Friday, September 16, 2016

Historical Fiction Reading Projects

Today the kids presented life-sized characters from the books they have been reading.

Kent with Joris

Kent read The Winged Watchman by Hilda Van Stockum and made a posterboard character with cloth clothing.

Katy read A House of Tailors by Patricia Reilly Giff and made a paper doll character.
Katy with Dina
Kaomi read Pioneer Cat by William H.  Hooks and made a mask for her to become her character.

Kaomi as Kate 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

A Little Fun at School

     This year I have 6 students and 2 babies.  I was feeling overwhelmed by trying to teach from 3 teacher guides and keeping up with grading and making sure everyone was completing their assignments in a timely fashion.  I also have 1 student who I was feeling needed a lot more teaching with instruction and less assignments to have to read and complete on her own.  So when we restarted at the beginning of August we decided to try something a little different.
     Now I have one main teacher guide, I copied a couple assignments from another one for one of my students and I'm using a very small amount of the third teacher guide.  We've combined everyone into one class wherever possible.  I'm finding my days much easier to get through and we are all working together, so everyone's assignments are similar and easy for me to grade.
     My 3 oldest students bring their assignment notebooks to every class and I give the assignments for everyone or individual assignments as needed and they write them down.  For any assignments that I need to make sure are completed or are due at a later date I write down the assignment on a master checklist along with the "due date" and check them off when they are complete.  Having my master list helps me to know who still has to finish an assignment and helps me remember to check up on each person as needed.

   So you may be wondering how does this all fit together.  We are using a structured day with scheduled time for individual work, classes I teach, and Kindergarten.  Kent (7th), Katy (6th), and Kaomi (4th) begin their individual work at 8:30 every morning.  I write the list of individual work on a white board and the fist three to four items are what they need to make priority for this time.  It usually begins with: study dictation, science, math, and complete any previous assignments.  While they are getting started I am finishing up getting the babies fed and settled for the morning and making sure I have everything I need for the day ready (including my breakfast if I didn't get it earlier).  Often I send Felicity (Kindergarten), Clark (Kindergarten), and Quinn (preschool) to play outside in the backyard.  Sometimes they play for 20 minutes and other times for an hour.  At 9:30 we all join together for Bible (everyday) and Biblical Worldview ( 2x/week).  We complete reading and I give assignments and then the oldest three work on their assignments until 10:25.  At 10:30 I try to have some activity boxes out for the Kindergarteners and preschooler.  They have fun playing while I teach Language Arts.  Language Arts consists of dictation, grammar, writing, and reading.  Usually, we work through those items in that order.  Sometimes there is just an assignment for them to complete by the next class, and other times there is instruction time.  If anyone needs to work directly with me for one of the assignments we try to fit this in before 11:30, when I teach Kindergarten and Preschool.  From 11:30-12ish we cover math, fine motor skills, handwriting, and storytime.  Then we break for lunch.  We meet back again all together at 1:30 for history often the babies are with us during this time as well.  Felicity, Clark, and Quinn each have their own history notebook that they draw a picture that I assign them to work on while I am reading the lesson.  Today they drew Patrick Henry giving his speech :)  After history I read storytime to Kaomi, unless our lesson was a long one.  Then I teach reading to Felicity and Clark.  They each need to work with me by themselves, so I rotate who begins, since there are some days that I can't fit teaching them both in.  I try to be done with them by 3:15 and then I am available to the oldest students if they need to see me for any of the assignments they are working on.  I try to be all done being the teacher by 3:30, so I can take a short break before afternoon chores and dinner begin.

     Overall I like the way this is working for us.  The older kids don't have quite as much freedom as they've had before to just plowing through everything and finish quickly, but they are welcome to do that with their individual assignments.  We are definitely seeing where they need to work more on their own time management, but hopefully we can continue helping them learn and the skills that go along with that will grow too.