iLEAD Exploration Remains Open Virtually for Learners

iLEAD Exploration continues to operate its independent study model in an entirely virtual format. Click here for resources.

Jul 27, 2020 @ 01:00

ilead exploration

Write at Home: Developing Teen Writers Webinar

Wrie at home

We hope you enjoyed the webinar last week with Write At Home. In an effort to support our families, Write At Home is excited to host more webinars to help in your writing endeavors. To learn more about Write at Home, please visit them here. Please see the flier for registration and webinar details.


Virtual Pet Show and Tell


Show and Tell (1)

Speaking Activities


Speaking is usually thought of as the most important of the four skills. Below is a list of activities to enhance a learner’s ability to speak English.

Describe a Picture
Using the two links below, learners are able to look at daily pictures and graphs and describe what is happening in each picture or graph. For each picture, there are guiding questions for the learner to think about and answer. The learner also has the option to read how others respond to the picture/graph. When describing a picture, think about answering who, what, where, when and why.

What is It?
Place 5 objects on the table under a towel or blanket. Describe each object and let your partner guess what it is you are describing, then switch.

Sentence ideas:
The object I have is (heavy/light).
It is used in the (room).

Give your learner a statement. Have your learner think about whether or not he agrees or disagrees with the statement. The learner writes notes defending his statement. Have your learner present multiple reasons why he agrees or disagrees with the statement.

Example: The Summer Olympics are better than the Winter Olympics.
Sentence starters:
I think….
I believe….
The _____ is better than ____ because….
In my opinion…..
I think that…for example…

Listening Activities


Listening is an essential skill that we use daily. Listening takes different forms in different situations. You listen in a classroom, an airport, in a conversation, while watching television, and while listening to the radio. Below is a list of activities to help improve your listening skills.

Music 101
Listen to any song, and write down any similes you hear.
Example: “And it seems to me you lived your life like a candle in the wind”
Are there any metaphors you hear? What about personification, hyperbole or irony?

Storyline Online
Listen to a story online.

Unite for Literacy
Listen to a story online with the option to listen to the story in different languages.

Listen and Draw
This site has some audio files of vocabulary and scenarios that learners can listen to. Learners can draw the pictures or descriptions on a blank piece of paper as they listen to the vocabulary. Learners can also draw a picture as they listen to a story.

TED Talks
Ted Talks are a great resource for advanced or intermediate ELL learners. Have your learner listen to a Ted Talk two times through. For the first time, have them share the main idea. For the second time, have them listen for and then share opinions and facts.

The Walking Classroom is offering 26 free educational podcasts right now (due to Covid-19)! Their program is simple…take a 20-minute walk while you listen to a podcast! Each podcast comes with a health-awareness message and includes a character value within the narrative. It also includes discussion questions, key vocabulary, and quizzes. It is great for ELL students and catered to grades 3-8.

Reading Activities

Reading Strategies and Reading Strategies - Workshop in Tustin another option

Comprehension is the goal of reading. This skill can be extremely difficult for EL learners due to limited vocabulary and limited background knowledge. Learners should read or be read to daily. Here are a few activities that support EL learners and their reading comprehension.

Determine Main Idea and Details
Use the flower writing graphic organizer to help a learner determine the main idea and details of a passage.

Building Background Knowledge
All students learn better when they first access what they already know. Use a KWL Chart to activate prior knowledge. Learners already have experiences and knowledge that they can build upon.

Expanding your vocabulary is a great way to improve your comprehension skills. Vocabulary Coil is an interactive site that you may want to check out.

Interactive Games
Let learning be interactive! These games are engaging and will help build critical reading skills. The games are easy to understand and help build a child’s vocabulary, grammar, and comprehension skills. You can find something for every grade level and English proficiency skills.

ESL Fast

Learn English Kids


ESL Fun Games

Mr. Nussbaum Learning


Writing Activities


There is an important correlation between writing and language development. Learners often develop listening skills first, then speaking, then reading, and lastly writing. Writing requires a large amount of language processing in order to produce a message.

Writing Jar
Many learners perceive writing as a chore. Make it fun with a writing jar! Grab a jar or a container and fill it with a variety of prompts. Make them creative, fun, silly, serious, thought provoking, etc. The idea is to have a big range of prompts. Use them as a daily journal activity or as a way to teach the writing process: brainstorm, first draft, revisions, final draft. Have fun!

Cinquain Poems
Cinquain poems offer great flexibility and help the learner focus on parts of speech. The basic formula is:
One noun
Two adjectives
Three gerunds (words + ing)
A short sentence.
A one-word summary

Organize Your Thoughts
Use the hamburger writing graphic organizer to help organize the learner’s thoughts when writing a paragraph.

Ask Questions Through Family Discussions
Discuss with your learner about places you visit, work you do, books you read or TV shows you watch together. Talk to your learner about their ideas for writing. In order to write about something your learner needs to be able to talk about it first. Ask specific questions about your child’s writing such as, “How did that happen?”, “How did that make you feel?”, or “Can you tell me more about that?”

Encourage Your Child to Keep a Reflective Journal
Have them write about their personal feelings, pleasures and disappointments. Parents, share your own feelings and ideas paired with positive feedback about your learner’s writing.

Start a Vocabulary Notebook
Use a vocabulary sheet to teach your learner new words each week and encourage him/her to use them. Make it into a game and give points for using the new words.

Learner Spotlight: Ami Kharitonov

May Spotlight

Ami Kharitonov is graduating from middle school this year and will be a freshman with iLEAD Exploration. He has been with iLEAD since 2016 and speaks English and some Russian. Ami’s interests are stop motion animation and mixed martial arts. He is at a senior premier level with the National Children’s Chorus.
Name: Ami Kharitonov

What languages do you speak?
English and some Russian

What is your favorite saying in your native language?

What is a family tradition that you enjoy?
Passover – Hide the Matzah tradition. Adults hide the matzo around in a room and children try to find it. Whoever finds it gets a prize.

What career would you like to have? How would being bilingual help you in your career?
Animation and film production. Russian would help in making friends.

What is your favorite subject? Why?
History is my favorite subject as you learn about facts and reasons in the form of stories.

Has being multilingual allowed you any special opportunities?
Yes, you can have private conversations with someone in public.

What is your favorite hobby?
Stop motion animation.

What advice would you give to someone trying to learn a new language?
Practice consistently. You can take breaks when learning a new language, but longer breaks will make you forget the material.

Popular Apps for English Learners

Phone App

Using technology can be very beneficial for English language learners. In particular, the use of apps can help learners become more proficient in English in a variety of ways. In January’s EL Quarterly, a list of popular apps were provided that might be especially useful during this time.


Learner Spotlight: Ace Maestas


Ace Maestas has been homeschooling for two years. The flexibility that is offered through iLEAD Exploration to focus on strengths, work on weaknesses, and cultivate social intelligence has been the ideal classroom for him. A past injury resulted in some uphill battles for Ace, especially in the areas of social and speech development. With the support of our amazing speech team, Ace has been given the opportunity to develop his skills at a pace that is feasible for him. Ace attends the OC Learning Studio where he practices his newly developed speech skills with his peers. Through the interactions, he has learned many key components to developing his social intelligence including recognizing his feelings, understanding body language, self-regulation, and coping skills. During this time of quarantine, Ace has been expanding his social intelligence with activities at home. Ace has been busy keeping a kindness chart, writing cards to neighbors, volunteering to clean within the community, and dropping off supplies to those in need — all examples of how to interact with others in our new normal.

If given the choice, Ace would solve math problems and logic puzzles all day! Not surprisingly, his love of math has also driven him to be curious about things in science, such as the human body, volcanoes and rocks. Ace has an extensive collection of LEGOs at home, which allows him to dive into his creative side. His latest creation was a re-creation of the Eiffel Tower that stood as tall as he was! In his free time, Ace enjoys taking advantage of iLEAD Exploration’s field trips. The opportunities are a great complement to his educational experience at home as well as at the learning studio.

Ace’s family balances school and social development using words from Aristotle as their inspiration, “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” iLEAD has provided Ace an opportunity to discover a love of learning as well as support him in his social needs. If you ever have the chance to interact with Ace, you will find that he is eager to share what he has learned!

School-Wide Learner Outcome: Social Intelligence

social_intelligence 5

Social intelligence is an important life skill that helps to build healthy relationships. Social intelligence is one’s ability to interact well with others. Often called people skills or tact, it is a learned ability involving situational awareness, understanding how to act within different social environments, and communicating easily with people from all walks of life. Someone who has high social intelligence (SI) is gifted at understanding others, making friends, and handling new situations. Social intelligence looks different across various cultures and demographics, as every group values different social skills.

Social intelligence isn’t static, but rather it continually develops throughout one’s life. It’s never too late to sharpen it, and children are especially easy to teach. Educating children on healthy communication helps them to be a friend who is empathetic, generous, kind, and a good listener. There are four main characteristics of social intelligence:

Empathy: Empathy determines how well one relates to other people’s thoughts and emotions. Empathetic people consider and understand diverse perspectives, even if they don’t share the same ideas. They can pick up on a person’s mood and adjust their reactions accordingly.

Respect: Many cultures value esteem between children and adults as well as between spouses. Respecting others can mean adapting your communication style to fit their needs or coming to a compromise. Mutual understanding calls for a degree of respect.

Behavior: This component concerns how people carry themselves in social situations. Are their actions appropriate for the setting? Do they make others feel relaxed or uncomfortable? A person must be able to change their behavior when necessary while still maintaining their core attributes.

Self-efficacy: This characteristic refers to how a person judges themselves on their capacity to perform particular tasks. If someone has a stable sense of self-efficacy concerning social intelligence, they’re confident in their social abilities. They experience little stress or worry over interacting with others.

CLICK HERE for some fun ways to encourage and develop social intelligence in your child.

Write at Home: Developing Teen Writers Webinar

Wrie at home

We hope you enjoyed the webinar last week with Write At Home. In an effort to support our families, Write At Home is excited to host two more webinars to help in your writing endeavors. To learn more about Write At Home, please visit them here. Please see the flier below for webinar details and sign-up information.


Together Tuesdays


That’s right, it’s Together Tuesday! We love seeing the positive images submitted throughout iLEAD nation every week — joyful reminders that we are all in this together. Thank you to everyone who submitted this week! Click the image or link to view the video.

Share YOUR Together Tuesday images and stories with us by sending them to by midnight every Monday.

Join Us for Virtual Scattergories


Virtual Scattegories 2 (1)

Give It Stars!


Calling all iLEAD readers! What books have you been enjoying lately? A great way to reflect on a book is to create a book review. Simply download one of the free templates below (or create your own!) and tell others how many stars you would give to a book. Share your opinion during one of your virtual calls with friends, family or even your EF at your learning period meeting. Your review just might encourage someone to pick up that book to read!

Mini Book Review Primary Book Review Book Commercial Upper Grade Book Review


Learner Spotlight: Everett Family

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The Everett family didn’t set out to homeschool but have totally embraced the lifestyle. Since both Ben, first grade, and Caroline (Caddie), kindergarten, have an immunodeficiency diagnosis, it is much safer for them to do school at home. These two iLEAD Exploration learners are thriving in their family’s learner-led homeschool. Ben and Caddie definitely embody this month’s school-wide learner outcome: curiosity.

The questions and interests of the children drive instruction in the Everett household. One time Ben wondered how many cars on his street were white. He made an estimate and charted tally marks as he walked through the neighborhood, testing his hypothesis. Caddie collected shells at the beach and made a bar graph showing the different kinds of shells she found. These are a few examples of the way the Everett family facilitates self-initiated math in everyday life!

The quest for knowledge abounds with Caddie and Ben. Before going on a cruise to Alaska with his family, Ben wondered what color the ocean would be at night. He knew that the water appears blue during the day because it reflected on the color of the sky. He predicted the color of the ocean would be clear at night since the sky would not be visible. He was so interested in this experiment that his parents let him stay up until 11:00 p.m. (since it was summer in Alaska) to test his prediction! Ben also loves math and was accepted to the Summer Institute for the Gifted. His project was “How to Make the Fastest Hot Wheels Car.” Ben measured and charted variables that affected the speed of the cars in order to determine the winner.

Caddie loves to learn about famous people in history. She has studied Marie Curie, women’s rights activist Emily Pankhurst, Marie Antoinette, painter Frida Kahlo, Amelia Earhart, King Tut, and Queen Elizabeth I. Caddie loves art and enjoys taking online classes at Outschool. She even created original art about penicillin for the cover of the August issue of Pediatric Journal of Infectious Diseases.

Any visit to Caddie and Ben’s house reveals how much they are learning. One memorable time his EF came by, Ben shared his Found Art Museum. He had written descriptions about each piece of artwork displayed around the house. Another time Caddie asked how she could save astronauts from sunburn. She experimented with many creative ways to answer this question.

Caddie and Ben attended some unique day trips with their parents this year. They were excited about a numismatist they met at a coin show. They also wrote about their trips to an airplane museum, the Aquarium of the Pacific, and the Exploratorium in San Francisco. Ben and Caddie asked questions to learn more about the things they were curious about. These kids are excited to learn wherever they go.

TED Talk: Curiosity


This TED Talk playfully addresses this month’s SLO: curiosity. It speaks to why intellectual curiosity is so important to children and adults alike. Tara draws from her own experience and tells stories about being dyslexic and her fascination with learning new things. These experiences are the reason she values intellectual curiosity and encourages others to engage in this way of thinking.

Curious? Watch this:

Books are also a wonderful way to foster curiosity and introduce new ideas to children. Here are some book lists that address curiosity in a meaningful way for children:

Growing Book by Book

In addition, we hope you enjoy these fun activities to inspire curiosity at home:

24 Ways To Develop Curiosity


Write at Home: Developing Teen Writers Webinar

Wrie at home

We hope you enjoyed the webinar last week with Write At Home. In an effort to support our families, Write At Home is excited to host three more webinars to help in your writing endeavors. To learn more about Write at Home, please visit them here. Please see the flier for registration and webinar details.


Online Educational Resources

MM 9

Online science videos, lessons, reading material and quizzes for grades K-5
Online social-emotional learning programs loved by kids ages 5-15
Helps kids exercise their brains and bodies
Free guitar, bass, and ukulele lessons
Free lessons and resources for all subject areas
A proven K-12 practice assessment tool. CODE: EdmentumSupport2020
Excellent curation and art collection
High-quality educational videos for high school and college courses
100+ indoor activities
Ways to use Lego bricks with math concepts

You’re Invited to Join iLEAD’s Virtual DreamUp to Space Mission!

DreamUP_Virtual Mission_Article Graphic

Registration is open for iLEAD learners in grades 5-12 for the DreamUp to Space Mission!

Learn more about iLEAD Student Aerospace Projects here!

Social and Emotional Well-Being

Lunch bunch title

n an effort to address the emotional tension we are all experiencing during this season, the high school team would like to share some brief videos created by youth mentors who offer some solid words of advice for teenagers. Josten’s has made these inspirational videos available for free during this crisis. Please select any topics of interest to and spend some time talking about them together as a family. The topics include: our response to Covid-19, judgment, choices, changing my world, pressure, insecurities, failure, mental health, health and wellness, self-confidence, and self-reflection. We hope that your teenager feels encouraged, valued, and inspired as a result!

In addition, each Tuesday from April 14 through May 12, iLEAD’s student support team will host a virtual lunch bunch for learners by grade level groupings so that they can have an informal time to connect with support facilitators and other learners. This might be a great way for all Exploration learners to make new friends and talk through some of the questions and concerns going on in the world around us. Here is a flyer with those weekly times and links.

To join the High School Lunch Bunch on Tuesdays from 12:30-1:00 click here.

Advanced Courses For College Success

Advanced Courses for College Success

Taking advanced courses while in high school will prepare you for greater success in college. Advanced Placement (AP) courses are the typical high school standard for learners at brick and mortar schools, but access to AP tests can be a challenge for our independent study learners. Dual Enrollment (DE) courses also provide rigorous coursework with the additional advantage of granting access to a greater variety of courses (that are in most cases for free).

The single most important skill you will need in college is writing, regardless of your chosen major. Building those skills in high school will help you take those first writing-intensive college courses with confidence. Learners who hope to attend the most rigorous colleges should plan to take more than one DE or AP course with intensive writing during high school. Writing is not only part of an AP English course but also can be part of AP social science and history. A dual enrollment course in English composition will greatly increase writing skills which will benefit learners in all areas. Seek out courses that require essays and research papers and not just multiple-choice tests.

All learners should have a strong math background and those who are entering the arts, humanities, or social sciences should aim for at least pre-calculus or statistics. However, learners entering STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) should take a minimum of calculus while in high school. Community college or AP calculus will give a STEM learner a strong starting point. Classes that go beyond will help you enter college ahead of the rest!

Just about every college learner will find themselves in a science lab, so taking several lab sciences in high school is a necessity. An AP or DE science class can help prepare all learners for the rigors of college, but those entering STEM should plan to take more than one community college or AP lab science.

Language Other Than English
Some colleges require all learners to take a language while others require only those entering the humanities, arts, social sciences, and business to obtain a specific level of fluency. One way to get ahead is through a community college course in a foreign language or American sign language (ASL). At community colleges, a single semester of DE will count as 1-2 years of high school credit. Why not take advantage of this option now and knock out significant high school AND college credit?

Social Sciences and Electives
Don’t forget to take some fun advanced classes of interest such as anthropology, zoology, or psychology. These classes will help build college readiness skills and allow you to explore fields to which most high school learners do not have access.

Every learner should plan to meet with Bethany Maddox, our academic counselor, at least once a year to plan courses that will prepare for the next step–college! Sign up for an appointment here.

Covid-19 College Updates

College Post

Changes to the University of California Requirements for the Class of 2021

The UCs are relaxing testing requirements and will no longer require ACT or SAT for the class of 2021 ONLY. They are also accepting pass/fail grades for the classes taken in the spring of 2020 for all students. Students may still submit test scores but are not required to and the lack of testing will not hurt their applications.

Changes to the California State University System

The CSUs are accepting pass/fail grades for classes taken in spring 2020. There is no decision on testing requirements at this time.

Changes to Test-Optional Policies

Multiple colleges that are not typically test-optional have allowed the class of 2021 to apply without SAT or ACTs. Test-optional colleges can be tracked on the FairTest website. Newly added colleges may not be included.

Learner Spotlight: Ariella Clarino

LS Title

Ariella has been homeschooled for the past nine years, and this is her second year with iLEAD Exploration. She is currently in 10th grade and already has an impressive high school career! Ariella not only takes classes at a local community college, but she also participates in a homeschool co-op and takes classes through iLEAD Online. Even though her academic classes keep her busy, she finds time to volunteer in her local community and church for such events as Relay for Life.

For the past two years, Ariella has been very involved in the Navy Sea Cadets, a non-profit, youth organization supported by the United States Navy, United States Coast Guard, and the Navy League of the United States. Cadets receive instruction in marching, drills, CPR, and classroom content on United States military and seamanship. Ariella endures rigorous physical training and drills and also has the opportunity to move up in rank. She was honored with the Daughters of the American Revolution award for outstanding leadership, honor, service, courage, and patriotism. This award is given to only one person per year in the unit and is a great honor among the cadets. Way to go, Ariella!

In addition to being an active Navy Cadet, Ariella enjoys crocheting, bullet journaling, singing, and drawing. She also entered a youth cyber-security competition with some of her peers. This was an amazing learning experience for her. For Ariella, one of the main benefits of homeschooling has been all of the wonderful travel experiences she has had. Her travels have included going to both Canada and Mexico once, China five times, Korea six times, and the Philippines nine times. All of this travel has not impacted Ariella’s academic career as she maintains well above a 4.0 GPA taking A-G courses, and she also faithfully serves on iLEAD’s ASB.

Ariella loves homeschooling because it does not limit her but rather allows her to pursue her interests. One of Ariella’s favorite US Navy cadet mottos is “Chart Your Course.” Ariella certainly has charted her course in her homeschooling career and we at iLEAD celebrate her success!

Learner Spotlight: Lily Ochoa


iLEAD Exploration eighth grader Lily Ochoa has been homeschooling since fall of 2018. She finds that home study fosters her creativity and inspires her to dig deeply into what interests her. Her academic environment allows her to enjoy learning but also remain motivated and persistent as she moves toward mastery. Lily keeps her mind and body stimulated with creative academic choices to engage in the learning process. She stretches her creative aspirations both inside and outside of the “classroom.”

You can find Lily exploring the world on frequent field studies. You might find her absorbed in the anatomy section of the CA Science Center or taking notes at local history and art museums or drawing animals at the zoo or cataloging state facts on cross country road trips.

Lily’s creativity doesn’t stop there, as she thrives on flexing her artistic muscles. She loves to draw, paint, illustrate digitally, and play her ukulele in her spare time. She is enthusiastically becoming the “Jill of all trades!” Just this year, Lily began her equestrian journey learning how to ride horses Western style. She quickly learned how to steer, walk from a stop, and how to halt. Her next goal is to learn how to jump!

Lily’s compassion and gentleness have led her to a great passion for animals. Since she was in kindergarten, her lifelong dream has been to have a career that is dedicated to animal health, safety, and preservation. This may mean becoming a veterinarian, a zookeeper, or even opening up her own dog shelter! Certainly, giftedness is a developmental journey, and Lily is well on her way.

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