Category Archives: How-to

16. Curriculum

School starts in a week.  So, I’m in the home stretch of preparations.  I’ve added the Curriculum Page to my GGP Teacher Manual.  This page details the curriculum I use for each subject.  It’s a combination of purchased and self-made curricula.

Making Health Books

Making Health Books

You’ll find PDF copies of the curricula I’ve made and links to the ones I purchase.

SOTW 2 Booklet

SOTW 2 Booklet

Enjoy!

 

13. School Year Calendar

I’ve added the Calendar page to my GGP Teacher Manual.

Calendar

GGP 2013-2014 Calendar

You can download and customize the calendar for your school.

I usually print out several grayscale copies to mark up as I figure out our school year and number the weeks.

CalendarMarked

Marked Calendar JPG (click to enlarge)

Here are what all my markings mean:

CalendarMarked

My Calendar Explained (click to enlarge)

The calendar helps me get a visual idea of how many weeks we really need to accomplish all of our goals and how many weeks we can use for breaks.  I’ll add my final calendar to the Calendar page of my GGP Teacher Manual when it’s done.

10. Course Schedules and an Art Gallery

I have updated my Golden Gate Prep Teacher Manual with the remaining course schedules (history, Latin, art, health) for our upcoming school year. (I’ll update the math schedules to include the second semester soon).

R-Health2

On the Art Course Schedule page of my teacher manual, you’ll find my Art Gallery. This is a homemade book the kids will complete as we go through the school year. I bought a simple binding system (hole punch and coils) last year and discovered that I LOVE making these books. So, you’ll be seeing more of these for our other subjects in the near future. (I have several in mind for Health already).

Art photo 3

I’ve completed the first three steps of my planning for the school year:
1. Standards
2. Goals
3. Course Schedules

These are what I consider the hardest (i.e. least creative) steps to planning. But, they set the foundation and ensure a successful school year for us. As much as I enjoy lists and checkmarks, though (and I really do), I get a different sort of satisfaction from the remaining planning steps. Now come the fun parts, the ones where I get to play and put my personal touch on things.

Up next, our school calendar…maybe not what most people think of as fun, but I’m excited!

9. Course Schedules

I am well into Step 3 of my preparation for the 2013-2014 school year: Course Schedules!

A-Math5

Sample Course Schedule

My course schedules map out each subject for the entire year, day by day.  So, this step takes me some time to complete.  I make course schedules for everything but spelling, writing, grammar, and Mandarin.  These subjects are pretty straightforward (or not taught by me, in the case of Mandarin).  I do list these subjects on our weekly schedule, but we just do the next lesson each time.

So far, I’ve posted my math and science course schedules.  You’ll notice those are the only two links working on the main Course Schedule page of my GGP Teacher Manual.  The rest will become active as I complete the subjects.

 

8. Goal Sheets Completed…Finally!

The goal sheets took me longer than usual this year.  We’ve had some other stuff going on this past week.  The kids were supposed to have summer camp Monday – Wednesday (9am-4pm), and I was going to get all kinds of school prep done.  BUT, we had a crazy heat wave , and the kids’ summer sports and splash camp felt more like punishment than fun.  Ryan made it to noon the first day; both kids were home after lunch the second day; and we totally skipped the third day (opting to stay cool at home instead).  So, there went my quiet work time.

Thursday was the 4th of July.  We spent the morning doing an art and literacy project with my Rotary Club.  The idea for this project came from our time living in New York.  The New York Parks and Recreation department had this great program called Art in the Park, and I used to take Ashby when she was just a couple years old.  They offered free art projects right there in the parks.  I always wanted to recreate this program after I returned to CA, and last year my Rotary Club welcomed my idea with enthusiasm and helped me to make it a reality.  So, now we have a mobile setup and provide literacy-based art projects and opportunities to read with Rotarian volunteers.  Every kid leaves with a book of his or her choice, too (and a mini-book of the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution in this case).

Our setup

Our setup

Ashby has turned out to be my best helper.  She loves to come up with project ideas, help us set up, and read with the younger kids.

Number 1 helper!

Number 1 helper!

I enjoy this program for lots of reasons, but one of the main reasons is that Ashby and Ryan get to meet and talk with lots of people (kids and adults) while doing something that contributes to our community.  It’s a few hours out of our month, but I hope it will have a lasting effect on them.  Mike joined in recently, too, and it’s a great way for us to spend time together as a family.

We did the project on the 4th from 7-10 am just outside a pre-parade pancake breakfast offered by a local church (this was their 60th annual breakfast).  Kids came for the pancakes but stayed for the art and books(…I’m tricky like that).  After the project, we watched the parade (from these same shady seats, by the way).  It was a great day…which turned into a great four-day weekend (when Dad’s off work, we play).  Of course, I got absolutely no school preparation done for these four days.

photo

Eventually, I finished the goal sheets for the remainder of our 2013-2014 courses.  You can find links to each subject on the Goals page of my GGP Teacher Manual.

Art-R2

Goal Sheet

Now that I’ve finished our goals, I’m on to step 3 (one of my favorites): scheduling.  More about this in future posts.

7. Social Studies Goals

I’ve added our 2013-2014 social studies goals to the GGP Teacher Manual page.  You’ll see individualized goals for Ashby and Ryan as well as blank forms you can download for your own use.

Social Studies- Ryan 2

Social Studies Goal Sheet

I like to approach history from a world-centered viewpoint.  This is different from the CA state standards, but it just makes more sense to me.  In CA, 4th grade social studies is all about California history; so our 4th grade goal sheet reflects this.

Ashby and I are both excited to study CA history, even though it basically means we’re adding another subject to our lessons.  I have yet to decide just how we’ll do this.  I may schedule our CA history as a separate subject, or I may work it into our schedule mainly as reading assignments (which we always include anyways).  When I work on our history schedule, I’ll figure out just how in-depth our CA history work will be, and that will determine whether it is a standalone subject or an add-on to our world history studies.

For Ryan’s second grade social studies goals, I have generally adhered to the CA standards.  I did select our Historic Individuals from the middle ages so that they will correlate with our Story of the World (SOTW) readings.  The list of individuals on his goal sheet is not comprehensive, but I will specify more people when I create his history and reading schedules.

3. Standards

I’ve spent the past few days reviewing the CA state standards for education (slowly becoming the national Common Core Standards).  This is always my first step in preparing for the new school year.  I realize that many homeschoolers want nothing to do with state standards; that’s partly why we homeschool, right?  But, for me, the standards are a natural starting point.  Maybe this is a byproduct of my time as a public school teacher.  My credentialing program taught me to design lesson plans based on the state standards.  Additionally, I was encouraged to write those standards specific to the day’s lesson on the whiteboard so that the students would know why we were studying whatever we were that day.  I’d be shocked to learn, though, that even one student paid any attention to what I wrote.  Kids don’t care about state standards.  Why  would they?  The wording is so convoluted that, often, even adults have to reread them several times to understand the meaning.  From the students’ point of view, standards are just another set of rules they are asked to follow without question.  Writing the standards on the whiteboard might have made my classroom appear more focused and exemplary to visitors and administrators.  But, did it actually serve a useful purpose and benefit the kids?  No.  In fact, I think it might have overwhelmed some of them.  I stopped writing the standards on the whiteboard.

So, why do I still read the standards?  I believe they are worthy goals for teachers.  Granted, it’s very difficult to achieve these standards in a classroom setting with 20-30 students.  With just two students, though, I can do it.  Also, as a teacher and mom who likes to plan, I feel most confident organizing my curriculum around concrete goals.  The standards give me a framework.  In reality, as I read the state standards for each kid’s grade level (which can take a while and be somewhat tedious), I find that Ashby and Ryan are already secure in many of them.  So, I just highlight the ones I want to address in the coming year and build from there.  As the school year progresses, I occasionally review the  highlighted standards to make sure we on track and adjust future lessons accordingly.  This review process takes only a few minutes at a time and gives me a sense of reassurance that we are headed in the right direction.  Of course, I never ask Ashby and Ryan to read the standards; they’re just for me.