Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Convention Update: Day Two (Part Two)

So Convention Day Two...where were we? Ah, I'd just finished Instant Improvement in Writing and I headed to Entrepreneurs at Home with my husband.   After taking a peek at the handout, I realized this was a little basic for me and I slipped out to do a little more browsing in the Exhibit Hall.  Shockingly, I didn't make any more purchases. 

While most people headed out for lunch, I made my way back up the escalator for one of the lunchtime sessions,  Computer Science @ Home: Computer Animation with ALICE Programming.  The speaker is a professor at Wheaton College and he did his best to demonstrate the programming to everyone from computer geeks to computer clueless moms.  It was obvious that he was unfamiliar with demonstrating via laptop and projector (his body blocked the screen much of the time) but I found the software itself to be pretty cool.  ALICE is a free program (found at http://alice.org) and can be installed on Windows, Mac, or Linux.  I thought my 14 year old son would enjoy it, as he is currently using the Pro version of GameMaker, but so far he is finding that he prefers the GameMaker.  This could be a learning curve or he may just prefer GML or C+ coding (I have no idea what that means, I am quoting him!).  I'm not ready to give up on it yet though and may play around with it myself. 

When this session ended, I scooted out quickly and grabbed a Chicken Caesar Wrap from the cart outside the workshop rooms.  Feeling somewhat self-conscious with my lunch, I headed into the next class and sat toward the back.  My friend Hannah saw me and dragged me towards the front where she had seats waiting.  So much for self-conscious!  I ate quickly as Vicki Bentley began the session, Organized (Well, Almost!)- Time Management for Busy Moms.

Many of the ideas were either not new to me or ones I had no interest in implementing, but I still enjoyed the session.  She began by having us ask ourselves 5 Key Questions; What is working (and why)?, What's NOT working?, What items are most essential to you?, Why do you want to get organized?, and What's causing problems (Technical errors, which can be fixed; External realities, needing compensation; or Psycholigical obstacles, developing new habits)?  She talked about setting goals, prioritizing and writing To-Do lists, and then planning.  Asking herself, What do I need to do in a week?, she then lists these and plugs them into her schedule. 

One idea we may use is the making of specific lists of what should be completed before school starts.  We already have assigned chores, each child having the same daily chore.  This helps in knowing who needs to do what but I still find myself having to direct every morning.  Perhaps if there was a check off list, this may lessen. We shall see! I am also attempting to reorganize items so that they are closer to the place where we use them, as she suggested.  I had been trying to keep the living room from becoming school central, but this is really the central area of our schooling.  We are a homeschooling family, our home will reflect that.  I need to let go of this idea of a nice sitting room and embrace the books and projects and various homeschool overflow.

My favorite quote of this session had to be, "Don't get so caught up in doing "school" with the kids that you forget to enjoy and teach them."  Amen.

The last session for the day was Lapbooking with Tammy Duby of Tobin's Lab.  This is a hands-on session that I have attended a few times.  I didn't need a refresher course, but was tagging along with a couple of new to homeschooling friends.  The funny thing is that I did find it refreshing.  It reminded me of how much we enjoy lapbooking and how much I treasure the file boxes full of lapbooks my 17 and 19 year old created years ago.  We will definitely be re-incorporating lapbooks into our schooling in the fall.  If you're new to lapbooking and it sound's intriguing, Tammy Duby has an excellent how to book on the subject, The Ultimate Lapbook Handbook.

Having attended a homeschooling convention for the past fifteen years, I had found myself becoming pretty jaded about the workshops.  This year was different and it took me by surprise.  Each session I attended was encouraging and I left the convention feeling refreshed and renewed in my homeschool vision. 

No matter how many years you've homeschooled, a convention could be just what you need.  If there isn't a local one you can head to, there is an online version I plan to "attend" next month- The Old Schoolhouse Expo.  This will be a new experience for me.  It won't include shopping and connecting with friends, so it loses points right there, but I'm looking forward to checking it out anyway!

After a quick nap, we ended our weekend with the fourth annual Saturday night Super Date.  But that is a post for another time!

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