Archive for the ‘united states’ category

Going Off Autopilot

February 26, 2008

It seems my life is reflected in my writing.  I guess that makes sense.  But, it isn’t always a good thing. 

It’s been a long time since I’ve written a homeschooling blog entry.  And, that’s about how it’s been lately.  With everything else going on, we’ve pretty much been going on autopilot in that department.  But, I’ve been wondering lately if we’ve been flying in the right direction. 

So, last night when I couldn’t sleep- not sure if it’s the chocolate I ate just before bed or the mom panic that was setting in- I thought alot about our schooling this year.  It never fails that in the beginning of the school year I have a million ideas about what we are going to do in the new school year.  And it never fails that by December most of them have been  changed, ended in failure, or forgotten with the busyness of life.  So, I guess it’s about time to come up with some new ones!  Eventually, I should get it right!

So, idea one!  Remember my brilliant organization method for the school year?  It was a great excuse to go to Staples and get supplies!  I created a binder with a section for each subject that listed the state standards which I then used to create our goals for the year.  From now on, our goals will be the main focus of his learning.  Since these are the things I want him to know, these are the things we should be doing.  So, right now, all books and curriculum are going to be resources- not daily work.  I gave him the binder and told him to pick what goal he wanted to work on.  Some are short term and others will take him awhile. 

Today he completed 1 goal- know all states and capitals.  He also got a book of Edgar Allen Poe stories.  And, he got half of an algebra chapter done.  Since he sometimes has a hard time with change, I think this was a pretty good first day for him.  His incentive is that after completing 10 goals, he gets an entire day off.  That doesn’t happen much around here.  No snow days or teacher institute days for us.  Sometimes we even skip the holidays- actually probably most of the small ones.

And, I feel better knowing we are working directly on our goals and not just eventually getting to them.  I am sure by doing his research he will learn things other than the goals.  Also, some of them are pretty in depth and cover alot of information.  So, I now feel like we are back on track. 

The second thing of the day is this.  I was just researching to find study guides for Poe- not my favorite author (or even close!).  I came across this site and am amazed that this is all free!  http://www.sparknotes.com/ Most of the things I was finding were subscription things.  But, to find this many study guides and tests on so many subjects was amazing!  I am familiar with their books because I have bought several for my ds to use.  He loves the critical thinking one.  So, I am really happy to share this with you and hope you find it as useful as I have so far.

Thought number three.  I am so glad I am homeschooling!  Where else can I teach my son what I ant him to know and make sure I am teaching in a way he understands and retains the information?  And most importantly, where else can I change mid way through the year if it’s not working and still accomplish what needs to be done? 

And, with that, I’ll end. 

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Civil War Unit Study

September 16, 2007

I found this post at the homeschool carnival.  We are studying the civil war right now and this looks like a great resource. http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/homeschoolingmommaof4/387628/?#c

Also, here are a few ideas we are using.   My son just finished a book called Captured!  A Boy Trapped in the Civil War, by Mary Blair Immel.  It’s about a 14 year old boy who was caught and help prisoner in a Civil War Camp.  I liked the idea of having him rear something about someone his age in order to make it seem more real to him. 

The other thing we are doing is watching the mini series North and South.  I am way ahead of him because I have become addicted to it!  It started out as something for us to do together- which is a great idea.  But, I just kept watchng it after he went to bed because I had to know what was happening.  But, we are still watching it together.  I’m just watching it twice!  I actually wanted to watch it a little ahead so that I could make sure it was all appropriate for him.  Even though it was on tv, that doesn’t mean a whole lot these days.  What I like about the series is that it highlights the terrible things the war did to families and friends on both sides- dividing families and friendships because they were on opposing sides.  This is something I hadn’t thought a whole lot about before.  Also, it gives both aspects of the war, rather than viewing it only from the North or South perspective.

US History

September 10, 2007

     I have been searching for some ways to make history more hands- on.  My son really gets into history if it’s something that attracts his attention.  So, here are the plans I have so far. 

     I am using the History of Us curriculum.  It makes history more interesting than just a textbook.  I also like that the chapters are very short and therefore don’t seem overwhelming.  But, I haven’t gotten the teacher’s edition and there are no questions in the student edition.  So, I have to come up with the things I want him to focus on and remember- and cool ways to help him do that.

     The first thing I found out was that PBS has created a series using some of these books as a base.  They have a website that has the webisodes and other fun things, as well as quizes for each segment.  http://www.pbs.org/wnet/historyofus/index.html

     The next idea I had was to have him create a timeline bordering his schoolroom.  Instead of just writing dates and events, I decided he would much rather use his artistic ability.   So, he puts the date and then a picture to help him remember the event.  The room is not huge so I have him use half of a sheet per year. 

     Then, of course, I will be using movies to show different events, time periods, culture, etc.  I had heard of someone who showed movies about an event in history and then had the student write about the discrepencies between the movie and the actual facts.  While this is an interesting concept and would undoubtedly be quite educational, I am not sure whether I will incorporate that into my plan. 

     So, I am hoping this will keep him interested in history enough to retain what he is learning.  I would love to hear your ideas, comments, feedback.