Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Mastering the TI-30Xa Scientific Calculator: Augmented Intelligence for all 21st Century Students from Triad Math, Inc.: A TOS Crew Review

Disclosure: I received this product free through the Homeschool Review Crew

Triad Math Inc Logo

One of our major frustrations with upper level math has been learning to use a scientific calculator.  Mastering the TI-30Xa Scientific Calculator: Augmented Intelligence for all 21st Century Students from Triad Math, Inc. to the rescue!

This course offers students a painless way to master the scientific calculator through online lessons and a printed manual.

The Manual contains 25 lessons that guide a student through using the TI-30Xa calculator.   This calculator is frequently used in middle and high school math.  The calculator is easy to find, and costs under $10 typically. This program does not teach math concepts - just the skills needed to accurately use the TI-30Xa calculator.

It's divided into sections and students can jump in where they need to be, and return to lessons again as their math level progresses.  Lessons take about 20 minutes to complete.
  • PreAlgebra: Lessons 1–13
  • Algebra: Lessons 14–15
  • Trigonometry: Lessons 16–20
  • STEM: Lessons 21–25

In addition to the printed manual, this easy-to-use course includes online access to:
  • 25 tutorial videos
  • Notes and exercises for each lesson
  • Quizzes for each lesson
  • A full record of student's progress in the Learning Management System
  • A forum to connect and to ask questions

My tester is in high school and  prepping to take the ACT test this spring, so this was the perfect time to explore this course to master those calculator skills! Be sure to check to make sure your test allows this calculator, while there are many calculators on smart phones these days, most of them are not permitted in the exams.

The online lessons utilize Moodle (the online platform) and work together with the printed manual.  It's easy to get logged in and started.   Th information is helpful to watch, listen and read, and will appeal to all learning styles. 

Craig Hane, PhD.  aka...Dr. Del, the author of this course, will guide them through using this calculator with the narrated videos that demonstrate skills as well.  We found him easy to listen to and encouraging.

The course begins with mastering simple functions and progresses sequentially to higher level trigonometry functions.  Each lesson contains exercises to complete, and a full answer key. 

It's written directly to the student, and they are able to work independently at their own pace.

A handy appendix details how different students can benefit from using this program - from homeschool students to military and STEM bound college students.

I wish I had access to a course like this as we were wading through higher level math with my first born!  

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                                   Mastering the TI-30Xa Scientific Calculator {Triad Math, Inc. Reviews}

Monday, March 29, 2021

Homeschool Court Student Worktext from Homeschool Court: A TOS Crew Review

Homeschool Court


Disclosure: I received this product free through the Homeschool Review Crew

Homeschool Court Student Worktext from Homeschool Court

It's fun to discover a new way to teach the basics of how our legal system works.  We've been exploring Homeschool Court Student Worktext from Homeschool Court.

This downloadable curriculum is great for grades 4-8th, and easily adaptable for grades 9-12th as well.  We were able to take a peek at the full course, including the Case Summaries.

The core components of this program include the Homeschool Court Student Worktext and the Homeschool Court Teacher Manual.  The goal of this program is to teach a Biblical worldview of the American Judicial System, and prepare students to either participate in a mock trial (as either judge, attorney, witness, bailiff and/or member of the jury), a debate, or to effectively communicate in a written essay.  

9 chapters cover the basics including, important vocabulary, learning who the participants in the court system are, as well as, what are the different courts and types of cases.   The steps in a trial are outlines and discussed.  Finally, students are taught how to argue persuasively and effectively.  The Teacher Manual includes suggestions on how to schedule in either 9-11 weeks, or over 17-19 weeks.  It also offers helpful tips for adapting this curriculum to different students and circumstances.

To accompany the reading, there are some fill-in-the-blank type exercises, and suggestions for additional "Digging Deeper" enrichment activities.  The Student Worktext is consumable, and each student will need their own printed copy. 

The Teacher Manual includes all of the Student Worktext, and additional teacher notes in a gray-scale - I love having it all in one place!  A full answer key is also included along with great teacher tips for making the material memorable with games and activities.

The Homeschool Court High School Supplement and Homeschool Court High School Supplement: Teacher Edition offer additional information and content to help challenge your high school students further and can be used to earn a 1/2 credit high school elective.

The Case Summaries are three different cases that will walk the students step-by-step through legal process as they are learning about the judicial system.

This case includes a summary of facts, sample witness statements, evidence (illustrations and documents), a discussion of applicable state statutes, jury instructions (explaining concepts such as negligence, burden of proof, and comparative negligence) and the verdict form.

This case involves a mock trial that argues the authenticity of a will. Included are a summary of the facts, an outline of the law (including a glossary and an explanation of how probate works), witness statements, jury instructions and handwriting evidence.

Student Case Summary: School Prayer & Teacher Case Summary: School Prayer

This case is an appeals case based upon a Supreme Court case. The student attorneys will be engaging in oral argument. It includes a summary of the facts, lower court decisions, and the elements of the law and prior case law. 

The Teacher Case Summaries give additional information to help adapt this to your situation, a summary of the evidence, and the outcome of the actual case you can share at the conclusion of your study.

After printing out the curriculum, we jumped right in with reading and discussing. This program is well-organized, and easy-to-use.  It offers a very complete and discussion-provoking way to explore our legal system with multiple ages.  I appreciated the solid Biblical basis and application.

Using this with just my children provided great discussions, and has sparked genuine interest in our legal system. I think it's a great addition to any government study and I would truly love to use this course in a Co-op setting because the hands-on experience of a mock trial would be a great teaching tool!

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Thursday, March 11, 2021

Excellence in Literature Handbook for Writers from Everyday Education: A TOS Crew Review


Disclosure: I received this product free through the Homeschool Review Crew

Excellence in Literature Handbook for Writers from Everyday Education

Writing.  It's full of twists and turns that can be difficult to navigate. Our high school students need to know the correct path to help them write well now and into college.  We have discovered a must-have writing "GPS" the - Excellence in Literature Handbook for Writers from Everyday Education!

This 420 page reference manual is available in either downloadable PDF or print version.  Author, Janice Campbell has gotten permission from Mr. Ian Johnson, a college professor, to adapt a couple of his writing handbooks into this one comprehensive, easy-to-use volume. We have been long-time fans of Janice's Excellence in Literature series, and were excited to take a look at the Excellence in Literature Handbook for Writers.

This handbook is organized into 2 parts.  Part One offers models and instructions for writing persuasive essays and research papers.  Part Two is full of tips on style and usage on grammar and the mechanics of writing.

This is a resource you can use over and over again. I have three students currently in high school, and another three in college.  I decided to print out our downloadable ebook and put it into a binder, so we can all easily access it.  

With both of my high schoolers knee-deep in ACT and SAT exams, the sections on writing essays were of particular help to us.  Janice takes them step-by-step from setting up the argument, defining key terms, guidelines for a strong thesis, and how to organize paragraphs and essays. 

The section on Writing Arguments About Literary Works is one of our favorite "go-to" sections.  The instructions and samples are a great guide for how to write in this necessary, but unique style while evaluating stories, poems, Shakespeare and even performing arts events.

I have also referred back to this invaluable book over and over as I teach our Communications and Literature classes for our small co-op. Openings, defining a thesis, organizing arguments and acknowledging opposition have all been topics we used to build our speeches, and her examples were just what I needed to brush up and be ready myself. 

The second part contains hundreds of grammar and usage tips.  

This was a reference section we found ourselves reading just for fun (can you tell we're homeschoolers).  It's organized into numbered sections so you can pinpoint areas to focus on, or use as a tool when you evaluate your student's papers.

I thought it would be fun to start each day with a quick read of 2-3 tips from this section as a "warm up" as we get our day started,  it's been a great review and since we're all "word nerds" we have even enjoyed the discussion! 

The Handbook is well organized, and you can use the detailed (9 pages) Table of Contents to find exactly what you need.  This is a book that you can use over and over throughout the years - both for yourself and your students. This is a great writing road map for every high school (and college) student. 

 I highly recommend adding it to resource shelf!

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Thursday, March 4, 2021

The Family Journal from Byron's Games: A TOS Crew Review

Disclosure: I received this product free through the Homeschool Review Crew

The Family Journal from Byron's Games

The Family Journal from Byron's Games is a wonderful tool for every family! 

We have recently joined our two families into one, an unexpected and beauty-filled God story.  But, as many of you know, blending families isn't always simple and easy - it takes effort and commitment to bring two worlds together into one family.  I am a devoted journal-er so I was delighted to get this beautiful, hardcover Family Journal and planner to help us get us on the right track.

This journal is unique - it's designed specifically for your family to encourage you to:
  • Spend time together
  • Discuss goals - both for individuals and for the family
  • Create family meetings
The 289 page hardcover journal is thoughtfully arranged to help you get your family on track with identifying and meeting your goals.  It has nice thick pages - perfect for journaling on, and 3 ribbon bookmarks to hold your place.

It's organized into several sections - Yearly Goals, Monthly Goals and Weekly Meetings. 

I like that you can skip around in the sections to utilize the sections that best fit your situation.  We are only 6 months into being a family, so the Mission Statement and Yearly Goal Setting seemed a little "too much" for where we currently are, so we jumped right into Monthly Goals.

The Family Journal contains Monthly Pages for an entire year with calendars, space to write family goals and individual goals, a task list and a place to record a review of how the month went.  Throughout the journal - there are questions to help guide your discussions and thoughtful quotes to inspire you.

With the crazy world we find ourselves living in, I feel like it's even more important to take the time to journal and document these epic times we are in.  The monthly planner is a great space to keep a record of your calendar, but this journal goes the extra mile with a place to record family and individual goals along with tasks to do ( I LOVE a me crazy, but checking off those tasks is a highlight of my day!) Here is a peek at our February 2021.  

Following those pages is a place to record a Review of your month, and how you did on your goals.  I have been trying to diligently do this for years, the Family Planner gives me the perfect space and the reminder with thoughtful questions to help me remember. We don't want to forget the epic Texas snow storm we weathered together!

The next section is the heart of this journal - 52 weeks of unique Weekly Family Meetings.  I love this section!  

 Each week contains varied sections like 
  • Talking Points - to get your family together and discussing what is important
  • Goal Discussion - reviewing goals together
  • Attitude of Gratitude -  places to focus on gratitude
  • Connection Activity -  fun connection activities to get your family enjoying time together

There are places where you can draw, or have your children draw, or even print and add pictures.

I am throughly enjoying this intentionality in this journal and it's fast becoming a beautiful keepsake of our days together.

Be sure to check it out!

Be sure to check out Maestro Mastery - Explore the Composers another great product the Crew has been reviewing from Byron's Games !

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The Family Journal / Maestro Mastery - Explore the Composers {Byron's Games Reviews}

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Failure Free Reading Home Edition: A TOS Crew Review

Disclosure: I received this product free through the Homeschool Review Crew

Failure Free Reading Home Edition Logo

Failure Free Reading Home Edition

Everyone can use help polishing their reading skills. We have been taking a look at the 
Failure Free Reading Home Edition.

This is an online program designed to help struggling readers master those vital reading skills with a new and varied approach based in brain research. The focus of this program is to help build the neural pathways needed for reading skills via a non-phonics based approach.  If you are one of the many families that has students that struggle with phonics, this may be a great fit for you. 

I was intrigued by science behind the program and had 4 of my testers give it a try.  Quick note, all of my students have mastered phonics and reading skills, one of the things I like about this program is that it offers benefits for all readers, not just struggling readers. 

 It's a fairly easy-to-use program that begins with a single login and individual placement tests for each student to determine their level.

My students all scored well above their grade level for this program, so we can't really speak to it's efficiency in helping struggling readers, but - we can show you how it was helpful for building vocabulary skills.

Once their level has been determined by the placement test, each student can begin the "Instruct" portion of the program with the option of self-paced, computer guided lessons (the option we used) or a more scripted teacher directed path. A combination of both online and teacher assisted lessons are the recommended path.

The lessons are grouped into levels, clusters and units. Each include online lessons and downloadable instruction materials - 

Illustrated Reader

Student Workbook

Teacher Manual

The Online lessons include guided audio instruction and are designed to take about 20-30 minutes of independent work for the student to complete.  Lessons begin with a short video definition of vocabulary words, there are 5 new words in each unit for a total of 30 new vocabulary words in each level.

The lessons focus on learning the meaning of the vocabulary, with a variety of activities like identifying synonyms, fill in the blank, spelling exercises, using the word in proper context and matching exercises.  

Vocabulary skills are frequently strong determiners of success on standardized tests like the ACT and SAT.  My high school level testers found this program a great tool to help practice and learn new vocabulary and my middle school testers used this program to help refine their vocabulary and spelling skills. It's a rare program that can truly meet the needs of all levels, and Failure Free Reading Home Edition passed our test with flying colors.

The online lessons were engaging with variety and easy to complete, plus the program allows me to see reports of each student's progress to pinpoint what they are working on.

Overall, we found this to be a well-designed program and a fun way to practice reading skills at all levels!

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