October 21, 2014

{Review Crew} Middlebury Interactive Languages

My kids love the challenge of learning a new language so we were excited to try a new-to-us language program called Middlebury Interactive Languages. We reviewed the Elementary Spanish 2: Grades 3-5 Spanish Courses.

Middlebury Interactive Languages Review

What is it?
Middlebury Interactive Languages offers foreign language learning opportunities that were designed by linguistic experts. The program uses technology to create an interactive immersion-style language learning experience for students.

They have language programs for students of all ages, from Kindergarten learners to high school students obtaining AP credit. They currently offer courses in Spanish, French, German, and Chinese.

We reviewed the second level of Spanish Courses for kids in grades 3-5. This program contains 45 lessons per semester. These lessons are divided into units which each have a theme and introduce different vocabulary and grammar concepts.
Middlebury recommends that a student work on the program 2-3 days per week at this level.

Middlebury Interactive Languages Review

We received six months of access which equates to an entire semester of language lessons for an elementary student.

All of the levels are self-paced so the student and teacher can determine what speed is right for each child. Lessons can also be completed more than once if further review and practice is needed. 

There is also an option to complete the course with a teacher who would provide feedback on the written assignments in the program. This is offered at an additional charge.

How did we use it?
This program was for Curly (grade 3). We were excited to try the second semester of the Spanish language course for grades 3-5. Curly has been practicing her Spanish and does know many basic vocabulary words and some simple verb forms. For this reason, I thought she would be up to the challenge of trying the second semester of course work.

She worked on the program 3 days per week, usually doing a new lesson each time. On a few days she repeated a previous lesson for extra practice. 

This program for grades 3-5 required the student to be somewhat familiar with grammar concepts and able to read both Spanish and English and be able to type responses into the program.

Curly was able to do most of her work independently. She only needed me for help on a few of the typing assignments when she needed to type in Spanish.

Each lesson had a variety of activities. There were videos in Spanish, words written in Spanish for the student to read and then record themselves speaking, short responses to type in Spanish, and other games and matching vocabulary activities.

What did we think?
The different units in the program focus around different myths or stories from the Spanish culture. All of my kids liked to gather around the computer and watch the videos of these stories (which were completely in Spanish).  These videos were some of our favorite parts. Through watching them several times my kids were able to pick up on many new vocabulary words.

In the different units, new vocabulary words are a key focus. However, there is also cultural information that my kids found interesting. 

Curly found that the program offered a wide variety of activities. There were games, places to match vocabulary words, and sections to record herself saying the Spanish words and phrases after listening to them read aloud. The program is colorful and fun and contains great review. I found that she was learning many new vocabulary words and retaining them through all the practice that she had in the program.

Some of the activities had Curly typing out a response in Spanish. She wrote short letters to people or wrote a response to something she read in the program. This was very challenging for her. When she was done with this section she clicked on the button at the top to signify that she was done and the program marked the assignment as complete. However, because we did not have the teacher option, there was no way to assess if Curly had done the assignment correctly. This part of the program was somewhat frustrating since there were a few assignments that truly needed feedback from an outside source who was more familiar with Spanish. 

The program also included places to write the Spanish words as part of spelling practice. This was very challenging for Curly as well. It was difficult for her to remember the Spanish vowel sounds in order to spell words properly. The program did encourage her to use proper accent marks but that was too much for her at this time.

Middlebury is multifaceted language learning in that it has the student speak, spell, hear, watch, read, and then compose original sentences and paragraphs in another language. This is wonderful practice. However, for a student who struggles with spelling, reading, or writing in English, it is hard to be challenged to do all of these skills in a new language. I appreciated that the program was about more than just acquisition of vocabulary words, but it was definitely a challenge to integrate all areas of learning into the lessons.

My wrap up!
Curly really enjoyed this program. However, some of the typing assignments were somewhat challenging for her (especially since I was not able to truly assess her understanding after reading them). Overall, she found the program to enhance her vocabulary and grammar skills in Spanish while still having fun and enjoying the wide variety of activities. 

More info....
The Spanish Course for Grades 3-5 is $119 per semester and an additional $175 per semester to have a teacher.

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October 20, 2014

A Few Changes

You might have noticed that my blog has been a little more quiet the past few weeks. I didn't plan to take a blog break. I went AWOL. Oh well....such is life.

But I thought I would post a little update about a few changes that are going on around here.

First let me rehash why I actually blog.

  • I blog first for me because I simply enjoy writing. I enjoy working through my thoughts, but I especially love making the pinnable images for each blog. That's my new favorite part of blogging.
  • I also blog with the hope that some of my ramblings, my inner thoughts, my curricula addiction, and my opinions might be helpful to someone else. I feel so blessed that I've been able to help others in their homeschool journey. I absolutely love connecting with other homeschool families and I am thrilled that my blog helps facilitate those connections.

Lately I've lost some motivation to blog. I haven't felt much like writing. My days are very long and blogging hasn't felt as much a priority. It's caused me to reevaluate, and I've made some difficult decisions.

I've decided not to reapply for the Homeschool Review Crew after this year (ending in November). I'm sitting out on another fun-filled year of reviews and camaraderie with the crew. I will miss it but I know this is the right decision for me. And yes, I'll blog more about Crew stuff in a later blog post to chat about my year and outline my decisions for leaving.

I've also decided to step down from the Poppins Book Nook. This means that I won't be writing a themed book post with various activities. It also means that I don't have any more monthly blogging obligations.

I will also be cutting back on the number of independent reviews that I take. Writing a review is so very time consuming and I'm ready for a break. I want some freedom from deadlines.

I'm also considering restructuring the number of posts per week. Right now I blog 3 days per week on this blog and 2 days on my food allergy blog. I might drop that number down. That's still a consideration. We'll see......so expect a few quiet days here on the blog as I determine how to best structure my calendar.

What I want to do is get back to blogging for the writing and the sharing of our homeschool journey. I plan to focus more on what our family is doing and have a few more personal glimpses into our life here. I just want to write my thoughts when they come to me and not have a booked blog calendar of scheduled posts. I'm ready for a more laid-back approach for a time.

So, I'm giving you a little warning that I'll be taking a slightly different direction here in the upcoming months. And, if there's anything you'd love to see me blog about, please send me an email at lextinacademy@gmail.com. I'd love to hear your thoughts and answer your questions.

October 17, 2014

Literature List for Story of the World Volume 3

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We plan to supplement our reading of Story of the World Volume 3 with lots of library books. But there were a few books that I knew we wouldn't want to miss, so I'm ordering at least one book for each chapter. If we don't make it to the library one week, I'll know we have one extra book to enhance our studies. Plus, I wanted to build our home library with some history books!

It was difficult to narrow down the choices to only 1 or 2 per chapter but I did it - ok, some might have 3! (And these books are not necessarily the ones recommended in the activity guide, although some are.) These are just the books on my purchase list! Most are picture books that will be read aloud to my 8 and 6 year olds. A few are chapter books for my 8 year old to read on her own.

Chapter 1: A World of Empires

Mayas, Incas, and Aztecs: World Cultures Through Time

Chapter 2: Protestant Rebellions

You Wouldn't Want to Be Mary Queen of Scots!

Who Was Queen Elizabeth?

Chapter 3: James, King of Two Countries

You Wouldn't Want to Be An American Colonist

Pocahontas by Bruchac

Chapter 4: Searching for the Northwest Passage

Exploration and Conquest

Samuel de Champlain by Morganelli

Chapter 5: Warlords of Japan

You Wouldn't Want to be a Samurai

Himeji Castle by Ball

Chapter 6: New Colonies in the New World

The New Americans: Colonial Times

If You Sailed on the Mayflower...

Chapter 7: The Spread of Slavery

The Jamestown Colony

Dear Benjamin Banneker

Chapter 8: The Middle of the East

Iran in Pictures

Chapter 9: The Western War

Rapunzel by Zelinsky

Germany in Pictures

Chapter 10: Far East of Europe

Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China

Chapter 11: The Moghul Emperors of India

Taj Mahal: A Story of Love and Empire

Chapter 12: Battle, Fire, and Plague in England

You Wouldn't Want to be Sick in the 16th Century!

Chapter 13: The Sun King

Versailles by Tagliaferro

Chapter 14: The Rise of Prussia

Germany the Land

Chapter 15: A New World in Conflict

The Iroquis by Englar

Chapter 16: The West

The Year at Maple Hill Farm

I, Galileo

Chapter 17: Russia Looks West

Peter the Great by Stanley

The Sea King's Daughter: A Russian Legend

Chapter 18: East and West Collide

Folktales of Turkey from Agri to Zelve

Chapter 19: The English in India

India the People by Kalman

The Jungle Book Classic Starts

Chapter 20: The Imperial East

I See the Sun in Myanmar

The Dragon Prince

Chapter 21: Fighting Over North America

Daniel Boone: Woodsman of Kentucky

Struggle for a Continent

Sign of the Beaver

Chapter 22: Revolution

And Then What Happened Paul Revere?

Liberty! How the Revolutionary War Began

Johnny Tremain

Chapter 23: The New Country

A More Perfect Union

Shh! We're Writing the Constitution

Ben and Me

Chapter 24: Sailing South

Captain James Cook (Great Explorers)

Carry on Mr. Bowditch

Chapter 25: Revolution Gone Sour

Redoute: The Man Who Painted Flowers

You Wouldn't Want to be an Aristocrat in the French Revolution

Chapter 26: Catherine the Great

Russia the Land

The Tale of the Firebird

Chapter 27: A Changing World

The Story of Eli Whitney

Making It Go: The Life and Work of Robert Fulton

Chapter 28: China and the Rest of the World

Confucius: Great Chinese Philosopher

A Time of Golden Dragons

Chapter 29: The Rise of Bonaparte

I, Crocodile

Louisiana Purchase by Roop

Chapter 30: Freedom in the Caribbean

Open the Door to Liberty

Tap, Tap

Chapter 31: A Different Kind of Rebellion

Thomas Jefferson by Harness

The Bobbin Girl

Chapter 32: The Opened West

How We Crossed the West

Lewis and Clark and Me

Chapter 33: The End of Napoleon

The War of 1812 by Mulhall

The Town that Fooled the British

Jean Lafitte: The Pirate Who Saved America

Chapter 34: Freedom for South America

The Gold Coin

Up and Down the Andes

Chapter 35: Mexican Independence

Famous People of Mexican History

The Legend of the Poinsettia

Chapter 36: The Slave Trade Ends

Amos Fortune Free Man

Only Passing Through

The Underground Railroad by Lasseiur

Chapter 37: Troubled Africa

Ashanti to Zulu

The Gift of the Sun

Chapter 38: American Tragedies

Trail of Tears by Bruchac

The First Strawberries

Chapter 39: China Adrift

Ruby's Wish

Chapter 40: Mexico and Her Neighbor

A Picture Book of Davy Crockett

Susanna of the Alamo

Sam Houston: Standing Firm

Chapter 41: New Zealand and her Rulers

New Zealand ABC's

New Zealand by Colson

Chapter 42: The World of Forty-Nine

Gold! Gold from the American River!

What Was the Gold Rush?

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