AP course registrations opening VERY soon-- including a new 2nd section of AP World History!
Gwen Umbreit Smith, 2/12/2013
Editor's Note from Susan Richman: I was so delighted to hear very recently from a PHAA graduate and former AP US History online student, Gwen Umbreit Smith. I know she's going to add wonderful energy to our terrific line-up for AP Online courses for the coming school year-- she's both an experienced online learner and teacher! Be sure to head over to www.aphomeschoolers.com by February 15th, when we unveil our totally renovated website sharing info on all of our 2013-2014 Advanced Placement classes. You'll find full course descriptions (and photos of each teacher!),full info on how to apply, how to pay tuition fees once accepted, and maybe most helpful of all, student reviews of each course. I think you'll all really like the 'new look' of the website, too! (Much thanks to our daughter, Maya (Molly) Richman Inspektor for her help with the re-design!). And now here's a chance to get to know our newest teacher, Gwen Smith!
It is with great excitement that I am joining the AP teachers for PA Homeschoolers! I will be partnering with Mrs. Gloria Harrison to offer a second section of AP World History for the 2013-2014 school year. In a way, I am “coming home” by teaching my first class with PA Homeschoolers. In 2001, I walked across the stage at The Forum in Harrisburg to receive an accredited PHAA diploma from my parents who had tirelessly devoted the past nine years to homeschooling me. I am still in awe of the time and resources they dedicated to homeschooling so that I could earn a quality high school education. I am sure the decision to enroll me in multiple online AP courses was not an easy one, but I am forever grateful that they did. The online AP courses I took were a crucial part of my high school education and I am confident they set me up for the successes I’ve had in my continuing education and career.
June 2001, Harrisburg, Pa: Having fun taking pictures on my graduation day with fellow homeschool friends. L-R: Annie Blakeslee, Hannah Richman, April (Smelser) Starr, Gwen (Umbreit) Smith, Meghan (Bishop) Paher.
In the summer of 1999, I cracked open a seemingly unending textbook and embarked on my first online AP course offered through PA Homeschoolers. Under the tutelage of Susan Richman, I read and wrote more than I ever had before. And though learning how to write for an AP course was hard and frustrating work, it was incredibly rewarding. I received invaluable feedback from my teacher and classmates – I had never had that before! The only feedback I was used to was my mom’s. Receiving comments and critiques from a teacher and peers challenged and grew me in ways individual study never could have done. Gradually the course work shifted from a challenging task to my favorite part of every day.
Through the relationships I built with my classmates and the guidance of Mrs. Richman....
Samuel Pritt, homeschool senior from Maryland, who's taken many AP Online classes with PA Homeschoolers, is doing major research that's helping FEMA with Hurricane Sandy!!!
Susan Richman, 11/14/2012
Samuel Pritt has been very active in our AP Online courses, as have all his siblings, and he's also prepared on his own for many other AP exams. A special interest is Computer Science, and for his AP Computer Science independent studies he developed a unique program that can help with geolocation from photos-- and FEMA is now using this software to help in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Samuel presented the project for the Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology, one of the most prestigious science competitions nationwide.
He was just recently interviewed on television news-- see this link! I just wish the interviewer had mentioned that Samuel has been homeschooled all his life! Samuel is also involved in a cancer research lab, is an advanced pianist, and loves a full range of sports. An amazing homeschooler-- and we offer our warmest congratulations to Samuel for all of his incredible contributions to the world, and know he will continue to make many further contributions in his bright future.
It's been an honor to have gotten to know the whole Pritt family through our AP Online classes over many years!
How PA Homeschoolers Online Students Scored on the 2012 AP Exams
Howard Richman, 8/26/2012
Each year, the College Board reports how our PA Homeschoolers students score on the AP exams. The following graphs summarize our students' scores in 2012, as reported by the College Board, and how school students scored in 2011 on the same exams:
The AP exam scores mean the following:...
A new *student-run* website to help AP students-- started by students in our PA Homeschoolers AP Online classes!
Susan Richman, 7/23/2012
PA Homeschoolers has been offering a full series of AP© (Advanced Placement) online classes for many years now-- and one very special blessing of this endeavor is to see the sense of community that many of the students find through learning together and supporting one another in these classes. Most classes are highly interactive, including ways for students to comment on one another's submitted work, read and get inspired by major projects, join in small study groups or online study times, work collaboratively during review times and for special activities, and much more. Kids become good friends with their fellow AP students-- and often choose their next year's classes based in part upon what their new AP friends will be taking. And it's a true delight each year to host our annual AP Party here at our farm in Western PA.
Lots of our AP Online students from a variety of classes all getting together for our AP End-of-Year Party we hold at our farm in Kittanning PA every Memorial Day Weekend-- this is Shabbat Dinner in our barn!
In this spirit, I was delighted to receive the following email from one of our AP Online students this spring, sharing about the new open-to-the-public website, called STUDI, that she and several AP course friends had developed:
I am a student in PA Homeschooler’s AP English Language and Composition class (one of the best classes I have ever taken!). I recently spoke with Mrs. Inspecktor about a website called STUDI that I and a few other students from other PA homeschooler classes started, and she suggested that I pass the information on to you.
Just over a year ago, five other Pa Homeschooler Advanced Placement students and myself realized that we needed a place that we could all connect and come together to discuss, socialize, and support each other. I’m sure, as you know, for homeschoolers, taking AP classes can be a lonely endeavor. Basically, we needed something so that we could support each other, even while being thousands of miles away.
We decided to begin a website called Students Thoroughly Understanding Difficult ideas, STUDI. Here we created individual wikis for 16 of the AP’s that College Board offers, as well as 6 subject specific sites.
Over the past year, STUDI remained it its beta form. Recently, we took it live and announced it on the Well-Trained Mind boards in a brief post. The post was met with a great response—we received views from 185 people....
AP English Literature and AP English Language.... new ways to think about these courses
Lilianna Serbicki, 5/30/2012
Editor's Note from Susan Richman: We're so grateful to have our former AP student Lilianna Serbicki now teaching with us in our AP Online program, leading both AP English Literature and AP English Language. She's been a true natural teacher, working with real enthusiasm and dedication and creativity-- all while also being a wonderful 'new mom' to her darling little son Luke. Enjoy learning here about some of her unique ways of actively engaging her online students!
Studying Literature and Language can become a passive activity; memorizing terms does not mean you understand or relish them. My goal in both AP English Language and AP English Literature has been to help students pursue knowledge and creativity in an active manner. I provide these opportunities by offering optional creative fiction assignments, hosting live IM chats, and featuring an online “Dinner Party” analysis project.
The primary objective of both AP English Language and AP English Literature is to provide students with the skill and knowledge they need to be successful on exam day. However, their English experience will not end that day; they will go on to complete college courses and have a variety of other educational experiences. The creative flexibility that they encounter in AP Language and Literature is just as valuable as the specific AP Exam prep. Real life is not limited to filling in circles!
One of the main interactive activities in my AP classes is the spring Dinner Party project. In AP English Language, I spoke as C. S. Lewis, inviting students (each in their own persona) to join me for lively “dinner and discussion” at “my” Oxford home, the Kilns. In reality, this discussion took place on a web forum that the students could access at any point during “Dinner Party week”. My guests included Patrick Henry, Martin Luther King, Jr., characters from Animal Farm, Jonathan Swift, and Marcus Brutus from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. We discussed social, political and philosophical issues adapted from previous AP Free Response questions. This was an excellent way for students to....
Hands-On History -- AP European History with *Action*!
Meghan Paher, 3/20/2012
Editor's Note from Susan Richman: We've been so grateful to have Meghan Paher teaching a 2nd section of AP European History with us. Meghan is both a past participant in our AP Online courses, a PA homeschool graduate (PHAA), and has a masters in history and has worked at many historical museums and history sites, including the Tryon Palace Historic Sites and Gardens in North Carolina. I know she in part developed her own deep love of history back in her own homeschooling days, when delving into history meant projects like creating her own Civil War era gown and taking part in the local history activities at nearby Gettysburg PA.
Too many history classes consist of reading books and very little more. It’s hands-off history, distancing the student from what he or she is supposed to be learning. Is it any wonder so many adults today found history boring as students?
It’s time to turn on your student’s senses! History took place in a living world, full of sights, sounds, tastes, feelings, and smells—so let’s get hands on and experience some of them!
We understand the past so much better when we interact with it first-hand. My AP European History students use their senses and creativity to learn about the past. Through projects, film, art, music, reading, writing, sound, smell, taste, and touch, they come to understand the huge impact European history has on their lives every day—even though it is hundreds of years and thousands of miles away.
Looking at a picture of an artifact or seeing one in a glass case is nice. But how much better is it to touch and use one? For their “Touching History” project, my students research an artifact with a connection to European history (often they choose a family heirloom or antique) to discover its past. What is it? Where was it made? What stories does it carry? One of my students researched a Hungarian spinning distaff that had been stored in her family’s closet for years (her grandfather once tried to sell it for $35 in a yard sale!). Through her research, she learned exactly what it was and how her great-grandmother would have used it. She also learned that it was at least 100 years old and fairly valuable—she discovered distaffs similar to hers in a museum!
Reading about the past is terrific, but how much more exciting is it to hear about the past from someone who was actually there? With the “Hearing History” project, students do an oral history interview with someone who lived in or spent time in Europe. It’s amazing what they discover this way! Last year one of my students interviewed a family friend. When she was small, this friend gave her a very unusual gift—an original KGB badge from Cold War Russia. During the interview, she discovered he had worked for U.S. intelligence, and the government put him in charge of debugging the United States’ embassy in Moscow. Listening to his stories, she heard about Cold War spies, intrigue, and secret missions… Instead of just reading about U.S/Soviet relations and the Cold War in a textbook, she learned about it first hand from someone who was there and helped make history happen!....
Finding your Writer’s Voice -- and AP Online course registration is now open!
Kathryn Walker, Online AP English Language teacher , 3/12/2012
Editor's Note from Susan Richman: We're now looking ahead to the next school year of our AP (Advanced Placment) Online courses for high school level homeschoolers-- and many of our teachers will be sharing here over the next few months about their approaches to learning and teaching online. We have course descriptions updated for 2012-2013, and you can also pay tuition online (or by check) once a student has been accepted into a class. Click here to see full info on all AP classes being offered-- we hope you find something that will be a wonderful fit for your student.
We've been especially delighted that our growing group of AP Online teachers includes a number of amazing homeschooling graduates. Kathryn Walker is one of these-- and we hear only high praise of her AP English Language course that she leads with our program. Here you can gain a sense of how Kathryn helps students find and develop their writer's voice -- and what you might do as a parent now to help this process along, too.
In the past few years of my career as an English teacher, I’ve had several students confess to me as one of their writing weaknesses that they write the same way that they talk. That’s not a weakness! I long to proclaim. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that a writer cannot be ultimately successful if he doesn’t write, at least in some sense, in the same way that he talks. The writer’s mind, speech, and pen are intimately connected, and a genuine writer’s voice comes only when a young person can authentically connect the three.
In my AP Language and Composition course, we spend a trimester studying and explaining the relationship between thought, speech, and the written word. Our study begins with George Orwell’s famous essay “Politics and the English Language,” in which he so aptly reminds us that our language “becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.” Writing is a direct product of our mental processes, and our mental processes a result of the language we speak and listen to. Through Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as Young Man, Woolf’s The Legacy, and T.S. Eliot’s poetry, we see the human mind portrayed through its purest consciousness and the beauty that can emanate from simple thoughts and impressions purely expressed.
While some would hold that the success of writers hinges upon their diligence to revise, I’d counter that far greater success comes from cultivating clarity of thought and speech and allowing one’s written words to reflect that clarity. C.S. Lewis is my favorite example of this truth. One of his best-known works, Mere Christianity, is actually a compilation of radio broadcasts he gave during World War II; they’re not meant to be essays, but rather conversational dialogues. The clarity of his prose in them, however, is on no different plane than the rest of his written work. Read any of Harper Collins’s recently published collections of his letters to see that even his hastily-written and prolific everyday correspondence matches his deliberately literary works in their beauty and power of expression. Good thinking begets good writing.
How does one approach, then, the teenager whose language one can scarcely tolerate? Don’t mistake me for saying that students should all just write what comes to their minds. As the students in my course so aptly acknowledge, much of teen-speak today is vapid and confusing in its repetitive abbreviations....
Homeschoolers and Socialization // reprint from Tri-Valley Times, CA
Marisa Chow, AP Online student with PA Homeschoolers, 2/6/2012
Editor's Note from Susan Richman: I was so delighted to see this article published in the Tri-Valley Times,written by one of our wonderful PA Homeschoolers AP Online students. Marisa Chow is a Contra Costa Times Teen Correspondent, taking part in a wide range of journalism projects with the newspaper. She is also a top student in my own AP US History course this year, after completing AP World History last year. She is also taking AP English Literature with our daughter Maya as her teacher. I also had the wonderful opportunity to meet Marisa and her brother Evan (wooo, can that young man play amazing jazz piano!!), and their mother Julie Chow, at our annual AP Party here at our farm in Western PA for all our AP online students. And this was quite a 'trek' for the Chow family, as they live in California, near to San Francisco. And I can definitely attest that Marisa and her brother were among the most socially out-going and friendly teens at this very lively weekend party! So Marisa definitely knows what she's talking about here-- and once you see all that she's involved with, you'll see why. Thanks, Marisa, for helping spread the word that homeschooling does not mean that kids never know another person beyond mom!
Teens: Home schooling aids, rather than inhibits, socialization
Home-schooled students like me are occasionally subject to one awkward question: Do you ever socialize?
There's a misconception about home-schooled students: They can't socialize normally because they're cooped up in their houses every day.
This is only true if you assume home schooling is exactly what it sounds like: studying at home, only at home and never interacting with others in the "outside world." This is a false assumption. Not only does home schooling include activities outside of the home, it also allows -- and even encourages -- students to socialize with people of different ages, backgrounds and perspectives.
Having been home-schooled for my entire school career, I've seen how active home-schoolers are outside of their homes. Many families who home-school are part of local home-schooling co-op groups that hold their own field trips, performance nights, graduation ceremonies, etc. They also might join with other home-schoolers and form classes of their own by hiring educators or parents with expertise in that field to teach a specific class. In past years, I've taken Latin and rhetoric classes in this way.
Whether it's sports, dance, music or art, extracurricular studies are another avenue for home-schoolers to interact with others. Since last year, my siblings and I have been leading a student chapter of the Contra Costa Performing Arts Society, a regional music organization, and we've held concerts and been on field trips with music students from all over the Bay Area. Many home-schoolers compete in speech and debate clubs, participating in multiple tournaments each year all over the state. Other home-schooled friends of mine are politically involved by making calls and canvassing for presidential campaigns. In addition, home-schoolers play on organized sports teams through park programs and sports clubs. In these activities, we often interact with public and private school students as well.
Home-schoolers also tend to socialize with a variety of different people....
New AP Online class for 2012-2013 school year-- AP Environmental Science! Registration will be open by the end of February for all classes
Molly McMahon, 1/24/2012
Editor's Note from Susan Richman: We are already starting to get ready for our next year of PA Homeschoolers AP Online classes -- you can click on our website link above or just go to: www.aphomeschoolers.com. We'll be getting course descriptions for next year all updated soon-- and hope there might be a course that will be a great fit for one of *your* homeschool teens. All of our AP Online course websites are of course password protected, and only registered students can access them, protecting student privacy at all times. Taking one of our AP Online classes can help homeschoolers be very well prepared for taking Advanced Placement exams, given by the College Board each May at public or private school testing sites-- and students with strong scores earn credit at most colleges, and get a headstart on college level learning. Our students also love the interaction they have with other homeschoolers in their class-- and the students definitely spur each other on to strong learning. We enroll homeschool students from all across the nation-- and even homeschoolers living abroad!
I'm also delighted to introduce you to our newest PA Homeschoolers AP Online teacher, Molly McMahon-- I could tell right away in our communications that Molly will be a great online teacher with our program, and I know this new course offering might be just the thing for many students.
My name is Molly McMahon, and I am very excited to participate in the PA Homeschoolers
community by teaching AP Environmental Science!
I have a Bachelor’s in Biology and a Master’s in Science Education. I have been teaching in a
traditional school setting for the past nine years. Over the years, I have been supplementing
classroom instruction with online teaching materials and assignments. Last year, I was
surprised to discover students at my school had accessed my online materials without actually
enrolling in the course. I am always happy to assist ambitious and intellectually curious
students, and I communicated with them only through the online course. I was pleased to
see their excellent results on the AP test last May. This experience convinced me that online
teaching is extremely effective and inspired me to seek out additional opportunities to work with
more students in this manner.
I am very passionate about teaching this course for reasons that may surprise you. AP
Environmental Science covers a wide variety of topics that are not typically covered in any
other science or social studies course but are certainly applicable to our everyday experiences.
Units include understanding....
Spanish-- yes, you can learn it online!
Ray Leven, Spanish teacher online, Spanish teacher online
Editor's Note from Susan Richman: I've heard about Ray Leven and his amazing Spanish-teaching ability for years, as he was the Spanish tutor for a wonderful homeschooling family that I met with annually for evaluations. Ray had long experience teaching Spanish, including AP Spanish, a Philadelphia-area public and private schools (he was also a top Hebrew teacher, too--this man is just fabulous with languages!). Even with his busy teaching schedule, Ray made time for weekly in-depth tutoring for this family, working with both the son and his parents together-- and Ray came to love working with homeschooling families. And I always felt that this student was gaining an exceptional background in Spanish-- much beyond what I saw in families relying just on something 'automated' like Rosetta Stone, useful as those types of programs can be in introducing a new language. Getting close to retirement options, Ray began wondering if homeschoolers might like to learn Spanish with him online-- and soon we were talking in depth about how he could deliver an AP Spanish course with our PA Homeschoolers program. Ray is also branching out into offering online classes in Beginning and Intermediate level Spanish. Read on and find out how you can be involved-- and realize that there are ways other than a local class or tutor or a computerized program to help your child really develop ability with another language. And you'll also all benefit from Ray's many world travels, as you can see in this photo!
Ray Leven touring at La Piramide de la Luna (Pyramid of the Sun-- in Teotihuacán, Mexico)
This is my first year working for PA Homeschoolers in their AP Online program, leading AP Spanish Language, and my first experience teaching online. I have been fortunate to meet wonderful families with highly motivated and interesting children whom I teach each week on Skype in Spanish. Learning the technology and having everyone in sync is a minor challenge, certainly dwarfed by the enthusiasm and the high-powered learning of students eager to master Spanish.
My AP Spanish class is truly exciting. With about half the year gone, we have read and analyzed Nobel-prize-winner Garcia Marquez's novel No One Writes to the Coronel, and six stories from the collection of Ana Maria Matute, an award-winning writer from Spain. Students went beyond the surface of each novel, researching the life and times of the authors and identifying symbolic and personal elements in each of the literary works. Comparing and contrasting themes and plot elements are crucial for successful interpretation of the author's goals. At the same time we are analyzing literature, we are reviewing grammar principles through online oral drills, written homework, compositions, and oral presentations on current and often controversial subjects.
My Intensive Intermediate Spanish class is geared for students who have had some formal training in basic Spanish and who would benefit from a review. While we use an interactive textbook with state-of-the-art technologies, our time together on Skype is devoted to intense conversation with the goal being fluent self expression....
PA Homeschoolers Advanced Placement Online Classes-- don't leave high school at home without them!
Andrew Min, 7/7/2011
Editor's Note from Susan Richman: I was so delighted to receive this article from Andrew Min, one of my longterm favorite AP Online students, sharing about what taking part in many of our AP Online classes has meant to him and the impact they've had on his future. I've also have the wonderful opportunity to meet Andrew several times-- when he was just a freshman and taking my AP US History class, he joined about 8 of his fellow virtual classmates for a real life field trip to the National Constitutional Center in Philadelphia. He also came for several years to the end-of-year AP Party we hold each Memorial Day weekend here at our farm-- this includes a square dance called by my husband, as well as a swing dance led by one of the students. One year Andrew didn't think he'd be able to make it-- he had a slight cold, and things were busy at home. The other students, though, couldn't imagine an AP Party without Andrew, and immediately called him by phone at his home in New Jersey-- and Andrew showed up with his wonderful family the next day! His family was quite touched that 'virtual' classmates could form such good frienship. It's been such a blessing getting to know our AP Online students-- and to see them also making connections through other activities like homeschool debate (my AP US History students this year sent me a photo where about 11 of them met up at a National Debate Tournament!). And AP Online kids have been know to run into each other at college admissions events, too-- one year two AP students in my class even opted to room together as freshmen at Hillsdale College, and they'd both benefited from meeting another fellow student who was already on campus. Networking at its best!
Andrew Min meeting an AP US History classmate the next year at a debate tournament
In the seven AP classes that I’ve taken from PA Homeschoolers, the average class score was 4 or 5 (out of 5) on the College Board-administered exam. Considering that the passing score is usually a 3, that’s quite a feat. The score disparity is no coincidence. It’s a direct result of rigorous AP classes by an established provider that’s been around for over fifteen years.
I've taken seven APs from PA Homeschoolers, and for the most part, they have been wonderful experiences. AP US History with Mrs. Richman, AP Macroeconomics with Dr. Richman, AP English Language with Mrs. Inspektor, and AP English Literature with Mrs. Green were all superb classes. AP World History with Mrs. Harrison and AP Calculus AB with Mrs. Gilleran were two of the hardest classes I’ve ever taken, but both produced excellent score results for almost every single student.
Something that I’ve particularly appreciated about PA Homeschoolers is the teachers. First, for the most part, they’re wonderful instructors....
Self-paced summer online drawing classes-- from our AP Studio Art teachers!
Linus Meldrum and Dianne Settino, 6/12/2011
Editor's Note from Susan Richman: I was so pleased to hear that our wonderful husband-and-wife team, Linus Meldrum and Dianne Settino are now offering their own online summer art classes for teens-- both homeschoolers and public / private school students. Hope this good offering helps your family gain new art skills and new enjoyment and appreciation-- and maybe that half-credit of art you need somewhere between 7th and 12th grade in Pennsylvania. And for a student who is considering a future AP Studio Art class, this would be a great 'lead up' course-- but know that all levels of ability are welcome in this summer program. And at our recent big Memorial Day Weekend AP Party here at our farm, it was wonderful to have Dianne and Linus and their son Hank taking part-- and two of their AP Studio Art: Drawing students... know that these two girls spent a good amount of time drawing together, including aiming to capture the flames of the huge bonfire we all enjoyed after the evening square dance / swing dance time in our bar!
*Old House, drawn by Hannah Richman, 8th grade-- she actually went on to major in painting in college*
Does your teen love to draw-- but is frustrated that they don't have the art skills necessary to get what they see in their mind down on paper? Are you wondering how to get an art half-credit for your child who doesn't seem to understand art? Are you a homeschooler who would like to get some of their credits completed in the summer to lighten your school year load? Or you may be a public school student that can’t fit art into their school-year class schedule. Want to learn to appreciate art and art history at a higher level? Accomplish these goals while discovering some of the challenges tackled by the great Art Masters of history.
If any of the above sounds like you or your child, then we have planned a summer course for you. Teens and adults of all ages, with an interest in art should read on….
Announcing: Self-Paced Summer ART Courses.
Linus Meldrum and Dianne Settino will be offering two self-paced summer courses for students ready for an art challenge. Our courses are developed for students in various learning environments, particularly teenaged homeschoolers.
We will help your teen:
- develop their interest in art, and learn how to use their
basic skills and concepts to make their art come alive?
- earn high school credit in visual art?
-understand great art and want to learn "side by side" with Master Artists of history?
-explore the possibility of further art study?
These courses will focus equally on Art History (learning from direct study and observation of great works of art), Ideation (developing ideas into themes and using the visual language to communicate these ideas),Composition (how to design and arrange your image in a visual form) and Technique (how to use your materials correctly).
Each course will consist of....
Being a 'Teaching Assistant' for AP US History-- many benefits for students!
Daniel Burns, AP US History online teacher, 4/25/2011
Editor's Note from Susan Richman: Daniel Burns has been teaching AP US History with our online program for many years now-- and he started out as my 'teaching assistant' when he was just a freshman in college. He'd taken many of our AP Online classes, and was always a top student-- and with his deep love of history, it was a natural for him to move into this field while still a student himself. I'm so pleased that Daniel has now extended this opportunity to his own AP US History students-- often when these students are still in their high school at home years. Many of our other AP teachers also offer this type of honor to students who have done exceptionally well in their course-- and students really take the leadership responsibilities seriously and have a great time helping new students, too. And sure does look great on college applications, too!
One of the advantages of homeschooling is flexibility. With flexibility can come great opportunities to do things that would not be possible in a traditional setting – such as serving as a Teacher’s Assistant (TA) in an AP class while still in high school.
For the last few years of teaching AP U.S. History, I have brought back one of my top students from the previous year to help lead the next class....
AP Psychology-- forming a caring community
Bonnie Gonzalez, AP Psychology, 4/21/2011
Editor's Note from Susan Richman: Bonnie Gonzalez, a family therapist and homeschooling mom of three graduates, has been leading a 2nd section of AP Psychology with our PA Homeschoolers Advanced Placement Online program for a number of years now, involving students in both rigorous study of the field using a core text and the rich psychology resources available on the Internet, and even original research projects. But you'll see from this article that another type of learning and community-building can also go on in online AP Psychology-- a maybe surprising one.
My father died this year. No matter how old you are, losing a parent, especially a father, feels like the cornerstone has been removed from the building. After a year's battle with lung cancer, we watched my Dad struggle to take his last breath very early on a Sunday morning. And, on Monday, I had to go back to teaching my AP Psychology class. So, I asked myself, “Do I tell my class, or simply go on silently as though nothing had happened?” After all, in this world of teaching through technology no one really sees you crying, and your feelings aren't viewed via email. And yet, my students had shared many of their battles, their joys and their triumphs. So on Monday morning, with great heaviness, I composed an email letting them know what had happened, if for no other reason than to explain why I might be mentally absent for the next week.
What I experienced over the next few days surpassed any class experience I have ever had....
Announcing AP Studio Art Scholarship Opportunities for 2011-2012!
Dianne Settino & Linus Meldrum, 4/18/2011
Editor's Note from Susan Richman: Linus Meldrum and Dianne Settino, the husband-and-wife team who lead both AP Studio Art: Drawing and AP Studio Art: 2D Design are announcing a scholarship opportunity for their 2011-2012 online courses. For full info on their course check their course descriptions here andalso here. Dianne Settino has also written a wonderful article about what a year of AP Studio Art is like for students-- see this link to read it (and to enjoy more amazing drawings by their students!) Read on to learn how their unique AP Studio Art Scholarship opportunity works:
Ink wash design by Jessica Kusuma
AP 2D Design Scholarship Recipient 2010-2011
For each AP Studio Art course, when six students have officially registered, Ms. Settino and Mr.Meldrum give a drawing assignment to the group. The resulting artwork is evaluated and the highest achieving student will receive a scholarship. The scholarship is a monthly tuition reimbursement, less the course registration fee, paid directly to the student. If the class registrations reach twelve students, a new assignment is given and the remaining eleven students will be evaluated for a second scholarship. If enrollment reaches eighteen, the same process applies – the remaining 16 students can compete for a third scholarship....
Twelve Peace Essay Contest state winners from Maya Inspektor's AP English Language class!
Maya Richman Inspektor, 4/13/2011
Editor's Note from Susan Richman: I was so proud to hear this wonderful news from our daughter Maya about her AP English Language online students. I think this will help families see, too, that often work in an AP (Advanced Placement) online class in our program can have 'spill over' impact into further challenges that a student may take on-- I know that many of my AP US History students did very well in various history essay and project contests this year (not to mention homeschool speech and debate leagues!), and I know many of our AP science students take part in science-related contests, and that several AP Studio Art students earned scholarship and contest awards. Once students get the courage to try for a higher challenge, you never know where they might end up!
Maya Richman Inspektor, AP English Online teacher
As a teacher, it's important to me that not every assignment feels like an "exercise." While practice exam essays are important (and believe me, I assign plenty of them!), I also want my students to understand that they have an audience beyond the exam graders or their classmates. I also want them to get used to the idea that I'm not their ultimate audience. It might be simple for them to figure out my quirks and learn how to get a high grade from me, but where does this leave them when they graduate from my class?
With this in mind, three years ago I decided not to assign a typical research paper to my AP English Language students. Instead, I gave them the challenge of responding to someone else's assignment and writing for an audience beyond our class: the Peace Essay Contest.
The National Peace Essay Contest has been around since I was in high school, and it challenges high school students across the United States to write a researched argument paper in response to a very specific prompt related to world peace. It demands not fluffy "let's all be friends" idealism but rather careful research into case studies and critical consideration of how third parties (such as the US) can prevent violence, encourage good government, and protect civilians. In my experience, conservative students do just as well in this contest as liberal students; they are asked not to parrot an ideology but to present original thought.
As an AP English teacher, I love this contest because it fosters the skills demanded of students on the synthesis essay on the AP exam. Students are unlikely to come into this assignment with any knowledge of, say, corruption in Liberia, so they must rely on their own research in order to form an educated opinion. They also must craft a persuasive argument, learn to reference sources correctly, and take Strunk & White's famous mantra ("omit unnecessary words") to heart-- one of the most challenging parts of this contest is often cutting enough words from a first draft to meet the contest's 1,500-word limit.
As students work on their papers during December and January, I see them mature as writers before my eyes....
AP European History Online -- Diary of a Student!
Meghan Bishop Paher, 3/29/2011
Editor's Note from Susan Richman: We've been so happy to have Meghan Bishop Paher leading a 2nd section of AP European History with us this year-- master teacher Gloria Harrison had more students applying than she could handle, and Meghan, a PHAA graduate and history major in college and grad school, was ready for the challenge. Meghan also completed several of our Advanced Placement online courses 'way back' when she was a high school homeschooler-- including AP European History! Here's Meghan's simulation of a 'diary' of one of her students, reflecting on what it was like to be in this highly interactive class-- and you'll be amazed at all the hands-on projects students completed to help them really learn the material in memorable ways. Each of our teachers develops their own unique course, reflecting their personalities and special interests, all while meeting all College Board guidelines for coverage of expected material and training in analysis and critical thinking. Our courses are not 'cookie-cutter' courses, where every course section is identical, but vibrant unique interactions with individual teachers who are given great freedom to develop their course in their own way-- and there's lots of interaction with fellow students, too, as you'll see. Enjoy this peek into 'Life as an AP Euro Student'! All our course descriptions for our 2011-2012 AP Online classes will be posted at www.aphomeschoolers.com -- or just click on the link above. And check out Meghan's previous article posted here-- see our 'archive' for AP class articles.
Student 'Historical Head' project
I finished my summer reading and we got our first week’s assignments today! Glad I got a head start with the Middle Ages during the summer—looking at the assignments and syllabus, it’s going to be a challenging class. I’m a little nervous about learning all the material. We’re covering 600 years of history in just 9 months!
Today I turned in my first Free Response Question essay. The essays are worth half my exam score, so I really need get these down.... I answered an essay question on Renaissance art and humanism. It was really interesting learning about Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and other Renaissance guys with cool names like Boccaccio and Machiavelli!
We got our first graded FRQ essays back. Wow, I have a lot to learn! Writing a historical essay is reallydifferent from the reports and creative writing I usually do. I need a thesis that clearly answers the essay question, strong points, and good examples that prove my thesis…
AP United States History-- introducing our new online teacher!
Lisa Hawkins, 3/24/2011
Editor's Note from Susan Richman: I'm delighted to introduce one of our new teachers for our AP Online courses through PA Homeschoolers. Lisa will be joining Daniel Burns and myself in leading a third section of AP US History, always a very popular course among homeschoolers. Lisa Hawkins comes to this new opportunity with an amazing and extensive background in helping students gain appreciation for history. We'll have registration and course descriptions updated on our companion www.aphomeschoolers.com website (see link above) in early April-- but feel very welcome to email Lisa and any of our teachers to let them know of your interest now, too. All of our teachers from this year will be returning, along with Mary Lanctot offering her AP Art History course once again, and Ray Leven teaching AP Spanish (article coming on this exciting new course very soon!). It's going to be a wonderful year of active AP learning ahead, and we hope that one of our courses will be a fine fit for your teens. We enroll homeschool students from all over the nation, and even homeschoolers living abroad. And now... meet our new AP US History teacher:
(Hint: this photo is actually *not* Lisa-- do you recognize this important American?)
Greetings! My name is Lisa Hawkins, and I would like to introduce myself. I was born and raised in New York, although I also lived for some time in Miami, Puerto Rico, and San Diego. Wherever I went in my youth, I carried with me a firm belief in my future destiny as a famous, sought-after scientist and a deep disdain for the study of history and culture. Not surprisingly, when I enrolled at Swarthmore Collge, I intended to pursue a research-biology major. After almost setting fire to my chemistry lab and mistaking a fake plastic owl for a real one, I realized that a career in lab science was not for me, and probably dangerous for everyone else. Out of options and at the end of an unpleasant two year struggle with science at college, I left my organic chemistry final on my desk in the examination room, crossed the campus, and signed up to become a history major without ever having taken a college history course before. The following semester, I fell in love – firecrackers and all – in love with the Medieval Era, Colonial America, and any other history I could get my brain around. Instead of finishing that organic chemistry final, I found and married an organic chemist, and together we have four children, all of whom have been (or continue to be) homeschooled. I went on to Temple University to earn my Masters in History and also did graduate work at Widener University in Literature and Education.
As a person who had, and then abandoned, that disdain for the study of history and culture in my youth, I teach with the passion of a convert....
Portrait of the Artist as an AP Studio Art Student – A Journal
Dianne Settino, AP Studio Art teacher, 2/18/2011
Editor's Note from Susan Richman: This is the 2nd year we have been able to offer AP Studio Art in an online format, and Dianne Settino and her husband Linus Meldrum have really put their whole heart into leading these wonderful interactive classes. To help both parents and students gain an idea of what to expect from this unique course, read this imagined AP Art Studio student diary. And consider joining in for the coming school year! For full info on all of our Advanced Placement online courses, click on the AP ONLINE CLASSES link at the top of this website. Registration for the 2011-2012 school year will open in early April.
Below is a fictional diary giving a little peek into the life of an AP Studio Art student. The course is grueling and exhilarating, all at once. The AP Studio Art course does not involve an 'exam'-- instead it requires the mammoth task of creating two portfolios of 12 works each-- a Breadth Portfolio, and a Concentration Portfolio. The total 24 works must be digitally uploaded prior to the May exam deadline. And the 5 best works are sent for on-site grading as the Quality Portfolio. The 3 grades ( B portfolio + C portfolio + Q Portfolio) are totaled, and averaged for the final grade on the 1-5 AP scale. When students finish an AP Studio Art course they have most definitely completed a journey, a quest, and made a physical product/record of their growth as an Artist. The great thing about AP Studio Art is that the student has not only completed the process, they have a distinct product to show for all the hard work – a body of work that can serve as a college admissions portfolio or an art exhibition.
Our weekly cycle of assignments and work is simple. In the fall we post an assignment. The students respond by posting sketches. The sketches are critiqued. The students post their finals. We critique their finals. Each student is given personal critiques and their unique gifts and problems are addressed.
Both AP Drawing and AP 2D Design follow a typical college semester calendar. The students have a long between-semester break that is well deserved. We allow our students to schedule their work around religious Holy Days, family vacations, mission trips and of course serious illness. Seniors with required college application specific art projects are allowed to incorporate those works into our class work. We try very hard to help each young artist with their own specific needs and gifts.
We have had students as young as 15 take our AP Drawing with wonderful results! And now.... for the fictional student diary, chronicling a year of artistic growing and learning!
Breadth Portfolio assignment # 1 was posted today. I will spend an hour doing a bit of research to help me decide how to approach my composition. Then I have to work through the time-specific preparatory sketches. I'm a little nervous but the last two weeks has helped me learn to put down my ideas much faster in a visual form.
It’s midnight! I just posted my prep sketches. I can't wait until tomorrow to read my critique....
Changes in some AP exams coming in a couple of years.... Our AP Online courses will reflect these!
Susan Richman, 1/9/2011
Special thanks to homeschooler Sue Brownawell, who sent me a link to this excellent article from the New York Times from today (January 9, 2011), about the changes coming up for various AP exams. The first to be re-worked will be AP Biology and AP US History in the 2012-2013 school year. These particular exams have been criticized by some as relying too much on memorization of overwhelmingly vast amounts of material, and are being 'revamped' to be more in line with what actual college courses now require. In part the problem was that both courses kept having to 'add' more and more material as further scientific discoveries and key historical happenings have occurred since the exams' development back in the mid-1950's.
Know that our PA Homeschoolers AP Online classes will reflect all of these changes-- and that in many ways we've already been moving in this direction, especially in aiming to both help students really delve into certain topics in more depth and in helping them see the big themes involved in the field. Here's the article link:
For instance, here are some of the special projects that my own AP US History students enjoy doing each year, which do not relate directly to specific 'AP exam prep' of the 'memorize these facts' regime, but to my own larger goal of fostering a love for the field of history, are the following:
- Doing at least one Historical Interview with an older adult who's lived through an era or an historical event (war service, the Great Depression, the Cold War, the Civil Rights Movement, etc) the student has not experienced. Many find this one of the most meaningful activities of their year....
A Day in the Life of an AP Calculus Online Student....
Susan Gilleran, 11/18/2010
Susan Gilleran has been leading a highly successful and motivating AP Calculus class online with PA Homeschoolers for 5 years-- and she just keeps getting better at this! She has a BS and secondary teaching certificate in Mathematics from Wayne State University, and an MBA from Lawrence Technological University. She taught high school mathematics before moving to the business world at Ford Motor Company for 30 years where she was an Information Technology Manager. In this article, Susan lets you in on what a typical day for one of her online homeschool students might be like. Hope this helps you gain a greater sense of all the varied ways of learning that can be involved in one of our AP Online classes-- and we'll have similar 'Day in the Life' features on our other AP Online classes. Hope this helps you decide if this class-- or other of our AP Online classes for bright homeschoolers-- will be a good fit for your student. Check out Susan Gilleran's full course description at the link to our AP Online classes.
Let’s see, what should I do to start my day off today? I think I’ll sign on to the AP Calculus classroom site to see what Mrs. Gilleran has in store for us today. I’ll click on the ASSIGNMENTS page and then on the Comments for today. When I’m done reading the Comments I’ll check out the ASSIGNMENTS page to view the videos for today, if there are any, or visit any sites that might be posted.
I’ll download any relevant documents or a test if we’re having one. Then I’ll copy down the assignment for today and download the solutions to examples of the problems in today’s homework. That document also has the step by step solutions to all of the homework problems....
When and What AP Calculus Course Should My Child Take?
Susan Gilleran, 9/10/2010
Susan Gilleran has been leading our AP Calculus class for a number of years now with PA Homeschoolers AP Online program, and has expanded her offerings now to both the AB Calculus course (equivalent to a 1st semester college calculus course), and the BC Calculus course (equivalent to a full year, 1st and 2nd semester, college calculus sequence). We've been so very pleased with her dedication to her students, and her ready ability to help students really gain the self-discipline and steady work habits needed to succeed in these challenging courses. She also works to help students gain greater appreciation for the whole field of mathematics study, and uses a broad range of Internet resources to help in this enrichment work. We've also been so pleased to see how many homeschoolers are now setting their sights high and aiming for this level of challenge-- and this article will help you decide when your student will be ready for AP Calculus. Keep posted for Susan's next article too, which will share in an engaging look at what life is like for an AP Calculus online student.
The answers to when and what AP Calculus course to take are combinations of factors. When is a matter of when your child is ready for algebra which is often a matter of maturity as well as intellect. They have to have had four years of traditional high school math classes to qualify for AP Calculus - Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II and Trigonometry, and Pre-Calculus. So you’ve got to fit those classes in before taking either the AB or BC course.
Once your child gets to high school they may have a choice as to what year they take AP Calculus....
What to expect from my online course-- a letter from our AP US Government & Politics online teacher
Rachel Califf, 8/25/2010
Rachel Califf has been leading AP US Government with PA Homeschoolers AP Online for many years-- and earlier she was a PHAA homeschool high schooler who took part as a student in many of our classes online! She is a graduate of Grove City College, and a mother of three little ones. This article should be of interest to all families involved in having their students taking any online class-- the points Rachel brings up fit for many situations.
For eleven years, I’ve taught AP United States Government and Politics online through PA Homeschoolers. My greatest challenge and my greatest joy is encouraging students to engage with their peers in discussions about current events and political ideas that can be controversial in nature and inspire very emotional responses, particularly among teenagers who see the world as very black and white and who have yet to hone their diplomatic approach. It can be a challenge sometimes to teach students to be civil in their discourse.
Each year, I hope and pray that my students emerge from the course with more than just good grades. I pray that they will have grown in understanding and knowledge, in integrity and in maturity, and in stewardship over their God-given skills and gifts. That, in the years to come, they would go out into the world and impact it for good.
Toward these ends, and for the sake of class cohesion and success, I post a message to our class site outlining my expectations for the year. I’m sharing several excerpts from that message for the benefit of parents and students who are considering or have enrolled in an online class this fall. You will get a sense of both the broader sweep of my expectations and hopes for students and the day-to-day skills that help students succeed in the online and distance learning environment, as well as the developing of relationship between an online teacher and student. I hope that you will find this glimpse into online education an edifying one!
My dear Students!
I want us to have a successful year together and I have found that clear communication is the first key to that outcome. So, in the interests of a successful year, and transparency, there are some things that you should know about me and about the upcoming class. I believe these will help you to form accurate expectations and to understand what I expect of you in return.
Still room in some of our Advanced Placement online preparation courses! Sign up now!
Susan Richman, 8/22/2010
Many of our Advanced Placement (AP) online preparation courses are now filled-- but quite a few still do have room. These online interactive classes help strong high school students be well-prepared for May 2011 Advanced Placement exams-- and we can enroll homeschool students from all over the nation (and even homeschoolers living abroad!).
Here are the classes that still have a few last spots open for the coming school year....
How Do I Prepare My Child for AP Calculus?
Susan Gilleran, 6/27/2010
Susan Gilleran will be leading AP Calculus with PA Homeschoolers for her 5th year, and her classes always get rave reviews from students. She earned a BS and secondary teaching certificate in Mathematics from Wayne State University, and an MBA from Lawrence Technological University. She taught high school mathematics before moving to the business world at Ford Motor Company for 30 years where she was an Information Technology Manager.
This will be my fifth year teaching the AP Calculus course for PA Homeschoolers. I have also completed two five day College Board summer institutes. One of the institutes was dedicated to teaching AP Calculus AB and the other addressed AP Calculus BC.
I am often asked the question “How do I prepare my son or daughter for AP Calculus?” It’s an excellent question and a common dilemma. I decided to use two of the most well prepared students, a brother and sister, who took my BC class as an example of a path to follow from first grade through pre-calculus. Then I’ll give some extra suggestions for pre-calculus alternatives.
I asked the brother and sister’s mother if she would share the choices she made for her son and daughter’s math classes. Here’s what she had to say....
AP Art History-- A Multidisciplinary Approach to Educational Growth
Mary Lanctot, 6/8/2010
Mary Lanctot has been leading our AP Art History class on line since our youngest daughter Hannah took the course her senior year, back in the 2004-2005 school year -- and I warn you, this course was so involving and intriguing that Hannah continued with art history studies in college, and eventually ended up majoring in fine arts with a focus on painting (along with sociology, and work in Judaic studies ... but don't worry-- she also has a fine fulltime job for the fall, after just graduating this May!). Mary is also the mother of three always homeschooled young people-- her youngest is graduating from her high school years now. Mary is a dynamic, encouraging, and very motivating teacher-- highly recommended! -- Editor, Susan Richman
It is difficult for me to speak quantitatively and rationally about the discipline of art history. I can effuse enthusiastically at length, or offer up brilliant and beautiful masterpieces that literally take one’s breath away. But even these attempts at communicating the depth and breadth of this potentially life-changing curriculum fall far short of revealing its true power.
As a college student, I was a passionate academic being. Every semester when the thick, newsprint course catalog came out (along with the requisite thrill of choosing next term’s offerings), I would gawk in joyful paralysis at the resplendent array of opportunities, giggling at the sheer volume of possibilities—a newly-born gourmet standing with only a single plate at the mother-of-all buffet-tables. I changed my major nearly every semester. How could I possibly decide between literature, religious studies, history, anthropology, psychology, art…? Even though, I promise you, I read the course booklet as thoroughly as any of its editors; not once had I stopped and perused the art history offerings.
Why Take AP World History?
Gloria Harrison, 6/5/2010
Gloria Harrison has taught online AP World History for eight years through PA Homeschoolers AP Online. She graduated from the Translators & Interpreters Institute in Portugal in 1969. Having traveled with her diplomat parents since the age of three, she went to school in a different country every three years on the average, thus immersing herself in the language, geography, culture, and history of those countries. She married a U.S. Navy serviceman, and continued her travels for the next 25 years. In all that time, they were stationed in the United States only once. She continued to take a great interest in the countries they lived in. She currently lives in southwest Pennsylvania with her two cats.
WHY TAKE AP WORLD HISTORY?
I've been teaching AP European History with PA Homeschoolers for the past nine years and AP World History for the past eight. Yet I never cease to be surprised that I end up with about half the students in World History than with those in Euro.
In a way, that is an advantage both for me and for my students. I have more time to spend one-on-one with the World History (generally known as WHAP) students, via email or message board discussion.
Still, why do so few students actually take AP World History? Perhaps because their perception (and that of their parents) of it is inaccurate? ....
One Parent's response to Online AP English Literature taught by Maya Richman Inspektor....
Jacquie Reed, 4/29/2010
Jacquie Reed is a longterm homeschooling mother of Lauren (19) and Jackson (17), and a writer herself (we look forward to publishing future writings on a wide range of family and homeschooling topics in the future!). She wrote this letter to our daughter, Maya (Molly) Richman Inspektor, after receiving the mid-year evaluation of her son Jackson's progress in AP English Literature-- and I felt this would help many families gain a feel for what can be accomplished and experienced in an online interactive class. Most of our AP Online teachers ca be expected to send out detailed mid-year reports, helping parents gain insight into the course and how the students are doing. In sharing about her own homeschooling background, Jacquie shared that they'd been homeschooling for 7 years, "They have been great years for us. I was teaching high school in a private school where the children were attending in the lower school. When we decided to take the kids out and just punt for the rest of the year, Jackson was in 2nd grade and Lauren, our daughter was in 5th grade. We all loved it. When I asked them separately to make a list of pros and cons, they each had somewhere on that list, 'homeschooled kids like their siblings more.' They had realized it before I had. It is one of my biggest blessing on this journey." The Reed family lives in Washington state.
Dear Mrs. Inspektor,
We just received your thoughtful and discerning progress report for Jackson. Thank you. We are so appreciative of the work, thought, sensitivity and (unless you are superhuman in your writing skills) the time you put into your instruction, assignments and your responses to all your students.
Regretfully I can’t read all the students’ essays and discussion questions, but I try to read a selection of them. I like to read each, gain a sense of the beauty or lack thereof, try to put it into words, and then read your response. Your response so often concretely and eloquently conveys what I feel, makes observations come into focus for me, gives strong understandable suggestions to the student for improvement, and leaves the writer with legitimate encouragement and hope. The grace, intelligence and humor in your responses is lovely.
In looking at this class last summer, my fear was that an online AP Lit class could not deliver in the discussion arena. In reality, Jackson has not missed out on the honing and sharpening that come from the verbal confluence of ideas and, due to the guidance of your questions and the additional reflection required by the process of writing, the class dialogues are more thoughtful and mature....
Taking History Outside the Classroom: AP European History and Beyond
Meghan Bishop, 4/15/2010
Meghan Bishop is a PHAA homeschool graduate, and a graduate of Western Kentucky University (BA in History) and Indiana University (MA in History). She will be leading a 2nd section of our very popular online AP European History course starting this fall-- you can read her full course description up on our www.aphomeschoolers.com website. I think you'll readily see that Meghan will bring the richness of her own homeschooling history studies, as well as her expertise gained from her university studies and professional work at many history museums and sites, to this course. It's great to have Meghan 'back' with us, this time as a teacher!
*Meghan Bishop at her most recent job at the Tryon Palace Historical Site in North Carolina*
Stop for a moment. Think of the word “history.” What comes to mind? What thoughts or memories does it conjure?
As you may well be aware, contrary to popular belief, history is not a subject that requires students to sit at a desk listening to a lecture or reading from a textbook for hours on end. Teachers can bring history outside the classroom, into real life, and use it to educate students on an endless number of subjects.
The following article offers ideas for history education from my own homeschool, college, and career experience. Starting in August 2010, I’ll be teaching AP European History online through PA Homeschoolers....
Looking Ahead to 2010-2011 AP Courses
Susan Richman, 3/19/2010
We’ve come a long way since first offering a small handful of AP Online test preparation classes way back in the 1996-1997 school year. From starting out with just AP English Literature, AP Psychology, and AP US History, and maybe 30 students, our program has grown to now offer classes in all disciplines, with over 320 students taking part—and many students take two or even more classes each year. We have 21 teachers now working with us to develop and lead these classes, giving people many choices of instructors and formats and approaches.
So just what is the Advanced Placement (AP) program? It’s a way developed by the College Board (the same organization that developed the SAT exam for college admissions) for bright high school students to demonstrate college level learning. Students take exams under strict security guidelines in May, and good scores can often net a student exemption from introductory university classes, college credit, or both. And informal studies have shown that even students who actually take AP exams, but don’t earn passing scores, generally still do much better in college than those students who never had this experience—AP students, regardless of exam scores, tend to stay in college till graduation and also tend finish up on time. That’s worthwhile ‘insurance’ in these times!
So why might you want to check out our Pennsylvania Homeschoolers AP Online classes for your bright homeschool teen? Here are some top reasons that families have expressed over the years:...
Keys to designing an AP-preparation high school English Program
Maya Inspektor, 3/12/2010
Maya Inspektor has taught online AP English Literature and AP English Language for three years through PA Homeschoolers AP Online. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Pittsburgh in 2004, majoring in English nonfiction writing and Psychology. She obtained a Masters of Education in Secondary English from Carlow University, studying homeschooling English programs for her masters thesis. She has also taught at a private school in Pittsburgh, led creative writing classes at the School of Advanced Jewish Studies, and served as an SAT tutor for a major test preparation company. She currently lives in Israel with her husband and two cats.
*a drawing done in high school at home by Maya Richman Inspektor, of her mom, Susan Richman (editor PA Homeschoolers) reading aloud during meal times*
Each year, I get a few applications to my AP English courses from students who seem young and unprepared. Often, I get the feeling that parents know their child isn't quite ready for an AP English course, but they're stumped about how to plan a high school English program without the structure of an outside program.
Surprise! The best preparation for an AP English course is usually an extension of....
Writing by Retelling
Kathryn Walker , 3/8/2010
Kathryn Walker is a PHAA graduate and holds a B.A in English from Hillsdale College, a Masters in Education from Eastern University, and PA Teaching Certification for English 7-12. After teaching AP Language and Composition for several years at Valley Forge Military Academy, she now lives in Lancaster and works as a consultant, evaluator, and online tutor in order to stay home with her baby daughter. Kathryn's husband Chris is a homeschool grad from Ohio-- who was also a star student in several of our AP Online classes during his high school years. Kathryn has published work in First Things, Touchstone Magazine, and Independent Teacher Magazine. This coming school year she will be teaching a section of online AP Language and Composition for homeschoolers.
*A painting by Molly (Maya) Richman Inspektor, age 12*
I was surprised during my sophomore year of college to realize that Chaucer’s tales were not original. That is not to say that he didn’t artfully craft each of them, but the basic storylines were nothing new. Pulling from sources like folklore, Greek myth, and medieval mystery plays, Chaucer used constructions his public was already familiar with, and made them fresh and poignant by tweaking the characters, events, and themes, often in startling ways. “The Clerk’s Tale,” for instance, was originated by Boccacio and then translated and commented on first by Petrarch and later by de Mezieres. Somehow thinking of the Canterbury Tales in that light made Chaucer seem a little more human to me.
In some sense, though, all of literature is a retelling: an adaptation of human events, conflicts, personalities, and themes as we perceive them....
Moving Beyond the Book Report-- and helping your teen get ready for AP English Literature!
Ruth Green, 2/23/2010
Ruth Green has been leading AP English Literature online with PA Homeschoolers for many years. She has five sons, with four graduates and her youngest still homeschooling. She has also taught a literature class with a local homeschool co-op program. Ruth is also a very popular speaker at our summer PHAA High School at Home Conference, speaking on writing, AP English Literature, and how to craft an effective college admissions essay. Do check out the rave reviews on her class at our companion site, wwww.aphomeschoolers.com where we have full info on our AP Online classes.
There are few more familiar icons of middle school than The Book Report. Mothers like to imagine that writing one is the outpouring of enthusiasm that her student experiences from reading a book that is just too good not to share with the world. More often, it is a dreaded assignment that has been given with vague instructions about identifying major characters and summarizing the plot. The musical You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown humorously captures the dilemma that different personalities have with procrastination, meeting word counts, and staying on topic while writing a book report on Peter Rabbit. Nevertheless, the book report serves a useful function in helping the reader to reflect on what he’s read, and the exercise of reproducing that in writing is step one of expository writing.
By the time a student is high school age, however....
AP Computer Science-- What this about a 'Case Study'???
Cynthia Lang, 2/22/2010
Cynthia Lang is a homeschool mother of several PHAA graduates, and computer science instructor at various colleges. She is completing her first year of returning to lead AP Computer Science with PA Homeschoolers AP Online, after taking a number of years off while her own children were in high school at home. She is an exceptional teacher, and shares here about a unique aspect of the AP Computer Science course and exam-- the 'case study'. For more info, see the link at the very bottom of the article. Cynthia will also soon be writing an article on how to know if your son or daughter is ready for the challenge of AP Computer Science.
The Role of the Case Study in AP Computer Science
As you would expect considering the subject matter, the AP Computer Science curriculum changes periodically with trends in the industry. For example, there have been 3 programming languages used in AP Computer Science since 1998: Pascal, C++ and most recently, Java. The last two languages have been object-oriented, rather than procedural, languages. As computers, particularly personal computers, evolved to have graphical user interfaces, the computer programs that produce such user friendly interfaces have become increasingly large and complex. For example, Microsoft Word had 27,000 lines of code in the first version. That’s a lot, but it's now about 2 million! Object-oriented programming languages such as Java use polymorphism, inheritance, and encapsulation to make large programs easier to produce and maintain. This is why object-oriented programming languages have largely superseded procedural languages. Students who eventually go on to careers in computer science will most likely work in teams on large programs coded in these object-oriented languages. Consequently....
Benefits of AP Online and community college classes-- for the whole family
Brigid Thompson, 2/17/2010
Brigid Thompson is a longterm homeschooling mother from North Carolina. Both of her sons have taken AP Online classes with PA Homeschoolers. I recently heard from Bridget went she emailed to share how her older son Kyle was doing in his freshman year of college: “Kyle is about to head back to NC State for his second semester. First semester was very successful -- he worked hard and played hard, and finished up with a 4.0. He was talking with another homeschooler just the other day about his high school classes and said that your class [AP US History] was his favorite in high school. I think that is a huge compliment to you, coming from an aerospace engineering type of guy!” Brigid offered to share her thoughts on how beneficial our AP Online classes have been for her sons-- we'll regularly be posting here thoughts from parents on how they have found our courses have contributed to their overall high school at home program. And you'll see that many families combine AP Online classes along with community college classes-- you don't have to choose just one or other!
I've been very happy with PA Homeschoolers AP Online courses. Each of the three classes that my older son Kyle took and the two that my younger son Connor took (and is taking) have prepared them better than I would have been able to pull off on my own. Not just because....
So how do you find a school that will give your homeschooler an AP Exam, anyway??
Carole Matheny, 2/2/2010
Carole Matheny is both a homeschooling mother, and the dedicated and energetic teacher for our AP Statistics online class. So she's had experience herself in doing the 'legwork' to find a suitable location for her son to take his Advanced Placement exams each May-- homeschoolers must take these exams at a school setting, and as you'll see, this can take some perseverance! Do know that all homeschoolers taking our AP Online classes have been able to find locations for their exams-- and that we provide info for parents on how to go about this task. This article will give you insight into all that might be involved!
I picked up the phone and dialed the nearby private college-prep school where my son took his AP test the previous spring. Aware that last year’s AP Coordinator had retired, and since I didn’t know the new AP Coordinator, I started with a general request: “Hello, may I please speak with the AP Coordinator.” It was that time of the year, late-January and time to call the local school to schedule my son’s four AP exams. After a few introductory remarks I was surprised to hear the coordinator state that the school was not planning to administer AP tests to their own students or outsiders.
Next I contacted my local public school and asked for the AP Coordinator. Knowing they offered AP classes in the subjects my son needed for AP tests I felt confident they would at least be giving the tests he needed. After a few pleasant exchanges the AP Coordinator stated: “I’m new here but I know that if I permit a homeschooler to test with our kids, I’ll get my hands slapped.” ....
Our family's experiences with AP Online with PA Homeschoolers-- and with other course providers
Brita Kilgore, 2/1/2010
Editor's Note from Susan Richman: We plan to post articles regularly from parents whose teens have taken part in our extensive AP (Advanced Placement) online courses-- I know that families new to the high school years and to AP will really appreciate this personal look at how these classes operate, and what the benefits can be for both students and parents. So, here is our first parent's look, from Brita Kilgore, who will also be sharing in future articles about some of the excellent math contests and competitions available for students (homeschoolers always welcome!), and more:
When I began homeschooling my young sons, I had no trouble finding books, curriculum, and resources for them. Although I often spent a lot of time searching, I could usually find exactly what I wanted (or at least something easily modifiable). I was an avid user of catalogs, the internet, and homeschool fairs to preview and locate resources. As my older son approached the high school years, however, I noticed that the number of resources was dwindling. I began to worry because his high school courses had to serve the dual purpose of representing him on his college transcript and preparing him for college. I needed to find material that was both rigorous and interesting that allowed my son to grow as a person and demonstrate his excellence as a student. Luckily, I didn't have to search to hard to find an excellent choice: the PA Homeschoolers AP Online Classes....