Welcome to Learning is for Everyone of Tampa

LIFE of Tampa welcomes everyone, of all races, ethnicities, religions, family compositions, sexual orientations, learning styles, lifestyles, abilities and disabilities, and asks only that rules of civility, kindness and compassion be honored by all, for all.

This homepage and our online discussion group serve as an announcement and resource list for a variety of activities and events.

Visit LIFE of Florida for a great list of statewide and general learning resources.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Registration is Open for the 2012 LIFE of Tampa Spelling Bee!

Registration is open through January 16 for the 2012 LIFE of Tampa Spelling Bee

Students in the  eighth grade or below, in the Hillsborough, Hernando,  Pasco and Pinellas County areas are invited to join in our  2012 local Spelling Bee. The Bee will be held January 28th, starting at 1pm with a mini-Bee for 5-7 yr olds, at the Austin Davis Public Library at 17808 Wayne Road, off Gunn Hwy. in Odessa, FL.

The winner of  the LIFE of Tampa Spelling Bee will go on to compete in the 2012 Tampa  Bay Area Regional Spelling Bee in March, at Admiral Farragut Academy on March 3rd, 2012. Winner of the Regional Spelling Bee may go on to compete at the Scripps   National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C..  Last year's LIFE of Tampa Bee winner, Tommy Foster, was also the winner of the Regional Bee and went on to compete at the national Scripps Spelling Bee earlier this year.  

Although we're holding a short mini-Bee for 5-7 year olds at 1pm, with the winner of that Bee participating in the main Bee at 1:45pm, LIFE of Tampa Spelling Bee participants will not be divided into  grade or age levels, but will compete together, in the style of the  regional competition in March.  There is no minimum grade level for  participation.  

The purpose of the Bee is to have fun while helping youth improve their  spelling, increase their vocabularies, and improve their English usage  skills in a way that will serve them a life time!  The event is intended  to encourage and celebrate academic excellence in the Tampa Bay area.

A donation of $5 per participant is requested at the time of registration, to help defray associated Bee costs. Register at our EventBrite page:
Register for LIFE of Tampa 2012 Spelling Bee in Tampa, FL  on Eventbrite

In addition to winning a spot at the Regional Bee in March, our LIFE of Tampa winner will also win a free World Language course from Middlebury Interactive Languages. Our event champion will win one free semester of the award-winning powerspeaK12 online world          language courses, which feature fun age-specific activities and games to          help students become proficient in a second language. The program includes reading, writing, speaking and cultural          lessons, which are being used by 50,000 students nationwide. Champions can choose from multiple level courses in          Spanish, French, Mandarin Chinese, German and Latin. These self-paced courses help students with memory and          creative thinking. Learn more about the courses at powerspeak.com.

Our runner up will win a free one-year subscription to Britannica        Online for Kids . The free subscription includes unlimited access to two student-appropriate encyclop√¶dias, atlas, dictionary         and thesaurus, and more, including:
  • More than 17,511 articles,
  • Learning Activities for English & Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, and Social Sciences
  • Step-by-step Research Guides
  • An updated world atlas, thousands of images and videos.
  • An online student dictionary and student thesaurus, and thousands of articles from 403         respected magazines and journals.
  • Developed for students age 8 and up
Encyclop√¶dia Britannica is also offering a 50% discount to the kids.britannica.com website for all         participants in the Bee, or to offer to other interested parties in conjunction with the 2012 Scripps National     Spelling Bee.

So register soon, and enjoy these great resources to start brushing up on your Spelling Bee skills!

Happy Spelling!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Help Learning is for Everyone help Others

Between July 24 and August 25, redeem this Learning is for Everyone voucher at any West Florida Sweetbay Supermarket for the purchase of healthy fruit cups.

Keep some for yourself, and donate some to our Nutrition is in the Bag partner, University Area Community Development Corporation, in Tampa, to help provide snacks for the kids in their great community and afterschool programs.

The nonprofit with the most redeemed coupons can earn cash and Sweetbay gift cards, that can be put towards their own programs. It's win-win-win!

Download from Connect Your Cause, or copy and print the image below. Print out as many vouchers as needed, share them freely and use them often through August 25!

Sweetbay Voucher

Donation Drop Off Locations

University Area Community Development Corporation, Inc.
There will be two labeled boxes placed on a table next to the Security Office in the rotunda.
Contact: Ms. Dale C. Felix, Event Planner
14013 N. 22nd Street, Tampa, FL 33613
Phone: 813-558-5212, X203 Fax: 813-558-5219

Spirit of Life Unitarian Universalists
Public drop off bin available after July 31, by front door
18412 Burrell Road
Odessa, FL 33556
(813) 792-1622

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tommy and the Spelling Bee

 We asked the Foster family to update us on their experience at this year's Scripps National Spelling Bee.  Tommy Foster won both the LIFE of Tampa Spelling Bee back in January, and the Regional Spelling Bee in March to go on to complete at the National Bee in Washington DC held earlier this month.  This year's winner is 14 year old Sukyana Roy, of PA, who hung in through a vigorous 21 word final match with four other finalists.  This was Tommy's second run at the National Bee - and he plans to be back for a third.

Here's the Foster's report for LIFE of Tampa:

"We had a great time -- the folks at Scripps work hard to put a fun week together.  Everything runs like clockwork, and everyone is friendly and helpful.  All 275 kids, their families, and their sponsors were treated to a BBQ at Gunston Hall on Memorial Day -- tons of food, karaoke, games, crafts, and the opportunity to tour Gunston Hall.
"On Tuesday, it was down to business, with Round 1, a twenty-five word written test.  We spent the rest of the day exploring the hotel (the Gaylord National) and the National Harbor area.
"Spelling up on the stage, in front of the cameras, and a huge audience, started on Wednesday and was broadcast live on ESPN2.  Each speller participated in two rounds.  Tommy nailed both of his words -- rejoneador and gallipot.
"Wednesday evening, the semifinalists were announced.  Only 41 of the 275 spellers were allowed to advance.  You could hear a pin drop in the ballroom as their numbers were called, in random order.  Unfortunately, Tommy's number wasn't called.  His official final standing is "Tied for 42nd place".

"Thursday, we cheered on the semifinalists, and then the finalists.  These amazing kids spelled for over 4 1/2 hours before the field was narrowed down to the thirteen spellers who would compete that night.  ESPN did a wonderful job with all of their coverage of the bee.  They included many spellers in their prime time broadcast, including Tommy, who demonstrated his human pretzel technique!  The top spellers were absolutely phenomenal.  It was a shame that only one of them could walk away with the trophy at the end of the night.

"Friday was the last day of Bee Week, and the busiest.  Scripps sent all of us on a guided tour of D.C.  We visited several of the memorials, and had time to explore the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.  That evening, we attended a formal banquet and awards ceremony, with special guest speaker Ken Jennings, of Jeopardy fame.  Finally, the kids loosened their ties, and kicked off their shoes for a dance party... and one last chance to say goodbye to new friends.
"That's about all I can think to tell you... other than that Tommy is feeling motivated and inspired to go back to the Bee next year, and improve on his performance.  He started talking about it before we even left D.C.!"


LIFE of Tampa sends hearty congratulations to Tommy and his family for another great season and many thanks for the terrific report "from the field"!  We'll  be hosting a local Bee again at this winter, and we're sure Tommy will be there competing again!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

TED Talk - Dave Meslin: The Antidote to Apathy

This recent TED Talk has relevance to ongoing discussions in FL about legislative issues and how to respond to them. If we want the most independent learning options possible, as free as they can be of others' control, then we have to be independent in the conduct of our learning choice - free of others'funding, and free of others' agendas. Being personally educated about legislation that may, or may not, affect us is hugely empowering and good for all learning choices and for maintaining the freedoms we enjoy. There are some obstacles that can discourage civic engagement, as Dave Meslin points out, but we can work together to dismantle them and retake a place in our own governance.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

LIFE of Florida Evaluation of SB 2156

On Tuesday, April 5, some “alerts” began making the rounds regarding proposed Florida Senate Bill 7202 . One of the emails says, “There is a Legislative Bill being proposed in Tallahassee. SB7207 (sic) would create a program for monitoring and measuring a child’s learning gains from birth through 5 years old. If this bill is passed ALL child care centers and kindergartens would be under the control of the Department of Education. Private education providers – physical private schools, non-traditional private school (like TOPS) and county homeschoolers – could come under the control of the Department of Education. “ The alert urges homeschoolers to “take immediate action… before the Proposed Committee Bill (PCB) is finalized or independent education (private school and home education) as we know it now will no longer exist. The State will control education from birth on. “

The original warning hails for the Home Education Foundation and can be read in its entirety here: http://bit.ly/gUAUVQ Interestingly, none of the “alerts” provide a link to read the entire text of the bill (which can be found here: http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2011/7202), and the alert quoted above actually misidentifies the bill number as 7207, rather than 7202.   The bill, renumbered SB 2156  , went to the floor today ( not giving anyone much time to do anything about it anyway) , where some amendments were adopted and some rejected and the whole thing was placed on a 3rd reading, to be debated one more time before final passage.

But a search through the 21000 line bill doesn’t seem to support the contention that “the state will control education from birth on”, nor that “ALL child care centers and kindergartens would be under the control of the Department of Education.” What it does seem to suggest, is that those running private schools, especially those that take state funds, will be under tighter scrutiny and more DOE control. The home based learners who might understandably be concerned about that are those trying to “homeschool” via a private school, or “umbrella” program, rather than independently registered with their counties. Independently registered homeschoolers are not considered “private education providers”.

As a matter of fact, SB 2156 specifically says:
14432 (g) Except as provided by law, the Department of Education
14433 Agency for Workforce Innovation may not impose requirements on a
14434 child care or early childhood education provider that does not
14435 deliver services under the school readiness programs or receive
14436 state or federal funds under this section.

Most of this section of this broad government reorganization bill deals with “early learning coalitions”, specifically those that receive state or federal funds. Florida home educators teaching their children under the state’s Home Education Program neither deliver services under school readiness programs or receive state or federal funds, and so would be exempt from the requirements of the bill.

Learning is for Everyone of Florida encourages families to be educated civic activists, and to fully inform themselves before speaking out on an issue. In this case, there’s a good chance homeschoolers are being recruited to speak out on behalf of private education – especially when the alert specifically, in bold, asterisked type instructs “Do Not Identify Yourself as a Homeschooler – Only Identify Yourself as a Parent Who Supports Private Education.” There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, if that’s what one wishes to do. But there’s no reason to mislead people with dire and unsubstantiated warnings to compel them to act in someone else's interests. And it’s especially unconscionable to urge people to act without providing them the resources they need to be fully informed before they do so.

The Home Education department of the FL DOE confirmed that they don’t deal with VPK (Voluntary Public Kindergarten) issues, and suggests concerned citizens read the text of the bill for themselves, and do one or more of the following to get a better understanding of the intent of the legislation:
You can also find your legislator at http://www.flsenate.gov/Senators/Find  and talk to him or her to get help on further clarification.  A related House Bill CS/HB 5101 was also on the floor today, and failed.  (In a very recent update, HEF lauds House Select Committee on Government Reorganization House Bill PCB H SCRG3  for "protecting your rights" , perhaps because there's little to no mention of education in it.)
As HEF points out, control can be a hidden agenda – but it’s not just the state who might want to control citizens. Private interests often do as well. Home education is governed under a different set of laws from private education, in Florida. While it’s important to protect private school interests, like all educational options, to suggest that every affront to private education – especially private education that takes state or federal money – is an automatic threat to home education, is misleading at best.

Act if so moved, but be an informed activist, and know the facts before you speak out, so that you can speak out effectively and knowledgeably.
Learning is for Everyone
LIFE of Florida

Saturday, April 2, 2011

April Home Learning Network: Homeschooling in the Great Outdoors, or LIFE's a Beach!

Join us for our April Home Learning Network meeting on Monday, April 4 at 7pm at Jimmy Keel Library, to learn about Homeschooling in the Great Outdoors! The weather is great and there's no better time or place than spring in Florida to take learning out of the house and into any of our great parks and preserves!

There are terrific free or low cost programs offered by parks, individuals and groups that cover a wide range of subjects, from geology and biology to art and literature, and more. Or explore on your own and get up close and personal with nature with the help of some great books and websites. Throw in some journaling and you've covered it all!

The Home Learning Network typically meets the first Monday of (most) months at the Jimmy Keel Public Library in Tampa. We have a different topic each month, or no topic at all, and conversation ranges across all homeschool and educational topics.

So join us for a fun, free evening of camaraderie, discussion and great educational ideas, at Jimmy Keel Public Library at 2902 West Bearss Avenue ,Monday, April 4, at 7PM. RSVPs are appreciated.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

LIFE of Tampa Bee Winner Wins Tampa Bay Regional Spelling Bee!

For the second year in a row, Tampa homeschooler Tommy Foster, has won the Tampa Bay Regional Spelling Bee, held today at Admiral Farragut Academy.  Tommy heads to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington DC on June 1, to join 275 other top spellers from around the nation to complete for the title of 2011 Scripps National Spelling Bee Champion.

The Foster family reports the Regional Bee went 25 rounds, with Tommy finally taking it with kookaburra for the win!

Congratulations, Tommy!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Busch Gardens Wants Your Ideas for Homeschool Programs

Natasha Sherwood, Busch Gardens Supervisor of Education, who joined us at LIFE Fest 2010, is looking for ideas for homeschool programs at Busch Gardens from - Homeschoolers!. Email your thoughts to her at BGTEDUC@seaworld.com

We are currently brainstorming ideas for a new Homeschool Program. Here is a list of questions we are interested in getting answered by YOU!
  • What day of the week works best for you?
  • What is the ideal length of the program? (From 1-4 hours long)
  • What is an ideal start time?
  • What is an ideal end time?
  • Depending on the timing of the program, do you want a built-in lunch time?
  • What kind of structure are you interested in: classroom workshops versus touring the park?
  • Would you rather have a fully guided program or a self-guided program? (self-guided with supplied materials or stations to visit around the park)
  • Would you prefer to do the program with your child?
  • Would you be open to dropping your child off for a student-only program?
  • Do you have any topic ideas that you are interested in?
  • Do you have any other thoughts or comments that would be helpful?

Natasha Sherwood
Supervisor of Education
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
(813) 987-5946


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Congratulations LIFE of Tampa Spelling Bee Winner and Runner Up!

Tommy F. won the local Tampa Bay area Spelling Bee again this year, with 10 year old newcomer Alisha P. going word for word with Tommy through more than 50 rounds and into the Challenge words.  "Archipelago" was the winning word, and Tommy proceeds to the Regional Bee at Admiral Farragut Academy on March 5.
The LIFE of Tampa Spelling Bee drew 20 spellers and filled half the community room at Jimmy Keel Public Library to overflowing.  The Bee was called by long-time Bee organizer, Loni Kaplan, for whom this was her sixth event.

All participants were awarded ribbons and certificates, and our two top finishers each one a free one year subscription to some great online learning tools - powerspeaK language learning for the first place winner, and Encyclopedia Britannica for Kids for our second place student. All participants are eligible for 50% discounts on both programs, as well.

We invite all our participants to come back again next year, for the 2012 LIFE of Tampa Spelling Bee. Some great resources for studying for the Bee throughout the year include:

Thursday, January 27, 2011

February HLN: Yoga for LIFE - RSVP by Feb. 2

We’ve got a very special Home Learning Network event in February. HLN will be held at Palm Yoga in Carrollwood, at 13911 N Dale Mabry Highway North, on Friday, February 4, at 4:30pm (instead of our usual 1st Monday at the Jimmy Keel Library). Palm Yoga reached out to Learning is for Everyone to let us know about their new yoga program for youth ages 7-12 , explaining, “I know LIFE is a community that encourages lifelong learning along with compassion and kindness to everyone. These same principles are part of the foundation of yoga. I feel our program is a perfect fit for the members of LIFE.”

We agree, and thought home learners in the area might enjoy learning more about Yoga and how to incorporate it into their home education programs. Yoga is a non-competitive, physical activity that promotes self-esteem, compassion and relaxation. In addition to physical benefits that include increased body awareness, flexibility, strength and balance, Yoga also improves the ability to focus and can improve memory and concentration.

Our February HLN at Palm Yoga will last about an hour and will include yoga poses that are integrated into games and creative play. This might mean acting like a lion stalking its prey or pretending we're jellyfish floating through the ocean. All activities are stimulating and fun for the kids but they also allow them to develop skills like coordination and calmness. Some exercises may be individual but there will also be partner/group activities.

There is no cost to attend. Kim Jansen, who incorporates Yoga into her homeschool practices, will be contact for this event on Feb. 4, and can be reached at mujktj@msn.com if you have questions about Yoga. Please RSVP to willinghamster@gmail.com  by February 2, if you plan to attend this special HLN event, so that we can give Palm Yoga a headcount.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Spelling Bee Registration Deadline Extended through January 7

The deadline for registering children to participate in the LIFE of Tampa Spelling Bee has been extended through January 7.

The Spelling Bee for homeschoolers in the Hillsborough, Hernando, Pasco and Pinellas County areas on January 28th at 3 P.M., at Jimmie B.  Keel Public Library in Tampa. The winner of the LIFE of Tampa Spelling Bee will go on to compete in the 2011 Tampa Bay Area Regional Spelling Bee on March 5, at Admiral Farragut Academy.

Email willinghamster@gmail.com  for more information or to register participants. All registered students will receive study guides and other support materials.

Happy Spelling!

January Home Learning Network: Movie Schooling - Mon.,Jan 3, 7PM

Join us for our January Home Learning Network meeting on Monday, January 3 at 7pm at Jimmy Keel Library, where we'll take a look at "Movie Schooling" – teaching with film! Not just educational films, per se, but movies ranging from quality Independent films, to mainstream cinema.

We'll look at some online resources, lesson plans, and talk about how to use almost any movie, and some particular movies, to teach across a variety of subjects. If you've got some favorite movies you'd like to share insights and ideas about, share them with us Monday night!

The Home Learning Network typically meets the first Monday of (most) months at the Jimmy Keel Public Library in Tampa. We have a different topic each month, or no topic at all, and conversation ranges across all homeschool and educational

So join us for a fun, free evening of camaraderie, discussion and great
educational ideas, at Jimmy Keel Public Library at 2902 West Bearss Avenue , Monday, January 3, at 7PM.