Thursday, January 21, 2010

Logic Stage History: A Follow Up - part 1

I blogged back in September concerning some of the changes I wanted to make regarding Jessie's history related writing. Basically my goal was to try to start moving beyond the confines of basic narration (at least as I see them) by slowly introducing more of a research driven writing format. After a full semester of using Jessie as my writing guinea pig, I'm pleased to see a lot of progress in both her confidence and her writing ability. I have also gotten several comments and some questions regarding exactly what we are doing for history writing this year, so I though I would revisit the topic and lay out some more specific examples, if for no other reason than so I don't have to reinvent the wheel in two years when Violet reaches this stage.

This week, I'll answer the question of where do I come up with my ideas. I'd love to have a magic resource or curriculum to plug in here and tell you it only takes me five minutes to glance through a list of suggestions and pick one, but sadly I know of no such resource (although I'm considering creating one). Instead, every weekend I gather together all of the resources I'm planning to have Jessie read for the week and try to find a quiet corner in my house to think. Some of the material, I've read before so I can just skim back through the pages to refresh my memory. The rest I read through and jot down some notes regarding the content.

Once the reading is finished, I ask myself a two questions. 1. What do I want her to learn from the material? I consider what topics are presented, how much information is available on each topic, whether to combine topics of keep them separate, etc. I also try to consider the amount of time we have each week. While I'd like her to write about everything, I sometimes choose to focus the writing assignments on only a portion of the reading and leave the remainder for discussion or just exposure. 2. What's the best way to write up the information? Basically I play student. If I was presented with this material and assigned to write a paragraph, essay, etc. what would I write about and what steps would be required. Then I consider the best way to break it down for Jessie and write up her daily reading and assignments. Sometimes I can just tell her to take notes and write a paragraph. Other times I provide her questions to help focus her attention on a certain area. Overall, it generally requires an hour or an hour and a half, but I consider it time well spent since she can then work fairly independently during the school week.

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