Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Thinking of Exploring Unschooling?

photo credit 
Here is an email series I just heard about that explores the world of Unschooling. If your interested you can sign up for this series and receive the emails to learn more about it.

You can sign up for the email series at Living Joyfully.  I signed up myself just to read through it ~

Until next time!

A Few Reading Tips to Share~

I wanted to share a few reading tips that I had been thinking about recently while talking about learning to read.

There are a number of helpful, fun things we can do to help our new readers or struggling readers.  Here are a few ideas/suggestions for you to consider over this summer and also while starting a new school year of studies:

1. Reading consistency is really important. Don't start and then suddenly stop a reading program that has been successful.  A child who has recently developed better automaticity and has found success in reading should continue to read over the summer months aloud and on his/her own. The time all depends on the level of maturity and age for the learner. You don't want to make reading a burden, even sitting for 10-15 minutes a day while they is fine so that you can continue to help them with their reading self confidence.

2. For the new reader, find a couple of books they read fairly well ( one that only has a couple of words that they still get sort of stuck on ( NOT a couple  of "trouble words" on a page but a  few (4-5) for the whole book) and write those words on small squares of paper/index cards. Add the book and the small cards to a ziplock bag and add more and more bags with books and cards as you go throughout the weeks and have them work like 4-5 bags at a time as follows; ( you will watch their reading confidence grow!)
            - with them, read over and sound out the "trouble spot" word and then have them repeat
            - next have them read over the story to you and working on those same "trouble spot" words                 when you get to them in the book itself.
This sort of consistent practice is great for building fluency & automaticity ( see below for the understanding of this word if your not familiar) and it tends to be less stressful and fun for younger, new readers because of the constant familiarity with the book itself.

3. For a bit older readers ( later elementary) reading aloud is still important. Audio books really allow much more interesting and less time for us parents to spend with them while practicing in this way. While working with an audio book the learner should have the book in front of them and be following along as the narrator reads. If you have a much younger child - having a child draw a picture of the story as they listen actually can help with comprehension :) .

4.  We used to do something I believe is similar to something called "popcorn reading". We all would read aloud the same book ( for example Mr. Poppers Penguins) and when a specific word would came up in the story I would have them read the word out loud so that I knew they were following along with the story and paying attention to the written word while listening. The boys loved it - and it really was fun~

5. Try really hard in the beginning not to combine reading practice with grammar or spelling learning. This can be really overwhelming to the NEW readers and this way they can just concentrate on one thing at a time. Much less stressful. I know we can be tempted to say " see how this is capitalized" etc., but hold off for a bit while teaching the basic reading code.

6. Have your learner make up their own phonogram cards  ( ABC's) to practice with you can make up games with them like "Go Fish" or something similar to Candy Land so that your learner can show their understanding of the phonemes and phonograms. ( see below if needed) This helps with sounding words out phonetically. You will be really surprised at how much better they will get at their sounding out and breaking words apart once they get these down. But make it FUN! And later on add the vowels with all their sounds for each~

Automaticity- a level of reading that is "easy" for them, "automatic" and effortless like they literally know the words by heart without having to sound anything out. You can read more about automaticity and fluency here. 

phoneme - a phoneme is the smallest "unit" of sound a letter or as I like to call it a symbol makes which is used in phonetics.

phonogram- is a written symbol ( a grapheme) that represents a sound, these are used in spelling  

Hope these tips are helpful~

Until next time!

Unit Studies for High School Learners ( Part 2)

I decided to add a "Part 2" to my most recent post for Unit Studies and Integrated Learning. I thought it might be even more helpful to share what I am doing and how I plan on doing more Integrated Learning with my teen.

I looked around the internet and really couldn't find too much in a way of examples of doing this kind of learning so I thought I might share some ideas and things that I am doing with this topic.

I have learned recently that Unit Studies can also be known or referred to as Project Based Learning/Studies and also Integrated Learning/Studies.

For us, there are two huge advantages using integrated learning and they are as follows:

1. Retention will be much better - I believe with the immersion, intensity and relevance aspects this adds to my teens learning, he will without a doubt, be more engaged and active in his learning and retention of material.

2. Time to fit in a great deal of information and get many more subject topics included into our day instead of working one separate subject at a time. Our tracker will greatly help in pulling Science in and Writing in where on some days we just didn't have enough time to get to it.

The only subject area I don't plan on adding to the Integrated Learning is our Math. Only if it truly is obvious like in some sciences with Chemistry, Physics and some sub-topics of Biology. I feel that at this stage my teen needs to continue on with his math as a separate subject but do plan on adding in the math whenever possible, when it is appropriate with using graphing and such he will be practicing in his Algebra. I think adding the area of Math is much easier when the learners are at much lower level areas of learning instead of doing it during the high school years.

our finished spiral booklet
Here is a picture of our finished booklet I had made. It came out great and I plan on using the back side of the page for my son to write any additional delight directed learning on it with the resoures he used so I can track those as well.

I plan on trying the "post it note method"
 ( created by Lee Binz for adapting delight directed learning into well organized transcripts - found in Chapter 10 of her book
 "Setting the Record Straight" )  as well and sticking them to the back of the pages so that I can have everything in one place for me once I am read to bring all the information and resources together for portfolios and/or transcripts.

In Part 3 I will begin to explain how we are working this kind of method and would love input and feedback from my readers if they have any ideas/suggestions to add~

Unil next time!

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