Wednesday, April 23, 2014

What I DON'T LIKE about teaching at the Tutorial Center

I love teaching at Cornerstone Tutorial Center, but there is one problem with it: There isn't enough time to do all the fun things I want to do with the kids! I only get them for 80 minutes per class, one day a week (160 minutes for Biology). I know we are only supposed to supplement what they are learning elsewhere, but I feel cheated!

For instance, yesterday, we did a project in composition class from the Always Write website called, A Tale of Two Cities. It was so much fun; but, we had to quit before we were finished. The object of the exercise is to learn how to write and punctuate complex sentences, as well as improve vocabulary. The way it works is this:

1. We read the introductory sentence to A Tale of Two Cities (which is a paragraph long!) and discuss the use of antonyms and commas in the piece.

2. The kids then had to come up with six of their own antonym pairs for their own writing project.

3. They had to find words in the thesaurus to replace their 10 cent words with 50 cent words (ones that they were not familiar with).

4. We discussed how to connect sentences with conjunctions.

5. Then the students had to take their six pairs and write a paragraph that ended with "In short" as in our sample piece of literature.

Since we didn't get it finished in class, I asked them to finish it at home. I hope to showcase some of them on here when I get them.

The creator of the lesson plan, Corbett Harrison, strongly suggested that the teacher complete one as well. I did, and here is my prose of the day in 30 minutes or less! Not Dickens, but it sure was fun!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Somerset by Leila Meacham

I just finished Somerset by Lelia Meacham and thoroughly enjoyed it. I had not read any other books by Meacham, but I will certainly be looking for them now.

This book is a family-saga set just before, during, and after the Civil War.  It follows three major families, the Tolivers, Dumonts and Warwicks, as they move from South Carolina to settle in Texas. Because it spans three generations, prepare yourself for some tears. Babies are born, children and parents die, marriages are made, and marriages are dissolved. Everything you expect in a family saga.

I enjoyed the book mainly because of the main character, Jessica Wyndham. We follow her from the day she is forced to marry Silas Toliver to the day she dies. She is the glue that holds everyone together, and the  hero of the story in my eyes.

If you enjoy family sagas and historical novels, you will enjoy this book. Now, I want to read Roses. Somerset is the prequel to Roses, but Roses was published first.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Hearing Aids Part II

Today was my first day with my hearing aids. It took me about 20 minutes to read through the instructions, put the batteries in, and fit the correct dome for my ears. Then I turned them on. It takes a few seconds for the sound to begin to amplify, but once it did the fun began! The first thing I did was to go outside with my dog. Everything was louder - the door, the dog's bell, and the birds! I could hear a choir of birds chirping and tweeting. Although some of the noises were too loud, overall it was awesome!

This is where I purchased my aids.
My next tryout was watching television with my husband. I had him set the volume to where he likes it. Then I began trying out the various settings on my devices until I found what worked for me. At first, I liked it on Program 1, but later, I decided Program 2 seemed to work better for me. It was wonderful watching TV without my headphones and the captions!

Next, we went to a restaurant. There was so many sounds there that I had never heard before, including dishes clanging. Not every sound I was hearing with my new aids was pleasant! But I finally turned my aids to Program 3 and it seemed to quiet everything down. I could still hear Bill, but most of the background noise was reduced. I drove home on Program 3 as well and was not annoyed at all that car sounds!

Next, I tried the telephone. I tried Program #4, which is recommended for some phones, but it didn't work. I have an iPhone. Then I read that some phones work better with 1, 2, or 3. So I switched back to 1 and it worked fine. No problems hearing through the phone. I later found a list of compatible phones on the MDHearingAid website. If you have a T3 phone, then you can use Program 4, but I am quite happy using my iPhone on Program 1-3.

Choices of domes
I found that I was getting a bit of feedback off and on, so I changed from the open dome to the closed one. This seems to be working better for me. I'm not sure it the feedback was from having the aid too loud, using the open dome, or what; but it is not doing the feedback thing now that I've switched to a closed dome. I will continue with these for awhile, and then switch back after I get used to the device.  If it still doesn't work, then I'll know I need the closed domes. They give you several sizes of both the open and the closed so that you can find one that works for you.

The last thing I did today was go to handbells practice. I was afraid the bells were going to be overwhelming, but I was surprised. I had no problem with the bells. Instead, I had more problem with my director. Apparently, he has a very loud voice (at least through my hearing aids). I had to turn down the volume. Other than that, all went well.

My impression from my first day is that I think I will get used to these in a short time. There is a lot of extra noises to deal with that I have not heard before. Some pleasant; some not so pleasant. I heard my car engine continue to run after I shut it off. That was weird, but apparently it does that all the time. Feedback from putting my hands in front of the hearing aid can be extremely noisy, but I soon learned not to approach them from the front. Some noises in my surroundings are uncomfortable, but I've been told that you eventually get used to it. I'll let you know after 21 days. That is the period of time that the company says it will take to get totally used to them.

I am really anxious to try it out at school. For me, this is the main reason I got them. I have a hard time hearing my students. If they pass that test, I will be extremely excited!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Hearing Aids - Part I

I'm definitely getting older. My hearing has gotten so bad that my husband bought me a headset for the TV. Apparently, I was blasting him out!

Since I am going through the process of finding the best hearing I can find for a price I can afford, I thought I would share my process. I'm sure there are some others of you who have the same problem. Hopefully, what I share will help someone out there. 

My first stop was a local audiologist in Broken Arrow. After giving me a test, he told me I probably wouldn't wear them, so don't waste my money. Hmmm. That was last fall. Meanwhile, my hearing got worse. 

Now, it's so bad I have to walk up to my students' desks in order to hear them. Not a good thing. So, a friend recommended Clear Tone in Tulsa. I was really excited about going because she let me wear her hearing aid and I could see that it would definitely help. I knew she paid about $4,000 for hers, so I was expecting a large bill. 

I arrived 15 minutes early, but did not get in to see the technician until 45 minutes later. She did the tests - there were several. Afterwards, she confirmed what I suspected. I have moderately severe loss of the higher tones in both ears. Background noise is my main enemy. 

The next step was discussing the solutions. This is where it got depressing. It was going to cost $10,000 for the earphones that could best help my hearing loss! I went home very depressed after being high pressured for a while to purchase something as "anything is better than nothing."

After posting on Facebook that I was depressed about my hearing aid shopping, a couple of friends suggested some alternatives. One was Costco - apparently they have a great audiology department and you can get a pair for about $2,000 that does the same as the $10K pair at Clear Tone. 

Another friend posted an article from the news that cheap alternatives found at Bass Pro and other places can be just as helpful as the expensive types. So I began to search anew. 

Finally, I came up with MDHearing Aid. This product is made by an Ear-Nose-Throat PhD who thought, if you can build an iPhone for $200, you ought to be able to build a hearing aid for $200. So that's what he did. 

He has recently developed a newer one called the MDHearingAid Air for only $349 each or 2/$600. They are supposed to be equivalent to some that cost $3,000 and these are 100% money back within 45 days. It has 3 programs and a volume dial to accommodate the most common types of hearing loss. It's the size of a dime, so it should be fairly discreet. So, I bought a pair. They are coming in the mail this week. 

I will write more after I get them.  The website says it takes about 21 days to get used to them, so I don't expect to write my final comments until after that period. I sure hope they work. If not, I'll try Costco. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


I haven't blogged about my own business for quite a while so I thought I would remind everyone of the books/services I offer. 

For homeschoolers, I offer The Checklist. This book is a scope and sequence written specifically for homeschoolers by a homeschool mom. I created this book to help parents keep track of what they teach when. It is also helpful in preparing lesson plans and unit studies. You can download a large sample from my website. For more information, check out my homeschool website: How To Homeschool Today

For Oklahoma history buffs, I created the Oklahoma Scrapbook. This is a 290-page travel guide/travel diary for those who are traveling in Oklahoma. As a trip planner, the Oklahoma Scrapbook offers a list of over 150 travel destinations located in the state of Oklahoma. Each entry includes a brief description of the destination, as well as its hours of operation, admission charges, address and/or directions, and contact information. Each destination is listed by geographic area (Green Country, Frontier Country, etc.) as well as alphabetically and by city/town. As a learning tool, the Oklahoma Scrapbook enhances learning by recommending topics to discuss, books to read, and activities to do that are related to each destination. For instance, when visiting the 45th Infantry Division Museum, the topics suggested are World War II, Korean War, Germany, and Hitler. A list of books and activities follow that relate specifically to these topics.

For educators, I compiled a resource for teaching Oklahoma History called Oklahoma History Online. This resource provides information, teaching ideas, printable forms and more to help you teach your student about Oklahoma History. 

Finally, for parents, I do private and group tutoring in a variety of subjects including English, math, and science. I do private tutoring in my home and group tutoring at Cornerstone Tutorial Center. You can enroll your student in one or more than one class at a time. A description of the classes I am offering during the 2014-2015 school year is on my professional website

Electronics Class at Cornerstone Tutorial Center

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Another great Tamera Alexander book!

I just finished A Beauty So Rare by Tamera Alexander. Loved it! This book is the perfect romance for women of all ages. It’s clean, wholesome, and contains no bad language, violence or sex scenes. The romance is satisfying and the plot is interesting. It's Christian in content, but it's not preachy.

The plot is fairly typical for a romance: a woman who has lost all, living with a rich relative until she gets her feet on the ground, feeling forced to marry for security, but in love with a man who cannot provide that security. The interesting part is how Tamera Alexander makes it HER story including a unique setting and unique characters. A Beauty So Rare is a very enjoyable story and it will make you smile! 

Although the book is listed as historical fiction, I consider the historical aspects to be minor. The story is set in Nashville during Reconstruction. Other than this historical setting and a few brief mentions of the Hapsburg family, Luther Burbank, Dorothea Dix and Gregor Mendel, the history in the novel is not very detailed. I consider it a taste of history, rather than a historical novel. This is not a criticism; I just don’t want someone to buy the novel thinking they will gain a lot of historical knowledge about this period. It’s not that kind of novel. It’s mainly a romance and a good one at that.

I would recommend the novel to anyone who wants to read a clean, wholesome romance set in a unique period of history. If you're looking for a light, enjoyable read that won't make you blush, grab this one off the shelf. You won't regret it! 

I’ve enjoyed all of Tamera Alexander’s novels and A Beauty So Rare is no exception.

NOTE: I received a copy of this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.