Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Some guidelines, please?

I'm trying to get a head start on my planning. And the thing that has me so perplexed, and wanting to run back for the security of the Well-Trained Mind, is that I am having a hard time determining what to expect from my children. I do know that I am not requiring enough from them. But I don't know what Charlotte Mason would deem as reasonable and not overkill.

Here is an example from the Ambleside Online Language Arts Scope and Sequence for Written Narrations, Grades 7-8:

"Written Narration. You will gradually be increasing the number and length of your children's written narrations during these years. You should also be helping your child perfect the mechanics of writing and begin learning to edit and correct their mistakes. Doing this with one narration per week is fine, and it will reinforce the grammar and punctuation that is being studied separately. "

It doesn't tell me how long the narrations should be at what grades, or how many narrations per week. What is the goal? One Written narration daily? One Written narration from each subject weekly? And how long are they in 7th grade? 8th grade? One paragraph? One page? Two pages?

This is where the Well-Trained Mind differs. In each grade, and for each subject, the output goal is explained in detail. I really need that information. I feel like I'm trying to plan a trip with an incomplete road map.

And for a personality such as mine, that is beyond frustrating.

I want to be able to incorporate as much CM methodology as I can, but I also have to be comfortable. I need to trust (there's that word!) that I'm doing all I need to be doing.


poohder said...

I hope Tammy will chime in for you, but wouldn't it mean that you use your own child as the guide? In other words, add either the complexity or quantity (or both) that would challenge them individually, but keep them feeling competent. But I know that's not exactly SPECIFIC, LOL! Can't wait to see what others tell you. Rhonda

Kai said...

I totally agree with you! I have never once, in the entire time I've been homeschooling, seen explicit guidelines for how well and how much a kid should be able to write at a given age to be considered "average." Only recently, in looking at materials intended to help get ready for the SAT writing exam, have I found fairly specific rubrics with examples. It seems like high school is a little late to start getting specific!

Niffercoo said...

Rhonda that does make sense, and I can do that, and I have been doing that by increasing the number of weekly written narrations per child. But I need to know where I'm going with that. What is the goal? What is the end point that I'm shooting for? I want to keep them competent, but I also don't want to sell them short and not require enough.

Kai, the high school thing is exactly what has me thinking about this so much. Austin is an 8th grader this year and high school requirements are looming! :) And I was visiting a friend last week and looked at her son's history notebook (he is not quite 11, but he's incredibly gifted) and what they did was way more than we do.

poohder said...

Niffercoo, LOL! First of all, I'd say to STOP looking at other children's history notebooks, LOL!

Seriously, again I am only surmising here, but I am imagining that CM had a point in not giving *specific* guidelines. After all isn't she the queen of "each child is his own person?" I mean if she gave a "specific" guideline, then she wouldn't be respecting the child and would be buying into the "official" schooling system that says each child MUST do this or that by a certain time to be educated. If we push them beyond their ability aren't we then just going to frustrate them (regardless of the guidelines) and break their confidence.

As for us, this year I am going to try to require better organization (i.e better paragraph breaks, topic sentence and closing sentence) in writing, but not a lot more length for each piece. I also plan to add one more written narration per week this year. Last year we had two. I am also thinking about trying our hand at a persuasive type of writing. I think I'll try it and see if she is cognitively ready to take that sort of perspective. If not, then we'll wait. Especially if she is struggling to get better at the organization piece that I described earlier.

I can't speak to the HS SAT test, but I think in real life, if a person can write a well written, short piece that gets to the point with some reasonable organization and cohesive thoughts then I think that is quite sufficient. UNLESS the person wants to become a writer or something. I think being able to orally do the same thing is also quite sufficient for most
walks of life. Remember you still have several years of schooling time and maturity on your side. Your children are bright. It'll be ok.

Again, I am still hoping Tammy will give you some guidance. Rhonda

poohder said...

ps sorry for the book I wrote. To Kai, I'd love to see this rubric for the SAT's.

Niffercoo said...

Well, I do think it's important to see what others with the same age/level kids are doing. Not that every child can/will/should do the same thing, but it does give me a better idea of what to expect. That's the hardest part, and really the whole point of the post: identifying the end point, what I'm striving for. Even if my particular child can't ever reach that point, I would like to know what that point looks like. It's been 20 years since I was in high school and college and a lot has changed in terms of expectations.

Kai said...

The book I found with the scoring rubrics and example essays is 501 Writing Prompts. It's meant to help with essay writing for tests in general, the SAT being one of the tests.

More recently, I've gotten Teaching the Multiparagraph Essay by Jane Schaffer. This gives very explicit instructions for how to write an essay, right down to how many words should be in a paragraph and how many sentences to devote to various tasks. The idea isn't to be a slave to the format forever, but to use the format as a teaching/learning tool. There are example essays, including essays from the same student in various grades so you can see the progression. I am very excited about using this resource this year.