Thursday, May 24, 2018

Guest Post: Internet Kids Road Trip

I was excited to learn about this book. Welcome Anna Blake to Ohio Homeschooling this week!

The story behind our family project started about 12 month ago when our home office computer was badly damaged by a ransomware virus. We lost most of our photos and important documents due to gruesome act of the hackers.

At the time, our son Max was only 6 months old, and some of the photos we lost were his newborn one’s. So, that virus not only damaged our files, it stole our most precious memories.

That’s when it hit me, in a world where electronic devices have become our best friends, it’s inevitable for our kids to follow our footsteps. As we all know, the online world is full of dangers, be it sex offenders, identity theft, or ransomware viruses, our kids are as vulnerable as ever. I guess because we just recently had our first kid, both me and my hubby became especially paranoid about kid safety. Plus, all those scary stories you see in the news on daily basis.

Did you know that law enforcement officials estimate that more than 50,000 sexual predators are online at any given moment?

After surveying dozens of parents that we personally knew with kids ages 6-10, we realized that 90% of them do not supervise their kids’ online activities, and those that do, do not educate their kids about risks associated with the online world. However, all of them showed interest in our idea of an educational book that talks to kids through a captivating storyline and colorful illustrations about the internet. I guess it’s easier for all of us to let some book educate our kids instead of us doing it in person :)

That’s how “Internet Kids - Road Trip”, a book about staying safe online, was born. From the getgo we’ve decided that both printed and electronic versions of the book will be absolutely free (we even pay for shipping). This way, we can get it into as many hands of little girls and boys as possible.

During the past few months, we’ve worked with a published kids book writer to come up with a storyline and address all safety concerns that we’ve collected from our mommy surveys. My husband and his very talented sister hand drew all characters and came up with the illustrations. For a while our home looked like a publishing house, with hand sketches all over my kitchen countertops, bathrooms and even under our pillows. Max would steal them from the office desk and try to hide pages whenever he could.

I’m happy to say that our first batch of 1,000 books is currently in print (YAY!) and we have a waitlist of schools that agreed to distribute them to their students. Still, that is just a drop in the huge ocean of readers nationwide that will hopefully benefit from it. Meanwhile, we’ve started to work on our next book series, focusing on another touching subject, kids bullying.

As Kofi Annan once said, “Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.”

I wish all of you and your families to stay safe and have wonderful experiences such as family road trips :)

If you would like to get a free copy of “Internet Kids - Road Trip” book, please visit:

About Anna Blake
Anna is a stay at home mom, wife and owner of very demanding cat, from sunny Chatsworth, California. When she is not busy chasing her 2 year old around, you can find her trying out new salad recipes or re-watching favorite chick-flick movies.
Together with her hubby they educate kids and adults about internet safety through their website and recently created an educational children's book "Internet Kids - Road Trip".

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Unschooling Assessments

I am still completing assessments!  For the 2017-2018 school year I will be happy to  review your student's work and send you the signature page that you need for your district.  I will not be able to write notes this year due to our son's  Stage 4 Ewing Sarcoma(cancer) diagnosis. We are going through treatment currently.  Thank you for your patience and support during this time.  Please know I am happy to work with your family.  


I really enjoy reading the freestyle assessments I receive.  They are so interesting.   People often ask me for some ideas on what to write and send.  The following is what I have shared with them. Hopefully it will help you as well.

I have seen freestyle assessments written in many different ways.  The key thing is to show the progress your child has made from last July/August to now.  Ohio law says the child must make progress within their ability.  So when I do this for my kids I try to think through the following questions.  How have they changed? What can they do now that they could not do a few months ago, several months ago, and a year ago?   What do I have demonstrates this? (pictures, samples etc.)  Lastly, what can I share that communicates this? 

As far as writing up the assessment, I have seen them set up by subject, by project, and just sharing progress. The following are some ideas to get you started.  I think once you get started you will be surprised at how much you have to share.

If you write by subject you might write about the following.  I am going to give many examples to choose from.  Please do not feel you need to use all of them.  These are to spur your thinking about your year.

Reading:  Share the books your child has read or you have read to them. Maybe share a series they are into like the Boxcar Children, Arthur, or Henry and Mudge.  What magazines do they enjoy reading?  Are there web sites they enjoy visiting and reading?  What  your child is reading now versus the beginning of the year communicates the progress they have made.

Writing/Handwriting If your child is writing tell me what they are writing. Tell me if they are making lists, writing their name, writing stories, labeling pictures, writing letters etc.  If they are older, tell me about their creative writing, poetry, or journaling.  Send me a sample.   Do they write a blog, email letters to Grandma, or maybe record in a nature journal?   Tell me about it, send me a link, send a sample, or take a picture of it.

Math: Share how your child is telling time, working with money, adding or subtracting, multiplying or dividing, using percents, and/or measuring.  Tell me about activities your child participates in like cooking, grocery shopping, or building with blocks or LEGOS ©.  Share games with me that you play that involve math.   If you happen to do any worksheets you can always send in one from the beginning of the year and the end.

Science/Social Studies/History/Art/ Music/PE: For younger kids you might share experiences to demonstrate progress.  You write  about the museums you have visited, zoo visits, park trips, neighborhood walks, nature walks, music lessons, and any sports your child may participate in.  Do you attend the YMCA to swim each week?  Do you attend an art class?  Tell me about books they have read or you have read together, if they have completed any projects, or art work your child has created.  This is a great place to include pictures.   For older students share what they have learned this year, a class they have taken, and/or a research project they have been working on.  Having your child write a summary of what they have learned is a fantastic way to demonstrate progress.

Another way share your student's progress is to write up your assessment by project.  For instance you worked on a community or family garden together.  You discuss how you pre-planned by getting books from the library and  reading about plants, your internet research, the garden store you visited,  how you measured the rows, how you prepared the soil, did you count the plants, if you sold them the skills you used,  and anything else that your child learned.  You might include pictures of your child working in the garden, some notes your child took while researching, and a list of books your child read.  You might share the 1-3 projects that your family used to facilitate learning for the year.  Then maybe you share about trips, nature walks, park visits, any type of lesson, and art you do.  

You are trying to showcase what your child has accomplished this year.  Usually when I sit down and think about all we have  learned, I am excited about the progress my kids have made.   If you are working on learning most days you have made progress. This is your chance to celebrate by sharing it with me.

If I can help you in anyway let me know. Link to Freestyle Assessment 

I accept Portfolios year round, and will send you the form you need for your district.  


Thursday, May 10, 2018

Narrative Portfolio Assessments Q & A

I am still completing assessments!  For the 2017-2018 school year I will be happy to  review your student's work and send you the signature page that you need for your district.  I will not be able to write notes this year due to our son's  Stage 4 Ewing Sarcoma(cancer) diagnosis. We are going through treatment currently.  Thank you for your patience and support during this time.  Please know I am happy to work with your family.  

Ohio homeschool law states "The parent(s) shall send to the superintendent an academic assessment report of the child for the previous school year at the time of supplying subsequent notification."  A parent in Ohio has three choices on what they may send a with their homeschool notification.  1). Results of a nationally normed, standardized achievement test.  2) A written narrative indicating that a portfolio of samples of the child’s work has been reviewed and that the child’s academic progress for the year is in accordance with the child’s abilities. (3) An alternative academic assessment of the child’s proficiency mutually agreed upon by the parent and the superintendent. (please note my understanding is that you would have needed to work this out with your superintendent last year when you sent in your homeschool notification.)

A written narrative is an option for an assessment report.  You have a certified Ohio teacher review work samples of your student's work to determine if your child has made progress in accordance with his/her ability last year.  The assessor then signs a form verifying that your student has  made progress, and you send that form to your school's superintendent along with your intent to homeschool the coming  year.

I am a homeschool mom who is also a certified Ohio teacher.  I am able to review your child's work samples, and send you the forms you need to send to your school district with your intent to home educate.    I enjoy reviewing work samples and love getting a chance to see the many different ways people home educate their children.  The following are a few common questions I hear in regards to narratives.

What if my student  is not reading?
You may send me a list of books you have read aloud  to your student, maybe the progress they have made in a phonics program,  and/or how many sight words that they know now as compared to the beginning of the year.

What if I do not have physical samples that are easy to send to you?
You are welcome to take a picture,send me a link to a YouTube video, or write up what your student learned in that area.  I have enjoyed power point presentations, pictures of field trips and community gardens, and wonderfully written explanations about unit studies and cooking projects.  If you have questions on how to communicate what your student accomplished, please contact me.

What are you looking for?
I am looking for progress. I like to see that your student is completing  more complex math problems than he/she did at the  beginning of the year, I look at handwriting and writing samples to observe growth, and learn a great deal about your student from looking at the books they are reading now as compared to the ones they read in beginning of the year. I look at how your student has changed.   I do not look to see if you completely finished your history text book, made at least one salt relief map of a continent, and/or  if your bookshelves are organized by the Dewey Decimal system.  I am looking  for progress in your student by viewing his/her work samples.    (But, if your bookshelves are organized that way I would love to see a picture and know how you did it. )

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.

 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.

 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).   If you have a link to a Facebook group of pictures with samples that will work as well.   You can send me a disk or thumb drive with your files on it as well.  There are many options.

 Can you help me figure out how to home educate or fill out the Letter of Intent?

At this time I am not helping my families home educate or fill out the 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.

I want to support you on your  home education journey.  I greatly enjoy helping other homeschool families. Let me know if I can help you this year!  Click here for how to get started.

Becky Boerner
Mom to 7 home educated children,  M Ed. in Reading Education.

Another  post  I have written dealt with standardized testing vs. a written narrative.  You may enjoy reading  if you are still pondering on what you would like to do for this year.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Repost: Montessori # 2 Pictures!

I had so many little ones when I wrote this post!  I can't believe I made it!  I no longer have the garage room, but I still have the shelves, now they are filled with bigger kid books.   I had so much fun at this point in life.          

 I am not a Montessori teacher nor do I play one on TV, but I really enjoy integrating Montessori ideas into my homeschool.  I wanted to  share a few pictures with you of our Montessori area in my "garage room" as my kids like to call it. (The garage room is our garage that has been converted into a room since our 12 passenger van would not fit into our garage.)  I bought the big shelves at IKEA and the smaller ones are Closet-maid shelves  from Target.   I try to switch the activities around weekly.   Some weeks go better than others.  I try to do actual Montessori activities and some other activities that practice skills or ideas we are working on.  The kids set out their mats and work on them.  All parts to the activity must be kept on the mat, and you may not walk on anyone's mat.   

This side if my long shelf pictures below has Language Arts and Social Studies activities.  I have a short vowel exercise from Montessori for Everyone; I have sight words with alphabet letters underneath.;  A snow craft where you rip white paper and make snow flakes; a vintage Geo Safari with a Holiday card; a Handwriting without Tears writing board and letters; a xylophone you assemble and play (thrift store)

Picture of entire shelf.  

These are usually transfer activities.  Starting at the top left and going across- transfer corn with small scoop. (found souffle cups and scooper used) ; Plastic soap holder and beads with tongs to put in the circles; Middle: Bean transfer with vase and pitcher; Bottom: Mats(small rugs bought at IKEA) clothes pins put on bowl (from My Montessori Journey)
Hopefully this gives you an idea of what our area looks like.  This is not our entire curriculum for the little ones, but it is a big part of it.  It has been a good fit for our family.