Friday, January 9, 2015

Dual enrollment

Every time I start a blog post, I am tempted to say, "I am thinking about writing about...blah blah blah..."  I can never seem to write about something, I'm always stuck just thinking about writing about something.  I imagine this is because I'm generally torn between I'm not really a blogger and will probably never write again and I'm almost ready to write that book.  Today I've had a few different conversations that sent me down the path of I might have something to write about.  So here goes.  Jonathan is a homeschool graduate who will finish his associate's degree in May, a year ahead of schedule.  He will eventually get his bachelor's degree, but his plans for when and where are a little up in the air right now.  Madi is a homeschooled junior in her second semester of dual enrollment.  Let me say I am a huge fan of dual enrollment.  I am also a huge fan of the local state college where the dual enrollment (or in Jonathan's case enrollment) takes place.  I think we're well beyond the concerns of not saying our last name or giving away where we live in this space.  I'm pretty sure the three of you that will be reading this already know those things.  So Lake Sumter State College... I love this place.  My kids do too.  One conversation today was with a friend over the merits of AP versus dual enrollment.  The local public schools seem to tell kids that AP is far superior to dual enrollment.  I am pretty sure that as far as classroom rigor goes, this may indeed be the case more often then not.  On the other hand, consider the source.  If you stay at the school and take the AP class (and pass, and pass the test) the school looks good.  If you leave the school grounds to take a class elsewhere, not so much.  I know that there are very good AP classes at the local public schools and I know of plenty of kids to have taken them and will excel in their big name university educations because of it.  I don't deny that.  We have not gone that route.  As homeschoolers dual enrollment makes much more sense and because it is the direction we've chosen I'm here to praise it.  If you google dual enrollment versus AP courses you will see all kinds of pros and cons for each.  Dual enrollment goes more with homeschooling in general.  More freedom to choose the classes you want, when to take them, when to study, etc.  Some local state and community colleges may not be as rigorous as comparable AP classes (lots of online material points to the fact that AP students are usually at the top of their class while entry level college students are not necessarily), but you know what dual enrollment certainly prepares you for college because, guess what? it is college!  One of the websites even said that AP makes more sense for high school students because that class is often taught over a whole year instead of a semester.  Um well in college the whole thing is done in one semester so dragging it out doesn't really sound so superior in my book.  Here's the thing.  This is my same old argument about maybe mastering the more basic material is a better idea than doing harder work and not really "getting it".  Information is out there.  We pretty much all walk around with a small device in our pockets that can give us any information at any time.  Did the Union or the Confederacy win the battle of Shiloh?  I don't know, but I know how to find out really fast.  I do know who won the war though and I know factors that led up to it were around since the founding of our nation, my kids know those things too.  They've read and listened to many books about the Civil War and about lots of other things too.  They know about the battle of Gettysburg and they can almost word for word give the Gettysburg address, they know how long four score and seven years ago is, and they know how to look up any other battle or general or whatever they might need to know about.  Today when Madi and I were discussing her American History and it was time for a quiz, I had her do the matching of the people's names to what they did (who was John Wilkes Booth... kind of important), but had her totally skip the which battle was what part.  When a question of battles comes up on trivia crack, she'll have to make an educated guess and then google it later.  I seem to have gotten off track, but in my mind it is actually the same thing.  After lots and lots of years of homeschooling and turning out some pretty cool kids, I have to say that harder classes are not necessarily better classes.  And dare I say harder classes don't necessarily make you smarter.  My high school physics teacher was a genius.  I don't think I learned anything in that class.  There must have been some kind of a curve though because I must have gotten either an A or a B because that's all I ever got.  I've blogged before about how frustrated I've gotten when people have belittled something that I find worthy educationally because it isn't at a high enough grade level or reading level.  Does something have to be hard to read to give good information?  I don't think so.  I've also blogged at length about how conversation has been one of our main methods of education over the years.  This way of learning is carried out at Lake Sumter.  Jonathan is definitely an auditory learner, it is serving him well in his college classes.  He has been invited into and has joined an honor society phi theta something based on his excelling in his classes.  This is my blog and I've been his main teacher for most of his life, so of course I can say this makes me proud.  But really it's not my thing anymore, now it's his thing.  I really have a grown kid now and another one coming up right behind him (and before I know it that last one will be there too).  Jake at this point is thinking his high school learning will mostly take place inside the school building, so I am in no way saying that our way is the right way or the only way, I'm just saying I feel a little more at liberty to say what worked for us because we can now see that it really did work for us.  And since another one of my conversations today was with a public school mom who is pulling her 10th grader out of school next week, I was able to tell her the ways these things have worked for us, and how this once unconventional way of doing things has now become the thing that so many people want to know more about.  Our early homeschool days would probably be called delayed academics (with a heavy dose of talking), our middle years might be considered a little closer to the school model (but again with a lot more talking), and our later years will definitely be classified as pro-dual enrollment (and yes lots of talking).  Take it or leave it, I have no need to convince anyone of anything, but if you want my opinions on why we do what we do, I'm happy to tell people and maybe even sometimes write a little about it here in this very neglected place.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

12 in 2014

I've read a few of these 12 pics year in review posts and they all seem to have beautiful pictures with the month somehow written right on the picture, and links to numerous blog posts written in that month.  That's not going to happen here.  Last year at this time I had grand plans to blog about each month of the previous year and of course that didn't happen.  If I've learned anything lately it's to aim really low.  I'm pretty sure I can find a picture from each month of 2014, so that is the way this is going to go, no links, no sweet stories, but a picture for every month.

And that's all she wrote.
Link up with Dwija for more 12 in 2014 posts that have more content.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

quick updates in facebook format

After many years of grinding my own flour, I have opted to use cheap white flour for Christmas cookies this year.  It was a good idea!

Madi just texted that she got 100 on her Sociology (dual enrollment at LSSC) paper.  I texted back, "hopefully your Algebra 2 (FLVS) teacher will take that into consideration."

Jonathan and Mike have grand plans for outside Christmas lights every year (think Christmas vacation).  Here we sit in the second week of Advent with nice subtle lights outside.  I'm not complaining.

We got a droopy Christmas tree this year.  Here we sit in the second week of Advent, and I might be complaining a little.  It's still drinking water and not brown yet, but it's kinda sad.  For the last three or four years we've had trees that were still like new on New Year's Day, so I think we were overdue for this one.  I also think I mentioned that we had done so well with trees lately we might be due for a dud and I think this one heard me.

A dear friend had a stem cell transplant yesterday and was walking on the treadmill today.  I can count on one hand the number of times I've been to the gym this year.  Mike is ready to pull the plug on the family gym membership, and in spite of my terrible attendance, I'm not ready to let it go.  Jake is now old enough to go too, and I know he and I really need to get into a gym routine, yet I can't seem to make it happen.  Maybe saying it here will motivate me to take the plunge.  If we don't use it, we'll lose it.

It is the Feast of Juan Diego today and we had tacos for lunch.  I knew it was the Feast of Juan Diego and the boys and I talked about it this morning.  The tacos for lunch was unrelated, but as Sheldon Cooper would say, was a happy accident.

We have gotten 7 Christmas cards so far.  For a while we seemed to be getting one a day, and had the same number of cards as the date in December, but now we'll fallen behind.  Sent me some cards!!

I mailed mine today. 

I also mailed 3 Christmas packages.

Jake has the opportunity to go to two different dances this week, but will miss them both because it is show week at theatre. 

This really was my facebook status yesterday...

Our family's favorite musical, Once on this Island, is this weekend!!  Madi is Ti Moune on Saturday at 7, and Jake is Agwe on Friday at 7 and Sunday at 2. Reserve your tickets today.  This is one you won't want to miss!

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Saturday, November 15, 2014

It's Saturday

Linking with Kathryn once again for what I imaging will be the last time this week.  Tomorrow is the day we've been planning!!  Lots of packing and preparing to do today.  In the meantime here's a short review of yesterday and a preview of today.

Hmmm, yesterday, what was yesterday?  Mike and Madi both had dentist appointments.  I did a little History with Madi, a little reading about northern Europe with Jake.  There was a point for a little while when the whole family was in the kitchen (actually that happened for a little while in the evening too).  Late morning Madi and I went to pay her traffic ticket.  Jonathan took Jake to Target.  Mike was at a meeting.  Madi and I picked up pizza for lunch, the boys brought home soda and we had a little party.  The Duggars joined us on the TV.  Then Madi did math, Jake did a little more school work, Jonathan talked a lot, and before we knew it it was time for Madi to go to work and Jake to go to band.  I sat in the car line during band listening to the Busted Halo show.  Then took Jake right to theatre.  While he was at theatre I went to the Verizon store and got my upgrade.  My 2 year old iphone 4 was on it's last legs.  Now I have a fancy 5S yay!  This week in review with new phones and pedicures is not at all typical of a normal week, it just happened that a week in my life also fell on the week before the cruise.  Mike and I were scheduled to house manage for the current main stage show at the theatre at 6:30.  The show is A Good Old Fashioned Redneck Country Christmas.  I convinced Madi to dress like an usher and help us out.  Good thing because as of the time of the house opening I only had two ushers and one of them was brand new.  I was supposed to have 6 or 7.  I pulled Jake from where he was sulking upstairs because he really didn't want to be there, and he sat people in his athletic pants and Aeropostale tshirt.  Finally three more ushers showed up 35 minutes late.  I quickly put them right to work.  Jonathan had been working on tech stuff there since about 4, and he and Jake decided to just go home and not stay for the show.  The show was pretty cute and touching.  It is a nice short show (my favorite kind of nonmusical) and we were all home (and back in the kitchen) before 10:00.  Then I got in bed and watched the end of Forrest Gump.  The end.

Today we are packing, and cleaning, and I personally have nowhere that I have to be. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Thursday on Friday

For the second night in a row I closed down a coffee shop.  (both times I was drinking tea)  Now it's Friday morning and I'm not sure I'll remember all the things that were Thursday, so I'll just try to hit the highlights.  I made pumpkin chocolate chip scones for breakfast.  Jake had borrowed the steel drums so even though he didn't have band in the morning, we had to be there bright and early to return them.  Jake and I made the first trip and some of Jake's friends came out to help him with the second round.  Then I waited a pretty long time because Jake sorta forgot he was a homeschooler and did the middle school hang out in the court yard thing.  He's really got the best of both worlds that kid!  Apparently he and his buddies were discussing changes to Sesame Street (no more Big Bird because kids are afraid of him?  no more Burt and Ernie because people thought they were gay?), I'm not sure any of this is true, but it makes for riveting middle school conversation.  By the time we got home Madi had already left for her art class and Jonathan and Mike were already in Orlando (separately) (Jonathan had brought a broken light from the theatre to the lighting place and Mike had a meeting.)  Jake did some (I use that term loosely) school, I tutored, then for lunch we headed to chick fil a for our mother-son bookclub.  (ie Julie, Tiffany, Jake, and Joe eating chicken, fries, and milkshakes discussing Doll Bones, a pretty creepy book.)  Tiffany took a picture, but it's not appeared on her blog or instagram yet, so it won't be here either.  Madi met us there after her class and had lunch with Hannah.  Then it was back home for a little while, Jake to band, a quick stop at the library (where I saw a friend and we were asked to be quiet), and then I got a pedicure as part of operation prep for cruise.  Then it was home again for another quick stop, made myself a grilled cheese, ate it in the car, and picked up Jake from band/extra steel drum band.  Jake and I then headed to church where he had choir and I have a group thing.  The room we usually use for said group thing was occupied because there was going to be a symphony concert last night at the church, so we found something else.  I got to use my newly minted key to one of the church buildings, I guess I can effectively say we spend a lot of time there, since we actually now have our own key.  The keys to the kingdom so to speak.  Anyway that ended and it was off to another night in a coffee shop with friends.  Solving the world's problems takes a lot of time in a coffee shop and a fair amount of tea.  When the place was closing and we were sent away, we spent about 45 more minutes talking on the sidewalk.   Jonathan was not working last night, but had gotten hooked up by Amanda (theatre director by day and Tinkerbell who flies from the castle by night) to spend the evening shadowing the tech crew of the fireworks display.  I stayed out late talking because I knew I was going to be up late waiting for Jonathan anyway.  He actually got home before I did, and he was so excited about his night he talk talk talked about it for a long time.  Then finally it was bed and a little Big Bang Theory.

Twenty nine years ago on November 13th my closest friend at the time took her own life.  I think it's not an exaggeration to say I've thought about her every day for 29 years.  I didn't say this out loud to anyone all day yesterday, but I felt like it wasn't right to not memorialize it in some way so there's that.

You can read about other people's Thursdays here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Wednesday, another day, another blog post

Today I again got up around 7:30.  I had pumpkin chai tea to drink (and a pumpkin muffin to go with it).  Jonathan had to be up and out the door for an earlyish class.  Madi and Jake had to be up and out the door because it was St Vincent de Paul food pantry day.  Madi and I did read a chapter of history though.  We always toss Chemistry under the rug cause... CHEMISTRY!  But we always make history a priority because we both like it  (I was going to say love, but let's not get crazy!)  Mike was again working from home for the morning.  I spent a little time trying to get the loft to not look like the pig sty that it is (I have a long way to go), we moved a bookshelf from the loft into the corner of our room now known as Mike's office.  I started looking in my closet as a pre-packing experiment re: upcoming cruise.  I am missing a dress.  Where could it be?  I tutored from 9:45-11:45 and also touched up paint on that outside shelf.  (lots of shelf things today) 

At 11:45 I brought my student home and went to meet my friend Pam in the park for a picnic lunch.  Pam has cancer (Hodgkin's lymphoma) and is preparing for a bone marrow transplant.  (Pray for her and my brother Rob {stage 4 melanoma} they share a birthday, different year.)  From the park, I stopped in at the library.  I checked out a couple of Norway books for Jake, Uncle Tom's Cabin for Madi, and a young adult (kids?) book for myself, Savvy. 

When I got home Mike was on his way out the door, Jonathan had been home and gone again, and Jake and Madi had just gotten home and were eating lunch.  Very soon it was time to bring Jake to band because early release Wednesday means band is an hour earlier.  I sat in the car line listening to the Busted Halo Show on the Catholic Channel and checking social media.  I also read the latest issue of the local made by kids for kids magazine.  Madi has a picture in the photo contest.

When we got home it was just after 3:00.  I encouraged Jake to get something like schoolwork done for a little while, but of course when boy next door rang the bell, I told Jake he could go out and play.  Packing food for people in need for 4 hours and then an hour of band will be school for today (and an hour of religious ed tonight too!)  I noticed that one of our many pumpkins was getting a soft spot, so I cut it up and popped it into the crock pot.  We already have two large containers of freshly cooked pumpkin in the refrigerator.  While I was doing that, Madi had me quiz her on vocabulary words for her art class (she is dual enrolled at the local state college taking Sociology and Art) (She has an art quiz tomorrow).  I also made her a grilled cheese because her "lunch" was carrots and pretzels and she will not be home until 8:00 tonight. 

Now it is 4:30.  In an hour Jake and I will head to the church for a meeting about an upcoming fundraiser for Pam.  (maybe Jake will do some schoolwork then)  Then I will teach 9th grade religious ed.  As soon as it ends I will head to Starbucks where Mike will take Jake from me and I will visit with one of our first friends from here who now lives in Colorado, but is here helping her elderly mother. 

Again, no pictures.  I am due for an upgrade on my phone and desperately need it, but I have to make the time to go to the Verizon store.  My current phone camera is pretty bad and only works about half the time.  I definitely want a new phone before the cruise...maybe tomorrow.

To read about other Wednesdays go to Team Whitaker.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Tuesday on Tuesday

Well this one should be a little easier because now I'm going to write about Tuesday and it is still Tuesday.  This morning I also got up around 7ish (maybe closer to 7:30).  I had hot chocolate/coffee and attempted to race Mike in a #1 (easy) Sudoku.  In my attempt to actually beat him (never happens) I messed up and scrapped the whole thing.  I ate a piece of sourdough toast, and got Jake started on his math.  I know it's Veteran's Day but we have all kinds of "days off" around here, so some school was going to get done.  Did History with Madi (we're in the 1850s right now and were reading about abolitionists).  From 10-12 I tutored (still in my jammies) while intermittently yelling at Jake to get something done.  Jonathan (whose college classes were canceled for Veteran's Day) was talking to him too much.  While my "tutee" (as in the girl I tutor) was working on math I quickly slapped some paint on a little shelf that we garbage picked this summer.  It is going in our front yard with some plants etc on it.  I did my lesson plan for my 9th grade religious ed class.  I like the curriculum we are using, but it is planning heavy and not the kind of class that it read aloud and answer questions.  Jake got some map work and some spelling done.  Madi went to the gym and did some Algebra 2.  Jonathan joined the college honor society that he was invited into.  Mike worked from upstairs (interestingly enough also still in his jammies...ssshhh).  I showered, ate lunch, and debated whether to go shopping for shoes that Jake needs (Kohls coupons) and some food (Aldi coupon) (there are 5 Aldis around here, but all of them about 30 minutes away).  Opted to go to the farther Kohl's because it was near an Aldi where the coupon would definitely work (might not have worked at the slightly closer one).  Madi decided she'd like to come too.  This trip would bring us near Plato's Closet and she had some clothes to sell to them.  Drove to far Kohl's (Madi read Chemistry on the way) (Jake may have done some Language Arts).  Found exactly the shoes Jake needs for his band concert (that we will and his Christmas Tour performances (that we will see), even on sale the shoes were NOT CHEAP.  Walked to the checkout area only to find every other person in the greater Orlando area to be in line in front of us.  Apparently Kohl's wasn't expecting that extra coupons plus a federal holiday would mean more people should have been scheduled to work!  A nice manager (Janice) told a group of us in the back of the ridiculous line that we'd get an extra 10% off.  $5 off plus $10 off plus 20% off plus 10% more off made the cost of the shoes almost reasonable.  Time was getting away from us as Madi needed to be at choir at 4 and Jake to theatre at 4:30, but we made an executive decision to drop Madi at Plato's closet while Jake and I would run into Walmart to exchange a too small shirt that he got for his birthday.  A Walmart fan I am not, but somehow I find it easier to go into other Walmarts than I do my local one.  Well sadly even though we had the shirt with the tag that says Walmart, the customer service lady informed us they did not sell that shirt at that Walmart and therefore we could not exchange it (or just get credit).  No shirt for you, Jake!  We will now look for a Christmas angel tree with a 10ish year old boy who needs a new shirt.  While we were striking out at Walmart, Madi was striking out at Plato's Closet.  It was going to take them at least 45 minutes to get to her clothes.  45 minutes we did not have.  On to Aldi.  We were successful with our coupon from there and stocked up on staples (ketchup and tortilla chips) and got food for church Thanksgiving baskets.  No time to get all the way home and for Madi to get to choir, so I had to drive Madi right to choir, come home and throw the groceries in the house, have Jake pick up his script, and get him to theatre (with not a minute to spare).  Decided to stop and get my eyebrows waxed (may have actually let them do my upper lip too, but I'll never tell).  Then tried to go to the library (fail...duh...federal holiday).  Back to the church to pick up Madi.  (also tried to get the mail...again...duh!!)  Visited with Mike for a few minutes while he, Madi and I ate leftovers.  Talked to my father for Veteran's Day.  Sat down to look at blogs.  Mike left for a meeting at the theatre.  Made a couple phone calls and texts trying to make sure Jonathan was going to be bringing Jake home from the theatre.  Found the links about the week in the life posts and spent the last hour blogging about yesterday and today.  Mike will be at the theatre for about 2 more hours, but all kids are home safe and sound and I'm going to read, possibly watch TV (still not caught up on DWTS and there's a new Duggar episode on tonight), and I will be going to bed early.  During all of this I've had hundreds of conversations with Mike and the kids, they have involved theatre, church, Disney, and a myriad of other topics.  At one pint this morning Jonathan said something to Jake and I answered him from two rooms away.  Jonathan said, "mom, you have ears like a hawk," and Jake replied, "no Jonathan, you just have a mouth like a howler monkey."

To read about more Tuesdays go here.