Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Red Pen

This is our fourth year of home educating three children who arrived into this world in a matter of sixteen months.  They are each quite different from the other, as one should expect.  I have always moaned about their arrival in a compacted time period, but if I'd had it to do over again, I may not have changed anything. And what right do I have of complaining over healthy children born with little trouble, after all! 

So, this is our fourth year as a homeschooling family and I've always been in a hurry while teaching them. "All my ducks were never in a row" as it were, and I've thus always been frustrated (except on those very special days when I used a secret weapon that I don't use all the time - prayer).  Why don't I always pray? Well, that is a mystery. Conundrum... 

And, through these four years I, as a geography teacher at heart and by training, have included flag studies by Continent as well as a biome study.  These subjects are separate in their planners, but have related until now. For example, when we studied Canada, I started an arctic biome study. We did a state bird and migration study that was somewhat related to the states of the Union study.  Europe overlapped into the arctic biome study and African flags overlapped into the desert biome study. We are studying the Latin and South American flags this year and the ocean biome.

As a basis for these biome studies, I have used some Hands of a Child materials and some Apologia materials.  The flag studies have always used Homeschooling with Index Cards materials and some Dover materials.  I have read aloud the Burgess book about the seashore, listened to Moby Dick from audio book, each child read a page a day of Holings' books called Seabird and the other called Pagoo. We've used the Dover coloring book to examine creatures along the seashore. But, now we've progressed past the Dover and HOAC materials for the oceans biome study into the Apologia book called Swimming Things of the Fifth Day.  I am using open ended short answer questions from the Yahoo Elementary Apologia group for each chapter.

Finally, I'm getting to the part where these three children are writing a paragraph independently and I'm using a red pen to convey a critique of their work.  And I thought that maybe they were ready to do a paragraph to answer the question of what differentiates sea grass from algae. Their requirements were simple: handwriting that I can read; topic sentence that states intent to differentiate between the two items; several sentences about how the items are different; and a final sentence about the importance of both items.  I was pleased to find handwriting I can read and I did have to coach a bit, but spelling mistakes aside, there was very little red ink on the pages.  I wonder if we're getting to writing and not just blowing it off as I've done in the past. Maybe the discussion of narrating and summations is sinking in to their brains. Maybe...

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