Tuesday, December 20, 2011

8th Grade Geography Resources

At our house we love geography, but we don't always have time to make it a big part of our day. That is why I love finding websites that allow my children to practice geography facts, map, and other information on their own time. I enjoy the freedom that it brings, and they enjoy the fun while learning. I am including several of our favorite geography websites to use for drill and practice. Warning: many of these are REALLY fun!

Geography World Online
The World Almanac Online
Time for Kids - Around the World - China
National Geographic Atlas Expeditions Online
World Geography Today Text
America's Geography Games and Practice
Geography Games
Geography Online Course
Geography IQ

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Literature for Eighth Grade

Ever wonder what is suitable literature for your eight grader? I sure have, I have gone to the library, and though it does help that they have begun to put grade suggestions on the spines of the some of the books, it is still difficult to find books that are good for 8th grade. I enjoy knowing that my children are reading the classics. I feel that classic literature not only has withstood the test of time, but also the test of education. It is through these books, that our children can receive a greater a education. They are learning by great examples of history and through the means of great writers.

1. Sounder – by William Armstrong
2. Little Men – by Louisa May Alcott
3. Robinson Crusoe – by Daniel Defoe
4. The Secret Garden – by Frances Hodgson
5. The Diary of a Young Girl – by Anne Franke
6. Cheaper by the Dozen – by Frank and Ernestine Gilbreath
7. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
8. The Wind in the Willows – by Kenneth Grahame
9. A Wrinkle in Time – by Madelein L’engle
10. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe – by CS Lewis
11. Anne of Green Gables – by LM Montgomery
12. White Fang – by Jack London
13. The Light in the Forest – by Conrad Richeter
14. The Bronze Bow – by Elizabeth Speare
15. The Red Pony – by John Steinbeck
16. The Yearling – by Marjorie Rawlings
17. Treasure Island – by Robert Louis Stevenson
18. The Prince and the Pauper – by Mark Twain
19. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – by Mark Twain
20. Journey to the Center of the Earth – by Jules Verne
21. The Swiss Family Robinson – by Johann David Wyss
22. The Hiding Place – by Corrie Ten Boom
23. In His Steps – by Charles Sheldon
24. The Pearl – by John Steinbeck
25. Gulliver’s Travels – by Jonathan Swift
26. Ben Hur – by Wallace Lew
27. North to Freedom – by Ann Holm
28. The Three Musketeers – by Alexandre Dumas
29. The Red Badge of Courage – by Stephen Crane
30. Summer of My German Soldier – by Better Green
31. The Endless Steppe – by Ether Hautzig
32. Slave Dancer – b y Fox Paula
33. Gentle Ben – by Walt Morey
34. The War of the Worlds – by HG Wells
35. To Kill a Mockingbird – by Harper Lee
36. Jacob Have I Loved – Katherine Peterson
37. Men of Iron – by Howard Pyle
38. Shane – by Jack Schaefer
39. Johnny Tremain – by Esther Forbes
40. Captains Courageous – by Rudyard Kipling

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Resources for teaching Math

I love to teach math...that has been my profession for many years. I feel like I have made a difference in the lives of many young people. I am so thankful for that, in reality, I feel like I am paying forward what someone had done for me.

When I was in 8th grade math, I had a teacher who really didn't care. I began to fail the course miserably. My father was greatly concerned and transferred me to a different school. Here I had the same textbook that I had previously, but a different teacher. This teacher made all the difference in the world. Instead of looking at teaching as a job, she really cared about whether or not the individual understood. She took time to explain it to me, and by Finals my average was an A-. What am I trying to say?

Simply this, that often the text doesn't make a difference but simply how it is presented to the student. Other times, the text does affect how the student grasps the concepts, but still ultimately how it is presented is the underlying force behind comprehension. That said, when looking for a good homeschool curriculum, be sure to remember how it comes across to the student is the determining factor for success!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

8th grade history resources

History is one of those wonderful subjects that can be transformed from dusty old facts into a living and breathing study. To make that transformation, we simply need to find the right information and tools. It isn't always easy to just purchase a new homeschool curriculum. Sure we would love to, right? But sometimes, for one reason or another, the money just isn't there. What do we do?

Well, don't despair making your own curriculum isn't all that difficult, it just takes a bit more extra time. Start with an outline of what material you want to cover during the interval of the course. Once you have a chronological sequence to your outline, you can begin to put bones on it. Depending, of course, on what materials you already have at home, you can pull a lot of your resources for free off of the web.

Here are a few examples.
Geography Games
Learning History online
Online History course
History Timelines
The History Channel
Literature Based History

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Resources for Science

Finding the right resources to make your science curriculum come alive is not an easy task. Yet, over the past few years homeschool curriculums has made amazing strides. Learning science and having fun is reality today!

There are a few things to keep in mind when you are trying to find your science curriculum:
1. Be aware of the needs of your family.
2. Be aware of the needs of the individual student that will be using it. Not every curriculum works for everyone.
3. Find a homeschool curriculum that is engaging and interesting.
4. Find a homeschool curriculum that is user friendly and helps you - not one that is time consuming and a real bother.
5. Find a curriculum that incorporated the senses. Remember that the more senses that you involve in education the more the student will remember!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Junior High Language Arts

Teaching language arts is surely not the easiest homeschooling task, but it definitely may be one of the most important. You see, language arts is simply not one subject but many incorporated into this one subject. When we teach language arts, we incorporate a study of grammar, punctuation, vocabulary and spelling, literature, and writing.

Each of the parts of language arts prepares and builds the students ability to be successful in the final aspect of language arts - WRITING. We teach our students grammar so that they can punctuate and word sentences correctly. We teach our students spelling and vocabulary so that they can spell and understand the meaning of words and use them correctly in sentences. We teach our students out of high quality literature so that they can learn by example. Finally, after they have absorbed enough of those we attempt to teach them how to assimilate all of that into writing interesting and creative works.

Language arts prepares the student for high school study as well as for college. Understanding our language in a comprehensive way, opens the doors for the students future success in many areas. Language arts is truly the foundation of education!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Homeschool resources

Beginning to homeschool is a huge decision, but making sure you have all your resources in line includes even greater decisions.

As you wonder if you have what you need to undertake this task, just remember that there are incredible homeschooling resources out there if you will just take time to investigate. As you attempt to determine what types of homeschool curriculum will best suit you and your child, think of these things.

1. Make sure that you have notified your county that you will be homeschooling, or enroll your child into a homeschool "distance education" school.

2. Determine what your child's homeschool learning style is. Knowing this will affect what curriculum you choose.

3. Determine what type of involvement you want to have with the actual day to day educating of your children. Some mothers/fathers who work at home may want to have a curriculum that allows the student to "learn independently."

4. Make sure to keep records of your child's achievement. Report cards or portfolios should be kept for many years.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

8th grade online learning

Learning online is a concept that educators have been working on over the past decades. This concept not just allows the student to learn at his/her convenience, but also at his/her own pace. It allows for the student to go back and relearn concepts until they gain mastery of it. It essentially gives them more freedom to be who they are.

Modern education has really robbed many of our children of the ability to be individual. Even how children dress in Junior High school has to be "just like" their peers. Its pressure to conform, to be like everyone else that they receive from their friends, but the bigger problem is the pressure that they receive from their teachers to "meet the state requirements." I actually know of a school where the principal makes each of the teachers teach the same thing at the same time every day. How does that leave the teacher with room to help a struggling student or with room to allow the gifted student to blossom. It is squelching our student's ability to be individual.

However, an online homeschool curriculum frees the student up to learn at their pace. They can review until they have mastered concepts, or forge ahead if they do well in a subject. Online education is freedom for our students to learn and be who they are as individuals.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Technology based learning

Technology in 2011 seems to be increasing and advancing more and more. The last ten decades saw incredible changes, growth, and advancement in this area. Our children have changed as well. How they play, learn, read, and socialize has all been affected by the growth of technology.

The problem that I see for our future is the fact that most of the education in today's world does not match the education that our future leaders need to meet and face that world. We are still educating the way we have been for half a century. Yes, I know teachers are trying to make technology a part of each school day, but is it enough. Are we training our students how to incorporate the use of this amazing technology into making their lives and future's more efficient? Do we even know how to apply the use of technology to how we educate?

I appreciate the online courses, the incorporation of reading high quality literature into technological devices such as "Kindle." The goal for us is to maintain a HIGH quality education through the use of technology. Let's not shy away from it simply because we learned out of a textbook...embrace change...prepare our students!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Literature Based Study

"Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all." ~ Henry David Thoreau

Teaching children with literature is not a new approach. Yet, it is one of the most effective approaches to educating children without boredom. This is especially true for the homeschooled 8th grader. If you have never tried homeschooling with a literature based study...you are missing a great adventure.

When beginning a literature based study - they key is finding living books that incorporate not only interesting fiction or nonfiction... but books that have history - science - or even the arts! You can cover all subjects through this method of education. It really is amazing... and quite fun!

There are lots of websites out there that are great starting points for literature lists for your child's particular level. There are also lists that incorporate science and history.

High quality literature brings with it not only an element of interest, but the capacity for the student to learn correct vocabulary, grammar, and syntax. The student hears and sees while reading just how to use the vocabulary that they are learning...just how to use the punctuation skills...and just how to word those sentences. Readers of high quality literature invariable make great writers.

Don't be surprised that your child can learn about all subjects through this method of study. This may be a method for you to give a try when you are in between studies. You can see for yourselves just how exciting and effective this method is!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

8th grade Charlotte Mason

Charlotte Mason is well known for her work with children involving a dedication to educating for enjoyment and practicality. Children are encouraged to learn without undue stress. Miss Mason spent most of her life educating children, educating teachers, refining and writing about her philosophy of education. Interestingly enough the last book that Charlotte Mason wrote edited and revised some of her earlier writings. This is an obvious progression. As she grew and learned and saw her methods put into practice, she also saw areas that needed improving.

Charlotte Mason's philosophies have impacted all of education as we know it today. The idea that young children should only be taught for lengths of time that they could manage...the philosophy that students should study less intense subjects right after more intense ones...each of these have impacted how we educate today. Yet, greater still was Miss Mason's belief that textbooks were written by a group of people and were "technical" therefore losing some of the passion for the subject matter. She encouraged students to learn from books that come alive when read...often referred to as living books.

These methods can easily be applied to educating 8th graders. Using living books would definitely make learning more enjoyable and attainable. Exploring science through nature studies and experimentation would also bring the 8th grader into a more anticipatory role in their education. If you are interested in the Charlotte Mason style of education, be sure to check it more in depth.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Classic Education in Junior High

Classical education has been one of those controversial topics in recent years. But what really is classical education? In the strictest sense it is the study of the "classic" subjects. Latin at its base, classical education branches then into logic, history, mathematics, word meanings, it really can be quite extensive. Yet, for many people not applying it in the strictest sense are wanting a return to the type of education that our forefathers received. The education that made them the great thinkers that they were.

In our day, logic is not a subject, in fact, few may even know what the word means. What type of student are we turning out in our schools. Logic is important, and finds a basis in all subjects. This is the "critical thinking" that many educators are trying to rename and make popular again.

In our situation, we would not be classical educators in the strictest sense. Though we do introduce our children to Latin, and will be using the logic as they get older. We really want to see a return to the deeper education that we saw in America a hundred years ago. Yes, education was hard to come by, and some weren't educated at all. But, those that had the opportunity to get an education usually got a good one. Being well versed in Latin, math, logic, many things that we save for later in college courses they were introduced to in Junior High school and high school.

Take a minute and check out Classical Education you just find that it has merit!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Foreign Languages for Junior High

Introducing your 8th grader to a foreign language is super! Beginning a foreign language during the Junior High years typically allows the student to acclimate better to the language before he/she graduates.

There are many great homeschool curricula out there that introduce your student to the language using a whole word or whole meaning approach. This means that instead of learning the language by a "textbook" method (vocabulary etc.), they are learning the language with meaning.

I particularly like the online curriculum that offers immediate feedback if the student is pronouncing correctly or not. They use a microphone either separate or connecting to a headset, and then speak the words as they are learning it. This method is extremely beneficial for keeping the student pronouncing correctly.

There are even other curriculum that introduce the student to complete thoughts through pictures and speech. They allow the student to repeat and practice these thoughts - adding meaning to the words that the student is learning. This method is not only great for younger language learners, but is definitely FUN!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Where is Timbuktu?

8th graders can learn geography in many ways, from online homeschool curriculum to seek and find map games. Geography is a subject that gets people moving. The study of populations, maps, topography, geography encompasses many things.

Integrating geography into other subjects such as history, science, literature, language arts, and even math can be very effective at helping the student make connections. These connections provide meaning for the student, and application of the knowledge to their future.

The most common part of geography study is map skills. The 8th grade student should be well versed in the location of the continents, many of the countries in Europe, North America, South America, and Asia. Students should also be able to point out the states and capitals of the United States.

Finding a curriculum that meets these standards, introduces population statistics, and also provides connections to other subjects will make a big difference in how this knowledge is applied to the student's future studies. Geography though often neglected is an invaluable subject.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Teaching 8th grade History

History is one of those subjects that many students just openly dislike...but it really bothers me to hear that. As a teacher, I know that the difference in a child's perception of a subject or a study is usually influenced with how that subject was presented to them. Even those children with a natural inclination for a subject can be discouraged by being forced to learn that subject in a "boring" way.

The key to homeschooling history is to make the facts come alive. It is never appropriate to make history as dry and dusty as the books that the facts came out of. Children need to see that history is a living subject. A study of how people acted and behaved and how those actions apply to our future. History can be one of the most fulfilling and enjoyable subjects if we learn how to incorporate a few things into our study of them. First of all, a great homeschool curriculum is the best place to start. There are online curricula out there that make the study of history VERY exciting. Next, make sure to connect history to great exciting literature. Last but definitely not least, make sure that you take lots of field trips. Get out and SEE history!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Science for Junior High

Science happens to be one of our favorite subjects around here. There really just seems to be something for everyone in this subject. There is a little math, a little reading, a little writing, and if you scrapbooking/ lapbooking your science - there is even a little art involved.

In my years of teaching, I noticed that a lot of the science texts for junior high were rather boring, even for me. Yet, to my great relief, recently I have noticed a surge in science texts that really "look" inviting. I believe that is a great hurdle. If kids don't even want to open the text, they sure aren't going to enjoy what's inside.

There are so many great homeschooling science texts available now. We have enjoyed several in the recent years, and have come to really love the Apologia series. We scrapbook our science lessons as well, and have really notice that the interest level gets so much higher when there is some "artistic" fun attached. You might be thinking, "Really, come on 8th graders - scrapbooking their science lessons!" Yes, really. It is a wonderful way to review what they are learning without have to use a pencil/paper.

Keeping science interesting keeps the budding scientists interested!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

8th Grade Writing

Creative Writing...that's a hard one. Well, at least for my homeschooled children. They seem to balk at anything that I require them to write in complete sentences. Lately, I have decided that it really has a lot to do with practice. Writing is not something easy, we can have all the tools, have a nice inspirational place to write, and still have writers block. No...I think writing gets easier...and better...with practice.

My children seem to do perfectly fine diagramming sentences, analyzing parts of speech, spelling words and vocabulary but when asked to write me a paragraph describing what they did during Christmas holiday...oh my goodness! You would have thought I offered to cut off their toes.

Yet, after pushing my children to get into it, to get writing last week they seemed to get better as they wrote. That is when the epiphany hit me, writing is easier as you do it. So, the only solution to my children's problem of writing-a-phobia... JUST DO IT!!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

8th grade Spelling Instruction

Spelling and vocabulary instruction is one of those subjects that every student can benefit from no matter what their age. Many parents often think that once their child has gotten past the crucial elementary years, that vocabulary instruction is no longer vital. This is a huge mistake!

No matter what age a student is, they still need vocabulary instruction. This is a subject that we will always need help with - no matter what the age. Even adults can benefit from vocabulary instruction.

With the super teacher resources that are available for homeschoolers, spelling and vocabulary instruction should never be a challenging subject to teach. You can use an online spelling resource to enable your 8th grader to maximize his review and drill of the vocabulary needed for his grade. Vocabulary and spelling instruction are the keys to enabling your child to creatively write successfully

Sunday, March 20, 2011

8th grade Grammar

Teaching 8th grade grammar can often seem like a steep challenge, but using the right homeschool curriculum can make a huge difference. There are many high quality language arts courses that have a complete grammar study included with them.

When looking for a homeschooling curriculum to use, keep in mind the basic needs for a comprehensive 8th grade language arts course. Typical course requirements for 8th grade grammar are an inclusive study of complex grammar methods. Full coverage of subject and predicate usage, predicate adjectives and predicate nominatives, direct and indirect objects, as well as each part of speech are typically studied.

Good study skills and practice using the grammar rules that are taught are important. Review and grammar exercises are the foundation of a quality language arts program. Incorporation of writing skills, reading, study of the classics, and spelling/vocabulary learning are a necessary part of the foundation of a good grammar program.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Eighth Grade Math

Eighth grade math is often one of those courses that homeschool parents typically shy away from teaching. Yet, the homeschool curriculum that is available to help homeschoolers is amazing. There are so many options from computer based learning, DVD courses, to teaching workbooks.

The typical 8th grade math course consists of pre-algebraic introduction. The student should be prepared to enter Algebra I by the time they finish the course. Students should be able to solve equations and simplify expressions. They should be well prepared in the use of exponents and quadratic functions.

The 8th grade math should also include some geometry foundations. Students should be familiar with the use of geometric tools such as compass, protractors, computers, and graphing calculators. Students should be well versed in graphing, and using geometric figures in finding area, perimeter, and other geometric calculations.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

8th grade Course Requirements

Beginning to homeschool is a big step, and homeschooling an eighth grader is also a big decision. Yet, to help make the transition easier and to make the future clear - knowing what the requirements for a typical eighth grade course of study is definitely a help.

The typical requirements are quite simple, a credit for each of the basic core courses. Math, language arts, science, history, and electives. As homeschoolers, electives can be used in many situations from home economics (cooking), to other practical things such as automotive repair or sewing. Many homeschoolers begin a foreign language during the junior high years as well. This gives the student ample time to master the language.

The language arts during 8th focuses on refining writing skills, increasing vocabulary, and improving grammar and syntax. 8th grade math typically is an introduction to algebraic principles... often called pre-algebra. History is often U.S. History or sometimes a state history combination. The incorporation of some classic historical fiction provides a broader scope than basic textbook study. Science usually includes an introduction to physical and earth sciences. 8th grade requirements typically include a physical education elective as well.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

8th grade curriculum

WOW... you have chosen to homeschool your eighth grader. Great decision...but now you have to determine the best way to accomplish that task. The homeschool curriculum that you choose will play a vital role in your success.

Homeschooling is one of the fastest growing methods of educating children in America. Yet, the good news for homeschoolers is that with all that growth - the curriculum options are growing too! There is a lot of great curriculums for homeschool families to choose from. From online homeschooling to textbook/workbook based education, there really is something for every learning style out there.

The next important step for you to take in your homeschool journey is to determine what type of learning style your child has. Once you determine this, you can then select a curriculum that your child will likely have success with. But remember, you are in charge of their education now. If you don't like a curriculum, and it isn't meeting your needs - change! Don't wait until you get discouraged and want to quit... find another curriculum that does work for your 8th grader!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Beginning to homeschool an 8th grader?

Thinking about homeschooling your eighth grader? Don't think twice. Homeschooling is one of the best decisions that a parent could make for their child - especially a junior high school age child. The junior high schooler usually faces so much negative peer pressure and discouraging influences during this time - that it often takes its toll on their future. Many flourishing bright eyed elementary schooled students have become shipwrecked because of the negative influences that they encountered in the public school.

Yet, on the other hand I have met some wonderful, responsible homeschooled children who are confident and secure with who they are. It truly makes a huge difference in these formative years of the child's life.

Homeschooling your 8th grader is the first step of many that you will need to take. Considering the type of homeschool curriculum that you want to use, the method that you will take to do it, and the location that you will do it in will all play as important factors in you and your child's future.