We just moved to Md and having first portfolio review ever for out tweens. K level.
How do you do that? I am a bit frustrated.
I thoght I just bring bunch of things and show them but I have most of the work in workbooks..
and they ask for portfolio.. dividers.. etc.
What do I do?
I mean, okay, so I get this huge binder?.. and then put dividers by subject.. like Math.. Reading.. Science?.. right?
and now what? Do I put every single subject and skill we covered in Math? or jsut couple of things we did?
Reading.. every single subject again?..
What subject they look for in K level anyway? It is so vague.
Lastly Do I need to be concerned big time if we did not have record of what we did weekly?
I have frame plann what we do each week but we just don't plan and do what we feel strongly aobut
as long as it covers material.
Is this bad? how great of a record you need what you do weekly?
Disclaimer: My DS is 1st grade equivalent, and I'd classify us as very relaxed, eclectic homeschoolers. Pro tip: never mention the term "unschooling" during your school district reviews. They've had too many people claim to be unschoolers who were really being negligent parents, so the term has been poisoned.
What I've learned from our two reviews last year: It depends on your school district, and on the actual person you get as your reviewer. At your review (it sounds like maybe you already had it for the first semester and are looking for tips on improving the second semester review?), the school district person (we've had retired teachers as our portfolio reviewers) has a form to fill out that's divided by subject. So to make it easier on them (they only allow 15-20 minutes per child), it helps if you have your child's samples divided by subject, too. I like to use a big binder, but you could use any organizational system that works for you--they just really, really, really want to see about 1 sample per subject, per week, per child (or in the case of my DS who doesn't do anything on a regular schedule, I just brought in the entire math workbook even though not all pages were completed). The reviewers we've had love worksheets as visible, tangible proof of the educational process (both that the child has been exposed to a concept, and that they're practicing it, too). However, my DS isn't a big fan of worksheets, so I just take pictures whenever he incorporates words in his artwork, and it counts as both art and language arts (I print them out wallet sized, 9 to a page, and file them by subject just before our review). Most of our binder is made up of my handwritten logs of what we've done on any given day (but it's not uncommon to have gaps of several days between entries for some subjects). I have different sheets for each subject, and for each entry I note the date, time spent on activity, and give a brief description of what happened. But you don't have to make a daily log; it's just that for me, doing it every day makes it more routine so I'm less likely to forget something.
This website is the MD state curriculum. Click on the subject, then on K for kindergarten curricula guidelines, but try not to be intimidated by all the abstract language. Usually a single activity would cover several different goals, so it's really not as overwhelming as it can initially seem. It's set up for the entire school year, so you have until May or June (depending on when your final portfolio review is scheduled) to cover all that stuff (and actually, since you're homeschooling, you're not on such a strict schedule if you don't want to be). However, if you think you'll be entering your kids into the public school system at some point, this state curriculum should give you a good idea of what your kids would be expected to know for any given grade level.
Maryland's big thing (or at least my district's) is "regular, thorough instruction." On my county review form, it lists each subject (and the same form is used K-12): Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, World Language, Art, Music, Physical Education, Health; then there's a column for course content where our reviewer made note of what sorts of "proof" we had--photos of DS doing educational things, writing or art samples, or just a brief list: Legos and board games (under Math). Then there are columns for Reading Materials, Worksheets, Workbooks, Assessments, and Writing Samples. If we brought in any of those, there's a check mark for that subject. If we didn't, it was left blank. Then there's another column called Curriculum Materials. If you're using a particular series of workbooks or textbooks, magazine subscriptions, or a DVD series (Highlights, Click; Sid the Science Kid, Bill Nye Science Guy) that would be noted here. We didn't have much of a formal curriculum for DS last year, so the reviewer just made brief lists of things we did to focus on certain areas--Social Studies had Jamestown listed b/c we'd taken a family vacation there and toured the re-created settlement and museum (and we had pictures to back that up). The final columns are Yes/No: Evidence of regular, thorough instruction.
In your case, since you're using workbooks, bring the workbooks. Or if it's a ton of workbooks, bring in one in the series, but have a list with the full series name/author or publishing house. Or, since you've got twins, if you're photocopying the pages (two copies of same page for each kid), bring in a few of the worksheets along with the list of workbook names. You don't need to prove you've taught every single math skill, but a couple of samples of their work doing addition, filling in missing numbers in a sequence, or sorting or identifying shapes would be fine. They're most concerned that you're not claiming to be a homeschooler while actually not bothering to teach anything at all. They love to see motivated, enthusiastic students, but they'll be almost as happy to see motivated, enthusiastic parents--when the parents are excited about learning, it helps set a positive tone for the kids. You don't have to document everything, but you should be able to verbally fill in any gaps in your documentation (give examples of activities or learning opportunities), and definitely put some emphasis on field trips (even if it's just the zoo, aquarium, or a random museum, it counts!).
Hope that helps!
Hi, I'm sorry I'm not in Maryland, so I can't help with specifics.
Your questions are a little difficult to understand. Tweens (as in 10-12-year-olds)? Or kindergarten? Is that what you mean by K? What do you mean by "Reading: every single subject"?
I live in a jurisdiction where I take part in a (voluntary) program that requires an in-person meeting/review once a term. For the K-4 level what they're looking for is general evidence of progress in four major subject areas: language arts, math, science and social studies. For 5th through 8th grade our education system also requires 2nd language study. They don't want specific exhaustive tasks accomplished, just evidence that we're working within these areas and seeing progress appropriate to our children. They also like to have evidence of activity that covers creative endeavours and physical education / wellness. We simply present a one-minute overview of what we've done in each of those areas. Sometimes it's a workbook in which twenty or thirty pages have been completed. Sometimes it's a list of resources we've used (eg. in social studies, some DVDs we watched and a book I read aloud). Sometimes it's photographs or an accounting of activities we've used as learning opportunities or a demonstration of some skill. We have a long-term relationship with our supervising teacher, and the kids often enjoy bringing small gifts for him that are also demonstrations of their learning eg. soap that they made as part of chemistry learning, an origami bookmark, brownies baked independently, that sort of thing.
Now, I don't know if in your case you have to submit an actual document or set of documents. That might be a little more work. You might have to photocopy or print out some evidence .... photocopy the table of contents of a book and mark down which exercises have been completed, or type out and print a list of readalouds, rather than just showing / reporting verbally. But we've always found our reviews to be very friendly, low-key and supportive. Not worth stressing over, certainly!
Hopefully someone from MD can pipe up with experience specific to your state, but this is a wide-ranging international forum. You would probably get better guidance by contacting your state homeschooling association or finding an email group within your county or state.
Mountain mama to one great kid and three great grown-ups
I am in MD, but have not had to go through review (we are 1st year homeschoolers also). I have kept work in a big binder, have our weekly plans on the computer (I soon need to print them out), have a separate list of field trips, have work books for my younger child that I will bring in. I am a little nervous, since ds HATES to handwrite so handwriting is lacking from what I would like but we'll utilize spelling and other activities. I will be watching for updates to this though!!!
I'm in Maryland. We did portfolio review with Baltimore City last year for K - this year we're using an umbrella group, Maryland Homeschool Reviews. Where in MD are you reviewing? Some counties are friendly to homeschoolers and some are very difficult.
Make sure you understand COMAR, the Code of Maryland, as it applies to homeschooling:
In Maryland, you have to provide evidence of "regular, thorough instruction" in eight subjects: math, English, science, social studies, art, music, health, and physical education. Evidence of instruction can be provided in different ways - by showing samples of things the child has done, and by showing the materials you use.
For my K portfolio, I included things like:
- a list of chapter books I read to my child (English)
- a list of books she read aloud to me (English; could also bring in samples from a reading instruction book)
- photos of us doing a science experiment (Science)
- list of DVDs and picture books on science topics (Science)
- photos from a field trip to a living history site (Social Studies)
- pages from a math workbook (Math)
- pictures my child drew (Art)
- photo of her singing with a church children's choir (Music)
- a note she wrote to me (English)
- a list of health topics we discussed as part of ordinary living (Health)
- the course description for her ballet class (Physical Education)
If you use curricula, it's helpful to bring some of your books in for them to look at. That can be a good way of showing that you do stuff when there isn't much of a written record. We used Five in a Row, which is mostly oral, so I didn't have all that much "proof." Showing the Five in a Row manual helped the reviewer understand what we did.
They generally want you to prove that schooling is "regular and thorough." Some reviewers will ask for a log of what you did, or sometimes they'll ask for your lesson plans.You are not obligated to keep your records in a certain way, so don't feel like you've done something wrong if you don't have what they ask for. I got good advice from experienced homeschoolers that the easiest and least intrusive way to provide evidence of "regular and thorough" schooling is to give a schedule showing what subjects you cover on which days. There is no need to worry about whether you follow the schedule exactly - you can think of it as a guideline or as a sample week.
The most important advice I have about Maryland reviews:
- Go in with a sense of confidence in your educational methods, and don't be apologetic about them. My reviewer really wanted us to do the things that public schools do. I kept saying, politely but confidently, "That's one way of doing things, but we have a different educational philosophy."
- Don't go in looking for approval, understanding, admiration, or validation. Go in looking for the check mark on her form that says your portfolio is "acceptable." Period.
Good luck! I am not around on MDC much anymore, but feel free to PM me. Oh, and here are two posts I wrote about the review process on my blog, which might be helpful to some:
I asked at a local homeschool get together about this. The county I am in seems to have a home school friendly reputation. The moms all seemed to feel that a minimal portfolio showing work across the curriculum areas from the entire year (not every piece needed, just a few) was quite acceptable. They said that our homeschool principal was interested in hearing from the parent and if possible the child to hear how it went. Overall, I was told to anticipate less than an hour. Then they ask what grade you would be doing next year and fill in the cert accordingly for you. Not bad overall, they told me it shouldn't keep me up at night with nerves.
I am planning to include- workbooks, pages of work, outline of curriculum used, field trips, community service. I have it broken into subjects- Math, Language Arts (Reading, Spelling, Grammar/writing), Social Studies, Science, Art/Handwriting, Health, and Other (Community service, Field trips, Curriculum). I plan to bring my kids as I want to have them feel like part of the process of education, however we will talk about what kinds of things may come up and how to answer as being put on the spot is something that is anxiety producing for them but a necessary skill. I have yet to receive notice of the review, but anticipate it coming soon.
To the other MD mamas, maybe we can update as we have ours. Fingers and toes crossed for each of you that it goes well!!!
You've gotten some great advice, so far. I'll just share a few links, if you would like to read them.
Q/A on preparing for a county review in Maryland
What to teach in Kindergarten. This breaks down what a 5yo is generally expected to learn during the year.
We just posted this article tonight and it deals with reviewing in Baltimore County
Good luck with your first review. It can seem like a big scary monster, but it's not. You just have to learn how to frame what you do in words that your reviewer can understadn.
Welcome to Chuck Co! I am also here in SoMD. My kids are older though. There is a really nice group called SMASH (Southern Maryland Active Homeschoolers *I think* is what it stands for) that does get together times (park days, skating, etc). Most of the kids are either highschool or little. Not a ton in the middle with mine. Really supportive moms though. You might want to check it out. :)
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