Thursday, August 8, 2013

Tackling Spelling

I haven't written much on this blog in the past month.  It has felt like a whirlwind, one thing to cope with after another.  Nothing major.  Just life stuff.  Last week was VBS and we were gone every morning.  I just have to say, Yuk!  My kids loved it and I loved it, too. I got my haircut and saw friends I hadn't seen all year.  But, Yuk!  I was gone every morning of the week and by Friday I had begun to feel frantic about getting my house clean and back in order.  People always talk about homeschooling in terms of whether it is best for the child.  I always say that homeschooling is the best choice for our family!  We are out less at night.  Our days involve less running around and we focus on schooling.

Thankfully, VBS is just one week of the year and so next week we will be at home...except for soccer practice that starts and will be every night of the week!.  Can you hear my anxiety?  I've avoided the every night of the week plus Saturday activity schedule for 9 years.  But, it's finally come to our home and we will tackle it over the next three months!

In the meantime, I have some other projects to tackle this week before we start our school year and add everything back onto math.  My projects are 1) to finish writing Autumn's US History curriculum and 2) to study learning methodology when it comes to spelling struggles so that I can design a new reading/spelling/writing program for Sami.  She does very well with decoding (sounding out) words, but struggles with encoding (breaking apart and attaching sounds to letters).

Here is a list of what I'm reading:   a paper on Kinesthetic learners (Sami cannot sit down and does all her work standing up)‎   was very helpful and interesting.  You do have to 
download it to read it, but it should open in protected view on your computer.
A spelling unit with rules in it--not for grades K-3.  These are higher level words.  This page has some interesting info in it.  The programs they refer to are very expensive, but I'll post a summary of my conclusions from all of these pages at the end of this post.   A great pdf file with consonant blends and endings.

A great explanation of how spelling can be taught to children with learning disabilities or spelling difficulties:
1.  The first part is on reading, but pages 9-16 are on spelling.

  My husband pointed out to me that all of this is educational theory--it is not fact.  It is theory based upon research testing and observation.  

This is interesting to me to remember.  As a homeschooler, my job is to help my children learn.  I observe what clicks and what doesn't.  I read a book a few years ago that made a very good point to me.  It titled Lost at School: Why Our Kids with Behavioral Challenges are Falling Through the Cracks and How We Can Help Them by Ross W. Greene.  His point was that rather than diagnosing and labeling kids, we need to identify their struggles and help them learn coping strategies to help them instead.  I think the same can be said of learners.  How a child learns is very complex.  I am continually amazed at how God has wired our brains!

More food for thought...


Kim said...

Ian' t identifying struggles and helping the cope the same'thing as diagnosing and labeling? Sure it sounds much more gentle, but what we are really saying is, "We have set up this system of teaching and learning and if you or your child struggles with it the problem clearly lies with you and not the system." It seems like a square pegs and round holes issue. But rather than examine/challenge the system we diagnose/ identify and label/help cope the student.
Okay. That sounded much harsher than I intended. One of the things I love about reading your homeschool adventures I how you do so readily see where your kids struggle and have the expertise to Taylor curriculum to fit. I think it's fantastic. And I know your classroom background and sometime wonder how your style at home would translate into a formal school setting. If it even could. And I get very frustrated for parents and students in our schools, both public and private.
And now I'm rambling.
Try to be patient with yourself this soccer season. Is it every day because all 3 are participating or because they practice every day? That's a lot. We have 1 weekday practice (Wed and Thurs) and 1 Saturday game for each girl. We either eat really early or use the crock pot on practice days. It really is a lot of fun to watch. But I do understand that anxiety. I'm struggling to sleep with it these days. Have fun. And I hope your whole family has a great season.

Anne said...

Yes, I think it is a square pegs and round hole issue. I think the point that the book made me think about was that I need to be more concerned with figuring out where she struggles than with diagnosing or labeling her struggles. You're right about the system, though. That's why I'm concerned about the common core and The Economist's articles about computers in classrooms. We do need to challenge the system. What I wonder is how? Right now what I can do is gather info and network to find people who can influence decisions (which I just found one who will let me email--yay!!). The other thing I try to do is when I hear parents complaining about teachers or schools, I listen and try to help parents understand teachers so they can work together. What comes to mind is when I asked a friend if her son's teacher was young, single, and a new teacher? The teacher was. I explained to her that the teacher doesn't understand yet the challenges of parenting! I made a lot of false assumptions about parenting when I first taught because I thought I understood kids--He he he. Little did I know, right?! What do you think we can do to challenge the education system?
Soccer is 2 nights/week for both girls. Eli's too young, but Sami's coach said he can practice along (we'll see) if I'm there for the whole practice. I'm coming to terms with it and thinking through what my time is for (and what it isn't ;) ). I feel challenged in a good way. I will pray that you will get better sleep! I don't sleep well either :(

Kim said...

First, I apologize for the horrible typing/spelling on that comment. In a hurry on my Kindle. I'll wait and go downstairs next time. :)
As far as how to change our school system...good question. I think we need to start by decentralizing everything. Individual schools, principals and teachers need much more autonomy than they have now. And our more recent history has shown that centralized top-down curriculum systems don't work. They are not producing the results promised.
I read your critique of Common Core and agree with you. My concerns with Common Core tend to focus on the link between federal funds and implementation. I think states become dependent upon federal money and push schools to get results that will bring the cash. Look at the recent testing scandals where teachers and principals were changing answers to improve scores. It's sickening. Also, the database/information collection bothers me. Now, I admit that I have a little conspiracy theorist in me, but I think the level and type of data collection we are seeing today and that is being advocated for with CC is frightening. And don't get me started on the computer issue. Our principals are frantically trying to get things set up and running to accommodate the computerized testing required by Common Core. If I understood them correctly, the kids will be tested 3!! times a year. And all online. It's a recipe for disaster. Let me tell you, I have seen hoe anxious parents get during testing time. This is going to make it worse.
But, like you, I'm not really sure how to fix this. I almost think it has to implode and be rebuilt. In the meantime how many kids are getting hurt by this? How many generations will this impact?
Such weighty issues. I enjoy reading your ideas and perspective.
Soccer will be a good challenge for you. I know it has forced me to be more relaxed about dinner time and bed times (within reason). It also made me stretch to be more creative with how I manage our time and resources. Some days are better than others. But, for my girls, the benefit has far outweighed the negatives. They get exercise, learn to work on a team and toward a goal and have a lot of fun.
Every August I seem to get more anxious as the start of school looms. I really love the fall, but lately I feel like I miss all my favorite things about it because I'm so busy running around. Sigh.... I appreciate the prayers. I will keep you in mine as well. Parenting would so much easier without the kids! LOL

Anne said...

I am blessed by our dialogue. You are a blessing to me :) Thanks for caring to read my thoughts about all of this and share with me what you think. I love that our experiences are different. I learn a lot from you as you walk through these years in the public school system with your kids!