HEF Newsletter April 2012

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The Home Education Foundation Newsletter

Home Educators' Voice At The Capitol - Florida
Providing information and insights to Florida Home Educators April 2012
In This Issue

Ask Brenda

Computer Science

YouTube For Education

HEF at Work for You!

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  Brenda Dickinson

Ask Brenda

Will the foreign language courses taught in a home education program meet the requirement for admission to a Florida public university?

No. A student is required to have successfully completed 2 years of language in a Florida high school or 2 semesters at a Florida college. The foreign language requirement must be met through courses taken in a public or private school, the Florida Virtual School (FLVS) or in a Florida college.* Some universities may accept a passing score on CLEP tests, however, you will need to check with the institution your child plans to attend.

If the courses are taken through dual enrollment or after high school graduation, the 2 semesters will be counted as electives.

*A Florida university may accept foreign language from an accredited out-of-state high school or college, however, before you register for the course be sure to check the requirement of the Florida university your child hopes to attend.

If you have a home education question you would like Brenda to answer in a future issue, please submit it to www.flhef.org/contact-us


Computer Science Can Be Fun

John Barber, a home educated high school student, was thrilled when his programmable robot arrived in the mail. This was his introduction to the FLVS Computer Programming online class! For the next several months he programmed the robot to do all kinds of tasks, including making it dance. "I loved working with the robot and used it to get a great foundation in computer programming. Prior to utilizing FLVS, John's parents often wondered how they would be able to offer him classes in programming, without the expense of private classes or tutors. Little did they know how this robot and the amazing FLVS curriculum would shape their son's desire for a future career in computer science.

John's FLVS instructor, William Jordan, who was involved in writing the computer programming curriculum for FLVS, was an amazing teacher and mentor for John. "He really understood how to teach well. He didn't just tell me, he showed me how to program, and was always available whenever I needed help." At the conclusion of the computer programming class, it was Mr. Jordan who encouraged John to take FLVS's Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science class. John and his parents were a bit apprehensive since the class sounded intimidating. When Mr. Jordan explained how the AP class fits with the earlier programming class, it all made perfect "homeschooling" sense and they were sold on the idea.

Thanks to Mr. Jordan, FLVS had recently rewritten the entire curriculum so that upon completion of the Computer Programming class, John was not only ready to enroll in FLVS's AP Computer Science course, but was able to skip the first three modules (2 - 3 months) of work because he had already covered that material in the earlier programming class. Since AP Computer Science covers a very large amount of material, few students in the traditional school system are able to complete the course in just nine months. With the brilliant decision of FLVS to overlap the two courses, their students have the advantage of getting a head start on the course and completing the AP Computer Science class in the time necessary to prepare for the AP exam in May.

John's parents were thrilled with the time and energy that FLVS put into preparing the students for the actual AP exam. They could hardly believe it when FLVS advised them that over 95% of the students taking the AP Computer Science course through FLVS pass the AP test. John was no exception, as he received the highest grade possible for the test and received college credit for the class. FLVS's 95% passage rate is in stark contrast to the national passage rate of just 67%. This type of success rate is remarkable but easily understandable when you get to know Mr. Jordan and the faculty of the FLVS Computer Science department. John is a product of their genius in seeing the benefit of such out of the box ideas as sending robots in the mail to students, drafting curriculum which avoids unnecessary and repetitive work, and fashioning classes with a scope and sequence which greatly benefits the future generation of computer engineers and programmers like John Barber.


P.S. If you have a story to share about how HEF has helped you, how your family has benefited from home education, or a question you would like to ask Brenda, please e-mail it here.

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YouTube For Education

In October 2011 I was privileged to attend the Excellence in Action National Summit on Education Reform. Excellence in Education is an organization founded by former Gov. Jeb Bush. Many speakers shared new ideas and reforms taking place in their states, but the most interesting was Sal Kahn, a former hedge fund analyst with degrees from MIT and Harvard, who turned educator.

His journey into the field of education began with a request from a cousin to tutor her eighth grade daughter in math. He was surprised to learn that this bright young lady had been placed in remedial math. He began communicating with her by phone and with an interactive notepad. He realized she did not understand basic concepts. After a few weeks her grades began to improve so much that other cousins asked if he would tutor them as well. To simplify the task, he began posting videos of his hand-scribbled tutorials on YouTube. Other unrelated people discovered his YouTube videos and his following quickly increased. As the demand for his lessons increased, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation approached him about sponsoring his project. In 2009, he quit his day job and became a full time educator.

Khanacademy.org is revolutionizing traditional education by flipping the classroom. Instead of teachers presenting the lessons at school and the students doing home work outside the classroom, students in the non-traditional classrooms are learning the concepts at home with Kahn Academy lessons and then coming to school to do the assignments so that the teacher is available in the classroom to work with each student individually.

Kahn Academy provides self-paced video lessons allowing the student to review the lectures until they thoroughly understand the concept rather than only hearing the lesson once from the classroom teacher before moving on to the next lesson. Students have unlimited access to over 2,500 instructional videos on Kahn Academy’s YouTube channel covering everything from basic arithmetic to college level science and economics. Hear the story in his own words @ www.kahnacademy.org. If you have not discovered Kahn Academy you may want to check it out for your home educated students.


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HEF at Work for You!

The Florida Legislature met from January 10 through March 9, 2012. Brenda was there watching out for you. As of the date of this Newsletter, some of the bills have reached the Governor's desk but others have not . The Governor has 15 days after receiving the bill to decide whether to sign, veto or let it go into law without his signature. You may want to keep up with the Bill Action on the Governor's webpage http://www.flgov.com/bill-action/

Once the Governor has taken action on all the bills pertaining to home educators, HEF will summarize the issues affecting home educators in the next Newsletter.

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Have Brenda Speak to Your Group

Throughout the year, Brenda travels the state updating home educator's on legislative issues that can have an effect on home education in Florida, explaining how to stay informed and suggesting ways to communicate needs appropriately.

If you would like Brenda to speak to your homeschool group, please send an email request via the HEF contact page.

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