Seismic Monitor

My friend Susan Ryan recently sent along a link to this Seismic Monitor and we have been exploring it at our house ever since.

At the site you can check on earthquake headlines, view a list of earthquakes that have occurred in the last 30 days, check out special earthquake events, plate tectonics and a really cool map of recent earthquakes.

Check it out here.

There are also many other excellent resources to be found at this IRIS website. This animation of how a seismograph works is just the beginning. Enjoy!

Ohio Homeschool Regulation Review

This month, the Ohio Department of Education has started the process of preparing to review our regulations. Part of that preparation includes the department accepting comments from stakeholders at their site concerning Ohio Administrative Code, Chapter 3301-34 Excuses from Compulsory Attendance for Home Education. These rules have served my family and many others well since 1989. This is the first time since the rules and regulations were enacted that the Ohio Department of Education has facilitated this type of formal review. This code was written in 1989 and it amplifies the law that governs Ohio homeschooling, Ohio Revised Code 3321.04. The code clearly states Its purpose:

The purpose of the rules in this chapter is to prescribe conditions governing the issuance of excuses from school attendance under section 3321.04 of the Revised Code, to provide for the consistent application thereof throughout the state by superintendents, and to safeguard the primary right of parents to provide the education for their child(ren). Home education must be in accordance with law.

I am encouraged by the fact that many individual homeschoolers and local homeschool groups in Ohio are united in recommending that the Ohio Department of Education keep our regulations as they are. After the Ohio Department of Education collects the stakeholder comments, they will gather and pass them along to the Ohio State Board of Education Capacity Committee for review. The committee will then make recommendations to the State School Board as to make changes or not.

Since first hearing of the review, I have said that I am hoping for the best, but I’ll be prepared for the worst. Some in our community feel that the ODE will be suggesting changes. It isn’t that I don’t believe this, I just can’t document that they are intending to do so. In fact, in this Columbus Dispatch blog post, Jennifer Smith Richards writes that over 1200 responses had come in by July 19th and that an Ohio Department of Education spokesperson stated that despite the warnings by some groups, there are no specific plans to change our laws.

Those who know me well understand that when it comes to research, I prefer to document the information I’m studying, especially when it might affect my rights or those of others. Before children, I was a Biblical research student and I learned the importance of finding a chapter and verse, understanding where it originated, the context it was used and who it was written to, for myself instead of relying on someone else’s interpretation. Over the years, I’ve applied this same method of investigation to other areas of my life.

As a homeschooler, I’ve learned the importance of knowing my rights and responsibilities as well as, if not better than others so that if someone subtly tries to change a right, I will be able to recognize the change. I certainly look to experts when I need them, but when I hear speculation that might affect me, I want to know where it originated and if I need to simply watch it or begin taking action. If it can’t be documented, I will still keep watching, but I don’t move until I’m sure.

These days most of us are familiar with weather terminology, especially here in Oho where we face the occasional tornado. I would compare our situation as being under a State School Board review watch. We should be prepared as conditions are favorable and could result in a request for changes, but no documented changes have been shared by the many SBE watchers. If we move to a documented warning, I am sure that we will be prepared, remain calm and be able to stand together to protect our freedoms with other individuals around our state.

Save Mr. Rogers

A big hat tip to Amy Hollingsworth for sharing this news:

For those of you who love Mister Rogers and don’t want PBS to wipe him off the face of the earth, a campaign has been started by a young father who wants to preserve Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood for his twin daughters (ages 1&½) and the sons and daughters of all parents who appreciate Mister Rogers’ daily dose of care and concern.

Here’s the website:

And for those of you on Facebook (or who have kids on Facebook), here is the
group to join:

The Underground Railroad

The National Geographic describes the game:

You are a slave. Your body, your time, your very breath belong to a farmer in 1850s Maryland. Six long days a week you tend his fields and make him rich. You have never tasted freedom. You never expect to.

And yet . . . your soul lights up when you hear whispers of attempted escape. Freedom means a hard, dangerous trek. Do you try it?

The Underground Railroad

Treasure Island Unit Study

Another great find I discovered at last week’s Carnival of Cool Homeschooelrs was a Treasure Island Homeschool Seminar: Literary Lesson Plans and Nautical Worksheets by Lydia at The Little Blue School.

What a great gift this free down-loadable unit study is for homeschoolers. Lydia writes:

This printable 35-page PDF includes twelve lessons to take you and your student through Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. You’ll learn ancillary skills like boxing the compass, reading signal flags, and telling time with ship’s bells. Write your own pirate story, make an oilskin treasure map, and learn the songs from the novel. Six vocabulary worksheets, one for each section of the book, introduce nautical terms like hawser and capstan along with regular old words like incongruous and dexterity. Click the cover page to get the PDF. No charge.

Enjoy Treasure Island Homeschool Seminar: Literary Lesson Plans and Nautical Worksheets here.

Chinese Abacus

This is my favorite Chinese Abacus online because it also offers an Abacus Guidebook.

Funding losses are not Ohio homeschooler’s fault…..

Valerie Bonham Moon recently wrote a post, Public school administrator wants newspaper exposé of homeschooling in response to an Ohio newspaper article, In defense of home schooling.

It was reported locally that the administrator’s comments followed a remark about the loss of funding to private schools and home educators. Perhaps the local public school administrator is confusing those enrolled in a public virtual school with home educators? He or she wouldn’t be the first. Except for tax dollars paid by the parents of home educated children, Ohio home educators do not bring money into a district, nor do they take money away from it. They simply happen to live in the district. However, public e-schoolers who live in the district and are enrolled in a statewide e-school that originates somewhere else in the state or country do require local funds to leave a district.

I visited the Ohio Department of Education’s website to document the amount of money the Hillsboro district did pay out to statewide e-schools. The latest payment listed is for July 2008. Here is how it breaks down:

Alternative Education Academy (OHDELA) – $39,400.53

Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) – $152,337.16

Ohio Connections Academy (OCA) – $20,409.42

Ohio Virtual Academy – $83,023.17

Virtual Community School of Ohio (VCS) – $54,115.30

This is a total of $349,285.58 that is paid to the e-schools from Hillsboro School’s local funding. It really does make me wonder if the public administrator is not erroneously confusing homeschoolers, those following the Ohio Administrative Code- Chapter 3301-34 Excuses from Compulsory Attendance for Home Education and take NO state or local funding with those who are enrolled in public e-schools and comply with the ORC Chapter 3314:Community Schools and do use government funding.

If I were living in the Hillsboro district, I think I would attend the next school board meeting and ask the administrator in question if he understands the seven different school options in our state and bring a list of the citations for each.

There is a big difference between homeschooling, private schools and public e-schools. Homeschoolers do NOT take money away from districts. I do not object to options that do, they are simply caught in the Ohio unconstitutional school funding dilemma, but I think it is a mistake for districts to accuse homeschoolers of causing them to lose money when indeed they do not.

Ted Talks: Clay Shirky: Institutions vs. collaboration

In this prescient 2005 talk, Clay Shirky shows how closed groups and companies will give way to looser networks where small contributors have big roles and fluid cooperation replaces rigid planning.

Clay Shirky: Institutions vs. collaboration

Paddle to the Sea by Holling C. Holling

Holling C. Holling wrote a series of geography/nature books that creatively share his knowledge of both.

One of those books, Paddle-to-the-Sea, published by Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, 1969 takes us on a journey that begins in Nipigon country north of the Great Lakes and leads to the Atlantic Ocean. The book begins with young man carving a small canoe with Indian in it and he names it Paddle-to-the-Sea. His hope is that the canoe will make the journey from Lake Nipigon through the Great Lakes to the sea. He carves the words, please put me back in the water into the bottom before placing it onto a melting snowbank, so that if anyone finds it, they will send it along its journey. Of course, many do find it along the way and each stop provides a good look at each of the Great Lakes and the Great Lakes Region as Paddle to the Sea follows the natural flow to the Atlantic.

Our local Cleveland Metroparks offered a Paddle to the Sea hands on book discussion that we attended. Beforehand, the park ranger had commissioned a wood carver to make a replica of Paddle to the Sea. He brought the carving and showed us the process he had used to create it. We discussed the book and may have tried our hand at carving soap. We don’t remember all those details, but we distinctly remember seeing the replica of Paddle to the Sea launched into a local river that leads to Lake Erie. We signed up for an email notification that was supposed to track the little fellow, but I don’t think he was ever discovered again. In this day and age, one could probably make a little tracking device and do the same. Either way, this unit study gave us a much better understanding of our Great Lake Region.

Here are some resources to accompany Paddle to the Sea:

Paddle to the Sea Movie
Free Paddle to the Sea Study Guide
Great Lakes Educational Resources
Great Lakes Maps

Paper making

A young friend and I get together to do crafts once a month. I will be sharing some of what we do here, occasionally. This week we made paper and she created her own craft blog.

I hadn’t made paper for several years, so I had to look around for some resources to remind me how to go about it. Here are a few that I found helpful .

Here is a scan of one of the pieces of paper we made with shredded junk mail, clematis leaves and petunia blossoms.

If I had seen Playful Learning’s Dissecting Flowers piece, we could have dissected our flowers first! Next time, my friend!

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