Monday, January 30, 2012

Being intentional in the world of non-fiction.

Teaching children to successfully read non-fiction is often a forgotten skill.  It seems like we think if they can read fiction. . . they certainly should be able to read non-fiction.  That is not necessarily true.  Learning to read non-fiction is an important skill that we need to help our children develop. 
Below are a  a few ideas that may be helpful.

For preschool, kindergarten, elementary students I recommend simply reading non-fiction to them and talking to them about what you have read together.    Some further ideas to  help with comprehension would be to have your student  draw pictures of what they have read, write a one or two sentence summary, or tell you what the passage was about. (narration).

For Kindergarden/first grade students you can make a simple list of what they want to learn about a topic before they read a book.  That gets the student to actively engage their mind before reading.  Check the list at the end to see if any of the questions were answered.

A more advanced method for older students is the KWL chart.  There are different variations, but this is a basic one.  Write what you know about a topic, what you would like to know about a topic, and after you have read what you have learned.  I think it is a very good method to reading non-fiction.

Another graphic organizer for Elementary and middle school is the super six method.  The student writes down six things they have learned while reading a non-fiction text.   I would let the student know you will be asking them to do this after they finish reading a selection before they read it.

Lastly, for junior high students and high school students a great method for reading a text book is the SQR3.  SQR3 stand for Survey, Question, Read, Recite, and Review.  This article discusses the method in detail and is a great resource.  I think it is very helpful for high schoolers to have a plan when reading a text book.  We often assume our students can do this when they are not sure where to even start.  I believe this is an essential skill for older students to learn. 

Hopefully this is a good place to start.  Being intentional and teaching our students how to read non-fiction is critical to their education.  It is a skill they will carry with them throughout their lives.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The year is halfway over!!! Part 2

I wanted to write some ideas on what you can do if you realize that you're not going to make it through your curriculum.  Just some suggestions.

1.  Look through the curriculum, and find some parts you can skip.    Does your student already know a part fairly well you can skip?  Can you take some end of the chapter test and use that information to determined what parts you can skip?    Did you cover another part last year that you can skip?

2. Continue the curriculum through the summer.  We do math all year.  It seems that stopping math doesn't help at our house.  Sometimes doing something even 2-3 days per week in the summer will get you through. 

3.  Continue the curriculum through the next year.  Sonlight cores can be done in 18 months.

4. Double up on some parts.    For instance do two worksheets only doing every 2nd or 3rd problem on each one.  This is a good thing to do if you want your student to not completely skip something and review a topic being covered. .

5.  If it involves reading books, maybe get some on CD or downloads  from the library for some of the books covered.  Your student still gets the exposure, but it moves along faster.  Maybe listen to them in the car or while you are at an appointment.

6.  Can you substitute a one day field trip for a topic?  Can you carry that topic to the next year?

I am sure there are many more ideas.  You know your student best, and can determine what they need.


Monday, January 16, 2012

The year is halfway over!!! Part 1

  I think this is that moment in time for everyone where you realize the year is halfway over and chances are, you're not going to make it through your curriculum, or all you intended to study this year.  This can be a feeling of complete panic.  What will you do?  Will your child graduate?  Will you be in trouble with someone, the state, your mother, the national board of registered homeschoolers??  The good news is you're not in trouble (as I am sure you know).   The curriculum police will not come to your door.  You will even be able to move your child up at the end of the year.

I wanted to start by sharing a story from my first year of teaching.  I was terrified that I had to finish the social studies book.  I figured if I didn't, I'd be in big trouble.  As goofy as this sounds now.  I paced the whole thing out.  I had those kids jumping.  It was a 4th grade social studies curriculum where they had to learn about all the regions of the United States of America and the states within each region.  I got through all the regions and we learned about all 50 states.  I was done on time and figured I might be able to keep my job in Georgia.  I remember telling the principal that I had accomplished  this.  She looked at me with sheer amazement.  I told my fellow forth grade teachers.  They smiled, laughed, and said "We're just doing our best.  If we don't get to South Dakota, we really don't think it is a big deal."  I would be lying if I told you I was not surprised.

But honestly, all their students were fine in both classes.  I am fairly confident that it made little difference in the long run.  I pretty much stressed myself out and probably my students for nothing.  You see, most teachers do not get through the whole curriculum in each subject every year.    There are too many other things that come up along the way, they spend more times on certain parts, and there is simply not enough time.  Plus, the secret that I learned from my veteran colleagues was that curriculum are made by people.  They are not sent down from heaven and carved in stone like the Ten Commandments.  They are suggestions.  They are what a group of educators think a child that age should get through in a year.  They also give you more work than you can get through to look challenging and not leave you hanging in April.  They are made by fallible people.  They are really just suggestions.

Next week I will give you some ideas on what to do to sort out what is important.  Of course, they will also just be suggestions.

Friday, January 13, 2012

New Forms posted

January is a great time of year to start preparing for an end of the year assessment. You will appreciate anything you get done now in May.   Some simple things you can do.

1.  Try finding samples and putting them in a file folder.

2. Write down some accomplishments your student has made.  (put in above folder. )

3.  Take some pictures of projects your student has accomplished so far. 

4. Have your student do a writing sample and copy it.  Maybe copy a thank you note, or a list they have made, or maybe a story they have written.

5. Download the forms you need here and begin saving samples.  

Celebrate how far you have come this year!

All the best,

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The winner is. . . . .

Thank you so much to everyone who entered the contest.  I really appreciate all the support.  
The two winners are  Judy (homeschool penguin) and Laura Phelps!  Congratulations!

Please contact me for your 'you won' certificate. I hope they're a help to your family.

Please contact me if I can help you in anyway this year.  It's a dreary day here, but I know the tulips will shortly be emerging and it'll be time to finish up the school year.

Enjoy the day!!


Monday, January 02, 2012

Announcing Narrative Assessment Contest

This contest has ended.  Thanks

Happy New Year!  I wanted to start the year off by  giving  away two FREE   Assessments (valued at $30.00 each)  on January 12, 2012 at noon.    These assessments are the Assessments that I complete  for Ohio homeschoolers to fulfill requirement 3301-34-04 Academic Assessment Report Option #2.      You may redeem your prize anytime between March 1, 2012  and August 31, 2012.  
Here is how you can enter.  Please leave a way for me to contact you as well.  

Required for Entry--

1.  Become a Google  follower or let me know you are one and then leave a comment below.  (directions to do this are at the bottom of this email. )

Additional Entries:

2. Post this contest on Facebook or Twitter and let me know in a comment. 

3. Post about this contest on a home school email loop or yahoo group and leave me a  comment.

4. Became an email subscriber( Follow by Email)  to this blog and leave me a comment letting me know you did. 

5. Blog about our contest and let me know in a comment. 

Please leave a separate comment for each of the above items that you complete.  You may have up to 5 entries.  I  will choose 2 comments  randomly to determine the winners.  

I am very excited  about this contest, and hope it helps 2 families out in 2012.  Thanks for reading and I wish you the best of luck!!   

Let the contest begin!
 PS  How to become a follower.
To become a follower--Under "Thank you for following! "   on the right hand side is a button that says  FOLLOW.  Click on that button and follow the steps to set up a Google account.  If you already have a Google account then use that one to sign in.    It will lead you through the steps.  Then come back and click on the word  COMMENT under this post.  A new window will open.  Scroll down to the end and write "I am following" in the box.  Follow the directions to post.  If you have have trouble please email me at for help.