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