Thursday, July 20, 2017

One year later...

Well... Here we are... One year later than my last post.  Man! I am horrible at this.  But nobody reads this anyways so you don't even know you missed anything, do you?  Third grade has been over for a long while and we are now eight weeks into Fourth grade.  I learned at least one lesson from last school term... My teacher's book was printed from my computer and NOT hand-drawn.  What was I thinking last year!!!  It is so much easier this year.  I am embarrassed to say that last year's planner is not complete.  I didn't even grade anything the second half of the year.  Don't tell the Dept. of Ed.  I just judged how well she was doing by how well she could respond to questions after the lessons were done.  By the end of the year she knew all her multiplication facts and was doing long division in her head, so I considered it a success.  She got her Winter break instead of Summer during the first four months of the year so I could work full time, and we started Fourth grade the first week of May.

So now that you are all caught up... Here we are... 8 weeks in.  I am more organized (mostly) this year.  As I said I printed my planner pages this year and it is so much easier to keep up with.  I will post photos later.  Our curriculum is similar to what we had last year.  I never got around to actually posting what that was though, so here is what we have this year:


All our text books are workbooks put out by Carson-Dellosa publishing.  They have a great selection and they don't cost a fortune.  One of my favorite features about this company is that you can preview the entire workbook online for free to make sure that it is what you will need for your child.

Math:  We are starting out doing Fraction, Decimals, and Percents and when we finish that workbook we will be moving onto Geometry.  I don't have the Geometry book yet but will link it when I do.
Spelling, Language Arts, and Vocabulary:  These are all pretty basic workbooks.  One lesson each per day. Although she has worked ahead in Vocabulary and is actually about to start the Fifth grade book soon.
Spanish:  This one is difficult to teach since I don't know much Spanish AT ALL! Two years in High School and I can find the library and the bathroom.  Thanks!  But I found this book in the "bargain bin" and thought it might be a nice introduction.  She actually loves this book.
Science and American History:  These two subjects get a bit more complicated to go into and really each deserves it's own post.  I have put together my own lessons for these two. Well, to be honest, it is an ongoing thing.  I plan out several units in advance and wait until we are caught up to do more.  I am striving to make these two subjects as hands-on as possible and we have interactive notebooks for each.  
I really do want to help other homeschool parents find good materials for their kiddos, so I am going to do my best to post the Science and History lessons.  I don't own any of the materials though, so I will have to find my original sources.  Usually when I see a printout or lesson I want to use online I just save it to my computer.  I need to do better at keeping a source list.  Learn as you go.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

And then I realized...

So we have been schooling at home for 8 weeks now.  I spend a lot of time on Pinterest.  Not while schooling but just in general.  When I search for homeschool on there I see pins called And then I realized I was doing it all wrong, One change that transformed our homeschool year, and Secrets of a successful homeschool mom.  I looked over them to try and avoid making the same mistakes that other homeschool moms have made.  It made sense to me that if they had already made the mistakes that I could learn from them.  Well the only way to learn is to make your own mistakes!  

I purchased my curriculum and we set to work back in week one.  Most of our classes have been going smoothly.  However, we have had one of those And then I realized moments!  

Kiera absolutely hated her Science book!  She hated the days we had to do Science.  By the third week, she was starting to hate the whole homeschool idea.  And I was getting more and more frustrated because of it.  Something had to change.

So I began obsessively searching the internet and Pinterest for a new Science curriculum that wouldn't put me out a bunch of money.  I found nothing.  

I started thinking about the kinds of things that a third grader should be learning in their Science class.  I started with three categories: animals, earth, and space.  Then I just started pinning, downloading, and printing different topics under each category.  I decided that we would start with the animals unit.  The first bit is on Habitats.  I have tried to make all the lessons more hands-on... more interactive.  For habitats, she is making a flipbook for each of the different ones.  Each book has a world map on the cover that she colors in, there is a page about the climate, a page with facts about four animals that live in the habitat, and a food chain specific to that habitat.  When the book is done, I three hole punch it and it goes into her science notebook.

Also in our animals unit will be adaptations and an animal study that will include a trip to the zoo.  

She is loving her new Science class...

I want to help other homeschool teachers who may be struggling with finding Science curriculum for third grade.  As we go, I'm going to list all my resources for each unit that we do as we do them.  

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Week two

This week is going much smoother.  

Monday: 

We didn't get work done until 9pm.  This sounds bad but we slept in.  We went to get breakfast at almost lunchtime.  We spent three and a half hours at the public pool.  This is the kind of freedom that I was looking for with homeschooling.  I wish that I didn't have to work three days a week, but since I do, class has to be at my office and has to be just a bit less hands on.  Mondays and Fridays though are all about our schedule... or lack of one.  

She got 100% on each of her assignments.

Tuesday:  

We actually got done with all the assignments before lunchtime!  Well, my work day lunchtime, which is actually more like 2 in the afternoon.  And all 100%s again today.  

We started multiplication today.  With the difficulty we had last week with our review of addition/subtraction, I was concerned that starting multiplication was going to be very rough.  She seems to grasp the concept pretty well.  We have already gone over the 0s, 1s, 10s, and started on the 2s.  Only time will tell of course. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Day Three... or goals and socialization

I have noticed that when you tell people that you are starting to homeschool your child that there are mostly negative reactions.  There is scoffing.  There is the sarcastic way that they tell other people that you are going to homeschool.  There is simple ignoring of what you said.  I had that one last night actually.  I'm not going to say names or relationships but one person told another person that I was homeschooling my daughter and the second person said to me "Oh, so you are getting her ready for next year?" Ya.  Sure.  That's what I'm doing.  Why is it so hard to believe that I am going to teach my child?  It's just third grade.  I don't think for a second that I could teach her high school.  Not even going to try.  I just want to try to give her an advantage for future years.  My goals for homeschooling are:

  • standard education comparable to the public education system in our area
  • education above the public education system
  • gain life experience
  • learn to work independently
  • limit distractions so she can concentrate on learning... not boys or clothes and makeup
  • gain life skills (home ec skills like sewing and cooking)
I know from what I have read online that one of the most common misconstructions about homeschooled children is socialization.  My child is by no means un-socialized.  On days that I work, she attends classes at my office.  She attends church and Awanas on Sundays with her grandparents.  She attends gymnastics (for fun only) once a week.  She will be doing Kiwanis Kids Day Cheerleading in August.  She orders her own food if we go out to eat (both fast food and sit down restaurants)... I know a 19 year old who still doesn't like to do that!  She has two weeks of summer camp and a week of church camp this summer.  She will be on a cruise for her birthday this year and will attend the day camp on ship.  She has friends in our apartment complex.  She has friends in her grandparent's neighborhood.  No one can tell me that my child is not social!  In fact, after having written down all the social interactions that she will be receiving as a homeschooled student, I now realize that I was the unsocialized child that attended public school.  I feel sorry for the next person to ask me if I am worried about her being socialized!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Second day of Third Grade

Don't worry.  I'm not going to do this everyday.

11 am:  This morning has solidified my decision to homeschool my daughter.  In math class this week we are doing a review of addition and subtraction.  She has only been out of second grade for a week, so she should not have lost anything of great importance in that time.  Today's worksheets include addition and subtraction of two digit numbers with carrying and borrowing.  It is still pretty basic.  She stressed out because of this.
Let me give you some background here:  About a month before second grade was done, her class had the MAP test.  Her teacher sent home a practice worksheet for the kids to warm up before the math section the next day.  My husband and I were up until 10 pm trying to teach her how to do the math problems.  (They were the same kind of problems that she is doing today.)  She kept trying to start the problem from the left side and had no concept of borrowing or carrying.  This is how she had been taught in class.  We couldn't even begin to figure out why they were being taught this way.  Common Core (through clenched teeth).  She was finally able to understand what it was that we were teaching her and did well on the test the next day.
She stresses so easily.  She is so smart (and I'm not just being biased) but she panics when she doesn't immediately know or if she is afraid of getting the answer wrong.  Calming her down so that she can realize that she actually does know how to do the work is the hardest part.  For her and for me because I get frustrated at her because she doesn't want to listen until she has calmed down about it.  Sometimes this ends in both of us crying and me feeling very guilty.
Back to why my decision has solidified.  She has completed second grade with almost no ability to add and subtract.  But she is in the top 10% of the second graders at her public school in math scores.  That is insanely frightening.  She is on track.  She is doing great.  These are frightening statements from her teacher last year.  How can a student who is doing that well in the class have so little knowledge about how to actually do the work?  They cannot.  What is worse is what is coming up with third grade in the public school system.  I downloaded the public school curriculum from the school district website.  For the first 9 weeks of third grade in math, they are teaching multiplication AND division.  Then starting the second 9 weeks they move on to something else.  9 weeks is not enough time to teach both multiplication and division.  Especially when the students barely have an understanding of how to add and subtract.  I don't believe that the students in the public schools are going to be ready to move on to that at all.  Let alone get through it at such an accelerated pace!  I really feel sorry for those children.  Of course, only time will tell.

3:30 pm:  Good news everybody!  We finished with school earlier than we did yesterday.  Considering we start our school about 9:30 instead of 8, I would say that we are doing pretty good with the timing.

Monday, June 6, 2016

First day of third grade

2 pm:  Today is the first day of the experiment that is homeschooling third grade.  The first half of the day went well.  We started easy and stayed on task.  There was a break after 3rd period and we have taken a long time getting back into 4th period.  4th is Science.  Each day in Science Kiera must define her new terms, read the passage, and answer the questions about what she read.  This should be easy, but we are having a disagreement about how much she should have to write down.  I have tried to explain to her that third grade marks a new way of schooling.  That there is more serious work even in the public school system.  She doesn't believe me though, and that is part of the problem.  After arguing for nearly an hour with her and trying to explain all this, and when I got to the point that I wanted to cry and rip her book in half at the same time, she finally agreed to write down her definitions.  This however, has taken about 45 minutes for her to write down four words and their meaning.  She is so easily distracted and it is very frustrating.  I don't want to spend all day yelling at her to stay on task, but I'm not sure how to keep her on task.

4 pm:  I am going to lose my mind!  What was I thinking?  She doesn't take me seriously as a teacher.  I don't want to have to yell at her, but keeping her on task is going to give me even more gray hair than I am already getting.  But I won't give up.  Not on the first day.  I think that it will probably take at least two weeks to fall into a routine with the classroom.  
I do worry that I'm going to fail to actually teach her.  How did any of us actually learn in the classroom?  I personally don't remember much of anything that I learned in school.  Oh sure the basics are there but I couldn't tell you what a participle is.  I can't list the U.S. Presidents in order.  I can't tell you all the state capitals.  So how do we learn? And what do we need to learn?  And how bad am I going to screw this up?

Friday, June 3, 2016

My Teacher's Notebook

It has been a long painstaking process getting ready to homeschool Kiera.  After I finally picked out the subjects, curriculum, and books (post to come soon) that I wanted to use, I had such a mental block about how to proceed.  How should I organize everything?  Should I spend money on a teacher's lesson planner?  What should I keep track of?  How do I even do a lesson plan?  

It got so bad that I thought about saying forget the whole thing.

Then I was desperately searching the internet for a cheap homeschool lesson planner when I came upon a review online and followed the links to a website that had a preview of the important pages in the planner that was for sale.  (I would link to the website... but I didn't write it down and now I don't remember what it was)  I copied the pages down on paper and then modified them to meet the needs of my one student and myself.  

I bought this Mead Five Star 5-subject notebook at Walmart.  I really liked this notebook because of several features.  The covers are plastic so they won't start to come apart like a composition notebook would or bend and tear like a regular spiral notebook.  The outside of the spiral is covered with a nylon protector to keep the wires from snagging.  The page dividers are moveable!  You can just pop them right out of the spiral and move them anywhere you need them so you don't have to have to rip out and waste the paper if you don't need it in that section.  It even has a handy pen holder for my red teacher's pen.


I am only using four sections currently.  

The very first page (which isn't pictured) is simply the student's name, grade, first day of school, and last day of school.

The second section is my teacher's section.  It includes a curriculum tracker where I have written down the name of  the book we are using for each subject and how much I paid for it.  I also have a list of any extra supplements that I have purchased (in this case all from Dollar Tree) and Additional Resources.  I found some websites that we are using and I am keeping track of the user names and passwords in the Additional Resources section.

  
The next page is her class schedule.  I have color coded each class to make it easier to track and because it just looks pretty.  


Next is the Attendance tracker.  I printed out each month and taped them in.  I have two semesters and each semester has it's own attendance tracker.


I also have a grading chart that isn't pictured to easily figure out her grade percentage.  It might be cheating, but I don't care.  I left extra pages in my teacher section in case I find something else to add later.

The third section is progress reports and report card information.  The progress reports are done by week for each class and will be an average of the weeks grades.  The report card will then be an average of each week per semester.  All color coded, of course.


The final section is the lesson plan.  This was a lot of work.  I made a rough draft on a computer printout version of my final design of my lesson plan book.  I quickly realized that it would have been so much more simple to just make the spreadsheets on the computer, print them out, three hole punch them, and fill them in.  But alas, I had already committed to the notebook.  Next year, I will know better.  


The worst part of this section was actually drawing the grids for the planner.  Each week is a two page spread and is color coded to match the rest of the book.  There is a printed calendar with the current week highlighted.  There is a planner to make sure we don't miss any extracurricular activities during the week and a place to write in upcoming events.  

I am tracking the grades that she gets on each assignment right in the lesson plan.  At the end of the week, these are the grades that will be averaged out and carried to the progress reports.

Now that I have it all together, it is working out pretty well.  Feel free to copy any of the pages that I have made for your own purposes.  Good luck if you are undertaking this type of project and if I have caught you in time... do it on the computer!