Saturday, June 15, 2019

Homeschool Convention Part 1

Homeschool Convention.....  No two other words have ever had such an impact on a homeschool family.  Just the idea of being surrounded by other families who aren't judging you for your decision to home educate, hearing amazing speakers that reinforce your reasons for doing so, not to mention the extremely expansive vendor hall full of shiny products - just the idea can get one's heart pumping and their mouth salivating.  LOL

We've been looking forward to heading to Ontario for the Great Homeschool Convention since we had to miss it last year.  Homeschool Convention has quickly become one of my families favorite summer activities - for myself, it's about getting to hear some amazing speakers while for the rest of them, they love the vendor hall  (especially Rainbow Resources)..  So, this year, we loaded up the car and made the 2 hour drive to Ontario to attend the Thursday and Friday portions of the event.

On the way to Homeschool Convention

Today, I'll focus on the Convention itself - the speakers we heard, the vendors we met with and the vendor hall itself.  However, I'll have to save all my purchases for a second post tomorrow... ;)

We headed out pretty early.  We knew registration did not begin til 130 but we weren't sure how long it would take us to get to the convention center, especially with Los Angeles area traffic.  It really is a beautiful drive from out desert to the Ontario area, with lots of mountains, rock formations and green trees (living in the desert, we don't see trees and green very often).

 As luck would have it, we encountered very little traffic and had plenty of time to eat lunch at one of our absolute favorite places - Raising Cane's..  Cane's is a fast food chicken place that we first discovered while living in Shreveport, Louisiana.  Back then, I think there was only like 5 restaurants total, all in Louisiana.   Finding out that Cane's had made it's way to California, we knew that we had to eat there while we were in the area and we were so glad we did.. Just as good as we remembered :)

With our stomachs filled, we headed over to the convention center.   We still had a good 30 minutes to wait before we could enter the building, but we just sat outside and had fun looking at the trees.   I'm telling ya, green grass and trees really are a novelty for us haha

Once inside, we picked up our registration packet and our wristbands and headed to our first workshop for the day, which started at 230pm.  We opted to go see Mastery Learning, Ability Development, and Individualized Education with Andrew Pudewa from Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW).

Now, I should give a full disclosure here.  I have been wanting to see Andrew Pudewa speak for a long time now.  We were suppose to go and hear him last year, however, my husband had to work Thur and Friday so we would have only been able to go to convention on Saturday.  That year, Pudewa only spoke 1 time on Saturday, very early in the morning and my husband said there was no way we could get up that early and drive to Ontario to make it after he worked til after midnight the night before. 

Finally being able to get my chance to hear him speak in person, I was maybe fangirling a little bit  a lot. 

We got to the room about 30 minutes early and within 5 minutes of sitting down, Mr Pudewa came into the room and began chatting with the few people who were already seated.   Ashleigh had been waiting to recite "Oooey Gooey", one of the poems she learned while doing the IEW Poetry memorization program (and of course, she couldn't remember any of the other poems she memorized from that.. lol)..

It was a wonderful talk about his time training under Shinichi Suzuki, how Suzuki developed his methods of teaching and how those methods can be applied to our own students in a vast array of subjects to help obtain mastery of that subject.

While Garrett and Ashleigh weren't all that impressed, Charles and Alyssa both really enjoyed getting to hear him speak.  I personally walked away with the knowledge that I need to go back and help Ashleigh master some of her lesser math skills. 

The next talk we went to was Adam Holz from Focus on the Family/  seaking about  Media Matters: Exploring the Scope of Media and Entertainment Influence in Our Lives.   This turned out to be a great workshop on the impact that screen time has on our kids, from video games to phones to what they watch on television. 

There were also some very interesting facts I hadn't ever thought of, like that reading comprehension is actually less when reading a book on a tablet verses reading that same book in physical form.   We enjoyed listening to Mr Holz speak so much that we all agreed we had to listen to him again the following day.

Garrett enjoying the view of the trees during a break
For our final speaker of the day on Thursday, we went to listen to Adam Andrews with Center for Literary Education ( )for his Literary Keys - Unlocking the Meaning of Classic Books.   This was a really great workshop about how to use literary tools such as conflict, climax and setting to help understand the true message the author is trying to convey in his story.  This was demonstrated using the story "To Build a Fire" by Jack London.

Mr Andrews was a new-to-me speaker and we really enjoyed listening to him. Alyssa actually deemed this workshop her absolute favorite of the entire convention.     I'll be looking more into his materials for upcoming purchases to add to my own library.

With about an hour to kill before the final event of the night, we headed to the vendor hall for a quick look around.   (You'll have to wait to see what we bought over the course of the two days til tomorrow).

After spending some time in the vendor hall (and spending a ton of Dad's money), it was time to head to the ball room for the concert - Andrew Peterson.  We got there a bit early and found seats.

This is one of the few times I really wish I had bought my big camera with me for this convention, as my phone isn't the best for distance and low light conditions.. But he was so good, we all enjoyed hearing him live.. 

Everyone was hungry and tired by this point, so after a quick dinner at the Denny's next to the hotel to fill our tummies, we headed to the hotel and went to sleep.

Needless to say, 8am comes pretty quickly.  (Mom was actually up at 7 while everyone else slept til 8).   Everyone got ready and headed to the lobby for what I have to say is probably the best hotel breakfast I have had (with exception to the Embassy Suites)..

After being thoroughly impressed the day before with Adam Holz, we decided to catch his workshop on Pop Culture Worldview Analysis 101.  This workshop was very interesting, as it discussed how all creators of media, whether a newscast, a song, or a television show is a showcase for the originators worldview.  We then looked at a few case studies based on three different songs (Born This Way by Lady Gaga, Take Me to Church by Hozier and Bad Guy by Billie Eilish) to try to determine the message and worldview each portrays.   It was a great workshop and we all enjoyed it.

We didn't have to go far to get to our next workshop as it was in the same room.   We decided to move up to a table so the kids had space to play with their putty and fidget toys while we listened to Colleen Kessler from Raising Lifelong Learners and her workshop on  Embracing Rabbit Trails: How to Build on Your Child's Interests and Passions to Ignite a Self-Driven, Lifelong Love of Learning

We had about 30 minutes before the workshop started and so we were playing with Snapchat filters..

 Unfortunately, I forgot to turn off the filters and took all my photos of this event with the filters on.. LOL   So I apologize to Mrs Kessler for the filtered photos.

I enjoyed this workshop very much, though I doubt Alyssa or Charles got much from it.. LOL  But it was about learning how to identify your child's strengths and how to tell the difference between a strength and an interest.   Once you're able to identify these, you can then designed activities and learning to cater toward that strength rather than trying to find a cookie cutter approach to learning.  Mrs Kessler gave tons of ideas on how to help "learn your student".  I walked away with a great many ideas that I hope to incorporate into our upcoming year, especially with Garrett. 

Time for lunch.. As we learned at a previous convention, food at the convention center is unreal expensive so we took a walk off the property to around the corner and found a small retro diner called Spires.  Surrounded by Norman Rockwell prints and wood paneling, it was a great place to grab a sandwich, soup and salad. 

Our next workshop was back to see Andrew Pudewa.   This time we were wanted to hear Fairy Tales and the Moral Imagination.   This was probably my favorite workshop of all the ones we attended (although they were all wonderful). If you get the opportunity to hear this particular workshop, recorded or otherwise, it's worth hearing.  In this talk, Mr Pudewa discusses the four archetypes in literature and how fairy tales actually teach us some pretty amazing lessons on Christian concepts.  

Our final workshop was the Classical Panel.. This was sooooo cool.  This featured five well known named with Classical Education - Martin Cothran (Memoria Press), Christopher Perrin, Heidi White (CiRCE Institute), Janice Campbell (Everyday Education) and Andrew Pudewa (IEW), as they explained and answered readers questions about the Classical Education style of teaching (which is what the kids and I want to move towards). 

This ended up being Charlie's favorite workshop from the entire two days as he learned much from it and I think he enjoyed the banter between all five of the panelists.  I wish I could have been there today (Saturday) to attend the second panel, but unfortunately we weren't able to attend today's portion of the convention.  

Tomorrow, I'll go more in depth on the Vendor Hall and what we saw there.. And of course, I'll lay out my entire haul (well, almost my entire haul - two things are being shipped)... SO be sure to come back tomorrow for part two of our Convention Adventure :) 

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