Curriculum Review: Visual Latin from Timberdoodle

I’m currently reviewing the new product from Timberdoodle, called Visual Latin. As a member of Timberdoodle’s Blogger Review Team I received a free copy of the Visual Latin program: Lessons 1-10, in exchange for a frank and unbiased review.

Timberdoodle has a Facebook page, where you can stay up to date on all their latest curriculum and product offerings. You can also receive a free homeschool catalog at their main site.

Come back in a couple of weeks for my full review. I’m looking forward to this since I’m a certified foreign language teacher, and I’ve never used a computer/online component to teaching a language.

Curriculum Review:

I’ve been given a premium membership to for a candid, personal, online review. helps students study word lists using 25 different learning activities such as MatchIt SentencesHangMouse, and Word-O-Rama.  Parents can create their own spelling lists, find published lists already available on the site, or use any of dozens of  free teaching resources on topics such as analogies and compound words.  Be sure to come back in three weeks to read about my experience.

There might be more free memberships available for bloggers.  If you’re interested, find out how you can review

Countdown to summer vacation…

and to when the Beartwinsmom will lose her sanity until after Labor day: two more days. The boys have two more days of school, then it’s summer vacation. I’ve been trying to find things online so I can make a plan and a schedule for us so that I don’t hear the “Momma, I’m boooooooooooooooooooored” whines.

I need to e-mail the second grade teachers and get the list of what subjects they’re going to cover in the Core Knowledge sequence. My sons attend a charter school that uses the Core Knowledge curriculum sequence, and I just love it.

I’ve also found a way to keep tabs on their reading comprehension this summer. At their school, they use the Accelerated Reader program for taking quizzes.  There are some things I like and don’t like about using AR as the sole manner of checking for comprehension. Mainly, AR quizzes focus on literal questions.  Since I will not shell out the insane amount of money to buy the AR program and the quizzes, I found a FREE website that has quizzes for books, and a prize bank as well. You can also set up your own Personal Incentive Plan for your kids to earn prizes.  It’s Book Adventure, and it’s hosted by Sylvan Learning Centers. You do NOT have to pay to register. The easiest thing to do is to sign yourself up first for a parent account, then sign your kid/kids up, and attach their accounts to yours with your email address.

So, what I will be doing is flipping between the AR book lists to check on the reading level and points value, then having the boys take the quizzes on Book Adventure.

Another thing the boys will be working on is their reading aloud proficiency. Kerry has a tendency to mumble, and Casey will sometimes skip words.

I’ve also been looking up sites for 1st grade math so I can keep the boys’ skills intact so they don’t have that “summer slide”. I also have a 2nd grade curriculum workbook so they can work in that.

I know… I also have to let the boys be boys. I will have fun stuff planned as well, like trips to the bowling alley, going swimming, going to the library (hey, that is fun in our family), and other things.

Just pray for sanity for me. 😉 Please.

How would you vote?

I’m going to delve a bit into my own past here to illustrate how much this event has shaken me up. When I was in kindergarten, my teacher, albeit a freshly-graduated teacher, was not very tolerant of me. I say this because I could read when I was three, already knew my shapes, colors, how to write, and easily got BORED in kindergarten. So what do bored kids usually do? Act up or tune out… and I acted up. I will NEVER forget the things she did to me: having the class vote me out a la’ Survivor (this was circa 1975, right when special education was in its infancy), had me referred to special education and labeled emotionally impaired, and held up a paper that I did as an example of what not to do. Sadly, I got this woman again in second grade in a second/third grade split class. The first thing out of that woman’s mouth when she saw me walk into class was “Oh no, not you again.” I kid you not.

So, it is with this that I segue into this horror of a story that I saw circulating through my autism support email lists last week. In St. Lucie, Florida, a sweet looking boy named Alex Barton was subject to his teacher’s bullying. In a move worthy of a reality TV show, she had her class vote this child out of the class. Afterward, the evicted child stated that he no longer felt “special”, and he felt sad. His classmates voted him out in a 14 to 2 vote margin, saying that he was “disgusting” and “annoying”. Alex is currently being evaluated for Asperger’s Syndrome.

What pisses me off so much is that there are teachers that are STILL DOING THIS 33 years later, after I had endured the same thing. I am a college educated woman, I have gone through the training to be a classroom teacher. I’m in graduate school working on my Master’s degrees in special education and reading. NOWHERE IS THIS KIND OF BEHAVIOR ENCOURAGED. The first rule always is “Do no harm.” A fellow blogger, Last Crazy Horn, says that we should follow The Golden Rule. I agree.

Would this teacher, Wendy Portillo, do this to anyone in her family? How would she feel if her students conducted the same vote to see if she was worthy to stay in the classroom in her role as a teacher?

I am so disgusted about this, I could spit blood and nails.

So, with this, I suggest that my fellow bloggers band together and make some noise in support of Alex and his family. At Last Crazy Horn’s blog there is a list of contact information on how to contact the school, the Florida governor’s office.

People can also file complaints at the Office of Civil Rights office at the federal level by using this link here.

Like my friend, Jen, my head is gone, too.

And, as a final thought, please read the poem at the end of my friend’s, Babs, blog about this travesty in education.

Here is more contact information on getting your word out:

Morningside Elementary
2300 S.E. Gowin Drive,
Port St. Lucie, FL 34952
772-337-6730, 772-337-6744
Marcia Cully,Principal

To help you with forming your ideas, here’s the school’s Mission Statement:

“The mission of Morningside Elementary School is to ensure that every
student be afforded a safe and caring environment in which to study
and learn, and that all students be equipped with the knowledge and
skills to succeed.”

Superintendent, St. Lucie County Public Schools
Michael J. Lannon
LannonM @

Principal Morningside Elementary
Ms. Marcia Cully
cullym @

School Board Members:

Mrs. Kathryn Hensley
HensleyK @

Troy Ingersoll
IngersollT @

Dr. Judi Miller
MillerJ @

Dr. John Carvelli
CarvelliJ @

Ms. Carol A. Hilson
HilsonC @

Ms. Wendy Portillo – Alex’s teacher
portillow @

ETA: I have just read that Wendy Portillo has been reassigned out of the class where she was teaching. She needs to be someplace away from kids. Far, far, far away….

Books I want in my professional library

This is not an all-inclusive list. This is just the tip-of-the-iceberg list that I’ve made after being in graduate school for the past two years. All images courtesy of

1. 11e9q7n5wql.jpg Nonverbal Learning Disabilities at Home: A Parent’s Guide by Pamela K. Tanguay. This book has tons of practical information and suggestions for parents who have a child with Nonverbal Learning Disabilities.

2. 01d1k329mzl.jpg Nonverbal Learning Disabilities at School: Educating Students With NLD, Asperger Syndrome and Related Conditions by Pamela K. Tanguay. I used this book as one of my sources for a research paper on NLD, and I fell in love with its practical tips and usefulness for not just students with NLD, but with ALL students.

3. 51hhuzcfgil_bo2204203200_pisitb-dp-500-arrowtopright45-64_ou01_aa240_sh20_.jpg A Framework for Understanding Poverty by Ruby K. Payne, Ph.D. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I’ve heard her speak and want to know more.

4. 5138syfz2bl_bo2204203200_pisitb-dp-500-arrowtopright45-64_ou01_aa240_sh20_.jpg How the Brain Learns to Read by David A. Sousa. I am totally fascinated by anything related to brain-based research on learning. I have read previous chapters from another Sousa book, and I like how he can explain things very simply.

5. 51ymfc2wa1l_bo2204203200_pisitb-dp-500-arrowtopright45-64_ou01_aa240_sh20_.jpg How the Special Needs Brain Learns by David A. Sousa. This is the book that I’ve read chapters from and I want my own copy for my library!

6. 515j87j5k2l_bo2204203200_pisitb-dp-500-arrowtopright45-64_ou01_aa240_sh20_.jpg Overcoming Dyslexia by Sally Shaywitz, M.D. I heard SO many teachers at the Michigan Reading Association conference sing the praises of this book. I think I’ll check it out from the library, first, before I add it to my library. 🙂