27 July 2011

Donna Young's Art Program

When I asked my 7-year-old rising 3rd grader which curriculum was her favorite, she said her art program. Since we let her take art at our co-op, we don't actually do a formal art program at home. It took me a minute to realize she was talking about the Donna Young sheets that we are using for drawing practice until we return to co-op in September. So I decided that I would make a post about them. The best way to describe them is to just take a look at them, so I have scanned one of them to show off my daughter's work.

The purpose of the sheets is for the student to draw the image that is in the first square two times. They need to try to make the image the same size with the lines in the same location within the square as the original. What I have my oldest daughter do is draw her first attempt, then show me so that I can give her feedback, such as, "That line needs to be a little longer" or "This circle needs to be up in the box a little higher." She then uses my feedback to do her next attempt. She really likes this program, and will do two or three sheets in one day. 

My youngest daughter, who is 6, likes to copy it, but would rather rush through it and is not as concerned about doing it the right way. I just go with it, since art really doesn't seem like her "thing." She likes to draw and paint and color, but she has never been the imitator that her sister is. 

This sheet is actually from a collection on Donna Young's site that is for younger children. You can find the downloads here.

If you have older children, there is another collection here.

The nice thing about these is that they are free, and therefore make a perfect interim art program, that doesn't make me have to get the paints out every day!

25 July 2011

Horseback Riding Lessons

We originally gave K horseback riding lessons as a birthday present this year, since she has become quite the horse lover. After several weeks of lessons, H expressed interest in having lessons as well. Once a week we take them for private lessons with a young lady from our co-op. They groom the horse together, then each get a half hour lesson.

This is H working on brushing her side of the horse.

Here, K is helping, since her side is already done.

K working on her side.

18 July 2011

New Portfolio/Record-Keeping Binders

Here is a sneak peek of the girls' binders for the upcoming school year. This will contain all of our record-keeping items (attendance, course of study, etc.) as well as samples of their work from throughout the year. Although our state doesn't require any of this, I want to start keeping track this year.

These are the binders. I still need to make some nice covers for them.  K is color-coded blue, and H is pink. These just happen to be their favorite colors.

This is our calendar for the year. I go through it and mark a --- on the days that we don't have school and write a C on our co-op days. I downloaded this from Donna Young.

Each binder has a coure of study sheet in it. It has the subjects and the books that we use for them listed on it. I also got this from Donna Young. I was able to type the information onto it before printing.
Also from Donna Young, this is for each girl to check off each subject on each day as she does them. 
I made this one myself. :) Since we have 42 weeks of school and most of what I could find were sheets made for 36 weeks of school, I had to make my own. We are going with 14-week trimesters. Each day there is graded work, the grade will be written onto the sheet. Then, I can very easily add this information to Homeschool Skedtrack every few days.

11 July 2011

2011-12 Curriculum Changes

For the most part, we are going to be using the same curriculum as last year, with a few minor changes, additions, and transitions. Here are the differences:

Growing With Grammar - She just recently finished level 2 and is now into level 3. Before we began our four-week break, she got through the first six lessons.
Learning Language Arts Through Literature - She has been doing the yellow book of this for a while now, but I don't think I've ever blogged about it.
Winning With Writing - We are considering adding this into the language arts mix this year, but I'm not sure if we will start with level 2 or 3.

Math Mammoth - In addition to Math U See, we have started working through Math Mammoth 1A. This gives us options, rather than doing the same thing day after day.
Sequential Spelling - While I love the approach that McRuffy uses for all language arts subjects, I feel that adding in SS would allow her to begin doing more writing on her own. She has never been one to use imaginative spelling, so always has to ask someone how to spell things she wants to write. And she has been writing and asking a lot lately!
New American Cursive - H will begin book one of NAC when we resume at the beginning of August.

In addition to the above, both girls will also begin Bible Study Guide for All Ages. This will be done together, just like our history and science are.

10 July 2011

New Grading Procedures, Pt. 2

Last week I blogged about the grading system we will be using with K this upcoming year. Today I thought I should share how we will be handling H's grades.

Like her sister, the individual subject grades will be 70% tests and 30% daily work.

Also like her sister, her language arts will be grouped into one grade. However, since she is using different curricula, it will be divided differently. Her McRuffy Language and Reading will receive 45%, McRuffy Spelling and Phonics will receive 45%, and Sequential Spelling will receive the remaining 10%.

In addition to language arts, she also does two math programs. I could use the generic subject of math and give a single grade, but I decided to break it up into the individual subjects instead. Math Mammoth and Math U See will each be worth 50% of her total grade.

07 July 2011

New Grading Procedures

Since my oldest daughter has expressed interest in receiving grades on her daily work, we have spent some time deciding exactly how to weigh the grades for next year. While I believe that a test should be the major indicator of how well a child is learning and retaining information, her interest in also being graded daily has made me come to realize that there should be at least some accountability for daily work so that a child can learn that even your everyday work is important. The tricky part is deciding just how important in the grand scheme of things.

So, after much discussion and obtaining lots of opinions from others, we have come up with 70/30. In all individual subjects tests will account for 70% of the final grade while daily work will account for 30%.

However, I reached a wall when trying to decide what to do with Sequential Spelling. With this spelling program, K takes a spelling test each day, with corrections made to misspelled words before going on to the next word. There is not really a periodic assessment that is performed. I inquired about this on the Well-Trained Mind Forum, and someone had a wonderful idea: Give the daily spelling tests a grade of 100% each day, but then group all language arts subjects into one and give spelling a low weight. When I realized that Homeschool Skedtrack has the ability to group subjects this way, I decided that was probably the best way to handle the situation.

So now, all of K's language arts grades will be lumped into one group for report card purposes. Growing With Grammar will be 30%, Winning With Writing 30%, Learning Language Arts Through Literature 30%, and Sequential Spelling 10%.

Assuming I have not forgotten something major, this is the plan for the new school year when we resume next month.

06 July 2011

2011-12 Record Keeping

After much research into different peoples' methods of record keeping/planning, I have decided to continue to use Homeschool Skedtrack to document my homeschool. However, I have made a few minor adjustments.

One of the downfalls I have had with Homeschool Skedtrack in the past is that if I got behind on the logging of our daily work, I would just give up and stop using the program. I have come up with a few ways to remedy this. First of all, I am going to be giving the girls a sheet of their work to be completed on either a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. I am still trying to decide the best way to do this. I might revert back to a Word document that I made a couple years ago that had a monthly plan for me and then a weekly plan that I would print out and give to K. Then they can check off the items as they are completed out of their workboxes and I can have a record of the work accomplished for the week.

The only obstacle that I'm running into is that sometimes I'm not sure what we're doing until the day before, as I might change something up to add in extra review, skip ahead, or even just have a day where the work is "different" for a change of pace. For example, H is using two math programs. Currently I alternate them based on the subject and the "school mood" she is in. Sometimes, just seeing one of them makes her "resistent" to school, but if I pull out the other one, we can get something accomplished. For this reason, having the schedule made up ahead of time might not be productive, unless I go with a daily plan.

Next, since K has expressed interest in getting her daily work graded as well as her tests, I have been grading her assignments as she completes them, with the exception of Growing With Grammar (GWG), which I have taught her how to grade on her own using the answer key. (She finds this subject especially easy, so usually gets most, if not all, of them correct!) I am going to use either an Excel grade sheet or a paper grade sheet to keep track of grades on a daily basis. This way, if for some reason I do not have Homeschool Skedtrack open on a particular day, or if we simply are away from the computer, I can easily go back into it and update the grade info when it's convenient.

Hopefully, these tweaks will make all the difference for me and allow me to keep up to date on all that we are accomplishing throughout the year. I am really looking forward to our upcoming year, which starts in three-and-a-half short weeks!