Friday, April 29, 2016

Ending the Year Strong (Without Killing Your Kid or Burning Out)

Kirsten is a homeschooling mom and administrator of the PACT homeschooling academy of Natomas Charter School. She loves all things education. Questions about homeschooling? Email her at kspall@natomascharter.org. Links will take you to her Google Docs Assignment sheet. Others are linked to a private Facebook Page for PACT parents.

The end of the year creeps up on me. It is that awkward time when I am kind of tired and "done", but if I don't plan something engaging it will drag on and on. If I try to worksheet it, Robert rebels. If I try to do something super creative and time intensive, I burn out and nothing gets done. I also want to get rid of and return my curriculum in May so that I don't have to worry about it in June.

To keep us both  motivated and engaged, I try to pick something with a goal. Something to work towards. here is what I have come up with for the rest of this year.

What dog should we get? My friend's dog is pregnant. I want one of her puppies, but my Mastiff loving husband wants another Mastiff. Robert agrees with me (or did agree with me- he has since changed his mind). So, for Language Arts Robert had to create a persuasive presentation answering the question, "What should we get? Another English Mastiff or a St. Bernard?" This involved identifying who his audience is, researching, and creating a Google Slideshow. He learned to do this in Mrs Chapman's workshop this year!

I also had him write a compare and contrast paragraph about the two breeds. Next week, I am going to teach him how to screen cast using screencastomatic so that he can publish his entire presentation online with a voice over. I fully expect this to turn into creating screencasts of Minecraft and a dedicated You Tube Channel. I plan on quitting my job when he starts making enough off of the channel to pay the mortgage.

This picture was in the Sac Bee! 
Community Service:
I recently moved to Oak Park and have identified a few different groups that are working to improve our community. I drag Robert with me. We attended a community dinner at McClatchy park as a community show of force the shooting at a little league game. Two weeks ago we helped Oak Park Sol with a community beautification project and last weekend he went along with me on a street audit walk. The purpose of Social Studies and history should be to create active, engaged citizens. So instead of reading about it, we go out and do it. Every time, it has resulted in conversations about social and political issues that never would come up if we were studying from a text book.

I may have him create another Google Presentation to show off at the Open House Exhibition. This provides an "audience" for his work and a goal for both of us!

Math
Math is a hard subject for me. We never found "just the right" curriculum. We use an online math program called Adapted Mind. It has instructional videos and follows a curriculum path that aligns with my educational goals for Robert. I log on weekly to see what he is having problems with. I go to Math Mammoth and print out worksheets for the trouble areas and post videos from Learn Zillion on his lesson plan for us to watch together.

Science: Thank goodness for the Biology workshop at PACT and Susie Clark! Robert attends that once a week. We finish the assignment at home. Then, I go to Brain Pop and look for videos that are related to what he is learning. I assign him one video and quiz a week. Then, I will have him do any additional activities or readings that look like fun.

Reading: We just finished Dr. Doolittle. I was having him take a quiz at the end of each chapter (I
Hey, reading can happen anywhere! 
found free online) until he surprised me by finishing the book a week early. So, I have returned to the handy dandy Journey's curriculum. We skipped ahead a few units to the story about Working Dogs. I knew he would buy into it and I found videos on You Tube about working dogs. (More social studies) We did the corresponding workbook pages. Next week, if we need another writing activity he will write about the importance of working dogs and maybe interview a few friends of mine who train or use working dogs. My plan for May is to let him read what he likes. Yep. That is it. 

Play Hooky: My husband had a business trip to San Jose last week, So Robert and I played Hooky and went with him. One of the draws of homeschooling is the freedom to do this...but life always gets in the way and we rarely do. This time we did! I knew we would be going to the Tech Museum (science DONE!) but I also knew we would be hitting up Psycho Donuts! So I wrapped English and Social Studies into our donut visit by creating a unit that asked the question, "Is Psycho Donuts Offensive and Should People Go There?"

Make Chili and Become Someone Else!  Last year we were spectators at the Living History day. This year, I hope to participate! Choosing a person or character from history and learning about them is great, but  knowing that they will get to become another person and speak to an audience is very motivating! We still have not picked a person to research, but I am considering doing it with him. I will be entering my famous chili into the competition. I dare you to do the same! I am pretty lucky to have a staff support my crazy ideas. I am sure that a Chili Cook Off was NOT part of the original vision!

Keeping Up the Easy Stuff: I have established a routine that includes handwriting, studying root words, silent reading and grammar. They are easy for me to prep (worksheets) and help keep the momentum going. I intend on doing them up until the very last day.

How are you staying sane these last few weeks?

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