Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.
- Mahatma Ghandi

Welcome to LIFE of Florida!

Our secular and inclusive Florida-wide Informal Education support group acts as a resource center and clearinghouse for homeschoolers, informal learners and alternative educators interested in enriching their learning environments and maximizing their learning opportunities, as well as an advocacy center for Curiosity Driven Learning.

There is no cost to be part of LIFE of Florida -- just join in at our email discussion and announcement list, Florida LIFE, where you can download your membership card -- good for educational discounts throughout FL -- and stay informed and updated on events, issues and resources, and connect with other informal learners throughout the state.

If you're just getting started in homeschooling, be sure to check out our LIFE of Florida Quick Links, our list of Useful Docs, and our enormous collection of resources in the side columns, and visit our Inclusive Homeschool Support Groups page to find a group near you.

If you'd like your regional inclusive support group to be networked with LIFE of Florida, drop us a line with a group description, contact and other relevant information and we'll add you, free of charge, to our directory. All your group members will be automatically considered members of LIFE of Florida, and are entitled to membership cards and all the benefits we offer. Virtual school families are also welcome to enjoy our resources, support and camaraderie.

We're all inclusive and free of charge, and we're here for you!

Monday, September 29, 2008

FYI: New State High School Diploma Requirements

There’s a lot of interesting reading in this Senate bill text, pertaining to changes in the Sunshine State Standards (ie “ Next Generation Sunshine State Standards) .While, in and of itself, this legislation has no specific bearing on home education in Florida, it's useful for several reasons, not the least of which is simply being informed about curriculum standards in FL.


Some homeschoolers follow along with the standards, many do not. But if there’s a chance that you plan to enroll your child in public ed, you may want to stay informed about upcoming changes. Even if you don’t, it’s a good idea to stay informed about changes to standards, especially if you’ve got kids making their way through high school at home and you plan to create diplomas for them, or want to align their transcripts with public ed requirements for college or career needs.


You can see (and save a copy of) the new diploma form here:

http://info.fldoe.org/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-5142/k12-2008-159.pdf


You can see the new "Next Generation Sunshine State Standards" (in progress) here: http://www.floridastandards.org


From the FL DOE (excerpt below - visit link for full memo)

http://info.fldoe.org/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-5142/k12-2008-159.pdf


DATE: September 25, 2008

SUBJECT: HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA DESIGNATIONS

Recently enacted Senate Bill 1908 created a new section of statute that requires the following four new designations are included on the standard high school diploma beginning with the 2008-09 school year, as applicable:


Major Area of Interest, pursuant to completion of credits as provided in section 1003.428, Florida Statutes

Completion of four or more accelerated college credit courses in AP, IB, AICE, or dual enrollment if the student is eligible for college credit pursuant to sections 1007.27 or 1007.271, Florida Statutes

Career education certification in accordance with section 1003.431, Florida Statutes

Florida Ready to Work Credential in accordance with section 1004.99, Florida Statutes


Senate Bill 1908 can be viewed at: http://www.flsenate.gov/data/session/2008/Senate/bills/billtext/pdf/s1908er.pdf (see page 18).

Sunday, September 21, 2008

LIFE Fest 2008 Great Success!

LIFE Fest 2008 was our best event yet! Nearly 300 people attended, enjoying everything from robotics demonstrations to Irish Step Dancing. Children enjoyed a full day of art activities, courtesy of Great Explorations Children's Museum, of St. Pete, and Super Awesome Cool Pottery Studio of Winter Park. Teck 4 Tykes provided children's computer classes.

Brenda Dickinson, of the Home Education Foundation, gave a great overview of homeschooling in Florida. Mary McCool, eLearning Manager with Florida Virtual School helped guests find their way around Florida's number one distance learning school. There were work shops and round tables about unschooling, getting the most out of your library, college preparation, and more.

More photos of the event will be available at the Learning is for Everyone website soon.

We can't wait for LIFE Fest 2009!

Thanks to everyone who came out and helped make it so much fun!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

LIFE Fest 2008 is just one week away!

And we've got a phenomenal Home and Alternative Learners Conference program ready for you on September 20 at Eckerd College Conference Center in St. Petersburg, FL!

At just $10 per family, LIFE Fest is a cost effective, information rich, family-fun and learning day with something for everyone.

There are workshops on unschooling, civic education, teaching higher level science and math, running homeschool co-operatives and learning the basics of homeschooling in Florida. There will be ongoing music and art activities for all ages, vendors, a LIFE Fest Bazaar and lots of information and resources from a variety of community groups, not to mention plenty of free materials at our Information Buffet and door prizes.

So come and learn about all the many wonderful ways there are to learn!

For more information, visit our LIFE Fest page or email info@learningis4everyone.orgThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Pasco County Homeschoolers Seeks Re-Evaluation of Pasco County Library Borrowing Policy

Pasco County homeschooler Loni Kaplan is trying to persuade the Pasco County Library system to re-evaluate their new short check-out policy (PDF), and is trying to reach others to inform and mobilize. Read her views and about the policy change:

Budget cuts quicken due date on Pasco library books


Reading library books should be a pleasure, not a pressure


"If you can help me get the word out to other homeschoolers in Pasco, perhaps more people will express their opinions to the library. As of now, they library system has only had about 30 complaints. They are re-evaluating their policy in November, and if they have enough complaints, they will re-instate the 28-day policy. People with comments/complaints should contact Stephen Kershner, Assistant Libraries Director at stephenl@pascolibraries.org " - Loni Kaplan

Monday, September 8, 2008

Welcome New Group: Middle School GT, Pinellas County

Welcome Middle School GT to our directory of inclusive homeschool support groups in FL:

Middle School GT meets monthly on the 2nd or 3rd Sat of the month for
different exciting adventures like Rock Climbing, Kayaking, Haunted
Trails, Scavenger Hunts and so much more. We are primarily based out
of the St. Pete/Clearwater area. But we welcome anyone from anywhere,
and although this is primarily homeschoolers, we welcome anyone in the
10-14 age range regardless of schooling.
http://middleschool-gt.tripod.com and
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/middleschool_gt/

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Florida KidCare launches "Act-Out for Health" PSA contest

Florida KidCare launches “Act-Out for Health” PSA contest
Florida KidCare is seeking middle and high school students from across the state to enter the Act-Out for Health contest to help promote affordable health insurance available through Florida KidCare. Students ages 12 through 18 can produce a 30-second television commercial or create a print advertisement promoting Florida KidCare, a state and federally funded program for uninsured children.

This contest makes a great class project. Students can win scholarships, money for your school and gift cards. Winning entries may be featured on television or newspapers and magazines across the state. Contest entry deadline is Friday, Dec. 5, 2008, at 4 p.m.

For more information and to download contest entry packets, please visit www.actout4health.org. Visit the Florida Healthy Kids Web site to view last year’s winning PSA entry at www.healthykids.org/marketing/aofh.php?lang=ENG.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

LIFE Fest 2008 Home and Alternative Learners Conference - September update

Our annual LIFE Fest Celebration of Learning will be held Saturday, September 20th at the Eckerd College Conference Center and Lodge at 4200 54th Avenue South in St. Petersburg, FL from 10 a.m. – 4p.m. Admission is just $10 per family, with carpool discounts available the day of the event!

It's a great location that lends itself well to a family friendly event, with Ft. Desoto Park camping and world-class beaches just down the road,and St. Pete museums and other attractions nearby.

_________________

Vendor registration and prepaid admission discounts are officially closed, but we've extended the deadline for registering to have a table at the LIFE Fest Bazaar, and advertising is still available in our program guide. You can visit the LIFE website at www.learningis4everyone.org for info on both of those. Additionally, if you have a support group and would like a table, you can let us know through September 5th.


The current conference line-up includes:

And much, much more!

Round tables and workshops scheduled include:

*Homeschool 101 - Getting Started and Keeping On

*Learning Cooperatively Round Table - Organizing,managing and participating in learning co-operatives

*Homeschool Support Group Round Table - Managing a group, playing nice within one

*College Prep - Tips, tricks and tools

*Homeschooled and Proud - Creating a sense of Alma mater with mater and pater

*Out of Your Element - Teaching higher level high school subjects like chemistry, physics, and algebra

Transitions and You - Adapting to grown up homeschoolers

Civic Education - Use it or Loose it!


Speakers will include:

Brenda Dickinson, home and private school lobbyist, of the Home Education Foundation;

Mary McCool, of the Florida Virtual School;

Jamie Moorehead of Super Awesome Cool Pottery Studios;

Annette Reiter, co-author of Blast Off, Launching Your Child to College and Beyond

Erica Petramala, of Kids Voting Tampa Bay

Programs:

  • Great Explorations Children's Art will be ongoing throughout the day, providing secure, supervised child care;
  • Doug Scull with Hands on Planet Earth will provide a session or two of up close and personal animal encounters;
  • FIRST Robotics teams will be demonstrating and providing information about all levels of FIRST robotics programs for children, from Jr. LEGO League through high school robotics;
  • Tek4Tykes will be providing computer learning activities for children;
  • Homeschool Ballroom Dance team and Irish Step Dance performances

Florida State Parks to Celebrate Literacy in September

TALLAHASSEE - The Florida Department of Environmental Protection's (DEP) Florida State Parks are celebrating the second annual Literacy Month this September at each of the state's 161 state parks. In conjunction with International Literacy Day on September 8 and National Library Card Signup Month, entrance to all of Florida 's state parks will be free the week of September 7-13 for visitors who bring a library card, library book, or who donate a new or gently used family book.

"Promoting literacy at Florida's state parks creates an appreciation for both reading and the environment that visitors can take back to the classroom and community, said Florida State Park Director Mike Bullock. "September's Literacy Month is the perfect time for all park visitors,
including families and schools to experience resource-based recreation while enhancing the mind through literacy events."

Florida's state parks, along with local libraries and schools, will host a variety of events during September including book readings, author appearances and book exchanges. Books donated during Literacy Month will go to schools and libraries in need or be used for permanent book exchanges within state park collections. The Florida Department of Education's (DOE)
Just Read, Florida ! program will also distribute lists of nature-themed reading materials to libraries and educators, and Literacy Month bookmarks will be distributed at libraries, bookstores and state parks through a partnership with the Florida Lottery.

"Literacy Month is a wonderful opportunity for students to learn about Florida 's natural, cultural and literary resources," said Education Commissioner Dr.. Eric J. Smith. " Reading is the foundation for academic success and our partnerships will bring an increased focus to the importance
of literacy."

Partners in the Literacy Month celebration include the Florida Department of State, Florida Department of Education, the Florida Lottery, Volunteer USA Foundation, Florida Literacy Coalition, Adult and Community Educators of Florida, Inc., local libraries, schools and reading programs statewide. More than 1.3 million visitors participated in the September 2007
Literacy Month celebration, with nearly 35,000 people participating in 60 events statewide. State parks collected 10,000 books for donation and DEP and the Florida Lottery distributed 15,000 bookmarks to libraries and bookstores throughout the state.

The first two-time Gold Medal winner honoring the nation's best state park service, Florida 's state park system is one of the largest in the country with 161 parks spanning nearly 700,000 acres and 100 miles of sandy white beach. From swimming and diving in Florida's rivers and springs
to birding and fishing or hiking and riding on natural scenic trails, Florida's state parks offer year-around outdoor activities for all ages.

Battle re-enactments and Native American festivals celebrate Florida 's unique history, while art shows, museums and lighthouses offer a window into Florida 's cultural heritage. Florida 's state parks are also home to the 2008 Best Beach in the nation, Caladesi Island State Park , located off the coast of Southwest Florida in Pinellas County .

For more information about Florida State Parks' Literacy Month celebration and a list of events, visit <http://www.floridastateparks.org/> .


Marla Liane Chancey
Park Services Specialist
Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park
4150 S. Suncoast Blvd.
Homosassa, FL 34446
(352) 628-5343 X-1006

See the Real Florida at <http://www.floridastateparks.org/>