TOS Review: IEW High School Essay Intensive

Institute for Excellence in WritingHigh school is where the rubber meets the road. As a homeschool mom, it is also the part that feels the most tricky to me. I have so much to get my kids ready for, SATs, ACTs, college applications. Ugh. And writing is a huge part of that. While I am pretty confident in my skills as a writing teacher, I still feel more secure with a set program for this subject, just to make sure I don’t miss anything. So, for this review, I was excited to check out the High School Essay Intensive from Institute for Excellence in Writing.

I have used products from IEW before and I have always been happy with them. This new program is no different. High School Essay Intensive is very thorough, with the same detailed instruction I have come to expect from Mr. Pudewa. The program itself comes with five DVDs full of instruction, totaling over 6 hours. The format is the same as other IEW courses which feature Mr. Pudewa teaching a group of students. It also includes handouts and a general outline of the course.

Institute for Excellence in Writing High School Essay Intensive This program features a wide range of topics from different paragraph models, to outlining, proofreading, and writing for specific purposes like the ACT. The course outline includes a space for your student to take notes, which I found really helpful for my 10th grade son. He was able to follow along on the DVD and the guided outline allowed him to take notes easily. For a student who is working on note-taking skills, this feature is very helpful.

The included handout, Portable Walls for the Essayist, is a great reference your student can use all through high school. It includes definitions of the different types of essays, essay models, examples and outlines of the writing process, and more, all in a handy, laminated, folder-type handout. We are definitely going to hang onto it for future writing reference.

So, how did we use the High School Essay Intensive from IEW? Well, basically we started with disc 1, breaking the lectures into parts. My high-intensity sophomore is not good at sitting and watching video for more than 25-30 minutes at a time, so I would break the videos into parts and have him take notes on each section. Then we would pick up the next day wherever we left off. It might take us a little longer to complete the program this way, but that doesn’t bother me. I would rather go slower and make sure my son truly understands the lessons anyway.

After taking notes, my son would also work through any assignments in the course, from outlining, to writing sentences, to essays themselves. Some assignments took longer than others, so we would adjust the lecture schedule accordingly as needed. This is one of the areas I really appreciate Mr. Pudewa. He is just so good at making things really clear for students. His easy to follow instruction made it simple for my son to “get” what he was supposed to be writing about.

We really enjoyed the High School Essay Intensive from Institute for Excellence in Writing. Andrew Pudewa is great at connecting with students and making writing interesting (his sense of humor helps a lot too). I felt this program was really well-laid out and helped ME as a homeschool mom improve my writing instruction. The only drawback I see with this is that it doesn’t include a suggested schedule, which I always kind of like to have.

To learn more about the High School Essay Intensive, connect with IEW on social media here:

Excellence in Writing on Facebook

IEW on YouTube

IEW on Twitter

IEW on Pinterest

To see what other members of the crew had to say about this program, click here:

High School Essay Intensive {Institute for Excellence in Writing Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

Random Thoughts from an Exhausted Mom

Do you ever have those moments where you feel like you are just barely keeping it together? I’m in one of those right now. We are in the middle of a move. On the one hand, it’s exciting because after six years of renting we have bought our own house! On the other hand, I honestly feel like my life is totally upside down right now.

There are boxes everywhere, in both houses. I can’t find anything. The move happened quickly, and while I began packing very carefully and dutifully labled each box with its contents and wrapped everything etc. etc., towards the end, we just started throwing stuff in boxes to get it done.

I tried to get back to homeschooling today. I quickly discovered that most of what we needed wasn’t here. My son managed to do his math and some of his computer work, but he’s just as tired as I am and not having everything together doesn’t help. I hate feeling like everything is out of control. It drives me nuts and kind of paralyzes me. Like, there is just SO much to do, I feel completely overwhelmed and I don’t even know where to start.

I know things will calm down, and when they do I will be extremely thankful for all of this, but right now, I’m just trying to hold on. If I never see another packing box again after all this it will be too soon! And why does the packing tape always have to get stuck? Whenever you try to fix it, it always tears off diagonally and then you have pull back loads of tape to get it lined up right again!

I had planned a whole bunch of healthy (and I thought easy) meals for us during this time so I could stay on track for my diet. Nope, it’s been a steady flow of pizza and other take out meals since we started. I just don’t have the energy to cook. Also, you know how when you move to a new house you have to get used to all the noises it makes at night? Let’s just say I haven’t been sleeping well either!!

So here I am, moving from room to room, trying to tackle one project at a time while still maintaining some kind of order in our lives. Not sure if I’m doing a good job at that, but I’m trying. I guess we’ll be doing some summer school this year to make up for the lost time. I hope you are having a good week. And the next time I move, I swear I’m leaving everything in the house and starting over!!

TOS Review: Drive Thru History® – “The Gospels”

Drive Thru HistoryIt has always been a dream of mine to travel to the Middle East and explore the places where Jesus walked. Unfortunately, due to life and budget restraints, that will probably never happen. However, this review offered me and my family a chance to experience those places anyway. The DVD set Drive Thru History® – “The Gospels” from Drive Thru History® will take you on an amazing adventure through Biblical history.

Drive Thru History The GospelsIf you are familiar with the series, you may know the host, Dave Stotts. He is your tour guide as you watch the DVDs, taking you through the country and explaining the importance of each place. The set includes 18 episodes, each 30 minutes long, and they explore about 50 sites mentioned in the Gospels!

Drive Thru History The GospelsWe love history in our family anyway, but even if you aren’t huge fans, I think you will still find this series exciting. Dave’s presentation is very very good. You can sense his enthusiasm for where he is and it makes you feel excited too. My son thought it was really cool to “see” so many of the places he has read about in the Bible. I think it almost made it seem more real to him, less like a collection of stories, and more like a real history book. I mean, my son knows that everything in the Bible is real, but there is something about seeing the actual locations that makes it more so somehow.

I also liked that each episode was only 30 minutes long. This made it easy to work them into our schedule around the other things we were doing. Some days we watched one episode and then picked up watching another later in the week. However, one one day when my son wasn’t feeling well we watched several episodes back to back. I also like the fact that the series has such broad appeal. It is aimed at grades 5 and up, but I easily think you could watch this with the whole family, and with younger kids, use a story Bible to share the stories of what happened in those places with them.

I also think you could easily add this to an existing Bible study or go ahead and just read the Gospels themselves as you watch the series. There is something about making that connection between what you are reading and the images of the actual places that make it seem deeper and more real. The DVD series itself comes with a study guide that includes scripture quotes, a summary of each section, and questions you can use for discussion if you wish.

We would always talk after each episode, sometimes using the study guide as a starting point. Other times we would break out our Bibles and go read the parts of the Gospels that correspond with that particular episode, and I swear, each time we did that it was like we got something new from it, even though we’ve read those same chapters over and over again.

My family really enjoyed the Drive Thru History® – “The Gospels” series. In fact, I’m seriously considering getting some of their other series to watch in the future. We would definitely recommend this if your family wants to know more about the life that Jesus lived.

To learn more about this series, connect with them on social media here:

Facebook

YouTube

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To see what other members of the crew thought of this product, click here:

 

The Gospels {Drive Thru History® Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

Menu Plan Monday 4/24/17

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So today was my youngest son’s 16th birthday! We had a busy weekend celebrating with family and friends and we’re not quite done yet. We have a family trip to Disney coming up on Tuesday where he will get to eat lunch at a restaurant of his choice. This is what I have planned for the rest of the week:

Monday: tacos (my son’s choice for his birthday dinner)

Tuesday: spaghetti after we get home

Wednesday: Chicken and Corn tostadas

Thursday: Spanish Rice

Friday: Mexican Pizza

Thanks for stopping by for Menu Plan Monday! See you next week.

Menu Plan Monday 4/17/17

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We are knee-deep in packing and my house is getting more and more chaotic. That means that until we get to the new house and I have an organized kitchen again, my meals have to be really, really simple. So here’s what’s on the menu this week

Monday: Spaghetti

Tuesday: Chicken and Veggies on the grill

Wednesday: Stuffed Zucchini

Thursday: Creamy Herb Chicken

Friday: Chili Mac Casserole

Thanks for stopping by for Menu Plan Monday! See you next week!

 

TOS Review: CompuScholar, Inc

CompuScholar, Inc.My 10th grade son is a techie, and he particularly loves gaming. At some point, he might like to design and create games of his own, so learning about computers is important to him. I want him to have the ability to write programs, but I am so far from being able to do that, it’s not even funny! For this review, I was excited to have him check out the Java Programming course from CompuScholar, Inc.

CompuScholar, Inc. Java ProgrammingThis course is designed for high school students, especially those interested in taking the AP Computer Science exam. The course page offers study resources to help prepare students for the exam, and the lessons go in depth into topics like getting started with Java, working with strings, user input, debugging, and much much more.

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Worried that you have no idea what any of that means? Don’t be, I don’t either. Fortunately, this online course does all the teaching for you. Of course, if you are already fluent in computer programming language, you could certainly help your child through the program, but experience on the parent’s part, is not necessary! (thank goodness)

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We found the Java Programming course to be very user-friendly. It is divided into roughly 27 chapters, with individual lessons for each chapter. Lessons include instruction (video or text), assignments, and quizzes. When your child logs on, they simply click on the chapter they are working on and get started.

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I appreciated the fact that the video lessons were pretty short, which is good for boys with short attention spans. However, even though the lessons may not be long, they are full of information. That’s why it is also nice to have a text version of the lesson available as well. If my son had trouble remembering something, or didn’t quite get something, he could watch the video again and/or go read the lesson text as well.

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The quizzes were great for me as a homeschool teacher. In high school, I do think it is important to record grades and things like that. Having everything graded for me made it very easy for me to keep track of how he was doing, and also makes it easier for me to track credits for high school. Students have two attempts at every quiz, so if my son did not do well, I had him review the lesson and take it again. Each chapter also features an exam at the end that reviews all the lessons.

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The part my son enjoyed the most was probably the activities. Some of them were complicated, but that’s what I would expect from a course at this level. He did have me read over the directions with him on a couple of assignments, but once he understood the directions, he was able to complete the assignments on his own. I felt like the assignments offered him a great opportunity to practice what he was learning. After finishing this course, I feel like he would be able to move into further computer programming courses at our local community college with a solid foundation to build on.

My son enjoyed the Java Programming course from CompuScholar Inc., and as a mom, I feel like it was a very strong course for a high school student. We are going to review the AP resources and consider signing him up for the test. CompuScholar offers multiple pricing options for this course, from monthly to yearly payments and self-study and teacher-led courses.

To learn more about CompuScholar Inc., connect with them on social media here:

CompuScholar Inc. on Facebook

CompuScholar Inc. on Twitter

To learn more about this, and the other courses our reviewers got to check out, like their Web Design and Digital Savvy courses, click here:

 

Digital Savvy, Web Design & Java Programming {CompuScholar,Inc Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

Menu Plan Monday 4/10/17

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Ugh. I am back in packing mode. Again. We have to move by the end of next month. I hate packing, really I loathe it. And trying to find time to do it amongst the other millions of things I have going on is, well, stressful. So, I am working on keeping my meals as simple as possible right now so it’s one less thing to worry about. Here’s this week’s menu.

Monday: Spaghetti

Tuesday: Chicken and Corn tostadas

Wednesday: Ham and Potato casserole

Thursday: Chicken and Broccoli casserole

Friday: Crock Pot Sausage and Peppers

Thanks for stopping by for Menu Plan Monday! Have a great week.