I've been writing learning plans for this upcoming school year, for my 8yo son and my 13yo daughter. These detailed plans are required for the type of homeschooling that we do (parent partnered/enrolled in a school district). Throughout the school year my kids will send weekly reports to an advisor about what they're doing and I will send monthly reports that explain how we are working towards their goals, along with what has been accomplished. The benefit of being in this program is that we receive money, that we then use towards homeschooling expenses. I'm not convinced that these types of plans are for everyone, or necessary for a successful school year, but they are something that I find I useful and would probably write anyway- even without the requirement. What I like about them is that they require me to organize my thoughts and state the purpose for the class, a timeline, measurable goals, learning materials and activities, and methods of evaluation. The performance objectives in this following example were not written by me. They were taken directly from the Washington state performance objectives for all eighth graders. Because my daughter will be attending public high school next year and taking standardized tests, I wanted to be sure that she was on the same page as her peers. The road we take to meet those goals however, is entirely up to us. Here is an example from Grace's learning plan:
In this English class Grace will study English literature and writing. Literature will be used as the base upon which to build speaking, thinking, listening, vocabulary, and composition skills.
Learning Materials: Houghton Mifflin English Level 8, Shirley Haley-James
¦After the Dancing Days—Rostowski
¦The Ramsay Scallop—Temple
¦The Remarkable Journey of Prince Jen—Alexander
¦The Last Unicorn—Peter S. Beagle
¦A Girl Named Disaster—Farmer
¦The Devil’s Arithmatic—Yolan
¦Belle Prator’s Boy—White
¦The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963—Curtis
¦Good Night Mr. Tom—Magorian
¦The Eternal Spring of Mr. Ito—Garrigue
¦Come a Stranger—Voigt
¦Number the Stars—Lowry
¦The Blue Sword—McKinley
To Kill a Mockingbird-Harper
Year Down Yonder-Peck
Rules of the Road-Bauer
Out of the Dust-Hesse
Learning Goals/Performance Objectives: Reading-
1.2.2 Apply strategies to comprehend words and ideas.
2.1.3 Apply comprehension monitoring strategies before, during, and after reading: determine importance using theme, main ideas and supporting details in informational/expository text and/or literary/narrative text.
2.1.4 Apply comprehension monitoring strategies for informational and technical materials, complex narratives, and expositions: use prior knowledge.
2.1.5 Apply comprehension monitoring strategies for informational and technical materials, complex narratives, and expositions: predict and infer.
2.1.6 Apply comprehension monitoring strategies for informational and technical materials, complex narratives, and expositions: monitor for meaning, create mental images, and generate and answer questions.
2.1.7 Apply comprehension monitoring strategies for informational and technical materials, complex narratives and expositions: determine importance and summarize text.
2.2.3 Understand and analyze story elements.
2.3.3 Evaluate the author's use of literary devices to enhance comprehension.
2.4.1 Analyze informational/expository text and literary/narrative text to draw conclusions and develop insights.
2.4.5 Analyze text to generalize, express insight, or respond by connecting to other texts or situations.
3.4.2 Analyze traditional and contemporary literature written in a variety of genres.
1.1.1 Analyzes and selects effective strategies for generating ideas and planning writing.
1.3.1 Revises text, including changing words, sentences, paragraphs, and ideas.
1.4.1 Edits for conventions (see 3.3).
1.5.1 Publishes in formats that are appropriate for specific audiences and purposes.
1.6.3 Uses knowledge of time constraints to adjust writing process.
2.2.1 Demonstrates understanding of different purposes for writing.
3.1.1 Analyzes ideas, selects a manageable topic, and elaborates using specific, relevant details and/or examples.
3.1.2 Analyzes and selects effective organizational structure.
3.3.2 Spells accurately in final draft.
3.3.4 Applies punctuation rules.
3.3.5 Applies usage rules.
3.3.6 Applies paragraph conventions.
3.3.7 Applies conventional forms for citations.
4.1.2 Analyzes and evaluates own writing using established criteria.
Learning Activities: Grace will study English using her text- Houghton Mifflin English, reading the lessons, answering the questions, and completing the writing applications (to be kept in a notebook), spending 1-2 wks. on each unit. There are 14 units in the book. She will also read 1-2 assigned books, (covering a variety of literature genres) per month, writing or speaking short narrations about each. She will cover the topics of sentence structure, personal narratives, nouns, comparison and contrast, verbs, story, modifiers, description, capitalization and punctuation, persuasive letter, pronouns, research report, phrases, and clauses. Total time per week spent on English will be around 5 hours.
Progress Criteria/Methods of Evaluation: Grace's mastery of learning goals will be evaluated throughout the school year. Each unit completed will be evaluated by parent teacher for neatness, accuracy and understanding of the topic. Daily written questions and writing application will be scored on a rubric of 1-4, with a score of 2 or less requiring the completion of extra practice questions. Oral narrations on the assigned readings will take place once a week, as a way to evaluate comprehension and progress towards reading goals. At the end of each unit, Grace will complete the "unit check-ups" in her text, consisting of approx. 50 questions. A score of 80% or better will be required to move on to the next unit. Grace will take the state assessment in May to fulfill her annual assessment requirement.
The literature chosen for the year was taken in large part from a list that was created by a trusted friend and author, Kristen Randle. Other trusted sources that I use for book recommendations are Sonlight and Serendipity.
Other subjects that Grace will be studying this year are: ballet, Geography(Introduction to Geography McGraw Hill Press), Math (Kahn Academy), Spanish (Rosetta Stone), and Geology/Physics/Biology(Sonlight).
Here is an example of a learning plan for my third grade son. This time, I needed to write the performance objectives myself, because Washington state doesn't have any history objectives for third graders. I purposefully made them "big picture" objectives because I wanted to have a lot of flexibility with the plan.
In this history class, Trent will study ancient world history up through the fall of the Roman empire through listening to history books read aloud.
Learning Materials: A Child's History of the World-Hillyer(Calvert Press), Archeologists Dig for Clues, Houses and Homes(Usborne), Usborne Encyclopedia of the World, Usborne Time Traveler, Tut's Mummy, People's of the World(Usborne), The Greek Myths, The Viking Adventure, The Great Wall of China, Roman Diary
Learning Goals/Performance Objectives: 1. Understand that history is a story of the world and it's people
2. Know how to find different countries, water bodies, and major land features on a map or globe.
3. Know and be able to talk about several important figures and movements from ancient history that have been instrumental in the direction societies have taken in areas such as independence, civil rights, economics and justice for its citizens.
4. Know and be able to explain what anthropologists and archeologists do.
5. Understand what a timeline is and how it helps us understand history.
Learning Activities: Trent will study ancient world history for 20 minutes a day, four days a week, listening to read alouds, analyzing pictures, map study, museum visits, projects, and narrating information. An example of a typical day would be...
1. Listen to ch. 1 Child's History of the world
2. Retell what he learned
3. Find the middle east on the map and talk about where we think the world's first people might have lived.
4. Begin a timeline book
Progress Criteria/Methods of Evaluation: Trent's mastery of learning goals will be evaluated throughout the year. He will orally narrate the reading he listens to and I will keep a record of what he narrated, when, and if he demonstrated understanding. He will also be given map worksheets to complete throughout the year, to be kept in a portfolio along with any related projects he completes and his timeline.
The book list that I used is directly from Sonlight. I did this same history program with my daughter when she was a third grader and we loved it. I'm looking forward to doing it again with Trent. Other subjects that Trent will be studying this year are: piano, Spanish(Rosetta Stone), Math (Teaching Textbooks), Science (Sonlight), Language Arts(Sonlight) and tumbling/trampoline.
Both kids will also be taking a weekly class through a local homeschool co-op- the main reason being, a chance to be around other kids.
That's it, our upcoming school year in a nutshell!