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Homeschooling the Middle & High School Years

Chaotic Bliss Homeschooling

Teaching Ideas/Methods
Free technology for teachers Tags: computers technology teaching

Merry Christmas! Yes! I said Merry Christmas! I hope I didn't offend anyone given the present day climate of "political correctness"/stupidity!

Of course, being "unsocialized" means not having to put up with such nonsense!

So, once again, with feeling......MERRY CHRISTMAS!

I wanted to post this link with tips, tricks, information and resources concerning a subject which is near and dear to my heart, namely COMPUTERS!

I know, I know! I can hear many of you groaning right now! But like it or not, the ubiquitous computer has taken center stage in just about every aspect of our lives including teaching.

So I encourage you to check it out! Considering how quickly these things change, you are bound to find something that will help you meet the challenges that an increasingly technology driven curriculum presents.

And for more on new technology, gifts and gadget ideas for Christmas please visit here.........

Happy Holidays to all !

The Stuffed Tutor Tags: stuffed animals

by Tammy Drennan


How would you like to own a tutor? And a free one, at that?
When my youngest son was little he loved his stuffed animals. I made them talk all the time, and each one had a distinct personality and voice.
Sometimes they had conflicts among themselves and Zach had to resolve them. Sometimes they were grouchy (one in particular), sometimes sad, often happy and gleeful, and always curious. They became part of the family in a surprisingly real way (and was it hard to part with their participation as Zach got older? I thought that might be the case, but it wasn't at all -- at least not for Zach).
Zach's animals played the role of tutor in many ways. In play, he used them to reenact history. They played roles in his annual July 4th parade that included little floats depicting historic moments, with stuffed animals dressed up like founding fathers. He would tie his floats into a long line and pull his parade through the house, playing patriotic music in the background.
But our stuffed family members played much more important roles, too. When they fought with one another, Zach learned skills in negotiating peace and dealing with conflict. When their feelings were hurt or they were feeling blue, he learned empathy. When they were in fun-loving moods, he learned the joy of unbridled delight. And when they happened upon his math book and struggled to understand a problem or when out of curiosity they perched on his shoulder and asked questions or begged "Teach me!" as he worked math problems, he was forced to understand his own work better and to become a good communicator.
Better to learn these things from other humans, you think? He learned them there, too. But his stuffed friends and tutors offered special opportunities to learn, especially in the academic realm. They were non-threatening and even at their most demanding, endearing. They were cute and made Zach want to teach them, which made him work harder to understand things himself (by the time he was 16, he was tutoring people students). They weren't authority figures. They had very long attention spans.
And because Mom made them talk, they asked good questions. A stuffed tutor can make learning more fun and more effective. It can diffuse personality conflicts between parent and child and enhance your homeschooling in ways that would truly surprise you.
One important tip: If you already have some conflict with your child, don't use an animal that he or she already loves -- buy a new one and introduce it. If you see that this method is not going to work for your situation, you might want to consider a human tutor.
A Math Lesson with Zach and Piglet
Piglet: Zachawy, can I watch you do your math?
Zach: Mmm hmm.
Piglet watches for a while.
Piglet: Is math fun?
Zach: Sometimes.
Piglet (sitting now on Zach's math book): What's the funnest part?
Zach: Well, I don't know. Maybe adding big numbers.
Piglet: Can I see you add some big numbers?
Zach finds a problem and shows Piglet who expresses his amazement but doesn't understand the concept of carrying.
Piglet: If 8 + 8 is 16, why can't you just put the one and the six at the bottom? Why do you have to take it apart?
Zach thinks about this for a while.
Zach: Because the one would have to go under the next numbers you have to add, then there wouldn't be room for their answer.
Piglet: Why can't you just squeeze the one and the six under the eights?
Zach begins to get a little exasperated.
Zach: Piglet, you're just a little animal. I think this might be too hard for you to understand. Why don't you just watch me and maybe you'll learn something that way.
You can see how this exchange made Zach pay a little closer attention to the processes of math, even if his answer was simplistic. You can also see how he came up with a happy solution for both Piglet and himself and got on with his math in a relaxed and warm atmosphere.
Tammy Drennan homeschooled her own sons from 1985 to 2003. She has worked as a homeschool leader, tutor, workshop leader and writer since 1986. Visit her blog and her web site.
Language Arts Graphic Organizers Tags: graphic organizers reading graphic organizers free graphic organizers graphic organizers for writing

by Marianne Vanderkolk 

Language Arts Graphic Organizers are tools which can help an author choose a subject and gather their details before the writing begins and also during the whole writing process. They can be used as a strategy for teaching writing to help identify possible subjects, learn as much as possible about the subject, decide on an interesting point to expand upon and list factors which can be included and as a tool to design and organize the writing. They are wonderful tools for young writers and helpful in teaching children to write well.

The writing process often follows these steps:
  • Pre-writing;
  • Writing the first draft;
  •  Revising;
  • Editing and Proofreading.

Language Arts graphic organizers will be most useful in the pre-writing stage, but can also be aids when writing the draft and when revising to help the writer clarify and logically present their work.

What are some language arts graphic organizers and when can they be used?
Initially, when deciding upon a topic, these graphic organizers can be used:
  • Clustering - Can once again be useful to help you narrow down your topic.
  • 5 W's and H - Once you have selected your topic, ask Who? What? When? Where? and Why? and How? This graphic organizer can have the main topic in the center of the page with each W? spidering from the center. It could look like the spokes of a wheel.
  • Describing Wheel - This graphic organizer is like a large wheel with the topic in the center. The circle is divided into five sectors - one for each of the senses. This graphic organizer helps the author think of ways to describe a topic, a person, a place, an object according to each sense : sight, smell, touch, taste, hearing.
  • Story Map - This can be useful for narrative writing. This can be organized in horizontal steps. The Setting - which describes who, what, where, when; The Problem or Conflict ; The Plot which includes the rising action and may include a number of sub-plots; The Climax; The Falling Action and Resolution;
  • Compare and Contrast - This graphic organizer can be set up as a T on a page and useful to compare and contrast topics, events, people and so on.
  • Venn Diagram  - A Venn Diagram is also a useful graphic organizer which compares and contrasts two subjects.
  • Timeline - A timeline can be useful to list an order of events in a person's life, an event,
  • A Process Diagram - This graphic organizer is useful to list details of how a process works or step by step instructions. Processes can be joined by arrows.
  • Cycle Diagram - In much the same way as above, this graphic organizer can be used to describe a process which continues as a cycle - science related subjects - life-cycles, water-cycle etc.
  • Cause/ Effect Organizer - This is another T chart which can describe results which come from a particular event.
  • Definition Diagram - Using a spiral diagram, information on the subject can be written on the spokes. A topic can  be defined by a quote, a dictionary definition, important facts, personal definitions, What it is not, An example of it.
  • KWL - Another graphic organizer which helps the author see the gaps in his/her knowledge of a subject and a way to fill it: It is presented as a 3 column chart with these headings:
    • What do I know? (K);
    • What do I want to Know? (W)
    • What I learned (L) or still want to know.
  • Main Idea/Supporting Ideas - This chart can be useful to draft an essay or paragraph. The topic sentence or thesis statement is written at the top and listed underneath are the supporting statements, quotes, facts, examples which support the thesis. An essay may contain a few paragraphs which need supporting evidence for each thesis statement.
These tools are useful to any author, any child or adult, who likes to have a visual and graphic overview of their writing and likes to express their thoughts spatially.
Visit Marianne Vanderkolk's at - a Homeschooling guide to help you uniquely design-your-own homeschool to suit your family's goals.  The website provides information on how to teach writing along with free Homeschool Printables and Graphic Organizers.

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