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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Critical Thinking Co.'s Understanding Algebra I Review

So I have a daughter who is struggling to understand algebra.  We are on our second Algebra curriculum.  One of the blessings of homeschooling is that we can change our curriculum midstream if we need to.  But in doing so she hasn't made much progress IN algebra.  And most standardized tests assume that you, at the end of 9th grade, have a pretty decent working knowledge of algebra.  So when the opportunity to review Understanding Algebra I, I jumped at it.


The author of Understanding Algebra I, Terri Husted, is an award winning classroom teacher with 30 years of classroom experience.  The book is 12 chapters long and covers topics like Evaluating Expressions and Solving Equations, Polynomials, and Linear Functions.  Each chapter then has several lessons which end in a page of practice problems.  After the practice problems, there are "More Practice" pages available if your student needs more work on the lesson topic.  Chapters end with a chapter review, and some have bonus activities like puzzles.

The pros:  No teacher's manual is needed for this Algebra.  The lessons are easy to follow, and all the answers are in the back of the book.  The book is full color and over 300 pages long.  There is a glossary in the back.  But the biggest pro is that my daughter actually asked if we could keep using this book and not go back to her other Algebra book.  That's pretty high praise right there!  On my part, I appreciated that the text is easy to follow and that all the answers are in the back.

The cons:  I'm not sure that all the concepts have enough explanation for this to be a standalone curriculum for a student weak in math.  I let my daughter read the lessons and then do the problems on her own, but consistently had to go back over the lessons with her and explain them more and walk her through the process for solving the problems.

The bottom line:  She likes this curriculum, so I think we will probably continue using it.  I like that the answers are all there in the back of the book so that I don't need to have a separate teacher's manual.  I'm okay with having to teach the lessons to her since I was having to do that before anyway.  She's also super excited that I am allowing her to write in this book so it can be her own instead of her having to write on separate sheets of paper.  Sure, it would be more practical to reuse the book, but if she's excited about doing it because she can write in the book, I'll go with that.

You can buy Understanding Algebra I directly from The Critical Thinking Co.'s website.  It normally retails for $39.99 but I have a bonus for you, my readers:

15% Off Any Size Order!


Details: Offer expires 5/31/2015 at Midnight PST. Use Coupon Code BLOGR315. Online prepaid orders only. Valid one per customer. Offer does not apply to iOS or Android apps, or manipulatives such as Attribute Blocks, Interlocking Cubes or Pattern Blocks. Offer may not be combined with other discounts or offers, and is not retroactive. Not valid on wholesale orders.
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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Nothing to See Here But Chirping Crickets

I don't mean to neglect my blog...really I don't.  I've been teaching a photography class for the co-op we are in, and it just takes all my extra time.  I love the kids in my class, and they've made such great progress so far.  We only have 2 weeks left, but there's so much to do in those last two weeks with ordering pictures for their end-of-semester gifts and putting together a slide show for the family night presentation.  It's keeping me hopping for sure.

I have a ton of thoughts about many things, but I often wonder at sharing them.  Maybe once co-op ends and I can breath again...

I just wanted to say thanks to all of you who keep visiting, and hopefully soon there will be more interesting things to read ;).
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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Grace of God Movie Review and Giveaway


Having lost his faith many years ago, Detective Bill Broadly is called to investigate the disappearance of the local church’s collection plate. As he questions its various church members, rumors swirl as more congregants learn about the theft. When one unexpected church-goer confesses to stealing the funds, the confession resurrects Broadly’s views on God, and helps him see that through faith and belief there really is rebirth and redemption. 
OBM says:  I was attracted to this movie initially by its story line and its stellar cast (Erin Bethea from Fireproof, John Ratzenberger from Cheers and a ton of movies, and Lorenzo Lamas from Falcon Crest and The Bold and the Beautiful).  Neither of those things disappoints.  Grace of God tells the story of a church that finds $30,000 missing from the collections.  In their attempts to find out where the money went, to be good stewards of that which was entrusted to them, they end up hiring a PI who is hostile toward the idea of God.  It makes for lots of tension, but also allows for the movie to be about more than just recovering the funds-it becomes about recovering a soul.  Detective Bill Broadly gets drawn in by some key people in the church and begins to see them not as a lump of "Christians" but as real people with real flaws and real hearts changed by God.  The movie also highlights that wrong is wrong no matter how noble the purpose, and that God's grace is real.  When the culprit comes forward, the people have the chance to show God's mercy, but there is also a potential, real consequence in how the culprit's confession might affect the delicately growing faith of the detective.  You'll have to watch the movie to see what happens.
     The one criticism I would offer is that John Ratzenberger's part is almost unnecessary.  He introduces the story, but by the end I had completely forgotten about him...until the final scene where they close with his sermon.  The sermon seems incongruous to me.  The pastor of the church in question (not Ratzenberger) delivers a fabulous sermon where he confesses to being a thief, and it prompts lots of confessions from his congregation.  Without giving too much away, I'll just say that impacts his decision to be merciful.  But then Ratzenberger's sermon (he's a friend of the other pastor, and is relating this story to his congregation) addresses the commandment not to steal, and that stealing can be big or little or of tangible things or intangible things, and it's still stealing...and then it ends with him saying that that commandment also gives us the right to own property. And then he prays...the end.  I didn't get it.  I think the movie would have been stronger without the cut back to Ratzenberger, as his message, while good, almost seems to undermine the idea of grace to me. And I'm just puzzled as to what the comment about the right to own property has to do with anything the movie is about.
     Anyway, even with that being said, that takes about 2 minutes of the 99 minutes of the film.  I enjoyed the rest.  While this movie isn't rated, it did receive a Dove rating:

There isn't anything too bad in it.  In one scene two guys come to blows for a second, and in a few others there is talk of domestic violence with a quick showing of a bruise, but I'd say the rating is justified because the bulk of the movie is just dialogue, and it won't hold the attention of younger kids.  My 13 year old son wandered in, and ended up staying for the whole thing.  He pronounced that it was, "a pretty good movie" when it was over.  That's high praise from a 13 year old for a movie that doesn't involve fast car chases, anything blowing up, or any superheros.

Walmart is the official distributor for Grace of God.  So you can find the #GraceofGodMovie @Walmart.

To win a copy of Grace of God for yourself, just enter the drawing below:
(Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you win the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win again.  Winners will be verified.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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