May 2011 Archives

Using Formulas in Geometry

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Formulas have been important in previous math courses and will definitely come in handy as you learn Geometry. Whether you are attempting to calculate the perimeter or the area of a figure, you'll need to remember the formulas to arrive at the correct answer. Today's free Geometry video is on Using Formulas in Geometry and will cover the basic formulas you've most likely encountered already in your math education. In the first lecture, Professor Burger focuses on perimeter, or the sum of the side lengths of the figure.  He also covers area, the number of non-overlapping square units of a given size that exactly cover the figure. In the second lecture he applies formulas for perimeter and area in a word problem. In the third, and final, lecture Professor Burger covers more formulas, circumference and area of a circle. The circumference of a circle is the distance around the circle. Get ready for our good friend Pi to make an appearance in these formulas.

Don't forget that today's video has a total of three lectures on it. Click the forward button directly to the left of the time stamp to move to the next lecture on the video so you don't miss a word!


Geometry - Understanding Points, Lines, and Planes

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In thinking about Geometry there are all these fundamental building blocks that allow us to build all sorts of interesting-looking geometrical things. In today's free Geometry video, Professor Burger lectures on the topic of Understanding Points, Lines, and Planes. He beings with the basics by defining points, lines, and planes. A point names a location and has no size. A line is a straight path that has no thickness and extends in two directions forever. A plane is a flat surface with no thickness that extends forever in all of its directions. In the second lecture, he explains drawing segments and rays. A line segment is the part of a line consisting of two point and all point between them. A ray is part of a line that starts at an endpoint and extends forever in one direction. The third lecture finds Professor Burger showing how to identify point and lines in a plane. And finally, in the fourth lecture he challenges you to sketch different types of intersections. It's not always as easy as it sounds and might challenge your artistic abilities.

This is fairly basic Geometry knowledge and the first video of our online Geometry course. It's a perfect beginning because understanding points, lines, and planes are crucial to succeeding in Geometry and are concepts that will be built upon in future lessons.

Make sure you catch all four lectures by clicking on the forward button to the left of the time stamp to move to the next lecture on the video.


Set Theory - Free Worksheet

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Did you get a chance to see the Algebra 1 video on Set Theory yesterday? If not, go check out the video so you can come back and test your knowledge with today's free worksheet!

If you did see the video, chances are you have a solid understanding of Set Theory. Which makes it a perfect time to use our topic worksheet that is included in our curriculum for this subject. With two pages of problems, included a word problem, which are always tricky, you'll get to see how much knowledge you retained and which areas you need to study and practice more. And don't forget that this is only the topic worksheet for this one video. Our courses also include notes, exercises, subchapter worksheets, quizzes, and exams!

Check out today's worksheet and let us know what you think! 


Algebra 1 - Set Theory

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A set is one of the most important ideas of mathematics. Believe it or not, a set is just a collection of items. The items in a set have a name and they are called elements. In today's free Algebra 1 video, Professor Burger covers all aspects of Set Theory.

In the first lecture, he covers finding the union and intersection of sets. The intersection of two sets is a single set that contains only the elements that are common to the original sets. The union of two sets is a single set of all elements of the original sets. The second lecture covers making a Venn diagram, which is a way to show the union and intersection of the pair of sets. He also touches on finding the compliment of a set. In the example he uses, you'll learn about the universe, which is the set that contains all of the elements relating to the situation. Prof. Burger discusses determining relationships between sets in the third lecture and shows how you can use a Venn diagram to determine these relationships. Finally, you'll get a great real world application of sets in the final lecture.

Don't forget that today's video has four lectures on it. Click on the forward button to the left of the time stamp to move to the next lecture on the video.


Metric Measurements

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The Metric System is based on powers of ten. It's a simple measurement system due to the ease of converting between the different units. While the Metric System is not the standard system of measurement in the United States, almost every country in the world utilizes it. It is however, commonly used in the fields of science and engineering, by the military, and in some industries. In today's free Grade 7 Math video on Metric Measurements, Professor Edward Burger describes the different metric units of measurement and then demonstrates how to choose the appropriate metric unit for what you are measuring. In the second lecture on today's video, he covers converting metric units. You'll quickly see the real power of the metric system comes from the simplicity of converting measurements. The final lecture on today's video is on using unit conversions to make comparisons. Using real world examples, you'll see how to use your knowledge of the metric system to work word problems and make comparisons of different metric units.

By the end of the video, you will gain a solid understanding of the metric system and converting metric units. Make sure you click the forward button to the left of the time stamp to watch all three lectures!


Homeschooling and the Arts

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iStock_000004525236XSmall.jpgHomeschooling allows for such freedom in the classroom. You can tailor how you teach subjects to your child in order to best fit their learning style. There are more opportunities to blend art into other subjects, which can often help children comprehend difficult concepts. Homeschooling also allows you to give them more freedom to be creative and explore different areas of the arts. Plus, with all the homeschools blogging about what they do, there is a wealth of really great craft projects and lesson plans that include creative task.

What makes the combination of arts and homeschooling even better is that you can determine what your child needs to learn. If you see your child is enjoying pottery more than other crafts, you can focus on it by buying a block of clay or sending them to pottery classes. Or maybe your child is a theatrical diva and really shines on the stage. You can set up plays at home or with a homeschool group, or even find a great children's theater company for them to join. If it's music your child is into, it's not too hard to find decent used musical instruments through sites like Craigslist and eBay or local instrument shops. There's even plenty of free beginning sheet music online. One of my favorite things growing up was going to art museums and galleries. Often these are an inexpensive or even free opportunity to teach children about art appreciation and help them develop their opinions of the art they see. You can even tour some museums online via amazing virtual tours without ever leaving the house.

Basically, homeschool gives you the ability to teach the classes that are so important to your growing child. While we know the core subjects are key, public education often forgets about the emotional growth of our children. It misses the point that an art class can turn a rowdy student into a focused and relaxed student. Kids need an outlet for their emotions. What better way than playing an instrument, dancing, or painting a picture? Part of art is expressing your feelings, and giving kids a way to let out those strong emotions is a gift that keeps on giving. Because I grew up with the arts, I play the piano when I'm sad, angry, or just frustrated. And I always walk away from the piano feeling satisfied and less emotional.

The arts foster creativity and thinking outside the box, both of which are desired by employers. They're also an important outlet for students who are going through some major hormonal changes and the emotions that come with them. There's not a single reason to avoid art classes, knowing the positive impact they have on kids. Thankfully, as homeschool parents, you have the choice of teaching your children subjects that will engage and challenge them. You know what your children's strengths and weaknesses are and can teach accordingly. You can help your kids express themselves through art, and that's a beautiful thing.

I spent some time and dug up a few free resources to help with arts instruction. This is truly the tip of the iceberg, so if you don't see what you like, do a quick search of the Internet and you'll find something.

Looking for some beginner sheet music? This site has a nice list of links for sheet music for beginners for a wide variety of instruments. Most of the sites even provide free sheet music!

Kids Can Have Fun has a good list of crafts for every interest. I highly recommend checking out the major homeschool blogs as they all tend to highlight crafts and what their kids thought of then. Another great resource would be to check out craft books from your local library.

Free Drama! has a good selection of plays of all lengths, one acts, and more. I also found a list of links to free scripts, skits, and plays here.

Spring Service Day 2011

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Thumbnail image for laurenniko.jpgOn Friday, a group of Thinkwellians participated in the Entrepreneur's Foundation of Central Texas' Spring Service Day. We met up at Winn Elementary School here in Austin to spruce things up for the students. We were not alone in our work as several companies put in a hard day's work alongside us.

There were projects to beautify the outside with plantings and paint. There were also several groups, including us, who worked inside on a variety of murals in the school. Our group walked into the gym to find designs sketched on the walls of the gym, paintbrushes, and buckets of paint. Grabbing a paintbrush, everyone started right away on the painting, excited to add some color and fun to the walls. Another group touched up some of the murals in the hallways as this school has a ton of murals and many are older and in need of some repair.

The cafeteria just so happens to be directly connected to the gym. At lunchtime, we had kids sneaking in to see what we were doing as they were excited about the new murals we were creating. They not only watched us as we painted, but took the time to thank us for our hard work. This honestly brightened everyone's day and really made the volunteer opportunity even more special. We ended up with a really terrific mural that everyone was proud of helping to complete. Spring Service Day was a thorough success and I'm proud to say that we left Winn Elementary better than we found it.


Bill of Rights

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In order to win ratification of the Constitution, the framers had promised enactment of a Bill of Rights that protected individual liberties and freedom. When James Madison originally drafted the Bill of Rights, he created seventeen amendments. By 1791, the states had ratified ten amendments that became what we know as the Bill of Rights. Interestingly, the first eight amendments were copied from the Virginia Declaration of Rights as written by George Mason. At the time people feared the federal government would become too powerful and would infringe on the states. Thus the 9th and 10th amendments limited the power of the federal government.

Most Americans don't know even the most basic things about the Bill of Rights, which is why today's free American Government lecture is perfect for everyone. Professor Gerald Rosenberg gives a little history before delving into an overview of all 10 amendments. This is important information to learn because these amendments protect our rights as American Citizens. Watch today's video to learn more about the freedoms and protections contained in the Bill of Rights.



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I touched on the issue of nonvoting in last week's free American Government video on Voter Turnout. From that lecture we know that on average only about 50% of American citizens vote. An example of this is in the 1996 presidential election; President Clinton received 50 million votes, which represented only 25% of the 200 million potential voters. That's a small percentage to elect the top elected official in our government!

In today's video on Nonvoting, Professor Mark Rom doesn't come out immediately and state nonvoting is a problem for American democracy, instead he starts by looking at who votes and why to explain why anyone would not vote in the first place. Interestingly, people with higher educations, people who are older, and people who are white tend to have higher voting rates than others.  There are many reasons for this that are discussed in the lecture, but what is important to take away from this is the reasons why these people are less likely to vote. Apathy, contentment, discontentment, and low confidence all can be reasons for why people don't vote. Some don't see this as a problem because those who don't vote are less informed about or connected to politics. Accordingly, if they did vote, there is a good chance it would not truly represent their interests in government. But, others see this as a big part of the problem where those who don't vote aren't being properly represented in government, resulting in a government that only serves those who do vote. Either way, there are a few changes that could be made to our voting regulations that might encourage more folks to vote. From simplifying registration requirements, simplifying the voting process, or making Election Day a national holiday, there are plenty of possible solutions to increase voter turnout. Check out today's lecture to get the facts so you can make your own decision on the issue of nonvoting.


Voter Turnout

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Low voter turnout is a big issue in the United States. On average only about 50% of our citizens vote, which is problematic as it means a small percentage is selecting our government representatives. Interestingly, more than 80% of registered voters turn out for elections. It makes you wonder if this is a sign that voting registration laws are part of the problem. In today's free American Government video, Professor Mark Rom discusses different views on voting registration and what we can do to encourage and improve voting. It's interesting to see the restrictions our country has put on voting registration, how they've evolved over the years, and the impact they've had on voting.

This is a very important topic as voting is our opportunity to express our political views and have an impact on our government. It doesn't matter what your political beliefs are, voting is not just a right, but also a civic duty we should take seriously. Professor Rom does a great job of presenting both sides of the issue so that you can decide what you think would be the best solution to increase voting in our country.



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Odds are a way of measuring the likelihood of particular outcomes. When trying to determine the likelihood of winning a contest, odds can come in handy. The odds in favor of an event are the ratio of favorable outcomes to unfavorable outcomes. The odds against an event are the ratio of unfavorable outcomes to favorable outcomes. We can actually take the odds of an event and convert it to a probability. It's a simple formula where probability is the total number of successes divided by the number of trials. It is also possible to convert probabilities to odds with a similar formula.

Today's free 8th Grade Math video on Odds is a great way to learn how to express the likelihood of something happening. It's a concept utilized often in our life, especially when trying to make a decision based upon the possibility of particular results. Professor Burger will run you through several sample problems in the 3 lectures on the video. Just make sure you click the forward button to the left of the time stamp to move to the next lecture on the video.


Handmade Gifts for Mother's Day

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mothersday.jpgMother's Day is this weekend and you know you've got to do something special to let your Mom know how much she means to you. I have searched high and low for a variety of fun crafts to share with you guys because moms always love something from the heart. We've got a nice list of links with free instructions for a variety of projects and a variety of age ranges. Even if you are the Mom, pick what you like and give the kids some serious hints. I'm thinking an activity station set up with a few of these crafts would be a fun way to get the kids started. Any of these crafts would be a great way to show how much you appreciate your Mom.

Free Kids Crafts always has a ton of great crafts. They've got a project for every age range on their Mother's Day Crafts page. There is definitely something for everyone here.

For older kids, these accordion albums would be a perfect crafty project. This could easily be done with younger kids with some help. They even have some sayings already created in PDF form to make it even easier on you! Great craft for scrapbooking enthusiasts and they are super cute!

This blog has some great gift ideas you can make for Mom's who enjoy gardening. Nice suggestions including a homemade garden kneeler and a decorated watering can.

I really like the step-by-step photos to guide you through this really nice handmade heart and flower themed Mother's Day card. This is a nice project for any age range.

If you have plans to do a little baking for Mom this year, these printable gift tags and cupcake decorations are super cute and perfect for making your treats even prettier.

The simplicity of this printable bookmark template is really nice. Any age can do this project and the results are cute and perfect for the Mom who loves reading.

These last two aren't crafts, but fun ways to get the kids excited about celebrating how great their Mom is!

This video on YouTube for The Mom Song is super cute and a really gets at what makes Moms so special!

Spelling City created a vocabulary list just for Mother's Day. Get the kids practicing words associated with the day with worksheets, flash cards, games, and a vocab test!

If you've got other ideas, activities, or crafts definitely share them in the comments section. Happy Mother's Day to all you amazing Moms, I hope you have a truly special day.

Translating Between Words and Math

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Word problems can be tricky. Sometimes it's difficult to convert verbal expressions into algebraic expressions. The trick is to be able to translate words into math. In today's free Pre-algebra video on Translating Between Words and Math, Professor Burger demonstrates just how to do that. He makes it as simple as learning that the word product means multiply. You'll learn what a variety of verbal expressions translate into, algebraically. This is a great overview if you are just getting into word problems.

What's better is today's video has 2 lectures on it! Once you've learned the translation basic in the first lecture, Prof. Burger will give you real-world problems so you can see what you just learned in action. This video is a great aide for a type of problem you will encounter frequently in your math courses. Make sure you click on the forward button to the left of the time stamp to watch both lectures.



About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from May 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

April 2011 is the previous archive.

June 2011 is the next archive.

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