Thursday, August 09, 2018

Repost: The important things. . .

I was thinking about life skills today, and remembered this post from two years ago.  It was a good reminder.

Our oldest son is autistic and we are currently in the process of looking at group homes for him.  We went to look at one the other day.  I walked in and and I honestly was appalled.  The place had window air conditioners, and there was a big space I could fit my hand through to the outside next to the unit.  I asked the house manager and she was like "oh... we hadn't noticed that".  The place smelled moldy, the air conditioning unit in the room we were looking at did not work, the place was filthy, the carpet was disgusting, and she had not bothered to wipe the table we were all sitting at to talk.  When we left the apartment the house manager accidentally pulled the handle off the door.  Clearly the handle had been broken for some time but she acted like she had no idea this had happened.  Remember they get state and federal money to keep these places up and staffed appropriately.  I was taken aback.



But, then I got to thinking... there are at least five other hourly workers here.  She is in charge, and there are three people in charge above her.  Has someone not noticed that things are so bad?  I know at one time they were better because our case worker had seen the place five years ago and it was fine.  Didn't someone think to report this?  Didn't someone think it would be a good idea to clean?  Didn't someone notice that there was a big hole that birds and insects and rain and snow could get through?  Did this not bother anyone??

Then I thought about our home education (stay with me).  All those skills we teach our kids every day.  We have them do chores, we teach them to be polite, to right wrongs, tell us when things are broken, and to treat people with respect and dignity.  All of those skills that somehow can seem less important in the rush to do math problems, correct spelling, or write a well thought out paper.

But at the end of the day, doing more math problems really would not right this situation, or even correct spelling.  No one from the CEO to the hourly worker had enough sense to look in on this building that is falling apart and say, "Hey, things are not good here."  People with disabilities should not have to live in squalor.  No one should.

So as you go about your home education day, correcting your students, reminding them of the importance of good habits, teaching them to care for all people, and instilling values in them, remember that this is important work.  Sometimes it feels like we battle to instill good study and work habits and almost never get to academics.  But, that is not true.  All the work you do all day is valuable.   Sometimes it seems like we have to get through work habits and how we treat others to get to the real issue of math.  I believe that is not true.  These are really important skills that lead to helping our student complete work.  We can not see teaching those as less important.  They are crucial not only to our children, but those around them in the future.

Who knows.  Maybe someday your student will be the one who stands up for someone who can not stand up for themselves. They will remind others to be on time, and show them what a hard worker looks like.  And luckily, they will also be able to do the math to show them the cost of neglect.

~Becky

photo credit: over you via photopin (license)

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Under Construction . .

I am doing a blog redesign at Ohio Homeschool Assessments!  I am excited for a new look.  During the next week things will start to look different.  Let me know what you think!

Becky




Thursday, July 19, 2018

Repost: Assisted Reading with Developing and Struggling Readers.

I always get questions about how to help students with reading.  This is one of my favorite's for helping with reading.  

I have been reading a very interesting book called The Fluent Reader by Timothy V. Rasinski.  He has an interesting chapter on how to help students learn to read who are developing readers or struggling readers.  I knew all of the methods that he mentioned, but he backed up his methods with research and more effective strategies then I have seen in the past.



He discusses Paired Reading.  Paired reading is essentially where a more proficient reader, either a parent/teacher and child, older student and child, or two children read together.  Paired reading should be about 10-20 minutes at a time at least five times a week. It is recommend that the less proficient  student should be able to read 90-95 percent of the material accurately for this instruction to be the most effective.  The student and teaching reader read to together side by side.  The student follows along with his/her finger.  It is recommended that if the text is harder the teacher should read a little louder and match your reading rate to push the student.  If the text is easier then the teacher should use a quieter voice and provide less support.  When the passage is finished the teacher and the student should chat about the reading. The student should be allowed to read independently if they would like during this process.  This is really nothing new to home educators.  But what excited me was where he talked about a research study where the majority of students who participated in paired reading at least five times a week made 6 months of reading progress in six to ten weeks. (Limbrick, McNaugthon, & Cameron, 1985).  I have a video below that demonstrates this.

   The other interesting study was that which revealed the positive gains that students made when listening to audio books while following along in the text.  Students who did not follow along in the text did not make the kind of gains as those who did.  Here is an article that discusses the gains students made and some resources for audio books.  Here is another article that discusses the benefits for all readers. With many kids at many different reading levels my students often listen to audio books.  We mostly use the public library for their audio books and downloadable digital books.  I renewed my commitment to having them follow along in the book after reading these articles.

The last intriguing idea was that students who watched closed captioned programming made gains in reading.  At my house we turn on the closed captioning because there are so many loud people in our house making it challenging to hear a movie or show.  My students were pretty excited about this!

I am hopeful this helps you with some specific ways to help your struggling or developing readers.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Homeschool Planet

When two of my friends who quite honestly are vastly different told me that they used Homeschool Planet I thought that was interesting.  I should have stopped right at the moment and realized that this was something I needed to take notice of.  Instead, I foolishly delayed looking into it.

But luckily, I am no longer foolish.  This spring I took the plunge and did a free trial of Homschool Planet from the Homeschool Buyers Co-op.  Within 3 days I purchased a year subscription which they added on to my 30 day trial.  It changed my life. Truly!

The Homeschool Planet is an online planning, calendar, and scheduler.  It is a way for you to post the lessons that your students need to complete AND more importantly at my house, know whether people have actually completed them!

I love this!  I pull up my view and say things like. . . Why is math not completed?  I am confused as to why you have not done that for two days?  Hmm, it looks like you will be doing math on Saturday.   I also say things like, WOW!  You completed all your work today. Look at how close we are to the end!  I am so proud of you!

The other part that has been powerful for my students is that it has the feature of moving all the assignments forward.  My students began to understand that not doing something adds it on to the end of the year.  It was a good visual reminder.

You can also add music practice, track grades, put your vacations in, send your students an email with their assignments, and much more.


So this would be a great time to try a free trial.  They are also giving away a free lesson plan with purchase.   I HIGHLY recommend it.