Welcome to Wynfield Christian Academy’s homeschooling world. We are not here to turn homeschooling into a private school world. We want homeschooling to flourish as it is. Homeschooling is a wonderful way to fulfill the parents’ God-given responsibilities of educating children. Wynfield just wants to provide more resources to add spice to your teaching and to make it easier to for parents to get their children into colleges without having to limit the homeschooling way. We also help families with special needs children to have more resources to homeschool their children, as well.

Here on this blog we will give you teaching ideas, discuss homeschooling issues, and even review some products for you.  Give us your comments or ideas for discussion. We are always listening. If you are interested in learning more about our umbrella program, visit our web site at www.wynfieldca.org. We also have a DeafBlind program to help educate, train, and equip DeafBlind children and adults that you can learn more about, and even learn how to help us on that mission at www.wynfieldca.org/deafblind.html or visit our blog at www.deafblindhope.wordpress.com.

My purpose in posting on Homeschool Mosaics was not to just brag about my younger son’s wedding day (which you know we, parents like to do) because if you aren’t involved in the wedding it can be boring hearing about it in great detail, but I wanted to give people a glimpse into my way of experiencing a memorable event, the hard work that tactile ASL interpreters have to do, and the importance of SSPs, interpreters, and people willing to understand the needs of the DeafBlind. I am sharing it now with you, my friends, in the hopes that you will enjoy it, too. Everybody told me they cried, which wasn’t my intent LOL, but I will give you fair warning that some say you might need tissues handy.http://homeschoolmosaics.com/the-wedding/

I have a new post live today on Homeschool Mosaics. This month I share my nightmare story that has been awakened by news stories of late. So read my Airport Horror Story here: http://homeschoolmosaics.com/airport-stories/

TeenCoder™ logo of professor reclining next to the words TeenCoder Java SeriesI used to love programming, and I still love to watch my students learning to love programming. There have only been a few homeschooling programming curriculum choices, and we have used them. They are usually limited to basic stuff and not much in the way of modern languages. Past that, we introduce students to the various industry standards available at most local bookstores in the computer section. I go back to BASIC, Fortran, and COBOL (shh, like any respectable programmer from way back when, I am not really admitting that I know COBOL), so yeah, I’m old and old school. Having had to learn so much over again in life like reading, living skills, computer skills using assistive technology because I am Deaf and blind, I have lost much of my interest in programming at this age and time. However, there are many DeafBlind programmers in the industry, so it can be done. As a teacher though, I am always looking for good curriculum even for programming. I recently got the chance to review Homeschool Programming.com’s TeenCoder™: Java Programming course.

 

With TeenCoder™ courses, you get everything you need to learn and apply the skills taught for a good solid foundation. Course begins with using the basic textedit/notepad and terminal for hand coding and compiling for your first program which is the famous “Hello, World” popular since the beginning days of programmings. The course carries you through Strings, User Input, Basic Flow Control, Debugging, Object-Oriented Java, Graphical Java, Swing Input Controls, Arrays and Collections, Derived Classes, and more. Every concept you need to jump start your learning and carry you through to more formal applications. Explanations are clear and easy to understand with the why you do it fully covered. Activities are fun and apply the concepts learned well. There is plenty to allow you to build your expertise as you move through the chapters. Solutions are provided including screen shots to help you know what you are supposed to get. As you step into development packages, the course recommends and uses free software and gives detailed instructions for downloading and installing. You do not need to purchase anything beyond the course materials to complete the course. Having used other course materials and industry-standard, I can tell you that this textbook is a much better read.

 

My fellow reviewers at Mosaics Reviews have spent a lot of time with this course and other TeenCoder™ courses, too. I will let you read their detailed reviews and opinions here. As usual, my main objective when possible, is accessibility. Several felt that their students enjoyed the courses and could easily do the work on their own which is a plus for a family where the parent may not be into computers, especially programming. I know my students were reluctant to stop the course each day wanting to continue through more than one subject time. That sounds like a win to me. Another parent and I both agree that with other courses used or industry-standard texts the students just didn’t seem to learn much. These TeenCoder™ courses seem to get much more information across and allows the student to really be able to apply the concepts to very detailed activities. One parent stated that their student did the work on their own, but got  great help from TeenCoder™ staff when he emailed them directly about a problem. Some of the courses have videos available to according to one parent who used them. That could be a great help to some parents. Read the detailed reviews to get even more  information and tips.

Accessibility is the big question for me and my students always. My regular students loved the program and took off with it with almost no help from me or anyone. My blind and DeafBlind students along with me struggled at first trying to read the book. We had assistants sign in ASL or read the book to us which was slow, but because the book was so well-written we were all able to accomplish the tasks. The fun was there, but dampened some by the lack of true accessibility. I asked the developers if they would send us some accessible documents for the time-being because I felt from what we had done that the course materials could be useful and easily made accessible. They, after some thought, did so which I commend them for because giving strangers full access to your hard work can be scary. Upon looking at the materials, their were only a few images that wouldn’t be accessible to a screen reader and/or braille display which made it wonderful to us. Most everything including the code boxes to show exactly how the code was to look was actually text-based making it accessible to us. The few images could easily be tagged and the information listed as text, too, with little work. The document with the most images, of course, was the solutions book, but there were few screen shots even in that book. Almost everything had been described in text and text-based boxes. Perfect!

 

By making the books available through iBooks or e-pub formats from text-based source documents or through Bookshare.org, Homeschool Programming could offer their courses to not only regular education students, but also print disabled including dyslexics, blind, and DeafBlind with very little extra work and no extra expense. That would be a win for everyone as it would widen their market to all students and even schools.

 

Worried about the software they use for developing? Well, the textedit and terminal programs for hand-coding is text-based and naturally accessible. Their choice of Eclipse for IDE or Integrated Development Environments is perfect. It is almost totally accessible already. We found the tab close buttons were not linked to the screen reader, so we couldn’t close those, but opened tabs didn’t hinder us in any way. All of the instructions could be easily followed as listed by commands, instead of with the mouse as intended, of course. We used the command listings as is to use the menus for access. The initial screen had an image-based click environment where you had to click an image of an arrow. Of course, our screen reader couldn’t see that arrow image, but in the menu we were able to get get past the initial “desktop” image to get to the actual workbench area. Once there, we could use the keyboard to follow the steps in either the work area or the top menu to navigate, open files, type code, run programs, etc. Now, we are slower, especially since we didn’t have accessible documents in the beginning, but we are picking up speed now. Our fastest student has made it through Chapter 13 of 16 chapters which goes through page 262 of 310 including the Index. That chapter began activities that sight would seem beneficial to understand if you had never had sight. We had student assistants help our student with tactile representations of the images to give him the grasp of what the program was trying to accomplish. However, other activities to come shouldn’t be that difficult because all of our students play chess and other similar type games, so we should be able to understand the reading and some 3D representations of the visual aspects of the program will certainly help us know what the program is designed to do on screen for visual users. With that understanding, we blind and deafblind programmers can code visual games, too. This course will really go a along way helping our blind and deafblind students enhance their mental mapping skills, too.

Screen shot of Eclipse and working braille window.

Screen shot of Eclipse and working braille window.

 

As far as the few accessibility problems with Eclipse IDE, the program is totally usable, and we will contact the developers of this freeware program to help them make the few adjustments to accessibility. Even if that doesn’t change, this course is beneficial and usable to all populations if the interest to learn exist. Hopefully, the few statements needed to explain to blind and deafblind users how to follow the steps through the menu  instead of the mouse and the other couple of modifications or lack of access can be added to the course instructions because they really would be only simple additions. If the Homeschool Programming staff will make the course available through Apple’s iBooks or bookshare.org, we know we can learn programming through their material, and that would make us very happy, indeed!

 

The company has many different courses and different levels, too, so you need to check out their  web site athttp://homeschoolprogramming.com. The TeenCoder™:Java Programming can be purchased as textbook only $75, videos only $20, or package of book and videos $90. Videos, according to one parent may not be detailed, complete lessons, but can be very useful especially for those whose learning styles use multiple visual inputs and/or auditory input. Unfortunately, the videos are not closed captioned, so they are not useful for deaf students overly. That could be easily fixed, so maybe the company will do that in the future.This is an excellent course to introduce and build programming skills in Java. In fact, this old programmer may have just gotten interested again because the accessibility proved to me that I don’t have to start over learning again! Thanks, Homeschool Programming. You made my day for sure!

I received a copy of the above product to facilitate the writing of a frank and honest review. A positive review is not guaranteed. All opinions are my own. Your results and opinions may vary.

This month at Homeschool Mosaics, I share one of my pet peeves . . . people who try to pass off their pets as service dogs. Why is this a no-no? Read her post and find out. If you are doing this, shame on you!

http://homeschoolmosaics.com/pets-as-service-animals/

I saw a blog post today from a friend that reviewed a book about Helen Keller. Because of my friend’s wonderfully worded description of the pictures I can tell you that the book is a great resource for understanding DeafBlindness. You might just start to “Get it” that DeafBlindness isn’t just adding deaf and blind. It is exponentially multiplied. So, I am going to give a little link love to my friend. Please check it out. There is no way, being DeafBlind, that I could have written a review with the descriptions of the illustrations and intent of this book so well. So, this post is to my friend at Mom’s Musings, http://hexwit.blogspot.com/2013/07/concept-building-and-coolest-book-on.html

Independence Day- So many seem to be unaware of why we celebrate today other than BBQ and fireworks. America was considered a grand experiment because we were the first country on earth to formulate a nation’s government based on the rights given to us by our Creator rather than an earthly King. You can see that in the words of the Declaration of Independence. We were a little slower giving those important rights to all that the Creator endowed, but we did finally after a terrible war to sort it all out and show us what was most important. Men’s hearts took even longer to fully change, but our nation was growing. Because we were trying to grow, God blessed this nation richly and used us to bless the world. Those rights were fought for from the very beginning and tested again and again as we showed the world they were worth not only standing up for but dying for. We are a nation founded on the beliefs that there is a Creator that is all powerful and all knowing. The phrase “In God We Trust” was first printed on our coins in 1854 and signed into law by Abraham Lincoln. That is who we are as a nation. Beginning before but marked by Roe v Wade in 1973, we began to forget who we were and are supposed to be. We began to strip away the rights that so many had fought and died to gain and protect. We began to forget that our nation was founded on the belief that people are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, rights that you are given when God creates you. From there, we have begun stripping away more and more of the foundation of America. There is still hope. America isn’t what she was, but she can be again and even better. Remember who we are, America. Remember that we are thankful to our Creator for the rights we are founded upon. Remember why so many men and women have been willing to sacrifice everything including their lives for what America stands for. Remember this day and everyday. Turn back and truly mean “God bless the USA!” I love this country, and I love the God who brought her into existence to be a light shining from the hill. We have become as lukewarm water that is spewed from the mouth. Be bold, America, for that which you have always stood for. I thank those who have stood in uniform and died in uniform to protect my rights. I stand with them now as a proud American.Thank you, God, for being the One who loves us and still calls to us.

Classical Historian's Ancient History Go Fish Card Game DeckThere is a simple, but interesting way to commit to memory those often tedious bits of information in history like people, places, general chronology. The homeschooling parents of The Classical Historian have taken old card game formats and applied them as new tricks for a tired, old dog called flash cards.

These cards are really more than flash cards, but the analogy still holds. Each card contains the information covered in a chapter or more of a history book in a simple format for seeing and understanding while giving the freedom to do several game formats to spice up learning with fun and make remembering the facts easier.

The four card games that The Classical Historian brings to you with their set is Go Fish, Collect the Cards, Chronology, and Continents. With the simplest, Collect the Cards, the student will get familiar with pronouncing the name, repeat visually seeing the spelling, picture, and simple facts including category, and a time frame code. Simply asking for the names of cards to complete their set of four of a kind, the student is practicing memory skills. The other three games reinforces memory of facts, time, and place about each card in the deck. Two of the games which are played against a clock can even be played alone, if required, by trying to improve their own personal best at placing cards in the proper time order or under the correct continent the cards were found. Whether alone or in a group, the games are as fun as the original games, but teach even more now.

A Go Fish game card that has been overlaid with clear plastic sheet and brailled with the information on that card.

You may be wondering how I played such a game designed for typical people meaning hearing and sighted. Well, my husband told me in fingerspelling what was on each card and even where (I used to see, so I understand visual placement). Using that information, I brailled a piece of clear plastic for each card. I did this in using a regular braille slate and stylus. For example, I also used a larger sheet of plastic to braille a separate “card” using jumbo braille as some older or younger students might need. The sheets are bigger in jumbo braille, of course, but for a blind child or adult playing with children, it is still quite usable. Yes, it can take some time to braille all these cards in either size, but the joy of playing a game and especially a learning game is worth the effort. I have lots of games that I still play with my husband that we have tactiled in various ways. Sometimes, we may even have to modify play slightly, but it doesn’t prevent us from enjoying the game or our quality time together. Be open and creative. It is worth the effort.This is a clear plastic sheet broiled in jumbo braille all the information from a Classical Historian's Go Fish game card.

The Classical Historian sells the card games in three categories: Ancient History, Medieval History, and American History. You will also find on their website, classicalhistorian.com, A Memory game format covering these categories and other curriculum resources. The Go Fish card games are $11.95 each. You will find there is replay value (fun to play again and again) in the games, and the game cards are very durable which makes them worth the price.

I received a copy of the above product to facilitate the writing of a frank and honest review. A positive review is not guaranteed. All opinions are my own. Your results and opinions may vary.

Well, my time on Homeschool Mosaics has arrived again. This month I share part 3, the final part of my series on Cochlear Implants. I may be pushing the controversial card a bit this month, but I hope to encourage all to reflect upon their attitudes of people who are Deaf or DeafBlind who may or may not choose a cochlear implant. The common phrase retorted is often, “God made me deaf. I’m not broken,” can be the signal for an attitude of prejudice or negativity toward those who feel the need to get a Cochlear Implant. My series has been all about thinking about these attitudes that hearing, deaf, Deaf, and deafblind can have and what the consequences can be. Please read, but read with an open mind and heart. Life can be so much easier if we all support each other.

http://homeschoolmosaics.com/god-didnt-make-me-deaf/

Just how are we supposed to answer such big questions from children when they are big questions with no visible, concrete answers even for us? That is especially difficult when you know a lot rides on that answer. One such question is about the existence of God? How do we know God is Really There? is a book by Melissa Cain Travis and illustrated by Christopher Voss and published by Apologia that might get you started with your little ones and maybe, even firm the debate dialogue in your own mind.

Father and son reading the book which is the cover pic of this book.The story is a simple plot that plays out in many bedrooms, kitchens, backyards, and yes, treehouses over and over. A mother and child or a father and child playing and learning together when a child suddenly asks that question that makes our mind jerk to a halt and releases the feelings of inadequacy and even a little fear as the questions of our own spill into our mind. What? How did we get here now? How can I possibly explain this to him when I can’t always put words to this myself? How do I tell her that I just know God exists because I see Him everywhere when He is invisible? Using wonderful illustrations that look drawn by a child and almost real enough to touch the crayon wax and words that fill your mind with awe and lead you through a rational discovery through the known ideas of science to the abstract thinking in a step by step path to the only conclusion that makes sense of a person who chose to create the world and has the power to do it. You end with a pretty powerful answer to that all-important question: How Do We Know God is Really There?

Father and son looking through a telescope at Saturn as they explore God's creation to discover Him as Creator.

The  book’s scientific content does seem a bit weighty for very young children, but it can be a good read-to-me book for five to eight year olds and a good read together book for up to about ten or eleven with some children. The concept though can be used in conversations beyond that age level. Many young children and some special needs children may not get all the deep content the first time, but they will get the gist that can be grown through repeated readings as they grow older. The analogy to to rewinding a video is a humorous way of toning down that weighty science material. if it isn’t enough, the idea might lead you to something even better that your child will understand, so don’t fear giving this book a chance.

Father and son discussing how they can know God is really there by exploring creation to know there is a Creator, God.

You can find this book on Apologia’s web site to get more information or to order. The price is $16.00 for a durable, glossy, full-color hardback copy. That is affordable, but is it worth it? Three parents that I asked to read the book felt it was a great way to handle this tough question. Two students I read it to, including one in ASL, got really big-eyed and curious and really loved the pictures. The book got even the four year old who happened to be listening, too, talking about how “God is so big and can do anything.” That delight was enough for me to make it a part of our library permanently.

I received a copy of the above product to facilitate the writing of a frank and honest review. A positive review is not guaranteed. All opinions are my own. Your results and opinions may vary.

Well, my article for my monthly column on Homeschool Mosaics went live on Friday, but I had a product review due for Mosaics Reviews that day, too, that I had to pass along. So, I am sharing my article for Homeschool Mosaics today. This is part 2 of my three part series on Cochlear Implants. This month, I am answering the question that I am asked repeatedly, “Why do I get a CI?” I hope you will check out my answer. I am attempting to show how this decision is very personal and and individual. No one, not even a doctor, can really decide this issue for someone else. Understanding from the Deaf community, DeafBlind community, and yes, even the Hearing community is desperately needed to help these people and families facing this decision to be better informed and more comfortable living with their decision. Please read!

http://homeschoolmosaics.com/cochlear-implants-not-for-me/

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