Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Looking back at this year's goals for Jessie

As the end of school is approaching and I begin to put more thought into school for next year, I realized that I haven't taken time to evaluate how well or even if we have met our goals for this year. We've been so busy simply doing our work that I have lost sight of where I hoped to be by the end of the year. So how did we do?

Goals for Jessie's 3rd grade:

Language arts goals:

1. Improve spelling skills by completing SWO D & E and memorizing spelling rules.

We are set to finish up SWO E in the next week or so (depending on how long it takes to master the last few words on the list). We haven't memorized a lot of spelling rules, but we have taken time to go over a few key rules that were giving her some trouble (i before e... and doubling consonants before adding endings). Subjectively, I would say that her confidence in her ability to spell words has increased tremendously. She is no longer constantly asking me how to spell a word. The number of spelling mistakes when she writes is much better than last year, and her ability to find and correct her own mistakes has also greatly improved. Overall, I would say that we have successfully met this goal.

2. More legible penmanship by correcting pencil grip and monitoring handwriting

Unfortunately I didn't save any of Jessie's handwriting from last year to have a comparison. Looking at her handwriting from the beginning of the year until now, it's actually hard to notice much difference on the paper. Her handwriting is certainly legible (I don't have to ask her what a word says). It is probably comparable to other children her age. What I can say is that the fluidity of her handwriting is improving. She doesn't have to stop to remember how to write certain letters or how one letter should connect to the next. Her pencil grip could still use some improvement, but at least I can simply ask her to fix it now and she can without me actually moving her fingers into place on the pencil. Although not part of the original goal, we have also managed to switch completely from copywork to dictation this year while at the same time increasing the amount of handwriting that she is completing. Overall, I would say that we have made some progress, but will still need to work on this next year as well.

3. Begin to work on writing skills using Classical Writing.

Overall, I would say Classical Writing has been successful this year. The biggest improvement has simply been in Jessie's willingness to edit her work not only for grammatical errors but also to look at the style of her writing as well. On the downside, I think we spent too much of the year doing keyword outlines of the models. Jessie became very good at reproducing a final draft that was very similar to the original, but she hasn't really made the stories her own. I really wanted her to be comfortable retelling the story in her own way and to get into the story enough to imagine what it would look like in her mind. Needless to say, we haven't gotten to that point yet but at least I can say that we have made progress in her writing this year.

4. Improve reading comprehension and analysis by using Reading Detective.

Of all of our language arts goals, we have struggled the most with this one. I think that downfall wasn't in the program so much as that we simply didn't invest the time that we needed to see improvement here. Jessie does a very good job of answering factual questions, but the goal was to help her look beyond just the facts and draw some conclusions based on what was written. I think what we will need to do whether it is over the summer or during the next school year is to work through the book again together from the beginning before I can know how to help her. I'm not sure if she's just not ready to make some of the connections, if she reads too quickly and needs to learn to slow down and soak in the story, or if it's something else I haven't considered. One thing I can say for sure, having her work through the assignment and then discussing it with her certainly didn't work for us this year.


1. Memorize multiplication facts through x10.

We're very close on this one with probably only a handful of facts left to memorize, but we haven't been very consistent so this will be our math focus for summer break.

2. Master multiplying on paper with larger numbers, long division with remainders, and fraction concepts as presented in Singapore Primary .


As far as our goals for other subjects, we have successfully increased her enjoyment of history, science, and music appreciation. We've made good progress in basic US geography. We didn't really make any progress on having her do more independent reading for history, which is my fault for not planning it out better. Art and art appreciation fell by the wayside. We're not quite as far along with her piano lessons as I had hoped, but again the fault lies with poor implementation on my part for the first part of the year. Overall, I would say academically the year has been very successful, and I certainly have a better idea of which areas will need more emphasis for next year.

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