Sunday, August 30, 2015

Homeschool: Common Core and More!

This past week marked all three of my boys' return to school! Now, the oldest is a junior in college, the middle son started 4th grade at our local elementary school, and my youngest is in 3rd grade and is homeschooled.  Some homeschoolers view the Common Core State Standards as a "bad word" and avoid anything to do with it at all costs. But for me, I see the beauty of homeschool as allowing me to{finally!} teach in a way that I know is best for my little learner. Perhaps there is just too much public school teacher in me, but I know that part of my responsibility to my son is to make sure that he receives a well-rounded education. That includes being prepared for standardized tests (he's required to take one this year), for high school and beyond, and being prepared just in case he returns to public school. There are parts of the CCSS that I know are important and follow best practices, while there are other methods, content, and teaching strategies that I know work and are a good fit for my 3rd grader. Plus, I encourage him to take the lead, communicate with me, and help to plan units of interest. {that's why we started with science this week!}

See this, that appears to be a mess?  This is what the homeschool table looked like just 30 minutes into our day on Monday! A highlight of the week for my son was putting the finishing touches on his North Carolina lapbook.  Earlier in the summer he had researched and took notes on the geography, animal and plant life, and interesting facts about this great state.  {That hits CCSS Reading Informational text and Range of Writing!}

We went on vacation to Emerald Isle, N.C., and he had a lot of photos to sort through to use in the lapbook.  I had some pages and elements made for the lapbook, but he totally designed it himself and had to make decisions on what to include as well as creating the layout of the book.

I made the cut!  This is me with 2 of my boys!

In Math, we are spending a lot of time refining addition and subtraction fact fluency, working on place value, and beginning multiplication.  The latter was something my son really wanted to work on even though it wasn't in the curriculum until a little later in the year  That is another perk of homeschooling: I can move and change our "sequence" part of the curriculum so that it is more student-led and interest-led.  Anyway, what I want to share with you is a fun game we played using a deck of cards and an eraser.  This is great for partners to play to work on subtraction facts. Player takes two cards from the deck and makes a subtraction sentence (being sure to place the larger number first).  If player can solve the sentence correctly, he/she keeps the cards.  Player with the most cards wins!

Writing is a major focus for us this year, as it is an area in which my son needs to grow. He keeps a journal that is used at the start of the day after devotions.  It is used as a brain warm-up and to get his writing muscles nice and strong!

He also keeps a Reader's Notebook that houses an interactive notebook (we use and LOVE Nicole Shelby's Reading Interactive Notebook resource.)   We worked on asking questions during reading and will apply this knowledge to the reading of Freckle Juice by Judy Blume this week! The notebook is also where he takes notes and responds in writing to his reading.

In writing, he is working on sentence structure and on writing complete sentences in grammar.  This was a narrative writing I had him do to his assess his writing skills at the beginning of the year so that I had a baseline from which to start.

This summer my son became interested in using chalk pastels and wanted to continue using this medium.  He followed a tutorial I found on Pinterest to make this tornado drawing.  This week he will be writing about his drawing!

And yes, there is more!  In science we read about the ocean from our textbook since we just returned from the beach a few weeks ago.  My son is a kinesthetic learner and loves science experiments. In the pics below are highlights from conducting an experiment to learn why the ocean is salty.

During and after the reading in the textbook, he completed this main idea and details page.  You can download a set of these organizers for fiction and nonfiction for FREE here.  I wanted to work on this skill set because it was a weak area for him last year.

And that is just a peek into our jam-packed first week back to a "normal"schedule.  In the summer, we do school, but it is on a more relaxed schedule and we focus on reading, writing, math, and areas of interest.  We are off to a strong start and I'm looking forward to starting our spelling curriculum and to reading Freckle Juice this week!

Have you started back to school?  Whether you are a teacher in a classroom or a homeschool mom, share what you are excited to be teaching and learning this week!

Have a Blessed Week!

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