Saturday, June 27, 2015

Guest Post: How to Learn Geometry by JK Mergens

I am thrilled with today's guest post.  Today's guest post is from JK Mergens  the author of the Learn Math Fast System.  JK visted us last summer here at Ohio Homeschool.   At the end of the post JK  gives us a code for to get $5 off. 

Scooby Doo and the gang are well known for solving mysteries.  Just by looking at the clues, Velma and Daphne could figure out the crook’s name even before they removed his mask.  Geometry is solved the same way.  Just by looking at the clues, you can figure out the size of an angle without using a protractor.  All you have to do is learn the clues.  In geometry, these clues are called Postulates and Theorems and you can easily learn them all by using five “Smart Cards” and Volume VII of the Learn Math Fast System.

What are “Smart Cards?”  They are full size pages that list all the rules (theorems and postulates) taught in each chapter of our high school geometry book along with a small drawing to help you recall each one.  Many theorems are written as an “If…then” statement.  For example, IF a shape has three sides, THEN it is a triangle.  When you switch around the “if” and the “then,” you get the converse statement; IF the shape is a triangle, THEN it has three sides.  That converse statement creates one more rule to memorize.   The “Smart Cards” combine these two types of statements to cut the work in half.  There are a few simple postulates that are rarely used in a formal proof, so those have been omitted from the Smart Cards to help streamline the number of “clues” you need to memorize.

In addition to the five Smart Cards, there are four Postulate Cards in the back pocket of the book.  These cards reinforce the most commonly used rules (Postulates) by highlighting them on their own card along with a unique drawing to help students visualize the “clues.”  Having these visuals nearby helps students retain all the clues they must learn in order to solve geometry problems. 



Typically, theorems are given a number, such as Theorem 3.1.  But that doesn’t help us learn the theorem; it just gives us one more thing to memorize.  The Learn Math Fast System doesn’t assign numbers to each rule.  Instead, they are organized into five categories:  Angles, Triangles, Quadrilaterals, Polygons, and Circles.  The five chapters in the book are organized the same way.  Each chapter thoroughly explains every theorem and postulate on the corresponding Smart Cards with lots of examples and illustrations.

Once you realize that every geometry problem is just a little mystery waiting to be solved, it doesn’t seem so scary.  Seeing the Theorems listed in categories makes it clear to see how many of them go together or are alike in some way, eliminating the amount of information that needs to be memorized.  All of these cards are included with every copy of The Learn Math Fast System, Volume 7 to help take the fear out of learning geometry.  Shaggy and the gang were always afraid of monsters that never really existed.  Once the mystery was solved, they realized there was nothing to be afraid of after all.  Geometry is the same way; it’s not a monster, it’s just a mystery that needs to be solved.

The promo code OHIO is valid for the rest of the year and it is worth $5 off any order. Expires December 31.2015.

JK Mergens is the author of the Learn Math Fast System, a series of six books that teach 1st - 11th grade math using the unique methods she created to teach her son.  JK has been married to Mick, her high school sweetheart, for almost thirty years.  Together they homeschooled their only son in the beautiful state of Washington.  Her articles have been published in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, Red Deer’s Child Magazine, Edmonton’s Child Magazine, and in the June 2014 issue of the Washington State Homeschool Organization’s (WHO) Newsletter.  Her seventh book, High School Geometry, will be released later this year.  Please visit her website

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Quantum Spot academy: A physics resource.

I am so excited to share with you about Quantum SPOT academy by Parker Ruth a fellow homeschool student.  Read below to learn more!   This is an excellent resource for all students.  I hope you check it out.  


The mission of Quantum Spot Academy is to provide the inspiration, resources, and environment for students to develop an interest in physics and explore it for fun. By means of videos and a website with additional resources, I will introduce the basics of contemporary physics concepts like quantum mechanics, relativity, and the standard model. I hope to foster a love of physics and, more generally, a love for learning.

Ever since I was very young I have wanted answers to life’s biggest mysteries. Almost by accident, I stumbled upon physics and was delighted by the clarity that it provided. I quickly developed a passion for physics and wanted to share it with other people. I gave a talk at my homeschool coop about antimatter, which was very well received. That experience sparked the initial concept of my project, which was then matured and clarified as I prepared for being part of the Ambassador Program.

Physics is a useful tool and a foundation for technology, but physics is also a way of thought. It sharpens one’s understanding and builds a methodology of analytical and abstract thinking. To me, physics is much more than a set of models; it is the ultimate effort of humankind to understand our observations of the universe. Physics represents all that is certain, all that is possible, and all that we can be. It has inspired me and it is my sincere hope that it inspires others as well.

When I’m not developing Quantum Spot Academy, I can be found learning about physics, playing the piano, eating frozen mangoes, listening to Great Courses lectures, juggling, programming in Python, and talking to people.
Parker Ruth

Quoted from the Davidson Website. 

Saturday, June 13, 2015

More Q & A

I have been getting some questions on how to send things to me.  I thought this post might help. 

1.  Would you rather I send you my material by email or postal mail?

It makes absolutely no difference to me.  Really. ☺  Do whatever is easiest for your family.  I am happy to accommodate you either way. 

2. What digital files can you read?

I am able to open PDF, Word, and JPEG files.  If you have a Macintosh computer your best bet is PDF.  I do have trouble when people send me zipped Mac files.  I also can not read Works files. 

3.  How should I send digital files to you?

First, you should group them by subject.   I need all the math together, writing together, etc.  You can send them by email, you can upload them to Dropbox, you can share a Google file with me, and you can share with me on Google Plus privately (so only I can read it).  You can send me a disk or memory stick with your files on it as well.  There are many options.

4.  Can you help me figure out how to home educate, make a transcript, or fill out the Letter of Intent?

At this time I am not helping my families home educate or fill out Letters of Intent.  I only review portfolio assessments.  My blog is filled with helpful tips, and I have a post on filing out the Letter of Intent to Home Educate.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Portfolio or Standardized Test?

A question I receive often is “Should I give my home educated student a standardized test at the end of the year, or complete a narrative portfolio assessment to fulfill the end of the year requirement for homeschooling in Ohio?”   I usually reply it depends on what kind of information you hope to gain.   One way to look at this question is to think “Do you want one picture of one moment in time, or a running movie with many pictures taken over time? “

A standardized test is a “snapshot “of a student at one moment in time.  A standardized test is scored in a consistent manner so you are able to compare your student to a group of students in the same grade who have taken the same test.  You usually receive a percentile ranking which tells you what percentage of the students taking the test your student scored better than.  For instance, if your student was in the 33rd percentile in math then your child scored better than 33 percent of students in the sample group from the publisher who took this test in math.
A standardized test is limited in that it is more likely to tell you what your student does not know versus what they do know or have learned this year.  A standardized test also dictates what the publisher feels is important for your student to know.  It does not take into account what your student has learned this past year.
A narrative portfolio assessment is a group of work samples that reflect your student’s growth and progress over the last year.   It consists of many “snapshots” that come together to reflect what your student has accomplished this year.  You, as parent educator, get to showcase what your student has accomplished this year.
Besides celebrating what your student has accomplished, a portfolio also helps you to plan instruction for the next year.   For instance, you realize you concentrated on learning your math facts, but did not spend as much time learning how to solve word problems.   Next year, you commit to working on more problem solving.  You look at your book list and notice that your student has mainly read adventure stories this past year.  You commit to introducing him/her to biographies, non-fiction, and or some poetry next year to vary his/her reading diet.   I believe this is time well spent.  You are assessing your student’s needs and planning instruction based on those needs.
A narrative portfolio assessment also gives you a chance to present what your child has accomplished to a certified Ohio teacher.  My hope is that when I review your student’s work I bring a different “set of eyes” to your student’s portfolio.   As an assessor, I try to provide encouragement to parents, insight into your student’s growth, and provide feedback to help you plan future instruction for your child.   My goal is to partner with you to celebrate your student’s accomplishments and encourage you on your home education journey.

Please click here to get started.