Friday, May 20, 2016

Repost: Q & A for Narrative Assessments

It is that time of year where I post past helpful articles on end of the school year topics. 
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 are your notes?  
I simply write some encouraging thoughts for you and your student about the main subjects.  You do not send these to your district.   My notes are optional, and  I will stop writing them after July 15, 2016 for this year.  I started this as a way to give feedback to families.  Some families love them, and others are fine either way.  You will not hurt my feelings if you say no to the notes.  :-)  I go much faster without notes if you need a quicker turnaround. 

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. )

 Would you rather I send you my material by email or postal mail?

It makes absolutely no difference to me.  Really. ☺  Do whatever is easiest for your family.  I am happy to accommodate you either way. 

 What digital files can you read?

I am able to open PDF, Word, and JPEG files.  If you have a Macintosh computer your best bet is PDF.  I do have trouble when people send me zipped Mac files.  I also can NOT read Works files. 

  How should I send digital files to you?

First, you should group them by subject.   I need all the math together, writing together, etc.  You can send them by email, you can upload them to Dropbox, you can share a Google file with me, and you can share with me on Google Plus privately (so only I can read it).  You can send me a disk or memory stick with your files on it as well.  There are many options.

 Can you help me figure out how to home educate or fill out the Letter of Intent?

At this time I am not helping my families home educate or fill out Letters of Intent.  I only review portfolio assessments.  My blog is filled with helpful tips, and I have a post on filing out the Letter of Intent to Home Educate.

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.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Submarines, Secrets & A Daring Rescue a book review.

As the colonies continue their battle for independence from the British, Ambrose and John Clark, 15-year old twins with a sense of true patriotism and adventure, strike out on another secret mission during the American Revolutionary War in Submarines, Secrets and a Daring Rescue. Join the brothers as they man a mission on one of the first submarines and even bravely attempt to rescue some prisoners of war. 
In this second book in the American Revolutionary War Adventure series, Submarines, Secrets, and a Daring Rescue, twins Ambrose and John Clark find themselves volunteering for another mission to help the newly forming United States. Inspired by their success in delivering a secret message to General George Washington himself, the boys step up to help transport much-needed gunpowder to the patriots and end up in an even more dangerous situation, trying to man one of the first submarines and then, later, attempting a prison break to rescue one of their older brothers.   
My kids and I enjoyed the second book in this series, Submarines, Secrets, and a Daring Rescue, as much as we enjoyed the first.   My 12 year old son  asked me if he could borrow the book and read ahead.  He could not wait to find out what happened, and told me it was gripping.  He told me the book has familiar character with a brand new adventure.  The authors captures the danger of that time so eloquently.

The book starts off with the Clark twins, Ambrose and John Clark, trying to sneak into a gunpowder factory.  This time their older brother is there to make sure they do not get into too much trouble.  The book follows the adventures of the boys as they are trained to drive one of the first submarines, smuggle gunpowder,  rescue their brother, and all the while watching out for an old foe.   

I enjoyed all of the historical information in the back of the book.  There were letters, a glossary of terms and historical research. The authors have an amazing web site with more information, historical facts, certificates, and posters to print.  We had a lot of fun exploring the web site and reading more about the time period.
My kids and I highly recommend this book!  A great way to bring history to life!  

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising

Friday, May 06, 2016

Repost: Standardized Test or Portfolio Review

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.  

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Cincinnati Used Curricullum Sale


2016 CHEC Used Curriculum and Book Sale
Saturday, May 14, 2016
9:00 am - 12:00 pm (Doors open at 8:30 am for sellers only)
Friendship Baptist Church
8580 Cheviot Rd
Cincinnati, OH 45251

Click  here for more information.  

Questions?  Send a note to .  Please do not call the Church.