Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Elementary Curriculum

Ever since the publication of CCSS, the elementary curriculum in the US has been in a state of flux. Previously, there were obvious problems in the standards driving curriculum across the country. The biggest problems previously were:
  • Educational standards that did not match the testing standards which produced tension between teaching to the standards versus teaching to the tests
  • Uneven standards across teh country so that the states with low standards, say Alabama and Louisiana, had standards that were grades lower than the other parts of the country
The new standards moved the country towards a single unified sense of more rigorous standards which were coherently organized and curriculum mapped across the grades.
What's good?
  • Switch in language arts from a primary focus on literature to a focus that blends literature with informational text.
  • Switch in math from the historical focus on the procedures of calculation to the actual concepts
  • Addition of multisector reading skills to language arts
What's not good? Lots of things especially the roll out to parents was all messed up and confusing. To this day, there are no good parent materials explaining the changes on elementary math. I think they failed to reorganize the primary grades into more coherent standards that would have led to higher student outcomes in literacy. We start too early teaching reading, we spend way too much time on the letters and their names, we don't focus nearly enough on phonological and vocabulary skills, and so on.

BTW, I love the switch to shades of meaning from synonyms. My personal favorite part of CCSS!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Fun with Math Facts

Math can be a tricky subject.  For some kids, they either understand it easily or they don’t.  There isn’t too often a middle ground when it comes to math.  When dealing with difficult math subject, it can quickly become a frustrating situation.  It can help if there is a fun way to approach learning math facts.  If you can find some games online, videos to watch, or songs to reinforce math facts, those practices will absolutely aid in the teaching of math.  

It also helps if you can find practical ways to introduce and practice math at home.  Can you discuss math topics while having breakfast or over the dinner table?  Can you review math while taking a walk or doing some exercises outside?  Jumping jacks and counting go pretty well together.  There are several ways to incorporate math into your daily life to help your homeschoolers learn their math facts.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Learning with Science Videos!

If you ask each child at my house what subject they love the most, the answer would be science.  Elementary science is so much fun because it incorporates so many incredible facets of learning into one subject.  With science, you can make projects for science fairs or just for use at home.  Busting out glue sticks and markers are a guaranteed smile around here.  You can take a few household ingredients that don’t do anything spectacular separately, but when mixed together, create something incredible.  There are new words, new phrases, and new ideas that are interesting for children to see and learn.

Science can be difficult to teach if you aren’t experienced in the subject (that is certainly my problem!).  Fortunately, I have found several science videos to help me with teaching topics that I might otherwise struggle.  What a blessing to have so many resources at my fingertips.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Happy New Year!

A new year is upon us.  As usual, I think of how the school year has gone so far and how I want it to continue on in this new year.  I re-evaluate how things are going and think of any changes that need to be made to our school plans.  Do we need to adjust our approach to language arts?  Is math working for us in the best way?  Is someone struggling with handwriting?

I never like to continue on with something that may not be working just because I had once decided it would be a good fit for us.  I’m constantly thinking about how things are going and decided if we need to adjust or change anything to better suit the learning needs of my children.  

Does the new year make you take the time to re-focus?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Taking School with You when You Travel

As this year comes to a close, I always anticipate the break we’ll have from school for a few weeks.  We spend the first few weeks of the month preparing for holidays with fun, games, crafts, and excitement.  We spend the last few weeks of the month spending as much time as possible with extended family.  School work, however, must still be completed.

Fortunately, by using an online curriculum, we can take school with us when we travel.  We can pack up and head out of town for a few weeks knowing that we can still stay on track with school.  We definitely utilize a lighter schedule, but by continuing on with some lessons while we travel, we can stay on schedule.  The kids don’t always appreciate this facet of our homeschool, but they do enjoy finishing up the school year by Memorial Day.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Holiday Spelling Lists

One of my favorite ways to incorporate seasonal fun into our homeschool day is by making seasonal spelling lists using our online spelling curriculum.  It’s fun for the kids to play games with season specific words and it also helps to re-introduce words they may not hear frequently.  By assigning the words through spelling lists, they learn to pronounce them, spell them, and use them correctly in sentences.  Plus, they have the opportunity to play silly games to help reinforce the words.

Additionally, there are handwriting worksheets available so they can practice writing seasonal words.  That will be especially helpful when they start working on cards and thank you notes in the coming weeks.  

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Seasonal Fun

I love autumn.  It’s my most favorite season.  The weather is changing, the colors of the leaves are amazing and beautiful and it provides us with another chance to experience the nature around us.  This time of year, we take the time to enjoy nature walks using several of our senses.  We see the birds, small animals, and bugs.  We hear the calls from one creature to another.  We smell the air changing from one season to another.  We pick up leaves and rocks to examine them more closely.  

When we aren’t sure what something is, whether it be an animal or plant, we write down telling characteristics so we can research when we return home.  That’s when the internet and science websites become our best friend.  Gone are the days you pulled an encyclopedia from the shelf to do some more research.  Now, we have the opportunity to learn more about plants and animals, as well have fun with some nature games!