Sunday, January 31, 2010

Lisa's Logbook - January 31

Outside: Overcast with light flurries. A little warmer than it has been lately. Though that is not saying much! lol

Sounds: The printer spitting out Spanish worksheets, Bob talking, the kids doing chores.

Home: Installing the "new" dryer and hoping it works!

Projects: Planning the essay writing class and gearing up to start writing web content articles (for pay! but peanuts...)

Pondering: what God is saying to me through the recent job search

Teaching: Got the February lesson plans set up. Changed EVERYTHING for David's Biology using Apologia as the base only - watch for a post on that. Working on Emily's General Science studies too.

Gratitude: Thanking God for relaxing days with friends

Recipes: Made toffee bars to take to a friend's house and they were a hit. Thinking about making quiche. Doing mostly pantry meals this week since I can't really buy groceries (except milk and a couple small things) until Thursday or Friday.

Duds: Jeans, navy tee, green flannel shirt, and thinking about putting on a sweatshirt.

Reads: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte for book club, Thirsty by Tracey Bateman (Christian vampire novel), and listening to Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

Vids: Doctor Who (season 2), My Life in Ruins, Bandidas, Finding Neverland, the new BBC Emma on PBS, Tim (an old Mel Gibson movie, really old!)

Hopes: that I can schedule several more writing classes for homeschoolers

Love: A huge full moon

Plans: Spanish classes, Keepers group (E/S), new Essay writing class, baby shower for a friend's daughter, Art class (E/J)

Pic: Can't find the USB cord! So no pic again this week. Sorry

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Lisa's Logbook - January 24

Outside: It's raining.

Sounds: earlier George Beverly Shea singing hymns (Bob's choice of music) - now it's Sing, Dance Laugh & Eat Tacos (my choice obviously)

Home: going to file the 2009 papers this week

Projects: TAX TIME

Pondering: the job possibilities

Teaching: Planning an essay writing class for local homeschooled high schoolers

Gratitude: Thankful for my van

Recipes: Made some tasty cheesecake squares to take to book club last night. YUM!

Duds: Jeans and the 5K grey long sleeved tee, pink hoodie, hair and makeup done (we went to church)

Reads: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte. I just finished the second book in the Hunger Games series (Catching Fire) and was appalled to find out it's a cliffhanger ending worse than the first book! I wanna read Book 3 immediately! But it's not published yet. Argh..... I finally also finished reading aloud Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey. David and James liked it. The girls, not so much.

Vids: Definitely, Maybe; X-men Origins: Wolverine; He's Just Not That Into You; Gamer; The Prince and the Pauper; the first installment of the new BBC Emma; Wedding Crashers

Hopes: that I can get caught up on blog reading (and commenting) this week! So far behind!

Love: My book club (I know I say that about once a month, but they're just AWESOME!!)

Plans: Spanish classes, interview, girls have dentist appts, Bob & David volunteering at My Brother's Keeper, Co-op this Friday

Pic: I got nothin'

Friday, January 22, 2010

Evaluating Your Children's Writing

I led a homeschool support group meeting Thursday night on the topic of Evaluating Your Children's Writing. I thought I'd share the outline from that meeting here and also the list of websites I handed out.

1 – Not all writing needs to be evaluated. Some can just be left as written.
2 – Choose your goals and communicate those to the student. Not every assignment needs to be polished. Not every item needs to be evaluated every time.
3 – Writing is highly subjective and difficult to evaluate (grade). Rubrics are very helpful for gaining a sense of objectivity, especially when you are close to the writer. (If you don't know what rubrics are or how to use them, check out some of the links below.)
4- What is Good Writing? (
• Ideas that are interesting and important.
• Organization that is logical and effective.
• Voice that is individual and appropriate.
• Word Choice that is specific and memorable.
• Sentence Fluency that is smooth and expressive.
• Conventions that are correct and communicative.

5 – Assessment is more than just grading. What is your purpose?
(Baseline, Instruction, Assessment)
6 - SAT/ACT Essay Scoring and Writing
7 – Motivation
8 – What do they need to write? (Grade level expectations)

ACT/SAT Essay Writing
ACT - ACT Write: The First Words on Essay Writing

Ten Tips for Composing a Successful Essay for the SAT or ACT

Official SAT Essay Scoring Guide

Official ACT Essay information

ACT Essay Writing Test Prep

17 ACT Essay Writing Prompts for Practice (LINK APPEARS TO BE BROKEN)
Since the link appears to have been taken down, I've uploaded the file to Google documents and you can download the .pdf file from HERE.

Free Online Writing Classes
FREE online seven-week writing course called "Make Your Voice Heard: Express Your Ideas Effectively." Topics include breaking the writing process into manageable steps, getting feedback by conferring with a partner, and packaging your message so that it receives the attention
you desire. Three of the lessons deal with specific aspects of editing: usage, punctuation, and conciseness. The course is appropriate for students (junior high or older) and for adults. To
register, visit

MIT Open CourseWare: Writing and Humanistic Studies Course Offerings (FREE)

10 Universities Offering Free Writing Courses Online

Rubrics for Writing Assessment

Generic Writing Rubric

Elementary/Intermediate Rubric

18 different writing rubrics ranging from grades 1-12

Writing rubrics for grades 3-11 (Word docs)

Letter Writing rubrics (friendly & business)

Graded Writing Rubrics (use the old archived site)

One more rubric

Resources for Learning More about Writing Assessment

Assessing Writers, Assessing Writing by Steve Peha (45 pp resource)

Marking & Grading: A few thoughts about a tricky subject by Andrew Pudewa

Teaching that Makes Sense – Many good writing resources

What is Good Writing

Student Writing Samples from every Grade

Writing Fix: Northern Nevada Writing Project

Also, here are the two publications I shared from the Michigan Dept of Ed on grade level expectations for writing. (If you weren't at the meeting, you didn't hear my comments on grade level expectations. PLEASE understand I only give them because people seem to like these
types of lists. I don't follow them myself and I don't want anyone to be overwhelmed by reading them. They are IDEALS only, in my humble opinion.) (High
School Writing, pp7-9)
(Grades K-8 Writing)

I also mentioned National Novel Writing Month quite a bit, since that has been extremely formative for our family's writing. Check out

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Struggling with Science Expectations

I wrote this post a couple months ago but didn't post it then. Further thought on the subject has not changed my mind, so here goes!

Science 3 credits
  • Biology 1 credit
  • Chemistry or Physics 1 credit
  • Plus 1 additional credit 1 credit
That is David's science requirement for graduation (class of 2013).

College expectations for high school graduation are also worthy of consideration, though basically the same: Biological & Physical Science 2 years required including 1 year of biological science and 1 year of physical science; 3 years strongly recommended. At least 1 year of a laboratory course is also strongly recommended. Biology, chemistry and physics should be taken if possible.

So, he is taking Biology this year, like a dutiful home-schooled 9th grader. But we both hate it. OK, maybe HATE is a strong word. I was all prepared to love the Apologia books, since one hears mostly wonderful things about them, but can you say "overkill", boys and girls?

It's just too much information!

I am finding the same thing with the Apologia upper level books that I found with the elementary ones. TOO MUCH DETAIL. I read some of David's Biology aloud to him and "learned" a lot about fungi. I put "learned" in quotation marks because I didn't really learn anything although I read it.

Oh so useful. Can you hear the heavy sarcasm in my voice? I have made it to 43 years of age without knowing about the classifications of fungi and I have not missed the knowledge. Why does my 14yo need to know it? He's not going to be a biologist or a doctor and, as I said, he has ZERO interest in life science.

Of course students need a basic grounding, but this level of detail seems unnecessary to me. If I ever "learned" it, it didn't stick. To be totally fair, I looked at a secular publisher's biology book online and compared it to the Apologia chapter on biology and the information is very similar in depth and scope. So, it isn't just Apologia, but science textbooks in general?

Isn't that one of the reasons I chose to teach my children at home? So they don't have to do exactly what the schooled kids are doing? Why should we use a boring text if we don't find it interesting or effective? What if I can motivate him to learn Biology better in another way?

I was actually thinking about just setting these books aside and doing some "delight-directed" science learning instead.


I have not stopped thinking about it. I am very seriously considering changing curricula, although not replacing the books with anything specific. I just don't find the "read-a-boring-chapter-and-then-answer-nitpicky-questions-and-then-take-a-long-test" method of education very effective.

David probably will go into engineering or computers in some way. Therefore science (Physics especially) is of importance to him. NOT Life Science though. He is utterly uninterested in Biology.

OK, so what I've chosen to do is find some interactive activities online to replace some of the boring text. I've found several already for Module 5. The experiments are, of course, interesting to him - at least for the most part. So, we'll keep those. And I will require a learning journal.

But the process of 1 - read a chapter, 2 - answer questions, 3 - take a test usually leads to 4 - forget the bulk of the info to make room for the new info. I'd prefer my kids to glean some principles that they actually retain. Hopefully this will work.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Lisa's Logbook - January 17

Outside: No idea. Haven't been outside! Scrapbooking time!

Sounds: chatting amongst friends (NO KIDS), dialogue on TV

Home: The family is there, but I am not!

Projects: Scrapping 2008 pictures! Also working this week on a talk about evaluating writing.

Pondering: how Meijer could print my pictures so badly! Heads cropped off! Argh!

Teaching: Not thinking about TEACHING right now....

Gratitude: So glad that my friends and I have the opportunity to get together!

Recipes: Made Taco Pie for my meal contribution this weekend. Lots of yummy snacks around....

Duds: Jeans, red long-sleeved stretchy shirt

Reads: Deeper than the Dead by Tami Hoag

Vids: Watched 12 movies this weekend!

Hopes: that the weekend will never end.......

Love: Scrapbooking weekends with my best friends!

Plans: First Oxford Spanish class this week, the girls have Keepers, speaking at a homeschool meeting Thursday, Sledding on Friday, book club Saturday.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Lisa's Logbook - January 10

Outside: Quite COLD, but some sun peeked through today. Now it's dark. Lots of snow on the ground.

Sounds: Bob telling Suzy to go do the dishes. Now she's singing.

Home: Projects spread all over - Spanish stuff, scrapbooking stuff, pictures to hang, stuff for sale, a craft project of the girls', and lesson planning stuff!

Projects: Sorting supplies and checking if I have pix for a scrapbooking weekend! Also trying hard to get 10 weeks of Spanish completely planned so I don't have to think about it until after Easter.

Pondering: how I can come home from church all excited about the sermon and my husband can just be indifferent.

Teaching: The lesson plans are all done for January, except that pesky Science! Now if I could only print everything out. Why does the ink always vanish when you need it most?

Gratitude: So thankful that I was able to order glasses for David and Emily AND that their new insurance covers the polycarbonate lenses that I had to pay extra for on the old insurance. Also very thankful that James and Suzy don't NEED glasses.

Recipes: Going to cook a ham tomorrow.

Duds: Black yoga pants, grey long sleeved tee, grey hoodie, pink striped socks, hair and makeup done since I went to church (but I changed my clothes)

Reads: A Bride in the Bargain by Deeanne Gist

Vids: Gran Torino, Twister, part of Star Trek (ran out of time, but want to watch the rest sometime), and watched/listened to the commentary for Someone Like You while I sorted pictures. Tried watching a couple of TV shows my friend lent me, but couldn't get into them (Reckless - Masterpiece Theater & Keen Eddie)

Hopes: Bob put his resume in for two promising jobs. Pray he gets a callback. He just needs a chance!

Love: I love to be able to share things with people!

Plans: Dentist and doctor appointments for the kids this week. I have a SECOND interview on Thursday. Our first co-op of the year is Friday. Bob works M, W, F 10-6:30. I am going away scrapping for the weekend!

Pic: Suzy wrote me a note the other day.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Jumping Back In

I spent my energy teaching this week instead of blogging. LOL My goal was to jump right back into the routine on Monday and do a full week of lessons.

We did it! I didn't add in science for anyone except David, but we did all our other subjects. Even history, which has been a sticking point for us all year.

I decided to just move Emily on in math even though she still can't consistently do a couple of non-essential concepts. She needs to get on with the basics. So, who cares about the area of a parallelogram? Do YOU know how to do it without looking?

David had fun with the microscope again. He was catching up on some of his assignments from units before we got the scope. One of the things he looked at was algae, similar to the photo here. He seems to really enjoy his choice for literature - Tolkien's Silmarillion for literature. Challenging choice!

Suzy surprised me with her good attitude toward her phonics and reading. An older friend has been encouraging her with reading and hopefully that is helping. She also wanted to do Spelling (which I generally don't start until age 8 or 3rd grade) so we did a little Spelling also.

My speedy one is James. He plugs away at his work without distraction until it is finished. He is usually first to complete his assignments each day. He is reading Farmer Boy (and so is Emily, though it's easy for her) and seems to find it interesting. We are doing a free lapbook study to enhance the story.

Monday, January 4, 2010

10 Instant De-Stressors

Today we started back to our regular lessons. What can I say about it?

Some of it went well - David sang during the hymn time. That helps on the first day of the month when the little ones can't necessarily keep up with following along. He loves his new literature choice - The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien. (Yeah, I'm surprised too.)

Suzy read a whole Bob book without whining!

James got all his work done in a timely manner and mostly cheerfully. He seems to like his new book too - Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Notice someone missing?

'Nuff said.

Anyway, I was perusing the Feb. 1 issue of Woman's Day from the library and ran across an article called 10 Instant Destressors. I can't locate the article online, or I'd link you. So, I'll list them here for you. Maybe one of them will help, if you had a stressful day.

1 - Listen to slow music.
2 - Give yourself a time-out.
3 - Burn a scented candle.
4 - Laugh.
5 - Lend a hand (help someone out).
6 - Walk with a friend.
7 - Listen up. (Give emotional support to someone.)
8 - Chew sugarless gum.
9 - Distract yourself. (Their example was BEJEWELED! lol I love Bejeweled!)
10 - Loosen your clothing.

I think I'll go play some Bejeweled.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Lisa's Logbook - January 3

For 2010, I thought I'd shake things up just a little and change up my daybook. No longer is it the "Simple Woman's Daybook". I'm not really all that simple. I think I'm rather complex, actually. But I'll keep the logbook simple. lol

Outside: Frigid. Overcast. The kind of weather you don't want to go out in.

Sounds: An audiobook playing upstairs and the bumping around that I hope means they are straightening up their rooms.

Home: Took down the Christmas decorations yesterday.

Projects: Working on some writing. A New Year's letter should emerge soon. Lesson plans.

Pondering: this new Logbook format. Not sure if I like it. What do you think?

Teaching: Lessons are starting back up here tomorrow. Ready to get back into a routine! Also working on Spanish lesson plans.

Gratitude: I'm thankful for a warm place to live.

Recipes: Making a roast right now and going to use up several small boxes of sides that I have - garlic mashed taters, turkey stuffing, minute rice. Made some jello and going to serve the last of the Christmas cookies.

Duds: Yesterday's jeans, grey long-sleeved tee, grey sweatshirt, slippers, a bit of makeup

Reads: The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde (recommended by Darlene) and then A Bride in the Bargain by Deanne Gist. Last week, I read The Hunger Games which I recommend for teens and adults alike.

Vids: finished watching BBC Robin Hood Season 3; Adventureland, (500) Days of Summer, Julie & Julia, and Night at the Museum 2.

Hopes: That I can get the lesson plans done tonight and that the printer decides to co-operate.

Love: White chocolate covered Oreos. Yummy!

Plans: Eye doctor appointments for me and the kids this week, Bob has a dr appt. I have an interview on Wednesday morning. Kids have art class. Bob works 3 days only (M,W,Sa)


I was asked for a pic of my room with the desk in it. So here you go.I am standing in the doorway with the camera. The white blurry thing is the doorframe in the lower right corner of the pic.The desk is immediately to the right. You can't see the chair in the pic. The bed is a queen and it fills the room pretty well. Before we had the head of the bed against the left-hand wall and there was only a small margin of space to walk in to get around it. This is actually better except I have to crawl in at the foot of the bed.

So there you have it. :::grins:::

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Year Meme

New Year Meme
1. What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before?
Ran a 5K
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I did make some and kept some. I already made some for 2010 (see the end of the post).
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Several friends had babies in 2009.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
5. What countries did you visit?
No jaunts to other countries in 2009.
6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?
Enough money
7. What dates from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Sept 20 - my first 5K
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Losing 35 pounds
9. What was your biggest failure?
Not following through with my freelance writing business
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nothing serious
11. What was the best thing you bought?
My huge thesaurus
12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

My husband
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

My own
14. Where did most of your money go?

Paying bills
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

The release of An Echo in the Bone, the newest installment in the Outlander saga by Diana Gabaldon
16. What song will always remind you of 2009?

Bust a Move (Young MC)
17. Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder?

about the same
18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Querying agents and writing
19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
20. How did you spend Christmas?

A nice relaxing day at home with the kids - gifts, ham dinner, birthday party for Jesus, watching movies and letting the kids sleep under the tree.
21. Did you fall in love in 2009?

22. What was your favorite TV program?

Robin Hood (BBC)
23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

24. What was the best book you read?

Wow, only one? I can't pick just one, but here are a few: A Thousand Splendid Suns, Jane Eyre, Everybody's Normal Until You Get to Know Them, The Count of Monte Cristo, unChristian. Plus the 3 books by Diana Gabaldon I read in 2009.
25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

High School Musical ;-)
26. What did you want and get?

Spanish classes to teach
27. What did you want and not get?

a publishing contract
28. What was your favorite film of this year?

17 Again!
29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Taught Spanish, took David to soccer practice and chatted with Darlene
30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Having enough money to pay all the bills and buy the things we need
31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009?

Mostly casual
32. What kept you sane?

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Hugh Jackman and then Zac Efron
34. What political issue stirred you the most?

the CPSIA legislation: Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act
35. Who did you miss?
people who dropped out of co-op and people from work
36. Who was the best new person you met?
maybe Jen V, though I think that we met in 2008, but only really got to know each other in 09
37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009.
Being a friend isn't easy but it is worth it.
38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

We've got to hold on to what we've got 'Cause it doesn't make a difference if we make it or not. We've got each other and that's a lot for love - we'll give it a shot. We're half way there - Livin' on a prayer. Take my hand and we'll make it I swear - livin' on a prayer.

Resolutions for 2010
1 - Train for and run a 10K.
2 - Lose at least 12 more pounds.
3 - Call a friend every day.
4 - Work on completing my 101 in 1001 Days goals.