Sunday, July 26, 2015

Narrative Assessments for Ohio Homeschoolers



 I will be accepting narrative assessments,writing up encouraging notes, and sending you the form you need for your district  from March 1, 2015 through August 1, 2015. After August 1, 2015 I will review your portfolio and only send you the form you need for your district.    Thank you!  Becky ohiohomeschool@gmail.com

I am still accepting portfolios.  Please know I am running at least 5-8 days to write up notes at this moment.  You are welcome to ask for no notes, if you need it back faster.  Thanks so much! Becky 
I complete narrative assessments for Ohio homeschoolers for $30.  The Assessments are portfolio reviews by myself, a certified teacher, that fulfill the Ohio Home Education requirement for 3301-34-04 Academic Assessment Report Option #2.  
If you would like to begin the process start by downloading the forms for the Freestyle Assessment for unschoolers, the Self Reflection Assessment for K-8th grade, or the Self Reflection Assessment for High School for those who follow a subject curriculum. You fill out the forms, prepare the documentation, and sign them. Please email me for an instruction sheet ohiohomeschool@gmail.com that tells you where to mail them and answers some other questions. If you have trouble with the downloads, please email ohiohomeschool@gmail.com and I will email them to you.  Below are links  in Google Documents.   I am happy to help you so please contact me with any questions.

Thanks,
Becky Boerner

Freestyle Assessment in Google Documents
Self Reflection for K-8 in Google Documents
Self Reflection for High School in Google Documents.

Once you get there you need to do the following. 
If you click on the arrow button on the left hand side of the page you can download the file.
If you click on the print button you can print it out.

PS: If you can not access these files, try the links above in the document.  If you still can not access the documents, please email me and I will send you the files.  I am happy to do that! 

I also accept PayPal, Check, or Money Orders (Contact me for more information.  Many families send me checks or money orders through the mail. ) 
Click on the arrow for pricing for 2 or more reviews.


Portfolio Review(s)




Saturday, July 18, 2015

Guest Post: Travels with Charlie: A Geography Series by Lisa McAfee

Here is a guest post by Lisa McAfee.  Lisa blogs regularly at Schoolmarm Ohio.  She has graduated two boys through homeschooling. 



Travels with Charlie: A Geography Series
books"Who is Charlie?!" Charlie is the name of a cartoon character dog after which this series, written by Miles Backer, is named. I first saw this book on the internet and thought it would be a great resource for teaching younger students geography. Each page has some facts about the state and some questions to research, plus children must look at each page to locate Charlie somewhere on the page. It would be beneficial to have a map or atlas for your student as you discuss each state. Take your time with these books; I would suggest that you only do one state at a time and not rush through. I am going to spotlight some states by giving you activities and a craft to accompany your reading. If you are interested in purchasing the books or seeing more information, click on the individual titles listed below.
Our first stop is Alaska! How about printing a map of Alaska so your student(s) can color and label it? Here is a website with a collection of various maps of Alaska to color. CLICK HERE
Alaska is bigger than Texas, California, and Montana combined. And we thought Texas was big! You will find more interesting facts to read by clicking here
Time for Kids has information on the area, the people, and the animals of Alaska.
Tennessee, the home of Ruby Falls Cavern, is sure to be a springboard for a study on caves and caverns.  Have you ever heard of cave popcorn, soda straws, or cave bacon? Here are pictures and facts for the various formations found in caves. CLICK HERE
How about making a cave in a cup? Sometimes it is hard to explain how water can eat away at rock, but this activity is perfect for showing the effects of acidic water on limestone. CLICK HERE
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The beautiful state of Maryland is one of the states featured in this book. Did you know there is a Miss Crustacean Beauty Pageant held there? In honor of this event, your student can make a crab craft.
As you can see, there are all kinds of activities and lessons you can do with your child when going  on an adventure with Charlie. Have a good time, and don't get lost! :)

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Guest Post Kendra Barrow: Part 2-The Post-it System and Tracking Your Progress




Homeschooling can be quite daunting. Where to start? What material to use?

My first few years of homeschooling were spent using various curriculums that came in a box put together by an expert. These “experts” knew what they were doing and had figured out all the age appropriate mental stimulus for my children. Right? The problem was that I was so. Stressed. Out. And this was only preschool! How in the world could I check off all the boxes on the expert’s list? Every day was a chore, and I kept falling further and further behind. Every week made me more anxious: I felt like a failure – already! – at homeschooling.

Thankfully, I connected with a parents’ support meeting where a wise homeschooling mom almost 10 years ahead of me said 6 little words that changed my life. “Throw out the Notebook of Doom!”

She told me to put the good books on a shelf and read them when we wanted. Not in any order. Not according to a checklist. That sage wisdom changed everything for me. For the first time, I just enjoyed reading good books to my children for the pleasure of it. We were happy and relaxed. Perfect.

Fast forward several years: I became more confident in my ability to homeschool. I started using other people’s booklists as scaffolding to guide me but created my own curriculum plan (see Part 1). Enter Problem #2 and #3! By throwing out the Notebook of Doom, I had no way of holding myself accountable (thus Math became the subject that happened once in a while) and I had no way of tracking what I HAD accomplished. That spontaneity might work for preschool, but I needed more structure once I had grade school children that needed portfolios of their schoolwork. 

Introducing: the Post-it System! I took an idea from a friend and re-shaped it to work for me. Each subject I hoped to cover IN A WEEK’S TIME was written on a post-it note. I put our main subjects on green and our enrichment/short projects on blue. Let’s say I planned on 3 home days (2 were spent outside the home at co-op and field trips). I created 3 green post-its and 3 for handwriting because those were subjects I wanted to cover every day we were home. I made a post-it for spelling, poetry, science, writing, literature, and history/geography because those were subjects I wanted to cover every week.

The subjects that are enrichment work better as short projects for me so I put them on blue post-its. As the years have gone by, I try to limit myself to 10 of these short-term projects. At some point in the year, I want to study an artist, a composer, some health, and etc.

Each school day I would tell my children to pick out 4-5 green post-its (main subjects) and 1 blue post-it. My children choose what they want to do and in what order. I found that they really enjoy the independence and freedom of choice. I found that I have peace of mind know that the important things will be covered sometime that week. Who cares whether science happens on Tuesday or Friday?! I also found that as long I keep my post-its to a reasonable amount for a week, it is wonderful to have the flexibility to crank through 8 subjects on a good day and 2 on a “bad” school day. 

I reuse the same post-its all term long. On Mondays, every post-it goes back to the starting area. As the school days progress through the week, the post-its get moved to the week’s planning grid. I bought mine from Post-it, but you could easily make your own.

But what about the tracking problem? If I keep reusing my Post-it notes, how do I ever know what I did two weeks ago? Or back in April? Here’s the trick: on Fridays, I write down what I did that week. Originally, I used a Teacher’s Weekly Planner from Staples. Now, I’ve graduated to a handy dandy form that I made in the computer. But there is no need for it to be complicated. Just write down what you did: this history picture book, those math worksheets, a few poems, etc. I also save all of my children’s paperwork in a binder. OK, honestly, sometimes I store the papers on TOP of the binder and stick it IN the notebook at the end of the year!


After 7 years of homeschooling, these are the tools that have helped me avoid pain at the end of the school year and keep my joy during it.


Kendra Lane Barrow spent her childhood years in beautiful Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where she cultivated a love for solitude, books, and nature.  She is the author of a devotional book of prayer-poems and several Sunday School series written for children. As a graduate from Ohio State University with a B.A. in English Literature, Kendra’s excited to report that she is finally using that degree while home educating her children for the last seven years, and teaching literature and language arts for middle school and high school. She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband and two children.
 

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Homeschool Planning Tools Part 1: Guest post by Kendra Barrow

Kendra has worked with me for many years.  She has always sent me a wonderful planning tool that she uses to plan her year.  I asked her if she would be willing to share her wonderful tool.   She graciously agreed and her thoughts are below.  Next week she will have more planning thoughts!  Stay tuned!  

It is that dreaded time for homeschoolers: the planning of next school year! Parents break out in a cold sweat. Sometimes the pain is put off until the beginning of September and then there’s a mad scramble to find the perfect curriculum. Or you are like me… If books are like food for the brain, I keep “overeating” when I try to make a new plan for the year. I tend to be unrealistic as to how much can actually be done in a day, week, or school year.

I’ve created a planning tool that has been helping me be more realistic.  Perhaps it would help you too?  I start by printing off a blank copy of this planning tool “All Year Plan – At a Glance”. It contains blank boxes for all of the subjects my school district requires, in addition to topics such as Bible, Character, and Life Skills that are important to me in educating my children. The school year is divided into three terms of 11 or 12 weeks each, but the plan is such that you can see the entire year at one glance. For sanity’s sake, I ALWAYS take the summer off!

Step 1 – I look over my book shelves and start filling in the plan with what I already have! Hopefully that prevents me from buying another grammar book or math curriculum when I have a perfectly good one sitting on the shelf.

Step 2 – I concentrate on the “biggies” first. History, Math, Science, Language Arts, etc. If I’m using the same book more than one term, I write it in each term’s box.

Step 3 – For “enrichment” subjects, I try to space them out throughout the year, rather than feeling an internal obligation to do every subject every term.  I have found that we get bored doing a little bit of three books all year.  Instead, I might study a composer one term, an artist one term, and Shakespeare another term.  The whole family enjoys a fresh start at the beginning of each term, and I find that I am “finishing” more subjects.

Step 4 – Lastly, in order to complete any blank spots, I look over notes (okay, more like a bunch of post-it notes) where I wrote down names of books my friends recommended that I’ve been wanting to try.  If I have seven suggestions for science for the new school year, I pick one title and save the rest of post-its for decision time next year!

                I find that looking at the whole year helps me to get perspective and be more objective about what is realistic.  The goal is that someday I would use everything I’ve already bought!

                An additional note about enrichment subjects: I am trying something new this year where I’ve picked 8 enrichment subjects or books I’d like to do and numbered them in my plan. When the school year starts, I’ll pick one to include with my other “Biggie” subjects. It might take 4 weeks to complete, or 12 weeks. When I finish one enrichment topic, I will start on the next.  Again, I’m doing this to help myself be more realistic about how much we can accomplish.

                Also, at the end of the year, I re-type up the plan using what we actually did (not what I hoped to do) and put it on the cover of the notebook I use to store all the paperwork from that year. I have found that this “At at Glance” summary of my year helps me when filling out the portfolio assessments for Becky Boerner to review.

                I hope this is helpful and wish you the best as you embark on a new school year!


Kendra Lane Barrow spent her childhood years in beautiful Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where she cultivated a love for solitude, books, and nature.  She is the author of a devotional book of prayer-poems and several Sunday School series written for children. As a graduate from Ohio State University with a B.A. in English Literature, Kendra’s excited to report that she is finally using that degree while home educating her children for the last seven years, and teaching literature and language arts for middle school and high school. She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband and two children.