Oklahoma Homeschool Subscribers,
This has been an extremely busy
and exciting month. First, I had the privilege of teaching
three seminars in Edmond, Oklahoma, for Ellen Latimer's OKHSMOMS-Info
network. Ellen did a terrific job of sponsoring this
seminar - Thanks Ellen! The food was great, the helpers were
wonderful, and I enjoyed meeting all of you who attended!
I went on my 36-year-delayed honeymoon with my wonderful
hubbie, Bill. We took a 16-day, photo tour of the west including
Amarillo, Albuquerque, the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park,
Bryce Canyons, Capitol Reef, Moab, and Arches National Park.
The Utah portion of our trip was through Elderhostel.
(If you are 55 and up, you must check out this wonderful
travel resource.) We had a wonderful time and took over 1,000
photos! Here's a photo of Bill in the Grand Canyons (He's
the tiny blue speck in the middle!):
On the trip home, we stopped
in Vail, Colorado, and Dodge City, Kansas, where we took
a few pictures also. So now, I'm back home trying to catch
up on housework, volunteer work, and my writing projects.
I hope you enjoy this issue of the OKHS e-newsletter.
a great November!
Homeschool Newsletter, November 2006
New on the Oklahoma Homeschool Website?
War Unit. I added more resources to
this unit. Includes general information, photos,
lesson plans, crafts, recipes, music, art, books
to read, videos to watch and more!
2. Added a few more composition
projects also - listed below.
1. Beyond Numbers by
Katherine A. Loop. If you want to know what homeschool
graduates are doing, just look at the number of books being
published by them! Beyond Numbers, written by homeschool
graduate Katherine Loop, is another one that I recommend.
Several years ago, I read a book called, Mathematics:
Is God Silent? by James Nickel. It was so inspiring and
informative that I began recommending it to everyone I
could. However, it's not an easy read and most people just
couldn't take the time to digest it. When I learned that
Katherine had written a book which included a simplified
version of a portion of Nickel's book, I was extremely
anxious to read it.
She didn't disappoint me! Katherine's excellent
book is easy to read. It will not only help you understand
God's purpose for math and how math testifies of God, but
it will also give you some practical suggestions for implementing
what you learn into your homeschool program. In addition,
she rates current math curriculums as to how well they
present math in the context of God's Word and includes
a sample idea notebook for using math in your daily lives.
Congratulations, Katherine, on a job well done! For more
information or to order, check her website at:
2. Ancient History
Portfolio & Timeline by
Barbara Shukin. When I first received this book, I looked
at the blank pages and thought, "OK, so now what do I do
with it?" Although there are some suggestions at the beginning
of the book, my complaint was that for someone with no
imagination or very little planning and research time,
it is not enough. Thankfully, Barbara has now answered
that question with a teacher's guide. The Ancient Portfolio
& Timeline is a portfolio guide for history studies (Ancient,
Medieval, and Renaissance are now available. Modern History
is coming.) Each page includes a place for maps, reports,
drawings, and more. There is also a removeable timeline
in the back of the book to keep track of what's going
on in history, when.
Now, with the teacher's manual,
Barbara supplies the "pictures" to put in the boxes and
more detailed suggestions of what to write in the report
boxes. This will definitely make the book more attractive
to busy moms. I can now give this resource 5 stars! Barabara's
portfolio & timeline books are recommended resources for
those of you who like to do unit studies, especially for
those of you with Visual/Read-Write
learners. For more
information or to order, check her website at: http://www.homeschooljourney.com.
Without Textbooks - Teaching Composition
College admission officers
from around the country unanimously agree that composition
is one of the weakest areas for most college freshman.
This includes homeschoolers as well. Why is this happening?
The reasons are many but can include:
1. Composition is harder to teach.
It’s much easier
to teach grammar skills using workbooks.
2. Many teachers became English teachers
because of their love of literature, not their love of
3. Composition ability is difficult to
assess. Grading papers is difficult and time consuming.
4. Composition is usually taught in isolation
from other subjects; however, it takes too much time
away from other subjects when taught as a separate course.
Therefore it is neglected.
5. Composition, when taught, is usually
taught in high school as practice for college writing
only - usually expository essays and how to answer in
6. Little real world writing is taught
- letters, resumes, creative, editorials, business writing,
journalism, etc. because of lack of time.
The first thing I recommend
homeschool parents to do is to establish goals for
composition instruction, such as:
1. Acquire the writing
skills to be able to communicate effectively in school,
business, and personal applications.
2. Learn to give and take
3. Learn how authors write and
4. Seek God as to whether or
not He has given the student a calling to write.
Next, plan a schedule that
will give you time to focus on composition instruction.
Many traditional English curriculums spend too much time
on grammar (probably because it's much easier to correct
thirty fill-in-the blank, multiple-choice worksheets than
it is to correct thirty handwritten compositions) resulting
in students who know everything about diagramming sentences,
but develop very few skills in composition. As a homeschool
parent; however, you can focus two or three days per week
on composition lessons, using the compositions to
reinforce grammar skills, and the other one or two days
working on specific grammar instruction. The result will
be that your child will not only learn proper grammar,
but he will also develop excellent composition skills.
Here are some General Guidelines
for Writing Instruction:
1. Prepare a list of writing projects
the student will undertake and set deadlines. These are
your short-term writing goals.
2. Have a purpose for each writing assignment.
For example: if they need practice in transitions, have
them spend a week or two just practicing using transitions
in their writing.
3. Focus on only one or two new techniques
per assignment (topic sentences, vivid verbs, idea starters,
descriptive paragraph…) Don’t overwhelm
4. Have an audience for the writing assignment:
portfolio, friend or relative, letter to editor, newspaper
to family, publication, or contests.
5. Let them write about what they know
or about what interests them.
6. Don’t punish kids for grammar
skill deficiencies in composition class. Make composition
lesson be composition lesson, grammar lesson be grammar
7. Allow them time to write - put it
into your schedule. Spend more time in writing instruction
than in grammar workbooks. You can teach grammar using
their writing assignments and a good handbook.
Have him write frequently by keeping a daily journal
and integrate composition practice into other subjects.
8. Read books
to them that are above their grade level to help them
increase their vocabulary.
For more information on teaching
composition, download my Composition
Mini Workshop and see my website
at: http://www.oklahomahomeschool.com/teachComposition.html and http://www.oklahomahomeschool.com/CompCurrR.html.
1. Geology Composition Paper. In
keeping with my vacation theme, here are two versions of
composition paper with a geology theme. Thick
lined paper (pdf document).
paper (pdf document).
2. Composition: Adding
Use this form to teach your children to write more detail
in their sentences. I got this idea from Any
Child Can Write by Harvey Weiner.
3. Dinosaur Composition
Lined Paper (pdf document) and Thin
Lined Paper (pdf document)
Checklist & Multi-Level Teaching:
1. Geology Unit: Also
in keeping with my vacation theme, try my free geology
unit, recently updated with new materials and refreshed
2. Be sure to add what your children did
for the geology unit to your copy of The
1. Zoo Guide. As
a Christian, I get really tired of taking my granddaughter
to the zoo and seeing all the evolution propaganda on everything
we see. Well, I've found an answer! Answers in Genesis
has published a Zoo Guide that you can take to the zoo
with you as your very own "creation zoo tour guide!"
Check it out at: http://shop5.gospelcom.net/epages/AIGUS.storefront/en/product/10-2-253
Your Struggling Learner. HSLDA has just
added a new section to their website to help families
with children having special needs ranging from attention
deficit disorder to severe multiple handicaps. Lots of
3. Learn a foreign
language online for free! This BBC Language
site offers a free language tutor to learn conversational
Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portugese, Greek, and
more. A fun way to learn a second language and very helpful
if you plan to visit! Check it out at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/.
4. Do you want to know how to use primary
sources? Included on this site is information
for teachers as well as activities for students which includes
information on what are primary sources, the different
types of primary sources, how to analyze them, and a sample
set for practice. The Historian's Sources: http://learning.loc.gov/learn/lessons/psources/pshome.html
5. The Biography Maker.
I've put this in my newsletter before, but it's such a
great resource, I wanted to put it in again for the newbies.
This website teaches your student, step-by-step, how to
write an excellent biography. Why not try
it for Winston Churchill or someone else you are studying
for a composition lesson this week? http://www.bham.wednet.edu/bio/biomaker.htm
6. In keeping with my
vacation theme, here's a website on the geology
of the Grand Canyon: http://www.kaibab.org/geology/gc_geol.htm .
For a Christian perspective, check out this lesson plan
from Answer from Creation: http://www.answersincreation.org/curriculum/geology/geology_curriculum_home.htm.
A great book on the subject is The
Geology Book by John D. Morris.
and Learn. Submitted by Debbie Smith: "They
have a special in the summer for homeschool families
to sign up (I think its $50 a year). They have pre-build
games lots of categories, plus you can build your own
games and also make tests or quizzes, print off maps,
etc. I have used it for over a year and it’s
great. The creator of the site is very helpful when
making games, questions, etc."
(Note from Cindy: Homeschoolers are not required to teach
according to Oklahoma PASS requirements so don't be alarmed
to the references listed at this site.)
"Every day you may make progress. Every step
may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you
an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path.
You know you will never get to the end of the journey.
But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the
joy and glory of the climb." — Sir
(for more info on Churchill,
New resources for Oklahoma History.
I've added several new books to my recommended book list
for Oklahoma history including Color
Oklahoma Characters, Cherokee
Rose (thanks to Debbie Smith
for these two suggestions), Oklahoma Slave
Field Guide to Oklahoma's Historical
If We Must Die: A Novel of Tulsa's
1921 Greenwood Race Riot, The
Great Land Rush, Soft
Rain: A Story of the Cherokee Trail of Tears, Nellie
the Brave (Sisters in Time
series), The Journal of Jesse Smoke, Dust to Eat, and more.
Check them out at: http://www.oklahomahomeschool.com/teachOKH.html.
2. Oklahoma History
History is usually taught in traditional schools at 4th,
8th, and 10th grades for 1/2 year each for 1 credit or
1/2 unit. As a homeschooler, you don't have to follow
that schedule. Instead of spending
1/2 year three times, why not do a whole year once and
1/2 year once. I recommend that you teach it twice as
a multi-level unit: once during the primary years and
again during the secondary years. Don't forget to check
out my Oklahoma
History Online curriculum when you're ready to teach
feel free to forward this on to anyone who may be interested
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NOTICE: This newsletter is ©Copyright 2006 by
Cindy Downes. All rights reserved.
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a great day!
Oklahoma Blog: http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/Oklahoma/
you seen The Checklist? It's
an assessment tool, lesson planner and K-12 Recordkeeper created
for Christian Home Educators: http://www.oklahomahomeschool.com/checklist.html
History Online is
now available! Check it out at: http://www.oklahomahomeschool.com/okhist.html