Monday, August 30, 2010

Welcome to my iSchool

Blog cruise time again this week!

"Do you use technology (iPods, Computers, Videos, Digi. Cams,etc.) in your homeschool? " is the Blog Cruise question this week.

Uhhhh, yeah, maybe you could say that.  LOL! 

Let's take a look at some of the main things we do via technology in our schooling.

Online Classes:  We participate in a number of online courses.  Connor takes Latin through Lone Pine Classical and has for years.  In this case, he has an expert Latin teacher -- something I most certainly am not -- and gets to interact with classmates on a weekly basis.  He submits schoolwork via email and by taking quizzes and tests at a site called Quia.

All three of my big guys are participating this fall in courses at Virtual Homeschool Group.  Connor has been taking Biology there since earlier this year, but starting this fall, various kids will be taking sciences, math, and even a writing course.  There are live classes where the kids can interact with classmates, and they can upload assignments like lab reports.  There are also quizzes/tests.

Miscellaneous others -- we have taken a number of shorter classes too.  Apologia has offered a bunch of free single classes this summer on apologetics and science topics.  Lukeion periodically offers a free course in subjects relating mostly to classical archaeology, and we're hoping to put Thomas into one of their 4 week workshops this year.  Science Jim offers some amazing courses in science, obviously. 

Getting the chance to have my kids interact with teachers who love what they are teaching, and to interact with other kids from around the world in those classes?  That is one of the huge perks of homeschooling in this technological age.

Web-based programs and computer software:  over the past couple of years, we have used a lot of online programs and computer programs to enhance our learning, or to make it so the kids can work a little more independently.  This year, some of those include:
  • Mathletics (all four boys can work at appropriate levels of math)
  • IXL Math (my four younger children can work on math in a different way)
  • Explode the Code Online (Thomas is whipping through the ETC books this way.  Love the way this is set up for him.)
  • Master Reader (William is currently working through this software/book program, Thomas will start soon)
  • Mavis Beacon (typing instruction, oh, yeah, this is necessary)
  • Read, Write and Type (a combination of typing AND reading -- lovely program)

iPod School:   This is where I started with iSchool.  We listen to podcasts such as Merriam Webster Word of the Day, Podictionary, and Answers... with Ken Ham.  We download books from Librivox.  We borrow audiobooks from the library.  We own Story of the World and some Jonathan Park.  We own 4-5 different audio Bibles (and are currently listening to the Word in Promise Bible as a 90 day challenge).

With at least one child who is severely dyslexic, audiobooks have been a tremendous gift.  We are able to continue with work that is appropriate for him, even though he would really struggle if he actually had to do all the reading.  Apologia General Science, here we come... owning the mp3 of the text means he CAN take it this year.  If he had to read it independently, it would be very slow going indeed.  His reading is improving dramatically, but not enough to keep him working at an appropriate level in science.

We listen to stuff either straight from the computer at home, or on the iPod either through a boombox or through the car stereo.  We will listen to a week of history (Story of the World) on our drive to Scouts.  On our trip to see the grandparents next month, we will be going through a number of read-alouds.  Some we own (we had subscribed to Audible -- highly recommend them!), some from the library.  Sixteen hours in a car passes much more quickly while listening to great children's literature.  We've been very heavy iPod listeners since our first iPod -- a 1st generation shuffle that we got free in some promotion. 

A resource I reviewed long, long ago when I was just getting started on this blogging thing is Listening to Learn.  I'd recommend it if you are just starting to use audio technology in your schooling.

iPod School part 2:  And now that we own two iPod Touch versions, and have discovered the world of apps... oh, yeah, even more variations on iPod school.  My absolute favorite is iHomeEducator and their iLive Math products.  We now own, ummm, one or two.  Okay, six.  They have more that we DO NOT own, though, really.  I'm working on a review of the ones we have, hopefully to post later this week.  The two we don't own cover topics (for my older kids) in geometry and fractions (Oceans), and mean, median, mode and range (Ford Cars).  The basic concept with all the titles is that you have fantastic photos on a theme, and then you have word problems that relate to that theme... at the lowest levels, the problems are pretty much all basic addition and subtraction.  But at the higher levels you can cover all kinds of stuff.  If I had to recommend ONE program only, I'd recommend iLiveMath Speed -- as the level 3 covers distance = rate * time in a bunch of different ways, and I think it is just excellent.  I'll try to link my review later this week...

Other apps, though, that we are using in our school include pdf readers, dictionaries, a flash card program, some other math games, and Logos for Bible.

Videos:  We do a lot of video schooling as well.  I love them for supplementing especially.  Absolute favorites are the set of Electric Company DVDs, Mathtacular, Math Tutor DVD (a review is coming next week of a couple more of them, but here's a review from last year), Discover and Do Science, and most anything put out by Schlessinger Video.

We also do entire courses by video.  VideoText Algebra comes to mind.

In conclusion:

It may sound like we are constantly plugged in.  And I do want to say that, well, some days it feels that way too.  But really... the above is highlighting the technology over a couple of years for a few kids.

I think high school for my children is going to be pretty high-tech, with a greater reliance on online courses, subscription-based courses, or video courses.  And continued use of supplements delivered via internet, iPod or DVD.

But we do read a LOT.  And while some of that is via the iPod, most is not.  And even with science courses online, we spend a lot of time doing real experiments. 

Technology gives us the chance to interact with people worldwide.  Technology gives us the ability to take school on the road so we can do things like visit grandparents who live 1000 miles away.  Technology gives my kids a way to work on things without ME having to do it all, and that frees me up to spend more time reading aloud or baking a blueberry pie with them.

The TOS Crew Blog is sponsoring a question of the week every Tuesday.

1 comment:

TerriG said...

Thanks for the tips. My boys just got iPod touches. I hope to add them to our day,