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How do you decided what to teach? - Page 2

post #21 of 27
Originally Posted by onyxravnos View Post Some ideas though for keeping records for even 'on the fly' learning is to keep your camra with you. Lots of learning happens but doesn't 'produce' anything that can be kept in a portfolio. I take pictures of it, print them out, & caption them. Perfect for things like science projects, on the fly learning, handiwork, and so on.

I am also in MD.  Last year (kids were 4th and 7th) we went in with portfolios, the kids workbooks and other work of choice, and a large photo album we put together.  I dreaded it for  weeks, to the point of loosing sleep! It was not that bad at all.  The homeschool principal spoke briefly with me, then with each of my children all while looking at the portfolios.  Then he took time to look at the photos with my kids and listened to what they wished to tell him.  It was really neat actually.  He stressed to my kids that they were lucky to have parents willing to homeschool, that they need to work hard and do their best, and that he could tell they worked really hard this year.  It turned out to be such a positive experience and I can see a difference in my son this year already. He has even asked when we would get to see him again, lol. It helped her feel she was truly ready!


Which county are you in? We are in Charles.

post #22 of 27

More random thoughts...Sorry for the second post.


Also my portfolio was broken up into academic sections (Math, Social Studies, Science, and Language Arts).  I also listed our curriculum (we had to submit a list in the fall), our field trips (kept careful track in a running document throughout the year and would pick up pamphlets to put in), volunteer service, planning sheets (periodically, not every one, but enough that he could see we had activities planned), and random projects or notes (art, music, science, etc).  The county also had checklists (they have since pulled them down as they are moving to core standards) which I would periodically go through and check off things I felt we had done/mastered each time with a different color pen so I could date it.  Really much of the actual documentation for things outside of the core subjects was documented through notes or photos or both.

post #23 of 27

I am also in MD and am homeschooling my first grader.  This is our first year being "official" ( last year we did the K waiver) and I feel a bit nervous about the whole the portfolio thing, but from what I've heard from friends it's usually OK. I am starting to freak out a bit, however. What county are you in?  I am in Montgomery


I love the idea of taking photos as a way to keep track!


puzzlepiece - do you have any copies of those checklists?

post #24 of 27

Another MD resident here, chiming in with the voice of experience.  My DS is 7yo and 2nd grade equivalent.  We've been homeschooling in Anne Arundel county since kindergarten (which was very relaxed--we just lived our lives every day and I took a bunch of pictures of DS doing his thing) , so we've got 4 portfolio reviews under our belts.  (Our school district sends out a list of times/places, usually public libraries, for you to select for your review, which they usually allow about 15-20 minutes for.  You show up at the appointed time, and whoever of the maybe half dozen reviewers is next available is who you get.  You don't get to choose.  You also don't have to bring your child if you don't want to, but it's fine if you do.)


For us, doing the portfolio review is not a big deal.  I've had nothing but positive experiences with our reviews/reviewers.  They don't want you to bring in boxes and boxes of "proof," but they'd also like to see more than one sheet of paper.  In AA, they've shared that usually a binder is perfectly adequate, so that's the system I use.  If we're using some sort of textbook/workbook, or if we have magazine subscriptions (LEGO Club, Click, etc.), I'll bring in one copy of each (so they can see it's got our name/address on it).  I'll also bring in an assortment of DS's drawings (he draws almost every day), particularly if he also did some writing (in previous years he's been writing-averse, so samples were few and far between).  Mostly, the happy medium is one sample of the child's work per subject per week--that's their ideal.  It doesn't have to be a worksheet; it can be a picture (I print them up 9 to a sheet, wallet size, per subject; as an aside, apparently some parents forget to take pictures as they go, and then try to take a bunch in the final day/s before the review--if that happens to you, try to change your kid's shirt for some of the pictures so it's not so glaringly obvious that the pics were taken on the same day).  I choose to keep a daily log (mostly so I won't forget things we've done), and since I've already done that work, I include it in the portfolio, but it's not a requirement.  Some people really just skate by including the bare minimum as required by law; however, my DH has serious anxiety that we'll be outed as failures at homeschooling if we don't include enough documentation, so to make him feel better, I keep up with the log.  In practice, if your first semester review tanks, your form will basically get marked with "needs improvement" and the reviewer will make suggestions about how to improve for next time.


Mostly I take a long look at the MD Curriculum website for DS's grade level (click on the subject first, then select grade level).  Be warned it can seem overwhelming, but that's b/c it's made by educators for educators.  If you're comfortable translating educational-speak into regular language, you'll quickly see that by doing just a few activities, you can cover a lot of their mandates.  Oh, and also remember that it's basically a list of skills they're hoping your child has attained by the END of the school year.  


The reviewers have a form they have to check off/fill out, so if you do keep a notebook, please divide it by subject (Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, Art, Music, Physical Education, Health & Safety) to make the review process go more smoothly/quickly.


Now, to address the OP's original question of how to decide what to teach--we're definitely child-led, so I've just followed DS's interests.  Which change rather frequently.  For us, kindergarten was pretty easy.  We used very few curriculum materials; mostly just regular, fun activities (the internet has a lot to offer if you run out of mojo) fit the bill.  


For social studies, get a globe or a world map, and when a book you're reading mentions a particular place, point it out.  Then have your child point to it and take a picture!  It really can be that easy for kindergarten.  


For science, it's okay to bounce freely between biology, botany, physics, geology, and astronomy (which can actually all be covered on a nature walk).  Kitchen sink volcanoes are always a hit for chemistry.  


For music we still aren't doing anything formal at the 2nd grade level--we listen to music we enjoy; we sing.  Once in a blue moon DS will come up with his own music or lyrics, or he'll bang away on a toy drum kit or a little electronic keyboard.  Mostly DS vocalizes orchestral movie theme music.  I know he's got a good ear from how well he can hum the "Imperial Death March" from Star Wars, for example.  He learned a bit about waltzes from watching some Tom & Jerry episodes.


For art we've gone to a few art museums on our various travels, but most of kindergarten DS drew, and maybe painted a bit.  Oh, and made stuff out of play-doh.  At my most ambitious, I may have checked out an art history book from the library to show him how art styles different between countries and centuries, but he wasn't that interested, so after a couple days I returned the book.


For math, DS spent hours every day building with LEGOs.  Hours.  Great for spatial skills and basic math, too.  I'm actually a little sad now--at 7, DS might go entire days without building anything out of LEGOs.  I thought he'd be a lot older before he started to outgrow them.


I found it more challenging to decide on which curriculum to use for DS's first grade year (b/c we had to focus on things DS wasn't naturally inclined to do, like lower case handwriting and systematic math).  I read through a lot of posts on MDC to get different perspectives on different programs, took a look at a lot of websites, and then basically made a leap of faith and ordered a few things.  Try it, if it doesn't work for your child, try something else.  (I happened to order both Singapore 1A and Miquon Orange math books, for example.  Turns out that DS strongly prefers the Singapore layout/colors/drawings.  When he finally finished the Singapore 1A book, I ordered the 1B book.  I'm only committed to a semester's worth of materials at a time.)


Observe your child and what they respond to.  Most kids enjoy hands-on activities, so for math, stick with manipulatives, even if it's balls of socks or building blocks.  My DS is a visual and a kinesthetic learner, so he does best with learning when he can see it and touch it.  He's not the greatest auditory learner, so if I have to tell him something I try hard to keep it short and reinforce it with visual or physical cues.


Mostly, that "regular and thorough" instruction clause just means that they want to see proof that your kid isn't parked in front of a TV/computer/gaming system 24/7 (and I say that as a mother who lets her son have almost unlimited access to media; DS has learned a lot from watching movies and playing video games, and yes, I did list that stuff in my daily logs for kindergarten--Boom Blox Bash Party for the Wii was awesome for physics and hand-eye coordination).  That you, as a parent educator, are making some effort to teach your child/engage him in our world (which, in my experience, happens naturally, without much effort).



post #25 of 27
Originally Posted by mizzoh View Post
puzzlepiece - do you have any copies of those checklists?

They have them on the county website listed as Family Guides for PK- 5th here...


Here are the 6th, 7th, and 8th ones...




There are none for high school.

post #26 of 27

thank you, puzzlepiece!


what a great post, fritz.  very helpful!

post #27 of 27
Originally Posted by danaf617 View Post

We ended up at the card catalog next to each other and I said,

You guys still have a card catalogue?!?!?!  That is soooooo cool!  You could visit the card catalogue and call it a history lesson.

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