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Do Homeschoolers Get Senioritis?
Denise Boiko, 4/28/2011

Denise Boiko and her husband Ron homeschooled their two children from K-12, with their daughter Julie (Stanford University '10) now in an MD/PhD program at the University of Pittsburgh and their son Steve a sophomore engineering major at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Denise is the author of a new 400-page book, Homeschooled & Headed for College: Your Road Map for a Successful Journey, which details the entire college preparation and application process for a homeschooler. The book is available on her websitewww.HomeschoolRoadMap.com.

             Senioritis. Though it may not be listed in your physician's medical dictionary, it is a real malady that traditional students, parents, schoolteachers, and counselors recognize and even come to expect. In a classic case of senioritis, a student begins to lose focus, motivation, and “drive” for completing work with excellence as graduation approaches. In mild cases, students may simply feel a reduced motivation to finish their work—especially once college acceptances are in and the remainder of high school seems to consist of “going through the motions.” In extreme cases, however, students may actually receive D's and F's in their courses.

            Colleges, too, recognize this syndrome—so much so that they warn accepted students to keep their grades up for the final semester of senior year. To underscore the seriousness of their intent, they reserve the right to rescind offers of acceptance if a student's performance drops significantly.

            As a parent of two homeschool graduates, and now as a teacher of several group classes for homeschoolers, I began to be curious about whether homeschoolers, with their nontraditional learning style, typically suffer from this traditional syndrome....


Comments: 11

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....


Comments: 13

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....


Comments: 8

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:

Image 1 Jessie SMALL Concentration.jpg

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....


Comments: 10

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! 

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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.... 


Comments: 11

Encore! Home School Productions' upcoming show, First Impressions, to be performed at Trinity High School in Camp Hill April 8-10, 2011
Nancy Emerson, 4/4/2011

Editor's Note from Susan Richman: It is always wonderful to hear of the dedicated homeschool groups that have learned to work so well together that they can produce major Broadway musicals-- giving all their students opportunities many would think would only be available at the best high schools. I hope many of you can attend this production-- I've seen past musicals by Encore! and they are amazingly professional, and full of life and energy. And to read a great article from the Harrisburg Patriot News about the productionclick here Also, know that Nancy Emerson will be leading a workshop session at the July 15, 2011 PHAA High School at Home Conference in Carlisle PA on how homeschooling families can join together to produce major drama productions-- and what this can mean for the whole family's learning. 


A musical is a huge undertaking for a school, let alone a group of homeschooling families.  The time commitment and challenges are enormous.  However, the families of Encore! Home School Productions in South Central Pennsylvania are putting on their sixth annual musical April 8 – 10, 2011 at Trinity High School in Camp Hill.  Each year the shows become a significant part of the homeschooling experience for students and parents.


This year this show is a little-known Broadway musical, First Impressions, a.k.a. Pride & Prejudice the Musical.  The show is a musical comedy adaptation of Jane Austen’s timeless, classic novel.  The show is quite entertaining since Austen’s characters are so memorable with some being simply outrageous! ....


Comments: 3

“Write from the Heart” Expands with Senior High Classes
Denise Botsford, 4/3/2011

Editor's Note from Susan Richman: Denise Botsford, a homeschooling mother from Indiana PA, has been offering online writing classes to junior high students in her Write from the Heart program -- and has now expanded into the senior high years as she's collaborated with another teacher. I've personally evaluated students who've taken Denise's classes, and they all feel very positive about all they have learned from this engaging format for honing real writing skills. Denise wrote an article for our print newsletter several years ago about her unique approach in her online classes-- and it's great to get an update now! I hope you each take a look at Denise's excellent website at www.denisebotsford.com -- even if you might not sign up for one of her courses, you can still gain much by checking out the page Students in the Spotlight.This is where Denise has published work by her students (to protect privacy, no last names of students are used) that subsequently won awards in various writing competitions-- these might be great models for your kids to read and enjoy. And I'd highly recommend also taking a look at the Multi-Genre Research Projects from past students-- these are really inspiring and will let you see a whole new side to 'writing a research paper'. 

During these past six years I’ve often felt like the groom in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.”  The unsuspecting Ian simply wanted to be united with his beloved Toula.  He didn’t anticipate the far-reaching effects his wedding announcement would have, or the velocity with which his plans would accelerate.  When I started Write from the Heart in 2005, I merely wanted an online writing audience for my own beloved children; I thought that along the way I could help out some other families as well. I never expected the speed with which Write from the Heartwould spread from a small class of 17 students to an audience of national—and now multi-national—appeal. But, just as Ian adjusted to his loud, new relatives and took pleasure in their flamboyancy, I too have adjusted to and taken pleasure in the many twists and turns along the way!

The first surprise I experienced occurred halfway through the first year when I realized how short-sighted my original plans were.... 


Comments: 5


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