It was not so easy to write Canadian Supplements for Volumes II and III. If I had known ahead of time that there would be large blocks of historical content (think in terms of weeks or months of lessons) that needed replacing with Canadian content, I probably would not have made such an offer. Still, I am a woman of my word, so I studied and conceptualized and wrote--and the result was the production of two Canadian history curricula that could pretty much stand alone! In addition to general content substitutions, my Volume II Canadian Supplement covered the history of Canada up to Confederation (1867) within 7 modules, as well as a sizeable chapter on the native peoples of Canada. The Volume III Canadian Supplement covered (again, within 7 modules) the period of expansion wherein the new Dominion of Canada grew to its present size and geo-political structure. For this project I needed a light table for drawing diagrams and maps properly, so Mike made two of them enabling the kids to each have one for their map activities. We no longer need both of these, so they're available at cost on the Connie's Products page. I all but tore out my hair working on this one particular project! All three Supplements contained lengthy recommended reading lists. The Volume IV Canadian Supplement would have been another essentially stand-alone curriculum, this one covering a very deep subject to which I may not have been able to do justice--the issue of Quebec Separation--so I was saved in the nick of time!
While Rebecca Avery owned The Weaver Curriculum, she sold several of my Supplements and I occasionally hear of someone who has one. A recent customer told me that she especially appreciated the Canadian history/geography portions in Volume II. "The suggested books were fascinating...I used The Story of Canada as my main reference, and my daughters enjoyed it thoroughly. (They were in Grades 2 and 5)." She also said she even recommended the Supplement to those who didn't use Weaver. "I've never been much of a history buff, but I learned a lot about history with my daughters, and it is so interesting!" That's what I discovered as I studied and wrote the Supplements!
A few years ago I "met" a lady in an online group where we were discussing various history resources. She mentioned one that she had found for her Canadian studies, saying it was "worth its weight in gold." Since I am always on the lookout for good resources and links, I asked her what it was. She told me she had found something called a "Canadian Supplement" for The Weaver, and I said "Thank you! Thank you very much!" On that basis, we began a two- or three-year period of daily e-mail exchanges, during which we shared numerous teaching tips and excellent resources and gave each other much needed support. When we discovered that our families were nearly mirror images, we even arranged to visit. This was so exciting for all of us!
In August 2007 I received permission from Alpha Omega to publish and distribute the Canadian Supplements! It was with great excitement that I added them to my store after all these years. The original Canadian Supplements were prepared with an old word processing program called PC-Write running on an old MS-DOS computer and printed with an old dot matrix printer between 1994 and 1997, so they desperately needed to be editted. I spent a few weeks converting all the files to Microsoft Word documents for Windows and in the process updated some of the information as well. For example, Nunavut became a territory in 1999 so that had to be stated and the maps needed to be updated.
You do not have to be using the Weaver Curriculum to make good use of the Canadian Supplements. Volumes II and III are especially suited as independent products because they contain (among other things) sizeable sections dedicated solely to Canadian History. Check out Volume III's chapter 7 outline. Please visit the Weaver Curriculum Canadian Supplement page for more information and links to other outlines and sample resource pages.
Back in the 1990's, however, because my work was apparently "lost," my husband and a good friend encouraged me to write another Canadian history curriculum that I could market myself. I therefore began work on a six-book series from a biblical, creationist perspective. I have an outline and several sections drafted out, and the first book almost designed--but not completely typed. However, while I was in the midst of working on it, the Creator directed my attention to a grave error I was making and I had to stop and research that. This led to other research and one thing led to another until I finally had to leave the project on the shelf--I was just too busy to work on it!
Having my mind wrapped up in Canadian history to this extent got me thinking, what about a game? I had created a few games for my kids when they were younger (such as SHAPE UP!) and they were tremendously successful. Long story short, I created a game that I call "FREE TRADE" and we used it a number of times to review facts about Canada. We also took it to a family reunion and played the game numerous times with the whole family (children and adults), and then tweaked it a bit more. It was a rousing success with everyone!! If anyone knows a publisher who might be interested in this, please have them contact me!
Now my kids were too old for what I was writing and I needed something more immediate for them, so I started on another Canadian history project based on reading (living books) through Canadian history, which I thought would be faster to produce. I spent several months collecting used books (primarily the Great Stories of Canada series) and organizing them into chronological/topical order. The lesson plans I prepared for each as I read them to the kids included activity assignments designed to reinforce the important aspects of those stories together with extensive vocabulary lists. See a sample lesson about Pierre Esprit Radisson here (front) (back). Recently a customer commented that she could tell I had been a Weaver user from the lesson plans and felt right at home using them! The first of two parts (about 30 books each) is finished and the second is still in the early stages of production. Check here for the RICH, Year 1 book list and here for the tentative book list for RICH, Year 2. If you are interested, Readings in Canadian History, Year 1 can be purchased now from my store.
I think the most universally useful tool I have created is the Millennium Time Line System which I created for my children when they began studying history and needed a place to plot events. I realized that things are going on all the time in different locations, in different realms of study--and no one combination of categories would be perfect for everyone. One family might wish for greater or lesser detail in plotting events according to a geographical scheme, choosing to use the continents or instead using particular nations. Another might choose to plot events based on mental realms of study like music or scientific developments, or instead choose to use physical realms as in the rise of wars or the development of transportation. Depending on the purposes of its study, a family might prefer to plot a combination of geographical and thematic categories. We, for example, wanted to plot Canadian historical events divided between three general locations (North America, Europe, and non-Europe) as well as events in the general categories of Bible/Church history, Art/Science history, and Intellectual history--and anything that did not fit somewhere in there was plotted under "General."
Additionally, someone might wish to plot many events in a short period of time and/or a few events in a long period of time. One might wish for supporting study materials and a means of storing all of it together. The Millennium Time Line System accomplishes all of this, and more. MTLS can be used with any history program you have; indeed the "Streams of Civilization" historical chart provided some of the stimulus for its parallel format. I happened to use it with The Readings in Canadian History assignments; actually, they have the same document format as you will see if you check out the sample lesson on Pierre Esprit Radisson. MTLS allows you to go beyond "school" and plot anything you think important from ANY reading you do. Seeing what events were happening concurrently in history is tremendously instructive!
You can get a good overview of my timeline system by checking out the Components, Notes and Suggestions file. Check here for a close-up of a right-side divider page that we used in our homeschool (you label your own arrows), and here for a sample time line page to which I have added comments and some colour. Please note that if you don't wish to use the entire Millennium Time Line System, you can purchase individual parts of it. See The Millennium Time Line System for more details. MTLS can be purchased from my store.
As I mentioned before, I had every intention of using The Weaver Curriculum all the way through high school--indeed, of keeping the kids out of public school forever. However, the day came when everyone needed a break. Due to no small influence from their father, a manager of a technology store (see my biography), my kids learned that there was a very exciting world of electronic gizmos out there with all their glitzy colour and action. They got bored with me, and I got tired of fighting with them. So we graduated to the Switched on Schoolhouse curriculum on CDs for Science and Language Arts. (In the first year we also studied American History, grade 5.) Using SOS took a lot of pressure off me and gave the kids lots of independent and fun interraction with educational computer software. (They eventually got tired of that, too, but it's another story...)
I wasn't pleased with the spelling lessons, however, so as usual I worked out something of my own. I had actually begun this project after using The Weaver Curriculum's "Success in Spelling" workbooks for awhile. I really liked the format and method for studying spelling words in SIS but wanted a better way to keep the kids cycling through the words they didn't get correct, so I adapted it a bit. We had used this method for awhile before graduating to SOS, and I felt it could be the basis for a full-blown product (see ICANSPELL Introduction) providing word lists and lessons with activities. So, armed with "The ABC's and All Their Tricks" by Margaret M. Bishop (available from Mott Media) as well as the spelling words from the kids' SOS Language Arts lessons, I got to work. First, I sorted the words for the grade 4 level (because that's what JJ was working on at the time) into lists of words having similar spelling rules. Then I wrote an explanation at kid-level for each individual spelling rule, and created an activity to reinforce it.
This was great fun! However, due to time constraints I was unable to have the graded product (Level 4) completed in time for my daughter to use it. (I always get interrupted by pressing matters like having to go out to earn a few bucks!) The basic concept could still be used with both kids, though, so I simply accumulated their SOS spelling words on generic pages and had each of them study these words in a 5-step process, as explained in the ICANSPELL GENERIC Instructions. Any words they still spelled wrong at the end of the process were added to new lists to be studied again later on. What I now call "ICANSPELL Generic" (in which teachers supply their own lists of words, such as the vocabulary in the Readings in Canadian History product) is available for sale in my store along with several graded Levels and a combo.
I finally finished writing the Level 4 lessons (see ICANSPELL sample lesson 4/13) in 2007, and then prepared everything for Levels 1 and 2. In 2008 I made the time to block out dictation pads for Level 3 and write the lessons for the first three levels. Here are sample lessons from ICANSPELL Level 1 and Level 2 (note text size differences for immature eyes), and a sample dictation pad for ICANSPELL Level 3. The lessons in the ICANSPELL Levels include a bonus for those who prefer British spellings: the lessons include British spellings together with American spellings of words like honor and honour. And because we are Canadians I just had to dedicate a couple of lessons to the names of the provinces and territories and their capital cities.
Once all the words had been selected and mapped out to individual lessons, I compiled all of the words for each Level into one alphabetical list that teachers can use to locate lessons for specific words, as well as a comprehensive compilation for Levels 1 through 4 (see sample of first page). I also created for each Level a "word index" in which the words for each lesson are listed alphabetically (which is not always how the words are listed in the lessons and dictation pads). This can help a parent/teacher place the student in the lessons s/he needs.
As I was on the home stretch of writing the Level 3 lessons, I decided it was time to develop a free lesson placement tool for parents and teachers. The four Levels are basically equivalent to the first four grades of school, but that depends on whose lists you are using! Also, students (especially when educated at home) seldom need to study the entire list prepared by a curriculum provider or they're not ready for it at all. So I decided to take two words from each of the spelling lessons and create a diagnostic dictation pad out of them. A close look at each pair of words chosen for the Lesson Placement Dictation Pad will enable a savvy adult to determine what spelling concept is covered in the lesson (e.g. mere and sleep are both long e words). If a student spells both words wrong during the diagnostic stage, s/he probably has difficulty with that concept (e.g. long e words) and needs to study the entire lesson.
Naturally, Lesson Placement Instructions had to be designed to guide people through the diagnostic process. Creating this led me to the conclusion that people would probably want to purchase individual dictation pads and their corresponding lessons for remedial use, so the Instruction sheet had to include a simple order form. (These are not available separately in the website store but are mentioned on the Connie's Products page.) The idea is for students to use these individual lessons to fill spelling skill gaps within a Level and when that's done, to start the next Level at its beginning. In order to keep this special order system simple and inexpensive, I decided not to include with it anything that would be included in the Level to be purchased.
With the production of this diagnostic tool, I felt that work on the ICANSPELL product had come to a successful conclusion. Whew! It had been a long time coming! If ICANSPELL catches on, and if I can find the time, I might be persuaded to create lessons for grades 5 through 8 as well. I have the words--I just need the time!
As mentioned earlier, I developed a lesson planner back in the 90's to substitute for the one provided by The Weaver Curriculum. It was a complex page (11"x17") that I had to fold just-so and fit into a binder. I didn't mind all the little boxes, but others did and I was unable to interest anyone in it. Eventually it became known that I had created a lesson planner and I was contacted about it by a potential customer. That's when I decided to establish a business name (Home Educator's Leg-Up Services, HELPS). I worked hard to come up with this name in order to reflect the planner's name (Home Educator's Lesson Planner/Student Record). Eventually this business morphed into "Connie's Quick Computers" (requiring a business license) and has now become "Home and School Solutions." That necessitated editing all of my product document files so that the copyright statement reflects this change (from CQC to HASS). Can you spell "tedium"?
Because I wanted to make an excellent impression on this potential customer (who represented a homeschool group), I totally revamped the lesson planner and made it into a system--then printed several copies for my friend Maxine McLellan at JOY Center of Learning to sell. That went through a few editions, then wasn't changed for several years. Recently, I decided it was time to modernize the planner with the new equipment and skills I had acquired. This new and, I trust, final version of the Home Educator's Lesson Planner/Student Record is now for sale in my store in several forms (some of which are customizable). It is also available at JOY Center of Learning in two forms (complete and reproducible). Once you arrive at the JOY Center of Learning website, enter the store and then type "lesson planner" into the search box. When you press the search button you will jump to the product page.
While I was busy working on my new website, finishing up ICANSPELL, and rebranding my business and products, my husband was busy considering how he could earn a bit more money--and came up with the idea of teaching an evening course about computers. He called it "Computer 101 Seminar." It would consist of three parts, each lasting three weeks, and be taught one evening per week. We could schedule this 9-week program three or four times per year.
After talking about this for months he finally told me he wanted one part of it to be about the Microsoft Word processing software--and it would be called "Word 101 Seminar" to parallel the name chosen for his course. Friends had said they wanted to make better use of their software and he thought I was the best person to teach them. Periodically I asked what they specifically wanted to learn and no one seemed to have a good answer. Consequently, I postponed working on the project until a few weeks before my husband expected to begin teaching his course, thinking it shouldn't take that long to come up with three simple lessons. Well, it wasn't quite that easy. It never is! I started writing, using an excellent reference about Word 2000 by Peter Weverka as my guide--adapting as necessary for the Word 2003 installed on my computer. As I went along, I discovered the need to change my format several times--so back to the beginning I went each time. Actually, I lost count of the number of times I edited each and every document template file until the Word 101 Seminar arrived at its final format. When all was said and done, I decided I need to find out how many lessons the Seminar consisted of. Wouldn't you know--the number turned out to be one hundred and one. Word 101 consists of 101 lessons!
Many months later I announced to my husband that I was ready and he announced the starting date to his list of contacts. I attended Mike's first class because I wanted to get to know the students. While I had been busy writing the "Word 101" lessons, he had been busy preparing the classroom. It was a computer lab within an elementary-school-turned-church. Several computers and peripheral things had been left behind, and people had made donations of used computers as well. So Mike spent much time getting the computers functioning WORD 101 LESSON FEATURES:
Articlesand setting them up. But the first thing he had the students do was take the computers apart! Since there were more computers than participants, I became a student too. For weeks I learned about the inside of a computer while I learned about the other students. We had lots of fun, so when it became my turn to be teacher I was quite comfortable with them all. (Mike taught his second section after I finished mine, and I attended that also.)
We set up a computer in the classroom to project the contents of my computer screen onto the wall, so the students could see everything I did at the computer. I opened the lesson templates I had written and read through them, illustrating concepts and answering questions as we went. The students opened the same files on their computers and were encouraged to take them home (via jump drives) to do assignments there. This is what they saw when we did lesson 02-05, about Exploring a Document. It soon became very clear that I had greatly underestimated the time it would take to complete the seminar I had written. We barely covered one eighth of it! Still, the students learned a lot of things they had not known and I learned that only one unit of the seminar should be offered in a short live class situation!
Having spent the time creating a classroom seminar that was thorough and covered the basics anyone would want to know, it was clear this had to become one of my business products. The Word 101 Seminar is now organized as an 8 unit product, available for purchase from my store in two forms--on CD or sent via e-mail. The seminar index is set up so that students can jump directly to specific lessons. The files are all Microsoft Word document templates so that students can apply techniques right at the computer as they study. Being templates, experimentation with the lessons is safe and encouraged. Try out lesson 06-04, about Using Auto Correct. If desired, students can also print off the documents for a reference manual.
One of the creative facets of the Word 101 Seminar is the use of articles I had written on the subject of creation vs evolution. These articles have nothing whatsoever to do with the Seminar lessons and don't have to be read, but I needed text upon which to apply concepts (like shading, hyphenation, finding breaks, using text boxes, and so on) so it seemed best to use my own compositions. This makes my Word 101 Seminar totally unique in all the world. I'm sure you will never find another word processing tutorial like it!
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