Sunday, June 26, 2016

Exploring Our City

The other week I wanted to go out and do something. I have a list of places to go for the day but I didn't have a day so I looked on Trip Advisor for some suggestions of things to do in our city. Trip Advisor is great for both holidays and also around town.

I decided to go to Kelham Island which I am not sure is really an island. The museum there is mainly about the industrial past of the city.

The city is known for stainless steel. There were displays of tools.

The largest steam engine in Europe was there and twice a day they start the engine. It gets loud and you know what they are doing.

Miss K is learning about pushing and pulling used in tools.

I thought it was interesting all the pieces that go together to make a pocket knife. They had pretend pieces there and you could try the puzzle to put it together.

Hammers from A to Z. There were 25 hammers the name of each beginning with a letter of the alphabet. There were hammers that I didn't even know existed.

T was interesting -- the toffee hammer.

Henderson's Relish - let me just address a cultural difference first relish from my cultural background is like pickle relish, it is bits of something but this relish is not the same. Another side note is the local HE group contacted them to do a tour and we learned that there are only six people working there to make all the bottles of relish and they did not have employees to give tours.

Miss K found a phone booth and so we had to get a photo.

There is at least water on one side of the island.

It was a fun afternoon right here in our own city. We enjoyed it. Now I need to see what else Trip Advisor recommends to do here.

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Thursday, June 23, 2016 - TOS Review

I have found that planning and record keeping are two skills that help me stay organised as a homeschooler. Recently I had the opportunity to review My School Year (Homeschool Record Keeping) from I received an annual membership for this review. Review

My School Year (Homeschool Record Keeping) is an online program for record keeping and planning. There are numerous features included in this program that helping with both planning and record keeping. Some of the things that help with planning include automated grading, automated attendance tracking, teacher's aid, lesson plan generator, and lesson rescheduler. Record keeping is more than just keeping grades and there are a numerous things that you are prompted to include in here such as events, awards, volunteer work, reading logs, and more.

I love my paper planner but every now and then I ponder and wonder if I should have an online program so that I can easily print and give J assignments for the week. So my thought as I went into this review was wondering if it would give me a weekly report for J's assignments.

I found it easy to set up the account. Once you have your account then is the task of entering all kinds of information about the student. Most of that information is things in my head or written on a paper stuck in my planner. I know I should have more of this down on paper and not rely on my memory. Review

I am mainly using this for J's work. I entered his assignments for Latin, Maths, and Science. There is Create-A-Plan which splits lessons for you based on number of papers or lessons. For the classes that I was planning that didn't quite work. I divide Latin based on worksheets and just use the book. Maths we do a unique schedule -- Monday is two lessons though it is watch two lessons and problems for the 2nd of the two lessons, Tuesday and Wednesday are one lesson days, Thursday is the test and the best part of the week, no maths on Friday. I did not find an easy way to enter that pattern. There are also options of copying schedules. I just entered for the next few weeks.

Generating a report for the week was super easy. Here is what J's assignments look like for this week or at least the beginning the week.

We have hit high school level work, which means a bit more recording and keeping grades. I was impressed with all the options of things that be kept in this program. You can track hours if needed.

I discovered one feature that might just mean that my paper and pencil might not be used as much -- grading. First I entered his Algebra II grades but that was boring and I didn't even need a calculator to figure the grade. J has taken six tests and all are 100's.

Then I decided to enter the grades for his geography course this past year. When I put together the grading, I made it 20 percent based on quizzes, 30 percent based on papers, and 50 percent based on tests. I didn't really think about all the math that would be required out of me to figure the final grade when I set it up like that. Then I entered it in My School Year (Homeschool Record Keeping). I entered the three grade types, the percentage of the grade and then entered each score. The grade was calculated and all I had to do was enter the individual assignments and grades.

If you click on the "View" button, you will see all the grades that go into the grade for that. That was a great way for me to check to see that I entered the grades correctly. J has a paper to finish and once I enter that grade, I will be able to get his final grade for the course. There are numerous options for grades -- letter, number, and pass/fail. I have to say that the grading feature made it very easy.

After using this for the past few weeks, I really like it for record keeping. I love the ease of the grading, the details that I can record like his piano exam, art classes, and other things. I still like my paper planner for what we are doing each week. I don't plan the whole year before beginning. I have some ideas of what is happening but plan a week or two at a time.

You can read reviews from others to see how they used this program. That will give you even more ideas of how it can be used and the benefits from using this.

Homeschool Record Keeping { Review}

Crew Disclaimer

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Sunday, June 19, 2016

Air Show

I remember as a child going to watch an air show. My dad taught with a man who lived on a hill above the airport and so we would go to Mr. Wallace's for a picnic and to watch the air show. The big event there was always the Blue Angels. 

My husband found an air show here as in here in England. Just another time that we prove we are Americans who think nothing of driving long distances for events. This time we took the train or rather two trains. The air show was on the coast at a beach.

It was an early morning especially for a Saturday to get the 8:20 train. I had a bag of food and snacks to take with us. 

We arrived in Weston-Super-Mare at 11:30 and followed the crowd to the seafront. I think this is the one weekend a year that the town is crowded. 

We sat on the beach. I wasn't quite prepared for sitting on sand. It was a sand beach and excellent sand for sand sculpture. 

It was fun to see planes that we would not normally see at an air show in the US. 

The big event of the show was the Red Arrows. 

It was fun to watch all the planes flying across the sky. It was gray and overcast. I don't think I quite have enough of a telephoto lens to really be able to get close up photos.

It was low tide but there were signs about sinking mud so we couldn't go out to the water.

One of the last flights of the day was Breitling Wing Walking Team. Again the photos don't really show it but there were people on the wings.

We ate fish and chips on the beach along with coffee and tea as it was cold and windy. We enjoyed our day and have a list of things that we would do next year.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Forbrain - Sound for Life Ltd. - TOS Review

For the past few weeks Miss K has been reviewing Forbrain a bone conduction headset from Forbrain - Sound for Life Ltd. This was a review that I really wanted to try and I admit I might have begged a bit for it. I wondered how it would help Miss K.

Forbrain – Sound For Life Ltd Review

"Use your voice to boost your brain" 

It looks like a headset with a microphone  and a dynamic filter which sounds simple but what it helps with auditory processing. Forbrain optimises the audio-vocal loop by using bone conduction.

There are three specific areas that Forbrain can help with memory, speech, and attention.

I was very impressed with the research and information that Forbrain has on the website about how it works. I was not familiar with Forbrain prior to the review but I was aware of some of the principles related to auditory processing. The website gave quite a bit of information and research as to how this works.

Forbrain – Sound For Life Ltd Review

As I mentioned,  this was a product that I was eager to try and excited to see what might happen as Miss K used it. I was tracking this and have to say the fact that it shipped from Europe for me meant that it arrived quickly.

When I opened the box, I will impressed. Forbrain comes in a nice zippered case with a foam cushion for the Forbain headset to fit in and be kept secure and protected. Sometimes it is the little things and little details that show the quality of a product.

Included with the Forbrain headset was an instruction booklet, charging cord, and extra covers for the microphone.

The instruction booklet was very simple and with information on how to sit and how long to use it. This is one of those things that is best with a little bit each day. We were familiar with that from doing some neuro-development programs in the past.

The headset is charged using a USB plug. I charged it when we received it and the battery has not needed to be charged over the past few weeks. It has a great battery life.

My primary purpose for the review was Miss K's speech. Some of her specific speech issues include mixing up thirteen and fourteen confusing the teens and "tys"(sixteen and sixty or eighteen and eighty) as well as some other pronunciation sounds. Miss K's speech issues are somewhat typical for Down Syndrome children.  I was also hoping that it would help with memory specifically math facts.

Miss K wearing the Forbrain headset and reading Dick & Jane.

Miss K used it for about 10 minutes each day. We did a variety of things -- sight words, speech words focusing on various target sounds for pronunciation, chanting math facts, counting or just reading a book aloud. I like the fact that it is easy to find something that she could do. These various things would all give the feedback that she needed to hear herself and then make corrections to speech.

Overall I would say that Miss K did not mind wearing it. Just the other day I noticed that when she was counting her thirteen and fourteen where distinct and understandable. We might be making some progress. In some ways it is hard to evaluate if progress and improvement is being made in the area of speech. I do think that it has helped. This is something that we will continue to use on a regular basis to improve speech.

You can read others reviews both how they used this and how it has helped by clicking below.

Forbrain – Sound For Life Ltd Review

Crew Disclaimer
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Sunday, June 12, 2016

Rain or Shine

I think it was a bit of a cultural moment this afternoon. This has been a big celebration weekend as it is the Queen's official 90th birthday celebration. It was Scouts and Guides Parade at church; Miss K was part of that as she is a Brownie. Then it was the church picnic.

We have been here the last two years for the church picnic and we had beautiful weather. I heard that the church picnic was never rained out. I think that means you still picnic even if it is raining and that is what we did today. We stood around in waterproof jackets with the hoods up, under umbrellas, or tents and enjoyed our picnic.

I was told that is British summer.

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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

MaxScholar - TOS Review

I consider reading to be a fundamental skill in our learning. At times I find it more challenging to work on this as the student gets older. I was excited to have an opportunity for J to review MaxScholar Reading Intervention Programs from MaxScholar. We reviewed the MaxGuru portion of the program.

MaxScholar Reading Intervention Programs Review

MaxScholar is a comprehensive, multi-sensory, reading and language-based program. This is an online program focusing on learning to read or improving reading. MaxScholar states that the program can improve grade levels in just 30 hours.

We received a one year license for this program. J was the primary user for this review. He is a good reader but I was interested in how this would improve his reading specifically looking at highlighting and gleaning the important information from the reading. We used MaxGuru and focused on  MaxReading which improves reading comprehension and introduces the concepts of highlighting, summarising, and outlining a text.

It was easy to set up a student account. I do like the fact that the student has their own account. J found it easy to login and do his work. There is also a teacher section. The one thing that I needed to remember was that this was a different web address for reports. There does not appear to be a link on the main website to the parents site. That is just one of the things that you need to remember. I did find the reports helpful especially as I just allowed J to work on this on his own. I was able to see what he has done and his scores.

At the beginning there is a pre-test. I am not sure if J didn't know exactly what was expected on the test but he scored a bit lower than I thought. That surprised me as the pre-test was about a place that he has visited, Hong Kong.

This was something that J was able to do on his own. I assigned it to be done three to four times a week. It took him about 20-30 minutes per lesson.

MaxScholar Reading Intervention Programs Review

I asked his opinion and thoughts about MaxReading and this is some of what he had to say about the program.

"The layout is the best I have seen for an online program."

"The information was good with lots of different subjects."

"I learned stuff." 

I asked him how he thought it helped him and some of his comments were the following.

"I thought I was faster at reading and his comprehension was better."

"I learned to look for the important things when reading."

I"t helped to see what you need to know and remember."

"I learned to pull out the important parts."

One comment that he had just a fact that he observed, was that it was difficult to get an A+ and that was primarily because of the highlighting.

I think the program did what I thought it would do for J in helping him to learn to outline, summarise, and look for the important information. I think that is a skill necessary for university and further study.

There is much more to MaxScholar than just MaxReading. There is also MaxPhonics for teaching reading. Reviews for both programs can be found with the link below.

MaxScholar Reading Intervention Programs Review

Crew Disclaimer

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Saturday, June 4, 2016

Day Out in Chester

It is rare that we have a Saturday with no activities like art class and ballet. Today was a day with none of those things so we decided to go to Chester which is about a 2 hour drive. I think it is one place that taking the train is actually longer so we drove. Chester has been on our list of places to visit and today was the first time we went. I looked on TripAdvisor to see what are some of the things to do there.

We parked next to the city walls so we began by walking the city walls. Chester is an old Roman fort.

We walked and saw the Roman Garden which was interesting. We didn't bother to go down and walk through but just enjoyed it from the walls.

One of the things to see in Chester is the Eastgate Clock which is the second most photographed clock after Big Ben. I took some photos of it as well. The clock was placed at the Eastgate in 1899 to celebrate the diamond jubilee of Queen Victoria two years earlier.

We enjoyed standing up there and looking down at the people on the shopping area.

We went down from the city walls and found a sweet shop.

Then we went to the Cathedral, which has parts that date to 1093. It really is difficult at times to determine how old something is as there might have been a building that prior.

There were four mosaics on the wall showing Abraham, Moses, David, and Elijah.

The stained class was beautiful. It was free to enter and at various times there are tours but we didn't join a tour.

One of the interesting things that they are doing is building a Lego replication of the cathedral. For £1 you could pay to place a brick on the building. It is supposed to be 2 metres high when it is completed. Currently they have 45,000 bricks and I think the estimate is 350,000 bricks when it is finished.

After a milkshake and drink, we continued our walk on the city walls. We were able to see the cathedral as we walked.

There was a tower along the wall where Charles I stood and watched a battle of the Civil War, one that Parliamentarian forces won.

I think there is more Roman history there then we saw today. There is a Roman museum that we did not go to. It was a fun day.

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