The purpose of this blog is to provide an archived resource of Personal thoughts, learning resources, and parent information.

Regular postings will be added on Mondays.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Portfolios, "Blessed" Portfolios

Evaluation; something that each of us do all the time, yet also something that intimidates and scares us when we feel that we are being evaluated by others. What might they think? What might they say? Are we measuring  up?

My campus school just underwent an evaluation by a team from the Ministry of Education. You would have thought that Jesus was coming to visit. Everyone was running around, making sure that every ‘i’ was dotted and every ‘t’ crossed. Hours were taken over and above regular classroom duties to ensure that everything was in place and looked good. When it was over there was the expected sigh of relief and life returned somewhat to normal.  The truth is that if it really was Jesus coming, He would have been far more concerned over us personally, our relationships, and the care for others, than that our desks were in straight rows, the hallways clean, and that our year plans matched curriculum outcomes. J

I think that portfolios and FSA tests are very similar. We feel that not only are our children being evaluated, but we ourselves are also being evaluated. That’s normal, that’s human. When my grade sevens write their FSAs this year, I’ll be feeling as much under the gun as they will, maybe even moreso as it speaks to my perceived ablilities to teach.

Feeling stressed? Sorry, that’s not my purpose. I suppose that the two reasons that I’m writing this are: first,  to let you know that I am using your portfolio samples to grade your children, not you, and that YES, I  understand the tensions that can sometimes accompany evaluations.

Teaching Tips: Boredom Beaters

 It’s easy to get into a routine and one day wake up to, “This is boring!” Why do we have to do this?”

First, there are some subjects and topics that can be hard to make interesting. I often began the year with my grade five students with the statement, “This is your Communicating Skills Grammar workbook. It is not fun. BUT, it is necessary. It will make you a better writer and a better communicator. Your other subjects will benefit from the work that you do in this book.” Once a week, I would pick and choose lessons form it that supported our other LA work.

Boredom can be death to you and to your children. Here are a few boredom beaters:

1. What is interesting/fun to you?  I always figured that if I can’t have fun teaching then it’s time to quit. Take the things that you enjoy and add them to your lessons… silly voices…music…jokes.

2. What is interesting/ fun to your children? If they love drawing, find ways to incorporate Art into your lessons. Illustrations…displays…posters… dramatic reenactments, make up a song. (What might Christopher Columbus have been singing when he discovered the new land?)

3. Are your children physical? Can they create a game connected to what they’re learning? Life Science… go outside and play predator and prey. Who gets to catch and eat who?  (Sorry kinda violent.  Okay, they can all be herbivores in search of different plants… a great way to get them to pick weeds and dandelions.)

4. Find a video connected with the topic. Last week I showed my grade sevens an excellent video on volcanoes, then we made models out of plasticene and made them erupt outside. I used the Diet Coke & Mentos explosion to show the effects of built up pressure. I begin every Science class with a “Weird Science fact, and a really lame Science joke.  The kids love it although I’m not sure why.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

New "Evangelists"

I have evangelists living in my house! This week I took a “little” trip to Northern BC to visit some of my online families.  I hadn’t seen my own parents for a while so I invited them to join me on the six to seven-hour drive.

We had a terrific chat about life, family, church, the future, concerns over friends, work, society, and all of the other things that arise on a long drive.

Our drive back had a little different theme. 

You see my parents, both teachers, have been involved in public education for over 50 years. They are still involved as TOCs (subs) on a fairly regular basis. Over 50 years they have poured their lives into their students and have also seen a lot of change in schools, in children, and in society. They have always been curious about homeschooling and to be honest were slightly skeptical about its results.

My HCOS families were gracious enough to welcome my parents in to meet their children and talk about what homeschooling means to them and their families. My parents listened in as some of the children shared their learning and showed off their work.

Well, I had to smile all the way home as my parents began to espouse homeschooling as the cure for all ills. They repeatedly commented on how sharp the children were, how organized the parents were, how well the children listened, how the kids had a calmness and security and peace. They were so impressed at how learning was individualized and truly nurtured each one, and how the children worked and cooperated around the home; essentially the character that was being developed and shown. My parents were SOOOO impressed!!

Yup, I have two new homeschool evangelists in my family. 

Thank you to the families who were so welcoming and exemplary of what homeschooling is all about. Thanks to all of you for the time, energy, and passion that you invest in the lives of your children. May God bless you with wisdom, patience, energy, and a renewed vision in what you do every day. The lives you’re touching aren’t just those of your own family. 

Auditory Learners

Auditory Learners: Learning by Hearing

   Auditory learners like to read to themselves out loud. They are not afraid to speak in class. They like to do oral reports and are good at explaining. Auditory learners remember names and notice small things like sound effects in movies. They enjoy music and are good at grammar and foreign languages. They prefer oral directions over written directions. Some auditory learners can't keep quiet for long periods. They enjoy acting, and being on stage. Written information may not make sense until they hear it read.

Auditory learners may have a knack for ascertaining the true meaning of someone's words by listening to audible signals like changes in tone. When memorizing a phone number, an auditory learner will say it out loud and then remember how it sounded to recall it.

    Use word association to remember facts and lines.
    Recording lectures.
    Watching videos.
    Repeating facts with eyes closed.
    Participating in group discussions.
    Using audiotapes for language practice.
    Taping notes after writing them.
    Working in study groups.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Visual Learners: The Learner is Watching

This type of learner learns best by watching how things work. Many students respond to visual learning techniques today because they are growing up in an image driven culture.

Visual/spatial learners love a well-ordered and designed space with each object in its place and appealingly
 They are uncomfortable, even restless, encountering incomplete or unsettled situations.

Instinctive sense of balance and completeness
: They can tell when something is out of alignment, or not truly horizontal or vertical. 
They are adept at working with mirror images and rotating images in their minds, and strive to bring order by constructing, arranging, color coding, or fixing things.

Observing/experiencing: They learn best by observing and experiencing. They use visual images to navigate and comprehend.

Visual/spatial learners are good at seeing the “big picture”
of both simple and complex systems. Overviews or summaries are their specialty, often at the expense of remembering details or constructing sequences.

They prefer to read and work under subdued or natural lighting 
and in comfortable conditions, and are uncomfortable with glare/harsh lighting, rough clothing, drafts, and temperature extremes.


* Retention--Students better remember information when it's represented and learned both visually and verbally. They need to see how things are done and how things work. Outlines and graphic organizers link verbal and visual information and help students make connections, understand relationships and recall related details.

* Comprehension--Students better comprehend new ideas when they see how things work and observe how they are done. Diagrams, models, animations, and visual displays work best.

* Assignments--Students can create diagrams, displays, dramas, models, tables, charts, and cartoons to demonstrate knowledge. Using outlines and graphic organizers will help their productivity.

Keys to Discipleship

I was blessed to have been raised in a Christian home. As a child, I sometimes wondered if I had actually been born in the foyer or a Sunday school classroom or the 4th row, left side, since we were there every time the doors were open.

I believed in God for as long as I could remember, and understood the basics of Jesus’ love and work in my life, but when I became a teen things changed a bit. I began to question my faith. Did I believe in God because that was what I had inherited, or did I own my faith?

It has been my experience that as I have learned a few keys that my relationship has grown deeper and stronger. Here they are:

1. Who is God? Understanding who God is foundational to our faith. Learning to understand the Father’s heart, His character, His attributes, and His love & grace is where we need to begin.

2. Who am I? Understanding myself; my strengths, weaknesses, gifts, talents, and my need for God is the next key.

3. What does God want to do through me? Understanding that I am significant to God. He has a plan for my life that He is equipping me for.

4. How have I been created to worship? What stirs my heart toward God? When do I feel the closest to Him? How do I hear from the Holy Spirit? (Yes, this could go with “Who am I?”)

If you’re looking for a focus this year perhaps this is a place to start. Going through the books of John or Luke, and focusing on how Jesus taught these things to his disciples, is a great way to make these books real, and disciple your children as well.