Educating the heart, mind, and soul in the Catholic tradition

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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

American Sign Language Classes Online

Homeschool Connections is very happy to announce that we will offer American Sign Language as a live, interactive course again for the 2016/2017 school year.

To enroll click here: HSC Registration Page

American Sign Language (ASL) I, Part One
This is Part One of a two-part (full-year) course covering a year's worth of content for beginning ASL, presented over eight weeks in the Fall Semester and eight weeks in the Spring Semester. Students are expected to register for Part Two in the fall.
Class Dates: Mondays, September 26 to November 28, 2016. No classes Oct. 31 and Nov. 21.
Total classes: 8
Starting time: 11:00 AM Eastern (10:00 Central; 9:00 Mountain; 8:00 Pacific)
Duration: 1 hour
Prerequisite: None
Suggested grade level: 6th to 12th grade
Suggested credit: 2/3 semester ASL or Foreign Language. Note: ASL meets many states’ requirements for foreign language.
Fee: $120 if you register on or before July 15, 2016; $130.00 after July 15, 2016, for all 8 classes.
Instructor: Dr. Kerrie Berends, PhD
Weekly Outline:
Class 1: Fingerspelling and Greetings
Class 2: The Family and Deaf History
Class 3: Around the House and Deaf Culture
Class 4: Numbers and Time
Class 5: Questions
Class 6: Building Vocabulary: Nouns
Class 7: Building Vocabulary: Verbs
Class 8: Conversations
Course description: This course is a first year American Sign Language (ASL) course for those who would like a strong foundation in learning to communicate with American Sign Language. Students will learn and practice fingerspelling and identify and sign words used in everyday life, including the following: the special structure of sentences in ASL; asking questions, the role of expression (non manual markers) in communication; the foundations of ASL’s history; Deaf culture; words, phrases, and sentences; classifiers, mouth morphemes, and quantifiers; and identifying and signing words used in everyday life, with practice conversations.
Course materials: Everything is provided free online, by the instructor. Students must have a working webcam.
Homework: Weekly practice of the signs and conversations covered in the course and watching online videos of signing (one to three hours), and occasional quizzes with the system and “live” in class.

American Sign Language (ASL) I, Part Two
This is Part Two of a two-part course. Students are welcome to join us midyear if they have the equivalent of the prerequisite.
Class dates: Mondays, January 9 to March 6. No class on Jan. 23 for the March for Life.
Total classes: 8
Starting time: 11:00 AM Eastern (10:00 Central; 9:00 Mountain; 8:00 Pacific)
Duration: 1 hour
Prerequisite: American Sign Language (ASL) I, Part One or equivilant
Suggested grade level: 6th to 12th grade
Suggested credit: 2/3 semester ASL or Foreign Language. Note: ASL meets many states’ requirements for foreign language.
Fee: $120 if you enroll on or before July 15, 2016; $130.00 after July 15, 2016, for all 8 classes.
Instructor: Dr. Kerrie Berends, PhD
Course description: This course is a first year American Sign Language (ASL) course for those who would like a strong foundation in learning to communicate with American Sign Language. Students will learn and practice fingerspelling and identify and sign words used in everyday life, including the following: the special structure of sentences in ASL; asking questions, the role of expression (non manual markers) in communication; the foundations of ASL’s history; Deaf culture; words, phrases, and sentences; classifiers, mouth morphemes, and quantifiers; and identifying and signing words used in everyday life, with practice conversations.
Weekly outline:
Class 9: Learning classifiers
Class 10: Classifiers in conversation
Class 11: Learning mouth morphemes
Class 12: Quantifiers: more or less?
Class 13: Questions and feelings
Class 14: Building Vocabulary: Nouns
Class 15: Building Vocabulary: Verbs
Class 16: Conversations
Course materials: Everything is provided free online, by the instructor. Students must have a working webcam.
Homework: Weekly practice of the signs and conversations covered in the course and watching online videos of signing (one to three hours), and occasional quizzes with the system and “live” in class.

Instructor biography: Kerrie Berends, PhD, has worked in the health and wellness field for over 25 years and has extensive education and experience teaching individuals with disabilities. Kerrie holds a Masters and Doctorate in adapted physical activity and is a Certified Adapted Physical Educator and Certified Therapeutic Horseback Riding Instructor (PATH), as well. Kerrie uses ASL professionally, and has taught deaf preschoolers in the Head Start program in Texas and traveled twice to the Jamaica Deaf Village for mission work. She is passionate about education, has home educated her three children for 14 years, and has worked in online higher education since 2008. Kerrie lives with her husband and children in Michigan.

48 Picture Books for the Well-Rounded Catholic Child


Three years ago I became a grandmother for the first time. In just under a month from now, my fourth grandchild will be born. One of the many great things about having grandchildren is revisiting the joy of picture books -- the same joy I shared with their parents so many years ago.

I keep a book wish list for each of my grandchildren. (Yes, I'm passing my bibliophileness onto them.) Every birthday, Christmas, baptism, holy day, Groundhog Day, etc. is a reason to gift a child with a book. Right?! Keeping the wish lists helps me remember what I've bought, for whom, and what still needs to be presented.

Looking it over this morning I realized, "This is a pretty good list for any parent or grandparent." So, here I am sharing a portion of it with you. I picked a variety of books that cover a variety of topics to help form a well-rounded child.

These are books that are already on my shelves. Books I shared with my own children. Books I cherish and will not part with. They remain at Grammy's house for as long as Grammy is here. I'm buying them all over again so they are also on the shelves of my adult children and their children.

It is my hope that this list inspires you to buy good quality picture books for your children and/or grandchildren. Or, perhaps, your great-grandchildren.

NOTE: This blog post contains affiliate links. If you click on them and then make a purchase I'll get a referral fee which translates into MORE BOOKS for my grandchildren. Their parents thank you in advance. With that said, I suggest printing this list and taking it to the library. Then when you find a favorite, put that on your wishlist.
     ~Maureen

Titles are in no particular order. Click on the book title to read reviews at Amazon.

Small Wonders: Jean-Henri Fabre and His World of Insects 
by Matthew Clark Smith (Author), Giuliano Ferri (Illustrator)

The Princess and the Kiss: A Story of God's Gift of Purity
by Jennie Bishop

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel
by Virginia Lee Burton

A Day on Skates: The Story of a Dutch Picnic
by Hilda van Stockum

The Weight of a Mass: A Tale of Faith 
by Josephine Nobisso (Author), Katalin Szegedi (Illustrator)

Blueberries for Sal
by Robert McCloskey

The Story of Ferdinand
by Munro Leaf (Author), Robert Lawson (Illustrator)

Angel in the Waters
by Regina Doman (Author), Ben Hatke (Illustrator)

Pancakes, Pancakes!
by Eric Carle

Paddle-to-the-Sea
by Holling C. Holling

Amelia Bedelia
by Peggy Parish (Author), Fritz Siebel (Illustrator)

The Salamander Room
by Anne Mazer 

The Story of Holly and Ivy 
by Rumer Godden (Author), Barbara Cooney  (Illustrator)

The Squire and the Scroll
by Jennie Bishop (Author), Preston McDaniels (Illustrator)

Chickens to the Rescue
by John Himmelman

Saint Jude: A Friend in Hard Times 
by Michael Aquilina (Author), Keith Neely (Illustrator)

The Empty Pot
by Demi

Picture Book of Saints 
by Lawrence G. Lovasik

Book of Greek Myths
by the D'Aulaires

Rocks in His Head
by Carol Otis Hurst (Author), James Stevenson (Illustrator)

Peter Rabbit
by Beatrix Potter

Winnie the Pooh
by A. A. Milne

Charlie Parker Played Be Bop 
by Christopher Raschka

The Song of the Swallows 
by Leo Politi

Raphael (Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists)
by Mike Venezia

Peter Tchaikovsky (Getting to Know the World's Greatest Composers)
by Mike Venezia

Sir Cumference and the First Round Table (A Math Adventure)
by Cindy Neuschwander and Wayne Geehan

by Jean Fritz (Author), Tomie dePaola (Illustrator)

by Kathleen Norris (Author), Tomie dePaola (Illustrator)

by Margaret Wise Brown (Author), Clement Hurd (Illustrator)

by Robert McCloskey 

by Anne Eileen Heffernan (Editor), Deborah J. White (Illustrator)

by Ben Hatke 

by Michael McGrew (Author), Marnie Litz (Illustrator)

by Gloria Whelan (Author), Judith Brown  (Illustrator)

by Tomie dePaola 

by Crockett Johnson 

by Ludwig Bemelmans

by Bryce Milligan (Author), Helen Cann (Illustrator)


by H. A. Rey

by Elsa Holmelund Minarik (Author), Maurice Sendak  (Illustrator)

by Sandra Boynton 

by Amy Welborn (Author), Ann Kissane Engelhart (Illustrator)

by Donna Piscitelli and Rosemarie Gortler (Authors), Mimi Sternhagen (Illustrator)

by Jean Darby

by Nancy Carpentier Brown (Editor), Ted Schluenderfritz (Illustrator)

by Lawrence G. Lovasik 

Though this list contains 48 books, it is not exhaustive. There are a great many other picture books worth your time and effort. Explore other titles by the same author or by looking at Amazon's "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought" suggestions. Ask your friends for their favorites and search for other Catholic reading lists online.

If I've left off your favorite picture book, let me know about it in the comments.



Saturday, April 30, 2016

Summer Reading: Catholic Fiction


This is not a reading list for our students, but rather for their parents.

There has been a revival of sorts in Catholic fiction over the past few years. Yet, it's a genre we don't hear about too often. I can't tell you how many times I've had friends and family ask me to recommend a good contemporary novel that has a Catholic flavor. I love the delight in their eyes when I'm able to list nine or ten titles off the top of my head.

If you're looking for some good, fun reads for the summer I hope the following list will help get you started. All are contemporary fiction titles written by Catholic authors. While I've read a good deal of these myself, others were recommended by trusted sources (such as Joseph Pearce) and therefore are in my own to-read-this-summer pile.
          ~ Maureen

Click on the book title for ordering information and/or reviews. (Some are affiliate links.) They are in no particular order.

Adult Novels
Note: While written from a Catholic worldview, these are still adult in nature.  

A Postcard from the Volcano by Lucy Beckett (Ignatius Press)

The Leaves are Falling by Lucy Beckett (Ignatius Press)

Death Panels by Michelle Buckman (Saint Benedict Press)

Rachel's Contrition by Michelle Buckman (Sophia Institute Press)

Bleeder by John J. Desjarlais (Chesterton Press)

Viper by John J. Desjarlais (Sophia Institute Press)

My Visit to Hell by Paul Thigpen (Realms)

The Book of Jotham by Arthur Powers (Tuscany Press)

Fatherless by Brian Gail (Gailforce Publishing)

Two Statues by Brian Kennelly (Saint Benedict Press)

Treason: A Catholic Novel of Elizabethan England by Dena Hunt (Sophia Institute Press)

Rapunzel Let Down by Regina Doman (Chesterton Press)

The Letters of Magdalen Montague by Eleanor Bourg Nicholson (Kaufmann Publishing)

Death of a Liturgist by Lorraine V. Murray (Saint Benedict Press)

Young Adult Novels
Though written with teens in mind, these are enjoyable reads for parents as well.

Belisarius by Paolo Belzoni (Arx Publishing)

Tale of Manaeth by Phillip Campbell (Cruachan Hill Press)

Toward the Gleam by T. M. Doran (Ignatius Press)

Adult Novels from Previous Centuries
Just a few in case you get through all the suggested books above.

Kirsten Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset (Penguin Classics)

The Spear by Louis deWohl (Ignatius Press)

Dracula by Bram Stoker: Ignatius Critical Edition (Ignatius Press)

Conclusion
There are a lot of great novels out there and these are just the tip of the iceberg. I hope you'll share your favorites (and why!) in the comments.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Why Should I Learn Latin

The Catholic homeschooling book Why Should I Learn This is available for purchase as a print book from Behold Publications (click to order) or as an eBook from Amazon (click to purchase).

Keep an eye on the blog for brand new Why Should I Learn This articles every Friday.



Why Should I Learn Latin? 
by Emily Henry

What would you do if your Latin instructor said that she would personally  beat you up with her  own  baculum (stick) if you didn’t study enough? Finding myself in that very situation on the first day of classes during my freshman year of college, I panicked. Even though I knew my feisty professor wouldn’t really beat us up, she was nevertheless stern and scary. I was convinced that being forced to learn this so-called “dead language” was going to be my academic bane.

Then what happened? How did I begin with such a frightening introduction to Latin and then turn around to major in that “dead language”? All I can say is that when I received my first graded Latin quiz, I was stunned by the perfect score at the top of the page—and from there, I was hooked. I had found something I was good at and loved. Because of her spunky, passionate, and sometimes scary ways of teaching us, I soon grew to deeply respect my Latin professor. Not only did she inspire me to do my very best in this challenging subject, but also her work ethic and drive helped me to be successful in the future, in challenging classes.

There is something very rewarding about working hard at any task that challenges our traditional way of thinking. Latin is one of those academic subjects that can test even the brightest of students but, likewise, brings rewards that many of us don’t necessarily stop to consider when we hear the word, Latin.

Latin is known as an inflected language, meaning the forms of words change, based upon the way the words function in a given sentence. As a result, the Romans did not have the rigid word order that we are accustomed to in English. Most of the time, individuals cannot read a Latin sentence straight through (left to right, in the order in which the words are listed) and understand exactly what just happened and to whom. Rather, we must train ourselves to carefully walk through a step-by-step process of problem solving: We must hunt for the verb form, identify it, and then search for the corresponding subject form. This process helps to develop in us analytical, problem solving, and logic skills. Such skills are invaluable for other endeavors, academic and non-academic alike.

The most practical and common benefit we can experience as we study Latin is a deeper appreciation and understanding of English grammar, composition, and vocabulary. Studying Latin lifts us out of our native way of thinking about grammar and transports us into a foreign system of language that is more rigid, systematic, organized, and categorized than most modern languages. For example, if we can never seem to remember the meaning of an adverb, we soon find that Latin adverbs are clearly defined, easy to observe, and can help us to remember how adverbs function in an English sentence. We also find ourselves growing more and more comfortable with terms such as subject, verb, direct object, indirect object, adjective, participle, subjunctive, and relative clause.

Learning Latin teaches us how to identify parts of speech, instructs us to ask the right questions about each word in a given sentence, and aids us in discovering the most accurate translations of Latin sentences. As a result, some individuals may even find themselves more aware of their own writing style and how they speak, eventually making attempts to write and speak with better grammar. Some of my friends and I have often laughed at ourselves as we have become engrossed in discussions or debates about the proper usage of a demonstrative or a participle phrase. Perhaps we are just nerds, or perhaps there is something to this Latin thing and how it helps to transform the way that we think.

Since many modern English words are derived from a Latin word or form, studying Latin can aid in gaining a better understanding of English vocabulary. For example, what if we were unfamiliar with the meaning of the English word, procrastinate? Procrastinate contains two Latin words: pro and cras. These words mean for and tomorrow, respectively. Based upon our own understanding of the basic Latin words contained within it, we now have the tools to break down the meaning of the word. Can you imagine reading Shakespeare with a solid understanding of Latin? It has assisted me in unlocking the mysteries of many words!

Many people mistakenly believe that Latin is a dead language and, therefore, pointless to study. But it is alive and living in many modern languages to this day, including in Italian, Romanian, Spanish, Portuguese, and French, which are defined as Romance languages because they are offshoots of Latin.  And while English is not considered a Romance language, Latin is also alive in our language—not to mention in the global scientific and medical communities. Learning Latin can open the door to a better understanding of other Romance languages. In fact, many students in Germany are still required to study Latin today, which assists in learning Spanish and French.

As a Catholic, Latin has more significance than purely academic development, as it is the official language of the Church. In the fall of 2011, the Catholic Church released a newer, more accurate English translation of the Mass. While there are still debates as to whether this was a good thing, my point simply is that individuals who knew Latin had to work diligently for many years to reevaluate the way the English Mass had been spoken. As a result, knowledge of Latin has given us a more accurate interpretation of the prayers of the Mass.

While Latin can enhance our critical thinking skills, improve our understanding of language, aid us in studying multiple other languages, and is the official language of the Catholic Church, it may be surprising to discover that a college degree in Classical Studies can open the door to an eclectic range of career opportunities. An individual who majors in Classical Studies can begin a career path in many different fields, including law, business and industry, communications, social services, education, the arts, government departments, and medicine. The reasons why these different fields welcome Classical Studies majors vary. But the one thing common to all is the strong analytical and critical thinking skills developed by such a degree.

In many ways, Latin is underestimated. Although the language may be dead according to modern standards, it is alive within the Catholic Church and modern Romance languages. The ancient language provides us with the ability to think in an organized, categorical fashion, while honing our analytical skills. We develop a deeper appreciation and understanding of English grammar, vocabulary, and writing, which in turn assists us in how we communicate and write. Latin also provides us with the tools necessary to go back to original historical sources, in order to understand the speech and behavior of a particular time. The world of Latin is vast. I like to think of it as an extremely powerful key, because it literally unlocks the door to the past. Without Latin, we would not have an understanding of the basis for Western Civilization or Christianity—and we would not have access to countless works that would be otherwise meaningless to the modern world.


This article originally appeared in the book Why Should I Learn This

About the Author 
Emily Henry grew up in a small town in Michigan, where she and her two younger brothers were homeschooled. After graduating with a diploma from the Noah Webster Academy for homeschoolers, she attended Ave Maria College until the closure of its Michigan campus in the spring of 2006. From there, she transferred to Hillsdale College and completed her BA in Classical Studies and English. Currently, Emily enjoys life in North Carolina as a newlywed, blogger, and an online teacher for Homeschool Connections, where she offers a wide variety of online Latin courses that can be taken as live, interactive courses or as recorded, independent-learning courses. In the Fall 2016 semester, Emily will also begin teaching Greek Mythology.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Drama / Acting Classes Online

Art Credit: Ted Schluenderfritz
http://www.5sparrows.com/
Calling all young actors! Homeschool Connections is offering an online summer camp for middle school students with professional actor and EWTN personality Kevin O'Brien. To register, visit HSC Registration (click on Summer 2016 Semester and Search).

Mr. O'Brien and his students will put together a one-act play in two weeks, even though they'll be separated by thousands of miles and acting for their webcams.

This will be a fun, challenging, inspiring, and kind of crazy Internet Acting Camp!  

Course materials will be provided FREE by Mr. O'Brien so the only cost is the registration fee. There will be no need to buy a textbook.

Students do, however, need to make sure their computer webcam and microphone are in working order. (We recommend a headset with a microphone for easier listening and better speaking quality.)

Here are the course details for you:

Internet Acting Camp for Middle School *New
Total classes: 10
Class dates: Mondays through Fridays, June 6 through June 17 (June 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17)
Starting time:  1:00 PM Eastern (Noon Central; 11:00 AM Mountain; 10:00 AM Pacific)
Duration: 55 minutes
Prerequisite: None
Suggested grade level: 7th to 8th grade
Suggested credit: ½ semester Drama
Fee: $150 for all 10 classes. ($170 after May 29)
Instructor: Kevin O’Brien
Course description: Can a group of homeschoolers put together a one-act play in two weeks, even if they’re separated by thousands of miles and acting for their webcams?  We’ll find out in this fun, challenging, inspiring and kind of crazy Internet Acting Camp!  The final production will either be recorded as an Adobe Connect session, or (if we can manage it technically) edited and uploaded as a video for family and friends to watch!
Course outline: 
Day 1 - Introduction and overview - Mr. O'Brien talks about show business and about St. Genesius, patron saint of actors.
Day 2 - Short scenes from various plays will be read, acting tips will be given.
Day 3 - We will begin to formulate a plot and characters for our play.
Day 4 - Plot and character outlines will be written as a final outline.
Day 5 - Provisional scenes will be read and / or improvised.  We will come up with a few dialogue scenes that are fun and that we're proud of.
  (Between the two weeks, Mr. O'Brien will write the play whose plot and characters the students have outlined into a final form, with scenes, dialogue, etc.)
Day 6 - The play is read in class.  Acting coaching is provided.
Day 7 - Rehearsal
Day 8 - Rehearsal
Day 9 - Rehearsal
Day 10 - Final performance!
Course materials: Students must have a working webcam and microphone. Other course materials will be provided free as PDFs by the instructor.

Homework: Writing scenes, learning lines, practicing on your own.  About 5 hours per week minimum, but each student may do more if his or her heart is in it!

To register, visit HSC Registration (click on Summer 2016 Semester and Search).

NOTE: Registration closes one week before the first day of class (May 30). Registration can be reopened upon request with a $20 late-registration fee.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Unlimited Homeschool Learning for Summer



Top Ten List
Using Unlimited Access for Summer Learning


There are a lot of different ways you can use Homeschool Connections' recorded classes through Unlimited Access to keep learning alive and fun over the summer. Here are ten ideas to get you started.

10. Take school with you.
We've had students take classes from hotel rooms, Grandma's house, the library, the car on the road, and even the beach. Though we don't recommend taking your laptop anywhere near sand! All you need for recorded classes is a power source, internet, and a computer. You should add ear buds or a headset to the list if you need privacy.

9. Plug the computer into the television.
This is a really fun way to learn together as a family. Pick a subject that everyone is interested in learning. It may be The Hobbit or World War II or American Sign Language or something completely different. Make some popcorn and watch together. You may need an HDMI cable and a newer TV (Mac users will need a converter). Recently, my teen added Chromecast to our laptop and that's what we use.

8. Pick a time that works best for you.
Recorded classes are available 24/7. You could watch classes first thing in the morning, getting them done early so the rest of the day can be spent outdoors. It you prefer, watch classes during lunch or just before bed in the evening. Pick the time that is going to help you keep up on your work throughout the whole of summer.

7. Audit a course.
Watch a lecture each day and forgo the homework. For example, instead of taking 12 weeks for World History: 12 Inventions that Changed the World, watch the lectures over 12 days. When auditing, pick a subject that is easy for you. (For a course list, click here: Recorded Course Catalog.)

6. Buckle down on tough subjects.
Need help with algebra? Struggled with science last year? If so, buckle down and get to work. Set aside time each and every day (Sundays off!) and stick to the schedule. Complete all of the homework before moving to the next recorded lecture. If you want extra help, sign up for the optional grading support (Instructor Access).

5. Catch up on subjects for September.
Planning on taking Latin II next year but not quite ready? Perhaps illness or something else kept you from finishing Latin I this year. Whether you simply need a refresher or need to make up for lost time, there are a number of "Bootcamps" available in recording (math, Latin, and more).

4. Ask yourself, "What do I love?"
For example, do you get geeked about books? If so, choose a literature course on a book you love. Reread Romeo and Juliet as you watch Professor Pearce's lectures over a couple of weeks. Or Screwtape Letters, or Space Trilogy, or The Man Who Was Thursday. You can choose from over 40 literature courses.

3. Summer is a great time to hone your writing skills
Writing is a key skill for success in all other school subjects. Focusing on writing skills over summer will help you do better in history, literature, and more when fall arrives. Other courses that help you succeed in core subjects include: Note Taking Skills and How to Use Microsoft Word.

2. Keep a schedule and stick to it. 
How many times have we all laid out grand plans, only to forget about them as the excitement wore off? Write out a reasonable schedule on a white board or print it and post it. Program your computer or phone to remind you each day. Do something tangible to keep you on schedule.

1. Keep it simple.
You don't need a complicated schedule to be effective. Pick just one or two subjects. For example, maybe you weren't able to make time for philosophy in the fall and spring, but you know it would help you a lot to learn it and it sounds interesting. Focus just on philosophy courses for summer.

Bonus: Unlimited Access means just that!
You have unlimited access to over 225 courses for your entire family. Yes, it's true! You can't beat the price ($30 per month!!!) and you can't beat the convenience. Middle school, high school, and adult students can easily learn year round with this independent learning program. It can be as easy or as complicated as you want to make it. It's YOUR program.

To learn more about our recorded, online, independent-learning classes, click here now:

Friday, April 1, 2016

Finishing Up the School Year and Filling in the Blanks


We recently received a request from a homeschool mom asking us to offer short 4- to 6-week recorded courses. She was looking for a way to help her fill in some homeschooling holes between April and June. The good news is that we were able to help immediately as we already have a great slate of such short courses.

Here is a list of 4-week and 6-week courses currently available through our Unlimited Access program (recorded courses):

  • Christian Architecture through the Ages 
  • Introduction to Catholic Social Teaching
  • American Elections: Democracy in Action
  • Foundations of Christian Historiography
  • The Great Depression: 1929-1941
  • Understanding the Second Vatican Council
  • Church History: Trinitarian 
  • How to Be an Excellent Student
  • Job Search Skills
  • Personal Finance
  • Introduction to Literature: Why & How to Study Literature
  • Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  • How to Study Great Literature
  • The Hobbit: There and Back Again
  • Lord of the Rings
  • Tolkien and Fairy Stories
  • Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis
  • The Man Who was Thursday by G. K. Chesterton
  • Chesterton: Man of Letters
  • The Iliad by Homer
  • Beowulf and Christ
  • The Merchant of Venice
  • Romeo and Juliet
  • Hamlet
  • King Lear
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
  • Sophocles and Tragedy
  • Death Comes for the Archbishop
  • Redemptive Comedy of Flannery O'Connor
  • Introduction to Trigonometry
  • Fallacies and Paradoxes
  • Health, Fitness, and Wellness
  • Leadership and Interpersonal Communication
  • ACT/SAT Test Prep Series
  • Catholic Spiritual Writers
  • The Trinity Explained
  • The Mass Explained
  • Mastering MS Word I
  • Punctuation & Grammar
  • Excellent Sentences and Paragraphs
  • Excellent Paragraphs and Essays
  • Fiction Writing Series (Creative Writing)

These are great courses to take in the summer as well if you want to keep learning alive between the spring and fall semesters without too big of a commitment.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Creative Writing Classes: The Short Story (Why??)


Writing short stories isn't an exercise just for grade school children. There is a lot to be learned in a short story writing course at the high school or college level.

Writing good short stories is an intellectual exercise that results in better writing overall. It forces the author to be a concise writer who makes every sentence, every word have meaning and deliver a punch.

A novel can meander and take it's time setting a scene. It will likely give you backstory, build suspense slowly, and stretch out the climax. A short story, on the other hand, needs to begin as close to the climax as is possible. Backstory is nothing but distraction so is left to the reader's imagination. A good short story typically drives readers toward sudden, unexpected revelations. It enlivens the reader's emotions and yet it does it with few words.

Learning to write good short stories trains the mind not only in writing, but in other forms of communication. It teaches students how to grab the attention of their audience and make a strong point in a short amount of time.

If you would like your homeschooled student to learn these important skills, Homeschool Connections is offering a 4-week course starting April 14th that will provide just what you need: Fiction Writing: Writing the Short Story. To register, visit HSC Registration (click on Summer 2016 Semester and Search).

Here are the course details:

Fiction Writing: Writing the Short Story *New
This course only accepts 15 students.
Fiction Writing: Writing the Short Story will be offered again in the Spring 2017 semester.
Series description: There are eight courses in the Write Your Own Fiction Book Series. Students can jump into the series at any time. Students can also take The Hero’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers and Screenwriting at the same time as the series courses.
Total Classes: 4
Class dates:
Thursday's, April 14 to May 5, 2016 
Starting time: 10:30 AM Eastern (9:30 Central; 8:30 Mountain; 7:30 Pacific)
Duration 50 minutes
Prerequisite: None
Suggested grade level: 9th to 12th grade
Suggested credit: 1/3 semester Creative Writing or English. Add other writing or literature courses for a full semester credit.
Fee:  $99 for all 4 classes. ($119 after April 6)
Instructor: 
Erin Brown Conroy, MA, MFA
Course description: Have you ever wanted to write (and publish) a short story? This course will cover just that -- how to write a dynamic, publishable short story -- including fleshing out ideas for your short stories, the similarities and differences between short stories and full-length book writing, and marketing your short stories to publications.
Course outline:
Class 1: Defining short stories: micro fiction, flash fiction, short stories, novelettes, and novellas
Class 2: Characteristics of dynamic, saleable short stories
Class 3: Brainstorming, outlining, and forming your short story
Class 4: Short story markets and sales

Course materials: All course materials will be provided.

Homework: Estimated one to three hours of homework outside of class time per class, depending on the student’s ability. 

NOTES: Registration closes April 6th. It can be reopened upon request (if the course is not full) for a $20 late-registration fee.
This course will be available as a recorded, independent-learning course in July through our Unlimited Access program.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Online Writing Homeschool Program


Aquinas Writing Advantage is a complete writing program for middle and high school students:
  • All the writing classes you need, from middle through high school, beginner through advanced.
  • Courses that are complete, progressive, and thorough.
  • All of the writing skills needed—foundations, development, advanced, creative, and business writing.
  • Leaves no gaps in your student’s writing skills.
  • Fully prepares your student for college and the workplace.
  • Advances and increases writing skills faster than a grade-based program through its skills-based format, allowing you to pick and choose exactly what you need.
For the 2016/2017 school year, we are adding a number of brand new live, interactive courses:
  • Middle School Essential Writing 3: Punctuation and Grammar II 
  • Middle School Essential Writing 4: Sentences and Paragraphs II
  • Middle School Simplified Writing 3: Writing the Excellent Essay
  • Middle School Simplified Writing 4: Writing Form and Style
  • High School Simplified Writing 2:The 5-Paragraph Essay and Beyond
  • High School Writing Essentials 5: Punctuation and Grammar II
  • High School Writing Essentials 6: Essay Writing Practicum
  • Business Writing
  • Journalism
  • Screenwriting
To learn about Aquinas Writing Advantage and all it offers you and your homeschool please visit the webpage at Homeschool Connections: http://homeschoolconnectionsonline.com/aquinas-writing-advantage

To meet Erin Brown Conroy, creator and designer of the Aquinas Writing Advantage program:

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Open House: Catholic Online Classes


UPDATE: We have a new Open House registration page. It's super easy to sign up. (Make sure your email address is typed in correctly so you receive the link to the Open House.)

Please join us for a open house webinar for Homeschool Connections. You can choose from several dates.  You are invited to come meet Erin Brown Conroy, master teacher, to listen to a short presentation and ask questions about Homeschool Connections.  Please share with other families who may benefit from Catholic homeschooling classes online.

To sign up for an Open House click on the following link: Homeschool Connections Registration Page

You can choose from one of the following dates:
Monday, March 21
Monday, April 18
Tuesday, May 10
Tuesday, June 21
Monday, July 11
or Monday, August 1

All sessions meet at 8:00 PM Eastern (7:00 Central; 6:00 Mountain; 5:00 Pacific)

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Online 2016 Summer Classes for Middle and High School


We are very excited to let you know we have scheduled several great courses for the summer semester. 
  • Professor Joseph Pearce will introduce high school students to G. K. Chesterton's Everlasting Man
  • Kevin O'Brien will teach two courses. First up will be a high school course on C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien. Second will be a middle school drama / acting course. 
  • To help you keep your children up on their math and ready for the next fall, Emily Nardozzi will teach a Math Boot Camp for middle school students. 
  • Dr. Christine Hamilton will repeat her ever-popular Nutrition Science course this summer. Just for fun, she'll also teach an Entomology (Bugs!!!) course for the middle-school set.
  • We are again offering our free study skills course. It's already filling up, but the good news is that we'll add more dates and time for the fall and spring. 
  • Finally, Professor Erin Brown Conroy has three writing courses for you. First is Writing the Short Story, second is a camp for budding authors on how to get published, and third is an upper-level Punctuation and Grammar course to give students a hand up for the fall.
This is going to be one fun summer!

Register on or before March 15 to receive an Early Enrollment Discount. Discounted price is automatic (no need to remember coupon codes!) Here are all of the course details ... 

TO REGISTER: Homeschool Connections Registration Page for Live, Interactive Courses
Click on Summer 2016 Semester and click on Search


FICTION (CREATIVE) WRITING: WRITING THE SHORT STORY 
Total classes: 4
Class dates: Thursdays, April 14 to May 5, 2016
Starting time: 10:30 AM Eastern (9:30 Central; 8:30 Mountain; 7:30 Pacific)
Duration:  50 minutes
Prerequisite: None
Suggested grade level: 9th to 12th grade
Suggested credit: 1/3 semester Creative Writing or English. Add other writing or literature courses for a full semester credit.
Fee:  $89 if you register on or before March 15, 2016. $99 after March 15 for all 4 classes
Instructor: Erin Brown Conroy, MA, MFA
Course description: Have you ever wanted to write (and publish) a short story? This course will cover just that -- how to write a dynamic, publishable short story -- including fleshing out ideas for your short stories, the similarities and differences between short stories and full-length book writing, and marketing your short stories to publications.
Course outline:
Class 1: Defining short stories: micro fiction, flash fiction, short stories, novelettes, and novellas
Class 2: Characteristics of dynamic, saleable short stories
Class 3: Brainstorming, outlining, and forming your short story
Class 4: Short story markets and sales
Course materials: All course materials will be provided.
Homework: Estimated one to three hours of homework outside of class time per class, depending on the student’s ability.

AUTHORING A BOOK II: PERFECTING YOUR QUERY LETTER AND SYNOPSIS WORKSHOP 
Total classes: 4
Class dates: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, May 2, 3, 4, and 5, 2016
Starting time: 11:30 AM Eastern (10:30 Central; 9:30 Mountain; 8:30 Pacific)
Duration:  50 minutes
Prerequisite: Authoring a Book I (Live, interactive course or Unlimited Access recorded course)
Suggested grade level: 9th to 12th grade
Suggested credit: 1/3 semester Creative Writing or English. Add other writing or literature courses for a full semester credit.
Fee:  $89 if you register on or before March 15, 2016. $99 after March 15 for all 4 classes
Instructor: Erin Brown Conroy, MA, MFA
Course description: During this course, each student will receive feedback on their own query letter and synopsis – two components necessary for submitting your work to an agent and/or publisher. The class will have both instructor feedback and workshopping together, and students should leave the course with documents that have been edited and polished.
Course outline:
Class 1: Analyzing excellent query letters
Class 2: Workshopping query letters
Class 3: Analyzing excellent synopses
Class 4: Workshopping synopses
Course materials: All course materials will be provided free by the instructor.
Homework: Estimated one to three hours of homework outside of class time per class, depending on the student’s ability.

THE SCIENCE OF BUGS! (ENTOMOLOGY) 
Total classes: 8
Class dates: Mondays through Thursdays, June 6, 2016 - June 16, 2016 June 6, 7, 8, 9, 13, 14, 15, 16)
Starting time: 10:00 AM Eastern (9:00 Central; 8:00 Mountain; 7:00 Pacific)
Duration: 45 minutes
Prerequisite: None
Suggested grade level: 6th to 8th grade
Suggested credit: ½ semester Entomology or Science
Fee: $70 if you register on or before March 15, 2016. $80 if you register after Mar. 15 for all 8 classes.
Instructor: Christine Hamilton, Ph.D.
Course description: Fun lighthearted study of the insect world.  We will learn about insect type, habitat, sounds and some yummy recipes (really!). Pests, workers, artists—the intrepid insects of the world fascinate, annoy, and benefit humankind. From butterflies to bees to the lowly cockroach, insects are an integral part of the natural environment, making their mark on culture through rhyme and lore. What causes fireflies to blink? Did you ever wonder about the origin of "Sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite?" Let's delve into the insect world and see what we can learn.
Course outline:
1. Fastest
2. Largest
3. Longest
4. Most Numerous
5. Most Spectacular
6. Smallest
7. Misc. (Bioluminescence, loudest, most toxic)
8. Recipes (crunchy, chewy)
Course materials: TBA
Homework:  Research insect of your choice for report at the end of the course.

INTERNET ACTING CAMP
Total classes: 10

Class dates: Daily, Monday through Friday, June 6 through June 17
Starting time:  1:00 PM Eastern (Noon Central; 11:00 AM Mountain; 10:00 AM Pacific)
Duration: 55 minutes
Prerequisite: None

Suggested grade level: 7th to 8th grade
Suggested credit: ½ semester Drama
Fee: $130 if you register on or before March 15, 2016. $150 after Mar. 15th
Instructor: Kevin O’Brien
Course description: Can a group of homeschoolers put together a one-act play in two weeks, even if they’re separated by thousands of miles and acting for their webcams?  We’ll find out in this fun, challenging, inspiring and kind of crazy Internet Acting Camp!  The final production will either be recorded as an Adobe Connect session, or (if we can manage it technically) edited and uploaded as a video for family and friends to watch!
Course outline

Day 1 - Introduction and overview - Mr. O'Brien talks about show business and about St. Genesius, patron saint of actors.
Day 2 - Short scenes from various plays will be read, acting tips will be given.
Day 3 - We will begin to formulate a plot and characters for our play.
Day 4 - Plot and character outlines will be written as a final outline.
Day 5 - Provisional scenes will be read and / or improvised.  We will come up with a few dialogue scenes that are fun and that we're proud of.  (Between the two weeks, Mr. O'Brien will write the play whose plot and characters the students have outlined into a final form, with scenes, dialogue, etc.)
Day 6 - The play is read in class.  Acting coaching is provided.
Day 7 - Rehearsal
Day 8 - Rehearsal
Day 9 - Rehearsal
Day 10 - Final performance!
Course materials: Provided free as PDF files by the instructor.
Homework: Writing scenes, learning lines, practicing on your own.  About 5 hours per week minimum, but each student may do more if his or her heart is in it!

MATH FOUNDATION BOOT CAMP FOR MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS 
Total classes: 8
Class dates: Mondays through Thursdays, June 13 to June 23, 2016
Starting time: 11:30 AM Eastern (10:30 Central; 9:30 Mountain; 8:30 Pacific)
Duration: 1 hour
Prerequisite: Completion of at least one middle school level math course
Suggested grade level: Geared toward 6th, 7th, and 8th grade. However, 9th graders are welcomed who would like to strengthen their math foundation.
Suggested credit: 1/2 semester Math
Fee: $95 if you register on or before March 15, 2016. $110 after March 15th.
Instructor: Emily Nardozzi
Course description: The focus of this course will be to strengthen students' skills in working with fractions, decimals, and percents. Fractions are the most misunderstood concept in all of mathematics and many students cringe when they come across them in a math problem. The goal of this course is to make sure that students are able to add, subtract, multiply, and divide fractions, decimals, and percents with ease and confidence.
Course outline:
Mon., June 13: Identify, compare, order, and demonstrate equivalent relationships between integers, rational numbers in decimal, fraction, and percent notation
Tues., June 14: Represent, order, and compare integers and describe their absolute value
Wed., June 15: Identify, compare, and perform the four basic operations relating to rational numbers in fraction, decimal, and percent notation.
Thurs., June 16: Identify, compare, and perform the four basic operations relating to rational numbers in fraction, decimal, and percent notation.
Mon., June 20: Evaluate expressions using order of operations
Tues., June 21: Evaluate expressions using order of operations
Wed., June 22: Solve equations and inequalities
Thurs., June 23: Review
Course materials: None, all materials will be provided FREE by the instructor.
Homework: 1 quiz per day will be given with approximately 5-10 problems, these should take around 10-15 minutes


“I CALL YOU FRIENDS” C. S. LEWIS AND J. R. R. TOLKIEN
Total classes: 8
Class datesMondayTuesdayWednesday, Thursday, June 20 through June 30.
Starting time: 1:00 PM Eastern (Noon Central; 11:00 AM Mountain; 10:00 AM Pacific)
Duration: 55 minutes
Prerequisite: None
Suggested grade level: 9th to 12th grade
Suggested credit: ½ semester Literature
Fee: $110 if you register on or before March 15, 2016. $125 after Mar. 15th.
Instructor: Kevin O’Brien
Course description: Two of the greatest Christian writers of the 20th century were also close friends - C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien - a friendship that awakened Lewis to the Faith, but that also may have faltered because of the demands of the Faith.  We examine the relationship of these two men, the ups and downs of their friendship, and how they influenced one another’s writings.
Course outline

Class one: Overview of the course and of the setting and times into which Lewis & Tolkien were born.
Class twoSelections from Surprised by Joy, the life of C.S. Lewis
Class three: Selections from Joseph Pearce's biography of J.R.R. Tolkien
Class four: Tolkien's "On Fairy Stories" and the Night Talk that started Lewis' conversion
Class five: Other influences on Lewis' faith: Chesterton and the Inklings.
Class six: The Inklings and the development of the writings of Lewis and Tolkien: how they influenced one another.
Class seven:  Lewis' marriage and Tolkien's reaction to it: trouble in the friendship.
Class eight: We examine the legacy of each author, review what we've learned, and bring the course to a conclusion.
Course materialsSurprised by Joy by C.S. Lewis, Tolkien: Man and Myth by Joseph Pearce should both be purchased by students and at least one of the two books should be read ahead of time, before the first class session. Other material will be brief selections from works and letters of the two authors, and will be provided free by the instructor in class or as PDF files.
Homework: Completing the assigned reading for each class; taking six quizzes and one essay exam. Estimated homework time each week: 4 hours.


HEALTH SCIENCE: NUTRITION
Total classes: 8
Class dates: Mondays through Thursdays, July 11 to July 21 (July 11, 12, 13, 14, 18, 19. 20, 21)
Starting time:  10:00 AM Eastern (9:00 Central; 8:00 Mountain; 7:00 Pacific)
Duration: 45 minutes
Prerequisite: At least a 9th grade level of understanding of science.
Suggested grade level: 9th to 12th grade
Suggested credit: ½ semester Health Science
Fee: $70 if you register on or before March 15, 2016. $80 if you register after Mar. 15 for all 8 classes.
Instructor: Christine Hamilton, Ph.D.
Course description: Teaches the basic concepts of healthy eating. We will learn what food means to the body and gain a better understanding of its necessity.
Course outline:
1. Healthy Eating - proper nutrition can help prevent a number of health conditions including (but not limited to); Type 2 Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and obesity. Planning a balanced diet and understanding nutrition labels.
2. Protein - necessary for muscles, skin and hair.
3. Carbohydrates - the body's primary source of energy converted to glucose.
4. Fats - help synthesize fat soluble vitamins (A,E,D,K).
5. Vitamins - Essential vitamins including; A, B, Complex C, D, E, K and folate.
6. Minerals - essential minerals include; calcium, iron, zinc, iodine and chromium.
7. Water - we are 60% H2O, our brain is 70% H2O.
8. Proper Diet - Good nutrition keeps muscles, bones, organs and other body parts strong.
Course materials: Food for Today: Student Activity Paperback by Helen Kowtaluk, ISBN # 0078616468 (www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0078616468/catholictreas-20).
Homework: Students will be asked to bring a canned or boxed food item to class with them to learn about label reading and meanings. Students will keep a three-day food journal to track short-term eating habits. Expect daily homework at approximately 30-45 minutes each day.


THE EVERLASTING MAN by G. K. CHESTERTON
Total classes: 6

Class dates: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, August 9, 10, 11, 16, 17, 18.
Starting time: 1:00 PM Eastern (Noon Central; 11:00 AM Mountain; 10:00 AM Pacific)
Duration: 55 minutes
Prerequisite: Complete reading The Everlasting Man by G. K. Chesterton before the first day of class
Suggested grade level: 9th to 12th grade
Suggested high school credit: ½ semester credit for Literature or English
Fee: $75 if you register on or before March 15, 2016. $90 after Mar. 15th.
Instructor: Joseph Pearce
Course description:  The Everlasting Man is G. K. Chesterton’s classic work of Catholic Apologetics. The book's thesis is ultimately that the Incarnation is central to an understanding of history. Chesterton takes on the claim that man is simply the product of evolution, arguing that Christianity provides the True explanation for the genesis and purpose of human life. Chesterton wrote the book as a rebuttal to popular author H.G. Wells, whose secularist The Outline of History was influential at the time (1920’s). As Dale Ahlquist, president of the American Chesterton Society, says, “Of all of Chesterton’s literary monuments, this is perhaps his greatest, for he eloquently and concisely packs the whole human story between the covers of one book.” In this course, we will unpack that story and study it together over six classes.
Course outline:
Class one: Part I, chapters 1-3
Class two: Part I, chapters 4-6
Class three: Part I, chapters 7-8
Class four: Part II, chapters 1-2
Class five: Part II, chapters 3-4
Class six: Part II, chapters 5-6
Course materials: G. K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man (Ignatius Press), 978-0-89870-444-0
Homework: Completing the assigned reading for each class; taking six quizzes. Estimated homework time each week: 3 hours.


HIGH SCHOOLWRITING ESSENTIALS 5: PUNCTUATION AND GRAMMAR II
Fully Understanding Punctuation & Grammar
Total classes: 6
Starting time: 11:30 AM Eastern (10:30 Central; 9:30 Mountain; 8:30 Pacific)
Class dates: Week One: Monday through Thursday. Week Two: Monday and Tuesday. August 22, 23, 24, 25: 29, 30; 2016
Duration:  55 minutes
Prerequisite: HIGH SCHOOL WRITING ESSENTIALS 1: Essential Punctuation and Grammar I
 and HIGH SCHOOL SIMPLIFIED WRITING 1: All-Encompassing Foundational High School Writing Skills (Live, interactive courses or Unlimited Access recorded courses)
Suggested grade level: 9th to 12th grade
Suggested credit: 1/2 semester Writing or English
Fee: $99 if you register on or before March 15, 2016; $119 after Mar. 15 for all 6 classes.
Instructor: Erin Brown Conroy, MA, MFA
Course description:  This course continues your student’s punctuation and grammar instruction and exercises, taking your student to college-level understanding. Students will move beyond common understanding to mastering the skills. If you want your teen to never struggle with punctuation and grammar and be able to be skillful in upper-level, college-prep punctuation and grammar, this is the course for you.
Course outline:
Class 1: The power of punctuation; what punctuation does (and doesn’t do) for your writing, and how you can harness that power
Class 2: Complete comma understanding and practice: identification of commas with multiple clause sentences (the sentence/non-sentence trick)
Class 3: Complete comma understanding and practice: typical comma errors and editors’ choices with commas
Class 4: Common, unusual, and rare comma placement in common, unusual, and rare places
Class 5: Semicolons, colons, and commas used together correctly
Class 6: End punctuation issues, quotation mark errors, and quotes within quotes issues
Class 7: Citations, references, footnotes, and research-centric punctuation
Class 8: Mastering punctuation in the SAT and ACT
Course materials: TBA, ordering information forthcoming. Word 2007 or later version or the ability to convert documents to Word-compatible documents.
Homework: Daily quizzes, with an estimated two to three hours per week for homework outside of class time. Quizzes are graded automatically by the computer for instant feedback. Course includes skill-building sheets with corrections guide. Personalized question time will be offered in class to insure a strong understanding of concepts.


ADDENDUM: All Summer Excellent Student courses are full and closed. Seats are still available for the upcoming fall and spring semesters. Also available through Unlimited Access.HOW TO BE AN EXCELLENT STUDENT: NOTE TAKING, TEST TAKING, AND HOW TO GET AN A
Homeschool Connections offers this course free throughout the school year. How to Be an Excellent Student lays a foundation of study skills to help students be successful in all of their other courses. Get ready for the school year now and register for this short, but vital, course. If this course fills up, we will add new dates and times in the fall and spring semesters.
Total classes: 4
Class dates: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, August 22 to 25
Time: 1: 00 PM Eastern (Noon Central; 11:00 Mountain; 10:00 Pacific)
Duration: 55 minutes per class
Prerequisite: None
Suggested grade level: 7th to 10th grade
Fee: FREE
Instructor: Erin Brown Conroy, MA, MFA
Course description: This course is designed to help your student become strong, confident, and able to study for any high school level course with success.
Course outline:
Class 1: Active listening and how to take notes effectively
Class 2: Active reading and how to study effectively
Class 3: Critical reading skills for comprehension
Class 4: Test-taking in a timed setting
Course materials: All materials provided FREE from the instructor.
Homework: This is a lecture course with approximately 2 hours of work per class (reading and automated quizzes).

We hope that this selection of summer online classes will be helpful to you and your family. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to email us at homeschoolconnections@gmail.com. You can visit us online at www.homeschoolconnections.com

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