Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Science and our approach (backstory)

Our approach to teaching Luk this year has been rather slow. As I have been putting together his portfolio for the coming year I have had he great pleasure of going through the curriculum I bought last year for this year. We have been using some of the Maps Charts and Graphs on and off, Right Start Mathematics, and we have been doing a bit of unschooling in the Science department because Luk LOVES exotic animals... well, any animal, really. River Monsters, anyone?

We moved and my father had surprise quadruple bypass so we have had some set backs. Which is fine since this year has been a very relaxed school setting, but now it's time to fully get into action and finish these books. =D

Luk has completed Explode the Code Book 1, I didn't start him on Book 2 because we used Book 1 1/2 for its' sentence structuring and building. So, he is about half away done with the work I am having him do on that, which is six lessons. Funny thing is he is already doing Book 2 work in the library books he has read. We may breeze through that one quickly.

However, to the confirmation bit that is mentioned in the title. There's always a question in the beginning if you have chosen the right curriculum for your family. Only you and your spouse can determine that with guidance from God. Our decision to do Real Science 4 Kids was something that I had not expected originally.

**Here's a bit of back-story**

Two years ago I went to the FPEA Convention was completely and utterly overwhelmed, but grabbed every brochure I could get my hands on. For that next year, I did research on everything I had (yes, it was about 100 different vendors) unit study curriculum, made for you scope, etc. I looked at it all. My husband thought I was a bit obsessive... anyway, he appreciated it when last year's convention came around. I knew where to go what to look at, etc. He was happy about that. So, we head straight to Apologia for science. Love it, still do, however out of all the curriculum I had picked and we had looked at this was the only one my husband and I were not 100% sold on. The problem we ran into with it was that we did not feel that it was geared towards K-3. It says that it is geared towards K-6, however we did not think this was so (side note- We will be getting this after grade 3). Now, this may work for others of this age, but for us we thought it was a bit geared more towards older elementary. The work books, the text were geared more to upper elementary students. The notebook is more journaling and the notebooking approach (which I love), but for a Kindergarten not so much.

Here is an example of the Apologia text:
So, we agreed to find something more ... ... K-3, where written wasn't a primary, but more experience. We began looking around and came across a small booth where Real Science 4 Kids was set up. Let's just say we loved it. Pre-Level Biology, Chemisty, and Physics is geared towards K-3, and Dr. Keller was a homeschooling mom that couldn't find just right science source for her kiddos. I think she does an excellent job in making these science topics easy to understand for our little guys.

Here is the Real Science 4 Kids:

(You can see this book to its entirety on the website linked above)

As with any science their is a lab and workbook. I was working on making copies of this for the portfolio, and I just had a great confirmation in choosing this curriculum. The pages have some writing in it (more in the first lab than the others), but this is what I liked about the workbook is its' focus on observation. The following labs make the child draw the observations they make. Plants growth, protozoa eating phases, butterfly metamorphosis, tadpole to frogs phase (my least favorite, OH DAD! You get this one. Have I mentioned he has two pet water frogs?), and observing the life cycle. The experiment book is full of areas to show observation.

Confirmation, it is important to get it when you are deciding your children's education. By the way, I am in NO way getting or making money off RS4K, but I do think it is a curriculum that is not popular in my area and I needed to share.

My approach to science to tackle it and run with it (picture Dwight Freeney if you will).
Need help with that, here ya go:

I'm have no fear of tackling evolution or any other world view. Bring it on. So, with that there is a **side-note: Apologia will be our choice of study once Luk is in fourth grade. Dr. Keller is not one that believes that creationism is all correct, but she doesn't think that evolutionism is all correct either. She also has a complex with "Intelligent Design." So, as the levels get more advanced you WILL see where  she focuses on this, "Today I find myself betwixt and between, to the right and to the left, in the middle and yet with a panoramic view of all three viewpoints. By many, it can be seen as the nether world of scientific thought–standing for everything and therefore standing for nothing. But a panoramic view may be the best solution for the worldview wars over science education, and it may ultimately be the most useful and productive approach for science." **

As Christ-followers we most certainly believe in Creationism. So, with that for foundational science I like the way she introduces the facts. However, with that I can teach my boys the views of others with our worldview being held strong by my husband and me.  These facts taught by me will be taught as the way God intended to make these things. His intricate design for all the world. She does not push anything as an agenda either. Observation is key in these three books (Biology, Chemistry, & Physics). I think for a beginning science it starts off good, and will compliment the introduction to Apologia well since he will have more reading/writing skills and after this observational skills.

I feel good about bringing the knowledge of science without fear, but with strong practice of observing what God has designed.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Florida Portfolio

Sometimes it is nice to just be told what to do. You know when you don't know where you want to eat, and you ask the person with you wherever you want and they comply with an answer. That's how I feel about the Florida Statute on End-of-the-Year Portfolios. It is pretty lax, but then you have to make the decision of just what is the best way to put it together. Well, the past three days I have been doing just that.



More Research... (no, I'm not from Pinellas, but they are a neighboring county)

Yes, I am a bit OCD, and on top of that I have to plan. Surprise on what the gender of your child is? Nope, not me. If I can find out and get things in order, that's me. I am not a fan of procrastination. So, before our crazy summer begins I have gotten a move on with what our Portfolio will look like. It is finally done, and now all that needs to take place is for Sept to come and start adding Luk's school work to it.

Starting point is knowing what needs to go inside this portfolio:

port·fo·lio noun  5: a selection of a student's work (as papers and tests) compiled over a period of time and used for assessing performance or progress
A homeschool portfolio is a sampling of your student’s work over a certain period of time, whether year-round or a traditional school year.  To use your portfolio for your annual evaluation, in the state of Florida, it must be reviewed by a Florida certified teacher and must show educational progress.  The average cost of a portfolio evaluation is $50 and a list of certified teachers can be found on our website (www.herijax.com). You can expect an evaluation to take about an hour.  Book an appointment for the evaluation at least 6 weeks prior to your anniversary date, so you are not rushed.
Your portfolio should have 5 - 9 work samples for each subject for each quarter. Dating all your students’ papers and organizing each subject in separate sections is very helpful.  In most cases the teacher will look at the portfolio and speak with the student to see that they have made progress from the beginning of the year to the end.  Most teachers are looking for simple and to the point work that the child has done.  Extra work, projects, lapbooks or a piece of artwork that cannot fit into the portfolio can be shared with the teacher as well.
Other items typically found in a portfolio are:
§  Your letter of intent to homeschool
§  Program description (Tip: photocopy the table of contents from your students text books)
§  Daily, Weekly or Monthly logs of your student's lessons and activities
§  Reading log (this includes what the student has read, what you have read to the student and what you have read about homeschooling or any subject you are teaching your student.)
Tip: Keep your book receipt from the library for your records
§  Pictures (some things cannot be documented as well as a good photograph)
§  Extracurricular activities log
§  Awards and certificates
§  Completed “Home Education Evaluation Form” (always keep a copy for your records)

With this here is what my last few nights and today have looked like:

Yes, Play time is essential!

Curriculum, Books, Portfolio, and Logan's Puppy


Who is Luk?

Letter of Intent

Curriculum List

Curriculum Excerpts

Monthly Calendar/Plans/Objectives
(our days differ, so this will only be filled out each week)

Journal Log 
(daily thoughts on progress)
Book List

Field Trip and PE Log

Subject Folders

These are the 27 Right Start Worksheets

 Previous Work to show initial progress

Show some of Luk's responsibilities

Quarterly Nature Journal (Science)

Quarterly Book Reports (Chapter books read together)

Vocabulary/Spelling (English)

Quarterly Historical Figures Report (history) 

Short Break for Cheetos
(notice orange ring around lips & orange smudges on shirt) 

Also, there is going to be a copy of the Evaluation.

Inside the subject folders will carry the work throughout the year, and some already have what will be done so that I have it all in one area. Lesson plans will look at the monthly objective alone with the table of contents from each curriculum since it shows the scope of learning. 

Our days change due to illness, behavior issues, or just having dad home on Monday. So, my plans will only be a scope of learning along with journal entries. For those things that are done on the computer like his Math supplement, I will take photos. 

Hopefully this will be an adequate portfolio. I will only know so at the end of the year. I do think that it a good plan. I'm sure that over time things will be tweaked, but that's fine. Stay tuned to see what the final product will be. 

**The pages like the Nature Journal, Historical Figures, etc came from TOS Planner with me editing some for our needs.**

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Co-op Field Trip to the Florida Aquarium & thoughts

I am reminded regularly why my husband and I decided four years ago to homeschool our son (now sons). At first, it was something that I brought out to question, and after time my husband began to have strong considerations for it. Now, we are strong union on this front, and God has confirmed this decision in more ways than one. Why homeschool has been a topic of decision, and will always be a topic to discuss as we go on this journey. I seek blogs of encouragement especially from those that write more eloquently than I, or I read books that bring closure to my questioning:

“I {know} deep in my heart that God designed me, as a mother, to be at home with my children. To even think of settling for something else would be to step out of His will.  No matter how difficult the homeschooling lifestyle might become, my commitment {is} to do God’s will, not my own. Even though I could selfishly choose an ‘easier’ lifestyle, I would have to disobey God to do so. I know in my heart that God has called me to homeschool…” 
Sally Clarkson

Yes, that. With that comes our trip to the Florida Aquarium. My mommy friends and I thought that we picked a good day to go being a Tuesday morning, however when we arrived we quickly realized that the decision was not that wise. We were seeing the big yellow school buses and mounds of children coming out to go explore the Aquarium. There were hundreds of kids, but we trucked along. Each of use pushing the second borns in their strollers.   It was loud, but the kids had great time.

Lessons learned from son and mother on how to deal with older children pushing and shoving these three out of the way, and Luk being the most vocal out of the group! (side note: the boy in the red was not the one that did the pushing. I don't want this sweet boy to get a bad rep. =D)

Lessons learned on how important it is to have an objective to these trips like a scavenger hunt.

Lessons learned that when a friend is sick and not able to join in on the fun that he is remembered and missed! Each wanting to take a photo just for him.

Lessons learned that as friends: they want to help each other explore and learn!

Lessons learned that after learning can come the fun in the sun.

That even the smallest in the groups seeks to find new challenges!

Lessons learned that after some play the learning continues.

The questions asked and the answers given are just the beginning and forever of our lives in this journey.

The trip was not seamless as Luk is vocal about when things happen to him. In two situations that day Luk was pushed, shoved, and hit by children that were in groups from the schools. They were older and bigger. We talked that day and today about how Jesus was beaten and killed by people that were mean, jealous, and scared. We talked about how we may not understand why they treat us in the manner that they do, but that's important that we reflect Christ and what he did. LOVE.

I watched to see what Luk's responses were. In first incident at the otter exhibit, he was taken aback and just watched in shock that he was pushed. He pouted and waited. Then when the left, I nudged him to go back up to look. The second situation occurred in the line for him and one of his friends to touch the star fish and other sea creature. The entire group just pushed their way through even the adult with them. I think I stood in shock as this woman just watched as they did that Luk and said nothing. I waited to see Luk. Me just staying silent so that my anger towards them wouldn't come out. He said, "HEY! You pushed me!" The three out of the four boys just ignored and snickered at him, while one of the boys said, "I didn't see you." Luk just looked and pouted. That boy kept looking back at Luk while his other friends tried to turn him around and talk with him. He had a concern for the way Luk felt, while the others ignored the "little boy." As the adult looked on, I asked Luk and his friend to come on the other side of the stroller to separate the two groups. I made eye contact with the "chaperone" (whatever that means), and gave her a look of irritation and I'm sure the angered showed.

There were a few things that I thought about at this time:
(1) I am glad that I didn't have someone chaperoning my son during that time because I created a teaching moment when it was over. While the three of the boys got away with being mean to a five year old, and one boy not sure how to feel left with no answers.
(2) It gave me a time to observe how Luk will respond to conflict. I'm not sure if his reaction was best, but I am also not sure as to what I was suppose to say. I can only hope that is a correct correction, and that it was better than sitting idly by like the other adult in this story.
(3) Luk quickly forgot about the issues, and he had fun the rest of the day.

Sigh... it broke my heart to see Luk get pushed around. He did get hit in the face. What was the hardest thing about it was seeing those boys not care and that "an older person who accompanies young people at a social gathering to ensure proper behavior" was not doing her job. It made me notice that this year Luk would be going into Kindergarten and he would walking the halls with boys that age...  and "chaperones" that will not be doing their part.

I think it is important for me to note that this in NO means is saying that I want to shelter Luk, but rather that the situation and his learning after the situation was MY responsibility.

"They emphasized character, not conformity."

No, we will not conform to that behavior because that is what your friends are doing. No, we will not conform to the world and the way that others think we should act. No, we are not of this world! For Luk and Logan to know what it means to be of the world, they have to see it! We chose to NOT conform, but to grow and be like Christ. We are called to love. As I told Luk, Jesus loved those that killed Him. It may be hard; It may be painful, but Luk, you are to love those that are mean to you. Those boys will only see a boy that showed love and pain.

At the end of the day there was more character building learning than what this momma expected, but there was a wonderful amount learned beyond that for me. I end with Luk's scavenger hunt sheet:

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Blog by Candid Diversions

**I found this blog and had to share. I have highlighted some of favorites.**

30 for 30 - Benefits of Homeschooling

1. You can sleep in.

2. You [Mom] can learn the things you've always wanted to learn. Didn't have time for Shakespeare when you were in school? Start now! Always wanted to take French but your school only offered Spanish? This is your chance.

3. There's less wasted time (this applies to the children. So much of "regular" school is waiting in line, waiting for the next thing to happen, waiting to leave...)

4. Your children have the chance to see you at your best...

5. ...and your worst. Yes, this is actually a good thing.

6. You can skip the boring parts.

7. You can slow down and savor the good parts.

8. There's lots of time for reading.

9. You realize that everything can be educational: sorting the laundry, a walk around the block, making change at the grocery store...

10. You get to choose the when / where / why / and, most importantly, who, of socializing.

11. You can cuddle up on the couch, the floor, or a bed when you read aloud.

12. Chores can be part of the curriculum.

13. You can kiss the principal whenever you want.

14. You don't have to create bright, eye catching bulletin boards. (This was one of Philip's most hated parts of teaching school.)

15. You can pray out loud and read your Bible throughout the day.

16. You can visit places off season (no lines!) or during the day while everyone else is in school.

17.  You can take a week off. Because of sickness, because of bad (or good) weather, or "just because".
18. There are no threatened budget cuts to art or music classes.

19. You can stay up late to look at the stars or a meteor shower.

20. No embarrassing health class - just candid discussions with mom or dad as necessary.

21. You don't have to wear shoes.

22. Recess is highly encouraged. Dodge ball is permissible. If you have to bathe or shower with someone else, it will be someone who shares the same parents as you.

23. You have time to pursue your own interests, no matter how arcane or engrossing.

24. Bullying is dealt with immediately, whether you're the victim or the perpetrator.

25. If you don't like lunch you can make your own.

26. Naptime doesn't end after Kindergarten.

27. No fundraising - no candy bars, no magazines, no popcorn. No forms that make adults want to hide when they see your child coming.

28. Playing the Wii occasionally counts as Phys. Ed.

29. You (the parent) don't miss anything: cute things they say, funny expressions they make, or that "a-ha!" moment when they figure something out.

30. No homework. In other words, once you get finished with a school day, you do not have to tackle another 3 hours of worksheets, book reports, and projects. When Mom says you're done for the day, you're done! And no terrifying bus ride home, either. And Mom? No carpool lanes.

What can I say? I'm a big fan!