Some of the blogs I read occasionally link to contests. On December 13, one click of a mouse whisked me off to the 12 Blogs of Christmas Contest sponsored by Homeschool E-Store. To win a $50.00 coupon for homeschooling E-products, all I had to do was leave a caption for an old-time photograph of some unhappy children dressed like native Americans that answered the question, "So tell me, what are these homeschool children thinking?" The esteemed judges (the Simple Folk family) would choose the wittiest entry. I spent all of about two seconds and wrote, "Not another unit study!" Nine days later, imagine my excitement when I read the following comment on my blog.
I just wanted to let you know that you have won "The Twelve Blogs of Christmas" contest! You'll be receiving a $50.00 gift certificate from HomeschoolEstore. Please email me at SimpleFolkBlog AT aol DOT com and I'll get the coupon code to you. Thanks for participating and have a very Merry Christmas!I smugly congratulated myself for thought of as witty by a bunch of kids. It took me awhile to puzzle through what SimpleFolkBlog AT aol DOT com meant. The post announcing the winner at SimpleFolks sufficiently deflated my pride . . .
Oh my, we had fun with this contest. There were 35 witty, creative entries in all! Because they were all so great and we could have only one winner, we decided to just pull a name out if a hat (a John Deere hat to be specific).Oh, joy! It wasn't my natural witty and flair for cute captions. I was a number in a hat . . . But, a win is a win, so I headed off to the E-store with its huge selection of E-products to keep me puzzled for a few days!
The first thing I did was type Charlotte Mason into the search box, but nothing popped that I really needed at this advanced stage of homeschooling in which we live (think teenager-ville). The second thing I did was think about what my very unique kids need the most. My mind echoed those haunting words
SAT SAT SAT SAT SAT SAT SAT SAT SAT SAT
After yesterday's rant against standardized testing, I am about to speak out of both sides of my mouth! I do think most homeschoolers must learn to play the SAT game because, in most cases, they must score well to be accepted into their college of choice. And, while I strongly believe that reading and narrating living books is the best way to learn, students must master certain skills like the almighty essay (the new bugaboo on the SAT) or filling out multiple-guess bubbles after reading a short passage.
So, I spent my $50 coupon on David, my resident tenth-grade SAT-tester in training. I ordered Essay Architect and two Home Base English Reading Comprehension Multiple Choice files (one for ages 13-15 and another for ages 16-18). These are all PDF files which means I paid no shipping and handling fees!
This week, we started working on essays and will launch the multiple guessing stuff next week. I probably could have searched all over the Internet for the topics covered in the 104-page Essay Architect. But, the price was right! The lessons plans are very teacherese, so I am already adapting them. For example, on Day One, I am supposed to hand out a blank flow chart and a blank definition sheet with twenty terms like thesis statement and formality and expect David to fill it out while I talk; then I am to give him a two-page quiz on Day Two . . . RIGHT! I know from personal experience how inefficient pump-and-dump teaching is, especially with a big-picture, practical, kinesthetic learner like him!
So, for Week One, I am handing him an essay per day to let him identify all twenty elements from real-live essays (or dead if they are boring). I will give him the quiz on Friday, and I'll bet a cookie that he will pass with flying colors without studying! After that, I plan to teach the seven types of essays, five ways to organize flow, and the five kinds of essay prompts in the same manner for the same reason.
Beyond the vocabulary-rich world of living books, David has been studying word roots by playing the Word Roots software. While these games are not action-packed graphic-digital joy, he does not mind them because he enjoys figuring words based on roots. One less thing I have to teach face-to-face works for me. He has already finished A1 and needs to work through A2 and B1. After that, he might enjoy the highly addictive Free Rice game to practice multiple guess vocabulary words and feed the hungry all at the same time!
Then, I plan to turn his attention to some of the free special features at the College Board website. He can answer the question of the day or practice critical reading questions. They even offer free practice tests. And for a nominal fee of only $17.49 a month, he can take an online course. For a little more, we can even order the official guide to the dreaded SAT.
Speaking of good deals, freebies, and drawings, parents/homeschoolers and school teachers are eligible to win a $50.00 coupon for Critical Thinking products ONE WINNER PER WEEK EVERY WEEK THIS YEAR.
Uh, why am I telling the competition?