You say goodbye I say hello

Hello blog! I'm over at Genreality saying goodbye. In my appropriately titled "You can't have everything" farewell, I talk about the sad fact that our time and energy is limited. And not spending time and energy there means I have more to invest here. Genreality will stay up with all the content archived and accessible, but this is our final week and when we're done, we're rolling up the rug and going back to our own blogs. And Twitter. And Facebook or Google Plus, or Tumblr. Well. You get the idea.

http://www.genreality.net/

I've enjoyed participating in the group blogs I've been part of, but I'm also happy to come back to roost here.

So goodbye, hello, and Happy New Year.

Thanksgiving roundup

Thanksgiving is upon us! For NaNoers, the final push to the finish line is ahead.Via
Paperbackwriter
, here's the most incredibly useful link for creative blockblusting I've ever seen collected on the internet.

For those about to bake, I salute you. And here is my go-to
pie crust recipe
. Like the name says, foolproof. And as always, the
turkey hotline
is there for those in need of advice.

Trying to keep kids busy over the holiday weekend? On Flickr I shared my own cave painting, an easy art project I did with the kids this week, with instructions to do it yourself. If you want to turn it into a treasure map project, do the drawing step first. (Thanks for the treasure map tip, MJ!)

K12 vs Calvert, side by side comparison

For the past few months I've been consumed with starting off the year in homeschooling. We've had 2 years of Calvert, and while I'd read up on reviews of K12 vs Calvert and looked at the K12 site, looked at sample lessons, etc., I was still totally unprepared for the K12 experience. As I type this, the K12 curriculum is being boxed up to return and Calvert is on the way. I wanted to write up a side by side comparison that might be helpful to anybody else trying to make a decision and wondering if there was any real difference between the two programs.

First off, why did we switch in the first place? Because it was convenient. Our local district was set up to use K12 as an at-home option, and not set up to use Calvert. On the surface, they looked very similar. Both are used in most states as an at-home public school option, both use an online school interface, both ship a complete curriculum for the school year covering the core subjects and offer electives like foreign languages, music and art. Both come with lesson plans and are intended for use by the typical homeschooler who is probably not a professional teacher.

There, however, the similarities end.

Calvert lesson plans are very clear and complete. If you are supposed to use certain books, reading certain pages, and completing certain workbook pages, the lesson plan lists it all. There is a wonderful consistency to them, every lesson plan begins with a stated objective, teaches to the objective, assigns work on the objective, and ends with a few checkpoint questions to test whether the objective was reached. If not, you know what your child needs more practice on.

K12 lesson plans may or may not include an objective, may or may not contain clear instructions on what materials to use, and are inconsistent in labeling. Example: subjects are divided by units, each unit being numbered with the current lesson. So, Unit 3, lesson 1 will show on the lesson plan. And the corresponding workbook might say Unit 3, lesson 1. Ditto the teaching guide. Or they might not have that labeling at all, leaving the end user to guess which pages in the teaching guide apply to the current unit and lesson. This makes for a very difficult end-user experience.

Calvert provides complete materials for the school year, aside from a few common household items. For instance, in a science unit that involves an experiment with plants, you might be expected to provide your own pot, dirt and seeds, or in a measuring unit in math you might be expected to use paperclips and other common items as measuring tools. In 2 years with Calvert for 2 kids in different grades I didn't encounter anything we didn't have to do the lesson or couldn't easily improvise.

With K12, we didn't make it through 2 months without needing to purchase books for each child for the literature units. This isn't a huge deal since we buy books for our kids all the time, but given the expense of K12 it's surprising when the texts being taught aren't all included, and time to get the required books delayed the lessons by a day.

Calvert's online system is very orderly and easy to navigate and use. If you are in a public school option and using online lessons, it's very clear which ones are required and how to go about using them. If you are using the teaching advisory service or public school option, any lessons that are required to send in for teacher review are labeled in the lesson plan with instructions to save the lesson to the mail-in portfolio. When mail-in time comes, it takes about 2 minutes to package up and slap on a mailing label because everything is already in one place.

K12's online system is very labyrinthine and many of the options are not clearly labeled. For instance, in K12 you might see a whole list of National Connect classes listed for each child with nothing to indicate which are required, which are optional, which are repeats of a class your child already attended online, and what lesson is being taught for the subject so you can tell if you've covered it yet or not. It does say what core subject it is, but no further detail. My kids' online class options and requirements changed repeatedly in the first two months of the school year with no advance warning or explanation. Questions got contradictory answers or no answers. The online system also features periodic "adaptive lessons" which change based on the answers a student gives. This leads to a wildly unpredictable experience and my kids hated them. And finally, the send-in lesson instructions are very unclear and require a lot of time to deduce which lessons are required for which student, and said lessons have to be rounded up and located long after they've been completed since the instructions aren't provided up front.

Calvert students spend a little time online but the majority of time is spent on text books, workbooks, and doing hands-on activities. The computer is mainly used to see the day's schedule, access the day's lesson plans in order to collect everything needed for each lesson, and to answer the brief set of checkpoint questions after the lesson.

K12 students spend a lot of time online. Science and history are entirely online subjects, except for activities and some writing you might do at the end of a lesson. And while my youngest found games like Noodleverse and Spell and Stack entertaining, she made more progress on her spelling when I made her get away from the computer and write her list of spelling words by hand.

Religion is a hot-button topic for many people. We found the Calvert curriculum firmly based on education and with no religious overtones. This makes it a great fit for a person of any faith who can focus on school at school time and religious instruction outside of school.

This was not true of K12. One child's literature course included Bible lessons taught with a moral focus rather than following the same pattern as all the other literature taught, and one child's 10 question Roman history test featured 3 questions on Christianity and one each on Nero and Augustus. Here's a quote from K12's William Bennett: "Our curriculum has a point of view. We believe in certain things, we believe in certain ideas of right and wrong, and of knowledge and truth and that's manifest in our program. We're centered in the Judeo-Christian tradition, we do not ignore faith and religion, we do not ignore the arguments against evolution, because there are some." If this point of view fits with yours and your philosophy of education, it might be a good fit for you but it isn't pleasant to be taken by surprise by it.

The Calvert curriculum follows the Classical education
pattern using phonics to teach reading, drilling math facts and principles to learn math concepts and is very fact-based in the early grades. A homeschooler who has read The Well-Trained Mind will appreciate the approach used. But even if you don't know the why behind the approach, you can appreciate the results as children master principles and skills they'll need later for higher-level work. The ease of use, completeness, clarity and simplicity make it a terrific experience.

Hot cowboys, hot off the presses!

Guess what is shipping early? Cowboy Lust, containing my ROPED. You can get yours now and have a little Christmas Cowboy in July.

Snippet from ROPED

copyright 2012 Charlene Teglia

All rights reserved

“Whoa, cowboy.” Regan started to roll away, but he caught her in a firm grip and started winding rope around her wrists with a speed that proved he deserved all his calf-roping wins. “Bondage? Really? What happened to hello?”

“Hello, Regan.” Jonas continued his work without pausing, making knots and securing the rope to the headboard. “This is my way of making sure you don’t run off before I’m finished with you.”

“I didn’t run off the last time,” Regan said, exasperated. “You’re a heavy sleeper.”

“Not that heavy.” Jonas took her shoes and after a quick glance around the room, opened the window and threw them outside into a snow bank.

“Hey!”

“Can’t run off in the snow barefoot,” Jonas said, crossing muscular arms over his broad chest as he stared down at her.

“Those weren’t mine,” Regan moaned. “They were Nancy’s. They didn’t come from Payless.”

“Nancy? That friend of yours who went off to become a supermodel before marrying the cowboy next door?”

“Yes.”

“She won’t miss them,” Jonas stated, the problem of the shoes moved off the table.

That was probably true. Regan switched to a topic that might actually get her somewhere. “What are you doing here, Jonas?”

“It’s my ranch.” He didn’t miss the surprise in her eyes. “Nancy didn’t tell you?”

“No.” Regan had assumed he’d left forever when he’d gone away and onto achieve whatever the town bad boy was destined for. The vague vision made her realize she hadn’t thought much about an adult Jonas; he’d stayed eighteen in her brain, the dangerous boy all the girls wanted, an impossible dream for a bookish, flat-chested girl.

Her impossible dream continued to stare down at her, but Regan was used to courtroom tactics and refused to let it intimidate her. She attempted to settle into a comfortable position, difficult with her wrists bound together and the length of rope allowing her minimal room to maneuver. “Okay. You wanted to talk. Talk.”

Whee Time Magazine plus Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain

First, Wheee! Time Magazine suggests you cowboy up and read. Cowboy Lust (contains my ROPED) is included in Time Magazine's Summer Reading issue! This means that the connected story I set up in Roped kind of needs to get done now to take advantage of the exposure. Hadn't planned for that to be a priority so soon but when the unexpected happens, priorities shuffle.

Second, pay no attention to that man behind the curtains, but this site has long needed to transition to Drupal 7 and the time is now. A shiny new Drupal 7 build which includes Drupal Commerce is in the works. Drupal Commerce will allow me to sell my own titles directly, so I can do things I've wanted to do for some time here, such as offer signed copies of print books, direct downloads of my e-titles, etc. The offerings will be very limited to begin with, but I'll be adding backlist titles of mine as they come out of contract and I re-release them along with new work. Exciting times!

5 neat things on the interwebs

1. The Shiba Inu puppies are back. Awww.

2. Neal Stephenson wants to revolutionize sword fighting in video games. Check out the kickstarter and re-read Snow Crash.

3. What's your muppet type, Chaos or Order?

4. Don't know what to do with that kale from your CSA? Cooking Light has 14 recipes for you. 

5. If writing is starting to seem all adult and heavy, check out
this short film
and revisit the world of your inner child's imagination.


Goodnight Mr. Bradbury

Via IO9, Ray Bradbury has left us for the stars. Or the October country.

I read pretty much everything the man wrote except his screenplays. His stories burrowed into my brain and remain there as an example of what story is and why you should say to hell with anybody who laughs at your love of dinosaurs or circuses.

Goodnight, Mr. Bradbury, and thank you for leaving a light on.

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