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AP European History Online -- Diary of a Student!
Meghan Bishop Paher, 3/29/2011

Editor's Note from Susan Richman: We've been so happy to have Meghan Bishop Paher leading a 2nd section of AP European History with us this year-- master teacher Gloria Harrison had more students applying than she could handle, and Meghan, a PHAA graduate and history major in college and grad school, was ready for the challenge. Meghan also completed several of our Advanced Placement online courses 'way back' when she was a high school homeschooler-- including AP European History! Here's Meghan's simulation of a 'diary' of one of her students, reflecting on what it was like to be in this highly interactive class-- and you'll be amazed at all the hands-on projects students completed to help them really learn the material in memorable ways. Each of our teachers develops their own unique course, reflecting their personalities and special interests, all while meeting all College Board guidelines for coverage of expected material and training in analysis and critical thinking. Our courses are not 'cookie-cutter' courses, where every course section is identical, but vibrant unique interactions with individual teachers who are given great freedom to develop their course in their own way-- and there's lots of interaction with fellow students, too, as you'll see. Enjoy this peek into 'Life as an AP Euro Student'! All our course descriptions for our 2011-2012 AP Online classes will be posted at www.aphomeschoolers.com -- or just click on the link above. And check out Meghan's previous article posted here-- see our 'archive' for AP class articles.

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Student 'Historical Head' project

August 22

I finished my summer reading and we got our first week’s assignments today!  Glad I got a head start with the Middle Ages during the summer—looking at the assignments and syllabus, it’s going to be a challenging class.  I’m a little nervous about learning all the material.  We’re covering 600 years of history in just 9 months!

 

September 10

Today I turned in my first Free Response Question essay.  The essays are worth half my exam score, so I really need get these down....  I answered an essay question on Renaissance art and humanism.  It was really interesting learning about Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and other Renaissance guys with cool names like Boccaccio and Machiavelli!

 

September 15

We got our first graded FRQ essays back.  Wow, I have a lot to learn!  Writing a historical essay is reallydifferent from the reports and creative writing I usually do.  I need a thesis that clearly answers the essay question, strong points, and good examples that prove my thesis… 

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Comments: 8


AP United States History-- introducing our new online teacher!
Lisa Hawkins, 3/24/2011

Editor's Note from Susan Richman:  I'm delighted to introduce one of our new teachers for our AP Online courses through PA Homeschoolers. Lisa will be joining Daniel Burns and myself in leading a third section of AP US History, always a very popular course among homeschoolers. Lisa Hawkins comes to this new opportunity with an amazing and extensive background in helping students gain appreciation for history. We'll have registration and course descriptions updated on our companion www.aphomeschoolers.com website (see link above) in early April-- but feel very welcome to email Lisa and any of our teachers to let them know of your interest now, too. All of our teachers from this year will be returning, along with Mary Lanctot offering her AP Art History course once again, and Ray Leven teaching AP Spanish (article coming on this exciting new course very soon!). It's going to be a wonderful year of active AP learning ahead, and we hope that one of our courses will be a fine fit for your teens. We enroll homeschool students from all over the nation, and even homeschoolers living abroad. And now... meet our new AP US History teacher: 

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(Hint: this photo is actually *not* Lisa-- do you recognize this important American?)

Greetings!  My name is Lisa Hawkins, and I would like to introduce myself.  I was born and raised in New York, although I also lived for some time in Miami, Puerto Rico, and San Diego.   Wherever I went in my youth, I carried with me a firm belief in my future destiny as a famous, sought-after scientist and a deep disdain for the study of history and culture.   Not surprisingly, when I enrolled at Swarthmore Collge, I intended to pursue a research-biology major.  After almost setting fire to my chemistry lab and mistaking a fake plastic owl for a real one, I realized that a career in lab science was not for me, and probably dangerous for everyone else.   Out of options and at the end of an unpleasant two year struggle with science at college, I left my organic chemistry final on my desk in the examination room, crossed the campus, and signed up to become a history major without ever having taken a college history course before.    The following semester, I fell in love – firecrackers and all – in love with the Medieval Era, Colonial America, and any other history I could get my brain around.   Instead of finishing that organic chemistry final, I found and married an organic chemist, and together we have four children, all of whom have been (or continue to be) homeschooled.  I went on to Temple University to earn my Masters in History and also did graduate work at Widener University in Literature and Education.     

As a person who had, and then abandoned, that disdain for the study of history and culture in my youth, I teach with the passion of a convert....

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Comments: 23


Telling Your Story-- when you apply for colleges or scholarships.....
Jeannette Webb, 3/10/2011

Editor's Note from Susan Richman: I'm so pleased that Jeannette Webb will be sharing her insights into the college admissions process for homeschoolers regularly here on our site-- and I'm especially delighted that she will be the Keynote Speaker at our PHAA High School at Home Conference, this coming July 15, 2011, in Carlisle PA. Jeannette is the founder of Aiming Higher Consultants, a firm dedicated to helping homeschooled students matriculate to great colleges.  In just a few weeks, she’ll be starting an 8-week class that will guide parents from discovering their child’s gift, to maximizing extracurricular activities to presenting them on a college application.  Learn more here:http://www.aiminghigherconsultants.com/resume-building-home-study/. She has also written a wonderfully helpful book with her son Austin, Called to Influence: A New Approach to Life, Education, and College Admissions. And Jeannette's very professional website has many, many  articles to help you can insights into this oftentimes daunting project of helping our kids move on from homeschooling to the next stage of their lives.


Through the years as I’ve worked with students as a college consultant, I never fail to be amazed at what wonderful people they are.  They are each so unique and have done interesting things.  Yet, as I look over the list of activities they initially send to me or read their first essay, nothing appears to be distinctive about them.  I see little to separate them from the other thousands of young people with good grades and big dreams.

 

It’s not a problem with the kids, it’s a problem with the way they have presented their information to me.  The activities are just a jumble of information that is not very clear and the essay is a shallow attempt to be clever that tells me nothing about the student at all.  The problem is they have not done a good job of sharing their story....

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Comments: 4


Physical Education .... give it your all!
Ana Baert, 3/8/2011

Editor's Note from Susan Richman: I hope each of you enjoy this article as much as I do! I know Ana Baert, a homeschooling mother now from New Jersey, because all of her three teens are in our AP Online classes. She happened to write asking me a question about listing Phys Ed on her older daughter's transcript-- and from her brief description of how the whole family was involved in tennis and a number of other sports, I knew she had a wonderful story to share. And what comes through here so strongly is the very positive impact that regular fitness activities and sports involvement has had on their whole attitude towards family life, homeschooling, and everyone's ability to handle real challenges in life. Be ready for something heart-warming, folks-- AND be ready to lace up your running shoes and get out there and take part wholeheartedly yourself in getting fit and active! Makes me look forward to my planned 6 mile walk later today! 

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Jon, Maggie, and Evelyn Baert at a Thanksgiving Day 'Turkey Trot' race

In 2004, my husband and I and our three children moved to the Bronx, NY. Our children were entering  4th, 3rd, and 1st grade. This was the beginning of our wonderful, and still on-going, home school adventure. As overwhelming as the task ahead seemed, in addition to adjusting to life in “Da Bronx,”  I knew my advantage was that all three children had been to public school and knew very well what “school” meant. I did not need to go through the awkward phase of explaining why our kitchen table suddenly became a desk, and why getting up for no reason in the middle of a subject was just unacceptable. The first day of home schooling was cute: I had three very eager children looking at me and even raising their hand! They had no idea I felt like the butcher-baker-candlestick maker- all-in-one as I tried to figure out what I was supposed to tell them to do, in what order, and for how long.

The beginning was a bit overwhelming. I felt like I got so much done as far as academic subjects go, yet the fact remained that we had stayed inside our apartment every day- all day - for the first two weeks. Each day I would look at the children and say “today, we’ll go outside,” and I broke my promise each time. Please note, I did not have the option of simply telling the kids to go play in the yard as I stayed inside.  We had no yard. I would have to be outside with them for the obvious reason that it would be unsafe to leave them out there alone. Not to mention that just playing  in the yard is not physical education.

Those two weeks flew by and I knew I needed help. In public or private school Physical Education (P.E.)  is not an option. As a student you know that P.E. is not an elective. It is on predetermined days which do not fluctuate based on weather, mood, other subjects, schedules, etc. When it’s time for gym class, everyone conforms and gets the required exercise no matter what. I decided to approach the principal: my husband! I started with my whole drawn-out  explanation about the challenge of fitting in exercise. He came up with a simple solution immediately. Nick asked when I wanted to do gym class. I hesitated and replied that two days would suffice. He asked what days. I figured Monday and Wednesday would do. He then stated that from now on, gym would be on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. (Hadn’t I just said two days???)

Monday, Nick came home from work and asked everyone to get ready for P.E. The children were so excited! I wondered what gym would be on a very, very, tight family budget. (My husband pastors a small, store-front church in the Bronx and is a union mason; besides, any sport is costly in the City for a single-income family.) He decreed that a pair of sneakers is all that was needed. Yes, running is still free! Then came what I can now see as a pivotal moment in my life: my husband looked at me and asked why I wasn’t getting ready to go running. I had been looking forward to this moment when, for the first time in two weeks, I could actually be alone. All alone. I thoroughly explained how I could  do the dishes that had been piling up all day, I could even be more productive and do laundry, I could start dinner, I could return a phone call, I could read, and maybe, just maybe  simply close my eyes and do sweet nothing. Nick just stood there and said they would wait for me and we would go together. I pleaded, I stated my case, I even reasoned with him that as a good homeschooling dad, this could be his active role in the education of our children. Nick didn’t budge. I knew right then and there, with these three, precious, little ones observing the exchange, that if I bucked now I was setting a dangerous precedent. If I stayed home with my good excuses, the day would come when all the children would do the same. I also knew I hated running with all my being. Inside, I was screaming, whining, and just having a tantrum. On the outside, I glared at my best friend, and went to put on my sweats and sneakers....

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Comments: 19


Revolutionary War Era history tours.... Philadelphia area..... from a homeschool graduate!
Anthony Melita, 3/6/2011

Editor's Note from Susan Richman: I was so pleased to hear from Anthony Melita, a homeschool graduate who offers unique Revolutionary War Era history tours in the Philadelphia region. He's now reaching out to the homeschooling community to let them know of his service as a tour guide-- his website at www.revolutiontoursinc.com gives full information, including walking and driving tours of historic Philadelphia, Valley Forge, and area battlefields. This will be a wonderful way for homeschoolers to learn about PA and US history in an active way, full of vivid stories. 

     When I was a boy, the American Revolution fascinated me.  A flowering, passionate affair finding roots that vein into my earliest childhood ambitions.  Countless hours locked in careful study.  Mindful theorizing and the drive to understand this period has led to my unique perspective on our nation’s origin.  The path wasn’t always straightforward though, slinking its way back to an inconspicuous, but crucial, decision to homeschool.    

     That’s right.  I am a product of the homeschool culture.  From 3rd to 12th grade I was a part of this grassroots movement, a system that allowed me to grow both as a person and scholar. 

     As a child I was horrendously awkward in peer-related activities-- a flaw that needed to be addressed with an answer that homeschooling offered.  What I needed was a one-on-one student to teacher ratio, and an environment that would encourage self-confidence in an easy, unassuming atmosphere.  This was the most beneficial aspect of my experience.  The absolute need for peer interaction, an infamous platform of numerous homeschool opponents, was duly met with recreational sports and various youth programs. 

     I owe that homeschooling gave me a chance to focus, self-motivate, and develop my natural gifts and passions; facts that have transformed this timid, self-conscious child into a strong, independent orator.

     Flash forward nearly 20 years and you will find a self-aware and eloquent college-grad that spent 5 years in the National Park Service as a military historian and Interpretive Ranger at Valley Forge National Historical Park....

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Comments: 3


Where Two (Or More) Are Gathered… Creative Arts & Learning Opportunities in Central PA!
Lindy & Philip Malin, 3/3/2011

Editor's Note from Susan Richman: I was delighted to hear from the Malins about their creative learning offerings-- they would love to reach out to the homeschooling communities with their special seminar activity learning days on a wide range of topics. Let us know how your day with Creative Consultants goes! These programs might be especially super to integrate into a regular homeschool co-op day.

Take two people whose diverse personalities are totally opposite, put them together in a room full of energetic, inquisitive children and what do you get? A recipe for chaos?   No—it’s Creative Consultants!

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(And yes, those are *real* live butterflies-- the Malins do a program on learning about monarch butterflies!)

We are Lindy and Philip Malin, teachers, artists and educational consultants from Lancaster, PA. Lindy is organized, outgoing, practical; Philip is creative, quiet, innovative. Lindy helps groups of students achieve success together-- Philip encourages individual children to find their best work.  What a wonderful teaching pair!  Because we are so different, we can work with students of all ages, and stages. We love to teach children through adults, how to discover their God-given gifts and then maximize their talents. There is much to be learned from a stance of “a perpetual learner”!

As mentors at the Pennsylvania Governor’s School for Excellence, we guided aspiring future teachers to take the leadership skills they learned in the classroom back to their communities all over PA. As participants in the interview and selection process of only 64 students, we met so many wonderful young people over our years!   Also, in our Saturday morning science labs with middle school Project Forward Leap participants, our motto and direction is, “A Gifted Education for Every Child”. we are also bi-yearly presenters of  seminars for Lancaster-Lebanon IU13 to give talented students a chance to pull out all the stops and explore their interests with equally enthusiastic adults....

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Comments: 20



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