Tuesday, August 21, 2012

2012-2013 School Planning: Reading and Writing with the Daily Five, Adjusted for Homeschool

A Late Afternoon Book Break...
I would love to provide my children with an authentic, traditional Montessori-style reading and writing program, but, truth be told, I just don’t have it in me right now.  The preparation of materials and space for presenting and storing them all present too large a hurdle for my mental muscles to jump over.

Luckily, along with Montessori, both Classical and Charlotte-Mason approaches appeal to me.  An intentional diet of skill-building and knowledge-gaining lessons...  Rich, living books...  Love for language and literacy!  Ah, yes, these things I adore and think I can manage to facilitate this year.

Thus, I have decided to begin the year with a simple, methodical approach to basic reading and writing skills, using a variety of sources, but mostly Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons and Handwriting Without Tears. 

In fact, I have already begun easing back into academics for the fall by briefly working on lessons from these books out on the lawn with Luke some mornings, and I will pick up again with Nina in a few weeks.

Balancing Our Textbook Approach

Anyone who knows me might be quite surprised that I am going with a “textbook” approach for Reading and Writing this fall.  It is quite uncharacteristic of me.  When I was a classroom teacher, textbooks almost always remained dusty on the shelves.  As a tutor and homeschooler, they have, to date, been resources to glance at once in a while, not core learning materials.   However, in this season of our life, textbooks seem "right".  They will work for the moment and with our big picture.

Sort of.

To be honest, for me to feel like me still, the textbooks have to be balanced with plenty of free reading and writing as well as self- and mama-directed projects.  So, Mike and I will to continue to read, read, read aloud to our children and to encourage them to read and write for themselves at their own paces, too.  And, along the way, we will surely involve ourselves in many projects.

Indeed, a lot of this reading and writing will continue as it has been happening all summer – naturally.   

Testing a New Framework

I am also going to try a new framework for some of our focused reading and writing times, one that I have borrowed and adapted from The Daily Five, a book that caught my eye recently and one that I devoured despite the fact that it is aimed at classroom teachers, not homeschool ones.

(As a side note here I might add:  If there are any classroom educators reading this who have not read The Daily Five, I encourage you to do so.  Quite honestly, if my children were to go to a traditional schooland if it could not be my dream Montessori school or Reggio school, which would not need a Daily Five inspired system I would hope that their classroom teachers had read and employed the ideas in this book.  In doing so, they would afford students choice and independence, while still promoting effective communal learning and focused mini-lessons within an excellent classroom management system.  Their classrooms would be abuzz with the focused activities of engaged readers and writers.)

From a homeschooling perspective, all facets of the The Daily Five are not necessary,  In fact, implementing the The Daily Five as it is written might feel a bit contrived.  However, I think that understanding the key ideas of the book and weaving them into a homeschool day might help a home ELA program remain well-balanced, which is exactly what I am aiming for this year.

Daily, I intend to have Luke and Nina choose several of the following five categories as a part of their language studies, encouraging them to explore all of the options at least weekly:

  • Read to Self—Luke and Nina will independently read to themselves for increasingly long periods of time in order to practice literacy skills which we will work on during mini-lessons.  As per inspiration from The Daily Five, they will self-select “just right” books that they can “read the pictures”,  “read the words” or “retell a familiar story” with.  This option will likely happen during a “quiet time” or “bedtime” work period.

  • Read to Someone—As with Read to Self, Luke and Nina will self-select books for “buddy reading” with each other, me or someone else.  Luke or Nina will read, and after each page or two read, whoever they are reading to will say, “I heard you read...” to review what has happened in the story until that point (which is Charlotte Mason-esque).  This will help them both gain fluency and comprehension skills.  And, just so Jack does not get left out, we will count him as a buddy, too, even if he cannot narrate content back yet.  Our read to Someone tome will likely happen during our morning learning period or around lunchtime.  It might include bedtime reading with Daddy, too.

  • Listen to Reading:  To build fluency skills, Luke and Nina will listen to audio stories, read alouds and online audio-visual books.  The first two things we do on a constant basis here anyway.  The last will be the real treat for them!  Some of the “Reading Websites” we may use are:  Story Nory, Starfall, Storyline Online, Tumblebooks, Wired for Books, Robert Munsch and MemeTales.  Midday quiet time will likely be the period when computer-based listening is chosen.  Car-time, quiet time, bedtime and "reset" time will be other periods for audiobooks.

  • Work on Writing:  Writing seems to happen spontaneously in our home between self-directed copy work, book making, etc.  However, I would like to add letter writing to Nana and Papa and other folks into the mix, as well as journaling for self.  Plus, I may ask Nina and Luke to occasionally complete Listen to Reading reflection sheets with drawings, sentences and ratings about the books they have listened to.  

  • Word Work:  Luke and Nina (and Jack  if he wishes) will choose from a variety of kinesthetic writing materials to practice words they that they find challenging to read or spell.  Should we return to workboxing at any point, this will be a biggie for the boxes.  It could also work for Montessori shelves and trays or just as a kitchen table activity during morning or afternoon focused study times.  Basically, it entails short spurts of FUN, focused work on spelling and vocabulary, including many phonics and sight words.  That work might be done on white boards, with a moveable alphabet, with modeling clay and a golf tee (the tee becomes the pencil and the clay the paper), a salt box, playdough and stamps, file folder games, wikkistix, bottle cap letters...  You name it. The actual content for the kids’ word work will likely be words that I notice they need practice with (i.e. invented spelling in their spontaneous writing or ones they stumble over as we read together).  They might include challenging words that the kids find in their “good fit” books, Dolch Words/Sight Words that I notice they need help with, words specific to topics we are studying or good old phonics words.

As with all new things, whether the framework I have borrowed from The Daily Five will be a keeper in our home will depend on how it plays out.  At this point, I love the idea and think the kids will, too.  It lends itself nicely to flexibility while defining a balanced structure for learning.  Plus, so long as the kids stay true to selecting all five options at least once each week, I think we will hit all possible Kindergarten and First grade learning Reading and Writing objectives without even consciously trying to do so.

In the meantime, I should probably stop this long explanation of what we will be doing for reading and Writing this year in order to get to actually doing some of it today.  Further, allow me to apologize, for a teacher/tutor who specializes in reading and writing I must admit this is probably one of the most poorly written things I have put out for public sharing lately.  It is a first-draft thing just to get my thoughts down "on paper" and to share them with others who, like me, are late planners for the coming year.  So, forgive the syntax and read for the content, please!

What are your reading and writing goals and strategies this year?  Do you have favorite audio books or “reading websites”?  I’d love to know what they are – especially if they are rich in classics and modern living books!

Note: It would appear that as I have been taking my planning in bits, I have sharing it that way as well.  The other portions of our planning to date can be found by scrolling through School Planning 2012-2013. 

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1 comment:

Discovering Montessori said...

I love how your following your children and meeting your family needs at the same time. beautiful picture!! Thank you so much for sharing.


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