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5th grade homeschooler wins PA level of National Bicycle Poster Contest!!!
Jenna Litynski, 3/27/2012

Editor's Note from Susan Richman: I was so delighted to hear from the Litnyski family this morning about this wonderful win for Brenna! This is her poster-- we hope *everyone* who takes part in this website helps in VOTING now for Brenna's terrific artwork, from April 2-6, 2012.... We can all help her become the national winner! I know you'll agree that she really worked hard and that she created a dramatic and very meaningful image. Brenna's mom shared how much her daughter enjoyed taking part in this project -- and her hope was that Brenna's win would inspire other homeschool students to jump in and take part in engaging and worthwhile contests of all sorts, which can really stretch our kids to reach for new goals and complete a memorable project. We're all so proud of Brenna! And your homeschool kids will also benefit by knowing they've helped out another student here (through voting for Brenna's poster!), and I know they'll be inspired by seeing the work of the other state winners up on the website for the contest. 
On January 24, 2012, Suzan Knott made the following posting on the bulletin board of www.pahomeschoolers.com: 


The 2012 NATIONAL BICYCLE POSTER CONTEST is also open to homeschool students!
Now through March 1st, fifth-grade students across the state can compete in the contest and learn about how bicycles can be one solution to many of our countries emerging issues (bicycling is fun, healthy and green). The contest, is sponsored by Saris, Schwinn, Lazer and Planet Bike and there are great prizes to be won for the students AND schools.

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My name is Jenna Litynski and I am the proud mother of Brenna Litynski, a homeschooled student, who won the 5th Grade Saris Cycling Poster Contest for the state of Pennsylvania!  She will be representing Pennsylvania with her artwork at the National Level and NEEDS YOUR HELP. Online public voting will take place between April 2nd and 6th at www.sariscyclinggroup.com/postercontest and the national winner wins a trip to Washington DC for the 2013 National Bike Summit!  We need the homeschoolers of Pennsylvania to support Brenna by helping her get votes. If she wins, she will attend the National Bike Summit in 2013 and represent the homeschooled students and families of Pennsylvania!  She does not have classmates from a brick and mortar school to help, but hopefully she will have the hundreds of Pennsylvania homeschooled students and their families support her and vote for her artwork!  The future of cycling as a form of transportation and healthy living is in the hands of young people like Brenna.  Art contests such as this one are wonderful opportunities for homeschooled students to broaden their horizons.  They allow the creative student to use and enjoy their creative gifts, but also encourage students to find ways of applying them to make a difference in the lives of others....



Comments: 34

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!

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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! 

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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!....


Comments: 12

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. 

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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....


Comments: 13

March 10th-- Greater Pittsburgh Homeschool Workshop in South Hills of PGH
Sue Ann Means, 3/6/2012

Editor's note from Susan: Howard and I are really looking forward to seeing many of you at this year's Greater PGH Homeschool Workshop-- it's always a terrific event, full of good fellowship, true learning, great vendors, and many opportunities to connect and learn with other homeschooling families. Howard will be giving a workshop on the PHAA high school diploma program, and I'll be doing a workshop for both parents and evaluators called Making Evaluations Matter, which will focus on how to make evaluations meaningful and helpful for all involved, and to serve as ways to encourage both parents and children in their homeschooling and to forge positive relationships that can really make a difference over time.
Hey everyone this Saturday March 10th is the The Greater Pittsburgh Homeschool Workshop.
Spread the word through your e-mail contacts.
There is plenty of room to register at the door on the day of the workshop.

"I'm looking forward to seeing you there!" Sue Means
Registration fee:$15 per adult, $25 a couple, $8 per teen.
Doors open at 8am  to register  - keynote  begins at  8:55 am
Where:  The Bible Chapel  300 Gallery Drive, McMurray, PA 15317
Who:  Homeschoolers and those who are considering homeschooling
We are blessed to have Mark Hamby of Lamplighter Publishing as this year's keynote speaker.
 For more information see the conference  website 


Comments: 13


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