Monday, July 16, 2018

Code for Teens REVIEW

Code for Teens

Mr. B and I were both pretty excited when Code for Teens arrived in the mail. Code for Teens: The Awesome Beginner's Guide to Programming (Volume 1) is exactly what the title says, AWESOME!
This book is packed full of beginner level computer coding to help lay down a solid foundation for your child to build upon. 

Considering the fact that computer engineering is one of the fastest moving careers today, and our lives are surrounded by computers, having something literally at your finger tips to help your child learn the ins and outs of computer programming is a must in my mind. Code for Teens starts are the bottom and works to the top, starting with JavaScript. 

How We Used This

Mr. B found this book as soon as it came in the mail, and he didn't even give me time to flip through it before he dashed off with it! My original intentions were to have Mr. B and M using this together, so I could get the IT guy's opinion on it. Great idea, right? Well, I thought so....apparently I should have told Mr. B what the plan was because he took the book, and I just caught glimpses of it after that! He took it on road trips, to grandma's, TO CHURCH! He took it to bed, and would fall asleep reading it. He would then make a bee line to his laptop to try out what he'd just learned about in the book. Forget me. Forget M. Mr. B did this all on his own!

Now, going it alone might not sound like such a good idea, BUT this book is written just for that reason! It's written in such a way that kids can work on their own, learn on their own, with little to no parental involvement at all. Coming from this parent who needed two tries to sync a watch to their phone, that's a really good thing!

I did finally manage to wrangle the book away from him long enough to flip through it and get a good feel for it. The writing is catchy, and on a kid's level. From the beginning it equates computer programming with superpowers-even naming the likes of Professor X and Harry Potter. This goes a long way into appealing to kids, and making them want to learn more.

The pages are full of color and graphics, but everything is arranged in a nice way so that it's not at all overwhelming. Mr. B really did well with the included photos that show what he should be seeing on the computer screen. That link from book to real world is exactly what a spectrum kiddo needs in order to succeed on their own like this, so that is perfect for him. He can read what to do, but that visual photo shows him if he's doing it right, and if not where he's gone wrong. On more than a few occasions I would hear him say, "ohhhh ok, so that's where I messed up!" Another great thing is the use of bold face and different sized font. When the directions say to press enter, enter looks like ENTER which really helps kiddos like Mr. B understand what is needed.

The best part? There's an answer guide in the back of the book! It's a no hassle way for ME to help him, if needed. Plus...I come out looking like the rock star I am knowing all the answers! BHAHAHAHA!  But seriously, the set up here is fantastic and very hands off for parents. Your child is expected to open a document to keep track of all "homework" assignments, and even check their own answers. It's important to remember to ALWAYS monitor what your kids are doing online, and it's a good idea to make sure they're following through with all of their assignments, too. I know "my little angel" tried to skip a few!


Overall

Overall, Mr. B LOVES this and thinks everyone under the sun should have a copy. That's a pretty fantastic review. I found it very helpful, and parent friendly. He has learned a lot, and really likes working on the assignments. We're moving a bit slow, because he wants to memorize the steps to everything I think, but we'll make it through the whole book before we officially start our next school year. I'd like to see an "Intermediate's Guide to Programming" by the same author because the writing style is so fun, and easy to read.


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Code For Teens: The Awesome Beginner's Guide to Programming {Code for Teens Reviews}

Code for Teens

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Thursday, July 12, 2018

Math Essentials REVIEW

Math Essentials
Math Essentials sent me their Math Refresher For Adults workbook to review recently. This work book is a great book for your students to use, but it's intended for adults to use to brush up on their skills. 
For this review, I received a physical workbook. 
Math Refresher for Adults
This is a 270 page paperback workbook that includes the answer key in the back. It's not small by any means! Included is a comprehensive study from general math to what I consider more lower level algebra and some basic geometry. 
I think everyone who doesn't use higher level math-you know, more than balancing a check book-on a regular basis can use a refresher now and again, especially those who have kids who may need homework help. How often have you sat and stared at your child's math lessons, scratching your head, trying to remember what you learned in math class decades ago? I can remember moments in my own college math classes, being the oldest student in the class (and sometimes the same age as the professor!) trying to remember how to calculate something as simple as slope. This book seeks to help all of that. It starts at the most basic of addition, and covers a large portion of the math your middle school and high school aged kids will have. 
How I Used This
I flipped through this book for several days, trying to figure out where to begin. I decided that this is good for adults, but it's also good for the kids, too. It's a great comprehensive guide for kids to use to keep up on their skills, no matter their math level and abilities. So I decided I'd leave the addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division parts for Mr. B to use as warm up pages, or "fast finishing" pages when he completes a lesson faster than I think he should. so far, that's been working rather well. For myself, I didn't really "need" to brush up on any of these skills. I had hoped there would be harder level algebra that I could use when I go to take my GRE soon, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I am still pretty good at the math in this book. Good for me, not so good for my review since I was hoping to be able to say YES! THIS HELPED ME SO MUCH! HAHA! Ok, so I DID find use in the geometry parts since it has been...oh...more than 2 decades since I sat in a geometry class at the ripe old age of 15. But that's not really a necessity for an entrance exam for sociology or CJ grad school, so instead I used the algebra and pre-algebra pages to help reinforce lessons for Mr. B. These pages gave me a chance to work out the problems, "showing my work" while letting Mr. B watch me do them. He saw how much easier it was for me to work out the problems step by step, and he saw the process I use to work them out since I "talked to myself" while doing the work. I kept reinforcing the idea that the = sign is like a teeter totter and you want it to balance. It's a scale and both sides have to weight the same, so what you do on one side of the scale you have to do on the other. If you have a problem such as n-5=8, the first thing you'd do is add 5 to BOTH sides. It's saying things like that, while working in the book doing my "homework" while he was doing his is what has truly helped him to start understanding the processes more and more. So while this book wasn't the kind of help I was hoping for in terms of higher level math such as a 2nd level algebra, it has helped in a number of ways that I didn't expect-such as showing him the importance of time management and doing your homework, and showing your work so that we can look at the overall process to figure out why mistakes were made.

With that said, if you can't remember anything about fractions, LCD (if you have to google what those letters mean, you NEED THIS BOOK!,) slope, and equations then I would HIGHLY recommend this book! HIGHLY! It's well written, the explanations are well formed, and the problems presented in the book are just challenging enough to bring home the lesson without causing frustration. I like how there's a spot on the side to write your answers for easy grading, too. Overall, well done! 
As always, here are some photos!


Math Refresher for Adults

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Math Refresher for Adults {Math Essentials}
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Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Take up your cross....

I'm working on a post about this right now, but I would like to know...what does this verse mean to you.

Preacher and I were discussing this on the phone yesterday, and I had truly never put a lot of thought into this verse. But now I am.

Luke 9:23
And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up cross daily, and follow me.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Bible Study Guide For All Ages REVIEW

Bible Study Guide for All Ages
We've been reviewing a really fun Bible study program that can be used across a school year OR over a period of four years. Bible Study Guide For All Ages offers a variety of levels from a beginner level for ages 3 to kindergarten all the way to Advanced for students in 5th and 6th grade. 
This course covers the Bible, including Geography.
 We received:
Advanced Level Student Pages for lessons 1-26
The coordinating Teacher Key for lessons 1-26
Wall Map & Time Line Label Book
Geographical Maps (3 total)
Timeline (2 sheets that need to be put together.)
And a set of Small Bible Book Summary Cards
Bible Study Guide for All Ages
Bible Study Guide for All Ages
Bible Study Guide for All Ages
Our Experience:
I decided to use this as a prolonged study, opting for the 4 year method.  Mr. B did spend a week with his grandmother, and then we had another week break, so we made it to lesson 10 by having a couple of weeks where we did three lessons instead of two. For four years, if you have all of the lessons, you should do two lessons a week. For a school year only, you should do 3 lessons a week. I spent a few days cutting out ALL of the map and time line pieces. I arranged them all in their own snack size baggies so I wouldn't have to be bothered two or three times a week cutting out stuff. I have to also say that the map pieces are TINY, so...if I'm being honest...I skipped some of those. It was actually painful to try and cut those out, and 2 blisters trying were enough for me. There's quite a bit of teacher prep in terms of initial set up, and lesson set up.

Before lesson one, I spent about an hour getting the maps and time lines in order, getting the cut out pieces organized, and deciding on a wall to hang them on. I have ample wall space, but I starting thinking about my readers who may be limited in their wall area. I wondered how they could make do and accommodate such large pieces if they wished, so I sought out walls that were more "full" to try and work out how that could happen. I ended up hanging the timeline more vertically, and just spread the maps around.

 Now, here's where we have a problem. The Label Book suggests you laminate these, and the pieces, if you wish to use them for years. I suggest, if you can, to laminate these right off the bat. Not necessarily to prolong the life of the timeline and maps, but to prolong the life of the paint on your walls. I'm not even going to pretend to not be a bit miffed at the fact I have smudges from the ink on these maps and time line on my newly painted walls because it rubbed off on my fingers while I was hanging them. I took pictures to show you just how easily the ink is smudged. My hands were DRY, and I just rubbed over this area a little and it smudges like this. If you want to use these, I HIGHLY recommend you laminate or seal them in some way before putting them on your walls. 



With that said, hanging them vertically works well. 



So after I got these hung up, I began placing all of the "Before Lesson 1" things on. The Label Book provides a very small diagram of how the lay out should be. Now, here's another issue I ran into. It doesn't match with the lesson. The lesson has a man (I'm assuming Jesus, maybe God?) on a thrown in Heaven....but the initial page in the Label Book does not have this, and it was not included in the Lesson 1 cut outs or the pre-lesson cut outs. That confused Mr. B, some. It's not a huge issue, but something to be made aware of if you have a kiddo who is very insistent on sameness. There are a few other instances of that, such as Joseph's coat being in the cut outs, but not on the diagram, and a request to write a name and date on the timeline in a place that's not there. If your kiddo gets hung up on things not being EXACT, like some on the spectrum, you may want to just tell them that the pictures will differ from time to time to avoid any stress it could cause them, or omit the extras that don't pair up exactly. The Time Line and Wall Maps are a great addition to the lessons, and really bring them to life and make them more fun and engaging. Having them laminated and using reusable adhesive would be easier than my set up, and allow multiple students to move things around. Below are some photos of the included diagrams in the Label Book, and some student pages.







You can see we went ahead and attached the coat under Joseph. 






The lessons are really nice. The arrangement on the pages is a little confusing for kiddos like Mr. B. because there's no linear direction. You can just kind of move around the page however you want, so he needed quite a bit of prompting and direction because he got lost. This would not be an issue for your average student as they would find it more fun to go at it as they want. The overall lessons are short, and very detailed. I liked the "Get Active" part that has your child doing a different activity. For example, for Lesson One he had to pretend HATE was something that could be seen, and draw it. He drew this. 


He said HATE was like a dark cloud that clouds up people's minds. Pretty deep thought for a 13 year old! 



The lessons do not ask a lot in the way of writing, or answers which is GREAT for Mr. B. Each lesson only covers part of the overall. For example, previous studies we've done have covered Jacob and his sons in one lesson, this spreads it out over a few. 






I also like how there's geographical lessons mixed in. This is great if you don't have the maps to use (or if they bled on your walls, and you now refuse to hang them until you figure out an alternative means of use...) 

The workbook for lessons 1-26 is about the size of a kids place mat, but I wish it was spiral bound. It's put together kind of like a notepad, and splits apart easy. This is great if you want to tear the pages out, but I don't want to do that. I want to turn the pages, and keep them together so this doesn't really work well for me. It began to split apart after only 3 lessons, and by the 5th it's completely apart. There's not enough room to hole punch it, and it wouldn't fit into a binder anyway. I'm also not a fan of only receiving 26 lessons when there are more lessons for the whole program. I personally feel ALL lessons should be included in the kit to avoid the need to keep ordering. 26 lessons, at 2 a week, would necessitate an order of the next set every 13 weeks. They're affordable at about $6.00 per pack, so you may want to just go on and order them all. On the other hand, if you only want to do lessons here and there, getting them in a smaller pack could be ideal for you. I would prefer an option to get ALL of the lessons bound into one workbook would be ideal if that was a spiral bound book. It doesn't even have to be spiral, just something that holds together for turning like a workbook.


Mr. B's favorite part would be the Bible Summary Cards. So much his favorite that he has them and won't let me have them to take a picture of them! They're larger than an index card, and are exactly what you'd think-summary cards. 


Overall:

Overall, there are some things I really like about this program, and things I would like to see improved. Having the timeline and maps already laminated, or smudge proof would have definitely made this a better experience for me. I wish there was an option for a better bound book containing all of the lesson pages. The tiny map pieces were too small for Mr. B to cut out, but an exacto style knife would make it easier to do.  I like the short lessons, and the fact each lesson builds upon the last. There's a lot of potential to make this go from a pretty good product to a really great one. I'd love to see these changes take place, and have a chance to use the product again to see how it improves.


Does Bible Study Guide For All Ages Pass My 4 Ingredient Test?


1.) Customization: Is it easily adaptable? Can we customize it to fit “us?” Can we modify or set our own schedule? Can we take breaks, jump ahead, or flat out skip?

You can accommodate how you do your maps and timeline. Since this is a physical product you can take breaks as needed. I wouldn't jump ahead or flat out skip. It'll throw your timeline off, and each lesson builds on the last. 


2.) Value: Is it long lasting? Will it cover multiple grade ranges? Are you locked in to one specific grade level? Are there hidden fees?

Well...here's a tough question. Hidden fees? I'm not sure if this qualifies, but you only receive 26 lessons per student pack. I think there should be an option or set that includes ALL of the lessons, bound. The ink smudges are an issue for me. Maybe it's just my set? I don't know. But that's something to take into consideration since these are very large pieces. Laminating them would be the ideal way to go, and that would remove the risk of smudges. I know I've kind of harped on that a bit, but I honestly just painted that wall last month HAHA!  It does cover multiple ages, and there are levels for ages 3 and up so your younger students can work along side your older students at their own level. You are bound to the level you choose since this is a physical product. 
 
3.) Attention span: Is it boring? Is it engaging? Is it varied enough for ADHD? Does it last too long?

The lessons are very short, and do not take long at all. There's a variety of different activities included. The pages are bit "cluttered" for ADHD and autism, so your child may require a bit more direction and attention. 

4.) Does it tie into other things we already have.

We've had art and geography lessons, of course Bible history is included.


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Bible Study Guide For All Ages {Reviews}
Bible Study Guide for All Ages
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Friday, July 6, 2018

Friday Wrap Up

Whew WHAT A WEEK! Again. Mr. B spent the week with his mamaw in the mountains. We all went last Friday-Sunday, and Mamaw and Mr. B decided Mr. B would just stay with her. I went back for him Wednesday, and stayed until Thursday night. He had a GREAT time, and Mamaw did, too! He drove golf carts, he swam, he played with other kids, he watched fire works, rode in a parade, sat in a dunking booth at a carnival, and soooo much more! School work? Eh...we needed a little summer for a while!

Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Master and His Apprentices REVIEW

The Master and His Apprentices
I saw this art history curriculum from The Master and His Apprentices and thought it would be really nice to add in as a supplement to our history studies. Even though it is geared to the high school crowd as a full year curriculum, I thought it would be great for a middle schooler to use intermittently for now as an add on, then full on later. I under estimated the amount of history (and not all art related) that is within the pages! The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective is full of history goodness! 

What we did:

We received PDF downloads of the Teacher Guide and Student Textbook. When I received my download links, I printed off the first two months of material that I thought we would need to supplement our new ancient history studies. I was blown away by all of the content. I really can't say what I was expecting, but I can say I wasn't expecting full lessons on Mesopotamia and Bible history. I mean, this is full of history, and history as it relates to art during different time periods.

I printed each week, a week at a time. I printed the text book pages (in color) as well as the worksheet that goes with it. Now, for a high school student, this is intended to be used as a full year long curriculum. For younger grades, you can modify this in such a way to make it great to use as a supplemental course to go with whatever history they are studying at the time. We are getting in to Ancient History at the moment, so I thought this would be fantastic to use.
 The questions are more complicated, lending to the age bracket this is geared for. I did have to help Mr. B some with the questions, and we skipped some all together, having oral discussions about them instead. Here's a screen shot sample of some of the more critical thinking based questions. 

Mr. B, at his age (12, turning 13) did very well with an oral discussion of these questions more so than writing out his own answers. A little prompting and he was good to go.

We also expanded on each weekly lesson, so a weekly lesson actually took us a little longer than a week sometimes. For example, here we included a Bible study on Nebuchadnessar and the burning furnace.

The text is good for older students, and I would say it's right on par for the high school age range. I worked with Mr. B on the text reading, answering questions or explaining as needed. He would read the lesson (sometimes a shorter lesson) and then we'd go over the questions together and I would go back to the text to show him where the answer could be found. These are not all regurgitated concrete answers, and he has a lot of difficulty with that. So this was perfect for him to help build that skill.

Overall

Overall, this is a fantastic program. I could see this easily being used to fulfill history components, especially for portfolios. It's very convenient to just print as you need, and work a week at a time. There's enough material here to really dive in and integrate a whole year of history. It's great for as a long lasting supplement for younger students until they're older, then perhaps redo it at that time as the whole program in a year. We're definitely going to keep using this in our homeschool. 

Does The Master and His Apprentices Pass My 4 Ingredient Test?
1.) Customization: Is it easily adaptable? Can we customize it to fit “us?” Can we modify or set our own schedule? Can we take breaks, jump ahead, or flat out skip?

It's set up as weekly lessons, but this is a physical product (even as a PDF) so you can work at your own pace as needed for your child. You can work on what you want and need to for younger children, or work the whole course as intended for the target age.  

2.) Value: Is it long lasting? Will it cover multiple grade ranges? Are you locked in to one specific grade level? Are there hidden fees?

There are no hidden fees. It's intended for high school aged children, but my middle schooler is working through as a supplement to his world history lessons. 
 
3.) Attention span: Is it boring? Is it engaging? Is it varied enough for ADHD? Does it last too long?

Mr. B does really well with it. The art work included is very colorful, and he loves reading about history. We time the lessons on his ability to maintain attention. Since this is a physical product, it's easier to take breaks as he needs. 

4.) Does it tie into other things we already have.

This is a GREAT tie in for history! 

The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective {The Master and His Apprentices Reviews}
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Friday, June 22, 2018

Friday Wrap Up

WHEW! What a week! 

Seriously, it's been CRAZY! The Weather has been INSANELY hot. I had a wedding last week, outside, in all this heat. It was over 90 not counting the heat index, so easily 100 with it. I'd say closer to 108-110 with the heat index and humidity. 

I tried my best to get as many photos as possible, but I couldn't. The Bride couldn't handle being in her dress any longer, so I tried to get my heart to cooperate and get some post shots done. Unfortunately, that didn't work out. My heart started beating WAY too hard and WAY too fast. It basically just gave out, my blood pressure tanked, and I hit the ground. Good news! The camera is ok.

That little episode, mixed with a few other things going on earned me a trip to the dr, twice. The first round included taking gluten out of an already limited diet. No acidic foods. No gluten containing foods. I've dropped 9 pounds since March, so that's good.

The second was for my heart. New heart pill added, and hopefully all will be ok in the world. 

In the mean time, Mr. B's portfolio review is coming up so I'm trying to prepare for that. Sigh...every year I'm soooo prepared and ready to go. This year? HAHAHAHA! That'd be a big fat NOPE.

The dog literally ate part of his portfolio. Not even kidding. We were out of town and had M's dad as a dog sitter. He put the dogs back in the crates for the night, and we were going to let them out when we got home the next morning. I have no idea what happened, but somehow two got out and wreaked havoc in the house. It was horrible. So now I'm trying to redo what was lost. 

On the good side of things, I'm beginning to feel better, and Mr. B got to spend some quality time with his cousin, Auntie, and Mamaw. YAY for that! 

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Unit Studies by Silverdale Press LLC REVIEW

Silverdale Press
We were recently introduced to Silverdale Press LLC and their amazing unit studies. We find unit studies a great way to learn about a given topic, and take a break from our usual order of things. So when I came across the White House Holidays Unit Studies, I was pretty excited to get these printed and start working on them!

This set is pretty much what it says it is. It is a collection of holidays as celebrated in the White House. Your student will learn the history behind the holidays in an in depth review. This pack is geared for all ages, 5-18! This is a product for the whole family.







We have access to 6 different Unit Studies, and planned to work on a lesson a week. Each lesson can be completed in a day, but I know Mr. B and he likes to really get into a lesson from time to time. So I wanted to make sure we left enough time so that he could really play around with the lesson, and research more as he wanted. We decided to start with the Veteran's Day Unit Study. To be honest, I really wasn't aware of the history behind Veteran's Day. I mean, of course we know what it represents...but I wasn't aware of how it came to be. I was as enthralled with this study as Mr. B! 



I really like that these studies feature lessons for K-6th, as well as 7th-12th. The lessons both cover the same topic, but include different activities so that younger siblings/students can work along side their older siblings/peers. It's a really great set-up. It's also great for kids like Mr. B who may need a bit lower level on some topics, or who may just prefer the younger aged activities such as arts and crafts.

In America we have Veteran's Day, and also Memorial Day. In the Common Wealth of Nations, they celebrate Remembrance Day. Now...I didn't know this until a bit of side research with this Unit Study. I am a fan of British TV, and on once particular talk show I noticed the host, as well as all of the guests, had on poppy pins. I couldn't for the life of me figure out WHY. This particular lesson taught me the answer! Poppy fields are common in Europe, and the sites of many great battles. Thus...poppies are worn as a symbol of respect! 

We elected to do this particular activity. It's quite easy. You just trace 2 circles onto red construction paper, and cut them out. You also want to cut out two green leaves. Then you take a black button for the center. You slightly overlap your circles, and glue in place. You glue on the leaves, and the button. We did not have a handy black button, so we just colored a 3rd, smaller circle black. Then you can attach a safety pin, and wear your poppy pin on Veteran's Day! 


Mr. B really enjoyed the crossword puzzle, too. Unfortunately, we had a little mishap where the doodle bops got loose from their crate while were were away, and the boy doodle literally ate Mr. B's school work! so...our crossword was eaten before I snapped a photo HAHA! But here's a great screen shot!


Here are some more screen shots of lessons we covered:






We completed this, and both really enjoyed all of the lessons included. This is a great starting point (or ending point...) to any history lesson concerning wars.


After that, we decided to do some on Martin Luther King, Jr. 


In today's society, I think this is an issue that needs to be covered in more depth that we have had time to devote to it, so we plan to come back to this and redo it...and take longer doing it. This is set up in similar fashion as Veteran's Day in that all ages can do this together. But instead of a separate set of lessons for each grade, there's a Part A for the lower grades and a part B for the upper grades. 




I really enjoyed the activities included with this, especially the lesson of the segregated shoes. That activity gives a great visual into the lesson of segregation. 

Overall, I really like the layout of these unit studies, as well as the coverage included in them. I've looked over all of them, and they all include ample learning for the intended ages. There's suggestions included on how to modify for younger ages (writing one sentence or a definition as opposed to an entire paragraph, for example...) and everything is colorful and enjoyable. This is best printed on a color printer. I am out of color toner, so I had to take the files to be printed. I would highly recommend doing this in color as I feel you'd lose appeal without it. I CAN'T WAIT to dive into the Christmas Unit Study! OHHH MY! Look! Just LOOK at the Contents page!



I love seeing how the White House is decorated for Christmas each year! I can't wait to get more into this! 


As I said, there are a host of others we have access to. Here's the cover page for each Unit Study included in this set. 






If you happened to do 1 lesson a week, it would take you roughly a school year to complete. You could do that, or you could do them in a shorter amount of time. I personally prefer these as a supplement, or as summer/holiday learning. Mr. B likes to change things up, and move around here and there at times, and these are perfect for that! We plan to continue with these, and finish all of them. 

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Persuasive Writing & Classical Rhetoric: Practicing the Habits of Great Writers & White House Holidays Unit Studies {Silverdale Press LLC Reviews}
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