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

Faith ~ Excellence ~ Passion

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Free Online Classes: Modern American History

Due to the outstanding response to Mr. Campbell's FREE Modern History course, we're extending the offer until the Feast of the Epiphany.

Click here and learn!  Modern American History

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Free Webinar: Homeschooling and Socialization

Refresh! Midwinter Virtual Conference
(click on webinar title to register)


I saw Mary Ellen give this talk at the CHAPLET Conference in New Jersey this last summer and it was quite excellent. She blew the myth of "What about socialization" right out of the water. This will be a great webinar for you to find encouragement and to be reminded that "socialization" is a reason TO homeschool.

One of the great things about our free webinars is their interactive nature. You make it unique with your questions and comments. So bring lots of them. Another plus is that they are all recorded -- you can share this event for years to come with friends and family.

Hope to see you there.

Date: Thursday, February 9, 2012
Starting time: 8:00 pm, Eastern Standard Time (7:00 pm, Central)
Duration: 1 hour 15 minutes
Presenter: Mary Ellen Barrett

Webinar description: Homeschoolers are often portrayed as socially crippled and abnormal. Mrs. Barrett will debunk the myths of the unsocialized homeschooler and show how the very things that make them weird to society makes them wonderful students, adults, and children of God.

Presenter's biography: Mary Ellen Barrett is a homeschooling mother of seven children. She is a longtime columnist for The Long Island Catholic and speaks on a variety of topics at conferences and parishes around the eastern part of the United States. She can be found blogging at Tales from the Bonny Blue House.

Note: Attendance is limited. If it fills up, you will be placed on a wait list. All webinars are recorded and made available for free viewing within 24 hours.

Refresh! Midwinter Virtual Conference
(click on webinar title to register)

Review: The Chronicle of Pilgrimage to the Holy Land

The Chronicle of Pilgrimage to the Holy Land (256 pp.)
Edited by D. Salomon
Copyright by Alpha Communications Ltd. (2008)
Review by Maria Rioux

Many books cover large periods of history, but I've yet to see one that includes so many personal experiences and fascinating stories in such a stunning, sweeping manner as does The Chronicle of Pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Most of us will never set foot in the Holy Land. Traveling there is a lot easier than it used to be, but, for me and most of the families I know, living our vocation takes up every spare minute—and most of our money. Nevertheless, we each have a strong and devotional attraction to the Holy Land. The Chronicle is an excellent means to feed that natural devotion we already have for the places where Jesus lived, worked and died. Pilgrimages have always been popular because man learns through his senses: though what we know by faith is unshakably true, it's reinforced by what we can see, touch and feel. This book, a virtual pilgrimage in itself, is a phenomenal help. When you read about what people went through in order to visit the Holy Land or what they sacrificed to keep Christian sites and artifacts from falling into Muslim hands, you can't help but feel awed and inspired.

The chosen format is that of a newspaper chronicling the history and legends of the Holy Land from the birth of Christ until the present. Unlike the newspapers of today, however, this one is wonderfully balanced, while also highly informative and detailed. While Christ is undoubtedly the focus, respectful consideration is shown to those others who consider this land holy for other reasons: the Jews and the Muslims. In the 2000 years covered there's not one snide insinuation, insulting jab, or indication of bias, which is highly unusual for anything historical, especially if it is also at all religious. Evil men and evil deeds are plainly told, just as good men and virtuous acts are faithfully recounted, and each with a level of detail that makes you feel as if you might have been there. I felt as if I met Christ again, living in the Body of Christ, but also in time. I met Him first walking the paths He walked, but then, too, in those who expressed their devotion, hope, or longing through their art or by embracing the physical hardship pilgrimage to the Holy Land entails. This narrative is not a marching through 2000 years of salvation history. It is an unfolding of God's plan in time, for individuals and peoples, in the language God uses to speak to us: Scripture first and foremost, but also, through people, events, and even things themselves. I would be so bold as to say that, through this book, I have felt God more closely, marveled at His providence and love throughout time more appreciatively, and wished to be a pilgrim myself. We each are, but I'm grateful for this more concrete connection with the broader family of God throughout time, and the places and things so holy to me as well.

This book begins with the birth of Christ and I can't think of a better way to prepare for Christmas. It does not stop there. We see Christianity thrive and grow as pilgrims from increasingly distant lands journey to the Holy Land to see for themselves the places where Jesus walked, preached, prayed, wept, suffered and died. Of course they wanted to see these places! I want to see them, too! This book has helped me get as close as I am likely to get in an amazingly personal and compelling manner.

The accompanying DVD/documentary helps enormously. I've watched quite a few documentaries. The first thing one immediately notices is the voice/manner of the narrator. Even terrific pictures/footage can be unjustly under-appreciated if the narration is terrible. This is still true if the narration is not half-bad. In this case, the footage is phenomenal, and the narrator is quite good: his manner is pleasant and manly, but not over-bearing. He walks you through the Holy Land, quietly guiding and informing you along the way, almost as if he doesn't want to intrude on your thoughts. The footage is breathtakingly beautiful. Some scenes are panoramic, and others up-close and personal. Though I've never been to the Holy Land, I now almost feel like I have. The DVD alone is a kind of pilgrimage.

The author treats religious matters, sites, and controversies with a reverent yet objective tone. As a teacher, I'm particularly appreciative of this because it's not only exhausting to constantly have to work against a writer's bias, it's sometimes so time-consuming it's unfeasible. This book, however, is a pleasure to read—a delight! It has none of that. It neither demonizes nor sanctifies the Crusaders nor vilifies the Muslims. It is very much what a history should be: presenting the facts in an engaging, living manner and backing them up with authentic documentation; in the words and art of the people who lived it. Everything—the photographs, the varied and beautiful artwork, and the citations from ancient documents—works together to give a well-rounded while also deeply personal account of what went on during various periods of time in the Holy Land. And there's a wealth of it!

In fact, this book could have been an art book with an emphasis on Christianity and a penchant for historical detail and documentation. The same balance I mentioned earlier is evident even in the selected artwork: there is such a variety of types and periods. What's most astonishing is the sheer number and quality of the images—aerial shots of Jerusalem and photographs taken inside the Basilica of the Annunciation interspersed with murals, paintings, and maps—give you a vivid impression of the Holy Land itself. The paper quality is excellent, and the book is over-sized (9X13), which is especially appropriate, pleasing and necessary because there are so many stunning photos, artworks, and additional documentation of astonishing variety throughout.

It certainly isn't the same as visiting in person but, together with the DVD that's included, it's the next best thing. I can linger over the images in the book, noting the inscriptions along the margins of the icons or carved into stone, while the DVD takes me through the streets of the major cities and sites at a visitor's pace. I can direct all my attention to the sights and sounds of Jerusalem while still having a guide to point out the things I wouldn't have noticed on my own. I also liked the way the author chose to convey historical events: as newspaper headlines with the stories in columns below. For example, in Chapter I, a headline reads: It's a Boy! followed by the sub-caption: "His Name is John." It's a clever way to retell a story that we've all heard many times: the birth of John the Baptist. And, later on in the same chapter, I read: "Joseph, Do Not Be Afraid” followed by: Angel Convinces Husband to Take Mary Home.

While I cannot show you the pictures or the artwork, I can give you a glimpse of the personal nature of the narrative throughout. This is an excerpt from William Lynch's travelogue (an American naval lieutenant exploring the Jordan and the Dead Sea in 1848): "Monday, April 17. At 9:30 p.m. we arrived at "El Meshra," the bathing place of the Christian pilgrims, after having been fifteen hours in the boats. This ford is consecrated by tradition as the place where the Israelites passed over with the Ark of the Covenant; and where our Blessed Savior was baptized by John. Feeling that it would be desecration to moor the boats at a place so sacred, we passed it, and with some difficulty found a landing below. My first act was to bathe in the consecrated stream, thanking God, first for the precious favour of being permitted to visit such a spot; and secondly, for His protecting care throughout our perilous passage. For a long time after, I sat upon the bank, my mind oppressed with awe, as I mused upon the great and wondrous events which had here occurred. Perhaps directly before me, for this is near Jericho, "the waters stood and rose up upon a heap," and the multitudinous host of the Israelites passed over. ...Tradition, sustained by the geographical features of the country, makes this also the scene of the baptism of the Redeemer. The mind of man, trammeled by sin, cannot soar in contemplation of so sublime an event. On that wondrous day, when the Deity veiled in flesh descended the bank, all nature, hushed in awe, looked on, —and the impetuous river, in grateful homage, must have stayed its course, and gently laved the body of its Lord." (p. 198)

Christ promised not to leave us orphans, and He did so through His Church and the sacraments. Man learns through his senses, so concrete signs of God's presence among us is both necessary and comforting. And yet, even the sacraments are in some ways not that concrete. Baptismal water is not (for most of us) the Jordan. Mass is not Holy Thursday, though it definitely began there. This is at least partly why so many from such far away places and varied circumstances for over two thousand years have felt blessed to make the journey to the Holy Land; to be a pilgrim walking where Christ walked, seeing what Christ saw, in a spirit of prayer and penitence, faith and hope. It is a witness to the Body of Christ over time and throughout the earth. We have countless brothers and sisters, each taking this journey in some way. Some belong to the Church Triumphant (St. Helen of the Cross and St. Louis IX, for example), some to the Church Suffering (and we don't know who they are for sure, but history may lead us to suspect and we should definitely pray for them), and some to the Church Militant, who have always and do still fight for Christ as best they can and as demanded by the circumstances of their lives. We, who follow the tales of these pilgrims can relate, learn, and benefit, today as yesterday.

Lastly, another remarkable aspect of The Chronicle is its scope. From the events surrounding the life of Christ (Chapter I) up through "Twentieth-Century Pilgrimage" (Chapter XI: 1917 onward), this book explains the political forces behind the wars, the various difficulties faced by both pilgrims and Crusaders, and the internal struggles among the Muslim caliphs that accounted for bursts of benevolent tolerance as well as sudden and harsh reprisals almost completely through personal accounts. I will try to give you some sense of that by giving you a peek at each of the 11 chapters. Seriously, it's just a peek. You would not believe all that I had to leave out! Each chapter begins with a synopsis of the period covered, which is then fleshed out through the pilgrims and events of the day.

Chapter I: The Footsteps of Jesus
This chronicles the life of Christ and lays the foundation for all the chapters to follow: this land is holy because Christ was born, lived and died here.

Chapter II: The Byzantine Period (324-634 CE)

Once Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire (4th century), pilgrimages to Jerusalem increased. The difficulties involved and the hardships to be endured were extreme. First, there was the sea voyage. Ships were built for function rather than comfort and pilgrims would be crowded together in the hold, living on food that rotted a little more each day. Assuming that they survived the voyage, there were wars to avoid, governments that would spring up and collapse whenever one took his eyes off of them, and the only rule that was stable was inimical to Christians.
St. Helen of the Cross, churches built, wars between various non-Christians, Jerusalem changes hands frequently.
Monasticism in the Holy Land: hermits and communities
Mosaics, sections of carpet/floor, baptismal founts, St. Sabbas in his coffin (skeleton in fine garb)

Chapter III: The Early Arab Period (634-1099)

Various caliphs, their internal wrangling, the ones held in high regard and the traitorous dogs.
Earthquake destroys Bethlehem but leaves Church of Nativity untouched.
Church encourages sinners to make pilgrimages for sins.

Chapter IV: The Kingdom of Jerusalem (1099-1187)

Pope calls for knights to stop feuding and save Holy Sepulcher. Peter the Hermit’s disastrous People’s Crusade. “Tancred of Apulia Conquers Galilee with 80 Knights.” Godfrey’s (Protector of the Holy Sepulcher) sword, spurs, and cross photo. Teutonic Order of Knights in response to German/French hostility (German inscription on knight’s tomb erased and French one substituted). Love triangle between Eleanor of Aquitaine, Louis VII, and Raymond of Antioch (ended in divorce).
Crusaders rebuild Church of Holy Sepulcher. Women in the Crusades. Saladin defeats the Crusaders and razes all their fortress but neglects city of Tyre, thereby leaving possibility of a third crusade.

Chapter V: The Second Crusader Kingdom (1187-1270)

Heavy hitters set out to face Saladin and retake Jerusalem: Richard Lionheart, Philip II, Friedrich Barbarossa. Almost 3000 Muslim prisoners executed at Acre when Saladin refuses terms. Saladin nearly takes Jaffa but Richard Lionheart’s timely arrival and daring dive into the surf saves Christian defenders. St. King Louis’s role and death.

Chapter VI: The Mameluke Conquest (1260-1516)

Non-Christians crack down on pilgrims—Franciscans charged fee and threatened with beating to death—and destroy Church of Annunciation. Non-Christians make money off pilgrims. Pilgrims complain of noise, unpleasant odors, living conditions, and fees associated with food/travel/amenities. Prestige knighthood titles. Bogislav wrote a third-person account of his own exploits against the
Turkish pirates and fought off the last of them with a skewer for roasting chickens.

Chapter VII: Under Ottoman Rule (1516-1798)

Turks drug their soldiers and camels with opium (for fighting spirit). French pharmacist mentions 275 plants from his journey to Holy Land by name. Scotsman William Lithgow writes crude, simple account of his travels, using nicknames where he forgot the real ones, and bluntly informing critics of his work that he wished they would hang. Bestseller in twelve editions and sold for 200 years.
Dutch De Bruyn paints the Holy Land.

Chapter VIII: Into the Nineteenth Century (1798-1831)

Napoleon attempted to take the Holy Land but turned back at Acre. The Princess of Wales was royally treated by Suleiman despite suspected scandalous behavior. William John Banks, a member of the British House of Commons, carried out the first archeological excavations in Jerusalem. In renovating the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Greek Orthodox nearly went bankrupt. Irishman Richard Madden outwits bandits four times, with the last time being the most impressive. While never lucky, the Irish are, indeed, plucky.

Chapter IX: The Advent of the Modern Age (1831-1876)

Artists, architects, scientists and unlikely physicians from various countries all use their gifts to better appreciate and understand the Holy Land and its people. Jerusalem is photographed for the first time. The British conquer Acre, which must have been especially gratifying as Napoleon couldn't.

Chapter X: The Sunset of the Ottoman Empire (1876-1917)
Ottoman Turks ally with the Germans, sundering ties with the British, and fall with them when they're defeated in WWI. Kaiser Wilhelm journeys east, "feeling himself a modern Crusader, though the preparations for his journey were made by the English travel agency Thomas Cook and Sons, Ltd." The Kaiser was thus referred to as "Cook's Pilgrim". At least he got a capitol "P". Lawrence of Arabia surveys Byzantium...but in which sense? Both, maybe? The Holy City surrenders to the British. Thank God.

Chapter XI: Twentieth-Century Pilgrimage (1917 onward)

Pope Paul VI visits the Holy Land...the first pope to do so. In the Jubilee year 2000, JPII also made a pilgrimage: "To come here and to pray in the most important places which, from ancient times, have seen God's interventions, the wonders He has done."

I am not connected with this project in any way, but they are offering my readers a discount. This book was ten years in the making, with historians, theologians, journalists and researchers working together to make what Mother Therese might well have characterized as, "something beautiful for God." It's
phenomenal, and I am grateful to be even a small part of making others aware of it.

These are the details on the discount:
1) Book (DEAL1000): $47.90, plus $2 shipping and handling, for a grand total of
$49.90

2) DVD (DEAL1010): $11.99, plus $2 for shipping and handling, for a grand total
of $13.99

One can buy the book and DVD here: http://www.kindle-business.com That site also contains a few resources that will you a better preview of the book and DVD. A virtual book tour can be found here: http://www.kindle-business.com/tour/
More about each chapter and the book can be found here: http://www.kindle-business.com/footsteps.html
Excerpts from the DVD can be found here: http://www.kindlebusiness.com/dvd.html

Monday, December 19, 2011

Free Webinar: Little Flowers Girls Club

(click on webinar title to register)

Date: Monday, February 13, 2012
Starting time: 8:00 pm, Eastern Standard Time
Duration: 1 hour 15 minutes
Presenter: Rachel Watkins
Description: Thinking about starting a Little Flowers Girl Club? Already a leader and looking for some tips? Have a daughter in a club and have some questions on how to make her experience even better? Whether you're a beginner, experienced, or just considering Little Girls Club for the future, this webinar is designed with you in mind.

Come meet the creator of the program, Rachel Watkins. Learn just how easy it is to start a club and how fun it is for the girls as they grow in Faith. Feel free to bring your questions. Or, if you prefer, just sit back and relax with a nice hot cup of tea and enjoy Rachel's talk.

Little Flowers Girls' Club® is a Catholic program for girls ages 5 and up based on learning Catholic virtues through the lives of Catholic saints, Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Developed by our speaker Rachel Watkins, and based on Fr. Lasance's Catholic Girls' Guide, the Club strives to bring the Catholic faith alive and inspire the girls to become authentic Catholic women.

Presenter's biography: Rachel Watkins is wife to Matthew, homeschooling mom to 11 great kids, creator/writer of the Little Flowers Girls Club (ages 5 and up) and Honor Guard (ages 12 and up) Contributor to Ave Maria Radio's More 2 Life with Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak and their companion blog Exceptional Marriages. In the midst of life, she has found some time to be published in a number of Catholic publications and websites. Her life could be defined as a daily attempt to fulfill the words of Jesus who assures us that He came so that our joy would be full! She doesn't always succeed but the efforts have been surprising.

Note: Attendance is limited. If it fills up, you will be placed on a wait list. All webinars are recorded and made available for free viewing within 24 hours. 


 (click on conference title to learn about other upcoming talks)

(click on webinar title to register)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Meet Wyoming Catholic College

This new video from Wyoming Catholic College is simply beautiful. They are accomplishing great things in Wyoming. If you'd like to learn more, here is a free webinar they did for Homeschool Connections a couple of years ago. Click to view: Meet Wyoming Catholic College.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Frances Chesterton Photo Album

Nancy Brown put together this lovely YouTube photo album of Frances Chesterton, wife of G. K. You can watch Nancy's recorded webinar for free here: Frances Chesterton: What We Can Learn from the Wife of G. K. Chesterton About Home Education

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Anatomy of a Logo

We've been hard at work creating a new logo for Homeschool Connections. I have found the process to be fascinating. In fact, I even found a way to fit it into our homeschool studies.

We were studying heraldry in our Middle Ages history co-op. Each student was assigned to create their own coat of arms. We talked about how one's coat of arms represented the person or family and how each symbol and every color has some special meaning.

Then the conversation moved to how modern company logos are similar to medieval coats. Here are a few examples of logos with special and hidden meanings:

Notice how the arrow denotes A to Z?

This is an electric company. See how the E and D make a plug?

In this one the G is also a happy face.

And, finally, our new logo. The pencil and the book binding make a cross to represent our Catholicity. And the digitization represents the old becoming new. 

I hope you like our new logo. It's so new, you won't even see it on the website for a while yet. We're in the midst of a complete website redesign built around the new logo. We're also working to make the website more user friendly for you.

 To see more cool logos, visit Toxel Design here and here and here.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Free Webinar: What Every High School Student Needs to Know to Succeed in Writing

NOTE: The live webinar went fantastic. If you missed it, you may watch the recording of the event here: http://tinyurl.com/EBConroyWriting 



(click on webinar title to register)

Date: Monday, January 23, 2012
Starting time: 8:00 pm, Eastern Standard Time (New York, GMT-05:00)
Duration: 1 hour 15 minutes
Presenter: E. B. Conroy (Erin)
Description:  Every student needs to know how to write! Whether your student is going to college or simply wants to succeed in life—there are critical how-to skills for writing that get the good grade and business promotion. Come to this one-hour free webinar (plus Q&A) to learn the 7 most important skills of writing—and how to easily teach them to your teen. Get inspired -- and learn how to inspire your teen to love writing!

Presenter's biography: E.B. Conroy (Erin) is a public speaker, professional writer, author, curriculum writer, and college writing professor. Erin has been homeschooling for 27 years and is a parent of 13 children ages 10 to 30. Erin also teaches "Simplified Writing" courses for middle and high school students, fiction writing, and SAT/ACT prep through Homeschool Connections.

Note: Attendance is limited. If it fills up, you will be placed on a wait list. All webinars are recorded and made available for free viewing within 24 hours. 

Refresh! Midwinter Homeschool Conference
(click on webinar title to register)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

FREE Online Course: Modern American History

Homeschool Connections offers a pretty awesome deal for recorded classes. For only $30 a month OR one $330 annual payment (one month free!) you can have access to over 70 courses. Seventy courses!!! Some online schools charge $330 and up for just one online course. This is the best deal you'll ever find in Catholic online education -- quantity and quality!

We want you to have an opportunity to try out one of our courses so that you can see firsthand what this service can offer you.

As of today, you have free access to Mr. Campbell's Modern History recorded course until December 30, 2011. It is completely free to you and yours. Just click here: Modern American History. Make sure you forward this on to your friends on email and Facebook who could really benefit from this deal.

Please email or leave a comment below if you have questions or comments.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Free Webinar: Keep Doing What You're Doing

NOTE: The live webinar went fantastic. If you missed it, you may watch or download the recording of the event here:


Refresh! Midwinter Homeschool Conference
(click on webinar title to register)


Note: Attendance is limited. If it fills up, you will be placed on a wait list. All webinars are recorded and made available for free viewing within 24 hours. 


Date: Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Starting time: 8:00 pm, Eastern Standard Time
Duration: 1 hour 15 minutes
Presenter: Laurie Navar Gill, M. Ed.
Webinar Title: "Keep Doing What You're Doing" Perspectives of a Homeschool Mom Turned Catholic High School Teacher

Webinar description: After homeschooling six kids for 16 years and running writing workshops for homeschoolers, Mrs. Gill returned to the fulltime work force and has been teaching high school English in St. Louis Catholic schools since 2006. This year, she added an online AP lit class for Homeschool Connections to her teaching load. Mrs. Gill will share her observations about differences between home schooled and private schooled students and about the strengths and weaknesses in each type of educational setting.


Refresh! Midwinter Homeschool Conference
(click on webinar title to register)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Free Webinar: Science by Inquiry

Refresh! Midwinter Homeschool Conference
(click on webinar title to register)


Note: Attendance is limited. If it fills up, you will be placed on a wait list. All webinars are recorded and made available for free viewing within 24 hours. 

Date: Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Starting Time: 8:00 pm, Eastern Standard Time
Duration: 1 hour 15 minutes
Presenter: Kris Correira
Webinar Description: Science by Inquiry is where children begin with a question and then answer that question through investigation. Inquiry engages children to make learning more fun and enduring. Any current science program can be adapted to take on this approach, or you can start from scratch to create a project of interest to your children. Kris Correira will show you how Science by Inquiry can be as structured or as open as you like. Use it as your main approach to science, as a way to liven up a structured curriculum, or as a fun addition to what you are already doing.

Speaker Biography:
Kris Correira is a Catholic homeschooling mother of three boys with a particular interest in science. Her blog, At Home Science, is a resource for teaching science at home without reliance on textbooks or curricula, but rather by creating individual, flexible science programs through a variety of books and other resources.
     Kris also has an extensive background in medicine and teaching. Currently she is a Human Biology instructor for Homeschool Connections an online Catholic education site that offers a wide variety of live and recorded courses for homeschool students. She has been teaching both classroom and online courses in the paramedic program at Quinsigamond Community college since 1993, and taught a Human Biology lab at Eastern Connecticut State University. She is a physician assistant who worked in a busy emergency department for sixteen years.
     Kris received her Bachelor of Arts degrees in Biological Sciences and Computer Science from Wellesley College, and her Physician Assistant Certificate and Masters of Health Professions degree from Northeastern University. She is currently working toward her Doctorate degree in Educational Leadership and Higher Education online from the University of Nebraska—Lincoln. She, her husband, and her sons live in Massachusetts.
     You can find Kris online at At Home Science and Homeschool Connections.

(click on webinar title to register)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Free Webinar: Finding Levity in Your Homeschool

NOTE: The live webinar went fantastic. If you missed it, you may watch the recording of the event here: Finding Levity in Your Homeschool.


Refresh! Midwinter Homeschool Conference
(click on webinar title to register)


Date: Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Starting time: 8:00 pm, Eastern Standard Time
Duration: 1 hour 15 minutes
Presenter: Nancy Brown
Webinar Description: It's easy to be heavy, hard to be light, said British journalist and Catholic Defender of the Faith G.K. Chesterton. Why do we get so bogged down in the details, record-keeping, worrying about test scores, making sure they finish that last workbook page—when Chesterton teaches us that being light, finding humor, keeping things pleasant, keeping our voices quiet, and interjecting humor and wit wherever and whenever we can, is the best way?

How do I add humor, wit, lightness and levity to my homeschool? Add some Chesterton, and become like Chesterton, who will someday be declared a saint. American Chesterton Society Media Manager and homeschooling mother Nancy Brown will show you how.

  • How to stop yourself from exploding when you feel the heat rising
  • How to become funnier at home
  • How to quicken your wit and tickle your kids funny bones
  • How to keep your voice quiet when all you want to do is yell
  • How to think like Chesterton, and how to add Chesterton to your homeschool

We'll cover all this and more at Nancy Brown's webinar. Join us today!

About the PresenterNancy Carpentier Brown is the blogmistress, podcaster, Facebook and Twitter commander for the American Chesterton Society, as well as a columnist for their publication Gilbert Magazine. She is on the editorial board of mater et magistra.

Brown is the adapter of The Father Brown Reader: Stories from Chesterton and the newly released Father Brown Reader 2: More Stories from Chesterton. She is also the author of The Blue Cross Study Guide and the Study Guide to Chesterton's St. Francis of Assis
Note: Attendance is limited. If it fills up, you will be placed on a wait list. All webinars are recorded and made available for free viewing within 24 hours.


(click on webinar title to register)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Refresh! Midwinter Virtual Homeschool Conference

Renew! Rejuvenate! Recharge!

Hey--
I'm totally excited to tell you about this!

First, I have to ask you...

Have you ever felt those midwinter doldrums? Does homeschooling tend to bog down for you during certain times of the year? I know it does for me. Here's something we can get excited about!

Beginning in Mid-January, you'll get a chance to rejuvenate your spirit, encourage your heart, and feel inspired & recharged in your homeschooling with our upcoming series of FREE webinars for homeschool parents (Yes, over 12 webinars that you attend from home, all free, with nationally known speakers)--all online and even recorded, spread out over a number of weeks, so that you can get great inspiration and ideas exactly when you need it.

February is known as "Burnout Month" in homeschooling circles, and we thought it would be good to help us all get through that tough month with something extraordinary: the Refresh! Midwinter Virtual Conference.

Refresh! begins Tuesday, January 17, and lasts  through February with a full schedule of practical how-to helps, to keep your homeschool vital, alive, and fun! When you come, you'll join us online and have access to speakers who will do everything from encouraging you in your vocation to giving you great practical tips to apply every day.

We pray that February 2012 will be your best month ever for homeschooling and for your family--so that you no longer think of February as as Burnout Month, but instead, as Refresh! Month. Please pray for us as we organize this free online conference. We strongly desire to make this an annual event.

Come visit our blog often as details unfold in the upcoming weeks. You will start to see information on individual webinars beginning December 7th.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Romeo and Juliet with Joseph Pearce

We are very happy to announce that Joseph Pearce will be teaching for Homeschool Connections. He will begin with a high school course on Romeo and Juliet in April. Below are all of the details.

(click on the course title to register)

Class dates: Wednesdays, April 11 to May 16, 2012
Total classes: 6
Starting time: 2:00 pm Eastern
Duration: 1 hour
Prerequisite: The ability to read and enjoy the play.
Suggested grade level: 9th to 11th grade (advanced 8th graders can be accepted.)
Fee: $120 for all 6 classes
Course description: Romeo and Juliet is perhaps the most famous love story ever written. Its cultural influence is so profound that Shakespeare’s “star cross’d” lovers have become synonymous with the very meaning of romantic love. But what exactly does the world’s greatest playwright have to say about the world’s greatest lovers? Does he sympathize with their plight? Does he consider them blameless, or are they largely responsible for the tragedy that awaits them? Is it a story about fatalistic forces beyond the control of the lovers, or is it a cautionary tale warning of the dangers of unbridled erotic passion? In this course, Joseph Pearce, editor of the Ignatius Critical Edition of Romeo and Juliet, asks and answers these questions as he invites students to see the play through Shakespeare’s Catholic eyes.

Course outline:
Week One: An Introduction to Shakespeare
Week Two: Act One
Week Three: Act Two
Week Four: Act Three
Week Five: Act Four
Week Six: Act Five and concluding comments

Required reading: Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare (Ignatius Critical Edition, edited by Joseph Pearce)
Suggested reading: The Quest for Shakespeare by Joseph Pearce (Ignatius Press)
(Please click on book titles for ordering information.)

Homework: Quizzes, essay prompts and answer keys will be provided each week.

Instructor biographyJoseph Pearce is the editor of the Ignatius Critical Edition of Romeo and Juliet and author of the forthcoming book, Shakespeare on Love: Seeing the Catholic Presence in Romeo and Juliet (publication by Ignatius Press in Fall 2012). He is also the author of The Quest for Shakespeare: The Bard of Avon and the Church of Rome and Through Shakespeare’s Eyes: Seeing the Catholic Presence in the Plays, both published by Ignatius Press. He has hosted two 13-part seasons of “The Quest for Shakespeare” for EWTN and has also edited the Ignatius Critical Editions of The Merchant of Venice, Julius Caesar, Hamlet, King Lear, and Macbeth. Writer in residence and associate professor of literature at Ave Maria University in Florida, Pearce has also authored books on great Christian writers such as G. K. Chesterton, J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, and Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

Equipment requirements: Classes are online, live and interactive. Students are required to have high-speed internet and a headset with microphone.
Misc:
Professor Pearce will be available via email in between classes for questions and comments.
Recordings of classes are provided to students within 24 hours and available for 6 months.
Homeschool Connections does not provide record keeping services at this time.


(click on the course title to register)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Free Homeschool Helps

Homeschool Connections has a Scrbd account where we offer a great number of free downloads for families. Just a few examples:










We owe a very special thank you to Jean and Maria Rioux for their major contribution to Catholic homeschooling and to this collection of free downloads.

We continue to add new content every month. There are more Shakespeare helps on the way, we have a collection of unit studies, and we love to add reading lists. So check back often.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Pre-Algebra and Algebra I for Homeschoolers

Meet our math instructor and consider joining us for Pre-Algebra or Algebra in January!



For detailed information or the link to register, please click on the hyperlink:
Pre-Algebra
Algebra I

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Famous Homeschool Authors and YOU!



What do Christopher Paolini, Michael Aquilina III, and Kaleb Nation have in common? All three are homeschool grads and all three are published authors. I (Maureen) have the privilege of knowing two of these three young men. Kaleb was part of a homeschool high school writing club I organized a few years ago and Michael is a longtime family friend.

If you love to write, I am here to encourage you. If you have the burning desire to write, I hope to help give you the tools to fulfill that desire and to do for the glory of God.

Don't ever think that because you are young that you cannot be published. The three authors mentioned are just a small example of young  people who have achieved success in publishing. Walter Crawford and I are committed to providing young homeschooled students with the tools and the leg up needed to achieve that goal. Here at Homeschool Connections, we are working with an amazing writing professor, E. B. Conroy, in developing a series of courses to teach you the skills to write fiction as well as nonfiction.

The fiction writing series of courses are designed to be taken in any order. You can join us at anytime. See above for a short video from Professor Conroy explaining the Plot and Structure course that starts in January. To view more videos about our other writing courses, please click here: Homeschool Connections YouTube Channel.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Homeschooling through the Holidays?

Thanksgiving and Christmas are just around the corner already. Do you continue to homeschool or take a nice long break during the holidays? At our house we "homeschool light." An easy way to do that is with our Subscription Service. You have 24/7 access to our recorded courses which can be taken at your own pace. Take your time, focus on just one or two courses, take a course together as a family ... these are just a few ideas on how you can keep learning alive throughout this busy time of the year.

Plus you can give it a try for only $1.

Click here to learn more: Online Catholic Classes

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Friday, November 4, 2011

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

FAQ: Refund Policies

Following are questions we've received regarding refund and cancelation policies for both live and recorded courses:

Live Courses
Q: What do I do if I have a scheduling conflict and my child is unable to take a course once I've already registered him?
A: Because of busy schedules and potential conflicts with the class times, some people may find that they have to drop a course. We will refund 95% of the course fee for cancellations made up to 1 week before the first day of class. Up to 1 week following the first class, we will refund 50% of the course fee plus 45% credit for a future course (must be used within one year). Written notification is required prior to the second class if you would like to receive the partial refund.

Recorded Courses (Subscription Service)
Q: My youngest graduated and I would like to cancel. If I cancel today (the 1st) will my subscription end today or at the end of my 30-day subscription period which is the 15th.
A: Your subscription will end on the 15th. You don't have to worry about timing it just right as we take care of that for you. We make sure you get the most out of your subscription fee!

Q: I haven't used my Subscription Service for six weeks. Can I get a refund for the past couple of months?
A: We are not able to give refunds for past months. The recorded courses are paid via a subscription service. To help you keep track of your charges, the monthly fee is automatically deducted from your credit card on the same day each month and you receive an email notification. Additionally, we send out monthly e-newsletters regarding your Subscription Service. If you do not plan to use the service, you may cancel at any time and resubscribe at a later date. On a similar note, we are able to refund for a current month if notified within 24 hours of the deduction.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

AP English, Part Two

(click on course title for registration page)

Note: This is a two-part course. See Fall 2011: High School for Part One.
Class dates: Tuesdays (instruction) and Thursdays (discussion/lab), January 10 to May 3, 2011. No class April 3 and 5 (Holy Week).
Total classes: 32
Starting time: 8:00 pm Eastern (7:00 pm Central)
Duration: 1 hour
Prerequisite: Part One of this course. Instructor’s permission is required for exceptions. Students are expected to take the AP Literature and Composition test on May 10, 2012.
Suggested high school credit: 1 full semester credit for AP English
Suggested grade level: 11th to 12th grade
Fee: $300 if you enroll on or before November 1, 2011. $375 after November 1 for all 32 classes. (Note: enrollment is limited.)
Instructor: Laurie Navar Gill, M. Ed
Course description: This course syllabus has been approved by the College Board to bear the designation “AP.” All students in the class will be receiving a preparation that will help them to succeed on the AP Literature and Composition exam, which many students take for Advanced College Credit. You may also be eligible for a weighted grade.
     Building on representative texts from the western literary tradition, this course will particularly examine the nature of storytelling and its relationship to life and culture. We will look at different storytelling media, including the epic, drama, the novel, non-fiction prose, and poetry. We will analyze story structure and storytelling techniques and examine the interplay between life and story. As we read stories, we will also talk about them, write about them, and tell some of our own.
     The course approaches the goals of AP Literature through a Catholic lens. The primary themes under consideration are God’s universal charity and the consequences of sin. As we travel with the pilgrims of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, imagine the end of the world, examine the tragedies of Othello and King Lear, look at Gothic horror novels through the lens of contemporary bio-ethical dilemmas, and finally, ponder how God’s plan is worked out through very imperfect instruments in The Power and the Glory, students can mature and deepen in their understanding of human weakness and God’s sovereign mercy.
Course outline: Please contact Homeschool Connections for the complete course outline.
Course materials: Each student will need 7-11 books; all are available in inexpensive paperback editions. Specific editions will be suggested, but library copies are fine. In the case of literature in translation, particular translations will be required. Some of the texts are available free online.
Homework: The course requires roughly an hour of reading every day, with additional discussion/posting responsibilities. Every reading unit (approx. every 3 weeks) also includes a major writing assignment that will go through draft, conferencing and revision stages. Conferences are one-on-one meetings with the instructor that can take place via computer or telephone [SKYPE]. Students should plan on spending an average of 60-90 minutes 5-6 days a week outside of class on reading and writing for this course.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Language: Spanish I, Part Two

Note: This is a two-part course. However, students are welcomed to join us midyear. Please feel free to drop us an email at homeschoolconnections@gmail.com to make sure your student's progress is in line with the course schedule.

(click on course title for registration page)

Class dates: Thursdays, Jan. 12 to Apr. 12. No class Feb. 23 or Apr. 5.
Total classes: 12
Starting time: Noon Eastern (11:00 am Central)
Duration: 1 hour
Prerequisite: Spanish I, Part One or equivalent
Suggested grade level: 8th to 12th
Fee: $160 if you register on or before November 1, 2011. $195 after November 1 for all 12 classes
Instructor: Irma Luz Schmitt
Course description: Students will learn to grammar and be given the foundation to speak the language. In first year Spanish you will learn basic words, verb tenses, how to speak basic sentences, etc.
Course materials: Spanish: Middle / High School (Skills for Success)
Homework: All assignments will be graded by the instructor.

Professor's biography: Irma Luz Schmitt was born in Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas, Mexico. She graduated from the Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (Monterrey Institute of Technology) in Monterrey, Mexico with a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting in 1986 and a Master’s Degree in Education in 1999. In 2005, she earned a certification from Cambridge University in England to teach English as a second language.
     From 1987-1999, Mrs. Schmitt worked as an accountant at Catepillar, Cedetel and Sorteo Tec. In 2000, she worked at Universidad Virtual del Tec de Monterrey as part of a team that initiated online courses in Accounting. From 2002-2004, she taught accounting, humanities and Latin American Studies at Universidad LaSalle in Ciudad Victoria. In 2003-2005, she taught English as a second language in the Centro de Lenguas de la Universidad Autonoma de Tamaulipas in Ciudad Victoria. While there she also participated in a distance learning program to train teachers who teach English in elementary public schools in neighboring cities of Tamaulipas.
     Mrs. Schmitt and her husband live in Bear, Delaware where they homeschool their 5 year-old-daughter.

Equipment requirements: Classes are online, live and interactive. Students are required to have high-speed internet and a headset with microphone.
Misc:
Mrs. Schmitt will be available via email in between classes for questions and comments.
Recordings of classes are provided to students within 24 hours and available for 6 months.
Homeschool Connections does not provide record keeping services.


(click on course title for registration page)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Language: Latin II, Part Two

(click on course title for registration page)

Note: This is a two-part course. However, students are welcomed to join us midyear. Please feel free to drop us an email at homeschoolconnections@gmail.com to make sure your student's progress is in line with the course schedule.

Class dates: Fridays, January 13 to April 13, 2012. No class February 24 (midterm break) or April 6 (Holy Week)
Total classes: 12
Starting time: 10:00 am Eastern (9:00 am Central)
Duration: 1 hour
Prerequisite: Latin II, Part One or equivalent
Suggested grade level: 9th-12th
Suggested high school credit: 1 full semester of Latin
Fee: $160 if you register on or before Nov. 1, 2011. $195 after Nov. 1 for all 12 classes
Instructor: Catherine Alvis
Course description: Students who have completed a full year of Latin are welcome to Latin II. Students will become proficient in both English Grammar and in all Latin forms. We will also discuss Roman thinkers and their influence on the Roman Republic. From time to time we will also translate some short stories from "Wheelock's Short Stories".
Course materials: Wheelock's Latin.
Homework: An average of one to one half hour 4 days a week and graded by the instructor. Students must memorize all new forms including any new vocabulary. Translation and vocabulary quizzes will be given periodically.


Instructor's biography: Catherine Alvis is a graduate of the University of Dallas with a BA in Politics and is currently obtaining her Masters in Humanities from UD as well. She has been teaching English and Latin for 5 years at a homeschool co-op in Dallas, TX and has tutored various levels of Latin throughout her teaching career. Miss Alvis enjoys reading, tennis, spending time with her family, volunteering at various events at her Thomas Aquinas parish, organizing events with Young Catholic Professionals of Dallas and playing fetch with her boarder collie.


Equipment requirements: Classes are online, live and interactive. Students are required to have high-speed internet and a headset with microphone.

Misc:
Miss Alvis will be available via email in between classes for questions and comments.
Recordings of classes are provided to students within 24 hours and available for 6 months.
Homeschool Connections does not provide record keeping services.

(click on course title for registration page)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Language: Latin I; High School

(click on course title for registration page)

Note: This is a two-part course. However, students are welcomed to join us midyear. Please feel free to drop us an email at homeschoolconnections@gmail.com to make sure your student's progress is in line with the course schedule.

Class dates: Fridays, January 13 to April 13, 2012. No class February 24 (midterm break) or April 6 (Holy Week)
Total classes: 12
Starting time: 2:00 pm Eastern (1:00 pm Central)
Duration: 1 hour
Prerequisite: Latin I, Part One or equivalent
Suggested grade level: 9th-12th
Suggested high school credit: 1 full semester Latin
Fee: $160 if you register on or before Nov. 1, 2011. $195 after Nov. 1 for all 12 classes
Instructor: Catherine Alvis
Course description: Students new to Latin will be introduced to all verb and noun forms and will translate famous Latin anecdotes from Wheelock's 'Sententiae Antiquae'. English Grammar will be emphasized in addition to discussing famous Roman speakers. Students will have a more comprehensive understanding of Latin forms than in Latin 1/2.
Course materials: Wheelock's Latin
Homework: An average of one hour per day 4 days a week and graded by the instructor. Students will be assigned practice sentences in class, and must memorize vocabulary and new forms with each new lesson. Vocabulary and translation quizzes will be given periodically.

Instructor's biography: Catherine Alvis is a graduate of the University of Dallas with a BA in Politics and is currently obtaining her Masters in Humanities from UD as well. She has been teaching English and Latin for 5 years at a homeschool co-op in Dallas, TX and has tutored various levels of Latin throughout her teaching career. Miss Alvis enjoys reading, tennis, spending time with her family, volunteering at various events at her Thomas Aquinas parish, organizing events with Young Catholic Professionals of Dallas and playing fetch with her boarder collie.

Equipment requirements: Classes are online, live and interactive. Students are required to have high-speed internet and a headset with microphone.

Misc:
Miss Alvis will be available via email in between classes for questions and comments.
Recordings of classes are provided to students within 24 hours and available for 6 months.
Homeschool Connections does not provide record keeping services.


(click on course title for registration page)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Homeschool Latin for Middle School

Note: This is a two-part course. However, students are welcomed to join us midyear. Please feel free to drop us an email at homeschoolconnections@gmail.com to make sure your student's progress is in line with the course schedule.

(click on the course title for registration page)

Class dates: Fridays, January 13 to April 13, 2012. No class February 24 (midterm break) or April 6 (Holy Week)
Total classes: 12
Starting time: 11:30 Eastern (10:30 am Central)
Duration: 1 hour
Prerequisite: Latin ½, Part One or equivalent
Suggested grade level: 7th to 8th
Fee: $160 if you register on or before Nov. 1, 2011. $195 after Nov. 1 for all 12 classes
Instructor: Catherine Alvis
Course description: Students new to Latin will be introduced to the fundamental forms of both nouns (1st-3rd declensions) and verbs (all tenses, active and passive of 1st conjugation). Logic level students will begin translating various short stories about Aeneid's journey to the founding of Rome.
Course materials: Jenney's First Year Latin. Make sure to get the latest edition, ISBN# 0133193284, so you can follow along with the instructor.
Homework: Average 45 to 60 minutes per day, four days a week and graded by the instructor. It will consist of memorizing forms, writing vocabulary cards (students should use colored index cards to help them study) and some translation. Vocabulary and translation quizzes will be given periodically.

Instructor's biography: Catherine Alvis is a graduate of the University of Dallas with a BA in Politics and is currently obtaining her Masters in Humanities from UD as well. She has been teaching English and Latin for 5 years at a homeschool co-op in Dallas, TX and has tutored various levels of Latin throughout her teaching career. Miss Alvis enjoys reading, tennis, spending time with her family, volunteering at various events at her Thomas Aquinas parish, organizing events with Young Catholic Professionals of Dallas and playing fetch with her boarder collie.

Equipment requirements: Classes are online, live and interactive. Students are required to have high-speed internet and a headset with microphone.

Misc:
Miss Alvis will be available via email in between classes for questions and comments.
Recordings of classes are provided to students within 24 hours and available for 6 months.
Homeschool Connections does not provide record keeping services.

(click on the course title for registration page)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Homeschool Math: Saxon Algebra I

(click on course title for registration page)

Note: This is a two-part course. However, students are welcomed to join us midyear. Please feel free to drop us an email at homeschoolconnections@gmail.com to make sure your student's progress is in line with the course schedule. We'll be starting the second semester with Chapter 61. Students who want to start at the beginning can take the recorded courses on their own (see Subscription Service).

Class dates: Mondays, January 9 to April 23, 20112. No class Jan. 23 (March for Life) or Apr. 9 (Easter Monday).
Total classes: 14
Suggested grade level: 9th to 12th
Starting time: 4:00 pm Eastern (3:00 pm Central)
Duration: One hour 15 minutes
Fee: $160 if you enroll on or before November 1, 2011. $185 after November 1 for all 14 classes.
Instructor: Jean Hoeft, MA
Prerequisite: Math: Algebra (Saxon); Part One or equivilant
Suggested grade level: 8th to 12th
Suggested high school credit: 1 semester credit for math
Course description: This course involves all concepts needed to fulfill national requirements for Algebra I. The topics to include but not be restricted to, operations with integers, rules of multiplicative identity and additive identity, equation solving, exponential function relations, quadratic function relations and their graphs, Cartesian graphing, polynomial relations and functions, radicals and their properties as well as some work with geometric properties as a background for use in Algebra II.
Course materials: Saxon Algebra I Homeschool Kit, Third Edition, which includes the textbook, test booklet, and answer key. (If you shop around, this kit can be found from a variety of sources new or used for a reasonable price.) A different edition could be used if you already own it but it would be more difficult to follow along in class.
Homework: Students will be assigned 4-5 homework assignments per week with testing done on Fridays. Students will be required to take a placement test before entering the class to tailor studies to the individual needs of the students. Parents are asked to grade homework and tests and to send results to the instructor. The course instructor will then use these results to tailor lessons. The first 15 minutes of class will involve answering questions and doing practice problems to help the learners understand and improve on homework mistakes.

Instructor's biography: Jean Hoeft has been a math and algebra teacher for 22 years. She has a BA from the University of Michigan and a MA from Marygrove University. Jean has taught the confirmation class at her Catholic parish for 27 years. She loves gardening, sudoku puzzles, raising chickens, reading, knitting, and everything Catholic.

Equipment requirements: Students are required to have high-speed internet and a headset with microphone.
Misc: Mrs. Hoeft will be available via email in between classes for questions and comments.
Recordings of classes are provided to students within 24 hours and available for 6 months.
Homeschool Connections does not provide record keeping services.


(click on course title for registration page)