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Sign up now for our SAT Essay Writing course-- 4 weeks... and you'll be ready for the March SAT!
Karen Boyd, 1/29/2012

Editor's Note from Susan: We are so grateful to master teacher Karen Boyd for continuing to offer her very valuable SAT Essay Writing class. Designed for high school students planning on taking the College Board SAT this March. 

It’s not too late to register your high school student for my four-week class on writing the SAT Essay.  This class helps students prepare for the essay portion of the March SAT, however students who will be taking the SAT at future dates are encouraged to join us.  


Students from coast to coast and from four continents have found this class to be helpful in many ways.   First, it provides practice and guidance in writing a timed essay.  Many students report that it helped them feel confident about taking the SAT.    The class provides accountability and other people to comment on their writing.  While it focuses on the SAT Essay, many of the skills can be applied to other writing, such as the need for organization and a clear thesis.   Finally, the students learn to think about their own writing in new ways as they interact with the other students in the class. 


The class begins on February 6 and continues into the beginning of March.    The registration deadline is January 31.  The class requires a text book -- the College Board SAT Study Guide--  that is needed on the first day, so either register early and order from pahomeschoolers.com , or plan to buy your own copy before the class begins.


For more information go to the Online Store link above-- and then to "Online Classes" and then “Online SAT classes.” 



Karen Boyd


Comments from former students

“This class was very helpful to me.  First of all, it made me sit down and actually practice writing essays.  Second, it was good to have someone read my essays, grade them, and tell me what was good and what was not.  Also, I liked seeing what the other students wrote to see how I did in comparison.”


“I just want to say thank you to you, Mrs. Boyd, for teaching this class!  It helped me a lot, and now....


Comments: 9

Confessions of a Homeschool Mom Regarding Achievement Testing
Patti T., 1/27/2012

Editor's Note from Susan Richman: Often when I talk to families about how their kids did on achievement tests, I have a special question I ask-- it's "What is your child reading independently-- and does he enjoyreading.... or need to be 'nudged' to tackle a book?"  I've found, over many years of informally asking this of parents, that a pattern has emerged-- those kids who read widely, and have a lot of personalchoice over what to read, generally do great on achievement tests. Those kids who don't read much at all beyond their required homeschooling studies or texts, and who clearly don't like to read, generally don't fare so well. Doing things that are 'like' achievement tests on a daily basis does not seem to be the key factor -- though definitely familiarity with testing formats is a great help, and I certainly recommend some focused 'test prep'. But I've met kids who have *only* done 'comprehension questions' during the time the family is helping them get ready for standardized testing-- at all other times, the child simply readsand enjoys and talks about his reading informally with his parents every now and then... and these kids generally do just fine when the scores come in. This general trend was shown again in the experience thatPatti T. describes so well in this touching piece-- I hope it is a good encouragement to all other families facing the 'dreaded' 3rd grade testing experience! 

I have been homeschooling my son since he was in kindergarten.  As we went through our first few years, I had this gnawing feeling about third grade. I knew that was the year we would encounter achievement testing.  I knew in my heart I was doing my best to make sure my son was learning and thriving in homeschool, but to have “THE TEST” prove or disprove this point was a little scary for me.  OK, very scary!!!! So I was on a mission to be prepared!!!!

I purchased the sample test material from PA Homeschoolers for his appropriate grade.  I was glad I did because after the test my son remarked, “The test was just like the one we did at home.”  I was glad he felt comfortable from having done the practice tests.

In addition, I combed the PA Homeschoolers website, in the months prior to the test, for any information regarding achievement test taking.  I am thankful for the resources I found to help me prepare my son and myself.  They really put my mind at ease and helped me to keep the whole test experience relatively stress free.  Knowing the test results were not the soul benchmark for how our homeschooling was progressing was the biggest relief!

I remained optimistic waiting for the test scores.  When I received them, I could hardly believe my eyes.  My son did very well on the test.   All of the prep work we did helped, but the biggest preparation was something we had been doing his whole life.  We instilled a love of books and reading in our son. 

My son is an avid reader.  It is not uncommon for us to walk out of the library every other week with 30+ books, and he reads every one of them.  I let him pick whatever books he wants, even if they are his old favorites like Henry and Mudge or Mr. Putter and Taby.  He likes to read graphic novels such as Stone RabbitLunch Lady, and Tiny Titans.  Yes, he also likes Captain Underpants as well.  I let him read those books and trade off with books I have selected that are a little more appropriate for his age.  I think the reason he loves to read is because he has the freedom to explore and choose the books that interest him.  He isn’t just forced to read the material assigned by me for school.  His love for reading is the biggest factor as to why he did so well on the reading and language arts portion of the test, so I am told.

Now, interestingly, I should mention at this point that I have a rather unique visual impairment that makes it challenging for me to read without the assistance of visual aids.  I developed this issue......


Comments: 5

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....


Comments: 15

Lancaster Teen Named Grand Prize Winner in Susquehanna Bank Video Contest
Alison Giella, 1/19/2012

Editor's Note from Susan Richman: It's always great to hear about homeschoolers getting involved in positive and creative activities, especially when they are working as a small team to meet a goal. I hope the following press release encourages your family to look into some unique ways to use your children's strengths and interests. Our warmest congratulations to Zachary and Mitch Blank, and to Elijah and Jude VanHanxleden-- sounds like they've really found a wonderful activity that they love, and that they are enjoying spreading a positive message to others through their unique video productions.

Zach Blank 1.jpg

LITITZ, Pa., January 19, 2012 – What’s the risk of not saving money? Zachary Blank and a few friends provided the answer in a video that won Susquehanna Bank’s Lights, Camera, Save! contest for teens, and their effort is now competing as a finalist in the national contest.

Zach’s video “Saving Matters” was honored as part of the Lights, Camera, Save! video contest organized by the American Bankers Association Education Foundation. It is featured on Susquehanna Bank’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/SusquehannaBank. In the contest, students age 13 to 18 submitted 90-second videos about the importance of saving money.

“Saving Matters” shows a boy considering buying a toy tractor, until he imagines what his future may hold if he doesn’t learn to save money as well. Sixteen-year-old Zach made the video with his brother Mitch, as well as Elijah and Jude VanHanxleden.

Zach Blank 2.jpg

Together, they formed Zebrafilm Studios, and they’ve been making videos regularly since the middle of 2011. Their videos can be seen at www.youtube.com/zebrafilmstudios.

“We usually like to plan out some absurd storyline, shoot it together, and then relax and edit it afterwards. Once we're done, we put it up on our website, Youtube, and Facebook,” Zach said. “We believe that videos can be funny, entertaining, and clever without being crude, inappropriate, or violent.”....


Comments: 6

Go on a PA Historical Markers Scavenger Hunt!!
Scott Doyle, PA Historical and Museum Commission, 1/8/2012

Editor's Note from Susan Richman: Learning about PA History just got even a bit more fun-- take a look at this new program from the PA Historical and Museum Commission, one of the sponsors of the terrific (and very complete and totally *free*) website Explore PA History. Don't keep PA History limited to a 'workbook' -- get out and truly explore our state! And take notice of those fascinating little blue signs all along our highways that give us a hint of the richness of our past-- and then learn the full story behind each one at the website! And do share below if you have favorite PA history sites you've visited with your homeschooled kids or support group. 

Dear Pennsylvania Homeschoolers:

We are offering a new educational program at the 2012 Pennsylvania Farm Show that may be a great way to make the event more interactive for your home school families.

The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) is sponsoring a Historical Marker Scavenger Hunt based on PHMC Historical Markers related to the history of Pennsylvania’s agriculture and food production.  PHMC is also promoting www.explorepahistory.com, an online resource developed by WITF, Central Pennsylvania’s public media organization, and PHMC that makes innovative use of the nearly 2,000 historical markers.  The website makes Pennsylvania and American history more exciting and available to public audiences, while providing educational resources for K-12 teacher and homeschoolers.

Please extend an invitation to your members to stop by the PHMC Marker Booth in the Family Living Section (Main Hall) at Farm Show to pick up Scavenger Hunt Booklets and information on www.explorepahistory.com.  Included below are overviews on both programs and a sample lesson plan related to the agricultural and rural life from the website.  We look forward to your participation on our new program.

Thank you for your interest and see you at the Show!

Scott Doyle
Grant and Marker Programs
Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission
(717) 783-6012

Do you like scavenger hunts? Want to learn more about Pennsylvania’s agricultural heritage? Discover what product launched the Heinz food company (and it’s not ketchup!) and other....


Comments: 5


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