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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Relevant Writing Strategies You Can Use!

Many of my students' parents and readers of my blogs have commented on a phrase that I use "relevant writing."  This idea encompasses the thought that relating writing to what children are already learning makes the most sense. It's the difference between treating writing as a life skill rather than an academic subject. It's how we teach writing at Classes by Beth.

I taught first grade in a private school for several years. Although it's a wonderful age to teach, I was often frustrated by the writing assignments from our language arts curriculum. I wondered if the authors ever actually worked with young children. The assignments often required students to think of original material with very little direction. Children at that age have lived a very limited life. How many original ideas could a first grader possibly have? The way I solved the problem was to adapt the writing assignments so they related to other material that we had been reading and experiencing. I used the same method when I taught my own children, and others, to write as a homeschool mom.

Relevant Writing Strategies You Can Use in Your Homeschool
  •  As you plan activities in other subject areas, such as science and history, combine writing with specific concepts from those subjects. Have your child retell a historical event in writing or explain a science concept. 
  • Utilize activities such as field trips, family vacations and other special events as writing opportunities. Be sure to create specific assignments rather than general ideas like "Describe the field trip" or "Write about our family vacation."
  • Choose assignments that are developmentally appropriate for your child. 
  • Make sure you and your child have a clear understanding of the goals of the writing assignment before starting. Writing assignments make more sense when students know what is expected.
  •  Vary the length and depth of writing assignments. Every written assignment doesn't have to be a report or essay. Shorter writing assignments can often serve the purpose, cause less student stress and make it easier for you to grade.
  • When assigning longer assignments, such as reports, break it down into parts such as notes, thesis statement, outline and multiple drafts.
  • Consider giving your child multiple options for writing assignments. Students often feel more empowered and eager to complete work when they have choices. No more than three choices will alleviate undo pressure for most students.
  • Give your student's written work as much attention when grading as you expect him or her to give it when writing. Discuss the writing, both positives and negatives, and allow for more than one draft, if needed. Encourage your child to improve his or her writing without demanding perfection with every assignment. Keep in mind that writing is a process that improves with practice and additional skill level.
If you view writing as a life skill and not a series of lessons or an academic subject, you'll transfer that perspective to your child as you teach. If it is a burden and hardship for you, if you can't see it as an essential life skill, your child will view it that way as well.

Happy Teaching!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

New CBB Features for 2014-15

At CBB, we had a wonderful year in 2013-14, but as with all endeavors, we also learned how we could improve for the future. We are grateful for another year in which our education business can better meet the needs of our client families. Registered families will be receiving detailed information about these updates and features at the beginning of August.  Some of the exciting changes that we'll be implementing for this coming school year include:

  • Parent Checklist - This list will allow parents to make sure they have covered all of their bases before the school year begins. This comprehensive list will help parents stay organized and feel confident that they've done what is necessary for their children to succeed with CBB.
  • Student Checklist - This list will assist students in being prepared for the start of classes.
  • Parent Resources in Virtual Classroom - A parent folder located in the virtual classroom files will contain all of the documents from the handbook to honors forms to the school calendar. This provides a central source for parents seeking specific documents and information.
  • Online Gradebook - Parents and students will be able to check grades online with a secure gradebook that requires individual passwords.
  • AP Class - We are offering our first AP class this year, AP English Language and Composition, and looking forward to offering many more in the future.
  • Monthly Invoices - Parents who are paying monthly will receive an invoice each month.
  • MY FAVORITE! CBB Student Blog - Students will have the opportunity to share their writing, ideas and more on this blog beginning in August. We already have student work ready to publish. We hope this will provide a picture of the awesome effort of our students and encourage other students and their families.
As we continue to grow and learn with our students, we also pray that our families will continue to provide feedback about what they appreciate most. Looking forward to the coming school year!

Blessings on your summer,

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

World History - Why Your High Schooler Should Be Enrolled

Recently, my daughter, Ally, and her boyfriend, Avery, started a conversation about how ignorant many people are and sadly, how easily they share their ignorance through social media. One of Ally's examples was how many people tweeted and posted with the new year such comments as: 
"This beautiful earth is now 2014 years old" 
"Hard to believe it's almost here. America is going to be 2014 years old. Think about that for a minute. That's SUPER old, guys." 
She also pointed out the comments coming out during the Olympics including
 "3000 years ago? I didn't think anyone was even alive then" 
"I'm sure this man on the olympics said it started 3000 years ago. It's only 2012 so how would that work?" 
Unfortunately, ou conversation continued far beyond those examples. As an educator, it stung me. Did these adults receive a high school education? 

World History must be a requirement for all high school students, and not just the 3/4 of a textbook touching on basic facts. Students need to move forward into adulthood with a clear picture of God's hand in history and man's continued striving toward an understanding of this world as created by God. Having a foundation of history from the proper perspective allows for a greater understanding of many different aspects of adult life. Some of things that high schoolers might do as adults that will be directly affected by history education, of lack thereof, include:

  • Teach their own children or at least evaluate the quality of their children's education.
  • Vote - people who lack historical perspective often vote based on single issues or non-essential factors (physical appearance, gender, race, etc.). Those same people often don't fully understand the issues and therefore don't vote in local elections, which are so vital to individual freedoms. 
  • Register for military service - without historical knowledge, a full understanding of this commitment cannot be perceived. Our federal government and military hierarchy are based on historical perspectives and rules.
  • Grow in Christian faith - it's amazing how many believers I personally know who have little to no understanding of the history of Christianity. How do we properly interpret Scripture if we don't understand the history of our faith?
  • Run for political office - think about how many politicians have made gaffes related to history. No matter which political party they represent, slips about history often snag politicians. Imagine being current vice-president, Joe Biden, and talking about FDR going on television in 1929 to talk about the stock market crash. That would be challenging since FDR did not become president until 1933. 
  • Minister to others - whether it's through direct ministry like church leadership or standing up for those who are persecuted, a solid understanding of world history provides tools for addressing and preventing modern issues and atrocities.
Notice how many of the above situations are related to becoming a faithful and civic minded citizen of the United States and the world. Understanding history demonstrates higher level thinking skills and the ability to better analyze what is currently happening in our world, which will soon be history. It's not about memorizing dates and's about realizing that as human beings, and the creation of a greater God, our past reflects greatly on our present and our future. Seeing God's hand in history not only gives Him the glory He is due, but also helps us better understand our Creator and the world He created. 

If you're still wondering about the value of World History, consider this: Alexander the Great established Greek as the common tongue of all nations of the known world in his time. By doing so, he inadvertently allowed for the advance of Christianity when Christ and the Apostles traveled and spoke. God can even use a pagan to advance the kingdom. 

World history has much to offer beyond dates and biographies. A view of the world from our Creator, higher level thinking skills, a stronger understanding of our citizenship (in America and in the world) and a greater understanding of mankind through eyes of faith are just a few reasons for studying history. 

CBB currently offers World History I (Creation - Renaissance/Reformation) and World History II (Post Renaissance - Modern). We find that many homeschoolers have actually studied Ancient World History before high school, while fewer have an understanding of Post-Renaissance history. Consider enrolling your high schooler in World History today. You won't regret it.

God bless your family as you plan for the coming school year!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

CBB @ Home - Full Language Arts Program You Can Do at Home!

CBB @ Home was originally introduced last year and allows parents to teach at home using CBB concepts. It provides lesson plans, online support meetings and student evaluations, as well complete lesson plans. Writing courses are available for grades 3-8, with literature courses for grades 5-8.

With CBB @ Home, you have the benefits of working with your child while having the expertise of an experienced teacher at your fingertips. Basically, you'll receive lesson plans and assignments every two weeks including composition, grammar, punctuation, editing and vocabulary. If you opt for a literature course, other components such as reading assignments, comprehension activities and the elements of fiction will be included.The plans have creative teachings ideas and allow you to integrate other subject areas and materials that you already own or can find at the local library.

You'll also receive direct CBB support through:
1. monthly online meetings where they can ask questions, participate in discussions and meet other parents. Consequently, these meetings provide a wonderful opportunity to learn about using the virtual classroom in future years. 
2. evaluation of written assignments twice each quarter at no extra cost 
3. e-newsletters and a FB group just for parents.

Multiple students may be added to the course at a discounted rate for siblings. Co-op group rates are also available. 

You can purchase language arts curriculum from many different companies, but at CBB, we provide you the lessons and the support so that you and your children can be successful. For more information, visit CBB @ Home. If you'd like to see a sample from CBB @ Home Writing Level 2, click here. Note that the sample includes only the lesson plans and not the supporting notes, worksheets and other definition sheets.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions about CBB @ Home. We are here to support you in your homeschool adventure!

God bless your summer,

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

To AP or Not AP...that is the question (or not?)

Recently, I underwent the process of becoming approved by College Board to teach CBB's first AP course...AP English Language and Composition. The staff at College Board was helpful and kind, but the idea that I had to have my class approved bothered me a bit. But, as with many things, when I looked back on the experience, I was grateful that in today's world of people claiming titles and even making up titles for themselves just to gain profit that College Board still has accountability for its teaching and testing process. As I evaluated my syllabus, I also wondered which students would best be suited for the course. If you're considering an AP course for your child, think about the following:

1. An AP course will take significantly more study time than even an honors course. I clearly understand why states, like South Carolina, use a weighted gpa system when considering the work that must be accomplished to successfully complete an AP course.

2. Solid reading and writing skills are required for AP students. If you're considering placing your child in almost any AP course, be sure to select middle and high school courses that require substantial reading and cover how to write well. For example, at CBB, we have Essay Styles to set the foundation for strong high school writing and the Research Paper Writing class for experience with writing fact-based papers. Our History and Literature classes are all whole book based rather than textbook to help students learn to read beyond excerpts and summaries. 

3. AP courses require higher level thinking skills. They do not offer "read and regurgitate" options that just teach to the test. The idea is for your child to learn how to be a college student academically and demonstrate those abilities before entering college. Again, literature, history, science and even math classes are all best taught by instructors who stress becoming a life long learner over just getting the correct answer, like those at CBB, if you plan to take your child down the AP path.

4. Anyone can teach an AP preparation course, but be sure your child takes an AP class that the instructor who has worked through the College Board audit process and has the written approval to use the AP title on transcripts and other documents. Otherwise, the course will not be counted as AP on a transcript by colleges or scholarship organizations.

I am excited about CBB's first AP course and we hope to offer more in the future. The class will remain small this year to make sure that all students receive the attention they need, so be sure to sign up soon if you think AP English is an option for your child.

God bless,

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Free Class Giveaway and Earning Free Tuition...July is Awesome at CBB!

It's July Giveaway at CBB and we're giving away THREE Online High School Research Paper Writing classes this month. Just by joining our email list or registering for a CBB class, you are automatically in the drawing. If you do both, you will be submitted twice! Check out all of the details on the CBB website and enter to win your free class today. 

If you're already registered for classes, don't forget the Referral Program for July. Earn $10 for every friend and family member who registers for a class in July and claims you as the referral. No be sure to share, share, share.

Hope your July is filled with joy!

Friday, June 27, 2014

What Class Do You Dislike Teaching?

As homeschool parents, we rarely find ourselves able to or desiring to teach every class. For me, it was Geometry. It intimidated me in high school and certainly didn't instill confidence in my teaching ability as a mom. (FYI - We have an excellent Geometry course if you're in the same boat!). Although I really like to teach Chemistry, other sciences such as Biology or Anatomy and Physiology, do not inspire me. We made sure to offer these courses at CBB with instructors, Deborah Plant and  Heidi Smith, who have a passion for these topics, teaching experience and homeschool their own children.

At this time of year, I receive emails weekly from parents about teaching their children to write. I do understand. Although I find writing enjoyable, I can relate to parents who find it challenging, boring and even scary because it not only requires a specific skill set but also affects a student's overall communication style. I had a phenomenal writing teacher in high school who encouraged me, so I work hard to do for my students what she did for me. At CBB, writing is the one course that we start as early as 5th grade. A solid foundation in writing well helps students succeed in many other courses including history, literature, communication and science. If writing is your nemesis, be sure to check out our 2014-15 classes:

So, if you could hire someone to teach that one subject that concerns you most,what would it be? At Classes by Beth, we offer a wide variety of courses with amazing, qualified and kind educators to make your life better and improve your child's educational experience.

Be sure to visit our site soon as regular registration ends July 31st and seats are limited.

Happy Summer!