Homeschool Computer and Technology Courses from CompuScholar, Inc. {Crew Review}

In this day and age the ability to use a computer is nearly essential for so many of our daily activities.  Our students need to be familiar with computers and many students enjoy programing and coding.

Recently the Homeschool Review Crew had the opportunity to use and review their choice of one of three online courses from CompuScholar, Inc.  As a crew leader I was blessed to receive teacher and student access for all three courses:  Digital Savvy, Web Design, and Java Programming.

You may already be familiar with CompuScholar, Inc. from their old name: Homeschool Programming.  We loved Homeschool Programming and I even wrote a review of their TeenCoder C# Series which included Windows Programming and Games Programming.

CompuScholar, Inc. provides courses for Homeschoolers, Individual Students and Small Groups!

Topics Covered in Digital Savvy:

While I have learned my way around computers, there is still so much I don't really know or understand so I've been working through Digital Savvy for myself!  Digital Savvy is a great introduction to computers and technology.  It starts with the basics. In the lessons in the first chapter explain what "hardware" is.  You'll also learn a bit of the history of computers and you'll be able to define "peripherals".  In the following chapters you'll learn about software, operating systems, and computer files. One thing I really appreciated about Digital Savvy is that it included information on Linux and Android not just Mac and Windows! In addition to these computer basics, you'll learn about Search Engines, Computer Networks, and Computer Security.

Digital Savvy is the perfect introductory course for students new to computers, computer science and technology!

What I am looking forward to though are the chapters that cover Word Processing, Spreadsheet Programs, Presentation Programs, and Database Technology.  I am hoping that the chapter on Database Technology will give me enough skills to start playing with creating a database to use for church library! (Yes, Honeybear and I have volunteered to do the Church Library!) There is even a chapter that covers Project Management and Teamwork.  Oh goodness but listening to BooBear as she worked with many teams to do project presentations in her different classes she and her classmates would have done well to study this chapter!

In the second half of the course students move into working with the internet.  There are two chapters just on Social Media. I think I might have to skip ahead to the chapter on Digital Images. Also covered are Web Design and Internet Communication.  Digital Savvy also introduces Programming Concepts and Digital Logic. The last chapter before the Final Project covers Careers and Professional Skills.

How the Course Works

These courses are online and students work can work through the materials independently. Students and teachers log in to their account and are taken to their dashboard or home page. To get to the course material click on the course title. This will bring up the page with the list of chapters. Click on a chapter to see the individual lessons, chapter activity, and exam. Unfortunately the program does not remember where you left off.

Digital Savvy has 25 chapters plus a "chapter" of Supplemental Lessons.  Each chapter is divided into Lessons.  The number of lessons varies from chapter to chapter with as few as 3 Lessons to as many as 6.  Most chapters have 3 Lessons.  All Chapters include an Activity and a Chapter Exam.

Each lesson contains Video, Text and Quiz.  The same information from the Video is presented in the Text however, there is more information in the Text.  Ideally, the student would watch the video which gives an introduction to the lesson and then read through through the Lesson Text.  If a student is only going to complete one or the other, I strongly recommend choosing Lesson Text over Lesson Video as the text includes additional information and for many of the lessons a Work With Me Section that includes discussion questions or an assignment.

The Chapter Activity provides hands on experience with the skills or topics covered.  For example in the activity for Chapter 4 students create folders, copy, move, and delete folders, and create a zip file. When I get to Chapter 12, I will create a Music Database and I hope that will give me the experience I need to create a Book Database!


Lesson Quizzes and Chapter Exams are graded automatically by the program. In Digital Savvy and Web Design students may attempt the quiz up to 3 times.  We noticed though that in Java Programming it was only 2 attempts.  Chapter Activities must be graded by the teacher.  These can be submitted through the course and the teacher can access them through their Dashboard.  The grading is easy! CompuScholar includes a Rubric so I just have to answer "yes" or "no".  The course calculates the grade for me.

Our Thoughts

Turtlegirl is home for the summer and she's been working a bit with Web Design and Java Programming.  Here are her thoughts:
First of all, I am a Computer Science major. I know my way around computers. I was doing this for fun. I decided to play around with the Web Design and Java Programming because it's been awhile since I studied Websites and I have never learned Java. One of the things I noticed and appreciated was the inclusion of Linux and other operating systems besides Windows in the first chapters of the Java Programming. I also greatly appreciated the time they took to introduce the history of computers and operating systems, as well as the discussion of computer ethics. I like having both a video to watch and a lesson to read. I did find that I could skip the video and not miss any information. I like the submission format, and I like that the program gives the student the grading rubric. I find that very helpful. I did not like the fact that with the quizzes, the wrong answers are not clearly shown in the review section. I found it very difficult to find where I went wrong and it was very frustrating. Overall, I liked the program a lot and I recommend it to students and those who are just studying computer science for fun.

I agree with Turtlegirl that for Web Design and Java Programming, which are set up exactly like Digital Savvy with Chapters that include Lessons, Activity and Chapter Exam including Lesson Video, Lesson Text, and Lesson Quiz, do not have the same easily visible "this answer is right" or "this answer is "wrong".  I really appreciate that Digital Savvy shows the correct answer.

I love how easy it is to use the courses. These are solid programs and the Java Programming is an AP level course! I recommend Digital Savvy for all students as an introductory computer science course and for students who discover a love of computers and programming I would suggest moving on to Web Design, Java Programming or any of the other courses offered. The courses offered by CompuScholar, Inc. prepared Turtlegirl so well that she was bit bored in her computer science class at college!

CompuScholar, Inc. Java Programming

Don't just take our word for it! Go check out what other crew members had to save about these courses!

Digital Savvy, Web Design & Java Programming {CompuScholar,Inc Reviews}

Social Media Links:

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Twitter – https://twitter.com/HSProgramming   @hsprogramming

CompuScholar, Inc
https://twitter.com/CompuScholar   @compuscholar

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Menu Monday: Using up Left Overs: Broccoli Cheddar Soup!

I don't have any idea how regularly I will do a Menu Monday post but I like the idea of sharing a menu, recipe, or meal idea on a Monday.

Today I want to share a lunch idea using up leftovers. Not so much a recipe, but sharing what I did to use up left over broccoli.

If you were to ask my family if they like broccoli I am fairly certain they would look at you like you had two heads.  Like broccoli? I don't think so.

They might say "well I'll eat it," or they might respond with "I prefer it raw."

I've discovered though that Supergirl loves broccoli with cheese. Since I'm trying to get her to eat more veggies and we we are trying to get her to eat more protein we eat broccoli a few times a week.  Steamed.  For Supergirl I might sprinkle some Parmesan or shredded Cheddar on it.  Sometimes I splurge and buy those "microwave-in-a-bag" broccoli with cheese sauce.

Don't let them fool you though.  They like broccoli.  They just seem to think that they must hide it.  Maybe they are afraid if they admit it the world will explode.  People are not supposed to like broccoli right?

There is one way though that my family seems to LOVE broccoli. In soup.  Cream of Broccoli Cheddar Soup.

Using up leftovers! Broccolli Soup #MenuMonday @CirclingThroughThisLIfe.com
I almost forgot to take a picture! So you get a messy half full bowl. It was that good!

Sometimes the bag of frozen broccoli (okay okay most times!) is too much because there are only 4 of us eating instead of 5 or 6. I end up with leftovers.  Not quite enough to serve as a side dish for another meal but too much to throw away.

So the other day I made it into a soup.  I took the left over broccoli chopped it up a bit more and threw it in a pan and barely covered it with some chicken broth.  It was already tender from being steamed the night before so I wanted to be careful that I did not over cook it but I did want those steams to be even more tender.  Brought the broth to boil and then turned the heat down.  I stirred in some cheese and some half and half.  Decided it was a little too thin so mixed some cornstarch with water (not too much) and stirred that into it.  Creamy, cheesy, broccoli soup.  It fast.  It was easy.  It used up leftovers.

I have been told that I need cook broccoli this week.  A big bag.  You know so we can have some left overs to make soup.

What's on your menu this week?


Old Fashioned Reading Lessons ~ Eclectic Foundations a Crew Review

I have been teaching reading in one way shape or form in my home school for nearly 18 years. I have tried so many different reading programs with each of my daughters that I have lost count. Most of those learn to read programs I used with Supergirl. I've learned that I really prefer a phonics based approach. I've learned reading is complex skill that is as much about a child's developmental readiness as it is on the program you use and, that no matter what program you use, fluency seems to come best when real sentences and stories are used.

The one approach I hadn't tried yet was the old fashioned curriculum idea.  How about using McGuffey's Eclectic Readers to teach reading? I was excited to see that Eclectic Foundations would be offering their Language Arts Levels A, B, and C to the Homeschool Review Crew.  Let me start by telling you how I settled on using Eclectic Foundations Language Arts Level A with Supergirl.

Because I am a crew leader, I received all three currently available levels. I wasn't sure exactly which level, A or B would be the best fit for Supergirl. Looking at Level A, I was concerned that it would be too easy for her as the focus is learning the alphabet. The McGruffey's Eclectic Primer is not used until nearly the middle of the program. Supergirl already knows the phonemes of the basic 26 phonograms as well as a few more phonograms such as ai, ch, and ck.  Level A at first blush looked like it would bore her.

According to the Which Level Should I start With page, a child who knows how to read basic CVC words should be fine to start with Level B but when I looked through my copy of Level B, I wasn't comfortable starting her there because the first lesson includes a word list with the silent e pattern. This is covered towards the end of Level A. Also I didn't believe she was reading fluently enough to feel confident with Level B.  The First Reader starts out simply enough with CVC words but does move quickly into longer more difficult words.

I was worried that I would not be able to use either level with her so I sat down and paged through the Teacher Guide of Level A. There is definitely material in the second half of the program that she has not been introduced to. She has not learned the "silent e" rule and this is part of the scope and sequence of Level A.

I decided the *best* plan was to start at the lesson when the McGuffey Primer began: Lesson 65.  This was the perfect fit and the perfect place for Supergirl to start

The Program

I highly encourage you to read the company's perspective on Why Eclectic Foundations.

In addition to using the Revised Editions of McGuffey's Eclectic Readers, Elizabeth Ratliff based the phonics portion of the program on Word Mastery. She also includes daily Mother Goose rhymes from a 1916 version of the Real Mother Goose.

Eclectic Foundations Language Arts is designed to be used 4 days a week for 36 weeks. There are 144 lessons. The first 26 weeks or 104 lessons teach the alphabet 1 letter per week. They are not taught in alphabetical order but instead in an order to facilitate reading real words as quickly as possible. Blending of two and three letters begins in week 2 and in week 3 reading practice includes reading two CVC words.

The Overview in the Teacher's Guide lays out four sections:


McGuffy's Eclectic Reader ~ Students begin to read the McGuffey's Eclectic Primer starting in Lesson 65. Students will study the picture, read the selection, and color the word cards. The selections typically have a few words for practicing and then a few sentences. Every 5th lesson in the McGuffey's reader is a review passage. These are longer and incorporate the words the student has been reading in previous lessons.  Ms. Ratliff suggests reading the selection at least 3 times. Students can and should use the flashcards for more practice.

This is a sample page from the Primer reader.

Phonics ~ For most of Level A the phonics lessons are basically learning the letters, one letter at a time, but this shifts with lesson 105.  Beginning with lesson 105 students will have a list of words to practice reading.  These words are not related to the McGuffey reading section.  There are a variety of activities in Lessons 1-104 to teach phonemic awareness, tracking, and the sounds of the 26 letters of the alphabet. There is no instruction other than to help your student read the words for the lessons for lessons 105- 144.

Handwriting ~ For the lessons through 104 handwriting focuses on learning how to print the letters.  A variety of activities are offered each week from building the letter with playdough to writing it in sand to actually practice writing the letter in the student workbook handwriting page.  Lesson 105 the handwriting becomes copywork as students practice writing by copying a sentence from the day's McGuffey Reader selection.

Mother Goose ~ For Level A simply read the daily rhyme to your child and enjoy it together.  Ms. Ratliff suggests that if your child is artistically inclined she may want to draw a picture to go with the Mother Goose reading.

Grammar ~ While not stated in the Overview there is a fifth component woven though out the program: Grammar.  Grammar lessons are gentle introductions of topics that will be studied more in-depth in later years. The flashcards are used, not just for reading practice, but also for a gentle introduction to the parts of speech. As part of the McGuffey Reader part of the  lesson, the student will cut out and color the words from the reader.  These words are color coded according to their parts of speech.  Red for nouns, Green for verbs, etc.

From lessons 65-104 periodic grammar lessons introducing the parts of speech appear during McGuffey Reader review weeks. Starting with lesson 105, grammar is covered daily. These are simple lessons such as learning about capital letters and starting a sentence with a capital or learning about proper and common nouns and other lessons introduce punctuation.

Using the Program with Supergirl


As I stated above we started with Lesson 65.  We do not do all of the activities such as forming the letter with playdough.  Some lessons take us longer than others depending on whether I introduce a new phonogram from the Reader or we choose to use Can Do Letter blocks to build words instead of the laminated appendix.

We follow the suggestion to read the passage 3 times. I thought Supergirl would balk at reading the same passage 3 times but she doesn't mind and I truly see her reading and confidence build. We do use the word cards if there are any words that she really struggles with. We also use letter tiles and letter cubes to build any words she struggles with.

We do the student workbook pages as assigned for the lesson because Supergirl enjoys them and I think they help her solidify skills such as tracking and discrimination.

Two of my favorite worksheets are the letter matching and the maze. With the letter matching students are instructed to match the mama letters (Uppercase) with the baby letters (lowercase). These letters are written in different styles and fonts. The maze has the student trace the path created by the letter of the week.  This teaches tracking and discrimination.

Supergirl completes a letter maze.

Most Lessons include a game.  There are two variations of a "listening game" that develops phonemic awareness, a foundational reading skill.  In the first one,  Starting ? Game, you listen for the target to sound to identify if the word starts with that sound. In Begin, Middle, End? you listen for the target sound and identify whether it is in the beginning, middle, or end of a word.  The target sound corresponds to the letter of the week.

Supergirl and I both love the Word Building Game.  This teaches another foundational phonemic awareness skill: segmenting.  She calls it spelling because when we break the word down into it's segments we are identifying the phoneme and writing down the correct phonogram.

Things I think would make this program even better:

  • I wish that this program included phonogram cards or a cheat sheet of what sounds the letters make. 
  • I think it would really help if there was something in the Introduction of the Teacher Guide that addressed the concept of "sight words" or rather words that do follow more advanced patterns but are introduced now to make the stories more interesting to read.
  • I would love a heads up in the teacher guide about which "sight words" are introduced that day in the McGuffey reader. 
  • I find it jarring to have Supergirl practice reading CVC words in the phonics but reading CVCC and longer words in the Reader. Something in the Introduction or some notes in the Teacher Guide for each lessons would be great.  Something like "today your student will read stand. You may want to introduce this flashcard and practice blending before reading today's McGuffey selection." 

Our Thoughts:

Thoughts from Supergirl:

I like it because I love to read.  I like the word building game because it is like spelling.  I like the reader and I like reading to my mom. It is fun. I am learning to read and write words like frog, cat, Rab, dog, stand, catch, and sit.
Supergirl reads the daily selection three times!

My Thoughts:

I love this program for Supergirl right now. I love how short the lessons are but most of all I love seeing my daughter's fluency improve and her confidence grow.  I like how simple it is.

I do want to point out that this would not have been a good fit for Supergirl a year ago and this would not have been a good fit for BooBear when she was first learning to read at age 4/5.  However, this would have been near perfect to use with Turtlegirl and Tailorbear who understood phonices much more instinctively and both were ready to read at age 4/5.

When we finish Level A we will move into Level B and if that goes as well as Level A, we'll continue with Level C.

Some crew members reviewed Level A, others Level B and a few reviewed Level C.  Please visit the Homeschool Review Crew blog to read their reviews!

Language Arts {Eclectic Foundations Reviews}

Visit Eclectic Foundations on Facebook!

Crew Disclaimer


Nearly Wordless Wednesday: Just Chilling

I would have posted this last week but we were in recovery mode and I was too tired:

Last week Supergirl had a cardiac catherization.  She's doing great and all looks well with her heart

I snapped this picture of her chilling on the couch after we got home from the hospital. She needed to lay low for a while longer and keep her leg straight as much as possible.  She thought it was great to lay back on the couch and watch Netflix.

Supergirl chilling on the couch watching Netflix!


A Simple Prayer for Lent

We've entered into Great Lent.  Most people are familiar with the idea of "giving up something" for lent or fasting but Lent is also a time of increased prayer and almsgiving.

I want to take just a moment to talk about increasing prayer. The other night at the Soup Supper and Talk my priest said that we can increase our prayers through repetitive prayers.  He specifically mentioned the Jesus prayer and the most simplest prayer of all "Lord have mercy".

The Jesus Prayer is a simple prayer that is perfect for increasing prayer during Lent.

The Jesus prayer is "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner."

If you think in terms of mercy being "not given what you deserve" , then it might seem that our simplest prayer is just a cry to avoid punishment for sins.  That's more a judicial or legal term view.

But the words in Hebrew and Greek that are translated into our English word "mercy" have deeper broader meanings.  The Hebrew word means lovingkindness.  In Greek the word is closely related to the word for oil.  Olive oil is used for food, for lamps, for annointing, and for healing.

When pray "Lord have mercy," we are asking God to pour out his lovingkindness on us to heal us, to illumine us, to bless us and to provide for us.

I love the Jesus prayer.  It is simple. It is beautiful.  It can be powerful.  On Sunday at church the choir sang this prayer as prepared for communion.  I found this version on you tube. This is similar enough that I think you get the idea.

If you would like more information on the Jesus Prayer, I recommend this video with Frederica Matthews-Greene.

I am linking this post up to 40 Days of Seeking Him hosted by Day by Day in Our World.