Archive for the ‘curriculum’ Tag
Feds Will Control Curriculum, Competency and Credentialing
Reblogged with permission from Return to Parental Rights on 09/21/15
by Jakell Sullivan
The federal government has absolutely no constitutional right to control curriculum, but they’re doing it anyway. In a 2011 video for the Whitehouse’s Learning Registry, Steve Midgley, the Deputy Director of Education Technology for the US Department of Education, says that the Learning Registry “makes federal learning resources easier to find, easier to access and easier to integrate into learning environments wherever they are stored.” He also admits that the Federal Communications Commission changed broadband internet regulations to get federally-sanctioned curriculum items into every child’s classroom.
Say what? Yes. You heard it right. The Whitehouse is picking winners and losers in curriculum providers. They have created an effective oligarchy over online learning and testing resources in order to make sure that the curriculum coming through your child’s school-issued iPad or computer contains the right worldview.
They funded the creation of Common Education Data Standards (CEDS), gave states federal grants to expand their state longitudinal data system (see Utah’s here and here), got 300 (and counting) online learning and testing groups to create interoperable curriculum and computer-adaptive tests, and created a one-stop-shop called the Learning Registry where every child’s learning data will be tracked. This is information control, folks. And, it’s not just for K-12.
George Washington University, among many other institutions of higher ed, has jumped on the Learning Registry’s bandwagon. They are helping the federal administration (perhaps unwittingly) succeed at redefining student competencies around student behaviors, as opposed to academics.
When Utahns think of competency-based education, we think of a student mastering something factual and proving competency. That’s not what the federal Learning Registry seeks. It defines competencies around values, attitudes and beliefs.
In other words, the more a student can think in moral relativist terms, the more “skilled” they are. Students who think “all truth is relative” will be easily malleable workers for a globally managed economy—widgets for crony business leaders.
So, how will the Whitehouse’s Learning Registry work? It will:
- Filter the curriculum content that reaches teachers and students
- Collect data on how a child thinks and what they believe
- Use that data to personalize online learning curriculum and adaptive testing systems (compare this to political campaigns changing the way voters vote by collecting data to create personalized marketing)
- Viola! A child will see America in terms of race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality—and advocate for big government solutions.
When John Marini talked about the famous movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington written by Frank Capra, he said, “Frank Capra did not see America as many Americans do today, in terms of personal categories of identity…he understood America in terms of its political principles.”
If we want our children to be champions of liberty, including religious liberty, we need to engage our local education leaders in a discussion about who is defining “competency.” And, we cannot be naïve in thinking that we will implement competency-based education differently than the federal administration desires. If we put our plug (technology systems) into their electrical outlet (Learning Registry), we will be giving them all-power over what our children learn—and, we’ve already started plugging in. As one tech-savvy mom recently noted, “Parents need to understand that a unique student ID# will act like a social security number on steroids.”
George Washington University says that they are helping the Whitehouse “create a beta version of a credentialing registry on the existing Learning Registry.” This means that the Feds are positioned, not only to control curriculum, but how colleges rate student credentials—also called “digital badges.” If this sounds like German-style education, that’s because it is.
We can’t allow the federal administration to use personally identifiable data to “personalize” learning resources for our children. It’s time for Congressional hearings into the Whitehouse’s Learning Registry—and it’s international data standards-setting partners, IMS Global and the SIF Association.
It’s also time for our local boards of education to take back what it means to have locally controlled education. Local boards should stand with parents by making sure that their district’s online curriculum and test items do not conform to federally-funded data standards.
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
For more information on how the federal administration is aligning state and district policies to internationalist goals for competency-based education, see:
• Race To The Top for Districts (RTT-D) gave priority funding to districts that would embrace personalized learning and competency-based ed. See: http://www.ed.gov/race-top/district-competition
• Feds Give Nudge to Competency-Based Education https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/03/19/feds-give-nudge-competency-based-education
• Bill Gates’ KnowledgeWorks has published two Policy Briefs with the most extensive information about how the federal administration used Race To The Top to push state and district policies towards implementing personalized-learning and towards the competency-based education that Utah is now embracing.
Legislators heard two and a half hours of public testimonies at last night’s Stop Common Core meeting at the Utah State Capitol Building which packed the Hall of Governors to overflowing.
Legislators claimed the first few rows of seats, and at least 500 people filled every chair while many people had to stand along the walls. The crowd and the legislators listened to two and a half hours of testimonies from teachers, parents and students.
Hundreds who wanted to speak out against Common Core were prevented by time. (Their written or filmed testimonies will be uploaded later at Utahns Against Common Core.)
— Teenage students speaking out against Common Core.
— Teachers, both current and retired, speaking out against Common Core.
— A licensed child psychologist speaking out against Common Core.
— Three (out of the seven members) of the Alpine School Board, Utah’s largest school district, each speaking out against Common Core, especially noting concerns about the common core-aligned standardized testing which ends liberty and local control.
— A legislator who rose to the enthusiastically cheering crowd and said, “We hear you. And we are going to work.”
The event was filmed and will be viewable soon. It was also covered by Channel 4 and by the Deseret News.
I just saw this today in an email and wanted to share the fact that there are alternatives to common core aligned curricula.
Official Policy of FPE Curriculum on Common Core
In mid-March of 2013, FreedomProject Education was made aware that many homeschool publishers planned to adapt their textbooks to align with Common Core mandates, those national standards developed by Washington D.C. insiders, lobby- ists, and liberal special interest groups, all subsidized by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Upon learning that some of the textbooks currently used in FPE classes were slated for Common Core adaptation, FPE immediately reiterated our staunch commitment to removing any textbook from our curriculum that migrated to Common Core standards. We began an extensive review of our booklists and contacted many publishers and presses directly to ascertain first-hand their posi- tion and plans vis a vis Common Core. FPE also inaugurated a series of free and public Webcasts designed to explain and expose the insidious governmental power grab that is Common Core.
Among the things we discovered in researching our booklists is that a number of our current publishers do indeed plan to adapt their textbooks to Common Core requirements. In many cases this adaptation is in the works for future editions and has yet to manifest itself in the textbooks we currently use. In other instances, certain textbooks have already included elements in preparation for the coming move to Common Core. Further complicating the issue, some of our publishers have been designated by government agencies as “Common Core compliant” without—they claim—having asked for that designation or having taken any steps to adapt their curriculum to Common Core Standards. Our research has found a good deal of dishonesty in these claims, with representatives telling us there will be no incorporation of Common Core, while their very websites tout compliance. These are the realities as we currently find them since our investigation com- mencing in Mid-March 2013.
FPE decided on booklists for the upcoming 2013-2014 academic year in October of 2012, and those lists went out to faculty, current FPE families, and prospective students in early March 2013, two weeks before we learned that some homeschool publishers were adapting to Common Core standards. Given that 1) most of our current textbooks have yet to be altered to reflect specific Common Core guidelines; 2) that we have mailed out hundreds of program guides and distributed thou- sands of fliers listing as required the textbook list established in October 2012; 3) that many current FPE students, as well as new-enrollees for 2013-2014, have already purchased books based on the October 2012 list and will not easily be able to return them; and 4) that many of our teachers need time to adapt their courses to new textbooks that are free of any taint of Common Core ideology; we feel it is in the best interest of all concerned to proceed in the 2013-2014 academic year with the booklists established in October 2012.
Keeping the current roster of books will allow us to avoid the considerable confusion and expense that would occur if we made immediate and precipitous changes. It will also allow FPE to be careful and judicious in selecting alternative Common Core free textbooks for the 2014-2015 academic year. Further, the extra year will allow teachers to both monitor current books for Common Core problems and begin the process of transitioning from current texts to new ones in a methodical and pedagogically sound way. We plan to make each and every FPE teacher aware of any perceived Common Core bias in our current textbooks, to assist them in circumventing these standards, and to encourage them to bring to our attention any instances of infiltration they discover on their own.
We at FPE remain adamantly opposed to the implementation of Common Core in public schools, and under no circum- stances will we tolerate Common Core in our own classrooms moving forward. As we work through the upcoming 2013- 2014 school year, we encourage FPE faculty, families, and students to share with us their opinions about current textbooks and partner with us in being vigilant in opposing all such examples of gross government overreach. We also intend to host a new series of Webcasts in May 2013 that address FPE’s specific plans to counter Common Core and provide an online, homeschool education for America’s children that is free of spin, indoctrination, and cynical government manipulation.
1 (800) 807 7292 750 N. Hickory Farm Lane, Appleton, WI 54914
Popular Home School Curricula and Common Core
By Kristen Chevrier
Reposted from http://homeschoolwise.com/2013/03/02/popular-home-school-curricula-and-common-core/
After learning that some very popular home school curricula have aligned their programs with Common Core, I decided to do some research. I will be keeping a running list of those who have and have not aligned with Common Core. I would appreciate your input.
After learning that some very popular home school curricula have aligned their programs with Common Core, I decided to do some research. I will be keeping a running list of those who have and have not aligned with Common Core. I would appreciate your input.
Having curricula that meet (or exceed) Common Core standards is not the same as aligning a program with Common Core. And having elements of Common Core in a program does not make it all bad. What is important in choosing any study materials is that you are aware of what your child is learning.
While we are on the topic of curricula: Many people come into home schooling thinking that they must have a completely planned curriculum and follow it exclusively. Not so. You have much more flexibility to address the needs and interests of individual children if you are willing be creative. While there are benefits to having a standard curriculum for the basics, it’s okay to create your own by picking and choosing materials from any source that suits your needs. Don’t get stuck in a box. Be flexible. Embrace your instincts. And actively choose to be your child’s guide.
Here is what I have found, so far:
Common Core-Aligned or Receiving Funding from Common Core Proponents:
Right Start Math
Critical Thinking Press
BYU Independent Study
Writing Road to Reading (Spalding)
Core Knowledge Curriculum
Appear to be acknowledging where they align with CC, but not necessarily changing to align:
Singapore Math (Please see statement by Jeffrey Thomas, President and Co-Founder of Singapore Math in the comments below.)
Explode the Code
Excellence in Writing
Khan Academy (Khan Academy is funded by some of the same people who fund and promote Common Core, but the videos are pre-CC and not likely to be re-made to align with CC. )
Currently Not Aligned with Common Core:
Rod and Staff Arithmetic
Life of Fred
Primary Language Lessons
Media Angels Curriculum
This is not an exhaustive list. I will add to it as I find more information. Please feel free to give input.
If you are using one of the programs that has aligned with Common Core I encourage you to write to or call the publisher and let them know how you feel about it.
— — — — —
Thank you, Kristen, for your helpful research.
Dare to Home School
Education is the continuation of God’s creation of a human life.
This idea comes from author and scholar Dr. Neil Flinders. Think about it: the instant the baby leaves the womb –and even before leaving the womb– he/she is beginning to learn. He gains knowledge from us as parents, from the beginning– language skills, the ability to eat, to feel love, to hear music and to absorb all our “norms”.
Why do so many parents feel pain when they send their five-year-olds to kindergarten– and cry?
They are giving away the child. For most of the day, for the rest of their lives, that child belongs to the school system, not to the parent. It often feels like the wrong thing to be doing. And maybe it is.
When I mention that I’m home schooling my fourth grader, I often get this response: “Oh, I wish I could do that. I don’t dare. I am not ____ enough.” (adjectives vary– organized, smart, brave, educated, confident, etc.)
It is sad that there are parents out there who long to spend more time with their own children, who would be experiencing the academic miracles and family joys that home school parents see, but something holds them back.
So I’m writing today to the parents who are almost ready to home school their children. I encourage you to jump in. Those who want to home school, but don’t do it, usually state either: 1) I don’t know what I would teach, or 2) My child needs peers for social development:
1. I don’t know what I would teach/ I am not educated enough to teach.
There is a misperception that “real” teachers have fairy dust or all-powerful diplomas that make them fundamentally different from you. But every parent, like every child, has got a combination of gifts and weaknesses.
The teaching diploma is Dumbo’s feather. (Remember the story? Dumbo did not really need the feather to fly; it made him think he could fly but he already had that ability without it.)
I know this because I learned next to nothing of actual value in my CSUSB teaching program. The valuable stuff came from mentors and from personal experience.
And, guess what? Even though I am a credentialed teacher and have taught third grade, high school and college for years and years and years, still, when it came time to make the choice whether to home school or not, I froze.
I felt a heavy responsibility to make sure my son received the very best education I could possibly acquire for him. Could I do it without authority figures and lists of rules and tests and bureaucratic ideals to follow? Seriously! I was nervous.
That heavy responsibility is on us whether we choose to home school or not.
The responsibility for what a child learns and becomes is not the government’s or the school system’s. It’s ours as parents, and always has been.
There are so many curricula, programs, textbook series, online ideas and sets of standards that your problem won’t be: “what will I teach?” It will be “what must I leave out” because there is so much you can do.
Just start researching what other successful home school parents do. Then make up your own mind which method sounds the very, very best– to you. You are in charge and you know your child better than anyone on the earth.
So trust your judgment as you would have trusted a favorite principal or mentor in the past.
Studies show that even home schooling parents with low levels of education wind up with children that are better educated than children who attend public schools. See: http://www.mireja.org/articles.lasso
I can see why. Home school works more like the brain works. A child studies a topic, thinks about it, gets questions, and goes to find answers for those questions almost immediately. You don’t have to wait for the whole class to get to the topic. Curiosity stays fresh. Students learn more quickly and more specifically to how the mind works. And if a child especially loves art, math, physics or sewing, he/she may advance in that area much more than he or she could in most one-size-fits-all public systems.
If there’s a subject you fear teaching, GET OVER IT. Those oft-hated subjects, of math, history or science are only hard when you have had boring teachers in your past. There’s a spoonful of sugar element most math-haters or history-haters or other subject-haters, have never seen.
When people say “I’m not a math person,” or some similar comment, to me, it’s like saying, “I don’t speak French.” That’s nothing but exposure, baby. You can enjoy any subject with love, patience and determination.
I am teaching traditional Saxon math to my son right now, who went from 4th to 6th grade math ability in five months’ time by homeschooling. I also teach him the same things I taught my remedial college writing classes– parts of speech, diagramming sentences, using commas properly, writing complex sentences, using more interesting and rich vocabulary, and HAVING FUN by writing about interesting things. His writing skills did the same thing that his math skills have done– soared.
He was not a strong writer last autumn. But last week, he volunteered to write and submit a 500 word essay to a local political essay contest on a very hard topic. No kidding. He did it on his own. And it was good.
No matter what else we do on any given day– and it varies widely; some days we’re swimming and diving at the pool; some days we’re picnicking at the park; some days we are a museum or a grandparent’s house or a quilting bee or touring the local university– but we never skip the Saxon math lesson or the essay writing.
Now, essay writing might mean writing a poem, or creating a powerpoint on the computer with sentences under each photo, or writing a letter to Santa or to a grandparent; it might mean writing a fictional story. It might mean writing about the first five presidents of the United States after we’ve studied them in our history lesson. It varies, but we never skip the writing, nor the math. That’s my way. But you’ll have your own.
I make sure to add in the things that Common Core is deleting from public education:
Cursive– every day, my son writes a verse from the scriptures in cursive, and on many days, I have him write his whole essay in cursive. Because it’s beautiful.
Traditional math– as I’ve said before, I do not like the common core “constructivist” math programs and most textbooks are aligning now to common core. I purchase old, pre-common core text books from Saxon (there are other traditional programs, too).
Classic literature – the only place “informational text” is read in my home school is when we are studying subjects other than English, such as history, science, math, geography, and now, journalism. When we choose reading materials, we choose actual literature: Tom Sawyer, The Hobbit, Swedish Fairy Tales, Great Expectations, etc. The vocabulary’s so rich; the imagery and metaphors and good versus evil concepts and life-lessons are no where else in such abundance as they are to be found in classic literature. Kids need it.
2. My child needs to be surrounded by his or her peers for social development.
The second concern parents usually raise is that their child needs socialization and that’s only available in public school. Really?
With sports teams, scouting, church activities, neighborhood friends, cousins, siblings, parents, field trips, and other, outside-our-home, homeschooling events, I never feel that my homeschooler is socially deprived.
In fact, the opposite is true. He now receives more one-on-one teaching time and talking time with me than he did when he attended public school. Even when I’m not teaching, I’m teaching. He’s conversing with an adult much of the day, and that is educational. He’s not just told to be quiet and listen and occasionally to raise his hand. He talks with me all day long. And we go out of our way to make sure he gets peer play time, as well.
With Valentine’s Day coming up, he mentioned that one of his favorite traditions in public school was decorating a box to receive valentines in. So we made creative boxes for each member of our family and displayed them on the piano. We are putting cards and candies in them all month long. And mailing valentines to cousins, missionaries and others, just for fun. There are very few positive public school activities that cannot be recreated in home school. And many useless ones that can be skipped.
Additionally, there are other home school families either in your neighborhood or online that you can connect with.
Last week, four homeschool families in my neighborhood got together for a “snow day.” The children went sledding while the parents had a teachers’ conference. One mother who had only been home schooling for a few weeks was so excited that she brought all her history curriculum and her children’s binders and was showing us what they’re doing. The children love it so much that when they have free reading time, they are still reading their history books.
Home schooling is hard work; yes, but it absolutely works –and it is so much fun.
One of the most wonderful things about home school is that I get to teach my child faith in God, something government schools are forbidden to do. And I do. The teaching of all subjects under the umbrella of “God is real and God is love” makes a huge difference in the approach we take to any subject.
I will close with one fine example. It’s a video I showed my son as part of our science curriculum this week, that features a renowned scientist, Dr. Lewis, a NASA advisor, explaining his beautiful faith in God and how he combines science with faith.
A History Teacher’s Message to America
About Common Core Standards
by C.E. White
This week, President Obama will be sworn into office as the 45th President of the United States of America.
As a history teacher, I was elated to learn he would be placing his hand on two Bibles, one belonging to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the other belonging to President Abraham Lincoln, when he takes the oath of office to lead our great nation. Dr. King and President Lincoln helped define civil rights for America…historical heroes who transformed the idea of justice and equality.
As jubilant as I am that President Obama is symbolically using the bibles of two of the greatest Americans in our nation’s history, I am saddened that this administration seems to have forgotten what Dr. King and President Lincoln promoted regarding education.
In Dr. King’s “Letter from the Birmingham Jail,” he stated “the goal of America is freedom.” As a teacher, it is such an honor to teach America’s children about freedom and patriotism. However, over the past few years, I began to learn about a new education reform initiative called Common Core Standards. A few years ago, when I first heard of Common Core, I began doing my own research. My students represent the future of the United States of America, and what they learn is of utmost importance to me. I care about their future, and the future of our country.
My research of Common Core Standards kept me awake at night, because what I discovered was so shocking. I discovered that Common Core Standards is about so much more than educational standards. I wanted so badly to believe these changes would be good for our children. How can “common” standards be a bad thing? After all, isn’t it nice to have students learning the same exceptional standards from Alabama to Alaska, from Minnesota to Massachusetts?
As a teacher, I began to spend nights, weekends, summers, even Christmas Day researching Common Core, because these reforms were so massive and were happening so quickly, it was hard to keep up with how American education was being transformed. I quickly began to realize that the American education system under Common Core goes against everything great Americans like Dr. King and President Lincoln ever taught. The very freedoms we celebrate and hold dear are in question when I think of what Common Core means for the United States.
One of my favorite writings about education from Dr. King is a paper entitled “The Purpose of Education.” In it, he wrote “To save man from the morass of propaganda, in my opinion, is one of the chief aims of education. Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction.”
When I sit in faculty meetings about Common Core, I hear “curriculum specialists” tell me that Common Core is here to stay and I must “embrace change.” I am forced to drink the kool-aid. These specialists don’t tell us to search for facts about Common Core on our own, they simply tell us what the people paid to promote Common Core want us to know. Didn’t Dr. King want us to separate facts from fiction? Why are we only given information from sources paid to say Common Core is a good thing? Isn’t that the exact same type of propaganda Dr. King discussed in his writings about education? Shouldn’t we discuss why thousands of Americans are calling for a repeal of the standards?
I am told that I must embrace Common Core and I infer that resisting the changes associated with Common Core will label me “resistant to change.” As a teacher, I definitely believe our classrooms are changing with the times and I am not afraid of change. Teachers across America are hearing similar stories about how they should “feel” about Common Core. This is a brainwashing bully tactic. It reminds me of my 8th graders’ lesson on bullying, when I teach them to have an opinion of their own. Just because “everyone’s doing it,” doesn’t make it right. In regards to Common Core, I am not afraid of change. I am just not going to sell-out my students’ education so that Pearson, the Gates Foundation, David Coleman, Sir Michael Barber, Marc Tucker and others can experiment on our children.
I agree with Dr. King, which is why I am so saddened at how propaganda from an elite few is literally changing the face of America’s future with nothing more than a grand experiment called Common Core Standards. Our children deserve more. Our teachers deserve more. Our country deserves more. Education reform is the civil rights issue of our generation, and sadly, parents, teachers, and students have been left out of the process.
President Lincoln once said “the philosophy of the classroom today, will be the philosophy of government tomorrow.” With Common Core, new standardized tests have inundated classrooms with problems of their own. Teachers find themselves “teaching to the test” more and more. These tests violate our states’ rights. I wonder if parents realized that all states aren’t created equal in Common Core tests? Shouldn’t all states, under “common” standards for everyone have everyone’s equal input on how students are tested?
What about privacy under Common Core? Why didn’t local boards of education tell parents about the changes to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act? Do parents realize their child’s data, including biometric data such as fingerprints and retinal scans, is being placed in a state longitudinal data system and shared with others?
If our philosophy of the classroom is to violate states’ rights, use children and teachers as guinea pigs, and hide from parents the fact that their child’s data is no longer private, it can only be inferred that the philosophy of government tomorrow will do the same. What is America becoming?
As I watched President Obama place his hand on the bibles of Dr. King and President Lincoln, the history teacher in me was overjoyed to watch such a patriotic moment in U.S. history. And yet, I was crushed at the realization that if we do not stop Common Core and preserve the United States educational system, the philosophy of our government tomorrow will not be the America we know and love.
We’ve been doing homeschool for my fourth grader since October.
It’s so much fun!
Having a two year old next to a fourth grader means that sometimes we’re schooling in the hall, watching the baby take a two hour bath next to the open door. It means that sometimes, we have to send the fourth grader into a quiet room with a locked door because the two year old is tantruming and it’s hard to focus in that environment. It means that I rarely dust and barely get the groceries bought before we’re out of everything. Sometimes the laundry and other to-do lists sit for days. I haven’t perfected my systems. But in the midst of the imperfection, it feels like a kind of perfection.
My priorities are teaching my kids and enjoying our lives, before challenging the dust or laundry or almost anything else.
We learn a ton, have a lot of laughs and a lot of fun.
A few weeks ago, we drove to Camp Floyd, a historic site in Utah, to learn about Utah history in the 1800s.
Another day, we went to the local Recreation center to play basketball.
We go to the library, often.
We went one day to the church quilting project, to make Christmas quilts for jail inmates. My son learned how to tie a quilt.
We are so free.
No set of Common Core standards. No dumb school assemblies. No asking strangers for their permission to spend time with my own child.
We are in charge of our schooling.
Every day, we read scriptures, writes a verse in cursive, and we talk about it. Some days it’s the Book of Mormon. Some days it’s the New Testament. Today we read the story of Daniel and his three friends who were kidnapped by King Nebuchadnezzar from Jerusalem and taken far from home, never to return. (I hadn’t remembered the full story. Did you know that Daniel and his friends were to be killed because they were considered wise men, and the king didn’t believe in his wise men anymore because nobody could tell him both what he’d dreamed and interpret the dream? So Daniel and his friends prayed and God revealed the king’s dream and also its interpretation to Daniel– a great, great miracle. It saved Daniel’s life, but more importantly, it taught the king that there is a God who does give power to human beings on conditions of faithfulness to Him.
We have been studying geography a lot (he now knows where the countries of Central and South America are, where the counties of Utah are, and is beginning on the Caribbean Islands.) There are fun and free online games for Geography students.
We have been studying history. He now knows all about the founding of our nation– the first five presidents in detail– and about early North and South American explorers– de Soto, Hudson, Erikson, Columbus, Magellan, Lewis & Clark, etc., and now we’re reading about 14th century Europe.
We read about the Bubonic plague, the murder of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Vikings. I plan to make a giant timeline going all around his bedroom, where he can draw things he’s learned about through history.
Some days I make him diagram sentences, with verb, subject, preposition, direct object, adverbs, adjectives, articles, etc.
Some days I have him correct sentence errors– commas, capitalization, apostrophes, etc.
Some days he does an art project. Some days he takes great photos for his little photography portfolio.
Some days he does a science experiment or looks at things under his microscope and writes about them.
Some days I teach him how to spell a very difficult word and I test him on it later in the day.
Some days we read Swedish books and do Swedish vocabulary or Swedish grammar sheets that I write myself.
One day, we spent the whole day studying volcanoes. We watched some great YouTube clips about volcanoes. I liked the one from Bill Nye the Science Guy. We also read about them in books. We found them in science and in literature. And they were in our text, “What Your Fourth Grader Needs To Know.”
I let curiosity guide us. I don’t keep a tight leash on our curriculum, with two strict exceptions: every day, a chapter of Saxon math and every day, he has to write an essay.
His essays can be poems, journal entries, fiction stories, reports about what he’s been learning, letters to Santa or to a great aunt… he just has to write every day, about a page (a little less, or a lot more than a page, every day).
All the other subjects are covered, but not each day, and not for any set amount of time. Our curiosity determines what we study, with those two exceptions I noted.
Today, as usual, we did a chapter of Saxon math. I usually sit with him for the first half, and then set him to answer the 30 questions that are after each lesson. I usually put dots on a handful of the questions meaning “skip these” if I know he knows the review problems very, very well, so he can fly through. I am trying to keep it interesting and invigorating, not dreadfully heavy, so he’ll love to learn and love math. He’s going to be in the sixth grade book very soon.
Today we read in our Usborn science book (very colorful and thick book which I love) all about the periodic table (we just scanned it) and we talked about why there are groups in one row and periods in another row, and how cool the elements are and how interesting it is that these metals and nonmetals and semi-metals are in everything around us, even in our foods and in our bodies, and how they make jewels and everything on earth. We already knew in detail about the Halogens, but we’ll read about the elements and the rocks they are found in, next week.
We read a few more chapters in “The Hobbit” by Tolkien, today. He can’t get enough. I have to drag him away to do his writing or to eat lunch. When he finishes the book, I’ll take him to see the movie but he must promise to look away during the war scenes. He is only 9 and it’s a PG-13 movie which will certainly be more violent than I want to see, let alone allow a 9 year old to see. But we both love the story. It’s full of new vocabulary words for him (it’s way above a fourth grade reading level) and it enlivens his imagination. He reads it silently sometimes, and we read it together aloud, some times.
This week, we visited his grandfather, a retired Pan American Airlines captain, to have a lesson on how airplanes fly. Grandpa/Morfar also taught my son his math out of the Saxon math book, and taught him how to tie ropes (scouting) and next week, we’re going with Grandpa to a field trip to the swimming pool to learn how to dive, since Grandpa/Morfar used to teach swimming lessons years ago.
He’s also doing a project that his stepfather created for him. They bought supplies to do an experiment. My son has to do the experiment and then, using the receipt from Wal-Mart of the supply list, he has to figure out how much each “kit” costs and how much each part of the kit costs (100 paper clips for $1.37 for example) and then he gets to assess the materials (research and development).
He just finished writing a story. I guided the story by saying it had to be in cursive and it had to include two new vocabulary words: “aileron” and “frond” –but other than that, anything goes. He did a great job. He wrote a vivid adventure that involved an emergency landing of an airplane into a jungle that had mosquitoes the size of your head.
And during recess, he decided to create his own musical instrument. He used a rubber band, a toilet paper tube, a piece of paper, a screw, a paper clip, some tape and a pipe cleaner. It really works, too.
He is getting more and more creative; also wiser. He recognized and pointed out to me an analogy from “The Hobbit” that he saw which reminded him of common core education. Common Core was a goblin bent on making certain useful –but only useful and never beautiful– tools. I guess he was listening when I was ranting about Common Core architect David Coleman and his removal of narrative writing and classic literature from the common core, and I said that literature is for soaring, for beauty and joy, and not just for basic employability.
He read to me:
“... armed goblins were standing round him carrying the axes and bent swords that they use. Now goblins are cruel, wicked and bad-hearted. They make no beautiful things, but they can make many clever ones.”
– p. 62, The Hobbit.
What more can I say?