign language requirement?). BUT I personally think that computer science is a must for young adults as they prepare not just for college, but for most careers. 

And my son, in particular, loves tech. In fact, it has certainly been a constant challenge to limit not just screen time but online gaming with my kid. (I think a lot of parents are finding themselves in this situation.) 

So if my kid is going to spend time online, I'd rather make it education and useful and channel his energy into learning concepts and skills that will serve him well in the future.

Quick Overview

Program: MYTEK LAB
Religious Perspective: Secular
Format: Live & Recorded
Grades: 2nd - 12th
Price: Most of the classes are $49/m (one class is $98/m)


Coding Classes


If you've never heard of MYTEK LAB, let me give you a quick summary before I share my son's experience. This online program offers families technology education classes for kids in 2nd through 12th grade. The classes are Live and recorded. They vary in complexity, depending on the age of the student. But they are all accessed through a user-friendly dashboard.

Take a look at the classes MYTEK LAB is offering.

None of the classes require additional materials; your child just needs access to a computer and internet to view the classes and complete their work (obviously).

Students and parents have access to different dashboards, so parents can monitor their child's progress.

MYTEK LAB online technology classes

What the Classes are Like


We started in the middle of a semester, and since this was our first experience, I didn't worry as much about having my son catch up so much as I just let him do the course at his own pace. He has LOVED it.

My son is still big into Minecraft. He loves building things virtually. So the class I signed him up for was TEKnology Lab level 1. The course description says that students in this class will learn "programming fundamentals, many different creative applications, web design tools as well as many general technology concepts."

This was a perfect fit. He may have learned one or two things before, but the class really took things to a new level and helped him apply the coding skills in ways that he probably hadn't thought of, but that will be super useful should his life's journey take him into a career where he'll need to build a website.

MYTEK LAB recommends that students use two screens: one to view the video lesson, and the other to do their class assignment. Most kids, I suppose, use a phone or tablet to watch the video and they do their work on their computers. My son preferred to split the screen on his desktop monitor and do the class that way.

Each class lasts approximately 50 minutes (give or take a few) and teaches a new concept by having the student complete a project on their desktop using the program's software. 

MYTEK LAB online technology classes

Since the beginning of the school year, students have created pixel projects (such as a square block image made up of pixels for game backgrounds), web development (forms, text, background colors, etc.), and 3D VR blocks (Minecrafters will LOVE these tasks).

The program also keeps track of grades for those of you who want to record them. This is especially important for high school transcripts. But for homeschoolers of kids in lower grades who don't worry about grading, it's optional. 

What my son thinks about the program


At first, my kid was complaining about taking the classes. But almost instantly, he was doing them on his own. I was so flabbergasted when the words "I want to do MYTEK," left his lips. But I was so happy that we finally hit on an online program that I haven't had to force him to complete. 

When I asked him what he likes about MYTEK LAB, he said that he enjoys creating the activities and that they are related to something with which he is familiar. But now he really wants to learn how to create his own app or video game. So maybe that will be his next class!

MYTEK LAB online technology classes

What I love about the program


I love that my kid is motivated to do it himself. It's not something I have to insist he complete. I love that he is learning skills that I know he'll need in the future, especially as I see him pursuing a career that involves technology. 

Also, my kid really, really struggles with dysgraphia. It's something we've been dealing with for a while, and programs that involve a lot of writing just aren't his thing. So I'm really happy to see him build his confidence with this program and enjoy doing it.

I also love that the classes are recorded. Of course, the benefits of a live class are that students can interact with each other and the teacher, and also so they can ask teachers questions. But don't worry, if your child is doing the recorded classes, MYTEK LAB also offers weekly live help classes that your child can use to ask questions and get help with anything they don't understand or that isn't working the way it's supposed to. 

And finally, I really like the instructors. We both do, actually. Jacky and Stephen Souders are the owners of MYTEK LAB. I believe that Stephen teaches all the classes? He does my son's class anyway, and he is such an easygoing instructor. My son really enjoys learning from him. And that is the icing on the cake for this whole program.

Register for your class!


Check out MYTEK LAB yourself to see if they are offering any courses that you think are a good fit for your kids.

And if you know this is right for your family, go and register for a class!

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MYTEK LAB online technology classes




Monday, January 25, 2021

Arturo Alfonso Schomburg Reading Passage


Portrait of Arturo A. Schomburg

Yesterday was the birthday of the remarkable historian and activist, Arturo Alfonso Schomburg. Born in Puerto Rico, he was only in the fifth grade when his teacher told him that black people had no history, nor heroes, nor any achievements. This was, perhaps, the most defining moment of his life, since he carried that memory with him and dedicated his life to researching and collecting literature, art, and artifacts related to Africans and the African diaspora. 

The self-described "Afroborinqueño" was only 17 years old when he left his beloved island and settled in New York. There he continued his education and developed his activism by advocating for Puerto Rican and Cuban independence. In 1911, he co-founded the Negro Society for Historical Research. He began writing scholarly papers about Caribbean and African-American history. In recognition of his work and efforts, he was elected president of the American Negro Academy.

But perhaps his greatest accomplishment was his personal collection mentioned above. When it grew too large for his home, the New York Public Library purchased it. At the time, the collection contained more than 10,000 documents. Schomburg continued to grow the collection as its curator. And today, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is considered the leading research center for African studies with more than 10 million items.

These are but highlights of his life. I encourage you to learn more about this historical figure. 

Arturo Schomburg 1-Page Reading Passage

Teach your children/students about this remarkable historical figure with my Arturo Schomburg 1-Page Reading Passage. They'll learn about the amazing contribution he made to our country's national library system AND nation's history. This informational text is written for students in 4th - 8th grade. It includes a 7-question comprehension quiz plus answer key.

Includes two versions: one in ENGLISH and the other in SPANISH.

Videos

For further research, I recommend these family-friendly videos that feature Schomburg...



Thursday, January 21, 2021

Online Lesson Plans for Amanda Gorman Poetry

Amanda Gorman. Image by Shawn Miller, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Yesterday, 22-year-old Amanda Gorman recited her most remarkable poem, “The Hill We Climb,” during the inauguration. 

Gorman already has a remarkable list of accomplishments to her credit, which includes being the first National Youth Poet Laureate of the United States.

But at the moment, she is best known for her poem recital yesterday. 

The Lesson Plans

If you are interested in using that moment as a teachable lesson in your home or school classroom, check out these excellent resources:


Other lesson plans about Amanda Gorman and her other poems:


Watch Gorman reciting her poem at the inauguration 



Mini Lesson on Poetry Analysis



Teach your students how to analyze poetry with this mini lesson on Poetry Analysis. Worksheets are designed for differentiated instruction. Gorman's poetry would be a perfect complement for this activity.

English only. Spanish coming soon.


Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Resources for Celebrating Winnie-the-Pooh



Are you looking for an excuse to add a little delight in your homeschool? Let’s be real, we could probably all use a little fun right now, so why not have a tea party? I’ve got the perfect excuse for you, too. January 18th was Winnie the Pooh Day! Yup. There is a legit holiday to celebrate all the “tubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff” goodness - and why shouldn’t there be?
“‘A party for Me?’ thought Pooh to himself. ‘How grand!’” - from Winnie-the-Pooh
Winnie-the-Pooh Day commemorates the birthday of A. A. Milne author of the entire collection for Pooh Bear works including Winnie-the-Pooh, A House At Pooh Corner, When We Were Young, and Now We Are Six. Milne was already an essayist, poet, and playwright before writing these celebrated works, which are based on real-life adventures with his own son and his collection of stuffed animals; however, his other works seem to be completely eclipsed by the success of Winnie-the-Pooh.

Milne, himself also had a troubled life suffering from PTSD after his service in World War I, coping with the extraordinary success of his Pooh Bear books, and their impact on his family. Read more about Milne and Christopher Robin Milne.

But before you get too bummed out over the bittersweet origin story of the Pooh Bear, let’s get back to the tea party. A few years ago, I stumbled upon the National Calendar Day website looking for fun, little known holidays to celebrate in my homeschool.

When I discovered an actual holiday dedicated to Winnie the Pooh, I immediately knew that it was meant for my family to celebrate. Some years, our celebration is simple. It’s a box of Teddy Grahams, sweet tea, watching movies, and reading our favorite chapters from the books. When you homeschool and are being pulled in a thousand different directions, there were times that this little snack was all I could do. But other years, we take it up a notch and plan all kinds of fun activities. Here is a little list of some of the fun we’ve had over the years.




Ways to Celebrate Winnie-the-Pooh


- We have done drawing tutorials like this one.

- We have made houses for Eeyore out of our Roy Toys.
“‘You have a house Piglet, and I have a house, and they are very good houses...but poor Eeyore has nothing. So what I’ve been thinking is: Let’s build him a house.’” - from The House At Pooh Corner
- Speaking of Eeyore, why not play pin the tail on Eeyore? It’s quite fun!

- We have recited and illustrated Milne’s poetry. Here are a few fun ones.

- There are a number of other Pooh Bear books that we have collected over the years and we enjoy pouring over them. My littles especially like this one with little flaps (aff link):

- We also have a collection of puzzles, toys, and these cool puppets from Melissa and Doug for playtime (aff link):

- If the weather permits, Winnie-the-Pooh Day presents the perfect opportunity to take a nature walk and maybe hunt for woozles, lead an expedition to the North Pole, or make traps for Heffalumps.
“They all went off to discover the Pole,
Owl and Piglet and Rabbit and all;
It’s a Thing you Discover, as I’ve been tole
By Owl and Piglet and Rabbit and all.” - from Winnie-the-Pooh
- This year, I have big plans to see how many blue balloons it will take to make our collection of Pooh Bear plushies float in the air aka “sneaking STEM into our tea party.”

**Feel free to make this little tea party as simple or elaborate as you’d like because the beauty of homeschooling is that any activity can be tailored to your family’s needs.

- My final suggestion is to plan a little menu with your kiddos. Mine love it when I make veggie and cracker trays for tea parties (they think it’s fancy when I’m really trying to make sure we eat the baby carrots before they go bad, LOL!).

My older set of kiddos will drink warm peppermint tea or chamomile tea but my younger set will probably have sweet tea in the nice tea cups (which are actually mugs). There is usually a baked good because a tea party begs for cake. This year my teens will be attempting this “Hunny” Cake.

It is my firm belief that Winnie-the-Pooh, The House At Pooh Corner, etc, are not children’s books, rather they are books written for the child within us all. The child who is still enchanted by fir cones and windy days and imaginary animals and who is always ready for an adventure.
“Christopher Robin was sitting outside the door putting on his Big Boots. As soon as he saw the Big Boots, Pooh knew that an Adventure was going to happen, and he brushed the honey off his nose with the back of his paw, and spruced himself up as well as he could, so as to look Ready for Anything.” - from Winnie-the-Pooh

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Extra Note:


This year, Winnie-the-Pooh Day falls on the 3rd Monday of January coinciding with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Day. MLK Day is celebrated on every 3rd Monday of January regardless of the number date on the calendar so you can rest assured that these holidays will not meet up like this again for a few years. Feel free to move your Pooh Bear celebration to another day to honor the contributions of Dr. King on Monday.


Favorite Winnie-the-Pooh Books (aff links)


Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Premiere! Vamos a jugar, Let's Go Play

The following is a sponsored post in collaboration with The Bright Siders

Today, I'm happy to share a new song from a new group called The Bright Siders!

The Bright Siders is a unique musical collaboration between Nashville-based Americana songwriter Kristin Andreassen and Brooklyn-based child psychiatrist Kari Groff, MD. Together, they create music to help children connect to their emotions. 

Ten years in the making, their carefully crafted, star-studded debut album A Mind of Your Own arrives just when the world needs it most as the importance of mental health resurfaces in the public consciousness. Releasing on January 21, 2021 via Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, the album invites listeners to think deeply about empathy and self-compassion as they navigate the beauty and complexity of their emotional lives.

With an inclusive cast of inspiring vocalists – including Ed Helms, The War & Treaty, Gaby Moreno, Punch Brothers, Joey Ryan (The Milk Carton Kids), Oh Pep!, Kaia Kater, and more – Andreassen, Dr. Groff, and their co-producer, Chris Eldridge, offer a profoundly empowering collection of songs and skits for elementary-age children and the grownups who love them. 

Vamos a Jugar/ Let's Go Play

Today, Mommy Maestra is the first to share the album's bilingual song, "Vamos a Jugar/ Let's Go Play"! It's performed by Latin Grammy-nominated artist Gaby Moreno, who is Guatamelan-American and lives in Los Angeles. Moreno performs in Spanish as a counterpoint to the English vocals of Joey Ryan, from the popular indie band Milk Carton Kids. (Incidentally, Moreno will be singing at the inauguration tomorrow!!)

Y'all, this is just the cutest song. I love it so much. Not just the cumbia beat, but the easy bilingual conversation-style of the song. You'll think you're listening to two friends at the playground. I love Joey's receptive attitude to learning new words in Spanish, and Gaby's obviously fluent responses.

The song was recorded during Andreassen's 2019 trip to Los Angeles. She was with The Punch Brothers in Los Angeles when they received their GRAMMY Award, and she met up with Moreno at a playground where they recorded “Vamos a Jugar.” The bilingual song was inspired by conversations around immigration and the experience of being a newcomer to this country. The cumbia beat reflects the experience of a Guatemalan immigrant who is the “new kid” at school. Joey Ryan (Milk Carton Kids) plays the other kid, learning Spanish names for the playground equipment.

Be one of the first to listen to the new song here:

Monday, January 18, 2021

Martin Luther King Jr. Quote Analysis Minilesson

 

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!!

I love when I can take a teachable moment and combine it with my child's curriculum. And today, I can do just that. 

Honestly, I think teaching our children Dr. King's message is just as important today as it was 60 years ago. As I was reading his words and researching quotes, I was struck by just how relevant his words are during these difficult times for our country.

His words give hope. And encouragement. And understanding.

Since text analysis and interpretation is a critical part of most language arts curricula, I decided to create this minilesson for my oldest son who is in 9th grade. We'll be discussing what a quote analysis consists of, and then he'll be using the worksheets to analyze quotes from Dr. King. 

If you'd like to use them with your older children, I have listed this packet in my TpT shop and it will be on sale for $1 through Tuesday only. 


All the worksheets are available in English and Spanish. And a grading rubric is included for teachers who wish to use it with their classes.

Enjoy!



Don't forget that you can find a list and description of ALL of my Martin Luther King, Jr. printables here.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Self-Paced Online Science Classes

The following is a sponsored post in collaboration with College Prep Science and MommyMaestra. All opinions are my own.

Whether you're homeschooling for the first time or are a veteran homeschooler, there's a good chance that there's one class or subject that you are nervous about teaching. The two subjects that I hear parents say over and over again that they often feel unprepared to teach are math and science. 

And many other parents who are working from home are simply looking to free up some of their time by having their children do a few subjects online.

So I think many of you will love learning about College Prep Science, a program for parents who are looking to "outsource" their child's homeschool science lessons.

Before going further, I want to note here that MommyMaestra shares homeschool resources for families of all faiths. This particular science program has a Christian perspective.

Quick Overview

Program: College Prep Science
Religious Perspective: Christian
Format: Live & Recorded
Grades: 4th - 12th
Price: Tuition varies from $120 to $880

Online Homeschool

I've talked before about the difference between homeschooling and distance learning. And if you pulled your child out of school because they switched to distance learning and it just wasn't working for your family, don't worry. This online program is nothing like doing school remotely. 

Lots of homeschool families incorporate online learning into their school year. But you are still in charge of your child's overall education when you homeschool. And College Prep Science both acknowledges and encourages parental control. 

When you first sign up for a class, you are encouraged to watch the Class Intro video in which the owner, Greg Landry, shares instructions for parents (and students). This video introduces parents to the class, then shares what they can expect out of it. He makes it 100% clear that parents are to use the classes as a tool in their homeschool programs to teach their children science - but that they are still in charge. College Prep Science provides all the information for each class through video lessons and pdf printables, but parents decide what their child will be required to complete in terms of labs, homework, and tests.

The courses are taught by Greg Landry, who is a veteran science teacher and homeschool dad, as well as a former college professor. 



Self-Paced Science Classes


The best part (in my opinion) is that College Prep Science offers both live classes and RECORDED videos posted online. Live classes often don't fit into a homeschool family's flexible and dynamic schedule. And some students do better with recorded videos. Others may not have internet that's reliable enough for live classes. So when there is an opportunity for kids to watch videos on their own time and at their own pace, it's gold!

In my opinion, self-paced courses nurture confidence and mastery. 

Recorded classes let children pause and replay important information, which is so much better for mastery of concepts and subjects. The whole point of an education is to teach the child in a way that they can understand, learn, and master knowledge and skills. I've often found the expectation for a child to keep up with the teacher to be counter-productive. As homeschoolers, we really want our kids to understand what they are learning and stay engaged. For some students, this requires a lot of repetition, while for others, they want to move on as soon as they feel they understand. So if your child wants to watch a portion of the video two or three times (or more!), let them! And if they feel confident they understand after one time, let them move on.

And if you are worried that your child will have questions that you can't understand, no worries! The portal that College Prep Science uses has a user-friendly dashboard that includes an inbox in the sidebar through which you can email your instructor directly with any questions or comments you may have about your class/lessons. (It really is a brilliant setup.)





How it works

Once you register for a class, you'll receive access to the site's Learning Management System. From your dashboard, you can select the class you want. That will take you to the class's "homeroom" page where you will find a list of the links to each video lesson, as well as any PDF downloads (with printable worksheets and more) your student will need, and instructions.

I had a chance to look at the Young Scientist Anatomy & Physiology class for students in 4th - 7th. Here's what I liked about it. 

First, Mr. Landry is just a great teacher. He's knowledgeable and affable. It's easy to listen to him and - more importantly - to learn from him. He presents the information to children in words that kids can understand and pulls examples using items and concepts with which students are already familiar. And Mr. Landry frequently looks right at the camera making you feel like he's talking directly to you. 

Next, the videos are set up very well. On one side you see Mr. Landry giving the lecture. And on the other side you see the visuals (like a powerpoint). It's like you are sitting with him and he has a printable on the table between you. And you can see all the notes he makes. He points things out, circles other things, etc.

Most of the visuals that I saw were also found in the PDF files for the class, allowing students to follow along and complete them at the same time. 

But the best part, in my opinion, was the first class in which he teaches note taking. It's so great that I even had my 9th grader watch it! Because the ability to take good notes is one of the most valuable skills a child can learn. Taking good notes can make a world of difference in a student's academic success. And while there are many methods of taking notes, this was one of the best, I think, for engaging a student's memory skills.

If you are a parent looking to outsource your child's science class and this sounds like the type of program you need, head over to College Prep Science to look through the list of courses that they offer!

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Thursday, January 14, 2021

Printable Activities for Martin Luther King, Jr Day

Printable Activities for Martin Luther King, Jr Day

I don't know what this coming weekend before the inauguration holds. All I know is that this year has started in such a way that the words of Martin Luther King, Jr ring in my ears...

“Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.”

and...

“We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right.”

There's a lot of hate and anger in this country right now. And a lot of misinformation or outright lies. 

The only way I know to combat all of this is by focusing on our children. Mahatma Gandhi once said, "If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children."

So what better way to start, than with Martin Luther King, Jr. himself? Here is a list (in order of target age) of my printable activities for learning about the activist and civil rights movement leader.

Martin Luther King Jr. Bilingual Coloring Activity


FREE! A simple color-by-number activity for introducing Martin Luther King, Jr. to younger children in preschool and lower elementary.


Martin Luther King Jr. Writing Triptych Activity


In this writing triptych, kids can read a little bit about Martin Luther King, Jr. and read some quotes from his famous speech. They can color it, and draw or paste a picture of themselves on one of the folds of the triptych. Then they can think about the quotes and write a few words (short paragraph) sharing their own hopes for this country.

Martin Luther King Jr. Writing Activity


This simple activity allows students to write their own ending to Martin Luther King Jr's "I Have a Dream" speech. They simply color in the base sheet and write in their ending, before coloring in and attaching a flap-style poster to the top.

A Martin Luther King Jr. Glossary


Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day with this easy, noprep, printable poster and glossary! Available in full color or black-and-white, you can decorate your classroom or have your students color in the poster and read the glossary which features words related to Dr. King.

Bilingual Martin Luther King, Jr. Activities BUNDLE

Bilingual Martin Luther King, Jr. Activities BUNDLE

SAVE! When you purchase my MLK BUNDLE!

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Homeschool High School Transcript Program

homeschool high school transcript program

The following is a sponsored post in collaboration with Fast Transcript and MommyMaestra. All opinions are my own. 

This is my first year homeschooling a high schooler. My eldest decided to go to a private high school when she started 9th grade. But my middle child started 9th grade this fall. Up until now, I haven't had to worry to much about keeping track of grades or credits. But as we look to the future and plan for scholarships and college, both are heavy on my mind.

When your homeschooled child graduates from high school, they'll need a high school transcript. Why? Because a transcript is required for pretty much every college application. It's like a resumé that gives admissions officers an overall look at your child's accomplishments in a straightforward, concise format. A transcript can make or break your child's acceptance into the college of their choice.

Some homeschool parents are super organized and detail oriented so creating a transcript is easy. But for the rest of us, help is needed. I've already attended one lecture about it, but I'm not sure I walked away feeling any wiser or more confident about it. So I've been looking for additional resources, and I'm excited that I had the opportunity to review FastTranscript.com.

How it works

When you first sign up, you're prompted to begin creating the transcript for your student. It's very straightforward and provides a form for you to fill out with all the basic information, such as your student's name, birth date, address, etc. 

You can then choose to fill out the information for your child by grade. This information includes the year(s), course, grade, and credits earned.  If you need help figuring out how many credits each class counts as, the sidebar has course suggestions and how many credits they are worth for each subject. And you have three options to select from:

  • General High School
  • General College Prep
  • Rigorous College Prep

The form also automatically calculates your child's GPA and the total credits they've earned as you fill in the information. And it provides a cumulative summary of your child's work over the entire four years. 

Finally, there is a section for writing additional important information, such as their ACT/SAT scores, awards, club involvement, etc. 

The one-page transcript will include a space at the bottom of the page for a signature when it prints. And you can preview what your transcript will look like at any time with the press of a button. Here's a sample:

Fast Transcripts - high school transcript service


What makes Fast Transcripts special

There are two or three sites that create transcripts for homeschoolers, but there are a few things that really make this site stand out. First, they have developed an error-catching algorithm (audit) that flags 703 common mistakes often made when putting together a transcript.

Second is that they send secure watermarked or digital transcripts directly from their Homeschool Clearinghouse to 4,397 colleges & universities! This is really an amazing deal. It makes applying to a LOT of colleges so much easier - especially by saving you an incredible amount of time that you would otherwise spend hunting down emails for each college. 

And finally, the program includes automated course names and course descriptions. This is a HUGE  timesaver!

Overall, this is such a great program that takes the guesswork out of creating an outstanding transcript for your homeschooler, and relieves the burden of trying to figure it all out without any mistakes.

Try it yourself first


I ALWAYS encourage you guys to try samples or free trials before you purchase anything homeschool related. So I love that you can try the program first free for 30 days with NO CREDIT CARD REQUIRED. 


Pricing


Fast Transcripts offers two super affordable purchase options. The Essential package (on sale for $7.95) lets you print the professional transcript and provides the transcript audit. And the Complete Package (also on sale for $14.95!) gives you both plus expert advice, a final review, and offers phone-in support.

There's just no way to go wrong here!

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Teach for Justice Lesson Plans

 

Now, more than ever, teaching children about social justice and social reform issues is super important. If your child's school isn't teaching them, then parents need to teach these subjects at home. 

It doesn't have to be difficult, either. There are lots of curricula available. With younger children, you can read books about famous people who changed history through their fight for social good. You can watch films together, or just talk openly about issues. Share your thoughts, opinions, and values with your kids. Take the time to explain why it's important not just for society, but to you personally that we treat everyone equally and with respect. 

Teach for Justice at Home or in Your Classroom

If you have older children (tweens and teens), consider purchasing my Unit on Hispanic Activists. It highlights five Hispanics who left their mark on U.S. history through their fight for social justice and equality in the fields of education, health care, voting, journalism, and civil liberties.

This comprehensive Teach for Justice unit uses articles and mini documentaries as our secondary sources. The 150-page unit for high school students includes lesson plans for in-person and virtual learning, as well as essay questions, project based learning options, and research & present topics. Options for worksheets and summative assessments allow for differentiated learning.

Learn About Five Hispanic Activists


This is tough stuff. Students will learn about Ralph Lazo, the only person not of Japanese descent and with no family relation to voluntarily relocate to a Japanese internment camp during World War II as an act of solidarity. Lazo was also crucial in the passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which provided reparations to the survivors of Japanese incarceration. 

And they will become familiar with the story of Sylvia Mendez whose family played a crucial role in the Mendez v. Westminster case in 1946. It was the first case for the integration of schools won in California, and paved the way for the desegregation of schools in the United States.

They'll also learn about Jovita Idár, a journalist and civil rights activist from the Texas border who fought for the rights of Mexican American families and Mexican immigrants, as well as for equal education for Mexican American children and women’s suffrage. 


And they will read about Helen Rodríguez Trías, a health rights activist who fought for affordable, quality healthcare for women and children, especially those in poor communities of color. She openly objected to the practice of eugenics in Puerto Rico, where women were sterilized or used as guinea pigs for birth control - all without their consent. She drafted federal sterilization guidelines that are still used today.

Lastly, you'll learn about Willie Velásquez, who fought to empower Latino voters through education and voter registration drives. His success in nurturing the Latino voting bloc forever changed the U.S. political landscape.

Y'all, there is just so much packed into this unit. You will love teaching it as much as your kids will enjoy learning their stories. 

So don't wait. Go and get your copy today. 

It's an instant download. If you aren't on TpT, message me and I'll add it to my online shop. 


Monday, January 11, 2021

New Virtual Language Camp in Spanish



This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Cultural Bytes and MommyMaestra. All opinions are my own.

So many families are homeschooling their children for the first time this year, and many of those had children in dual-language/immersion programs. And many more are find this as an opportunity to nurture and develop their children's bilingualism.  

Therefore a LOT of families are looking for classes and other opportunities that teach kids Spanish, or allow interaction for practicing their Spanish-speaking skills. But that can be hard when places are closed and/or your stuck at home. I've seen a lot of requests like these in our Hispanic & Bilingual Homeschool group on Facebook.

Virtual Language Camp (ViLaCa)

So I was delighted with Cultural Bytes emailed me to tell me about their newest virtual language camp for native, bilingual, and intermediate speakers ages 5 to 12! ViLaCa will meet for 60 minutes four days a week - Monday through Friday - and each day has a different theme:

  • Mondays: Food
  • Tuesdays: Animals
  • Wednesdays: Places
  • Thursdays: Games
They have morning and afternoon sessions. Each class is limited to 7 children max. 

You can attend all four days, or just one. The camp is VERY affordable in my opinion. You can sign up for a whole month (16 sessions) for $60 or just one session for $10. And they accept PayPal or Venmo.

THIS WEEK ONLY!  Classes are FREE if you use the discount code “FREEVilaca”

Don't wait! Go sign up today and get your child talking in Spanish.



Friday, January 8, 2021

PRIDE Reading Program Review

PRIDE Reading Program for students with dyslexia

The following post is a collaboration between PRIDE Reading Program and MommyMaestra. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

The Orton-Gillingham Method

As a self-titled “Orton-Gilliingham (OG) fangirl,” I was absolutely delighted at the prospect of getting my hands on a level of the PRIDE Reading Program to review. At the very least, my two oldest children are dyslexic and kiddos #3 and #4 present with similar traits; therefore, no reading program is welcome in our house unless it can claim OG status. For those unfamiliar with the characteristics of an OG program here is some helpful information on what OG means and why it is so effective for dyslexics.

It's important to note here, that this reading program is a wonderful resource for ALL children, not just those with dyslexia. However, those children with dyslexia who struggle with other reading programs will find this one to be easier and effective.

So it was with a hopeful heart and a discerning eye that I began to look through the Pride Reading level titled “Beginning Consonants” and started watching the Pride Reading Training Program videos. What I found, made a deep and lasting impression on me. 

PRIDE Reading Program

PRIDE Reading Program


A Homeschool Reading Curriculum for Children with Dyslexia


For this review of the Beginning Consonants level, I received the online Teacher’s Guide, the Student Workbook, and a set of the PRIDE Sound cards. I found the cards to be surprisingly sturdy, which is perfect for rough little hands. To the untrained eye, the Student Workbook looks plain and boring, but what a parent needs to understand is that kids with dyslexia often get overwhelmed when there is too much visual stimulation on the page. Cutesy pictures and lots of color may end up hindering a student’s progress. 

The PRIDE Reading Program is scripted like other OG programs such as Barton Reading and Spelling and All About Reading, but what I found to be unique about PRIDE’s online Teacher Guide is the layout of the scripts and procedures is so simple that it’s genius. Each step is boxed in bright orange so you don’t lose your place. The directions are written in black and dialogue is written in blue. It could not be any simpler to follow, which I appreciate as a busy homeschool mama of 5. I cannot tell you the amount of times I’ve taken my eye off a teacher’s manual, even for a moment, and lost my place. It sounds like a small complaint, but in a scripted curriculum, losing your place is frustrating and cumbersome. Using a Teacher’s Guide that is as user-friendly and open-and-go as this one encourages a parent to continue a program with fidelity. This is key to remediating for dyslexia.

Empowering Parents


E-v-e-r-y homeschool parent, on fire with determination and willingness, knows we will stop at nothing to learn the technique, pedagogy, program, style, etc. that is most suitable for our children. If a homeschool parent determines that being their child’s own dyslexia tutor is the best fit for their family, PRIDE Reading is an excellent choice for the parent new to OG programs. 

The most helpful feature of PRIDE Reading is the online PRIDE Reading training videos you receive access to with each level. Before you begin using this program with your kids, watch the training videos on the PRIDE Reading website. Unless you are experienced with OG programs, you NEED to see these videos to understand how particular OG procedures work such as sky writing and arm tapping. In fact, even if you have previous experience with an OG program like I do, watch the videos anyway. 

After years of using Barton Reading and Spelling (you can find my review of Barton here), I still learned a few tricks watching these training videos. I imagine the name PRIDE, which stands for Phonemic Recognition Instruction Delivering Empowerment, was meant to be directed at the student who is empowered with the skills to read. But these training videos empower the parent to be confident about the remediation they are giving their child. It’s incredibly moving to experience this as a homeschool parent who’s likely been told that they are not qualified to teach their own children let alone a child with a learning issue. Many thanks to PRIDE for creating such a wonderful resource for parents!

PRIDE Reading Program

PRIDE In My Home


I decided to try PRIDE with my 4th kiddo because he is 5 years old, is not already using an OG program, and demonstrates similar dyslexic traits like his older siblings. He already knew some of his letter sounds but not all of them, which made the Beginning Consonants level a perfect fit for him. 

Take the placement check to find the best level for your child.

Overall, the lessons have gone better than I expected. Kiddo #4 is a very active child and these lessons are easily done while he wiggled in his chair or stood next to me. His maximum amount of concentration on ANY lesson homeschool subject is about 10-15 minutes and with PRIDE Reading, it is easy enough to complete a couple of units in that time. 

In Beginning Consonants, there are 20 modules and 3 units in each module making for a simple and organized level. It took several modules for Kiddo #4 to understand all the procedures, but once they are mastered, it’s pretty smooth sailing (I may have also promised gummy bears in exchange for a good attitude during lessons because whatever works, LOL). 

Some children will likely need more repetition and other children will likely blast through this level in a semester. As a parent, you will have to discern how fast or slow to pace the work. I also loved the additional links to past PRIDE articles that enhance learning at the end of each module. For example, at the end of the first module, there is a link to DIY Tactile Tile Letter Cards.

I was delighted for the excuse to break out my sandpaper letters and use them with this program. Like most OG-based programs, the student probably needs to finish a couple of levels before the effectiveness is revealed. I would caution the parent new to PRIDE that Beginning Consonants may not be the game changer, but it lays a solid foundation for the rest of the levels and is a gentle introduction to the ways of OG. 

PRIDE Reading Program

How to Personalize and Supplement the Program


I have just a couple of tweaks I’d recommend to families so that they could get the most out of PRIDE Reading Beginning Consonants. I would recommend that you include picture books at the end of the modules which emphasize the specific sound in the module. For example, I happened to have a set of Jane Belk Moncure’s First Steps to Reading A-Z series and read My “b” Book, following the first module and the other books following each of the letter sounds we were learning. The picture book choices are endless! Blueberries For Sal by Robert McClosky for the letter ‘b’ and Caps For Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina for the letter ‘c’ are a couple of other examples. 

There are many picture book titles that would compliment this level AND celebrate Hispanic culture as well. M is For Mexico by Flor de Maria Cordero comes to mind, as well as ¡Todos Al Celebrar! A Hispanic Customs and Traditions Alphabet Book by Dr. Ma. Alma Gonzalez Perez. If you’d like to pick a picture book to focus on 1 letter at a time, that is more than possible too! Imagine the laughs you will share if you read a book like Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto, while learning about the letter, ‘T’. 

Because I’ve homeschooled for almost 10 years now and have used Handwriting Without Tears with all my school-aged children during those years, it was strange for me to attempt handwriting using the line spacing in the PRIDE student workbook. Although I do not see anything particularly wrong with the handwriting portions of PRIDE, it looks like any standard handwriting program on the market, I appreciate PRIDE including it in their program.

Bottom Line


PRIDE Reading deserves a place at the same table with all the best homeschool reading programs. The ease of use of the Teacher’s Manual paired with the effectiveness of Orton-Gillingham methodology makes PRIDE Reading an ideal program for homeschooling families. 

Visit the PRIDE website to learn more about their program, to find your child's level, or to sign up for their free introduction course!


Want to find this review again? Pin it!

PRIDE Reading Program for children with dyslexia


Disclaimer: I received a copy of level one for review purposes. All thoughts and opinions are my own. ~Stacie

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Free January 6 2021 Writing Pages

 

As I type this, the news has been on in our home most of the afternoon and evening. Today has been historic, and not in a good way. And it has been a teachable moment of gigantic proportions.

My teenagers have been asking all sorts of questions. My oldest is taking AP US history and my middle kid is taking civics. So what happened at the Capitol today held their attention. 

Today, we talked about the Constitution and ethics. We talked about peaceful transfer of power. We talked about the right to protest...and the federal offence of entering the Capitol by force. 

I think this is a really important opportunity for kids to think critically and deeply about government and power and laws. So I created some writing pages for my son to use tomorrow during our civics lesson. 

And I thought, well, maybe some of you would like to use them in your classrooms, too. They are FREE and very versatile. 

You can use them to have your students write down their thoughts about what happened today. They can write about how they felt or how the attack on Congress relates to what they have learned about how our government works. Or they can write about the events leading up to it. Or the events they witnessed on the television. 

The file comes in English and Spanish. And it has several formats for a variety of ages and skill levels. 

Click here to download these writing pages

Wishing for peace for our country.

Evaluating Your First Semester of Homeschooling

Evaluating Your First Semester of Homeschooling
© Can Stock Photo / iqoncept

If your homeschool year started last fall, then you are getting ready to start your second semester of lessons. Before you do, I want to encourage you to stop, grab a pen and paper, and take 10 or 15 minutes to think critically of your homeschool. 

All well-running machines need routine assessments and tweaks. Now is the time to take a moment to sit and think carefully about how the first part of your year went. What are you going to keep? What are you going to change?

Start by writing out the subjects in your homeschool. Leave space to make comments under each one, like this:

Evaluating Your First Semester of Homeschooling

Then start with the first subject. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is my child loving it? Why or why not?
  • Is my child learning and growing? Why or why not?
  • Am I having trouble teaching the material because of the way it is presented?
  • Is the problem (if any) one that can be easily resolved by making simple changes?
    i.e. - changing the order of subjects, changing the way in which they answer, etc.
  • Does the curriculum we're using teach the concepts in the way my child learns best? (If not, you may need a different curriculum.)
Write your thoughts down in the space below each subject. Do the same with each subject. Your final page should look like this:

Evaluating Your First Semester of Homeschooling

And then stop and think about your homeschool day. Most homeschool families I know are super busy. Flexibility is key to success. But if you have a set routine, then maybe look at it critically and see if it is working. 

For example, I put the subjects that we need to move more quickly through on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Right now our schedule looks like this:

Monday - Wednesday - Friday: 
  • MATH
  • Science
  • History
  • ELA
Tuesday - Thursday:
  • MATH
  • Civics
  • Geography
  • Grammar
  • Spanish
  • Art
Notice that math is the only subject done 5 days a week. That works best for us. Grammar and civics don't take very long, so although he does more subjects on Tues-Thurs, it doesn't necessarily take up more time.

I'm sure YOUR homeschool days look much different. Maybe you homeschool in the evenings or on weekends. Maybe mornings are reserved for play and time outside. Perhaps you are early birds who like to knock out the lessons as soon as you wake up, or you only do a 4-day school week.

Don't be worried about moving subjects to different days or doing one or two every single day. Time may make a difference, too. My son likes to do math last, but I always make sure that it is after lunch so he's had some fuel after the other lessons for him to tackle the algebra equations.

Remember, don't try to force your family into a mold that doesn't fit right. Make homeschooling work for YOUR family. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Free Download: Winter Words Daily Activity in Spanish


MommyMaestra sponsor, Spanish for You!, is kicking off the year with another (free!) fun download for Spanish learners. Seriously, if you are looking for a new Spanish curriculum to engage your middle schooler, check out Spanish for You! In fact, you can click here to look through all the amazing samples that they've shared here over the years. If you enjoy them, then go buy one of their themed lessons that are available for immediate download on their website.

This month's freebie focuses on winter words. The 2-page download includes a word search and instructions for daily activities to help your young Spanish learner master the new vocabulary. It comes with an audio file which is great for those of you who may not speak Spanish yourself, but are raising bilingual children.

Click here to download this file

Remember! Spanish for You!'s program is geared for middle schoolers and is the perfect choice for homeschoolers and afterschoolers alike because their concepts are carefully divided up into manageable bundles that are available for immediate download from their website.

If this is your first time here, you can find other free samples from Spanish for You! here. There are some fantastic downloads of games and activities for you and your family to enjoy. If you enjoy this activity, be sure to visit the Spanish for You! website where you'll find tons of additional resources for you to help your young Spanish learner!

Monday, January 4, 2021

MommyMaestra Dia de los Reyes Resources

 

Día de los Reyes is only a few days away. Does your family celebrate this tradition? If so, how? 

If you aren't familiar with it, Día de los Reyes Magos (or Day of the Magi) takes place every year on January 6th. It celebrates that long ago day when the Three Wise Men arrived in Bethlehem to visit the newborn Jesus. 

In Latin America and Spain, Día de los Reyes is an integral part of the holiday season. For many, this is the day that children receive presents. It is the Magi who bring gifts rather than Santa.

Different countries celebrate the day in different ways. In some, children leave their shoes at the end of their beds or outside their bedroom doors for the Reyes to fill with gifts. Others assemble a box of hay for the Kings' camels to eat - and then the boxes are refilled with regalos

MommyMaestra has compiled a lot of resources over the years that are dedicated to this holiday. Take a look below at all the different ones.

Lesson Plans and More!

Music


Videos


Printables


Reading Passage (for 4th - 6th)

This is a one-page history on the Día de los Reyes Magos, or the Epiphany that is celebrated in Latin America and Spain. Your students will learn about this holiday tradition. Available in full color or black-and-white, this informational text is written for students in 4th - 8th grade. Includes an 8-question comprehension quiz plus answer key.



This minibook is an introduction to the Day of the Magi. This book includes coloring pages of items most closely associated with the holiday, as well as brief descriptions in English and Spanish that are easy for young children to understand.

NOW UPDATED!
This file now contains THREE books:
• a bilingual book (English & Spanish)
• an English only (for ESL)
• a Spanish only (for Spanish learners)



This is my favorite printable for Día de los Reyes! Your students will enjoy it, too. This packet comes with:
• a festive banner to print and hang,
• photo booth props,
• a writing activity where your kids write a letter and stick it into a printed shoe,
• and shoebox decorating sheets for those who put out a box of grass for the camels. Each sheet contains a different scene and the sheets are available for small and large boxes.

FREE Letter Templates to the Magi

This stationery set comes with two designs and both are available in English and Spanish.


Books


In English:

  • The Story of the Three Wise Kings by Tomie dePaola  -  on Amazon | on Bookshop
  • The Three Wise Men: A Christmas Story by Loek Koopmans  -  on Amazon | on Bookshop
  • Home by Another Way: A Christmas Story by Barbara Brown Taylor  -  on Amazon | on Bookshop



And in Spanish:

  • Los Reyes Magos by Lourdes M. Alvarez   -   on Amazon | on Bookshop
  • Ya llegan los Reyes Magos! by Georgina Lazaro - on Amazon | on Bookshop
  • Las Estrellas de Los Reyes Magos by Tere Rodriguez-Nora  -  on Amazon | on Bookshop
  • La Leyenda de Los Reyes Magos by Nora Girón-Dolce  -  on Amazon | on Bookshop
  • Si los Reyes Magos no tuvieran sus camellos by Gilberto Mariscal  -  on Amazon | on Bookshop

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