Wednesday, 22 October 2014

SDAccelerate TOS Review

We love visual learning and over the years have used many 'video' clips to boost our lessons, so when given the chance to review Standard Deviants Accelerate I was interested.
Standard Deviants Accelerate is the brainchild of Cerebellum Corporation where they believe in a "Teach, Test, Re-teach, Laugh, Rinse and Repeat " style of learning. For over 20 years they have provided educational technology culminating in their interactive, online teaching resource, the SD Accelerate programme.

We were given a years full access to their SD Accelerate online elementary and high school programmes. These courses include: 
Arithmetic - Grades 3+ 
Fundamental Math - Grades 4+ 
Earth Science - Grades 6+ 
Nutrition - Grades 6+ 
Algebra - Grades 7+ 
Biology - Grades 7+ 
Chemistry - Grades 9+ 
English Comp. - Grades 9+ 
U.S. History - Grades 9+ 
AP Biology - Grades 11+ 
AP Chemistry - Grades 11+ 
AP U.S. Government & Politics - Grades 11+ 
AP U.S. History - Grades 11+ 
AP Eng. Composition - Grades 11+ 

Each course is divided into chapters with sub-topic lessons. Lessons are a fast paced movie of students presenting the concepts in a witty manner. It switches between different students and graphic presentations. Each lesson is approx 6 mins long. 

I started by creating my teacher account, I selected the classes I wished the children to study - I opted for Biology, Chemistry and Earth Science. Both Lilly and Sunflower were enrolled via their email address and logged in to work independently 3-4 times a week as a supplement to our other science programmes. They would watch the video (with the option to have full screen or a smaller view and read / highlight the notes alongside if they choose to). 


Any notes they make in the bottom box can then be saved to their student locker.

After the video portion of the lesson they would go to the vocab tab where they can listen to the words and meanings and I asked them to copy the definition into their notes. 

The next part of the lesson is the Diagram tab where they have to drag the correct label to the right part of the picture.

After that is the Quiz - a section of about 6 multiple choice questions. If an incorrect answer is given, it is highlighted with a small clip from video which had the right answer in.

The final tab is Written Answer where you are presented with a question and have to write an essay type answer.



We did watch a number of the movies on TV (via our pod) and discussed the questions/answers in a group setting as both Tulip and Rose wanted to join in (7 & 5). They particularly loved Earth Science and seemed to absorb a large amount of information and got right answers in the quiz section :)

The girls have enjoyed these lessons, the combination of humorous videos and reviewing their work online has made these an appealing choice of lesson for the girls (and me). Their favourite review activity was the 'diagram game' and they did say it would be nice to have more of these.

I love that the grading is immediate and that they can 'see' where they went wrong and review what the right answer should have been. I also like the easy to use teacher page - it gives red flags when scores are below standard, shows grades and even lets you input grades for the written assignments (using a rubric).

The only issue was keeping track of which lessons were already completed. Sunflower would often ask me where she was up to - it would be a nice feature if there was a little icon/tick against the lessons they had watched and completed the answers to.

Annual subscriptions for the courses above are $99, but you can also purchase monthly subscriptions for $24.95. They even offer a free trail.


You can see what my crew mates thought of some of their other courses over at the TOS Blog

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Time activities

Our home Ed group ran an activity day all about time.

They made fruit clocks,


played time bingo,

made paper plate clocks,

learnt about time zones,


discussed lunar calendars 

and made an Egyptian water clock - with an interesting discussion around how the Greeks adapted the water clock for the different length of days they had with different sized holes, (bigger for the winter when they was less sunlight and smaller holes for the summer when the daylight was longer - you can find a great description over here)

they even got to make a couple of lids for each clock with different sized holes




Friday, 10 October 2014

Chore Chart

We have nicely settled back into our school routine but I felt the housework was suffering a little. After begging hubby for a cleaner to no avail, we decided that the girls should do more housework than they were doing.

I spent a good few weeks trying to find a chore chart that I could modify for 4 kids and rotate their chores - I eventually settled for this.



I painted a board white then stencilled on a quote with a black sharpie pen ('Nothing will work unless you do' Maya Angelou). I added four hooks with a name above for each child and stapled a string to the back for hanging.

Whilst searching for my perfect chart, I stumbled on some great, free icons from Today's Mama. I cut the black icons out and laminated them in sets of three. (I had to use a bit of creativity here - for example the toothbrush doesn't mean clean teeth but tidy the bathrooms and the mirror means dusting.)



Now each child has a set of three chores each day (on top of making their beds and tidying their room). We've been using this system for two weeks now (Mon through Fri) and I've got to say I'm loving it, in less than 30 mins a day the house is tidy. While the girls do their chores I can focus on the hard and unpleasant tasks like cleaning the toilets : (





Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Week 3 - cheesy speech marks, quill pens and ink

The girls worked more on punctuation, covering commas and speech marks (using cheesy wotsits)

 


Revisited the water, nitrogen and carbon cycles - my fave is the lift the flap water cycle.






We rounded up our history unit on King John and the Magna Carta by making a quill pen.



It's very simple to do - remove the lower feathers,



work out how you want to hold the quill and mark off the point then cut at a 45 degree angle 



and finally remove the membrane from inside.


We also made some ink to go along with this 



using a cup full of berries (blackberries, raspberries, cranberries etc) squished through a sieve



then added salt and white vinegar to preserve it.



They kept at it all afternoon : ) 






 

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

The Timeline Scroll

It's one of those thing that you are told every homeschool family should have, so you try to be good and create one running up the side of your staircase until you realise it will take over the whole house!

After many years (and many different timelines) I finally came up with one that fits easily into our home and life but still gives us tons of space to write all our history facts on (the full length of our timeline is just over 5 meters, so plenty of space for those all important facts).

Welcome the timeline scroll
(this looks like a roll of wallpaper because it is!)

We started by attaching a stick to the edge of the paper roll with duct tape (to make rolling and unrolling our scroll more fun) then rolling out the wallpaper and drawing a line through the middle - marking off each 50 years with alternating dark and light lines and adding the dates.


Then when we study a specific time we open just the section we need to write down our facts, add photos etc.


When we are not using our timeline, it neatly rolls up and hides in the corner behind the bookcase.  We use this on a daily basis and the girls just collect it and roll out what they need.
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