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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!
If you are like me, you must have a grade program. I don’t like figuring out the grades, and I need something to keep everything organized digitally because there is too much paper and too many things for a grade not on paper. There are a few homeschool programs out there which are fine, but none that are accessible. Some, though, are just public school oriented re-packaged for homeschoolers which makes them too complex for most homeschoolers to bother. We don’t need discipline logs, parent-teacher conference notes, lunchroom fee modules, and the like. We need something flexible in regards to assignment types, grading styles, and keeps transcripts. Some of us need attendance sections, too, along with simple lesson plan listings. Anyway, flexibility allowing uniqueness is hard to come by in grade programs because most think too much like regular schools. My Home School Grades does an excellent job, is constantly listening to their consumers adding and adjusting, and is accessible, too!
My Home School Grades’, an online program, main appeal is its simplicity. It has an uncluttered view even with numerous students or classes listed on the screen. Though simple and easy to use, the program has the features you need in the homeschooling world. You can have as many students as you need, and each can have as many classes as you like to provide. You can add activities that can include experiments, films, theater, field trips of every destination. That simplicity allows you to have your unique feel to your student’s academics and experiences. You can choose the curriculum descriptions of numerous popular publishers or list yours as custom. You can’t list your description, but if you’d like to suggest that the vendor add that feature or any feature, click support at the top right of the screens and suggest away. They are adding people’s suggestions all the time, so they make it very easy to suggest something to them. In fact, the company is working on including attendance now because consumers suggested it. This company is really listening, so ask away!
Set up of your school information which is used for transcripts takes only a couple of minutes including setting up your name, address, and style of grade display which can be edited any time in the account area along with your password. Then you add your students and their classes in a matter of minutes even if you have several students. When you add a lesson, it is just as simple, and you can list ahead and add grades later or add them as the students complete them. There is nothing complicated here, and it is all easy to find and figure out on your own. But, if you have trouble or if you want to see how easy things are before you buy, check out their tutorials on the steps that are found on the front page of their web site.
You can also designate your classes as Advanced Placement (AP) or Honors which will automatically be given a higher GPA point value by default. You can list your grades by lesson plan for individual assignments and grades or by a single, final grade for the course. If your student is doing Dual Enrollment, you can designate that and list the college where the course is taken. You can adjust credit when applicable for .25, .5, .75, or even 1, 2, 3, or 4 credits depending on the type and schedule of course. You also have an option for non-credit if you just want to list the experience, but no credit is given. You can list the course as full year, Spring, Fall, Summer, or 1st, 2nd, or 3rd Quarter.
Using your student and course data, transcripts are clear and professional showing school name, address, grading scale, course and credit list, total credits, and GPA. The transcript’s second page lists the activities the student has participated in during their academic career. You can export your transcript to a saved file or print for your records. The grading scale calculates the GPA by using 5 points for Honors courses down to 0 for 59 and below and 4 also given for classes you deem as Pass/Fail. I love the fact that Social Security numbers and graduation dates are not stored on the My Home School Gradesserver, but is entered each time you export transcript. You click the settings buttons on the Export Transcript screen and enter the Social Security Number and Graduation date and then hit print. You can print without that information if you desire. Settings options also allow you to hide certain grade levels and activities, if desired.
With these features, you will certainly find My Home School Gradessimple, but flexible and professional for use. In addition, the online program is fully accessible for low vision and screen readers and braille display. At this time of writing, it is the only homeschool grade tracking program that is accessible to my knowledge, and that knowledge is extensive though not complete. There are a few screen reader focus issues with My Home School Grades that hinder navigation slightly like when a pop up screen is present for adding/editing a student or lesson or course, the braille display advance command or the keyboard tab still advances on the back page for several places before finding the pop up page. This is an easy fix, but it needs to be addressed because a blind person will have no way of knowing that the button they clicked actually worked by popping up a screen. Again, it is easy to fix, and I am certain based on the knowledge of the vendors’ customer service reputation which is excellent that this will be handled in the near future. Despite this little hang up, the program is definitely usable by a low vision or blind user, and that makes this reviewer extremely happy.
To make it even better, My Home School Grades works well on most tablets and smartphones connected to the internet. On the iPhone, My Home School Grade’s web app through Safari is also completely accessible to Voice Over and a braille display compatible with Voice Over. You can keep up with activities and lessons while on the go which makes handling your homeschool even easier.
Now, it is your turn. You can check out My Home School Grades on their web site at https://myhomeschoolgrades.com. You can try it out for a 14 day free trial, see how the online program works with their tutorials on their home page, and get the facts on their “Learn More” page. The price is one of the best things about this program because you get a lifetime membership for just $49.99. With that, you are set for all of your students throughout their homeschool years.
You probably haven’t thought about the notion of a waterproof Bible. Unless you have activities in your life where you want to take the Word with you into the world beyond Church, you probably are thinking, “Why on earth do you need it waterproof? You going to throw it in the river?” Well, I won’t purposely, but if I fall in crossing that river with my cloth backpack, everything in it including my Bible will get soaked. For that reason, I often left it home longing for it in those quiet moments seeing God’s glory displayed in the vistas surrounding me. Or, when I was Scoutmaster along with my husband of an active, high adventure type troop, I took it to always have it handy for an opportune moment on the trail to teach, and for those Sunday “A Scout is Reverent” moments of instruction, worship, and praise only to have ti torn, soaked, stained, and unreadable after several months on the trails. I hated to see God’s Word used well, but abused in the process. Bardin and Marsee Publishing thought the same and solved the problem with The Waterproof Bible.
I got to test one out recently. I have to admit that it wasn’t easy to put that Bible through the paces of seeming torture. It just doesn’t sit well with me to abuse the Word of the One, true God. This was for a good cause though, proving the claims of the company, so I could tell you whether it was worth buying this product if you are an outdoorsy, adventurous type or just want a Bible you can read while in the tub. Still, it wasn’t easy. In fact, I couldn’t do it myself. My son’s fiancé, Rachel, had to take over the reins for this little project. I am quite appreciative, too. We dunked the Bible in the pool, and it floated. Phew! I am glad because I sure didn’t want to dive in that cold water of March to retrieve it. I would have seriously regretted not thinking about trying it in the tub first. We retrieved it easily as it floated to the other side of the pool. The Bible was wet, but the pages weren’t soaked at all. The water just beaded up on it and were shook off with a good fan of the pages. Of course, that isn’t even close to what I could put a Bible through on the trail, so Rachel took that Bible and ground it into mud, Georgia red clay, mud, mind you, which is the archenemy of every mother in Georgia! It is almost impossible to get rid of those stains. Whew! The Waterproof Bible came through again! We just rinsed it off, and the mud came off from the cover, the edges, and the inside pages with ease. There were none of the stains we all know so well even from a quick, dunking in the wet muds of Georgia. Coke, grape juice, milk spills later were no match for the survival skills of this Bible. All washed away with not one even dim stain or ring. Then came the ultimate test. I put the again soaked with water Bible in a dark bag for a while as a Scout would have to do on a trail and left it for a long while. I got it out in a few days, and not only was it dry, but it wasn’t mildewed or stained in any way. You can’t beat that at all!
With the smaller, but clear, crisp font, The Waterproof Bible is just the right size to carry with you without adding a lot of extra weight or bulkiness. It truly is the perfect Bible for the trial and other outdoor activities. They have several Bible versions available: ESV-English Standard Version, KJV-King James, NIV-New International, NKJV-New King James, and NLT-New Living Translation. They have pink and blue pastel covers and a few outdoorsy camo-inspired covers, too. You also have a choice of the full Bible or just New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs. You can also personalized the covers with names, too, for an additional fee. if you wish, or organizations cam imprint with name and/or logo also for an additional fee. Full Bibles are $44.95 and NT, Ps, and Pr. editions are $24.95. Now, my only request would be for a larger print version and even an extra large print version (for low vision readers) just so we don’t have to worry about carrying our Bibles in the rain, and yes, for reading in the tub!
For more information, go to the Bardin Marsee Publishing web site.