ALSO visit us at EvaluationStation.Com View our power-point, "How to Prepare for a Portfolio Evaluation, without losing your mind!" Download our helpful "Homeschool Portfolio Checklist". Read client testimonies, find great resources, and be encouraged on our Laugh page! We do in-person and online portfolio evaluations, and give you feedback that can REALLY make your homeschooling more effective. Remember to tell us how you feel on our POLL at the bottom of THIS page before you go, and visit our ONLINE STORE!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Trouble with MATH? Welcome to the KHAN ACADEMY!

     Being the "math whiz" that I am,  I breathed a huge sigh of relief when I discovered the KHAN ACADEMY,  a FREE,  online math site developed by Sal Khan. What began as a long distance effort to help his cousin using a few little algebra videos, has become a world-wide sensation.  Sal's site now houses over 2,100 videos and hundreds of self-paced exercises (not just in math, but he also has some science, history, and other things as well. However, since I have other curriculum I highly recommend in those other subject areas, I will restrict my Pick of the Week to Sal's math achievements.) Thousands of people all over the world log on every day to learn everything from 2+2 to Trigonometry.  Many claim Sal is their favorite teacher, including Bill Gates!
     Anyone can utilize the Khan Academy site.  As a visitor, you can search for the area in which you are having difficulty and view a helpful video, or you can log onto the site (either through a Facebook or Google account) and establish your own account.
     This second option provides many advantages, one of which is TRACKING!  Once you have an established account, parents (and students) can check progress at any time and see how many minutes were spent on each exercise, what exercises were accomplished, what videos were viewed and for how long, and what awards were achieved! You can also check your outer-space themed chart to see what things you can choose to work on next (no one is allowed to work out of his/her skill area.)
     One of the features of the program is that EVERYONE who has an established account MUST begin at 2 + 2.  While this might be discouraging for some of the older students, there are advantages to simple beginnings.  Review is always great and success adds confidence!  If there DOES happen to be an element that was missed in instruction, this is a great way to catch it.  The ladder of success can be quickly climbed by achieving a string of correct answers.  Most students see it as very much like a game and have a lot of fun whizzing through the easy parts.
     Once the equations become more of a challenge, you know your student is at his/ her level of learning. Sal has incorporated a "HINT" button. If a student becomes stuck, hitting the button reveals the next part of the solution.  If they are still confused, they can hit the video button and let Sal help them with a series of colorful and enlightening demonstrations.
     Reviews are sometimes required of the students before they are allowed to proceed to the next level. But the beauty of this is that EACH student progresses at his/ her own level after achieving proficiency skill by skill. That means your first grader can use this program as effectively as your high schooler (although, I would still get out those manipulatives with my first grader!)
     As you can see, I am really excited about this! If you are one of those who could use a little help teaching math, like me, take a few minutes and view these links. Soon, you will be telling your students, "Welcome to the Khan Academy!"

YouTube overview (site is updated since this was made but it still gives you a good overview):

This is a peek at the types of tracking pages you will have available to you:

Official Website: KhanAcademy.Org

Please visit the bottom of our Blog page and join in our recent POLL, 
"What is the area in which you feel you need the most help?"


Carleen Galiardo

Homeschooling Mom
Certified Educational Evaluator

Friday, March 4, 2011

Online Evals, A Twenty-First Century Option!

     Online Evals (also known as "cyber" evals) are one of the benefits of
modern day technology. Now, instead of piling all your kids in the car,
fighting traffic, blowing money on gas, and lugging your portfolios half
across town, you can sit in the comfort of your own home and video
conference with your favorite certified evaluator who has already reviewed your portfolio WITHOUT you having to sit there and wait. 

            Will someone please pinch me. I must be dreaming!

     Preparing for an online interview is as easy as 1, 2, 3...
1. You must have access to a computer with a built in camera or web-cam OR an iPhone which has FaceTime.
 2. You must be able to use Skype, iChat video (or FaceTime on your iPhone) to connect with the evaluator at the appointed time. You CAN do this!
 3. Read the center of the Services page of EvaluationStation.Com to find out the best way to transmit the "items required by law" to your evaluator. This needs to be done several days in advance of your online interview.

     It's a pretty easy process, even for those of us who claim to be, "Technologically Challenged." (If you have any difficulty... just ask your kids to help you!)

     Most computers have built in cameras. If yours doesn't, you can pick up an inexpensive web-cam at your local tech store. (Most families enjoy using these to video chat with friends and relatives far away.) If you can't do this, there is a great chance that someone you know will let you use their computer for this interview.

     Set up an account with Skype or connect with iChat and you are ready to roll! These services are usually cheap or free.

     Next, scan the selected pages of your portfolio that your evaluator needs to see and transmit them using SkyDrive.Com (may favorite!) or DropBox . (No scanner/copier?  Very close photos using a digital camera will often work.) OR you can set a free private blog that you can use all year long to update your portfolio and capture special moments. You can see a sample HERE.

     "Which pages do I email to my evaluator?" Visit my website: www.EvaluationStation.Com and view our power point, "How to Prepare for a Portfolio Evaluation, without losing your mind!"  This will help you feel confident that you have all the necessary (legal) elements that the state requires. You can also download our helpful  "Homeschool Portfolio Checklist."

     The BEST thing to do if you know you will be planning to schedule an online evaluation in the future, is to scan the work samples (one from each subject taught) into a blog or a file three times throughout the year, once in the beginning of the year, once in the middle of the year, and once again towards the end. This will, of course, help you to have much less to do when evaluation time rolls around.

     Besides saving gas, time, and traffic aggravation... what are the advantages of an online eval???

     As a certified evaluator, I can tell you that, although I'd LOVE to share a cup of cappuccino with you at Panera while I interview your children and we go through your portfolios, I would rather take my time looking carefully at your program and the things your children have accomplished BEFORE I conference with you and your children.

     Having all the paperwork and website links to the curriculum you are using, etc. a few days prior to our meeting helps me give you a more in-depth assessment of your children and your entire program. It gives me a chance to research some ideas and resources that might improve your homeschooling experience, and helps me to offer you more valuable feedback.

     By the time we connect online, most of the work is already done... and you didn't have to wait. This makes the actual online meeting go very quickly and efficiently.

     Some other advantages of going the online route... Payment for this service can be immediately received through PayPal (one of the newest, exciting features on my website!) Results of a successful portfolio evaluation will be instantly emailed to you AND your county liaison.

     I hope this information has given you the courage to explore this exciting new evaluation option! Please visit our site for more information and read testimonies from our clients who have used this option. They have found it to be just as personal as a face to face meeting! Remember, "Evaluation time does NOT have to be stressful!"


Carleen Galiardo

Homeschooling Mom
Certified Educational Evaluator