Homeschool Discoveries

Sharing a few things I've discovered along the way…

Collaborative Pinterest Boards for BFSU! July 20, 2012

Filed under: Science,Technology — kirstenjoyhill @ 11:42 am
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I’ve been distracted the last couple of days by a new endeavor.  I decided to act on my idea from my Top Ten Random Things post from Monday night and create collaborative boards on Pinterest for users of Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding (BFSU) by Dr. Bernard Nebel to share resources they have found with one another.

BFSU is a great science curriculum in many ways.  It is flexible, thorough and teaches real scientific thinking/understanding – not just memorizing random facts or vocabulary.  On the other hand, it is definitely not an “open and go” sort of program.  It takes teacher prep time to absorb Dr. Nebel’s material and decide how to present it.  Plus there is the time involved to set up demonstrations/experiments and find any other resources needed — pictures, videos, printables, etc.

I had a brilliant idea over the weekend (in my humble opinion). 😉  I thought to myself, why not harness the power of Pinterest to help users save time and easily share the resources they have found or created?

So earlier this week I created 5 collaborative Pinterest boards on my Pinterest profile — One for each “thread” plus a general board for resources that relate to all or multiple threads. (Look to the second row of boards to see the BFSU boards).

I’ve been spending a bit of time this week promoting the new boards among BFSU users, answering questions and adding both new pins and collaborators to the boards.  But hopefully once the boards are up and running they won’t take much of my time — ideally they will save time as Tony and I plan our science lessons.

Here are a few “Frequently Asked Questions” about the BFSU Pinterest boards:

What is Pinterest anyway? And what is “pinning”?

Pinterest is essentially a “visual bookmarking” website. You can “pin” a picture with a description of a web page. You can then organize those “pins” onto various “boards” (imagine like a virtual bulletin board) organized by topic or how ever you want to organize it. Then people who choose to “follow” you (or any one searching through the site) can see your boards and your pins. You can either pin something you find while searching the web or you can “repin” things that other people have already pinned (this just creates a copy of the “bookmark” for your boards/pinterest page). I love being able to glance through pictures from various things I have pinned (desserts from my dessert board, kids craft ideas, homeschool ideas, etc) and quickly find something I’m looking for.

Where do I find each of your specific boards for BFSU:

Will I find this useful if I use a science curriculum other than BFSU?

Yes, you will!  The only thing that won’t be very useful is lesson code designation in each tag (and maybe some BFSU specific lesson plans on the General board).  But otherwise, Thread A is loosely Chemistry and some Geology resources, Thread B is Life Science resources, Thread C is Physics resources and Thread D is Earth/Space science resources.  The ideas and resources pinned could generally supplement any curriculum.

How can I help? How can I collaborate on your Pinterest boards?

To collaborate on the BFSU boards, you first need to be a member of Pinterest (see next question if you don’t know how to do that).   Next you should probably “follow” the board(s) you want to collaborate on.   Then just leave a comment on one of the pins or send me an email with your Pinterest user name (kirsten @ tonyandkirsten dot org).  I will invite you to be a collaborator and you will get an email from Pinterest saying you need to accept the invitation in order to be able to pin on those boards.  Once you accept the invite, the BFSU boards will show up in your list of board options when you go to pin something.  Don’t forget to put the lesson “code” in the text of the pin (C-7, A-3, etc)  to make it easier for everyone to find resources related to a particular lesson.

If you don’t want to join Pinterest but want to contribute to the boards, feel free to email me sites/pages that you think should be pinned or if you are a member of the Well Trained Mind forums, you can leave a comment in this thread with your pin suggestions.

How do I join Pinterest? Do I have to have a Facebook account?

You need an invite to join Pinterest.  You can request one on the site (not sure how long it takes to get it) or you can request one from anyone who is currently a member.  Feel free to email me for an invite.  You do need either a Facebook or a Twitter account to get a Pinterest account.  A bit silly, I know.  If you are avoiding Facebook for whatever reason (and I know a number of people do avoid it!), it is not very difficult and less invasive to sign up for a Twitter account.  You can mark your Twitter profile as “private” and not add any or follow anyone, and this should be enough to get a Pinterest account.

What if I don’t want to join Pinterest? Can I still see the links that everyone Pins?

Yes, you can see the boards and pins and follow the links without joining.



Ten (sort of) Totally Random Things as I Plan for a New Year July 16, 2012

Filed under: Curriculum,Getting Organized — kirstenjoyhill @ 10:45 pm
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This week’s “10 in 10 Blog Hop” topic from the iHomeschoolNetwork is “10 Totally Random Things on My Mind.”   So for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday list, while I couldn’t bring myself to be totally random, here is a (sort of) totally random list of ten things that are on my mind as I get ready for a new school year.

1.  I searched all over the internet for “Free American History Timeline Figures” and really didn’t find anything I liked.  Miss M really wants a timeline with pictures, but I really didn’t want to buy an expensive package of timeline pieces.  Then when I was searching for science clip art, what did I come across but…Clip Art Etc: A great source of free, educational clip art for history, science and more!  This is a totally legit site from a university with a generous usage license – no ads or inappropriate content to worry about here!  They have a very well organized set of American History clip art I’m excited to use for timelines and notebooking pages this year.

2. I’ll use those free clip art figures in the Timeline Template at Guest Hollow, and follow these directions to mark my timeline book pages…

3….and wall-ah…a nearly-free timeline! I bought a timeline book last summer after being frustrated by the printer jamming when printing lots of cardstock pages, so not completely free.  Now we have a new printer that probably wouldn’t jam, so I could print pages if wanted to.  And I still have a blank timeline book we never used last year.  But Miss M insists we do a timeline so I am motivated to make it work for us this year.

4. Moving on to science, I came up with a brilliant idea.  We use Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding (BFSU) for science.  It is a curriculum with a lot of strengths, but one of its strengths is not easy access to supplementary materials like printables, notebooking pages, example photos, videos, etc.  Users are on their own to find such things.  So I am thinking of putting the power of Pinterest to work and creating collaborative pin boards for BFSU users to make pins related to and labeled for each lesson.  I just need to find the time to create them, add a few pins, and then hope that other BFSU users join in the work/fun to make it a good resource!

5. We don’t have a lot of geography plans yet for this year, other than looking at maps of the US at it relates to US History…Hmmm…I am thinking I might add in a few other geography plans.

6.  After viewing historic planes last Saturday, my kids are totally fascinated with WWII-era aviation.  We’ve watched two documentaries on netflix in the last two days.  The kids keep asking me why we have to study American History “in order”.  They want to skip right to WWII!  We’ll do a little bit of side study of WWII to feed this interest while still keeping on track with the chronological plans I’ve laid out.

7. Will someone please remind me to put labels on our Ikea Trofast drawers we are using for all our school supplies/books? Thanks!

8.  I just realized that the Half-Price books tent sale is this week…Yippee! I love buying books…I am going to try really hard to focus on books that will be useful for history and science studies.  We need more random picture and chapter books like we need more holes in our heads… 😉  But I always make exceptions for the classics!

9. We have a table in our school room but it is like pulling teeth to get the boys to use it.  Miss M has a desk in the school room that she uses most of the time.  Sometimes she uses the table for crafts that take up too much space.  But the boys always (or at least 90% of the time) chose to sit or lay on the floor to do crafts and color or draw.  I’m tempted to get rid of the table.  Except for the fact that Mr. E will need a place to do real school work pretty soon.  Should I get him a desk? Make the table a lot lower so they don’t need chairs?  Any advice?

10. We’re thinking about guitar lessons as a music option for our family this fall.  A nearby park has a family guitar program where Tony can take lessons together with Miss M and Mr. E.  I am really hoping this works out for us.  It seems like a more realistic option right now than bringing a piano or keyboard into the house.

Hop on over to Top Ten Tuesday @ Many Little Blessings to see 10 Random Things that other bloggers have on their minds, and lots of other interesting top ten lists!

Top Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings