Monday, July 27, 2015

UnLock Math - TOS Review

Math is considered a core course here. Math is one of those things that we try to do every day. J is moving towards high school and we are in the final stretches before we begin algebra. I was excited and I think J was as well to have an opportunity to review UnLock Pre-Algebra from UnLock Math.

Unlock Math Review

UnLock Math is an online math program for Pre-Algebra, Algebra and Algebra 2 (coming soon).  It has everything that you need in the program. No need for a textbook or teacher manual, no tests to keep track of, everything is there. There is both a parent and a student log-in. I find it helpful when programs have that so that I can look in and see things. There is also a pacing guide which I downloaded and printed. This just helped me to see what assignment should be done each day.

There was a dashboard. The dashboard shows the units have been launched, the average school, and progress. It is clear and easy to see where you are in the learning.

Unlock Math Review

At the beginning of the lesson there is some warm-up. Then there is a video presentation on the topic for the day. It might be just a few minutes long but having a teacher explain it so that you are seeing as well as hearing just engages your learning more. It is like having a math teacher right there teaching. I think this is one of the features that makes UnLock Math unique. After the video, there are various problems to do. After some sections, there are quizzes and at the end of each unit there is a test.

For me as the teacher, it was easy. I printed the pacing guide, marked it with the days that he was to do each assignment and allowed J to do the work. I did not have to grade daily work, copy tests, keep track of the grades. UnLock Math did all of that for me. It made math easy for me.

J has been doing various things this year in preparation for Algebra next year. I asked him about his thoughts of UnLock Math. He said that he likes having a system, knowing the starting point and having a path so you do not get lost. There is both a path for each day and for the unit as a whole. Things unlock as you go through the paths. He also liked that there were quizzes so that he could see how he was doing. He has used various things this past year and so his comments give you insight into what has helped him.

Sometimes there are problems with websites. That is understandable but what is important is how the company handles that. We had a problem one day that J went to log in and it was as if he was login in for the first time. His work was not saved and he was back and Unit 1. I sent an email knowing that while it was almost noon our time, it was early in the morning. Within UnLock Math there is a chat option. I used to communicate our problem. I was impressed with the speed of the response and solving the problem. Everything was fixed and back to normal quickly.

I wish we had been using UnLock Math all year as I think this would have given J the practice, review, and confidence that he needs for Algebra.

UnLock Math Review
Crew Disclaimer

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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Everything Italy

Just to make it easy to find everything about our Italy trip I will include the links here.

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The Crooked Spire

It was a beautiful Saturday and we decided to go out and explore in the area where we life. The Crooked Spire tour was at 3:00 so we decided to go to the museum and then do the tour.

Here is the view as we drove into the town or maybe it is a city.

Our first stop was the city museum. It was free so why not visit. There was a bit wheel inside and the lady explained that it was a medival windlass. A windlass was a human powered crane that was used to move stone and other materials up when they were constructing buildings. This was had been in the church and was now in the museum. There are three others ones but most of those are inside the building.

Here is a model and what it would have looked like in the church.

This was a great hands on museum. There was a table of all kinds of things and we were to guess what they were used for. There was a brush for hats, a meat grinder (I knew that one as my mom has one and I can remember using hers), a candle snuffer, and a few other things. Both of the people working there took the time to talk with us and explain various things in the museum.

There was a section of things that dated back to the Roman times as this was a market town. J is trying to use a mortar.

This is not far from the coal mining area. Miss K was dressed with the hard hat for coal mining. I think her pink dress would get dirty.

We then walked over to the church. There was just one tour that day. So we waited for the tour.

We began the climb to the top. It was a narrow passageway with steps that curved. We paused first where they play the bells. Our tour guide asked J to try and ring the bells. He pulled with all his might and even got his whole body involved but we didn't hear a sound.

Miss K was not going to sit and watch her brother have all the fun. She tried and she rang the bell. The difference was he was trying the largest bell and she was trying the smallest bell.

Here are the bells. We learned that each bell has a name.

Then we climbed some more and we looked up the spire. When it was constructed it was all wood. So the question that we all had was, why and how did it get twisted. There are a few legends of how it happened. The most likely thing is that it was unskilled labourers as it was built just after the Black Death combined with green timber. It seems that it did not twist when it was built. Also combined with the unskilled labourers and the green time was the fact that later the spire was covered with lead which heats up on the south side causing the lead to expand at a greater rate than the north side. The guide did say that there are some other cathedrals with twists spires.

Our last bit of climbing was up a ladder and then we were outside standing next to the spire. We were outside with the wind blowing and the open air. I love heights when I am safety inside but out in the open. I was done at a few seconds but I had to wait for others to come up. I didn't bother to walk around and look. I did look and see our car in the parking lot. I handed the camera to J and asked him to take some photos.

Here it is looking up from where we were outside. You can see the twist of the spire.

We all made it down safely. When we stood at the bottom and looked up, it didn't look to be that high.

It was a fun day as we explored a bit of the area where we live.

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Saturday, July 25, 2015

2015-2016 Learning Space

We don't have a dedicated classroom. We share our learning space with the dining room though I think sometimes it looks more like we eat in the dining than we do school in the dining room.

As I got the learning area ready, I gather and dumped all the school supplies that we had on a table. I wanted to sort through what we had. I organised it and decided all we need are some more index cards. Can you have too many index cards?

I also pulled out all the manipulatives and games. I found a number of them that we are just beyond or don't use so it is time to get rid of them.

This is my cabinet. I did organise what is behind the doors. It has some notebooks, baskets with therapy items, all the Super Duper cards, some puzzles, and a few other things. The basket on the top is my morning basket. That is something new that I am trying this year. I still need to work out the details of what that will look like. I want to have a theme for each day so history review on Mondays and poetry on Wednesdays.

Last year I had a bunting made from a book hanging on this wall. I tried to hang these with clothespins but they were just too heavy. I ended up using Blu-tac which we use quite a bit in our learning space.

This is the shelf of books that make us look like real homeschoolers. It is an Ikea Expedit. I wonder what percent of homeschoolers own this bookshelf in one of it various sizes?

My husband found two of these cabinets at the used furniture store this past year. I decided this year to give each of the kids one as their primary place for books. J's books are on the top shelf. I need to sort and find places for things on the other two shelves.

This is Miss K's shelf. The pink index box should be a clue that it is her shelf.

I did a quick sort and get rid of books but I think I could do a more extensive sort and try to get rid of more books but just didn't have the time right now.

We have a large world map on our big wall. It is fun to see Miss K climb up on her chair and point to the various countries that she knows.

My desire is to continue sorting through my shelves and to have things neat so our learning space stays neat so we can also have a dining room.

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Seen around Italy

It seems that on our trip we were seeing old things, yummy things, beautiful flowers, or just interesting things. These are just a few of the memories and things that we saw.

A display with lots of biscuits or cookies, they look delicious.

This was the sign at one of the Gelato shops. I think this was some of the best gelato.

I love this sign. I think it is the rooster. I love that country look. It would be a fun sign for in my kitchen.

This might not be the best photo. I took it through a fence but I loved the tomatoes growing in the greenhouse. When I think of Italian food, I do think of tomatoes and so I just had to take a photo of them. I will say that I bought some in Rome and they tasted delicious almost as good as the ones my parents grow. I wonder if the three plants in my garden are still living. Maybe I will have my own tomatoes.

Isn't it funny how certain things give you an impression of a place before you get there. For some reason Olive Garden gave me images and impressions of Tuscany. I think for the countryside beauty Tuscany was the most beautiful. We were staying on the top of a mountain. This was the view from the pool. 

This was as we walked to the town.

This was a box of tomatoes at one of the little grocers. I think this was the place that was closed on Wednesdays but we went back on Thursday. These tomatoes were the kind that made me want a tomato sandwich.

This was the view from the pool. I don't think the camera really captured all that we could see.

Hydrangeas are my favourite flower. These were so beautiful. I love the deep color of the pink and the varied shades.

Just a fun road time. We were not far from Vinci. I guess you could go right or left and get there.

Pasta - we had some very good food on our trip. I don't think we had a bad meal at all. The kids were talking about all the good food we ate and missing the pasta. One of the things we had was a walnut sauce, we had it at a restaurant and then found it in the store and made pasta with it in the apartment.

Scooters or the Vespa. This also gives me thoughts of being back in Taiwan with a row of scooters all lined up.

As we walked around Rome one evening we found a number of old Fiat's.

It was evening over St. Peter's, time to say good-bye and head home.

Good-bye, Italy. We had fun.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Deli

When we were in Florence,  well actually up on the top of a mountain outside of Pistoria, we walked down to the village where there were about six or so shops. The little grocery was closed on Wednesdays so we wandered to see what else we could find. We found a nice deli. 

There was bread in there and the lady would cut the amount you wanted. 

Desserts and some treats.

Meat -- we got bits of a number of different kinds just to try and see what ones we liked.

Here is some biscuits lined up and ready to go home with you.

I thought these looked so pretty.

There was also some cheese. The girl waiting on us spoke a bit of English. We got some bread, meat, and cheese and called that lunch. We loved the place and the food so much we walked there the next day and bought extra to have with us when we traveled to Rome. 

It is fun to wander in the shops and just see what they have. 

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