Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Role of the ACT

Intent: How do I open all the doors so my child could attend ANY school, take advantage of the highest educational opportunities and receive scholarships through an academic route since my children were not interested in putting in the effort to become a competitive musician, actor or athlete. 

Since the possibility of obtaining an associates degree is available,  I determined we would aim for that. The fact that the state of Utah also provides the New Century Scholarship is a bonus. 

How do I prepare my children to get the associates degree in high school?   First,  I see middle school as high school for my kids.  I don't believe in redundancy so my kids move forward not backward in their math, English and science. You can see a chart of possible ways to achieve the associates degree here.

Refusing to shut any doors and possibilities,  I researched the highest requirements and prepared my children to attend a closed enrollment school. This included the ACT. Some people are unaware of the truth of the ACT and the influence of this test.  Here's what I found in Utah:

Closed Enrollment:

U of U 
Minimum for admission: ACT 21-27 comp

Utah State University-
Transcript or GED
GPA default 3.5
Minimum for admission: ACT 17  comp
SAT 820
required for 24 years and below - no Act 25 years or older

weight placed on ACT 
average ACT  28 comp

Minimum for admission: ACT 20 or higher average 24 comp
SAT 613

Western Governors University- online education:
interesting pay by time not course or credits
Considers college experience CLEP, AP and work experience
This college focuses upon working adults not graduating seniors
College entrance exam with essay question online Test score no ACT score

Open enrollment Universities: 

Southern Utah
Minimum for admission: ACT 20
Admission index

Accuplacer for 20 years or older
ACT/SAT required no minimum score but determines placement

Weber State
ACT not mandatory used for placement
Transfer less than 30 credit hours

Dixie State
uses: ACT (cost approximately $50) /SAT/CPT
if no ACT the ACT residual required for scholarships  cost for test $100
Transfer less than 24 credits

Snow College
ACT required or ACT residual test 

Salt Lake Community College
ACT or Accuplacer used for placement

Applied Technology College Campuses

Link to other possibilities:

Helping my children see the big picture of what they need to know to prepare for a closed enrollment school, I allowed my kids to take the ACT early. My children's homeschooling experience did not include high stake testing. I wanted to expose them to what is expected,  remove any test anxiety and any other possible issues prior to exposing it on applications.  I don't teach to the test.  I just expose them to it. To make sure the score only came to me I used the homeschool identifying code of 969999.  

I allow them to take it in 8th grade (13 year old) as a game.  It effects nothing- not what I teach, where I teach or how their peers will look at them. It is merely a puzzle. Anything that comes of it is a bonus. ACT will allow a child to test as young as 13.  

Some parents have children who need access to more challenging courses earlier and need to be empowered to get what they really need for their child. I have learned there are places that allow children to be tested as young as 4th grade.  For example: Duke Tip provides this testing, camps and even recognition to children who are achieving in this manner.  Here is a list ACT recommends:

Allowing them to take the test early has provided some benefits. First, It has allowed me to demonstrate my children's capabilities to counselors or anyone who questions my intentions or my children's desires.  Since the schools or counselors are unfamiliar with my student, this is the only thing that speaks to them.  It is unbiased and nationally recognized.

Second,  the score allowed me to see that I really wasn't doing too badly in comparison to the public system altogether.  Since homeschooling was so new to me,  I was unsure of how my children compared. As the public system gets dumbed down farther and farther, more children will be able to succeed and look brighter and brighter if the parents are proactive in their child's education. 

Fortunately, in Utah there are ways to make sure your child can move forward rather than backward through dual enrollment, online schools, co operative learning groups, independent study and more. See What Are My Options? blogpost.  Unfortunately, the laws are primarily available for 9-12 grades through the public system. Charter schools are still struggling to do so due to funding. I would love to see more options readily available for 7-8th grade since this is crucial time to keeping their interest. 

Things are slowly changing to make all options available.   Sadly, the changes are coming far too late for my own children but the possibilities are coming for others.  If the parents will continue to be their student's champion, we will see public education become a marketplace of opportunities to learn not necessarily a babysitter.  

So…. What happens if you want to avoid the ACT all together and attend a closed enrollment school?  There are ways.  But the results may not be in the timing or as cost effective as most would prefer.  You can wait till you are 25 to go to Utah State University and then transfer.  You could go to a open enrollment school like Snow where they can use placement exams but unfortunately many of those placement exams are associated with ACT i.e.  the Compas, Accuplacer or PLAN.  The other issue at hand is scholarships.  At this time, I am unaware of any transfer scholarships to a closed enrollment school.  There appears to be scholarships options after the first year of attendance at the school but not until then.  There is also another possibility especially if you have money to spare- take the accuplacer or compas at your local community college and start there and skip the whole public school issue altogether.  

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Reason for Writing: Experience based writing

I find it so odd that children in public school are told to write on subjects they have no experience.  The teacher just grabs subjects out of her head hoping a large number of students can write on the subject.  I remember as child thinking to myself, the only way I can make these entries interesting is by making up details.  Making up details in the public system now a days can be dangerous.  False accusations and more can happen. Others struggle with writing because they just don't know what to say. First because of the lack of experience. They don't have the time to get out.  Their whole life is the public classroom, the kitchen table,  television or computer and a bed.  I knew I wanted to give my children real life experiences and understanding of the world.  I wanted them to learn about history not from a book but to walk similar paths.  For science, I didn't want them to read about the reactions in an experiment.  I wanted them to see and experience it as close and as safely as possible.  I wanted them to see the world and cultures through experience not a book.  Not only did I want them to appreciate the diversity of all the good that is out there, I wanted to give them a reason to write.

With that reason,  I wanted them to develop the vocabulary to express themselves.  They needed to have a voice and an opinion.  I knew that those people with smaller vocabularies have a harder time expressing, getting what they truly desire and are more easily manipulated or defrauded.  I also know that some people use explicatives because they don't have the vocabulary to really express the passion and feelings they really have.

With this need to truly communicate, understand others and express themselves,  I found that a safe journaling experience could give this and more.  I knew that they would forever have records of the memories and learning we experienced.  Thus here are my notes regarding my writing portion of playing with purpose.  There are so many learning opportunities out there.  Especially in Utah- go here to see the list I refer to on a regular basis or click on the field trips tab above to take a look at the opportunities. Keeping a record of them not only provides memories but shows progress in a very non intimidating way.

Much of what I teach is in the class but here are the slides for the presentation:

Explore and Journaling PRESO- quick time movie
Explore and Journaling- pdf

Graphic organizers for brainstorming:


 I wanted to help my children develop a sense of independence and know what was expected. Not only did I wanted to make sure each child knew exactly what they needed to do, since I tend to confuse and mix the names during times of stress, I also needed to know what I had told my children.  It made it easy to follow through.   My husband created this spreadsheet planner to help us organize our lives.  Each editable excel spreadsheet was individualized for each child. A blank pdf spreadsheet is found here.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Avoiding the MIddle School Blues and Beyond

Well,  Here's an attempt to put many of the things I have learned in one place regarding avoiding the middle school dull drums and handing many of the opportunities over to your student.  May it help you to feel in control all the while you are empowering your child for their future. Often we just don't know where our resources are and here is my attempt to get you started in moving forward with grades 7-12 here in Utah.

Here are the slides from our class June 19th, 2014.  Anything underlined should go directly to a weblink for further information.

Avoiding Middle School Blues

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

So you wanna homeschool: Elementary Years

After discussing the keys to effective homeschool families, we have now moved down into more specific items of the different ages.  This is the slide show from the Elementary Years with links to various elements to get you started.

Elementary Years Keynote 

Elementary Years PDF's

Saturday, June 7, 2014

What's a Dad to Do?

Rob and I had the opportunity to talk together of how we worked as a team to create our homeschool environment.  Often in a homeschool environment the mom's take over the whole of running the household and the dad brings home the bacon.  Well in our home,  Mom still ruled the roost but Dad was the sweet spot and the maple syrup on our bacon!  He made the biggest difference.  And this is how he did it.  Here  I have him share some of his ideas that worked for us in developing a fun and loving learning environment. Click on the link below and you will find his presentation notes.  Hope it gets the ideas flowing of how you could make a difference.

What's Dad to Do? UHEA class June 7th, 2014

Friday, June 6, 2014

Taking Control of Your Child's Education

This is my second year in teaching about the observations and keys I learned as I watched and participated with successful homeschool families.  To help those who attended my presentation at UHEA June 6-7th,  I have made my slides available.

Taking Control of your Child's Education: Keys to Effective Homeschooling June 6 2014

Teen: Path to Independence

My daughter McKenzie, tested out of her first high school diploma at 12 years of age.  She received the actual diploma at age 13.  With her motivation to learn, I knew I needed to know how I could best prepare her to survive as an independent adult earlier than I anticipated.  To do so, through various conversations, books and my experiences as President of Wasatch Home Educators Network,  I created a list of things that I felt were skills needed to be mastered to be a successful independent adult.  Here is the pdf notes from my UHEA class taught Friday June 6, 2014.

Teens: The Magic Number 

Here you will find:

Secrets often not shared with teenagers until it slaps them in the face.
A list of areas and skills that will help a adult survive independently.
And resources to help make decisions regarding the options and resources available to continue on that path.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Concurrent Enrollment (CE), Distance Learning and Live Interactive

Distance Learning (also called Live Interactive) is through the Distance Education department on UVU's campus. When the courses are offered in the high school during regular school hours, these courses can be taken by high school students for Concurrent Enrollment.  Concurrent Enrollment refers to classes that students can take for BOTH high school and college credit.

Distance learning courses are Live Interactive courses, where a UVU professor is being broadcast in real-time to high school classrooms. It is interactive where students can talk to the professor through a microphone. These courses are offered on the UVU schedule, however, so they are not on the regular high school A/B schedule, so times can vary. They are offered either MWF (Mon, Wed, Fri)  or TR (Tues/Thurs) and do not match up with most of the regular school bell schedule.

Concurrent Enrollment courses are taught by a UVU-approved high school instructor using the college curriculum and offered on the regular high school schedule. These are much easier for students to fit into their schedule, but these courses are limited at each high school, depending on what courses their teachers are approved to teach.  There are usually a lot Distance Learning courses to choose from.  Go to here:

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Homeschooling: So What Are My Options?

Holy smoly!  This is a great time to homeschool and for a parent to take their child's education by the reins!  And there is no better place than Utah.  I have decided to put together a list of the options available that I am aware of to meet the needs of your student. Click on the links for more details.
Choice in Education provides a list of some of the possibilities.
HSLDA has a comprehensive list of curriculum. 

Beside the text book curriculum (reviews) available nationwide in Utah county you have:

For example in Utah county:
Homeschool ING  yahoo group- Provo
SUCH-Spanish Fork, Payson
UThsers- South Utah County
George Mueller facebook group

• Free curriculum and book lists

• Brick and mortar public schools
        Open enrollment "All public schools are open to any Utah student so long as they have capacity as defined by each school district’s average class size.  HB 348 also requires school districts to publish school capacity online and to grant requests without discrimination."

• Brick and mortar private schools
• Brick and mortar charter schools
• Dual enrollment
                  Section 53A-11-102.5 Allows for homeschooling child to enroll in a brick and mortar or online school while being homeschooled. This is called dual enrollment

• Online or Virtual options- 3 classes plus 1 credit seminary= 4 total credits
You can see a comparison here.

Elementary school
Utah Online (Washington Online)
Utah Virtual Academy K12
Provo eschool
Alpine Online
Canyon Grove
Connections Academy

Middle School
Mountain Heights
Utah Online
Utah Virtual Adademy
Provo eschool
Alpine Online
Canyon Grove Distance Learning
Electronic High School ( no Credit)
Liahona- Lds Based
Connections Academy
Williamsburg Intermediate

High School-(Most are familiar with the four year high school diploma, but since most Utah high schools are 10-12 grade thus three years, they are able to offer a three year diploma.  It is referred to as the "three year cohort rate" diploma. )

Mountain Heights
Utah Virtual Academy
Provo eschool
Utah Online
East Shore Online
Utah Students Connect
Liahona- (LDS based)
Connections Academy
Williamsburg Academy
Early College Online

Some of my favorites:
Variety of Online courses for 9-12th grade to mix with any school especially if you have a child pursuing both the Utah accredited diploma and his/her own interests:

Opportunities for those involved in the arts in Utah County: Pioneer High School for the Performing Arts 

Fantastic for blending both brick and mortar school, online and special individual interests in 9-12th grades: StatewideOnline Education program

Computer Programming/Premed training courses:
ALC- Springville

• Brigham Young University
                Independent Study
                Concurrent Enrollment

You can even go beyond high school.  How about an associates degree at the same time you get your high school diploma?  (New Century or Regents scholarship) This can be done through Concurrent Enrollment (CE) courses, Advance Placement exams, and online. To do this you can see my excel spread sheet.  To understand more about these options read through the slides Avoiding the Middle School Blues and Beyond.

To learn the difference between Distance Education, CE Live Interactive and Concurrent Enrollment go here.

• UVU Distance Education-  for a list classes that are taught online at the following locations:
Advanced Learning Center
American Fork High School
American Leadership Academy
Legacy Preparatory Academy
Lehi High School
Liberty Academy
Lonepeak High School
Merit Academy
Mountain View High School
North Summit
Orem High School
Pioneer High School for the Performing Arts
Pleasant Grove High School
Provo High School
Rockwell Charter High School
South Summit High School
Timpanogos High School
Timpview High School
Walden High School
Wasatch High School
West Lake High School

• Concurrent Enrollment/Distance Education locations besides your local high school
Cache Center

Charter schools offering full time enrollment for associates degree:
(You can enter in the below programs at age 16 usually. Also you can request the three year "cohort" diploma.) 

If taking AP courses, to apply towards your associates degree, you will need to verify with the college to course equivalency.  AP Equivalencies for UVU
To verify a professor is who you want to take a class from you can go to Rate My Professor


There are two types of transcripts. Accredited and non accredited. Accredited you get through an accredited institution.  Your public high schools have to be accredited.  Not all elementary, middles schools, charter or private schools are accredited.  As a homeschooler you can make a non accredited transcript. All concurrent enrollment and distance ed classes are considered accredited. 

• Keep track of everything high school student does (Home school classes, clubs, volunteering, lessons, reading, interests, sports, music, church activities, personal progress, scouts, mock trial, commonwealth/mom’s school, entrepreneurial projects, travel, home economics: cooking, sewing, nutrition, farm/animal/garden chores)
• Organize required classes by grade level or subject- give it an official class name meeting graduation requirements, and dates completed.

If using a non accredited transcript you determine the graduation requirements. For an Accredited Utah Diploma the Graduation Requirements for High School are determined by the USOE.  

• Include all necessary personal information: Child’s name, birthdate, SSN, address, etc.
• Have a cumulative GPA calculated on a 4 point scale.
• Include the graduation date only AFTER the student has graduated. Prior to graduation, an “anticipated graduation date” can be listed.
• Keep in a copy in a safe place available for the life of the student.
• Sign and date the finished transcript as the “School Principal.”
• Mail the college the transcript in a sealed envelope with the principal’s (parent’s) signature over seal.
• Have the home school name and address on the outside of the envelope.

*If you do not choose to assign grades to your child’s home school transcript, some universities and colleges will give you a default GPA. For instance, Weber State University assigns home schoolers with a 3.5 GPA.
It would be good to know what that default GPA is.

View copies below to get formatting ideas: There are many homeschool transcript templates available on-line as well as some very good record-keeping options that prepare transcripts for you for a small fee.

So with all these options it can seem paralyzing.  The questions to ask your student is: 
Do you want to graduate with a high school diploma? 
Do you want to graduate early?
Do you want to go to college? What type of college- closed enrollment, open enrollment or tech? (If you don't want to close any doors, you will aim for closed enrollment)
Do you want to an accredited or unaccredited transcript?
How do you plan on financing your education?  Would you like scholarships?
How do you want to learn?  Do you want to learn it through a brick and mortar school,  online with or without a mentor, or with a textbook on your own.