Square Dancing

Seahawk spent one day a week for the past several months going to a Square Dancing class with our good friends, who live in our old neighborhood. Even after we moved, we took him in every week so he wouldn’t miss out on the dancing – or the friendship. Today, I have a couple of pictures to share of their “graduation” ceremony from the beginning class, and a few words from Seahawk about the dancing itself.

From Seahawk:

The way a square is arranged is first there are the “head couples.” These are the couples opposite from each other, facing the caller. The others are the “sides.” These are the other two sides of the square. If you’re a male dancer, on your left you have your “corner,” and on your right, your partner.

When the caller says something, you just have to do what he says. For example, when the caller says, “Circle to the left,” everyone joins hands and walks in a circle to the left. Calls have names, so they’re not all as basic as “circle to the left,” but they work essentially the same. An example of a more less obvious one is “Grand Square.” This means that the dancers will go to every position of the square and back again to their original position. To start this call, the members of the side couples turn to face their own partner. Then they start walking backwards. The rule of square dancing is “unless the call contradicts this rule, you automatically face the center of the square.” So, for a grand square, the sides will walk backwards so they stay the facing the center. Then when you get to the end of the square, you pivot toward the center again. Now you are facing the other side lady in your square (not your partner). After walking forward a bit, the side couples are in the head position and the the whole thing repeats until everyone has been in each position. (I’m struggling to put this into words very well, so here’s a video that shows what the Grand Square looks like in action.)

I like Square Dancing because it gives me a brain challenge. It’s the kind of thing that shouldn’t be as hard as it is. But it definitely is. Listening and moving your body the proper way is a really fun challenge. That gives me a fun way to spend productive time with my friends.

Here are the pictures from their graduation ceremony last month. Since then, they’ve moved up to the “Plus” class for the summer.

 

 

Seahawk, his friend "A," and A's mom.

Seahawk, his friend “A,” and A’s mom.

Seahawk, A, Mom to A, and the Square Dance teacher/caller

Seahawk, A, Mom to A, and the Square Dance teacher/caller

Blessings,

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Unlocking the Secrets to Upper Level Math (UnLock Math review)

For the past few weeks, Seahawk (13 years old) has been working on his first real foray into upper-level math: Pre-Algebra. To do this, we asked to review UnLock Pre-Algebra from UnLock Math. This program has been an absolute blessing to us! Let me tell you more about it.

UnLock Math was created by Alesia and Matthew Blackwood. Both were homeschooled as children, and Alesia went on to become a school teacher, holding certification from Georgia Professional Standards Commission to teach upper level mathematics (grades 7-12). She and Matthew met in 2001 and married in 2002, and as they started having children they decided they wanted to work together, doing their own business. They recognized a need for quality math curriculum in the homeschool community, so they worked to develop a revolutionary complete, online math curriculum that does everything for you (the teacher/parent): it teaches using entertaining videos; it offers quizzes and tests; and it self-grades. The only thing you as the parent need to do is make sure your child logs on (the site is 100% free from ads and other distractions) regularly, and check in on their progress periodically. The program does absolutely everything else.

Unlock Math homeschool curiculum review

As I said, we’ve been using this with Seahawk. As he’s finishing up 7th grade, looking forward to 8th grade this fall, he’s the same age that I was when I did these maths, so I decided it was time to have him step up and start working on more advanced concepts. I know he’s bright enough to manage, so I eagerly requested this review. For us, it’s become his core math curriculum. Each school day (4-5 days per week), he’s working on one lesson, using my iPad. The program would also work on a computer, of course, but we only have one computer available for school stuff, and since math doesn’t require a real keyboard like, say, typing does, math happens on the iPad. I love that it works there! It’s great to have the computer free for my other son to do different lessons while his older brother is working on math.

This screen shot shows the video lesson and the path to follow afterwards. The warm up is up above (you can see the path leading away on the right side of the video); I just couldn't fit it all on my screen to get a full screen shot.

This screen shot shows the video lesson and the path to follow afterwards. The warm up is up above (you can see the path leading away on the right side of the video); I just couldn’t fit it all on my screen to get a full screen shot.

The lessons each have five parts. First is the “Math Warm Up,” which is a short online worksheet designed to get the student in math mode. Next is the teaching video, which is Alesia explaining a bite-sized math nugget. So far, the videos have been about 7-10 minutes long. I’m not sure if they’ll stay that short throughout the entire program, but I can imagine that they’ll get longer as new and more advanced topics are introduced (so far, the program has been mostly review but with new vocabulary for the concepts for Seahawk). After the video is a worksheet to practice the concepts taught in the video. Then comes the “Challenge,” which is a single difficult problem based on things the student should already know. The final element is Reference Notes, which is a downloadable PDF that shows what a student might have taken notes on during the lesson, if he’s a note-taking type. We haven’t used this section very much because Seahawk is very much an auditory learner; seeing the information written out wouldn’t help him much. The lesson page has all of these elements on it, and there’s a path showing students which order they need to work in. This makes it really easy for kids to do the program completely independently, especially since it’s older kids that the curriculum is geared toward.

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This screen shot shows the progress report. This allows the student to see at a glance how he’s doing at moving through the program.

The icon for each lesson is a padlock, and when the lesson has been completed, it opens up – it UnLocks. This gives the student a clear visual representation of how much they’ve completed and how much they still have to go. It also serves as an easy reminder of where they need to pick up at the beginning of the new day. In addition to the lock icons, there’s a large chart on the same page as the lesson list, and this tells the student how far into the program they are and what their average grade is. At the time of this posting, Seahawk has completed 9% of the class with an average score of 89%.

The lessons with the open lock are those that he's finished; a closed lock indicates that he still needs to do the lesson.

The lessons with the open lock are those that he’s finished; a closed lock indicates that he still needs to do the lesson.

I’ve talked to my son at a few different points during this review period to ask him what he thinks of UnLock Math, and he’s told me that it’s his absolute favorite math program by far. He’s even gone so far as to say that he “really likes it.” He never balks when I tell him it’s time to do his math lesson, and he never asks to be done early. He (usually) does all four parts of the lesson without a fight – and for a strong-minded 13-year-old, that’s really saying something.

UnLock Math is adding more upper-level math, too. They currently have Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1, Algebra 2, and their newest offering is Geometry. Members of the Homeschool Review Crew are reviewing all of those levels. They’re also in the process of developing Pre-Calculus (coming in 2018) and Calculus (coming in 2019). This is exciting news for parents of high schoolers who want to homeschool those upper grades but are afraid of what that means in terms of getting a good enough math education.

unlock pre algebraBased on the hands-off nature of the program (from me), and the fact that my student loves it, I can definitely recommend this program, especially if you have multiple children who need your attention. This gives you a few minutes each day where you can focus on another kid while not wasting the time of your older child. Win-win!

Blessings,

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Pre-Algebra, Algebra and Geometry {UnLock Math Reviews}
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Rush Revere Time Travel Adventures (book review)

Being a (casual) listener of the Rush Limbaugh radio program, I’d heard of the Adventures of Rush Revere #1 New York Times Bestselling Book Series by Rush and Kathryn Adams Limbaugh. I’d even seen some of the books in a few stores. But I’d never actually picked one up or knew exactly what it was (outside of novels about American history). When the opportunity to review the whole series was offered, I talked to my husband about it, and he was interested too – that never happens, especially with physical products! Based on his reaction, I requested to review these books, and I’m really glad I did!

rush revere review

For this review, we received all five books in the Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series: Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims, Rush Revere and the First Patriots, Rush Revere and the American Revolution, Rush Revere and the Star Spangled Banner, and Rush Revere and the Presidency. Each of the books revolves around the same main characters: Rush Revere, a middle school substitute history teacher; Tommy, the quarterback of the football team who is the class clown but a closet brainiac; Freedom, a free-spirited girl who was born on the Fourth of July; and Liberty, Mr. Revere’s talking, time-traveling horse.

The purpose of the books is to make American history fun for kids. Each of the books takes place during two eras: the current one and one in the past. Mr. Revere and Liberty use their time-traveling abilities to make history come alive to their students via his smartphone and a projector in the classroom. By traveling back in time and videoing the experience, he sends to the school projector so the students can watch things happen as they’re happening. In the first book, Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims, there’s a moment after this first class in which Tommy and Freedom figure out his secret (I don’t remember the details offhand), so he takes them with him on subsequent trips. The main focus of the novel is the 1620s, and we meet historical figures such as William Bradford, Myles Standish, and the Indians Squanto, Samoset, and Massasoit. The time-travelers get to experience such events as the boarding of the Mayflower, traveling on the Mayflower, and the first Thanksgiving.

required product imageSubsequent books explore different parts of American history. We’re currently reading book 2 (The First Patriots), and so far we’ve met Benjamin Franklin as he’s about to give a speech to the English Parliament in opposition of the Stamp Act. Books 2 and 3 both focus on the period of the American Revolution, while book 4 moves on to the writing of the constitution, the sewing of the first American flag, and the writing of the national anthem. The final book takes place after the successful revolution and focuses on the first three presidents and the work they did in their offices.

Each of these books is what I’d call “average” sized for a children’s novel – about 6×9 and 200-250 pages. The books are beautifully produced with full-color interior pages, and they feel really sturdy. I have no doubt that these will provide my children lots of reading entertainment for years to come. Before then, though, I fully intend for us to read the entire series together. The books are really fun and an easy read-aloud option. I love the they’re fun stories that teach children about history. I know my kids are enjoying them because they normally doodle during read-aloud time, but with these books, they’re captivated and just listen. It’s really rewarding for me as a parent (and the reader!) to experience having their rapt attention. The only thing my kids think are a little cheesy are the illustrations, but that’s an easily forgivable “offense.” Especially when combined with the great text and the other non-illustration images included in the books (maps, pictures of past presidents, etc).

Overall, I highly recommend these books! I was mildly interested in them before the review because, as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I’m a casual listener of Rush Limbaugh’s radio program. I’d seen the books at Target, but never really looked at them. Now that we’ve read one (and a little bit), I’m excited to keep reading these to my boys, and then to do them again in a few years when the little kids are old enough to start learning “for real.” Rush Revere books are definite keepers in our home!

Blessings,

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Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series {Reviews}
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Paquita

I had the honor of being in the audience when my boys danced in Paquita for the Sunday afternoon matinee closing performance a couple of weeks ago. I have tons of pictures to share, but first, I want to provide a brief synopsis of the story.

From Wikipedia:

The story takes place in Spain during the occupation of Napoleon’s army. The heroine is the young Gypsy girl, Paquita. Unbeknownst to Paquita, she is really of noble birth, having been abducted by Gypsies when she was an infant. She saves the life of a young French officer, Lucien d’Hervilly, who is the target of a Spanish governor who desires to have him killed by Iñigo, a gypsy chief. By way of a medallion she discovers that she is of noble birth, being in fact the cousin of Lucien. As such, she and the Officer are able to wed.

And now, here are the pictures from my kids’ dance studio’s version of the ballet.

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Paquita

Paquita

Gypsy boys

Gypsy boys

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The gypsy king trying to poison ___

The gypsy king trying to poison Lucien

Lucien playing dead.

Lucien playing dead.

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This scene was during Lucien and Paquita's wedding, and I thought it was one of the most impressive of the whole ballet.

This scene was during Lucien and Paquita’s wedding, and I thought it was one of the most impressive of the whole ballet.

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There are more pictures, but this selection provides a decent feel for the ballet. I hope you enjoyed the pictures!

Blessings,

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Book Club: Women Heroes of WWII

Lori suggested this book after I requested something “light and easy” following my delayed completion of Filling Station last month. This was a great choice! It was simple, but still interesting and inspiring. 

Book Club with Lori

The book is split into parts, each of which focuses on one country involved in the war. Each part talks of a few women from that country who made huge impacts for their country, usually as part of the resistance movement. Some of the women I’d heard of, but most I hadn’t. I think that’s what makes the book even more inspiring – it’s largely filled with untold stories.

Here are a few of my favorites.

Sophie Scholl – She is one of the few I’d heard of before, and her story is especially tragic. As a writer, editor, and distributor of The White Rose pamphlets in Germany, she was eventually arrested. Within just a few hours of her arrest, she’d already been tried, found guilty, and executed.

Josephine Baker – An African American who emigrated to France, Josephine was a performer. She used her position as a celebrity to garner information from the enemy and turn it over to her allied superiors. 

Magda Trocme – She was the wife of a pastor who taught that it was important to help those in need, even if it meant legal trouble for you. She took this very seriously and ended up bringing over 5,000 refugees (3,500 Jews) to safety with the help of others in her village. Despite her husband’s arrest, she continued the work in his absence. They both survived the war.

Irene Gut – She was a 17-year-old Polish nurse who was forced to work not only in the hospital but also as a waitress in the military dining hall. She used this position to learn the plans for the Jews and to save them, even using the home of her employer (a German officer) in her quest.

This is a very small sampling of the stories in this book, and all of them are definitely worth reading.

In addition to the stories of the women, each part opens with a brief history of the war in the country being highlighted. Even though the book is an easy one to read (it’s technically a children’s book), it was both informative and enjoyable. Please make sure to read Lori’s post for her thoughts on the book.

Next month, we’ll be reading Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley. This book caught my eye in the grocery store checkout line a while back, so I bought it. I’ve already read it, so my post will definitely be on time next month 😉

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Blessings,

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Paquita – Opening Night

The older boys have been taking dance classes since September, around the time I started taking ballet. The difference between us is that they’ve stuck with it; I didn’t (I found that it hurt my feet because of the split sole on the ballet slippers). They danced in The Nutcracker at Christmastime, and Seahawk had a solo in that.

For the past couple of months, their dance studio has been putting together another production, and this weekend is the performance. Last night was Opening Night, they perform again tonight, and there’s a matinee for the closing tomorrow. I was a backstage helper last night, and I’ll be in the audience on Sunday afternoon. Because I wasn’t in the audience last night, I don’t have pictures of the actual performance (I’ll try to do a new post with those next week), but I do have this one of the boys in their costumes, hanging out backstage. I love how they look like they’re palling around together! Proof that they do sometimes get along 😉

Ballet Boys Paquita opening night

Have a great weekend!

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Learning to Forgive (YWAM review)

A little over a year ago, we had the opportunity to read and review our first YWAM Publishing biography (we chose C.S. Lewis to go along with our study of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe). It was okay, but we didn’t love it. Because of that experience, I was unsure about whether to request another book from them or not. Before I totally wrote it off, though, I went through a couple of the options being offered. For reasons I couldn’t place my finger on at the time, the story of Jacob DeShazer really spoke to me. I wanted to read his story, and I wanted my kids to hear it, so I requested the book, which is part of the Christian Heroes: Then and Now series. In addition to the biography, Christian Heroes – Jacob DeShazer, we also received a digital copy of the corresponding study guide (you can’t access this page without a YWAM account, but there is a generic page with the list of all the different study guides.).

Jacob de Shazer biography review

About the Book

Based on the brief summary on the website, I knew that Jacob DeShazer was a soldier in WWII who was a POW in a Japanese prison for over three years. I learned that after the war ended, he was released and later became a missionary to Japan – ministering to the very culture that had imprisoned him. What I didn’t know was that when he wasn’t in Japan, he called the Willamette Valley in Oregon home – the very place where we live! I even learned that there were some people in our church who knew Mr. DeShazer personally. (He died at age 95 in 2008, so the people we know who knew him are very old and don’t always come to church so we weren’t able to talk to them, unfortunately.)

Jacob deShazer coverThe biography opens during Jacob’s (Jake, in the book) childhood. He grew up with a mother, stepfather, and 8 siblings in rural central Oregon, on a farm. He abandoned the family’s Christian faith as a young adult, and in an attempt to get away from his parents, he took several odd jobs during his early 20s. By his mid- to late-twenties, WWII started, America entered the battle, and he decided to enlist in the Air Force to fight for the cause. Before very long, we’re following Jake through boot camp and his early assignments in California. While there, a group of men were brought in to talk to the boss and invited to join a top secret mission. Even the boss didn’t know enough to tell them what to expect outside of “it will be very dangerous.” The men were given the opportunity to accept or reject the invitation, no questions asked and no penalty for rejecting, and every single one of them accepted it. Clear up until they were on the aircraft carrier USS Hornet in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the mission was kept secret. They eventually learned that they would be bombing Japan in retaliation of the Pearl Harbor attack in what later became known as the Doolittle Raid. When his plane crashed in Japanese-controlled China (instead of free China, where they were supposed to land) after the bombing, Jake and his crewmates were captured, imprisoned, and held for 40 months. During those 40 months (near the end), the men were given three books to share (even though they had separate cells – most of the time they were kept in solitary confinement). One of these was a Bible. Reading the Bible, Jake realized the truth behind his parents’ religion and became a Christian. His faith kept him going as his life continued to get worse.

When the war ended and Jake was released, he knew that God was telling him that he was to be a missionary – to Japan. I don’t know about you, but I know that I’d have a very hard time with this. It would be incredibly easy to be vindictive and have a “they don’t deserve salvation” attitude after going through the hardships of a prison camp (which are reasonably detailed in the book; I didn’t really mention them here). But Jake didn’t have this attitude. He knew that everyone – even the prison guards and others in Japan – deserved salvation just as much as he did. So upon returning to America, he got his discharge from the military and went to Seattle Pacific College to train for missions work in the Free Methodist Church. College is where he met Florence, who would become his wife. Florence knew that God was calling her to be a missionary, too, but she didn’t know to where. Meeting and marrying Jake made that decision for her. Upon graduation, the two of them started their family (they ended up with 5 children, 4 of whom were born in Japan – the oldest was a year and a half old when the went) and missionary work in Japan.

Our Experience

Because I was the one who chose this book (I didn’t confer with the boys at all on our choice), I decided I wanted to read it aloud to them. Munchkin likes to read, but mostly just the stuff he chooses to read. Seahawk is a fine reader, but he doesn’t like to read. He’d never pick up a book out of his own free will. And I didn’t want to miss this book. So reading it aloud was the best option for us.

watching the doolittle raid

Watching the Doolittle Raid newsreel.

While I would have loved to have made this book a full-blown unit study, it arrived during the time we were dealing with some personal stuff surrounding our old house and moving, so it just wasn’t going to work out this time around. We did, however, use the Bible verse memorization and reading comprehension pages in the study guide. In addition to reading the book and using the questions in the study guide, we supplemented our reading by learning more about the type of plane that Jake flew (a B25 Mitchell bomber) and about the Doolittle Raid itself. We found a newsreel on YouTube about the Raid and watched that. We talked extensively about what it would be like to have been in Jake’s shoes and how we would have reacted the the situations in which he found himself. Despite not using the study guide extensively, I still feel that we had a very rich experience reading this book.

Parts of the study guide that we didn’t utilize include essay/research prompts (compare Jacob before and after his conversion, learn about the GI Bill, talk about the history of Christianity in Japan, etc); creative writing (write a haiku, write journal entries from Jake’s point of view, etc); hands on activities (make an illustrated timeline, build a model B25 bomber, learn Morse code, etc); audio visual (make a website about Jacob De Shazer, etc); arts and crafts (illustrate Jake’s life using Manga techniques, create origami, etc); language (learn a few phrases in Japanese); and much, much more. With the proper preparation and materials, it would be really easy to use the study guide and biography together to make an amazing unit study.

Our first time reading a YWAM Publishing book, as I mentioned before, was “just okay.” Our second one could not have been better. I literally had a difficult time reading the last few pages to the boys because I felt like I knew Jake by the end, and reading about his dementia and death were devastating. I cried. I cannot recommend this book enough, and I truly hope more people will read it and learn the story of how one man – Jacob De Shazer – was able to forgive his enemies.

Blessings,

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Christian & History Heroes {YWAM Publishing Reviews}
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Picture of the Week: It’s Mine

Earlier this week, the bigger boys had ballet rehearsal (they’re gearing up for a performance next weekend). The ballet studio we use is pretty far from where we’re living right now (we’ll be moving closer mid to late summer), so I stay in town while they’re at class. This week, I took the two little boys to the park while we were waiting. They had loads of fun, but the funniest thing was Dragonfly. We brought a sippy cup of water for him because it was really hot that day, and every time he came down the slide, I asked him if he wanted me to hold his cup. He would pull it away from me and say “Mine!” (although when he says it, it sounds more like “Mah!”) and then head up the stairs again, tightly clutching his cup. He was so cute climbing and sliding with that cup held so close. 🙂

PITW Its Mine

Have a great weekend!

Blessings,

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Book Club: The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion (part 2)

Book Club with Lori

I cannot believe how long it took me to finish this book! Sheesh. Please believe me when I say it’s not because I didn’t like the book; it was pretty good. I just have a hard time making time for recreational reading these days.

Lori posted about it way back at the beginning of the month; I hope you’ll take a moment to read her thoughts.

Questions are from LitLovers. Spoiler alert is in effect.

A lot of Southern identity is wrapped up in one’s family history. “Now, just who are your people?” is an oft-quoted phrase around the region. Sookie’s biggest crisis comes when she realizes that her “people” aren’t actually who she thought they were. How does Sookie’s discovery of her true family affect her identity?

I think Sookie took the information of her own adoption to a crazy place. It’s one thing to be stunned and to then try to find out more about your “true” heritage, but the way she abandoned her adopted mother for a time and kept going on and on about how she “wasn’t a real Simmons” was over the top. It affected her too deeply, in my opinion. It completely changed her outlook on life and yes, her identity, in ways it shouldn’t have.

Though Sookie tells us that Lenore’s nickname, “Winged Victory,” came from the way she entered a room—as if she were the statuesque piece on the hood of a car rushing in—how might “Winged Victory” reflect Lenore’s personality in other ways? How might the image of a winged woman tie Lenore in with the ladies of the WASPs?

I can definitely understand the nickname Winged Victory for Lenore. She was a very bold person, just the type that would be all about winning things (Victory). Her boldness could also be like that of a bird of prey – and she did seem to prey on the people around her to a certain extent. The image of a winged woman relating to the WASP women is obvious – they flew airplanes, and a “winged woman” would be one who can fly.

Sookie’s best friend, Marvaleen, is constantly trying different suggestions from her life coach, Edna Yorba Zorbra. From journaling to yoga to the Goddess Within group, which meets in a yurt, Marvaleen tries every method possible to get over her divorce. How does Sookie’s approach to dealing with her problems differ from Marvaleen’s?

Marvaleen is all about trying gimmicky things to deal with her issues. Sookie is very pragmatic – she sees a therapist (albeit in secret, kind of). I think that shows that Sookie is more willing to face her problems head on than Marvaleen. While Marvaleen is busy doing yoga or going to fruity self-help groups, Sookie is getting professional help and actually talking over her problems with someone who can actually guide her in helping herself.

In The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion, we learn about a mostly unknown part of American history—the WASPs of World War II. These women went for thirty-five years without recognition because their records of service were sealed and classified. Were you surprised to learn about this?

The idea that the records were sealed is unfortunate, but for some reason didn’t surprise me. I’d never heard about the troupe, but it was a really neat aspect of the novel. What I did find surprising about the whole thing was the man at the end of the book who was running a WWII airplane museum, and when Sookie told him about the WASPs, he wasn’t the least bit interested – in fact, he seemed rather snooty about it when Sookie and her daughter suggested he include WASP history in his presentation. That didn’t feel real to me.

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So there you go… I really did enjoy this book, and if you’re a fan of the film Fried Green Tomatoes, I recommend reading this book – it’s by the same author.

Blessings,

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Learning to Type Methodically (The Typing Coach review)

For the past few weeks, my boys (the older two) have been learning to type using The Typing Coach Online Typing Course. This program works in a very methodical way, teaching students to type just a few letters at a time. The Typing Coach teaches the home row first, then the top row, and finally the bottom row and numbers. Each row is taught independently before being combined, and the course emphasizes absolute mastery before moving on.

The Typing Coach Review

The Typing Coach is very easily adaptable to individual students because it’s “work at your own pace.” The goal is one lesson per week, but it’s definitely not set in stone; we had to move slower in order for the boys to get the mastery that the course requires in order to move on.

There are a few things you need to do the course. One is a reliable internet connection to listen to the audio portions and download the typing practice sheets. The other is a computer with a word processor (I hope that’s obvious, but just in case…). The goal is that by the end of the course, students will be able to type a minimum of 10 words per minute with no more than one mistake per minute.

How It Works

 Once you’ve downloaded the practice sheets, you need to either print it out or have it available some other way for students to look at while they’re typing. (Having it in a different portion on the same screen isn’t ideal.) Our printer is currently out of ink, so I put the document on my iPad and the boys used iBooks to read it and type. Then, log in to your account and find the lesson you need. The very first one is all about posture; then you move on to actually typing. For each lesson, there’s an audio to listen to. The audio works in tandem (and sometimes separately) with the downloaded document. There are a lot of different components to the audio lessons:

  • Making sure you’re sitting properly and the keyboard is positioned correctly to your body.
  • Beginning to type what you see on the document.
  • Typing letters from dictation.
  • Turning off (or hiding) the monitor and typing from the document again.

(There might be other parts that I’ve missed, but this is what I remember based on when the boys did these lessons.)

The student can practice, using the downloaded practice sheet, as many days as is needed to master the assigned keys. When they feel confident, there’s a slightly different website to go to to take a test. On the testing website, students enter their name and a parent’s email address (or your own, if you’re taking the course as an adult). They enter the amount of time allowed for the test and choose the test they’re taking from a drop down menu. After you click “start,” a new screen opens up with a box in it. The time starts when the first key is typed in the box. At the end of the time, a report is automatically sent to the email address specified before the test began. If the student passed (no more than one mistake per minute), then they can move on to the next lesson. If they don’t, they should practice for another day or two and then try again.

How We Used It

The two older boys used the program pretty much as I described in the previous section. The boys would use my laptop (with the “print outs” on the iPad next to them) and follow the audio for the lesson they were on. After a few days of working on the lesson, they attempted the test. If they passed, they could move on. If not, they went back to the practice sheets for a few days before trying again. To date, they’re both still working on the home row, but we went through a bit of time right after we moved where we didn’t have reliable internet access, so we were unable to start the program as soon as I wanted. Additionally, the emphasis on mastery is such that just one week on a lesson hasn’t been enough for them. Now that things are settled down (mostly), they’re doing a lesson or having a 20-minute practice each school day. After two or three days of doing the lesson with the audio, they decided that they prefer to do the audio in the beginning, but just type when they’re gearing up for the test. Just yesterday, they both attempted a test and got 2 mistakes over 1 minute. While not terrible, this is too many for The Typing Coach, so they’ll spend today and tomorrow practicing before attempting the test again to (hopefully) be able to move on to the top row.

Our Thoughts on the Program

My boys love this! Even though they’re not making progress very fast, they are by no means getting discouraged. Every time he finishes a lesson or practice session, Munchkin tells me, “I love typing!” Seahawk hasn’t said anything quite so exuberant, but I can tell that he’s enjoying it as well. Just in a 13-year-old, too cool for school kind of way.

Finally

The Typing Coach Online Typing Course retails for $17 per year per student. If this fits into your homeschool budget, I highly recommend giving it a try. If your student is really motivated, they should be touch-typing by the end of the first quarter.

Blessings,

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The Typing Coach Online Typing Course {The Typing Coach Reviews}
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