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    Helpful Hacks

    Hi Friends,

    I've come across a few hacks lately that have smoothed my days considerably. I'm sure you have, too. Let's share.


    A good example of what I mean here is the brilliant idea that some of you had to create a dictionary with the vocabulary words for Lit and Classical Studies. I'm using one of those shared documents for my 6M son this year, and it as revolutionized those studies for us. It was a little tweak that has made all the difference for us both. MP is actually going to pick this one up for us, which is so cool, but the original idea came from a terrific hack. So, let's hack together.



    Share?



    Jen
    DS, 26 yrs, graduated from MIT (Aerospace), recently completed the design and execution of unhackable military software... in his spare time.

    DS, 24 yrs, graduated from SIU's School of Business, ENGAGED!

    DD, 21 yrs, Senior in Education at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC

    DS, 11 yrs, 6M: complete!

    All homeschooled.

    #2
    Re: Helpful Hacks

    Geography II hack.


    OK, confession. I have always struggled to give the subject of geography its due. Right out of the gate in 3M, States and Capitols, I struggled to make the time for geography. Going into 5th, I realized that my son was still shaky on S&C, so in Geo I, I tried to reinforce. Well, Geo I is *more* work that S&C. Opening this year with Geo II, I realized that neither S&C nor Geo I are 100% mastered. So, I figured out how to make this happen. It takes very little work on my part, although it is now part of my planning/organization period each week.

    Flash cards weren't working for us. Even quizlet wasn't fully engaging him. If either of these is working for your child, then feel free to stop reading. My son wasn't *engaging* in the flashcard method, so I needed to ramp it up.


    We are in Geo II, so I will describe the hack from that POV.


    Every week I make 4 copies of the unit test for the area he is currently working in (in this case, Africa).
    Every week I make 5 copies of an area quiz from Geo I; I went back to where he began to get shaky, and am moving forward from there.
    Every week I make 5 copies of an area from S&C

    I staple them into a "Geography Worksheet packet". I write in the top corner: Mon, Tue, Wed, Thurs, Fri.


    On Monday, he completes the NEW Geography II lesson in his student book, while doing the weekly Geo I and S&C review page. Looking at the wall map is encouraged. He uses pencil for what he knows, and pen for the look-ups.

    Tuesday through Thursday he completes the entire packet 3 page packet on his own. Pencil for the known, pen for the look-ups. I "grade" the set early in the week, then use that as my key. I monitor how he is moving from pen look-ups to pencil only. I help him to see that he can try more in pencil as the week progresses.

    The Friday pack is labeled as a quiz (although I don't always record a grade... shhhh...). This encourages my son to put his best effort in on the last day.




    But, you might wonder, how can this be? He's seen "the quiz" all week. YES, that is the very point. Sometimes the way to master material is to have it organized over and over into a known quantity. Any good teacher will tell you that the test at the end ought *not* to surprise the student. We teach what we *want* the student to know, so the final assessment ought to reflect that.



    All week my son works on a geography packet on his own. I have to make notes to myself, using the TMs which area I am focusing on from previous levels, but that is a matter of post-it notes. I focus on the quizzes where he must write the name of the country/state and the capitol AND locate them in the region. If you *are* in Geo II, you know that suddenly the level of material is like drinking from the fire-hose: LOTS. Africa alone is huge. So every week, on the Africa unit test, he simply adds a few more countries on to the weekly worksheet pack. The mastery is suddenly coming, and all I do is make copies once a week.


    Now, that is a hack.



    Jen
    DS, 26 yrs, graduated from MIT (Aerospace), recently completed the design and execution of unhackable military software... in his spare time.

    DS, 24 yrs, graduated from SIU's School of Business, ENGAGED!

    DD, 21 yrs, Senior in Education at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC

    DS, 11 yrs, 6M: complete!

    All homeschooled.

    Comment


      #3
      Re: Helpful Hacks

      Originally posted by Jen (formerly) in Japan View Post
      Geography II hack.


      OK, confession. I have always struggled to give the subject of geography its due. Right out of the gate in 3M, States and Capitols, I struggled to make the time for geography. Going into 5th, I realized that my son was still shaky on S&C, so in Geo I, I tried to reinforce. Well, Geo I is *more* work that S&C. Opening this year with Geo II, I realized that neither S&C nor Geo I are 100% mastered. So, I figured out how to make this happen. It takes very little work on my part, although it is now part of my planning/organization period each week.

      Flash cards weren't working for us. Even quizlet wasn't fully engaging him. If either of these is working for your child, then feel free to stop reading. My son wasn't *engaging* in the flashcard method, so I needed to ramp it up.


      We are in Geo II, so I will describe the hack from that POV.


      Every week I make 4 copies of the unit test for the area he is currently working in (in this case, Africa).
      Every week I make 5 copies of an area quiz from Geo I; I went back to where he began to get shaky, and am moving forward from there.
      Every week I make 5 copies of an area from S&C

      I staple them into a "Geography Worksheet packet". I write in the top corner: Mon, Tue, Wed, Thurs, Fri.


      On Monday, he completes the NEW Geography II lesson in his student book, while doing the weekly Geo I and S&C review page. Looking at the wall map is encouraged. He uses pencil for what he knows, and pen for the look-ups.

      Tuesday through Thursday he completes the entire packet 3 page packet on his own. Pencil for the known, pen for the look-ups. I "grade" the set early in the week, then use that as my key. I monitor how he is moving from pen look-ups to pencil only. I help him to see that he can try more in pencil as the week progresses.

      The Friday pack is labeled as a quiz (although I don't always record a grade... shhhh...). This encourages my son to put his best effort in on the last day.




      But, you might wonder, how can this be? He's seen "the quiz" all week. YES, that is the very point. Sometimes the way to master material is to have it organized over and over into a known quantity. Any good teacher will tell you that the test at the end ought *not* to surprise the student. We teach what we *want* the student to know, so the final assessment ought to reflect that.



      All week my son works on a geography packet on his own. I have to make notes to myself, using the TMs which area I am focusing on from previous levels, but that is a matter of post-it notes. I focus on the quizzes where he must write the name of the country/state and the capitol AND locate them in the region. If you *are* in Geo II, you know that suddenly the level of material is like drinking from the fire-hose: LOTS. Africa alone is huge. So every week, on the Africa unit test, he simply adds a few more countries on to the weekly worksheet pack. The mastery is suddenly coming, and all I do is make copies once a week.


      Now, that is a hack.



      Jen
      Love this! I have a couple kids that would benefit from this type of study. Actually, I marvel at my child who is able to simply go through the minimal practice and ace the test. I, myself, would need much more time with the map and a labeling than is provided in the guides. It never occurred to me to simply print off more quizzes, such a simple fix! Thanks for sharing, Jen!
      Joyfully, Courtney
      DS13 7th, DS11 6th, DS9 4th, DD7 2nd

      Comment


        #4
        Re: Helpful Hacks

        I do the same thing for Geography -- use the quizzes as fill-ins for daily review. I then administer the same quiz and grade it on quiz day. I'm not a fan of "teach to the test" ordinarily, but with geography, this method seems to be working, so I'm keepin on keepin on.

        I also include the country/capital flashcards in our recitation. I just include the current week's countries in daily recitation, then once a week or so we do the whole packet as a fun "let's see what you remember" exercise. I don't grade it, it's just tossed in if we need a break during the class day as a memory jog. I was doing a crossword last night and the clue was "Morocco's capital"..... I was excited to actually know the answer! Thanks MP! (I know the classes are technically for my child, but I love the learning too.... )
        DD 12 - MP6A

        Comment


          #5
          Re: Helpful Hacks

          From my education classes, I would say that "teach to the test" in public school lingo is actually a nod toward trying to prep students for national standardized tests to appear that the students are meeting national benchmarks to a higher degree than they would be for the purposes of state funding.

          In a well run classroom, homeschool or Away school, the teacher should only be teaching what is worth knowing. So in effect, the teacher is always "teaching to the test" which will contain only that which is worth knowing. It might sound the same, but in truth, is very different.



          Jen
          DS, 26 yrs, graduated from MIT (Aerospace), recently completed the design and execution of unhackable military software... in his spare time.

          DS, 24 yrs, graduated from SIU's School of Business, ENGAGED!

          DD, 21 yrs, Senior in Education at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC

          DS, 11 yrs, 6M: complete!

          All homeschooled.

          Comment


            #6
            Re: Helpful Hacks

            Amen, Sister not in Japan any more!

            Tanya

            Comment


              #7
              Re: Helpful Hacks

              Originally posted by Jen (formerly) in Japan View Post
              From my education classes, I would say that "teach to the test" in public school lingo is actually a nod toward trying to prep students for national standardized tests to appear that the students are meeting national benchmarks to a higher degree than they would be for the purposes of state funding.

              In a well run classroom, homeschool or Away school, the teacher should only be teaching what is worth knowing. So in effect, the teacher is always "teaching to the test" which will contain only that which is worth knowing. It might sound the same, but in truth, is very different.




              Jen
              J (f)iJ, this is is a brilliant explanation. Printing multiple copies, laminating, ring binding, and then keeping in my purse to hand out to family and friends who think that constant practice, recitation and review of important information is "cheating" or the same as "teaching to the test".
              Mary

              DD14 - 9th core + CLRC Ancient Greek
              DS12 - 7th core
              DD7 - Still finishing 1st core at her own happy pace :-)

              Comment


                #8
                Re: Helpful Hacks

                Originally posted by OrthodoxHandmaiden View Post
                J (f)iJ, this is is a brilliant explanation.
                Aww... thank you.


                I could take this even one step further, and the Hack Thread is a very good place to mention it. For *every* MP unit, I page mark the unit test first. Every time I drill or do a new lesson with my son, I browse the unit test. It helps me to understand what the test writers at MP knew were the most important elements for the student to take away. I do the same with the 100 Drill Questions, found in most MP TMs. I browse through them every lesson to make sure I am spending the appropriate energy on each lesson. By doing this, I often make a course correction on a lesson my lesson basis; I don't get lost in the roots of the lesson, because I know what the most important take-aways are. This has been the most helpful in subjects like Classical Studies where I might have been tempted to be "thorough" (memorizing every character in the story, no matter how minor), and keeps our focus on The Most Important Things.

                When my son takes his unit tests, he is never, ever surprised by the content. Now, the spelling of names and locations... yeah, that can sometimes take him by surprise.



                Jen
                DS, 26 yrs, graduated from MIT (Aerospace), recently completed the design and execution of unhackable military software... in his spare time.

                DS, 24 yrs, graduated from SIU's School of Business, ENGAGED!

                DD, 21 yrs, Senior in Education at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC

                DS, 11 yrs, 6M: complete!

                All homeschooled.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Re: Helpful Hacks

                  Printing geography III maps on legal sized was our favorite hack.
                  Bean

                  DD- 9M with subs

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Re: Helpful Hacks

                    Love this thread! We are only one geography 1 here this year. Wish I had thought of some of this previously...my 13yo is currently a geography drop out after making it about 3/4 of the way through geo 2. I don’t know how much he remembers.

                    So far, I have been dividing the work up over two or three days...one country and flash card each day, plus review. The states and capital review quiz I give on a marker board I own with the states on it. We aren’t to quizzes yet (we got a late start) but I like the idea of copying the test frequently. I do see that there isn’t much practice for placing the individual countries on the map.
                    Dorinda

                    DD 15 - 10th with MPOA(Biology, Novel, Material Logic/Rhetoric ), Lukeion (Greek3, Latin 3)
                    DS 13 - 8A with MPOA(Third Form and composition)
                    DS 10 - 5M
                    DS 5 - K with AAR3

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Re: Helpful Hacks

                      We're new to MP, and in the successes thread I mentioned that my 9 year old is doing well with Fable... which is significant because he does not like to physically write. So I've backed off on writing in the content subjects, and one ways I've done this is to make "puzzles".

                      For Astronomy, I typed up and printed a chart of the 15 brightest stars and their constellations, cut that apart, and taped a number strip on a long envelope. The star and constellation names are stored in the envelope. Now my son can match up the stars in order with their constellations without writing anything. I also print out a blank labelling page of the previous unit's constellations (as mentioned in the prevoous geo posts) and have him do that weekly to keep it all fresh.

                      I've done the same thing with the timeline chart in the appendix of Christian Studies 1. Using this and the drill questions, he's keeping track of everyone without having to write anything or really be formally tested on it.

                      (I tried to attach some pictures to my post, but it didn't work.)
                      ~ Carrie
                      Catholic mom to four - ages 9, 7, 5, and 2
                      6th year homeschooling, 1st year MP!
                      Using 4th for New Users

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Re: Helpful Hacks

                        [QUOTE]
                        Originally posted by carriede View Post
                        one ways I've done this is to make "puzzles".

                        For Astronomy, I typed up and printed a chart of the 15 brightest stars and their constellations, cut that apart, and taped a number strip on a long envelope. The star and constellation names are stored in the envelope. Now my son can match up the stars in order with their constellations without writing anything. I also print out a blank labeling page of the previous unit's constellations (as mentioned in the previous geo posts) and have him do that weekly to keep it all fresh.

                        I've done the same thing with the timeline chart in the appendix of Christian Studies 1. Using this and the drill questions, he's keeping track of everyone without having to write anything or really be formally tested on it.

                        Very intuitive of you. This is what some call "file folder" games. Using file folders, the teacher makes matching games (really, any type of manipulative game, or write-on-wipe-off type game) and stores them in an area for the student's use. File folder games can be either assigned or used for free learning opportunities. Over time, a teacher can acquire many games of multiple types. Honestly, you could start a collection so that your son could use them for years to come for reinforcement.





                        (I tried to attach some pictures to my post, but it didn't work.)

                        There's an area of your forum profile where you upload the pics first, then you can attach them to your post. I'd love to be more helpful about *how*, but I'd have to call one of my 20 Somethings for help, ha, ha.




                        Jen
                        DS, 26 yrs, graduated from MIT (Aerospace), recently completed the design and execution of unhackable military software... in his spare time.

                        DS, 24 yrs, graduated from SIU's School of Business, ENGAGED!

                        DD, 21 yrs, Senior in Education at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC

                        DS, 11 yrs, 6M: complete!

                        All homeschooled.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Re: Helpful Hacks

                          Second Form Latin hack.


                          OK Friends, if you've recovered from my Geo II hack, I have a SFL hack that has literally changed how I teach Latin, and my son is now crushing it. You see, I taught SFL in 2011 with an 8th grade child and learned several valuable lessons, including but not limited to: the point of SFL is actually to complete what was begun in FFL, and to master what was begun in FFL. It works like a "second half" of what was begun in FFL before hitting the hard work of Third Form, which introduces much harder concepts. I didn't realize until much too late, my first time through the forms, that FFL and SFL are largely paired in order to construct the entire parts of speech paradigm for the Latin student, and almost work as a part I and part II. Being on the lookout for areas where we had failure points my first time through, I have now developed a Systematic Way To Master SFL.


                          Ground rules:

                          1. You need to schedule Latin for 5 days a week, no excuses. Pick your 5 days, but make no mistake that your student will not master SFL in only 4 days a week. I was able to squeeze FFL into mostly 4 days a week, by simply handing the quiz to my child on Day 5, but mastery of SFL requires all 5 days.

                          2. Someone must drill the student 5 days a week. If it can't be you, you will have to deputize someone. I don't think this would be as successful to simply tell your child to "run through it yourself". Students will allow themselves all kinds of slack on their own, "Oh yeah! I KNEW that!" when they really only kinda-knew that.

                          3. Whereas I was able to "handle" FFL in only 15 mins a day of Mom Time, SFL has now moved to 20-25 mins of my time each day. Period. That is what it takes.




                          The hack. The goal of the hack is to drill every single grammar question to date, give a full Recitation of every chant learned to date, and drill every vocabulary word introduced to date in a 5 day period. This has turned out to be amazingly effective for my son, and after he quit fussing at me, the drill time has been shortening as he gets faster and retains more mastery.

                          I divided every one of the above (grammar q's, Recitation, and vocab) into 5 segments, based on sensible divisions. I decided to lean on the "looping" idea: if a bad morning comes along, and I need to skip/drop/shorten the drill time, I will just pick it back up the next day. This has worked fabulously! I also shorten the drill on the DVD day, if that makes sense, since that day is already long. I schedule some of the smaller flash card packs for that day.



                          Here's my recipe for each day:

                          1. 25 Grammar questions from FFL or SFL. I skipped the pronunciation questions, but other than that, I simply move the marker by 25 questions each day in my TM.

                          2. One set of cards from FFL. I have created divisions like 1st/2nd Declension Nouns; 3rd-5th Decl Nouns; 1st Conj Verbs; 2nd Conj Verbs; All FF Sayings.

                          3. One set of cards from SFL. These sets have been building, and will "loop" more frequently than once a week until at least mid-year. However, my son is mastering his i-stem nouns nicely.

                          4. Recite a "block" from the Recitation. I usually open to my TM, pages 98-102, and pick a page.

                          5. Drill the current "unit vocabulary" from recent SFL quizzes which will end up on the next unit test.

                          6. Finally, drill the NEW vocabulary. For new vocab, I always drill Latin to English for a few days, but then flip to English to Latin at least two days before the quiz.


                          Ending on the "new stuff" allows my son to activate prior knowledge and feel successful. It he is having a hard time with the new stuff, he is already primed to see how it fits, then we move on.





                          At first, this was slow going and there was wailing and gnashing of teeth (very respectable for an 11 year old boy, of course). I kept my nerves of steel and kept drilling. Now he is flying through everything in 20 mins max. He is truly mastering not only FFL, but SFL as we go.



                          Which is good. We hit Lesson 10 this week: prepositions which take the ablative. Anyone who has attempted SFL already just had chills go down her spine. With my hack system in place, I have 100% confidence that my son will master these in a way that my daughter never did when we covered SFL in 2011. As you also know, prepositions which take the accusative are next week [insert hair on fire emoji here].




                          So, it's work, true, but it's efficient and it is working.




                          Jen
                          DS, 26 yrs, graduated from MIT (Aerospace), recently completed the design and execution of unhackable military software... in his spare time.

                          DS, 24 yrs, graduated from SIU's School of Business, ENGAGED!

                          DD, 21 yrs, Senior in Education at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC

                          DS, 11 yrs, 6M: complete!

                          All homeschooled.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Re: Helpful Hacks

                            Originally posted by makinmemories
                            I also love the Geography hack. I may try that one out.... I wonder if laminating a weekly copy of the quizzes and using drying erase markers would work in place of printing out so many copies?


                            I hadn't thought of this until you posted it, but a simple page protector and a fine point dry erase marker might also work. One color for "known", and the other color for "look ups". Sweet!



                            Jen
                            DS, 26 yrs, graduated from MIT (Aerospace), recently completed the design and execution of unhackable military software... in his spare time.

                            DS, 24 yrs, graduated from SIU's School of Business, ENGAGED!

                            DD, 21 yrs, Senior in Education at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC

                            DS, 11 yrs, 6M: complete!

                            All homeschooled.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Re: Helpful Hacks

                              Another hack I thought of, one I've used "always", is to set your kids to doing an hour's worth of independent work at the table as their first hour of the school day while your are getting ready yourself. My son has always had 3-4 tasks of practice/copy style work which have changed over the years as he's aged up, but still fall into the "practice category" (spelling, for instance). He starts his day an hour before me, while I am still organizing the day, doing kitchen tasks, etc. When we sit down to begin our school day, he has already knocked out several subjects. Our table time is very fruitful because of this: we are actually going over what he has just finished and grading subjects rather than simply assigning them.




                              Jen
                              DS, 26 yrs, graduated from MIT (Aerospace), recently completed the design and execution of unhackable military software... in his spare time.

                              DS, 24 yrs, graduated from SIU's School of Business, ENGAGED!

                              DD, 21 yrs, Senior in Education at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC

                              DS, 11 yrs, 6M: complete!

                              All homeschooled.

                              Comment

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