Monthly Archives: September 2010

Correction in Regards to MIT OpenCourseWare


I received a comment in regards to my previous post. It appears that the New York Times article was in error and that MIT has no intention of charging for their OpenCourseWare, ever. Kudos to MIT! From an MIT Media Relations article:

A handful of recent news articles have reported that MIT is considering placing its MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW) program behind a paywall. These articles stemmed from remarks about e-learning that were made by an MIT administrator at a recent educational conference. The articles were based on a misinterpretation of the administrator’s remarks.

The content on MIT OpenCourseWare will continue to be free and available online, as it has always been. Like other universities, MIT is constantly exploring new educational opportunities — including the possibility of e-learning projects — but MIT has no plans to charge for access to MIT OpenCourseWare content.

Labels: High School, This and That, Wrapping Up Our Week
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Homeschooling Highschool – Choosing Between the ACT and the SAT

In my posts here and here, I discussed the PSAT and SAT, but there is another test that I didn’t address, the ACT. The ACT is a standardized test used for college admissions, much like the SAT. It also has a predictive/practice test like the PSAT, called the PLAN (and which has not been offered anywhere near us).

It used to be that a student took the test favored by the college he was applying to, but more and more schools are accepting both tests now, so your student  may wonder which test he should take. My daughter took both the SAT and the ACT, but is only going to submit her best score (not all colleges allow applicants to do this). My son, on the other hand, had no intention of taking any more tests than he had to. So we spent some time reviewing each test and having him do practice samples of each test. He decided that he preferred the ACT and he did seem to score higher on the ACT than the SAT.

One major difference between the ACT and the SAT is that the writing component is optional for the ACT. This was a major attraction to my son, who struggles with writing for timed tests. In the end, he did end up taking the writing component and did fine, but it was nice for him to have a choice.

Other differences between the two tests include:

  • The ACT has a science portion, while the SAT does not
  • The ACT tests trigonometry in its math portion, the SAT does not
  • The ACT tests grammar, the SAT does not
  • The SAT puts more emphasis on vocabulary
  • The SAT is a longer test (about 30-60 minutes longer, depending on whether or not the student takes the writing portion of the ACT)
  • The SAT has a penalty for guessing, incorrectly, the ACT does not
  • The ACT is curriculum-based, while the SAT focuses more on general reasoning and problem-solving skills

In general, we have found that taking samples of both tests is the best way to decide which test each child is more comfortable with and does better on.
If your student would like to get an idea of what score he would get on one test, based on what he scored on the other, here is a conversion chart. (This chart should be taken with a grain of salt, this is not an exact science.)

Here are some free resources for preparing for the ACT:

In addition, the resources that I listed in my post “Homeschooling Highschool: Preparing for the PSAT and SAT” can help students prepare for the ACT also.

Labels: High School, This and That, Wrapping Up Our Week
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

A B See Photo Meme – R is for Reflection



Labels: Wordless Wednesday
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

A, B, C, Flashcards with Vintage Art


I stumbled on these A, B, C flashcards today and thought they were really cute. I also like that they use words for the vowels that begin with short vowels, which is usually the vowel sound children learn first when studying phonics. Many flashcards might use “eagle” for “e” or “airplane” for “a”, which really drives me up the wall. These same companies might also use blends for constants, such as “snake” for “s”. I’m a bit touchy on the issue as my son has dyslexia and I can’t tell you how important it was us that he only use phonics materials that used the short vowel sounds until he really had those sounds down pat.

These images are public domain images, so are free to use. They are hosted on Karen’s Whimsy.

A-H image

I-R image


Labels: Freebies, Language Arts, Phonics and Reading
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

MIT Considers Charging for OpenCourseWare

Please note that the New York Times article that this post was based on was proven to be incorrect. MIT will not be charging for OpenCourseWare. You can read more here.

MIT’s OpenCourseWare has long been a popular option for course material for many homeschooler’s with high school students. From the OpenCourseWare site:

MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW) is a web-based publication of virtually all MIT course content. OCW is open and available to the world and is a permanent MIT activity….
…Each course we publish requires an investment of $10,000 to $15,000 to compile course materials from faculty, ensure proper licensing for open sharing, and format materials for global distribution. Courses with video content cost about twice as much, but your feedback about the significant value of these video materials helps to justify the cost.

According to Wikipedia, the project is “jointly funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and MIT.”
Today, however, the New York Times ran an article stating that MIT is considering charging for OpenCourseWare in the future. According to the Times:

Long a leader in the Open Course Ware movement, which provides free and open access to high-quality educational materials, M.I.T. has come under increasing financial pressure because of the fall in the value of its endowment.
From a high of $10.1 billion in 2008, M.I.T.’s endowment has shrunk to $7.6 billion. According to University World News, an online newsletter, putting courses behind a paywall is one of a number of measures designed to deliver $150 million in cuts over the 2009-12 period. — D.D. GUTTENPLAN

At the same time, the OpenCourseWare site states on it’s FAQ that this fall they intend to run a pilot ad-service program.

The goal of this pilot is to see how well this messaging approach meets our internal needs: increasing the number of newsletter subscribers, encouraging more visitors to donate, highlighting special content on our site, and providing visibility to other programs at MIT. Later phases of the pilot may explore underwriting recognition in a model similar to that used at NPR. In all cases, MIT faculty will be notified prior to the appearance of any underwriting on their courses and will be given the opportunity to opt out of any such program…
…Underwriting recognition would not generate enough income to support OCW, but could be an important part of an overall sustainability solution. We would continue to rely on direct funding from MIT, gifts from visitors, major support from donors and sponsors, and other sources of revenue in addition to possible underwriting support.

I don’t know if the FAQ has not been updated or if they plan to try the ad program first and if that does not work, they will then start charging. My kids have never liked the OpenCourseWare model, so it will not affect us. I’m curious to hear from people who currently use or have used in the past the OpenCourseWare program? Would you still use MIT’s OpenCourseWare program if you had to pay for it? If so, how much would you be willing to pay?

Labels: High School, This and That, Wrapping Up Our Week
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

A B See Photo Meme – M is for Maple Seed

I decided to start participating in The Homeschool Post’s A B See Photo Meme for three reasons. Firstly, I wanted a way to participate in the larger homeschool blogging community. Secondly, I wanted an excuse to partake more in nature walks. Thirdly, I wanted to improve my photography. Believe it or not, I majored in media, with an emphasis in video and film. It has been 20 years, however, since I graduated from college and in that time, my photo skills have become pretty outdated and a bit rusty. One major area I need to work on is the post-production aspect as we only had dark rooms back in my college days. So I am completely unfamiliar with PhotoShop and what not.
Each week for the meme, I will post one photo that has a subject matter that represents a letter of the alphabet, until I have done all 26.
I had intended to post this on Wednesday as a Wordless Wednesday photo, but my daughter was sick, so I never got the chance. I’m glad though, as I feel the photo needs a bit of explaining. As I mentioned, I want to practice my photography while on nature walks with my daughter, who loves to be outside all day long. This may not be practical every week, especially as winter begins, but I’m going to try. This week, I became obsessed with trying to capture a maple seed spiraling after being thrown in the air (something that fascinated my daughter). This proved to much more difficult than I anticipated as it was hard to find the seed through the lens and then, when I did, it ended up being blurry. These issues were further compounded by it being almost sunset. So I only got one remotely decent shot, which still required a lot of post editing to be able to see the seed. So my photo is a bit funky looking. Still, it was good post-production practice.


Labels: Wordless Wednesday
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Harvest Moon Tonight

Saguaro Moon
Credit & Copyright: Stefan Seip (Astro Meeting)

I love autumn! One of the many things I love about autumn is Harvest Moons. Tonight’s Harvest Moon is supposed to put a particularly good show. According to Gizmodo, it will be a show like we haven’t seen in twenty years:

Being close to the horizon, the orange Moon will be gigantic thanks to a psychological effect called the Moon illusion. The sky will be illuminated by the Sun and the Moon at the same time, creating a weird 360-degree effect that is rarely seen.

To see the moon, go outside at sunset, be sure to have a clear view of the East and the West. The educational opportunities Harvest Moon’s offer are numerous. Plus, they look really cool!

Labels: Science
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

See Live Theatre Performances for Free This Month

image “The Free Night of Theatre 2010 program introduces people to the thrill of live theatre – absolutely free of charge!” Events vary by region, but in my region, there are several productions for families. I am told that the tickets go fast, so be sure to reserve yours ASAP.

Labels: Freebies
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

My First Blog Award!


I just received my first blog award from Anna-Marie over at Life’s Adventures. Her blog is really great! She is homeschooling in England (they actually call it “home edding” there). It is really interesting to read about homeschooling in a different country, especially from someone who is originally from the U.S. Talk about cool history fieldtrips – they went to a medieval walled city in Germany that managed to remain virtually unscathed during World War II!

So here are the rules for accepting this award…

  1. Accept the award. Post it on your blog with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link. (I’m not sure if I am posting it correctly. When I accepted it, I just right clicked on the image and selected “Save As”.)
  2. Pay it forward to 15 other bloggers.
  3. Contact those blog owners and let them know they’ve been chosen. So I am passing on this award to the following great blogs, in no particular order. (BTW, some of my favorite blogs already have this award, so don’t feel insulted if I didn’t give you one.)
Labels: High School
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Homeschooling Highschool: Preparing for the PSAT and SAT

MP900402266[1]If your student is going to be taking the PSAT this October, you may want to do some last minute review in order to give him the best odds of scoring well on the test. Ideally, one should start preparing for the PSAT during the spring or summer before the test (or even a full year in advance). If your student does not test well, or is really counting on good PSAT/SAT scores for scholarships or admission to a highly competitive college, then it may be worth the money to invest in a PSAT/SAT prep class or hire a tutor.
If your student tests well and/or does not intend to rely on high scores for scholarships or admission to highly competitive colleges, you may find that free or cheap test prep resources are all you need.
Regardless, it is best to do some sort of test prep for the PSAT and/or SAT. When I was a kid, they told us that you couldn’t study for the PSAT/SAT, but the fact is that you can and you can raise your score quite a bit by doing so.
Here are some free PSAT/SAT test prep resources:

Labels: High School, This and That, Wrapping Up Our Week
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff