Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Schoolhouse Review: Notebooking Pages Lifetime Membership #hsreviews #notebooking #journaling

Notebooking Pages Lifetime Membership Reviews


On my list of skills to work on improving during the new school year are handwriting and personal research and I have found a valuable resource tool in the homeschool notebook pages over at NotebookingPages.com.  For purposes of review, we received the Notebooking Pages Lifetime Membership and it is making a huge difference in how we approach learning at our home.  I knew there just had to be a better way to create lifelong learners without completely losing all of our joy -- and I knew there had to be something out there that would work for my high schoolers.  It seems like it was a little easier to find creative ways to teach and learn when my children were all in elementary grades, so I was excited to find out that NotebookingPages.com would work for students of all ages -- high schoolers included.

We are busy by nature and always on the go to our next activity, so there is no time in our schedule for things that my children see as straight-up busywork.  Part of why we homeschool is so that we can skip the fluff.  I've heard tales of notebooking working in the lives of several of my homeschooling friends, and I was eager to give it a try at Long Leaf Academy.  But going into it, I knew that if notebooking and journaling was going to work for my family, I would need quality pages that engaged my two high schoolers without a dumbed-down feel.  I have been more than pleased because that's exactly what Debra Reed offers through NotebookingPages.com.  If you are even a little bit skeptical, you'll want to stop reading this review and head right on over to read Debra's story of how they escaped the doom and gloom of homeschooling busywork and moved right into freedom through notebooking.  {Seriously, go read it.  I'll wait. And while you are there, you can go ahead and sign up for the FREE 600+ page Sampler and tutorial.}

Notebooking Pages Lifetime Membership Reviews

Here's what I've decideded:  "Notebooking" is a creative way to engage students in active learning as they are required to search out the material of study as they fill in blank (or lined) pages as assigned and create notebooks of knowledge.  Notebooking is a personalized scrapbook of individualized learning that allows students to dream and study and enjoy school because they are creating keepsakes that they will treasure for years to come.  Notebooking allows your students to tell their very own story and explore the world around them.   NotebookingPages.com makes it easy to begin and simple to continue because all of the work is done for you.  The Lifetime Membership is just that -- good for a lifetime -- and they are continually adding new pages and designs to meet the needs and desires of all.  That's pretty impressive in and of itself because there is a TON of stuff just waiting for you to print out for your students.  Seriously -- a ton.  As of right now, there are 1,000s of pages available to you.  You simply decide where you want to begin.

It really is that simple.  Pages come in varieties that are sure to please every child and momma.  There are blank pages, pages with dashed-line grids for early writers, and pages with notebook-type lines for older students.  You can choose from blank "Any Study" formats that allow your children to pick colors and designs for any type of study they desire or you can choose from specific pages from each of the following subject areas:

  • A-Z alphabet copywork
  • Bible and Character Studies (these include pages for Old and New Testament characters, Quiet Time pages, Character Trait study pages, and Bible Study templates)
  • Famous People -- including First Ladies, Presidents, Missionaries, Artists, Composers, Poets, Scientists, and Explorers
  • Fine Arts -- which includes Artists & Picture Studies as well as Composers and Listening Pages
  • Geography -- Continents, Countries, the USA, and World maps
  • History -- timelines for Ancient Times, Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation, and Modern Times
  • Holidays -- pages for holidays from each month of the year
  • Language Arts -- Spelling Logs, Writing Helps, Reading Logs, and beautifully designed pages for copywork and poetry, plus Latin & Greek Word Study pages
  • Science and Natural History -- pages for Animals, Nature Study, Experiments, Plants, and Astronomy
See what I mean?  There is a little bit of EVERYTHING at NotebookingPages.com.  



The Quiet Time pages come in several designs which are perfect for my crew.  The Princess has chosen to utilize the pink pages as pictured below.  There are also blue pages and the "my daily walk" pages.  The simple format of each makes digging into GOD's Word easy and the questions direct study and Bible reading times and encourage growth through accountability.  I like that.


We've chosen to pair the Character Trait study pages with the Quiet Time pages and the act of writing out the habits and attitudes that need to be uprooted is amazing.  My kids are paying closer attention to qualities that matter and are finding ways to cultivate positive change in their lives.


There are so many different pages and so many ways to use them all.  The holiday studies are way cool and the author pages are some of my favorite.  I am looking forward to continued positive change this year as my children fall in love with learning all over again.  I am excited to see how NotebookingPages.com helps with improved handwriting and research skills.  I know that it is important to cultivate independent learners before my kids head off to college and I feel like this is the perfect tool to do just that.   




You can find out more about the lifetime membership to Debra Reed's HUGE library of notebooking and journaling pages by visiting the following Social Media sites:


Notebooking Pages Lifetime Membership Reviews

And you'll want to make sure you check out the FREE resources available that I mentioned earlier.  There is something here for EVERY homeschooling family.




Crew Disclaimer

I was given the opportunity to review NotebookingPages.com as a member of the Schoolhouse ReviewCrew.   You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the Schoolhouse ReviewCrew thought of it as well (or just click on the banner below) and you'll see how it worked for families with children of all different ages, interests, grade levels, and writing skills.

Notebooking Pages Lifetime Membership Reviews
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Monday, June 27, 2016

Schoolhouse Review: LearnBop Math #hsreviews #learnbop #onlinemath #homeschoolmath

LearnBop for Families Review
Math is not our thing.  It is a struggle.  every.single.day.  I was excited for the opportunity for my girl to use the a brand-new-to-homeschoolers online math program from LearnBop called LearnBop for Families.   LearnBop has been around for quite some time, but they've catered to the school environment and are just finding their way into the homeschool arena with math programming for 3rd - 12th graders.  How fortunate we are that they are doing so.  We received a 12-month subscription of the Single Student Plan and I am so glad that we did.

My girl has struggled with hated math and all math concepts since day one -- truly for as long as I can remember.  She absolutely, positively does not see the value that math has for her future and high school math requirements are kicking her tail.  She says she just cannot do the required maths and is frustrated with herself at the less than stellar record she has thus far.  As you can imagine, when I introduced yet another "math program" to her, she was not the least bit enthusiastic and predetermined not to be impressed.

We decided that we would approach LearnBop as a personal math tutor instead of a new math "program" and she could take a relaxed learning approach while using it.  Upon setup, I chose the Roadmap (math level based either on grade level or specific mathematical concepts or high school math course title:  Algebra 1, Algebra 2, or Geometry) that I wanted the Princess to be at and she was able to choose an icon to represent her as she wished.  Before beginning the actual course work and progressing along the Roadmap on stops called bops, students first complete a warm-up exercise of 10 math word problems.  This warm-up helps determine what a student is ready to learn and places them exactly where they need to be to master the given concepts.

Remember that I said I chose the Roadmap that I wanted my daughter to be at?  Thank goodness that LearnBop thought ahead and allowed me the opportunity to change the Roadmap if I got her in over her head.  Our first try was WAY OVER her head.  Trying to work through the first set of warm-up exercises was like trying to read a foreign language in her opinion.  "What IS a box plot, mom?  And WHY do I care?  Hello??  Quartile??"  She was ready to throw her hands up and give up until we adjusted the path and started anew.  [How's that for keeping it real in reviews?]

LearnBop for Families Review

Once the correct Roadmap was chosen and the "foreign language" was understood, my daughter was happier to complete the warm-up exercise -- and that's where the learning really began.  The warm-up is designed to identify learning gaps and help each student succeed.  The cool thing here is that the Roadmap self-adapts as your child works through it to be just what a student needs right when they need it.  There is no reason to spend hours on math concepts you've already mastered.  The self-paced nature makes it easier for a student to feel successful and step-by-step help is available with the click of a button at any time it is needed.  For example, when students mark an incorrect answer, LearnBop breaks down each portion of a problem and walks them through how to find the correct answer.

Each Roadmap is broken down into "Bops" that include short videos (we've not encountered one longer that 5 minutes yet and that's perfect for my daughter's attention span) and lessons and require 90% mastery before students move forward.  Here's what she likes  . . . a lot.  The videos are short, but they are interesting.  Different people voice them and they are illustrated with bright colors and cool fonts.  The math problems are relevant to her everyday life with questions that ask about cell phone distractions and baseball statistics, so they don't have a "boring baby math" feel.  They contain what she calls "bells and whistles" as she is directed to pull up graph pieces, move answer boxes, and choose the correct statements.  She can use her laptop and as she answers correctly, she can map her progress and actually SEE success.  When she masters concepts, the program tells her she has done so and gives her the option of continuing to practice or begin something new.  I love that she is motivated to keep learning.

And what does she not like?  She's not so thrilled that you still have to use paper and pencil to work some of the problems and she is not a huge fan of the time it takes to complete a lesson.  I think kids today think paper and pencil is archaic -- but it's a necessity that I'm not yet ready to give up.  As far as the time it takes to complete her lessons go -- she's getting faster as she becomes more comfortable with the problems.   It builds character, for sure.              

Has my girl fallen in love with math as a result of LearnBop?  No.  But, she has improved her skills and understanding of concepts and I am seeing a positive growth in her scores as her frustration level diminishes.  I have to be completely honest and tell you that at this point in the year, that's good enough for me.   She is learning that math is not the enemy and progress comes the more you work.  I'll take it!  You can find out even more about the personal tutor/self-adjusting math program LearnBop for Families from LearnBop by visiting the following Social Media sites:





Crew Disclaimer

I was given the opportunity to review LearnBop for Families from LearnBop as a member of the Schoolhouse ReviewCrew.   You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the Schoolhouse ReviewCrew thought of it as well (or just click on the banner below) and you'll see how it worked for families with children of all different ages and grade levels.

LearnBop for Families Review

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Saturday, June 25, 2016

Heartsong 2016 {Scripture & a Snapshot}


Worship led by this group of kids was phenomenal.  My heart sings.


I'm joining with my friend Jennifer over at a glimpse of our life as we give glory to GOD through our photos.


Scripture and Snapshot
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Friday, June 24, 2016

Schoolhouse Review: My School Year (Homeschool Record Keeping) #hsreviews #homeschoolorganization

MySchoolYear.com Review

I've tried many different ways to keep our homeschooling plan on track through the years, and I've finally found one that is both simple to utilize and easy to implement.  The My School Year (Homeschool Record Keeping) program by MySchoolYear.com is an online organizational tool that is helping me to become a more efficient homeschooling mama as I work on planning and maintaining our focus for the new school year.  For review purposes, we received an Annual Membership and I am putting mine to good use with Reading Lists, Extracurricular Activity trackers, Field Trip and Event planners, and Class and Lesson Plan schedulers.

There are lots of ways to use My School Year from attendance tracking and class scheduling to recording grades and even creating high school transcripts.  The website is colorful, direct, and easy-to-use and interfaces well on my iPhone. It's a great way to keep everything all together in one place and allows easy access for me to find out the total number of hours both of my children spend in volunteer service, on educational field trips, and out in the workforce.  Although I keep a color-coded calendar of who is supposed to be where when, the My School Year program offers a simple way for me to actually track cumulative hours spent studying, reading, and doing life and makes it easy to transfer those hours directly onto their transcript through reports.  I am not required to track the hours spent in "class" or the number of days spent in formal learning, but I do like to see the big picture of how we spend our time serving in our community and learning about the world around us.

You can see how this works on the Extracurricular Activities report for my son that is pictured below:

For this report, I have been compiling all of the activities that he has been or will be involved in this summer.  Beginning with his stint at Boy's State in May/June and ending with volunteer work with Camp ShadyRest at the end of July, he will be a busy guy.   We can list the start and end dates for each activity, name the organization he is working with and his position for that particular activity, and list the hours he will serve and see a running total of time spent.  This makes for the perfect record for future resumes, as well.  As you can see, for two of his summer activities, we could easily determine beforehand how long he would be involved.  For others, we will edit once the activity is completed and re-run the report so that his hour total is most accurate.  What I like most about this is that My School Year gives me the open-ended option for ongoing activities.

Another of my favorite uses of My School Year is the Reading List.  Of course, each child in a family is different and what works for one or two may not work for all.  I am finding this to be especially true as we enter the home stretch of high school with my last two children.  For my older girls, I was able to prepare lists of books to read and things to accomplish and they methodically worked through those lists.  They were self-motivators who aimed to please.  For my younger two children, this does not work.  The technological distractions found in their rooms make it difficult for them to simply "work through a list."   I have found that although they need and want lists of assignments, they also need tools to hold them accountable to fulfilling the items on their lists.  My School Year offers both.  I can make a Reading List AND my children can be held accountable to read the books on the list.  I like that I can set up the My School Year Reading List in such a way that they know what is expected and they have to report what they accomplish.

Check out the required reading that I've put together for part of my daughter's 10th grade year.  This is a list of books that I want her to read for a Marriage and Family class.  I have chosen eleven books so far, but I have the freedom to edit and add more as we go through the web interface.  To create a Reading List, you add the title and author of the books to be read and assign it to your child.  What I find most impressive here is that my daughter will have the chance to log the amount of time she spends reading and the number of pages she reads at a time.  This will make a great record for us both to be able to check her work against the time she spends in her room.  What a win for accountability. 





There are so many cool ways to use My School Year and each user is able to tailor the program to best work for their family.  I like the unique aspect of making it mine.  I am currently working on creating lesson plans for the next year and determining exactly what all I want my children to accomplish for 10th and 12th grades.  I intend to go into this year with a better plan laid out for all of us and I think that doing so will lessen our stress level since we will all know what is expected.  We want to make sure to cover the core subject areas, but also want to be intentional about scheduling time to enjoy unconventional learning as well.  My School Year is helping me to relax as it removes the worry of "are we doing enough?" and offers my children a stress-free plan of action.
MySchoolYear.com Review
You can find out more about how to best utilize My School Year (Homeschool Record Keeping) from MySchoolYear.com  by visiting the following Social Media sites:



And you'll  want to make sure to visit the Crew blog and read some of the other reviews to see how each family used My School Year.  With so many different features, you're sure to find one or two or ten that you just can't live without.



Crew Disclaimer

I was given the opportunity to review My School Year (Homeschool Record Keeping) as a member of the Schoolhouse ReviewCrew.   You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the Schoolhouse ReviewCrew thought of it as well (or just click on the banner below.)

Homeschool Record Keeping {MySchoolYear.com Review}
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Sunday, June 19, 2016

Expedition Norway {Scripture & a Snapshot}



Join us at New Heights Baptist Church for a great week of fun!




I'm joining with my friend Jennifer over at a glimpse of our life as we give glory to GOD through our photos.


Scripture and Snapshot
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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Schoolhouse Review: Forbrain Headset #hsreviews, #forbrain #ADD #ADHD #sensoryintegration

Forbrain – Sound For Life Ltd Review

We've had the distinct pleasure of reviewing the Forbrain headset by Forbrain -- Sound For Life Ltd over the past few months and we have made sure to put it through the paces to see just how well it works.  We've used it to improve reading comprehension, to aid in Bible verse and key passage memorization, to practice Boy's State and Girl Scout presentations, and to even have a little fun while practicing the piano and singing.  I am simply amazed by how well it accomplishes just what it says it will in such a short amount of usage time (just 20 minutes a day does wonders for teenagers!).   Every member of my immediate family has been seen wearing the smart little headset around the house -- and I've shared it at a reading boot camp at a local school library.  My Occupational Therapy grad student even gave it a whirl and says it will be a valuable therapy tool for her.  There are tons of neat uses for this great little invention and we are working hard to take part in all of them.  Techno-gadgets make my family happy and Forbrain is no exception.  So much more than just a techno-gadget, though, Forbrain is definitely an active learning tool.

 
Forbrain – Sound For Life Ltd Review

Forbrain is a headset device comprised of a high quality microphone (that sits perfectly at your mouth), dual suspension bone conduction speakers (resting on the bone just in front of your ears), and a dynamic filter that processes your voice and transmits it immediately to your ears so that you can hear exactly what you are saying and how you sound.  This simultaneous audio-vocal loop improves the quality of the sounds you make as you auto-correct and gives a complete sensory workout.  This is perfect for those with sensory integration issues as it allows them to slow down and block out the noise of the world around them as they focus solely on the task at hand.  Be it reading or speaking, singing or studying, students find this to be the a most wonderful helper.

At my house, the Forbrain headseat device has been used to improve memory and testing scores and is serving to make reading more "fun."  For my child who just "doesn't like to read," being able to wear the Forbrain headset makes it better.  She will gladly spend 15-30 minutes reading if she can do so with the aid of the Forbrain.  Actually, everything is better when wearing the headset.  I've been amazed at how much more piano practice, Bible Drill practice, and poetry recitation goes on since it came into our house.  My 15-year-old thinks that Forbrain is "the best thing we've ever used, Mom."  She really does love it.  So much so that she wears it for just about everything she does only taking breaks to let it charge.

We put the Forbrain device to the test recently at the reading boot camp in a room of seven children either reading aloud and answering comprehension questions, working through reading websites on the computer, or playing vocabulary games on the iPad.  I had each student join me at a table in the center of the room one at a time.  Using the device, they each read aloud the short stories they had completed that morning and answered the accompanying comprehension questions.   Without fail, each child exclaimed how "cool" it was to hear their own voice and how much easier reading was with the Forbrain headset.  They were super-excited to be able to use it and paid close attention as they read aloud for me.  The best thing, though, was that they were able to focus as they read and were able to self-correct the incorrect answers to the comprehension questions as they reviewed them to me.  After listening to them read for several weeks without Forbrain, I was simply amazed at the difference in the fluidity of their reading skill it made.  An added bonus was listening to the speech improvement of one child because she could actually hear herself speak.  How's that for the win?
Reading Boot Camp Stars

This has been a great addition to our school day and I've been honored to share it with friends.  I encourage you to check out the science behind why this works.  Forbrain -- Sound For Life Ltd has done extensive research and evaluation and the results are shared on the website.  This is really neat technology for speech and language difficulties and I've seen first-hand how it can help with reading difficulties, improve speech, and improve attention span in my own children and those I volunteer to serve.  Children of all ages can easily use it alone or it can be used in partnership with their parents.  Adults young and old will find it to be most beneficial as well as they work to improve their confidence and their vocal quality and timber.


Forbrain – Sound For Life Ltd Review

You can find out even more about using your voice to train your brain with the  Forbrain headseat device from Forbrain -- Sound For Life Ltd by visiting the following Social Media sites:






Crew Disclaimer

I was given the opportunity to review Forbrain from Forbrain -- Sound For Life Ltd as a member of the Schoolhouse ReviewCrew.   You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the Schoolhouse ReviewCrew thought of it as well (or just click on the banner below.)

Forbrain – Sound For Life Ltd Review

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Sunday, June 12, 2016

Peculiar but Chosen {Scripture & a Snapshot}



Another great year of StudentLife Camp at Shocco Springs is in the books.  What a perfect way for us to begin our summer as we were reminded to live SET APART.




I'm joining with my friend Jennifer over at a glimpse of our life as we give glory to GOD through our photos.

Scripture and Snapshot



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