Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Homeschool Supplements: Videos for Biblical History

Homeschool Supplements: Videos for Biblical History

I am studying World History and Bible this year. One thing I have noticed is a huge lack of material online for biblical history. There is only so much I can read from a textbook before the words start running together. I benefit from videos because I am a visual learner. I hope others can use these links to supplement their studies as well!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

FREE Printable Gradebook: NotGrass Exploring World History (2008 Version)

         I posted an overview, on NotGrass' Exploring World History, in the beginning of October. I am very happy with this curriculum, but I have not been able to find gradebooks anywhere online! The NotGrass website has a supplement page for the course, but it is only for the 2014 edition. This supplement page includes a gradebook, but it differs from my 2008 version. So I created my own!

         Here is my grade-book for NotGrass' Exploring World History 2008 Edition. Each tab at the bottom contains a quarter. Quizzes are worth 10 points, because they have 10 questions. Exams have 50 questions so they are counted as 50 points, and I counted writing assignments as participation grades of 5 points. You can make any changes you like, and save it as a PDF to print it. Or simply leave it as is, and the spreadsheet will automatically count up your grades as you add them in. You final grade will be shown at the bottom of the column "Score."

Thursday, October 15, 2015

5 Tips for Concentration

1) Remove distraction.

        Look around you. You probably see at least one or more of the following items: televisions, radios, computers, tablets and smartphones. Now take a look at your work area. You probably see a dish or two, some trash, pens and pencils, books, notebooks, bills, documents and more. Now, one last question, do you have a hard time getting any work done in this set-up?

        A 2011 publication from Princeton University Neuroscience Institute shows us that clutter restricts your ability to concentrate. If you have multiple stimuli besides your work, you are not going to be able to fully focus! There are a few ways we can remedy this.

        Clear your work-space of all clutter, such as extra paper, books, trash, food, smartphones/tablets and anything that does not pertain to your work. Even if you are going to move onto a new subject in 10 minutes, it should not be in front of you until you can devote your entire attention to it.

        Reduce noise by removing yourself from rooms with televisions, radios and other electronic devices. Noise can greatly decrease your ability to focus! A Cornell study supports this, saying that office workers exposed to noise were under higher levels of stress opposed to workers with a low-level of noise. Some individuals may find listening to music makes concentration easier, while others find the opposite.

       Try your best to remove interruptions by friends, family, work and extra-curricular responsibilities. A good rule is to put your phone in another room. If it is truly important, your contact will call you instead of text.

2) Check your lighting and environment.

        Choose an area with natural lighting. If natural lighting is unavailable, try to keep from fluorescent lighting. There have been numerous studies on the effects fluorescent lighting can have on your health. Long exposure can cause migraines, eye strain, sleeping problems and more. Fluorescent bulbs also have a green cast to them, compared to incandescent, and can make your environment look drab. (Source: European Union and

         Color can dramatically enhance your studying. Many studies have been done on this phenomenon. Researchers at University of British Columbia posted a study in 2009 titled, "Blue or Red? Exploring the Effect of Color on Cognitive Task Performances." They had 600 participants look at images displayed on either red, blue or neutral backgrounds. Participants seemed to recall information better with red backgrounds, while blue backgrounds influenced their creativity. Generally red is used for accuracy; blue for creativity. Many associate green with concentration and calmness; grey with negative emotions.

3) Choose your study time(s).

        Every individual has a time of day they work best in. Whether it's in the morning, afternoon, or evening, choose the time of day you feel least distracted. Then devote 3 or 4 hours of that time period entirely to your material. A daily routine is important to see results.

4) Accumulate all resources.

        Gather all materials needed for your study session - notebooks, textbooks, novels, calculator. pens/pencils, etc. 

5) Let yourself breathe.

        If you've been studying for 30 minutes, make a change of scenery. Move to a new seat, walk into another room, or get some fresh air outside if it is available. If you can no longer focus, it is time to quit studying. Listen to your brain and it will thank you!

        All-night study sessions may seem like a good way to improve academic performance - but it can overall decrease it! Read this really interesting article on The Science of Taking a Break. It reports results on the "impact of learning too much at once" and how to effectively take breaks.Your overall academic performance will increase if you let your brain rest once in a while. Taking a break is not procrastinating!

What helps you concentrate the most?

Thursday, October 8, 2015

NotGrass Curriculum: Exploring World History

        I recently started a new world history curriculum by Ray NotGrass. It contains 3 credits including world history, literature and bible. The NotGrass website now sells the 2014 version of this curriculum, but I purchased the 2008 edition. I purchased two paperback textbooks: 'Part 1: Creation Through The Middle Ages' and 'Part 2: The Renaissance to the Present.' Then I bought the Quiz and Exam Book with its Answer Key, along with the book In Their Words. In Their Words includes corresponding poetry, stories, hymns and documents from world history. This curriculum also requires you read several novels and plays throughout the year.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Note-taking Organization

Note-taking Organization
April 10th, 2015
Grace Brewer

       The benefits of keeping notes are numerous. Skillful note-taking will improve your concentration, retention and comprehension.Well-trained note-takers develop their own strategies and methods for recording and revising information.

        Effective note-taking includes a few key components. Your main goals are to identify the purpose of the text, recognize main ideas, and paraphrase essential information in your own words.

Keeping an Organized Portfolio

Keeping an Organized Portfolio
April 10th, 2015
Grace Brewer
        If you are home-schooled or have home-schoolers, you may already be keeping a simple portfolio. The word portfolio is a loose term; some students keep detailed transcripts, while others keep basic folders. Either way you like to keep record, you should follow a few key steps to maintain organization of your assignments, notes and progress of the year.

        Portfolios are tools we use to assess academic growth and keep records. They can be kept digitally on your computer, or uploaded to Dropbox or Google Drive for added security. Employ a yearbook or scrapbook format if you would like to get creative. Other alternatives include 3-ring binders, accordion files, or a simple notebook. Whichever format you choose, make sure to include the following.

My Review of Hate List by Jennifer Brown

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Caught in a swirl of confusion of a school shooting, Valerie saves another student's life, getting shot in the process. When she awakes in a hospital bed, she discovers from detectives and news coverage that her boyfriend, Nick Levil, was the Garvin high school shooter and she was suspected to also have a role in the crime.
     Valerie and Nick were relatively average teens, with normal angst and drama. They were picked on in school, which led to them beginning a notebook of all the people they hated, dubbed the 'Hate List.' Valerie had no idea that Levil would later on pick his targets from the very same list.
      The book is set during Valerie's senior year, with flashbacks to the shooting and her life before it. She is confronted by animosity and bitterness from her classmates. She becomes a true outcast, until she begins an unlikely friendship with the girl she saved, who is also the most popular girl in school. 'Hate List' brings to light the effects bullying can have, on not just the victim, but everyone involved.