Dear Ms. B. Begins

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I have homeschooled my kids since birth. When I became pregnant with my first child in 1992, I was teaching at an inner city middle school in San Diego. My husband and I were part of a small Vineyard church at the time, and three of the families homeschooled. We were so impressed with their family lifestyles and the behavior of their kids that we both agreed we wanted to homeschool our own children.

Even through a horrible divorce eight years later, the Lord granted my heart’s desire and made it possible for me to continue homeschooling by developing the Writing Foundations program. I have been able to schedule Writing Foundations classes in a way that gave me time to work one-on-one with my own kids. While I taught other kids to write, my kids enjoyed dates with friends at the elementary level and took co-op classes at the high school level. Now, I have only one tenth grader who is still homeschooling. My oldest is a senior at a local music college finishing his degree in Production and Engineering. My middle child has graduated from high school and has come to work with me full time at Writing Foundations.

The years have passed so quickly! It astounds me to look back and think, “WOW! I did it! We’re making it!” The journey has been difficult at times and wonderful overall, and I could not have done it without the Lord every step of the way. Like every homeschooling veteran, and like some dedicated, life-long teachers out there, I have learned more than I ever imagined in twenty-four years.

Within the last few months it seems, I’ve been receiving email inquiries from parents with questions about how to help their students through different writing challenges. While I certainly don’t know it all, I have gained a bit of wisdom and knowledge about how children learn and think, especially when it comes to writing. It dawned on me the other day that these responses would make great blog posts.

Therefore, let this be an introduction to what lies ahead. Gradually, I will be posting my responses to questions that parents have sent me about how to best help their child with writing. I hope any readers out there will find them helpful.

The IMPACT Epidemic

The use of the word IMPACT is so common these days that few people know that they are using it wrong most of the time. Bloggers, tweeters, media reporters, as well as students, are using the word IMPACT for everything from worldwide political and social issues to describing the effect of a hang nail. This simplified and incorrect use of IMPACT is actually a weak and ineffective way of communicating. The English language is powerful, and using this one word for a wide range of circumstances actually undermines our communication efforts.

How did this happen?

The overuse of the word IMPACT has most likely arisen due to doubt or confusion about how to use the words affect (verb) and effect (noun) because of the pesky, rarely used, and minor form of effect as a verb, which literally means “to bring about or put into effect”.

For example: She effected change in the workplace.

Honestly, who actually says anything like that EVER? This usage is so uncommon that we need not even worry about it. Therefore, one way to strengthen your speech and writing is to scratch that worry off your list and confidently put affect (verb) and effect (noun) back to work again.

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How we roll around here…

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This little snippet (click the image to enlarge and clarify) shows how we edit and score papers for webinar and online Independent Study students using iAnnotate on the iPad. We do the same for local co-op students, only those assignments are done on paper with fabulous pens from JetPens.com.

This paper, from a Level 2 webinar class, was a 1-paragraph summary from an outside source about Emperor Justinian. You can see that the lesson included work with bibliographies and parenthetical references. The student included the bibliography entry below the paragraph, not shown in this picture. The student color-coded the required techniques from earlier lessons, which we made sure were used correctly. The editing codes refer to a grammar guide that explains the details behind every edit so the student can revise the paper correctly. The red box that falls off the right side of the page (with the 3) takes the student to a comment that gives suggestions for fixing that confusing sentence. The yellow shape at the bottom is part of a “thumbs up” stamp with a positive comment typed near it. We send such a draft back to the student who revises and submits one more time for a final score on the paper. When it comes to taking the mystery and misery out of learning to write, this is how we roll here at Writing Foundations!

Notable Novelists Review

As a writing teacher as well as a homeschooling mother, I have a passion for unique and entertaining products that celebrate literature. I happen to be blessed with a sixteen year old NerdGirl who is a chip off the old block. We were tickled pink when the SchoolHouse Review Crew received the opportunity to review the Notable Novelists card game.

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3 Keys to Fitting It All In

One of the most common questions people ask about educating your children is “How do you fit it all in?” There are so many opportunities and topics and subjects to cover throughout the course of a student’s K-12 education, how can anyone possibly cover all the bases?

The question is somewhat a red herring because the truth is, you can’t fit it all in, and you shouldn’t even try. Somewhere along the line, homeschoolers (and other teachers too!) learn that trying to fit in all the possibilities is a short cut to burnout and the quickest way to suck all the love of learning out of your student.

Any sense of accomplishment and success in education, homeschooling or otherwise, is in the basic, foundational approach. In reality there are just 3 key skills that will actually unlock everything else your student will ever need to study.

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Never Stop Learning Giveaway!

 

Welcome to the Never Stop Learning Blog Hop hosted by Some Call It Natural and Mama Chocolate!

There are over 30 blogs in this hop and they all have at least $25 worth of educational materials up for grabs!  After you enter the giveaway here, go to the bottom of the post, and go to all the blogs to enter their giveaways too!

 Win a Writing Basics Email Course for your student!

Learning to write well can be one of the most unpleasant and difficult subjects for some students. Contrary to popular opinion, good writing skills don’t always just come through reading and writing a lot. The truth is reading, writing, spelling, grammar, and punctuation are all located in different parts of the brain. It’s not always easy to get all those neurons to work together!

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Hewitt Lightning Lit: World Lit II Review

Hewitt Homeschooling Resources offers a comprehensive selection of literature courses for grades 7 through 12 called Lightning Literature and Composition. From basic classics like The Adventures of Tom Sawyer in American Literature, to British Literature, Shakespeare, and World Literature, Lightning Literature integrates literature, composition, and even an optional geography approach into one program.

Hewitt Homeschooling

As part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I was privileged to review Hewitt’s last course, Lightning Literature and Composition: World Literature II: Latin America, Africa, and Asia by Brenda S. Cox. World Lit II is comprised of a Student Guide ($29.95), and a Teacher’s Guide ($2.95), with a selection of books that can be purchased to make a set ($88.93 for both guides and texts) or as individual titles.

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Watering My Dendrites

I have recently discovered one of the best professional development activities this writing teacher could ever pursue – becoming a member of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Review Crew (SHRC). Talk about forcing me to practice what I preach!

I spend the majority of my work hours editing student writing. For the last 10 years, I have consistently tutored around 250 students per year which adds up to over 3000 papers from September through April. Some days when I have piles of papers to process, I can get into a trance-like rhythm and apply proper punctuation without even reading content! Needless to say, those pathways through my brain are deeply entrenched.

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Blog Review Planning Page

Here’s a little worksheet I created to brainstorm and organize my blog review information. If you are a blogger and could use such a thing, download at will and share liberally with others!

All Purpose Blog Review Planning Page (pdf)

(You know the drill: please share this post link, not the pdf link. Thanks! ;-) )

15 Silly Mistakes

HUGE, but HANDY, infographic…

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