# Tag Archives: writing

## I love my little blog…

Wow, so it has been forever since I posted anything besides a recycled post from ages past. Part of me says to give it up, shut it down, walk away…but only the very busiest part of me! I love what this blog is and was, and I hope to never leave it completely behind. It represents who I am and how I came to be–my journey through homeschooling adventures, religious growth, business endeavors, etc. In everything I wrote, I wanted to be helpful to others and offer ideas and insights. Hopefully, some of you found it helpful!

I really don’t know how often I’ll continue to post here; I’m hoping life will slow down for me someday, and that I’ll have the time to relax and just blah, blah, blah (like the good old days). For now though, I’m in over my head with my tutoring business: Crescenza Studio. Last spring, or maybe the one before–it’s a blur–I had a piano parent ask me if I could also teach IEW (Institute for Excellence in Writing) classes. I was familiar with it from having taught Ian and a couple of families over the years, so I said, “Sure,” not knowing it was about to change my life.

I told her I’d need at least four students, but she found me eight! (Thanks, Ann, you’re the best!) Well, they kept signing up for classes, and their siblings started taking classes, and then I decided to go online to get even more students, and…well, now, here we are. Last year was my busiest ever, and 2022-23 is gearing up to be my NEW busiest year ever. I’m loving it but trying to decide what to cut back on as I open up room in my new life for my new favorite language arts curriculum.

Anywhoo, here’s my new website: Crescenza.Studio

I have almost no slots left for private lessons, but I do still have some room in my IEW classes, so if you’re so inclined, take a gander. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me!

Once I get my non-teaching life figured out, I hope I’ll get to visit with you all again on a regular basis. For now, much love!

Amy

## Versatile Blogger Award

Thursday started out terribly. I found something that I only knew how to interpret one way. I worked my mind into a muddle as an idea infected my soul and ate away at me. I was well nigh depressed, and that’s a word that’s barely made its way into my vocabulary. Very out of character for me.

However, there was one small ray of light that morning. In the midst of my self-inflicted tribulation (I later found out I had jumped to the wrong conclusion), I received an email from a new acquaintance. Kay, a fellow blogger, sent me the Versatile Blogger award. We had just recently found each other, so receiving an award from her took me by surprise (actually, receiving an award at all surprised me).

You should check out her lovely homeschool blog. I first came across it on October 5th. She had asked a difficult question that many of us may avoid thinking about as much as possible. What is going to happen to your children if you die? Jesse and I have thought about this, a lot, but have not been able to reach any definite answers. Then, just Wednesday, she referred her readers to a wonderful site that allows you to print free handwriting pages. Since we are trying to scale down our spending this year, I have been investigating all of the free learning sites that I come across, and this one was a huge success with Ian. I have been trying to get him to write smaller letters for a while now, and the site that Kay recommended allows you to select the letter size for your custom handwriting sheets. Amazing! Thanks, Kay, for the award and for the tip!

Here is how the award works:

Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them: check

Give this award to 15 recently discovered bloggers.

Contact those bloggers and let them in on the news.

So here goes. Seven things:

I always wanted to marry a preacher. That didn’t happen, as many of you know, but God has his own ways of making us blissfully happy. I appreciate Jesse so very much, and I couldn’t ask for a more understanding, forgiving, redemptive husband. He is truly a picture of Christ in my life.

I am an aspiring writer. I don’t know if it comes through in my ramblings, but someday I’d like to write for a living. Books, not just magazine articles. Stories from my own head, not just how-to manuals. Yes, I’m one of those people.

I was a music major in college. And yes, I’m still paying on my student loans for a pretty much worthless degree. I do teach homeschool choir, so at least I am using what I learned in conducting. I could have taken a few more classes and gotten certified to teach in the public schools, but I didn’t want to stick around that long. Once Ian is completely independent, I may go back and pick those classes up, but I would rather get my MFA in creative writing.

If I had a million dollars, I’d buy a farm. Then I would hire people to teach me how to run it. I would love to be self-sufficient one of these days. Preferably out of choice, and not because a weakening economy demands it. One of my grandmothers was so poor, she never even knew the Great Depression hit because her family was already living on as little as possible. I wanna be like that.

I can’t do automatic things if I stop to think about them. I don’t even know which toothbrush is mine unless I grab it without thinking. Most of the time I get by alright because I do tons of things automatically, but when I’m really tired, upset, or generally confused, I’m pretty helpless. I tend to ask Jesse a lot of stupid questions.

I am a homeschool mom of one. Two if you count my niece, but I feel like I must stand out like a sore thumb in our current homeschool culture. I can’t honestly tell you that there’s not enough time in my day, because there is. If I don’t get everything done by the time my husband comes home, it is generally because I slept in or otherwise wasted my time.

I share a home with my two best friends. My husband, Jesse, and my son, Ian, are so cool and fun to be around, that sometimes I feel like I’m hanging out in a college dorm with my two best buds. We’re all of us inquisitive, easily entertained, and just plain silly!

My fifteen favorite recently discovered bloggers:

Okay, well, after searching through the blogs I follow, I have nowhere near that many blogs that I can list here. So I will just list
those that have made the largest impact on my life:

Ever On Word

Home’s Cool!

Elisa Michelle

suehealy

Lola’s Blog

## Homeschool Enrichment Magazine Subscription

If you don’t have a subscription to Homeschool Enrichment Magazine, I highly recommend getting one. It’s my favorite homeschooling mag! If you’d like to check it out, here is a direct link to their free digital subscription page: http://homeschoolenrichment.com/magazine/digital/

My latest article is in the Sep./Oct. issue: Asking Questions, Analyzing Answers. Hope you like it! (I also write the “Once Upon a Homeschool” piece in every issue.)

## How to Efficiently Write a Great Research Paper

During my last two years in college, I wrote tons of research papers. While most of my classes only required one paper per semester, two of the classes that I took required three. As I read the syllabi for those classes, I realized that I needed to find a way to streamline my whole paper-writing process. This is what I came up with, and it worked really well for me.

Step 1: Choose a topic within 24 hours of learning that you have a paper to write.

Step 2: As soon as the topic is approved by your instructor, go to the library. Set aside two or three hours for taking notes (for a 1500 word paper – about 4 pages, double-spaced). I prefer to take hand-written notes – don’t ask me why. I always retype them anyway. Perhaps it’s because once I’ve written my notes once, and typed them once, I don’t have to reread them before I begin writing the paper.

Step 3: If you are researching something that is pretty obscure, try looking it up in the index of big books that cover a broad topic. Even if you can only find a paragraph or two covering your specific topic, you can still use that particular book as a source. (I had a teacher that required four different book sources and two online sources.) That way, even if you can’t find an entire book on your topic, you can still pull a different quote or fact from each book source. The rest you can find online.

Step 4: Write down bibliographical information immediately. You don’t have to format it yet – just make sure you have all the info.

Step 5: Take all of your notes verbatim, and make a note of which page you are taking the info from. If you begin a new page in the middle of your notes, make sure to note that as well. Instead of trying to italicize hand-written words, I use slashes to /set them apart/. If you have an idea of your own while copying notes, make sure you clearly mark it as yours.

My notes usually ended up looking something like this:

Book Title: Author’s full name: Publisher, City, Date

Page 17

Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah /blah blah/ blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah.

(Amy’s idea: blah blah blah.)

Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah (18) blah blah blah blah.

Type all of your notes into a single file.

Step 6: Spend a half hour taking notes from each book source. After a half hour – stop. Don’t allow yourself to get too caught up taking notes from any one source. You will never get finished! If you are researching a person, use each book to research a different era of the person’s life. If you are researching a different kind of topic, use each book to research a different aspect of that topic. Even if all of the books contain basically the same information, this is a good way to efficiently use multiple sources.

Step 7: Find your online sources, making sure they are from trusted sites. If you can use the school’s databases, all the better. Copy and paste all pertinent info into a single file. Copy and paste all bibliographical web site information at the beginning of each section. Since websites are in a constant state of change, make sure you include the access date (the date you copied the information).

Step 8: Print off all of your information. If you have more than twenty pages for a relatively short paper, you may want to delete some of the redundant or irrelevant material before printing.

Step 9: Decide how you want your paper to flow. Basically this is an outline. Biographies are relatively easy, since you will follow a chronological timeline. At the end of the paper, you can sum up greatest accomplishments, lasting impact, etc. Other types of papers can be easy as well; just decide on an order that makes sense, and stick with it. For example, your outline may look like this: Early Life, Interesting Turn of Events, Move to Boarding School, Work in the Field, Awards, Impact on Society, 200 Years Later, etc.

Step 10: Take several different colored highlighters or pens and mark your notes, using a different color for each point on the outline. Alternatively, you could bracket off each topic category in your notes, and mark the category in the margin.

You can either assign each category a color or a code. Your resulting notes will either look like this:

Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah (18) blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah.

Or like this, based on the outline given above:

EL (early life) Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah.

ITE Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah (18) blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah.

IS Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah.

EL Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah.

MBS Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah.

Step 11: Read all of your notes two or three times. Now put your notes away and write your paper based on the knowledge in your own head. If you don’t know a fact such as a year, a number, or a name, write a question mark there to be filled in later. Writing it this way, without the use of your notes, keeps the whole paper from seeming like a paraphrased imitation of your research (which is how most research papers end up).

Step 12: If your paper is too long, cut out the unessential stuff, or tighten up your sentence structure. If it is too short, read your notes again and look for interesting tidbits. Top your paper off by using one or two exact quotes per typed page.

Step 13: Go back over your research paper, and compare it to your notes, which should be verbatim from the sources, and make sure you haven’t accidentally plagiarized. Make use of your highlighted sections to find your sources easily, based on which section of the paper you are currently working on.

Step 14: Time for adding footnotes or in-text citations. You can look up your references easily by using your highlighted notes.

Step 15: Format your bibliography, footnotes, margins, etc. Set aside at least an hour to do this, instead of waiting until 20 minutes before you have to leave for class on the day the paper is due.

Step 16: If you are truly interested in your topic, and you have finished your paper early, now is the time to satisfy your thirst for knowledge and dig a little deeper. If you run out of time, you can turn your paper in the way it is. But if time allows, you can tweak it to your heart’s content!