On December 18, 2014, Allison and I saw the 5th anniversary of our big sister Heather's homegoing.
When we were kids, she irritated the tar out of me on a regular basis, taught me about beauty products (note: NEVER use Vaseline for a hot-oil treatment for your hair), was bossy, sang with me loudly in public places (to upset Allison), knew EVERYthing (or so she thought), made me laugh, hurt my feelings, and once wrote a spoof-musical with me in the wee hours of the morning.
When we were grown up, we went for long stretches with hardly any communication, brainstormed gift ideas and event-planned for family celebrations, had sometimes-awkward get-togethers (because aren't we ALL a little awkward, really?), spent hours in deep conversation, and once got so silly in a fancy steakhouse that we couldn't stop laughing and our husbands were embarrassed to be seated with us.
Perspective on Family, Faith and Love
When she got sick with pancreatic cancer, we suddenly talked every week even though we lived 1,000 miles apart. We sat and held hands in doctor's waiting rooms even though when we were little she would shriek if I dared to touch her in public. We made tacky, inappropriate jokes during chemo treatments because it's better to laugh than cry sometimes. And we reminded each other that God is God, He is good, and He loves us.
Now that she is gone, I realized that she helped me learn some stuff:
* People are often annoying, but they are important.
* Relationships are hard work, but they are of immeasurable value.
* You don't always like the people you still choose to love, and that's okay.
* People can be wrong and it not really matter that much.
* Sometimes an inappropriate joke is actually a statement of faith and hope.
* Family is messy and complicated, but it should not be taken for granted.
* Love -- no matter exactly what shape it takes at a given time -- is always worth it.
* God is God, He is good, and He loves us.
(See you, Heath....and thanks for the opal ring. I smile every time I wear it.)
For ideas on how to help those who grieve, download Carry Each Other's Burdens FREE from our ebookstore.
Perspective on Family, Faith and Love
In my service as a homeschool high school academic advisor, I often get these questions:
"What's the difference between an APA-style research paper and an MLA-style research paper"
"What on earth IS an APA-style research paper?"
"Does my teen NEED to know how to write an APA-style research paper?"
Difference Between APA and MLA
SO, let's have a teeny-tiny, mini-course on high school research papers.
Research papers serve several different purposes.
-Placing students in charge of their own inquiry-based educational situations (in other words, homeschoolers have a chance to dig in and learn about something that is important to them).
-Providing opportunities for homeschoolers to stretch academically (and sometimes personally), as they deal with formatting, details, and data.
-Experiencing valuable preparation for college-bound homeschoolers.
MLA-style Research Papers are perhaps the most common format.
-The most important distinctive of an MLA-paper is that the homeschooler will need to provide a THESIS STATEMENT in the first paragraph.
-The body of the paper is spent illustrating or defending that thesis.
-MLA-papers rely on transition sentences to move the reader from topic to topic.
-There are distinctive citation and reference page rules.
-For an easy-to-follow, encouraging, no-busywork guide to MLA-style research papers, I like Allison's Research Paper Writing Guide the best!
APA-style Research Papers are completely different from MLA-style papers!
-There is NO thesis statement! In fact, the entire point of an APA paper is to give the appearance of objectivity and a thesis implies an opinion.
-Instead of a thesis, the homeschooler presents a topic and provides information about that topic. (Kind-of like an old fashioned "report"- remember those from elementary school?)
-At the END of the paper, the homeschooler may add an opinion in the conclusion section but NOT before.
-Transition sentences are not needed.
-In order to move the reader from one section of the paper to the next, APA-style uses Section Titles and Sub-section Titles. (Kind-of like magazines articles...)
-APA-style papers are formal in tone. There is no use of the words "I", "you", or "we". No contractions are allowed, either.
-There is a distinctive citation, reference page, title page, and page numbering format.
Feel a bit overwhelmed and want help with an APA-style Research Paper? Check out our Introductory Guide to APA Research Papers. In this friendly, light-hearted guide, I take the homeschooler through the complex maze of APA-rules so gently that it is almost easy! It has a semester's worth of step-by-step instructions for learning the format, choosing topics, finding resources, and actually constructing the paper. (I LOVE APA format.)
High schoolers may use MLA-style or APA-style on just about any topic that pleases them. However, in college, they will often find that English-type classes use MLA and science-type classes use APA. So a little of experience with both formats is a good idea for college-bound students.
Just to add to the confusion. When you surf the net, you might find that there are conflicting sets of information on HOW to write an MLA- or APA-style paper. That's because there are different "editions" of those styles. All that matters is that you pick one of the "editions" and stick with it for the entire paper. THEN when your homeschoolers arrive at college, they will find that each professor has some different requirements- but by then, they'll be ready to follow whatever rule comes their way.
Also, while MLA and APA are the most common formats of college-style research papers, there are other formats that individual professors or departments might employ. There is the Chicago-style and CSE-style, for instance. If your homeschoolers are adept at the basic MLA and APA formats, they'll be ready to jump in and learn these formats with little stress.
I really do recommend introducing research paper writing in a non-threatening, don't-take-ourselves-too-seriously, encouraging manner. That is why we are sharing the writing guides that we have used with our own kids and local homeschoolers for years. Research Paper Writing Guide (MLA format) by Allison Thorp, and Introduction to APA Research Paper Writing Guide by me .
Here are some tips from Sabrina on writing papers!
And visit our 7 Sisters Homeschool You Tube Channel for more writing tips!
Difference Between APA and MLA
Writing MLA research papers can be stressful, whether you write them for a traditional classroom or as part of your homeschool education.
MLA Research Paper Thesis Statements
Many students agree that writing a good thesis statement for an MLA research paper is the toughest part of the challenge.
According to Allison Thorp, author of 7 Sisters' Research Paper Writing Guide ,
"The thesis statement is the most important part of your research paper. Think of it as the hinge on which the door is hung and swings. It holds everything together and gives it purpose."
Here are some tips from Allison's Research Paper Writing Guide to help you create a thesis statement that really works.
- First, ask yourself some questions. What is the point of my research? What do I want my paper to do? Will I tell my reader something new, offer a new slant on this topic? Do I have a solution to offer to a problem? What is my theory on this subject? The answers to one or more of those questions may help you begin to craft a good thesis statement.
- Incorporate key words into your thesis statement. By the time you have completed some preliminary research on your topic, you should have a few words that you know will be important in your paper. These key words should be a part of your thesis statement.
- Make sure that your thesis statement is a full, declarative, compound sentence (one with dependent clauses) that is specific; it should only address what you will be covering in your paper.
Allison's Research Paper Writing Guide provides more than simply helpful tips like these.
It is a step-by-step breakdown of the process of writing an MLA-style research paper. It provides examples at each point, suggests a time-frame for accountability, recommendations for working out a problem or "stuck spot," and more.
Do I sound like I'm writing a review of this curriculum? I am!
My son, Jonah, has used it for two years now as he's tackled MLA-style research papers in our homeschool.
I LOVE this resource. Highly recommended!
While we're on the subject of research papers, here's a link to my vlog about Understanding and Avoiding Plagiarism. Feel free to share this important resource with parents of teens everywhere....whether they homeschool or not.
MLA Research Paper Thesis Statement
In my years as a homeschool advisor, I’ve worked with many students who will not shine in testing situations. When they take SATs or ACTs, the results look nothing like their abilities. The parents ask what to do?
Master Portfolio for Homeschool High School Student
A growing number of colleges these days have changed their stance on college-entrance type exams. Some have waived the requirement. Some (like community colleges) never did require these tests. Some will accept a Master Portfolio for a homeschool high school student in lieu of testing or along with testing.
Our local parents who choose a Master Portfolio option for their students will follow these guidelines:
Master Portfolio Instructions
The master portfolio for a homeschool high school student is an alternative to testing for students who should not take standardized tests like the SAT or ACT or Terra Novas.
The master portfolio is simply the best of all a homeschool high schooler’s work and experiences in one large binder. The master portfolio should include:
1) Large section dividers for each year of high school: 9th grade, 10th grade, 11th grade, 12th grade
2) Smaller dividers for each subject covered each of those years. At the minimum, have a divider each year for:
3) Other smaller dividers should be included in the year taught, for each subject that was not a four-year subject.
4) As an introduction for each year divider, give a list of courses completed in that year
5) In each subject divider for each year, explain:
-the name of the course
-how much credit was earned
-the manner in which the credit was earned (textbook, Carnegie hours-logging, other)
6) For each year’s Language Arts credit, include:
-vocabulary and grammar tests
-public speaking log
7) For each year’s math credit include:
-name of textbook
8) For each year’s social studies and sciences include:
-name of textbook
-any other pertinent information
9) For each Carnegie-hour course, include:
-additional material to illustrate the learning experience (photos, certificates, report cards, brochures)
10) Add section dividers for each year’s extra-curriculars, service hours, and competitions.
11) Attach a transcript to the beginning of the binder’s materials
Master Portfolio for Homeschool High School Student
Kyle Thorp is a homeschool graduate, and graduate of Grove City College, and son of Allison.
These words of his from a few years ago are one of many inspirational, encouraging and REAL parts of
Christmas with 7Sisters: Real Christmas for Real People.
Click here to download it for $2.49 from our ebookstore.
Christmas for Real People
It's Christmas Eve. For many years this was a day of torturous anticipation for me. I would be waiting eagerly to see what was in those boxes under the tree. But it wasn't just the presents that mattered. I got to spend time with all of my cousins, aunts, and uncles. Yes, I actually enjoy spending holidays with family. I just happen to have the best family there is.
Christmas was always full of fun times! But the worst part was that it always had to end. I had to start school again. And the toys I got were never fun to play with for more than a week. My excitement was built up then brought down. I didn't feel satisfied.
Then last year the Christmas cheer in my house was overshadowed by the death of a family member. I wondered how we could celebrate Christmas after the tragedy that had taken place. During that season, God taught me a lesson. We expect so much out of Christmas. We expect our families to come home. We expect to get a day off. We expect to get everything on our list. We expect everyone to get along. We expect the food to be good. We expect perfection. How many Christmases have we gotten it?
You see, our attitude toward Christmas is one of the signs that we were made for something better. We have this idea of the way things are "supposed to be." Apples are supposed to be crisp and sweet. Steak is supposed to be tender and juicy. Christmas is supposed to be joyful and peaceful, and there's supposed to be snow.
Naturally, when we place such high expectations on everything, we are constantly met with disappointments. The steak is overdone. The apple is soft and mushy. It sleets instead of snowing. What are we supposed to do about it? Just accept that life sucks and resolve to be miserable? Not at all! That's not the way God wants us to live.
The proper attitude toward life in an imperfect world has two parts. The first part is found in Colossians 3: "Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things." God has a wicked awesome home prepared for us. It's called heaven. If you want to know what it's like read the last chapter or so of Revelation. Yes, it's poetic language, but it gives us an idea of how wonderful our next life will be. Everything you didn't get in this life will be repaid tenfold in heaven. You'd have better luck trying to find all your gifts on Christmas eve than you would trying to find heaven on earth. As I learned in one of my college classes, this is called over-realized eschatology. If your wish is for "no more lives torn apart, and wars would never start, and time would heal all hearts" you're going to have to wait for heaven.
On the other hand, we can still have joy now while we're on the earth. The second part of our attitude is to appreciate the blessings we have in life. Sometimes we bite into an apple that's just perfect, or we open a gift that is just so special. These are reflections of heaven. We tend to miss them because they are usually swallowed up by the worries, tragedies, and disappointments of life. Life is not joy-less. To think so is under-realized eschatology. We need to take note of the simple pleasures in life, and thank God for them. As Paul says in 1 Thessalonians "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
So what are we made for? According to my professor, we were made for "now and not yet." We should appreciate the gifts God has given us now and eagerly await the gifts he has yet to give us. I hope you get a chance to think about this during your Christmas festivities.
Christmas for Real People
Creativity is necessary for excellence in all writing formats. Once homeschooling high schoolers graduate, they will need to be able to communicate in ways that interest employers, Sunday school classes, ministries, or any other place God puts them.
Perfect Time to Write a Family Narrative
Those who are heading for college will be competing for good grades on papers. If they have creativity in their use of thoughts and words, they can produce papers that are interesting to read (as opposed to 200 other drably-written papers that a professor might read).
The holidays are a perfect time to encourage your teen or tween to write a family narrative. Practicing this kind of creative writing is so much fun that it doesn't even feel like it's schoolwork!
Homeschoolers can develop confidence in their creativity skills by having some fun with their writing assignments using 7Sisters creative writing high school curriculum guides. Introductory Guide to High School Short Story Writing: Family Narrative is a 23-page downloadable pdf writing guide, written by Vicki Tillman to encourage students to capture their creativity by sharing a family story.
Presented in a step-by-step format for the inexperienced writer, homeschoolers achieve success by doing small amounts of writing each day beginning with formats with which they are already familiar (social media). The friendly, conversational tone of the text helps students then learn to thing in creative story form by taking on:
-Creative word order
Designed for independent learning or for co-ops, homeschoolers will require little or no guidance to complete this creative writing high school curriculum e-text and gain solid creativity skills.
Click here to view an excerpt from Introductory Guide to High School Story Writing.
10-Day No-Questions-Asked Money-Back Guarantee on all 7 Sisters EBook curriculum.
For helpful blog posts on creative writing:
Creative Writing High School Curriculum
High school students need to experience the challenges and rewards of writing a research paper, but not every bit of the research has to come out from dry, boring sources. If your homeschool teen is undecided about his MLA style research paper topic, encourage a look at your extended family for inspiration. You might find a really interesting way to get help from relatives with the task!
(APA style papers are quite different, so this post doesn't apply as easily to those. Here's a great post from Vicki to help you understand the difference, and a link to her $9.99 APA style writing guide in the ebookstore.)
Writing a Research Paper
Making the transition from WRITING A REPORT in elementary and middle school to WRITING AN MLA STYLE RESEARCH PAPER in high school is tough for some students. Keep reminding them that the high school research paper is NOT just a report about something; it is a research paper that presents a specific THESIS (including an opinion), and the writing in the paper is to explain and support that thesis in an effort to convince the reader to agree.
Here are some general ideas to help high schoolers choose an interesting MLA research paper topic with sources that are close to home, followed by specific examples from our own family that might help you get excited about your own relatives!
Start with the obvious: Are you interested in a particular period of history in which your parents, aunts and uncles, or grandparents lived? If so, choosing a topic about which they would have helpful stories and insights might be fun basis for creating a thesis statement.
My mother was raised by a single-parent-working-mom after her father's death when she was very young. Their life in a very small Kentucky town in the 1940's could offer insights into the plight of single mothers pre-women's-rights, the unique difficulties that faced a single mother in a small town as opposed to a city, or the expectation of the community in helping raise the children of a widow then vs. now.
One possible thesis statement would be, "Single mothers in World War II era small towns in the United States had few options for employment that would adequately provide for their families."
Do you have a relative with a chronic illness or permanent damage from an injury who feels comfortable talking about it? Perhaps you want to choose a topic about her experience that will spark a powerful thesis statement.
My father had a heart attack in his thirties. In his fifties, he underwent cardiac triple by-pass surgery. In his seventies he had a pacemaker installed. Today, at 80 years old, he is active, exercises daily, and has an excellent quality of life.
One possible thesis statement might be, "Where once a history of heart disease was close to being a death sentence, 21st century medicine has made it possible for many with cardiac problems to live active lives well into their elder years."
Think about the various careers represented when your extended family gathers in one room. Is there someone who has a specific career that interests you?
My daughter-in-law is a lawyer specializing in bankruptcy. Talking to her about her work is a real eye-opener!
One possible thesis statement might be, "Although designed to provide a solution to people with overwhelming debt and the people to whom the money was owed, there are perhaps now as many abusers of the bankruptcy system as there are legitimate recipients of its attempt at mercy and justice."
Do you get the idea? What subject areas can you explore with your extended family?
For help writing that MLA style paper once you've found a topic that interests you, download Allison Thorp's MLA Research Paper Writing Guide. It breaks writing a research paper -- what can be a daunting task -- into manageable steps for just $9.99!
Writing a Research Paper
So many family gatherings are coming up. Thanksgiving has just passed, December is upon us, and many homeschoolers are looking at the calendar and wondering exactly how many more school days and official school activities they will be able to fit in with the holidays taking center stage.
Why not use family gatherings for some fun AND educational time?
Interviewing relatives is a great tool for research writing, creative writing and career exploration. These important elements of high school get attention with a fun flavor when added to a holiday gathering.
Family Gatherings and Homeschooling
Use Family Interviews for Research Writing.
Is your teen unsure of the topic for his research paper this year? Pick a topic in which one of your relatives has expertise. Is Uncle Miles a bankruptcy lawyer? Is your cousin Walter a sprinkler fitter and union rep at his company? Has your gradmother been making quilts for decades? People love to talk about their work if it's also a passion. Encourage your teen to put together a list of questions that would provide information for a research paper, and take a slice of time at the family gathering to sit in a quiet corner and listen to an expert relative. (Just be sure to let the relative know ahead of time, and ask if this idea is appealing to him or her. No one wants to be put on the spot!)
Use Family Interviews for Creative Writing.
Every family has stories that are well-known by all, but often several family members will have a slightly different take on the details. Your teen can take quick notes while the family debates the finer points of a piece of your family history...the sillier, the better! Reminisce about the year the Christmas tree fell over at Grandma's house in the middle of Christmas dinner. Ask people to offer their unique perspectives on the time the heater went out in the middle of the coldest January on record. Your teen can use those notes later to write a fun, colorful family narrative. (Need help with the structure for Family Narrative writing? Vicki Tillman's guide takes your teen through the steps with an easy, conversational tone for only $6.99. Click to view excerpts and download your .pdf copy from the 7Sisters ebookstore.)
Use Family Interviews for Career Exploration.
Is your teen open to considering some of the fields that are careers for any of your family members? Have her make a list of some smart questions for each (7Sisters Career Exploration Workbook is a good tool to use in conjunction with this interviewing process). By finding out a few simple things from each person, a lot of insight can be gained with no cost and with no great effort. Consider questions like these:
* What kind of training did you get to enter your field?
* How demanding is your career? What types of things have you had to sacrifice to have this job?
* What are some of the most rewarding things that have come to you in your career? What do you love about it?
* What were some of the most intimidating obstacles you encountered as you got established in your field?
* What advice would you give to someone who was considering a career similar to yours?
Combining fun and family with education is what homeschooling is all about, anyway! Try getting some true academic work done in a relaxed way during holiday gatherings this year.
Family Gatherings and Homeschooling
Are you as excited as we are?
Financial Literacy from a Christian Perspective Pre-Order for Half-Price
Financial Literacy from a Christian Perspective by Sara Hibbard Hayes will be released January 31, 2015.
But you can PRE-ORDER your ebook copy NOW at 50% off the cover price of $34.99.
That means for $17.50 you can pre-buy a one-year high school curriculum resource that prepares your high school student to be a financially literate adult.
So much more than simple Consumer Math (here's a post explaining why Consumer Math Often Misses the Mark), Sara's interactive etext including internet-based activities and research and writable .pdf worksheets equips teens to really understand how to manage their money.
Planning ahead is wise, so click here to pre-order your copy of this unique Financial Literacy ebook and save a bundle!
Don't delay...this special offer goes away Wednesday 11/26/14 at midnight!
Financial Literacy from a Christian Perspective Pre Order Half Price
Want some homeschool help for basic college skills that your homeschool high schooler can learn now? I’ll tell you!
Four of my homeschool graduates have already finished college and are off in the working world. All of them graduated college with honors. These are 4 of the most important college skills they learned in high school.
4 College Skills to Learn in Homeschool High School
1. Public speaking
College admissions officers are often impressed with homeschoolers who participate in rhetoric leagues, public speaking courses, or debate teams. It shows that they have drive, courage, and willingness to learn tough skills. Our local homeschool support group has Rhetoric League. While my high schoolers have never said it was their FAVORITE thing about high school, they ALL say it was one of the most important things they did.
My kids also use public speaking in many of their classes with presentations and projects. My oldest son earned extra scholarship money speaking as a college ambassador. Once, my daughter was asked by a professor to speak to the board about the effectiveness of their department- spontaneously, no prep time. It went well because she was already comfortable with public speaking. You never know when you’ll need to speak!
2. Leveled-up courses in their major area
High schoolers should invest in higher levels of learning in their specialty areas. For instance, one son wanted to be a history major in college, so his history courses included challenging learning opportunities. My daughter wanted to be a photographer- I couldn't teach her high level photography, so in her junior year she started taking photography courses at the community college. College-level courses look powerful on a transcript. Learning to work intensely on special subjects is an important skill.
3. Writing- LOTS of it
Usually in high school, writing is not a stand-alone course. (It is part of the language arts credit.) However, homeschool high schoolers who do lots of writing are better equipped for college. The more they write (both numbers of papers and types of papers), the better they will transition into the rigor and fast pace of the college classroom.
In high school my teens write research papers (MLA and APA style), essays, short stories, poetry, and specialty writing (resumes, lyric writing, sermon writing, script writing). The point is to write so much and so varied that they are desensitized to the stress. They use the 7 Sisters writing curriculum because my kids can't stand busy work or pretentious textbooks.
4. Social skills
This also is not a stand-alone course. (We include social skills in health.) In high school, we review the 10 basic skills they learned as children. The confidence they renew as they practice these skills helps them at college interviews (and job interviews), as well as making new friends and meeting new professors. The cool thing is: if your teen knows social skills, he/she can practice them in any situation!
Help your homeschooler prepare for college early by practicing these 4 skills!
Don't forget...pre-order Financial Literacy from a Christian Perspective for 50% off during our 3-day Pre-Black-Friday special offer beginning Monday 11/24/14!
Here's my vlog on The Perfect Homeschool Transcript.
4 College Skills to Learn in Homeschool High School