Sunday, May 26, 2013

Written Narrative Q & A

Ohio homeschool law states "The parent(s) shall send to the superintendent an academic assessment report of the child for the previous school year at the time of supplying subsequent notification."  A parent in Ohio has three choices on what they may send a with their homeschool notification.  1). Results of a nationally normed, standardized achievement test.  2) A written narrative indicating that a portfolio of samples of the child’s work has been reviewed and that the child’s academic progress for the year is in accordance with the child’s abilities. (3) An alternative academic assessment of the child’s proficiency mutually agreed upon by the parent and the superintendent. (please note my understanding is that you would have needed to work this out with your superintendent last year when you sent in your homeschool notification.)

A written narrative is an option for an assessment report.  You have a certified Ohio teacher review work samples of your student's work to determine if your child has made progress in accordance with his/her ability last year.  The assessor then signs a form verifying that your student has  made progress, and you send that form to your school's superintendent along with your intent to homeschool the coming  year.

I am a homeschool mom who is also a certified Ohio teacher.  I am able to review your child's work samples, send you some encouraging notes, and send you the forms you need to send to your school district with your intent to home educate.    I enjoy reviewing work samples and love getting a chance to see the many different ways people home educate their children.  The following are a few common questions I hear in regards to narratives.

What if my student  is not reading?
You may send me a list of books you have read aloud  to your student, maybe the progress they have made in a phonics program,  and/or how many sight words that they know now as compared to the beginning of the year. 

What if I do not have physical samples that are easy to send to you?
You are welcome to take a picture,send me a link to a YouTube video, or write up what your student learned in that area.  I have enjoyed power point presentations, pictures of field trips and community gardens, and wonderfully written explanations about unit studies and cooking projects.  If you have questions on how to communicate what your student accomplished, please contact me.

What are you looking for?
I am looking for progress. I like to see that your student is completing  more complex math problems than he/she did at the  beginning of the year, I look at handwriting and writing samples to observe growth, and learn a great deal about your student from looking at the books they are reading now as compared to the ones they read in beginning of the year. I look at how your student has changed.   I do not look to see if you completely finished your history text book, made at least one salt relief map of a continent, and/or  if your bookshelves are organized by the Dewey Decimal system.  I am looking  for progress in your student by viewing his/her work samples.    (But, if your bookshelves are organized that way I would love to see a picture and know how you did it. )

I want to support you on your  home education journey.  I greatly enjoy helping other homeschool families. Let me know if I can help you this year!  Click here for how to get started.

Becky Boerner
Mom to 7 home educated children,  M Ed. in Reading Education.

Another  post  I have written dealt with standardized testing vs. a written narrative.  You may enjoy reading  if you are still pondering on what you would like to do for this year.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Narrative or Standardized Test

Repost   In case you are still trying to decide what to do. . .

A question I receive often is “Should I give my home educated student a standardized test at the end of the year, or complete a narrative portfolio assessment to fulfill the end of the year requirement for homeschooling in Ohio?”   I usually reply it depends on what kind of information you hope to gain.   One way to look at this question is to think “Do you want one picture of one moment in time, or a running movie with many pictures taken over time? “
A standardized test is a “snapshot “of a student at one moment in time.  A standardized test is scored in a consistent manner so you are able to compare your student to a group of students in the same grade who have taken the same test.  You usually receive a percentile ranking which tells you what percentage of the students taking the test your student scored better than.  For instance, if your student was in the 33rd percentile in math then your child scored better than 33 percent of students in the sample group from the publisher who took this test in math.
A standardized test is limited in that it is more likely to tell you what your student does not know versus what they do know or have learned this year.  A standardized test also dictates what the publisher feels is important for your student to know.  It does not take into account what your student has learned this past year.
A narrative portfolio assessment is a group of work samples that reflect your student’s growth and progress over the last year.   It consists of many “snapshots” that come together to reflect what your student has accomplished this year.  You, as parent educator, get to showcase what your student has accomplished this year.
Besides celebrating what your student has accomplished, a portfolio also helps you to plan instruction for the next year.   For instance, you realize you concentrated on learning your math facts, but did not spend as much time learning how to solve word problems.   Next year, you commit to working on more problem solving.  You look at your book list and notice that your student has mainly read adventure stories this past year.  You commit to introducing him/her to biographies, non-fiction, and /or some poetry next year to vary his/her reading diet.   I believe this is time well spent.  You are assessing your student’s needs and planning instruction based on those needs.
A narrative portfolio assessment also gives you a chance to present what your child has accomplished to a certified Ohio teacher.  My hope is that when I review your student’s work I bring a different “set of eyes” to your student’s portfolio.   As an assessor, I try to provide encouragement to parents, insight into your student’s growth, and provide feedback to help you plan future instruction for your child.   My goal is to partner with you to celebrate your student’s accomplishments and encourage you on your home education journey.
Please click here to get started.  

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

You Can Do It Too! 25 Homeschool Families Share Their Stories

I came across the book You Can Do It Too!  25 Homeschool Families Share Their Stories and I was absolutely intrigued by the title.  I wrote the editor Lorilee Lippincott and asked for a title to review and share here.

The book exceeded my expectations.  It is filled with stories of many different families including big families, small families, families on bikes, unschooling families, families who follow a classical model, families who homeschool preschoolers, high school students, and everyone in between.

I am hoping this will be a book that will help others see that homeschooling can be a great option for their family. The book states: “We are not going to tell you what is best for you or your kids because we don’t know you or your options. The goal of this book is to let you see the nuts and bolts of what homeschool is and make sure you know it is an option for you.”  I love this sentiment.
The editor asks each family a variety of questions that help you get to know them better.  Everything from "Why did you decide to Homeschool?" and "What does your typical day look like?"  to "What animal does your child remind you of and why?"  There is truly something for everyone in this book.

I found myself renewed from reading the book as a seasoned home educator.  The book reminded me that everyone does not always have great days homeschooling, but it is important to remember daily why you have chosen to home educate.  I enjoyed seeing the variety of ways families home educate.   I am incorporating some of their ideas into our family. 

It comes in  Kindle format or Paperback.  You can check them out on Amazon.

Here is a list of the families included in the book in the order they appear.
This post contains an affiliate link.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Happy Mother's Day!

I became a mother on Mother's Day so it always holds a special place in my heart.   I remember when I held my son for the first time in a hotel room on an island in the middle of the ocean.  It was a moment that I will always hold in my heart. 

As we approach the end of the home school year, I know many of us are weary.   We have maybe not gotten done as much as we would like, probably are not very cheery, and our children are probably not always doing exactly what we had hoped.

But, today I hope that you go back and remember the first moment you held your child.  Whether in a hospital room, on an island, a hotel room, or in a lawyers office that moment when you become a parent.    When you knew your whole world was changing, and you were so thankful to hold your child.  

Today I am going to enjoy handmade cards, tiny fists with flowers, and foods that I like. Because truly it is a privledge to be a mom.

~ Becky

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Alice and Kizzie: Life's a Zoo

We are crazy about Alice and Kizzie.  Alice loves animals and has a five minute show monthly about animals with her lizard Kizzie.  The above video is the first episode of her show.  This is the link to her YouTube Channel with many more episodes.   

I think it would be a great enhancement to your science curriculum.