Friday, May 8, 2015

New Worksheets and Spring Curriculum Changes

A friend mentioned to me recently that she had looked at my curriculum plan, which made me realize that I hadn't updated it in a while.  This winter spring, I made some modifications and made my own worksheets to facilitate certain subjects.

I've posted two of the worksheets I made.
#1  A long time ago, I wrote a post about my weekly spelling plan here:  and
But, I just realized that I never posted the Weekly Spelling Sheet (printable) that I wrote to go along with it.  You can now find thate HERE.

My middle daughter finished learning the 600 most common word list using this weekly sheet and is now working through the first book of MegaWords by EPS.  I realized that she needed extra practice with longer words and this covers both vocabulary and spelling by practicing encoding and decoding at the same time (just like Explode the Code but for older students).

#2  I altered my writing this spring.  I realized that my curriculum that I use for 3-6 grades (Write Source) needed a framework so that we were consistently editing, revising, and publishing.  So, I implemented this Weekly Writing Sheet, which you can find HERE.

I made a plan for each of the girls for the last 9 weeks of school that I included with this writing sheet that required them to tackle one type of assignment a week.  I still used the Write Source Curriculum, adding in the particular worksheets they'd made for brainstorming, Grammar, and exercises.  But, this was our basic format.

For my oldest daughter, her 9 assignments were these:
____ Week 1: Writing Paragraphs, Review Basics

____ Week 2: Write a Persuasive paragraph.

____ Week 3: Write a Persuasive Essay.

____ Week 4: Write a one paragraph Summary of an Article.

____ Week 5: Write a 3-5 paragraph summary of your favorite book.

____ Week 6: Write a Comparative Paragraph.

____ Week 7: Write a Comparative Essay.

____ Week 8 and 9: Write a report on a person, historical event, or topic of your choosing (ok'd by Mom)—4-5 paragraphs with 2 illustrations and cover.

For my middle daughter, she was given these 9 assignments:
____ Week 1: Lists
Write 2 lists with complete sentences and go over the writing process.

____ Week 2: Write a Descriptive paragraph.

____ Week 3: Write a Narrative Paragraph.

____ Week 4: Write a How-To Paragraph.

____ Week 5: Write a summary of your favorite book.

____ Week 6: Write two poems

____ Week 7: Write a report—1 paragraph with

____ Week 8 and 9: Write a report—3 paragraphs with 2 illustrations and cover.

My girls have loved this switch because it makes them feel like they are actually accomplishing something each week with their writing.  

Last year, I tried Evan Moor's Daily 6 trait writing as a writing journal exercise, but it ended up being frustrating to my kids.  The Friday exercises, though good, were far longer than the 5 minutes that I allot for journal writing.  If I use it again, I will omit the Friday exercises because we do longer writing assignments with our writing curriculum.

The third change in our homeschool life this spring was a pretty big one.  We've always (9 years!) gone by a routine method of scheduling our days.  What I mean by this is that we had an order to what we needed to do each day.  We started around a certain time (within an hour or even 2 sometimes) and then ended when we were done with that list for the day.  It was great when my kids were little and I'd say up until 3rd grade, it worked really well for all of us.  But, when my oldest daughter hit 4th grade and my second was in 1st/2nd, our days started getting pretty long and we would be doing school until dinner time.  No homework after dinner, but still the days became long.  

In March, I felt nudged to switch to a time schedule.  I think this came after I had sat down in February and made a curriculum plan/schedule for Autumn for grades 7-12 so that I could transition her in and get her ready for high school classes (which really start in 8th grade, not 9th in order to fit everything in).  I considered a time schedule and tried to find one that was reasonable for us.  It turned out to be this:

Daily Schedule

7:30 am Get up and Get Ready

8:00 am Breakfast

8:30 am Walk

9:00 am Devotions and Read Aloud

9:15-10:30/45 Math
11-12 Writing/Spelling/Grammar

12-1 Lunch

1-2 Tues-Fri Reading

2-3/4 Specials

After School: Instrument Practice

I moved some things from our school day to after school.  Homework took on a new role in our schooling.  I have seen some very positive things come from this switch and also have seen some guards in place that I didn't even know where there.  At first, homework was a motivator to focus for my middle daughter.  Now, it's a natural consequence for not doing her work in the time she has.  (Just in case you're curious, I've looked at the questionaire for ADD and she doesn't fit it).  One thing that can happen with a time schedule is for kids to rush through their work in order to get it done fast and... have no homework.  My kids know, though, that if the assignment isn't completed well enough (with long enough answers/incorrect answers) they'll need to fix it or revise it--so better to do it right the first time ;)  I have heard that many kids rush through assignments when they're on a time schedule and this practice acts as a guard against it.  

My oldest daughter perceived homework as a punishment from the get go, so I needed to explain to her that almost every 6th grader has homework each night.  So, it's something she needs to get used to when she isn't able to get all of her work done during class, because next year she's going to have a lot more homework in 7th grade.  

Having a time schedule gives us a definite end  to the day.  I allotted one special to Tuesday, Wed and Thurs., since we have music on Mondays and Horseback Riding/Volunteering on Fridays.  I had some white dry erase sticker for the wall and posted this schedule on the wall.

As with most things, I was really good at sticking to the 9 am schedule at first, but I have to constantly work on getting started then.  Sometimes we make it and sometimes we have to push devotions to later and start around 9:30 am.  But, the schedule has helped a lot.  

Homeschooling is always evolving in our house and these are some of the ways it has changed this spring.  I'm always thankful to see how we change together and adjust so that our homeschooling works better and runs more smoothly!

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