Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ending 2011 Announcing Contest for January 3

It's so hard to believe that in another 18 days or so the 2011 will be over.  I'm not sure how it happened. It seems like the year has just begun.  I hope you're enjoying the last of 2011 with your children.   

I want to announce that I will have a free narrative giveaway starting on January 3, 2012.  Please be sure to drop by to enter the contest.  I will be giving away  two assessments for the 2011-2012 school year. The information to enter will be posted on January 3rd.  Please spread the word.

This will be my last post for the year.  I'm spending the holidays getting ready for baby #7.  We're having a little boy on January 24, 2012, and are so excited!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!


Monday, December 05, 2011

Things to do in December!

    "December is one of those months that is so crazy you forget how crazy it is until it comes around again." 
A lovely women whom I used to teach with in Georgia.

I find the above statement to be so true.  Convincing children to work during December can be a challenge. Their minds seem to be elsewhere.   There are certainly many ways to cope with this.  I thought I would share a couple of things we do or have done to get through the month.

This is a great time to finish unfinished projects.  Maybe that half finished log cabin, the time line that is missing a few spots, or an unfinished writing project.

Take a field trip.  It's fun to get out and experience something new.

Do a service project.  Collect caned foods for a local shelter.  Have your children clean out their old toys, clothes, and other things to give to charity.   Make Christmas cards for residents of nursing homes, soldiers overseas, or those who are homeless.  Call a local  ministry and ask them if they need any help for an afternoon or morning and volunteer.  Clean an elderly neighbor's home or put up their Christmas lights. 

Do "School Lite".  I posted about this last year.  

Bake goodies and review cups, tablespoons, liters etc.  Measure things around your house and record them.

Clean out your school area to be ready for a fresh start in January. 

Hopefully this will get you started.  Below is a picture of my children making cards for the residents of Amsa a special needs orphanage in S. Korea.  My brother was gathering Christmas cards to send to the children.  He had at one time been a resident. 

Let me know any great ideas that you have.  The month is still really young and I am looking for things to do.  


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Celebrating homeschooling!

We have two tubs of Chistmas/winter books we bring out at this time of year.  My kids have always been excited, but I took note this year on how excited they were.  It was like time stood still.  Everyone grabbed a book and began to read after we brought them out of storage.  Old favorites were read and new books discovered.  It was one of those moments where I decide to celebrate homeschooling.  I realized my children have developed a love of books, and that gave me deep satisfaction.  It's easy to doubt what we do sometimes.  Is it working?  Do my kids know enough?  Is it worth it?  I took these pictures to remind myself that yes it is working, and yes it is worth it. I am cultivating life long learners who love to read.  
Take some time to celebrate today what is working in your homeschooling.  It's easy to get lost in the agenda, and forget about what is important (at least for me).
Enjoy the day!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fun Finds: Math books

I have a fun find.  I was at my favorite thrift store in Cincinnati.  I was looking through the books and came across an entire set of Miquon math books.  I was so excited.  This is one of my favorite math programs.  They were less than $1 each. It was the find of finds.  Who would have thought this would be in a thrift store?   I guess you never know.

Proof of actual purchase :-)
Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Interesting Article on Phonics

I am back.  My husband was out of town last week, and we were pretty excited to make it through the week.  We did have some great chances to play in the leaves. 

I am taking a class to keep up my Ohio certificate.  We had this article in class.  It is a nice article that describes phonics instruction.  I thought it might be helpful.  I will finish up my reading series in the next few weeks with a post on vocabulary.

Hope you are enjoying the first day of November.  We have a beautiful sunny day here.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Go play in the leaves!

This is one of my favorite times of the year to be homeschooling.  There is something incredibly fun about going outside on a weekday with your kids, and knowing that kids who happen to be in school can not do that. You get to do what so few are able to do. 

I still remember the first year we homeschooled.  I felt so free.  I was great to have the time with my kids doing something simple.  I treasure those pictures and the memories.

It is easy at this time of year to worry about not getting enough done, are you covering everything you should be covering, and wondering if you are doing all you could be doing.  I recommend you leave those worries inside, and remember that one of the reasons you homeschool is to be with your kids.  Do not let this season slip away.  It will be gone before you know it. 

So my recommendation is to pick up your camera and take everyone outside to play in the leaves.  You won't regret it.


Thursday, October 06, 2011

Developing a sense of story.

A sense of story is understanding that stories have a beginning, middle, and end.   Students with this ability know stories have characters, a setting, a problem and a solution.  They know that a story has many events that lead to a climax and then usually wraps up and ends. 

So why is this important?  When a child has a sense of story they are more easily able to comprehend a new story.  They expect the story to follow a certain pattern. They are able to make predicitons to figure out what may be next in the story. 

One way to promote a sense of story is through story maps.  A story map is a written diagram you fill in for  a particular story.  I have found a few online that I thoguht you might enjoy using with your student.

For kindergarten and first graders you might want to start with a story structure map.  This one simply gives you a place for a beginning, middle, and an end.  You can model your thinking process the first few times to fill it in.  Then you might have your child dictate to you the answers.  

For Elementary students, here is a nice story map from Scholastic.  You read a story and then either have your student fill it out, or they can dictate answers to you.  If you have never done this before, then I would suggest just concentrating on one or two boxes for your first story.  Depending on how your child does, you can add other elements.  Another way is for you to fill it out completely modeling your thought process.  Talk about the map and fill it in expecting that your child will only listen.  I would model several times gradually having them share their answers.   How often would I do this?  I would not do it for every story you read or they read.  I would work on 1-2 times per week.

For older students this is a nice story map from Houghton Mifflin. It is a bit more complex.  I would use the same procedure discussed above.  I would take it slow and gradually add more of the responsibility to your student. This one is good for older kids as well.  

Lastly, I found this interactive story map for all ages from The National Council of Teachers of English  and The International Reading Association.  Click on the link to get started.  Follow the instructions to fill in the parts of the story.  I had fun playing around with it.

I am hoping that this gives you a place to start.  Developing a sense of story in your child is an effective way to develop reading comphrehension.

Happy Mapping!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Win a Math Game. . at my friend's blog

My friend Amy reviews so many wonderful items.  She is currently reviewing and giving away Math House Games.  This  math game looks wonderful.  It is pretty easy to win.  So check out Growing Fruit and the Math House Games. 
who loves contests and loves math. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Phonics: clucking and spitting. . .?

In college my reading teacher referred to phonics as clucking and spitting.  My classmates and I  thought that was pretty funny, and having little experience with phonics we did not realize how true that was.  I have spent many years clucking and spitting since then, and I do have more experience with phonics.

There are many phonics programs and most people are very attached to whichever one taught their child(ren) to read.  I heard Cheryl Lowe from Memoria Press share that people tend to keep trying different phonics programs with their kid, and the last one they try is their favorite.  When in reality their child was ready.   There is a great deal of truth in that.  I am going to share a few suggestions and a few programs that I know of.  The list is not all encompassing, and is just a place to start.  If you have one that is working hold on to it and stay with it.    For me it has been helpful to not rush out and buy them.  Almost all of them are available at the public library.  I have borrowed them to see if they were a good fit for my family.    In my opinion a program has to work for your child and also has to be one that you are comfortable with.  The following are some suggestions.  

Alpha Phonics Primer for Beginners  

This is my current favorite program.  It is very easy to follow and is very systematic.  I love the calligraphy print they use in the book.  It is your systematic intensive phonics program.  The front of the book has what your child reads and in the back they explain each lesson. 

 Phonics Pathways : Clear Steps to Easy Reading and Perfect Spelling
I have used this one as well.  I do like this one and it was the final program that helped my daughter learn to read.  Some people find this one hard to follow. Personally, I did not.  I liked the long lists and it was helpful for my daughter from China.  Definitely look at this one at the library before purchasing. 

The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading. 
Well, I will admit that I have this one as well.  I talked to Jessie Wise (the author) at a homeschooling convention, and she told me she wrote this for parents who have little or no experience in phonics.  She shared that she likes Phonics Pathways, but wanted something easier for parents to use.  This program also incorporates sight words nicely into the program.  This is a scripted program. 

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.
I do not own this book, but know many people who like it.  Cathy Duffy has a nice review here. It is not an expensive book and has a serious following.  It is also a scripted program.

I believe magnetic letters are helpful with any of these programs.  For some children moving around the letters and building the words helps them to connect to the text.  For example, you are working on the word family "am."  Below you have the letters "h, s, r, and p."  Have the child move each letter up to "build" the word and then pronounce it.  This is especially helpful with tactile kids.

This is my short list of what is out there.  I know different curriculum programs like Memoria Press, ABEKA , The  Phonics Museum (Veritas Press) , and Sonlight have phonics incorporated into their kindergarten programs.   So there are many options.

My last thought on any phonics program you choose is to work on it consistently.  It can be painful to sit with a child to which this is not an easy task.   I would recommend taking 10-15 minutes every morning working on a phonics program with them.  When the time is up stop, and move on to something else.  I think short consistent times are better than longer inconsistent ones.

I hope this is helpful.  Next week I will talk about helping your child become a good reader.  


Thursday, September 08, 2011

Reading Thoughts and Helps

I have enjoyed all the narratives I have read this summer.  I am always impressed by all that people accomplish in a year. As I complete narratives and talk to other homeschoolers a common theme I hear is in regards to reading is. . . .  How do I know my child is at grade level?  What do I do to make sure they have good comprehension?  My child only wants to read fiction, non-fiction, comic books etc.  I am not sure if they understand what they read.  Is there a good way to approach non-fiction texts?

I am going to spend the next few weeks on reading helps.  In my opinion there is a great deal out there on phonics programs, and decoding so I will talk only  briefly about that. This series will be on comprehension, sense of story, what do good readers do, non-fiction helps, and more.  If  there is something you would like me to cover, please leave a comment.

I think that people tend to  believe that teaching  reading stops once a child leans to decode.  I believe that is far from true, and the adventure is only beginning. So, here to our fall reading adventure!


Friday, September 02, 2011

Scheduling and Time Off!

We have done school "lite" the past two weeks.  School Lite consists of math, reading, and pursuing your own interests.  We have taken field trips, planned for next year, cleaned the house, cleaned our rooms, and helped dad clean up the outside of our house.  There is something about taking time off when the rest of the world is beginning their school year that feels so fun!
We have a schedule of 6 weeks on and 1 week off throughout the year.  For us it works well.  We occasionally take longer breaks like right now and around Christmas. 
I have also completed my new daily schedule.  I am pretty excited about it.  I am trying some new things.  I am going to start with schooling my little kids first.  I tend to run out of energy otherwise.  I have independent activities for my readers.  I am also assigning some of my older ones to help my younger ones more formally.  They seem to enjoy it, and it helps out day run smoother.
I will keep you updated on how it is going. Below is a picture of my new chart.  I must say it is bringing me lots of joy!
Have a good Labor Day weekend!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Planning for Next Year: Book of Lists

I enjoy learning more about homeschooling.   My grandmother who recently passed away last year continues to inspire me.  She took Belly Dancing and Bar Tending in her 70's and 80's. She went to different lectures on topics up until her death at age 95.  Once she  told a friend who did not want to go to a topic," What are you going to have to contribute if this topic comes up in conversation?"  I believe he was speechless. 
For me a great source of homeschooling information is the public library.  I went to the 371's in non fiction  and looked around on the shelves.  I found  The Homeschooling Book of Lists there.  I think it is worth a look from your library.  It is from 2008 so it is not the most up to date resource out there, but I did enjoy looking through it. It talks about many topics in homeschooling briefly.  It is a good springboard for learning new things.   
I also learned  they have a web site called the Homeschooling Link.   It is a resource I was not familiar with.  I just started to explore the site, and learned quite a bit.   I think my Grandmother would be proud of me.
Enjoy the week

Monday, August 15, 2011

A chance to win The Grace Card. . . at my friend's blog.

My friend Amy at Growing Fruit is giving away a copy of the DVD The Grace Card.   It is easy to enter.  You just leave a comment and a way to have her contact if you win.  Very easy!
So click on over for a chance to win.
Remember  "You can't win if you don't enter."
Enjoy your week,

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Planning for Next Year: Internet Safety

I found Internet Protect Your Kids:: Keep Your Children Safe from the Dark Side of Technology on my bookshelf.  It came in a package of books from a homeschool convention.  One of those books I always meant to read.  My kids are getting older and somehow it seemed more pressing.  One of my older sons is taking internet classes and I realized I needed to step it up here.

The book is slightly dated, but very helpful.  The technology has changed from 2007, but the safety issues remain the same.  We do have some measures in place in our home,  we have our online computers in the kitchen and we have the B-Secure Filter.   I think the book was a good reminder to review safety with my kids regularly.  I think the internet, wireless, and technology are such a part of their lives that I need to make technology safety issues a part of our curriculum for next year.   I felt like it needed to be more purposeful rather than just when I thought about it in between cleaning or helping someone do something.

So is there anything that you want to make more purposeful in your curriculum this year?  Now is the time to write it down and plan for it. 
Hopefully you have nicer weather to enjoy as well!


Friday, August 05, 2011

Fun Finds: Magnetic Board.

I had this idea for a new blog  category.  I am calling it "Fun Finds."  I love to yard sale and go to thrift stores.  I have found some great homeschooling materials when I least expect it.  I hope to post these throughout the year.    Here is my latest and greatest find.

Magnetic board easel  2 sides!  No fights. 

I found this magnetic easel at a church sale for $3.  The church had a school attached to it.  I found this on the way out the door.  I just looked over and it was calling my name.  I love how it has two sides for 2 kids to play on it at the same time.  I looked around on the web and found something similar here.    This is the same brand.  I think I did pretty well.
Happy hunting!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Planning for next Year: Advice from my mom.

I had the realization that something had to change.  I knew that we had to loose a few time commitments  this year, but that is easier said than done sometimes.    I thought "Is it the right thing for my kids?  Will they miss out?  Will this negatively impact them?  "   Maybe you know these questions too. The kind that keep  you up at night. 

I have shared that I grew up in a family with 19 children.   I am lucky to be able to go see my mom for advice.  She is a busy lady with many plates spinning.  People often ask me how she does it, and I say "I am  really not sure."  I told her what I was thinking and she gave me some good advice.
She said, " Becky, the only regrets I have on involvement are when I had too much going on.  I then felt like I was grouchy and tired with my kids.  I encourage you to let something go."  An interesting perspective from someone what has been parenting for 40 plus years.

So think about what you can "jettison" as my husband would say.  It might make for a better year. 
Happy Planning!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Article on my son. :-)

This is an article on my son.  I thought you might enjoy.  He asked me if he could teach a class at our local library on origami and make an exhibit.  They were very open and everything went from there. 
More tomorrow on planning.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Planning for Next Year: What can only you do? Where can you get help?

One of the questions I ask when planning  is "What can only I do?" There are activities, subjects, and skills that I can do, and others really can not fill.   But I can use assistance in certain subjects.   There are items on my learning agenda that I know I can use help with. 

I try to think what can I have someone or something else do.  I like to use computers to help with homeschooling.  For instance, I really do not like doing math facts with my children, or honestly any child.  I used to assign them to my student's parents when I taught school.   There is really no one to assign them to in my house.   Please note:  I have been trying.  Luckily, I discovered Facts First.  It is a computer program that teaches and reviews math facts.  It is available from the Homeschool Buyers Co-op.  The Homeschooler Buyers Co-Op has many interesting computer programs, group buys on books, and different interesting products for homeschoolers.  It was one of the first things I signed up for at my first homeschooling convention.  Maybe there is something there you can take off your to do list. 

So my thought of the week,  think about what you can get help with.  Here are a few more ideas that may or may not work with your situation.  I know that everybody's circumstances are so different.  Maybe an idea will lead you to an idea of  something that will help you.

1.  If you can not read every literature or history book in your program to your child, can your child listen to them on CD?  The library has many of these. 

2. Can online classes be helpful?  We love the math class my son takes through AOPS. 

3. Can a spouse or grandparent take something on?  My dad takes my son to OT(occupational therapy) every week.  They have fun and it helps me.  Have a spouse or grandparent read to your child. 

4. Can you hire a tutor for one subject or gather a group of homeschoolers to make up a class?

5. Is there  a class on DVD your student can take?  Is there a good DVD series they could watch each week?  You can check out so many from the public library.

6.  Could  your kids take turns reading to each other?  An older one reads to a younger one or vise-versa?  My kids enjoy this and it helps me tremendously.

7.  Is there a high school person who you may be able to hire to help you?

Just a list to get your started.  Hope it helps you find someone or something to help you. 

Happy Planning!

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Planning for Next Year: Links from John Hopkins CTY

I am trying to plan during the month of July.  I am searching out some new links and new ideas for next year.  We try to plan most of the year before August as it seems to make the year go more smoothly.  We do not plan in stone, but plan to give ourselves a road map.  We still take some detours and correct our route, but we try to aim for a destination.  Though that destination has a way of changing through the years.

In planning I found that the John Hopkins Center for Talented Youth has some wonderful links on their web site.  If you click here you will see the main page of links.   My favorite page of links was this one.  The resource page includes links  for twice exceptional children, links to articles, and publications.  I found it very helpful.   It had a wide variety of resources that is worth checking out if you have a gifted child, a child with a learning issue, or just to learn more about what is available online in the world of learning.

I hope your road map continues to develop and become more interesting.  For me a little planning everyday is more helpful than hours all at once.

Happy Planning!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Planning for next year: All through the Ages

We are trying to finish up our planning for next year.  I discovered this resource that I really like.   It is called All Through the Ages by Christine Miller.  I bought it it directly from the publisher Nothing New Press.  They also have an ebook version.  I noticed one of my favorite homeschool stores, Lamp Post Homeschool Store,   carries it too. 

It is a very helpful book for planning your history curriculum.  All Through the Ages is a compilation of over 5,600  living books and great literature arranged by chronological era, geographical region, and reading level from many  sources.   We like it with the many levels in our home. The book has a code system in the beginning as to where to buy the book she recommends. There are enough choices that you library is bound to have some of them.  

 If you follow this link and scroll to the end of the page you will see a link to PDF file that is an example from the book. I highly recommend this book.  I am going to leave you with a quote from her web page
Happy Planning.

from the web site.

All Through the Ages by Christine Miller is a guide for teaching and learning history using literature rather than textbooks. Textbooks make history boring, but history is full of excitement, adventure, and heart-wrenching drama. Bring the “story” back into “history” by using this exhaustive guide to over 7000 of the best in quality historical narratives, historical fiction, literature, and “living books”! With nothing more than a library card, parents or educators can effectively teach their children both World and American history using this guide. It doesn’t matter whether the children are pre-readers or college-bound seniors; books of every reading level are included for every era, from picture books and beginning readers through the great books of Western Civilization. The author is a college-educated homeschooling mother of three with thirteen years’ experience, who compiled this guide in response to the overwhelming need for an organized one-stop resource for teaching history using the literature approach.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Both Sides of the Barn Giveaway

I have been enjoying Home Educating Family magazine for the past year or so.  I really enjoy the articles and so does my husband.  They are having a giveaway where you can enter to win a 1 year subscription to Home Educating Family magazine, The Journey Home  ( Franklin Springs production),  the book Besides Still Waters by Tricia Goyer, and The Well Planned Day Planner.  
If you click here it will take you to a web page to enter.  Good Luck!

Enjoying Summer,

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Summer Fun: What we are reading

There is something about summer reading. Maybe knowing you can read outdoors, the light by your window is better, or staying up longer to read because the days are longer. It is just fun.  My kids are keeping track of books and minutes read this summer through our local library. They are very committed to winning, and getting prizes. I am fairly certain they got this from me.

So,  I have asked my kids to share what they are reading.  My son NB just finished The Coral Island.  This was his first Ballantyne book and he really enjoyed it.  It was a great adventure.  My son CB just finished The Seven Professors of the Far North. My daughter SB has been enjoying the Elsie Dinsmore series, and Marmaduke . My son JB is reading the  Biscuit storybooks, Dog's Don't Wear Sneakers, and The Bob Books set 2. 

My youngest daughters have enjoyed being read The Bee BookThe Quilt Story, and Pierre the Penguin.  

I just finished Dancing with Max by Emily Colson.  I loved it.  The best read on Autism I have read in a long time.  I highly recommend it.
So tell me what you have been reading??

Monday, June 13, 2011

Summer Fun: Origami clock

My son made this Black Forest Cuckoo-clock out of origami.  It is made by a 12x120 inch piece of paper.   We thought it might inspire you with your origami from our previous post.  Happy Folding!

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Summer Fun: Pen Pals

There is nothing like getting mail!  Especially the kind that involve stamps, envelopes, and paper. I have found that my kids are intrigued by it even in our electronic world.    My kids rush to the mailbox when they are expecting a letter, and excitedly rip open envelopes they receive.   This summer we have taken on  a few pen pals, and are enjoying our correspondences.   The following I hope will give you some ideas.

How do we find our pen pals?  We asked a homeschool co-op friend who was living out of town.  We found another person in the same program one of my kids is in.  Sometimes we write our cousins.  Grandparents are always wonderful pen pals.

What if I don't have anyone I know?  A young woman  started the Friends of Ida web site.   From the site "Friends of Ida is a community program in which younger members of the community pair up with elderly 'buddies' in an effort to develop a close bond between the two groups. The volunteers learn about history from the perspective of people who saw it all, while their buddies get to relive their childhood in these young people "  It is based in California, but I believe anyone can participate.

How do you keep it fun?  I like to buy fun stamps from the post office.  We also decorate paper or send pictures.  We buy local postcards to send. 

The part that I love as a mom is that my children practice their writing skills, review letter format, and practice addressing an envelope.  But, I keep that under my hat as my grandmother use to say, and just encourage them to check out the mailbox.  

Happy Writing!
PS If you are really adventurous.  You can join the Postcard Geography program. I did this with my classroom many years ago.  My guess is they will open registration in August.  The program fills quickly so put it on your calendar. They do accept homeschoolers.  Expect to send a great deal of postcards.   Enjoy.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Narrative Assessments. . . what do I need to know?

The school year is coming to a close.  You have read many wonderful books with your student, watched them solve many math problems, and walked through many history and science lessons together. You are ready for summer!   You are now checking out the pool schedule, getting ready for summer reading at the library, and thinking what do I need to do to keep homeschooling in the state of Ohio?  The last one may not be on the top of your list, but it would be nice to check it off your list.  The following post is intended to help you check it off your list and get on with the joys of summer.

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 you 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.  ohiohomeschool@gmail.com

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 moms. Let me know if I can help you this year! Click here for how to get started.

Becky Boerner
Mom to 6 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.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Narrative or Standardized Test?

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.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Freestyle Assessment thoughts

I really enjoy reading the freestyle assessments I receive.  They are so interesting.   People often ask me for some ideas on what to write and send.  The following is what I have shared with them. Hopefully it will help you as well.  

I have seen freestyle assessments written in many different ways.  The key thing is to show the progress your child has made from last July/August to now.  Ohio law says the child must make progress within their ability.  So when I do this for my kids I try to think through the following questions.  How have they changed? What can they do now that they could not do a few months ago, several months ago, and a year ago?   What do I have demonstrates this? (pictures, samples etc.)  Lastly, what can I share that communicates this?  

As far as writing up the assessment, I have seen them set up by subject, by project, and just sharing progress. The following are some ideas to get you started.  I think once you get started you will be surprised at how much you have to share.

If you write by subject you might write about the following.  I am going to give many examples to choose from.  Please do not feel you need to use all of them.  These are to spur your thinking about your year. 

Reading:  Share the books your child has read or you have read to them. Maybe share a series they are into like the Boxcar Children, Arthur, or Henry and Mudge.  What magazines do they enjoy reading?  Is there a web sites they enjoy visiting and reading?  What your child is reading now versus the beginning of the year communicates the progress they have made. 

Writing/Handwriting If your child is writing tell me what they are writing. Tell me if they are making lists, writing their name,  writing stories, labeling pictures, writing letters etc.  If they are older, tell me about their creative writing, poetry, or journaling.  Send me a sample.   Do they write a blog, email letters to Grandma, or maybe record in a nature journal?   Tell me about it, send me a link, or take a picture of it.

Math: Share how your child is telling time, working with money, adding or subtracting, multiplying or dividing, using percents, and/or measuring.  Tell me about activities your child participates in like cooking, grocery shopping, or building with blocks or LEGOS ©.  Share games with me that you play that involve math.   If you happen to do any worksheets you can always send in one from the beginning of the year and the end. 

Science/Social Studies/History/Art/ Music/PE: For younger kids you might share experiences to demonstrate progress.  You write  about the museums you have visited, zoo visits, park trips, neighborhood walks, nature walks, music lessons, and any sports your child may participate in.  Do you attend the YMCA to swim each week?  Do you attend an art class?  Tell me about books they have read or you have read together, if they have completed any projects, or art work your child has created.  This is a great place to include pictures.   For older students share what they have learned this year, a class they have taken, and/or a research project they have been working on.  Having your child write a summary of what they have learned is a fantastic way to demonstrate progress.  

Another way share your student's progress is to write up your assessment by project.  For instance you worked on a community or family garden together.  You discuss how you preplanned by getting books from the library and  reading about plants, your internet research, the garden store you visited,  how you measured the rows, how you prepared the soil, did you count the plants, if you sold them the skills you used,  and anything else that your child learned.  You might include pictures of your child working in the garden, some notes your child took while researching, and a list of books your child read.  You might share the 1-3 projects that your family used to facilitate learning for the year.  Then maybe you share about trips, nature walks, park visits, any type of lesson, and art you do.   

You are trying to showcase what your child has accomplished this year.  Usually when I sit down and think about all we have  learned, I am excited about the progress my kids have made.   If you are working on learning most days you have made progress. This is your chance to celebrate by sharing it with me. 

If I can help you in anyway let me know. Link to Freestyle Assessment

Friday, May 13, 2011

No Biking in the House without a Helmet

My mom and I have a running joke.  She tends to think she has told me things that she has not. I usually say something  like "Back up.  I think I missed a day," or "Thanks for including me. "  I am of course joking, and it is kind of funny.   I guess when you have 19 kids you are bound to forget to share some things.

Two weeks ago she starts telling me a story about how a friend of hers called to relay that  she saw my name in Melissa's Faye Greene's new book.  My mom kept talking and I said,  "I am sorry mom, I think I missed a day."  "Oh, didn't I tell you that Melissa included our family in a chapter in her new book No Biking in the House without a Helmet?, " she said.  I must of missed that.  Thanks for including me. 

I went and found the book at my local library.  It really is a great book.  Melissa Faye Green is an amazing author with a realistic take on  the world of adoption.  She tells wonderful stories of adopting older children and has a witty way of viewing her world.  She will have you laughing out loud.
PS  I am on p. 100.

Friday, May 06, 2011

The Slow-cooker: A homeschooler's best friend!

Growing up my mother use to rave about her slow cooker.  I still remember her bright orange one humming along in our very brown wallpapered kitchen.  She tried to convince me of the wonders of the slow-cooker and the thrill of knowing dinner was taken care of early in the morning. I foolishly just smiled at her, but  now I thank her for her wisdom as I plug in one of my 3 slow-cookers.
I want to describe to you my cooking style, or lack of cooking style. I often joke I am a food arranger  and not a much of a cook.  I do things like put yogurt and cottage cheese in bowls, arrange vegetables, put hot dogs in buns. . you get the picture.  My college roommate Sue told me her goal in this life is to never cook a Thanksgiving dinner, and to that I replied Amen!  So when I talk about how I love my slow-cooker, you know this is remedial cooking. 
My   favorite cook  books are The Make it Fast, Cook it Slow, and More Make it Fast, Cook it Slow.  Stephanie O'Dea, the author, also has a blog with many slow-cooker recipes.  Her recipes are gluten free, but can easily be switched if you can eat gluten.  I would recommend starting with the book from the  library and moving forward if you like it.  We have many picky eaters in our house  and  like that the recipes do not have many ingredients.  But, that may not be your thing. Currently, we are partial to her Sloppy Joe recipe,since every single person in our house actually eats it.  We also like her Coq Au Vin,  and spinach casserole recipes.  She has a section on slow-cooking to taste like take-out.  You gotta love that!

So to end, I want to share with you why I love my  slow-cooker.  You may hum a happy tune as you read.
1. In the summer it does not heat up my whole house.
2. I dump the ingredients in and they magically come out OK.
3. I smell dinner all day as I homeschool and know that it is taken care of.
4. It makes me feel like a better person in preparing healthy meals for my family.
5. It is not very messy.
6. Lastly, it is as close as a food arranger gets to serious cooking.
Happy Cooking! 

Friday, April 29, 2011

The blog that changed my life, and helped me start homeschooling.

I did not start off my life thinking I would be a homeschooler.  I  had no dreams of homeschooling.  My dreams involved yellow buses and sending my kids away to be educated.   I knew  some homeschoolers when we lived in Atlanta, GA, but I  had no intention of following in their footsteps.  I had no children at the time when I had these thoughts.  Funny how things change when you actually have children.

Fast forward a few years.  I had four  children four and under.  I had my four year old and two three year old children  in the special needs preschool in our district.  It soon became obvious that the school would not be a good fit for my child with Autism, my profoundly gifted child, and my child with learning issues.   I was spending a great deal of time managing all of their programs, and putting people on and off the yellow bus.   One day I thought, "you know I could do this myself and it might be much easier and probably take less energy."  But, I had no clue where to start.  I began to think how does one homeschool a child with Autism?  I had no idea and I started reading books and doing internet searches.  I came up a wonderful blog called aut2behome.  Now called  http://aut2bhomeincarolina.blogspot.com.  I was able to see that homeschooling all kinds of kids was possible.  I was impressed by the wonderful things  Tammy, the blog owner, had accomplished with her kids.  I was amazed actually.

A few years later I  was lucky enough to be in an email loop with Tammy and get to know her better.  She is an amazing women who loves her children, Charoltte Mason, RDI, and educating at home.  I was lucky enough to tell her how she changed my life and put me on a path that has been the right choice for our family.  She has graciously agreed to let me post about her, and I though you  might enjoy looking at her blog as well.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The winner is. . . .

The winner of the $10 Panera/Starbucks gift card is Lisa Blau.  Congratulations to Lisa!  A big thank you to everyone who entered and became a follower.  I really appreciate your time.  Please stop back as I will be talking about the blog that changed my life, summer activities, and my favorite yard sale homeschool finds. 
Enjoy the day!
Becky mom to 6

Monday, April 25, 2011

Ends today at noon! Starbucks or Panera Card Give-away

Drawing Wednesday April 27, 2011 around noon.

I became a mother  on Mother's Day on a tiny atoll in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  They placed the most precious baby boy into  my arms at 3.5 weeks old.  I still remember that day with fondness that changed my entire life in a heartbeat.  (For longer version see below)
To celebrate Mother's Day  I thought it would be fun to have a tea/coffee give-away.  So though I can not send everyone a cup of tea, coffee, or some fabulous cold drink I would love to send one blog reader a $10 gift card to Panera or Starbucks. The winner chooses.

This is how you may enter the Ohio Homeschool  Mother's Day Contest.
Become a public follower of the Ohio Homeschool blog and write a comment telling me that you follow or have been following.

Please include a way for me to contact you if you should win with  your comment.  (Your email etc.)

If you would like to increase your probability of winning then you may also do any or all  the following in addition to becoming a public follower.

1. Reblog about the contest and leave a comment with a link to your post.
2. Repost this on Facebook and leave a comment to let me know.
3. Forward to a email loop or 3 friends and leave a comment to let me know. 

Happy Mother's Day. I will draw a winner on Wednesday April 27, 2011 around noon.
Good Luck!
mom to 6.

PS: 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.  It will lead you through the steps. 
To post a comment click on the word "comments" or "post a comment"  under this post.  A new window will open.  Scroll down to the end and write "I am following" in the box with an email.  Follow the directions to post.  If you have have trouble please email me at ohiohomeschool@gmail.com for help.  I would be happy to post for you if you are a follower. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

My First Mother's Day

On Mother's Day 1999 we arrived in Majuro, Republic of the Marshall Islands.  The Marshall Islands consists of 29 atolls and 5 isolated islands.  This was the view from my plane window of Majuro.
I wondered how the 747 jet I was on was going to land on this atoll.

  My husband and I had desired to be parents for a long time.  We arrived at our hotel and waited.  I went down to grab something to eat at the Mother's Day buffet.  A lovely woman pushed a flower wut on my head and said, "Happy Mother's Day." 
Wearing the wut a few moments before I became a mom.
We waited in our room for them to bring our son.   We were in the middle of a tropical paradise, but I could only think of holding our new son.
Amazing view from our hotel room.  Atolls have ocean on one side and a lagoon on the other.  You are looking at the lagoon and can see the other side of the island.  The water was amazing shades of blue.
Finally there was a knock on the door and their our guide and birthmom stood holding one of the most adorable little boys I had ever seen.  I  remember trying to act casual and calm.  We invited them in and his birth mom asked me if I wanted to hold him?  I remember sitting there and being so overcome with emotion.
First time in my arms.

First Family Picture

Mother's Day had been a sad day for me in the past as I longed for children.  Now it really is my favorite holiday as it reminds me of how our family began.  I never dreamed I would be privileged enough to have 6 kids.

Happy Mother's Day!  
Becky proud mom of 6

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Convention Finds

I love shopping and meeting people at the Midwest Homeschool Convention.  I love seeing old favorites and discovering new products.  These are a few of my favorite this year. I tried to choose some things that may be off the beaten path. 

Shatterpoint Entertainment has produced two movies involving LEGO®  parts and Bible stories that my children love!  Their second movie is Jericho: The Promise Fulfilled.  The Rondina family who produced the movie is a homeschool family.  My kids are crazy about this movie and now quote it around our home. The extras on the DVD are very interesting as it explains their journey into film making.  

I enjoyed looking around the Odyssey Learning Game booth.  What fabulous educational games. They carry one of my all time favorite games Set. (down the page 4th game on right hand side) They carry other favorites like Rush Hour. (8th down on left) I love playing games with my children that build thinking and math skills.

Another favorite I like to visit is the Little House Site Tours.  They organize site tours to the places from the Little House on the Prairie books.  They also sell DVDs  and books about the little house tours.  My daughter absolutely loves these.  They are very informative. 

Another family business is Virgina Soaps and Scents.  I have known about them for awhile, but really enjoyed seeing the family in person. Richelle Spargur, the owner,  shared with me that they are now putting their soap in boxes.  She said that is a big deal for a soap maker.   She also shared that they are putting a 2 story building behind their home to produce and sell soap.  Their family wants the kitchen back to smelling like a kitchen.  You have to love a homeschooling project that turned into a business.  I am a fan of the lavender soap currently.

Just a few things  I found to nourish the life long learner in me.