Wednesday, November 30, 2011

2011 Gratitude Challenge

Today is the final day of the 2011 Gratitude Challenge.  I haven’t stayed on task with it like I should have been but, I am thankful I had the opportunity to be part of it.  I’ve lacked greatly in the joy department this month, but I’m continually thankful to God for all the incredible blessings :-)

Days 20-30    
I’m thankful for

20 ~ Some of the most AMAZING friends a girl can ask for! Thank you GOD! 
21 ~ Music – I love a very broad range of music
22 ~ Family <3
23 ~ Freedom
24 ~ God’s Word
25 ~ My dogs
26 ~ This challenge  
27 ~ My phone
28 ~ My bed
29 ~ for hanging out with a dear friend last night
30 ~ Costco and Sam’s club

Saturday, November 19, 2011

2011 Gratitude Challenge ~ Days 18-19

18 ~ I’m thankful for my computer.  Seriously, what was life like prior to the wonderful world of computers?!  

19 ~ I’m thankful for days like yesterday, when I get to do nothing, but hang out with my hubby and daughters.  We spent the night playing Say Anything and Fractazmic, both of which are our family favorites! We had so much fun!  I had the opportunity to review Say Anything (check it out) and I’m currently reviewing Fractazmic (check back for that).

Thursday, November 17, 2011

2011 Gratitude Challenge ~ Days 13-17

Days 13-17

13 ~ I’m thankfully to be part of The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Review Crew for the past 2 years.  Being a part of the crew has been an awesome and growing experience! 

14 ~ I’m thankful for all the works Brenda and Heidi do to keep everything running sooooo smoothly for all the crew members.

15 ~ I’m thankful for the rain we’ve been getting.

16 ~ I’m incredibly thankful God has called me to homeschool!!

17 ~ I’m thankful God continually provides work for my husband.  Having a hubby who is self employed can be crazy scary sometimes, but God faithfully provides enough!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Read Live ~ Review


The creators of Read Naturally have created a new web based assessment and intervention reading program called Read Live.  Read Live was created to help struggling readers strengthen their vocabulary, comprehension, phonics, and fluency skills.  Read Live was designed for all reading levels from Grade 1 through Adults.
My 11 year old has always struggled with her reading abilities.  She not only struggles with fluency, but also with comprehension, vocabulary, and phonics.  Reading for her, up until about 4 months ago, has been a much despised chore for her.  Thankfully she has found a book series that she enjoys, so reading isn’t as torturous as it used to be, at least on most days. So needless to say, I was pretty thrilled when I was chosen to review Read Live!

During the set up processes I personally had a hard time understanding all the steps to take and what to do, but after watching the How-To Videos that are available on the Read Naturally site, I eventually figured it out.

Once the set up process was complete, my daughter took a placement test, also called place, via the Benchmark Assessor Live to see what grade level she would begin working at.  
When that was finished I had the option of either choosing my own goals for her or going with the programs recommendations.  I chose their recommendations. 

A few of the requirements for my daughter are:
~ Completing the Read Along 3 times
~ Read at least 115 words in 1 minute to pass the practice and the Hot Timing
~ Scoring a minimum of 3 on the Expression Scale
By logging into my parent account I can tweak these requirements as I wish.

Here are some screen shots to show you what the program looks like as we work through a story.

Parent/Teacher Main Page

Student Login Page 

 Click 1 of the 24 stories to begin

Vocabulary Words (Key Words)

Click on each vocabulary word to hear and read its definition and use in a sentence.

Looking at the picture and the vocabulary words, write your prediction of the story

Parent/Teacher signs in for student to Conduct Cold Time
Cold Time view

My daughter’s Cold Timing results

Read along

She must complete the practice until she reaches her goal of 115 words in 1 minute

Quiz ~ 5 questions

Retell the story in your own words

Parent/Teacher signs in to complete Hot Pass Timing

Scoring Hot Pass Timing

Hot Timing graph

Completion Awards

So far I think Read Live is a great program. In the past few weeks I have seen some improvement in my daughter’s reading abilities.  However, we haven’t been doing the program long enough for me to truly know how much it has helped her.  Since we were blessed with a subscription to Read Live until the end of December, if at that time I feel my daughter has shown ample improvement in her reading abilities, I hope to continue our subscription.

I know my daughter loved Read Live and here is what she had to say.  “I think Read Live is pretty cool and I think it can definitely help kids read better.  I believe it has definitely helped me improve my reading skills. I give it 2 thumbs up!”

 Read Live is available for public, private, and homeschoolers. You simply purchase the number of seats needed.

12-Month Subscription Pricing

1 seat - $149.00
6 seats - $299.00 ($49.83/seat)
30 seats -
$599.00 ($19.97/seat)
130 seats - $1999.00 ($15.38/seat)

If you would like to check out Read Live for your students, be sure to register for a 60-Day FREE trial!!!
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Here are some helpful links ~
Quick Start Guide
How-To Videos
System Requirements

Be sure to stop by the TOS hub and see what other TOS crew members had to say about Read Live and Minute Reader; another product available from Read Naturally.

I'm a crew member with The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew and I received a free subscription to Read Live from Read Naturally free of cost in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

2011 Gratitude Challenge ~ Days 7-12

Wow, has it been a busy week! Unfortunately I haven’t had the time (or truly taken the time) to post what I’m thankful for these last several days, so I’m going to catch up now J

Days 7-12

~ I’m incredibly thankful for the magnificent sunset I get to witness every night.  Word truly cannot describe its beauty!

~ I’m thankful God has placed such amazing friends in my life.  Friends that truly love God, are a blast to be around, and that hold me accountable for my actions.

~ I’m thankful for a freezer and fridge full of groceries.

~ I’m thankful for a dependable vehicle that is kind to me, never giving me any issues, even though I put a lot of mileage on her very quickly. Currently 131,000 +.

~ I’m thankful for remote start and heated seats in my car.

~ I’m thankfully my hubby just killed a very large bee that made its way into my house and felt the need to follow me around! My heart is still racing! Why haven’t the bees gone away for the winter?! It’s November for goodness sakes. Hehehe!

What are you thankful for today?

The VocabCafe Book Series ~ Review

I recently had the opportunity to review a product from College Prep Genius, called The VocabCafe Book SeriesThe VocabCafe series currently consists of four books, I.M for Murder, The Summer of Saint Nick, Operation High School, and Planet Exile. 

The series was created to help students quickly learn multiple SAT-level words while reading books that are fun and entertaining to the student.  There are currently four books in the series, three were written by Josh Burk and one written by Judah Burk. 
In a letter sent to the crew members reviewing this series, Josh wrote about when he was preparing for the SATs. “… I did a lot of reading to improve my vocabulary. I learned a lot of great words through the process of looking up every unfamiliar word, but it was often extremely tedious. Some of the best books had me pulling out the dictionary several times a sentence! This often sucked the fun out of reading and made learning vocabulary a chore. The VocabCafe Book Series tries to remedy this by keeping the power of learning through context while relieving the annoyance of dictionary interruptions!”

IM for Murder is about three best friends who find themselves in an extreme situation. When Will gets dumped by the girl of his dreams his friends Seth and Ashton create a fake blog page to try and get his friend to stop sulking and out the house. However, they ultimately find themselves in a very dangerous situation.

The Summer of Saint Nick tells the story of a young man named Nick who finds a stash of money hidden in his house.  He goes around town looking for people to help. With a generous heart he makes an anonymous donation to his church, buys a car for the post man, and more.  In the end, Nick is faced with a difficult decision of whether to do what he wants or to do what is right.

Operation High School: When Emma Jones becomes the new student at Providence High School she definitely isn't what you would call popular. She was often ignored by everyone and kept to herself.  Until one day, when she finds an invitation in her textbook to a secret club meeting, which ultimately turns her world upside down.  Operation High School tells of her journey to discover things about herself and do things she never would have done before.

Planet Exile tells the story of Maleck Vise Plutean and his adventures through outer space.  After crash landing on the mythical “Planet Exile”, Maleck and his friends are forced to stop a planetary insurrection, usurp an evil dictator, and rescue a beautiful princess all at the same time.

Each book covers 300 vocabulary words, 1200 words in total. The vocabulary words are interspersed throughout the plot in bold- italicized print.  A definitions and pronunciation guide is provided at the bottom of each page.  At the end of each chapter there is a review list of all the newly introduced words from that chapter.  There is also a glossary at the end of the book.
All the books are free of magic, foul language, illicit sexual themes, or sorcery.
The series is written for high school students, but may be enjoyed be enjoyed by many middle schoolers, as well.  I know they were a great hit with my 8th grader.  Here is what she had to say about Summer of Saint Nick, Operation High School, and I.M for Murder. She is currently reading Planet Exile. 
"I thought the Summer of Saint Nick was great. The author did a good job of creating a story with a lesson that is much needed now days, putting others needs before your own."
"I found I.M for Murder to be very intriguing. It had the perfect balance of drama, comedy, and action. It was definitely a great page turner, full of surprises."
"Operation High School had to my favorite. Judah Burk did a wonderful job with this book. It was mysterious and surprising. I loved it."
As a parent/teacher I think these books are an awesome way to learn new vocabulary skills. There were numerous words I had never heard of, let alone knew their meanings. Kudos to Josh and Judah for their creativity.

You can purchase each book for $12.95, but click here you can buy all 4 $51.80 $38.85 (for a limited time). 

Be sure to stop by the TOS hub and see what other TOS crew members had to say about VocabCafe. College Prep Genius also sells a SAT Test Preparation Program, which was also reviewed by fellow crew member.

I'm a crew member with The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew and I received The Vocab Cafe Books Series from College Prep Genius free of cost in exchange for my honest review. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

2011 Gratitude Challenge ~ Day 6

With so many people battling cancer and other life threatening conditions, I’m incredibly thankful that my loved ones (family and friends) are healthy and strong.  We all deal with some sort of physical wounds and wounds of the heart, but in comparison to many, we are healthy and I thank God for that.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

2011 Gratitude Challenge ~ Day 5

Today I’m thankful God has blessed me with such an amazing husband! For the past 13 years he has continually worked extra hard so I could be a stay at home mom and now a homeschool mom.  I’ve been blessed to be home with my girls since they were born and we’re currently enjoying our fifth year of homeschooling.

Friday, November 4, 2011

2011 Gratitude Challenge ~ Day 4

Today I’m thankful I have a dependable washer and dryer! There are only four of us, but wow, I sure do a lot of laundry.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

2011 Gratitude Challenge ~ Day 3

God has ABSOLUTELY blessed my socks off!!! 
I’m incredibly thankful that God has called me to volunteer with the My Life Matters Club!
I’m thankful to Sarah for helping me today as I ventured on my first day of teaching my own group of girls!
And, for the wonderful opportunity to chat with a complete stranger for almost an hour at Wal-Mart! Her name was Ms. “Mama” Newman. It was awesome to hear all about how God has worked in her life and those around her.  Mama Newman has an INCREDIBLE love for our creator and she eagerly shares His word with anyone and everyone she can. I look forward to seeing Mama Newman again!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

2011 Gratitude Challenge ~ Day 2

I’m incredible grateful to God for providing my family and me with a warm house in the winter, shelter over our heads, plenty of food to eat, and clothes on our backs.

Matthew 6:25-34 reminds us…
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
~ ~ ~

I’ve found another link up challenge I’ve decided to participate in over at Young Homemakers. It's called the 30 Days of Thankfulness.

Gratitude Challenge ~ Day 1

Today is day one of the Gratitude Challenge. Brenda from Garden of Learning is hosting the 2011 Gratitude Challenge. So, today and for the remainder of the month, I'm going to do my very best to take a few minutes every day to share with you all some of the things I'm grateful for and then link my blog with others who are participating in the challenge. 

ANYONE is welcome to join! You don’t have to write anything incredibly thought provoking or super long.  It can be as small as two words or even a photo. You don’t even have to post every day. Simply blog what you are thankful and share it when you have time. Be sure to link up with the rest of us at Garden of Learning.   

Today and every day, I'm grateful for God's grace. I so often fall short, not thinking, acting, or speaking as I should. But, I know that through the grace of God, he forgives me and he's ALWAYS there to pick me up, bush me off, and continue our walk.
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