Friday, August 3, 2012

Khan Academy - Math help

Sal Khan has created a site that plays on kids desire / addiction to play video games :) and a parents desire to see their child actually learn and understand Math.

As they say on their site...
          "With a library of over 2,600 videos covering everything from arithmetic to physics, finance, and history and 218 practice exercises, we're on a mission to help you learn what you want, when you want, at your  own pace."

 First thing I did was to set the kids up with student accounts which will track their progress and give levels of proficiency in each category of math.  Then I made myself a coach account which allows me to keep track of both kids and how they were doing.

The exercises begin with very simple concepts.  The kids would start at the first level solving equations.  It took about ten problems for the site to determine if they were "proficient" at that concept or not and then the site would advance them to the next concept.  The kids went through several levels very quickly as the site was basically assessing what their needs were. (Remind you we're talking about a 7th and 9th grader here)   Happy kids:  lots of levels, points gained, and trophies earned.  Then that leveled off... slightly disappointed kids...and the real work and learning began.

What I like about the site:    the kids learned what they needed to learn.   Unlike a text book where you start at chapter 1 and work your way through... this site focuses on concepts, starting at basic levels and then progressing on only as the kids master the basics.  My two older kids came out of the public system and their math education had holes everywhere.  Khan has helped to fill in the holes, reinforced what needed shoring up, and refreshed what they already did know.

What I didn't like about the site:  the "positive reinforcement bar" at the top of the page which would fill up as they successfully solved equations would empty at a disproportionate rate when they answered a question wrong.  This led to very frustrated  math students.

All in all though, Khan Academy really helped us this past year.  We had no access to the next level of math text books that we would have needed and Khan Academy kept us going in Math.   For that I am extremely grateful!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Wow! Has it been 10 months already?

     It's hard to believe that 10 months has gone by already!  Needless to say, after the wedding we hit the ground running, stopping short for the holidays, running again after our January break... then in February my only child in public school ASKed to come home and be home-schooled too!!??  To be honest, it was harder to get him unenrolled in public school mid-year than to actually home-school him.  But I am sooo glad to be completely free of "the system".  Our family seemed to sigh a collective breath of relief.

     Well the year didn't go as I had planned, but learning did happen, some "hard spots" were overcome, others were made more clear.  That helps for planning for the new year.

     More happy news for us, Anna got engaged and will be getting married in December!  We will be welcoming David into our family officially now :)

     In February we also added Axel to our family - our loveable yellow lab puppy - he has added a new dimension to our "crazy"!  He also prompted the immediate need to fence in the backyard (home-school construction project #1)

     We also "love" to garden... Daddy loves to garden, we love Daddy, so we garden :)   Seriously though, I do love those fresh veggies and herbs to cook with - the cucumbers that I apparently have such a green thumb with - I'm growing to not "love"...we're still eating the pickles from 2 years ago... I lost count at 300 cucumbers.    In our garden we have a blueberry bush... we have been constantly battling the birds on who owns the bush.  We've tried netting, but hate when one gets caught and strangles itself.  We've tried wire "fencing"...they can squeeze through the smallest holes and cracks - I swear they must dig under too!   So we built a Blueberry bush cage (home-school construction project #2) - it seems to work, time will tell :)

     So this summer was declared "the last chance to build a tree house before they're too old to enjoy it" summer... enter home-school construction project #3!   Every one helped hammer, saw and paint!  It was wonderful!  It's basically a glorified tree "porch" - I didn't want to lose the ability to lie down and look up through the leaves - so I refused to roof it (I think I also hit the end of my ability - but don't tell)  Sarah and Isaac's first thought was "Mom! Can we read "Mystery of History" up here!! Please?!?"   Gotta love home-schooling!!

     The other fun thing I discovered this year was Pinterest.   I keep a mostly homeschool board, so if you want to follow I can be found here: or try clicking here:  Pinterest link    I have links for all the subjects I cover and all my favorite sites.  I even made a board for "Free Stuff".  I hope it helps you :) 

     To get back to my original purpose for this blog I am working on a review of Khan Academy.   They have wonderful free math lessons!  I hope to post it soon.

     Take care and enjoy your summer!   Join me in a glass of cold iced tea with mint from the garden in shade of our tree house and take a moment to breathe...