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High Stakes Testing

Testing, Assessment, Grading, Accountability… all good things when kept in context. Recently, it seems as if we have allowed high stakes testing to rule education. It’s the proverbial switch, you know where the tail is wagging the dog. Testing is a way to see if students are learning… but it is only ONE way. For some reason, we have allowed authorities to place undue emphasis on single tests. This should never be. One test is simply looking at one little pocket of time in a student’s life. One test doesn’t accurately paint a picture of that students total year long achievement.

Accountability should be placed on student’s overall performance in school and on standardized tests.

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Where in the World is…

Geography is that subject that sort of gets lost within history and social studies… but it is truly an important subject that deserves our attention. With budget cuts and high stakes testing, students have been missing out on detailed geography studies. The study of our world and where countries are located and the demographics for those countries help our students to have a global view of our world.

We see this often in the way European’s are educated. They know several languages, and all of the countries in Europe and Asia. They also visit most of them in the course of their lives. However, in the U.S. most people only know one language and rarely know countries other than Mexico and Canada. We can do better than this… let’s get our children hooked on knowing what exists in the world around them.

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Creative Writing Tips

Writing is one of the fundamental foundations of learning. Writing creatively is a graduation from beginner to accomplished writer. Getting students to write creatively and get to this point can be very challenging. Creative writing is actually putting a piece of yourself into your writing. Using your imagination to bring together a story or concept that is original and creative. This takes a lot of effort. Using a few pre-writing strategies can really help boost the creative juices.
1) read a story similar to what you want to write
2) Go visit a place
3) Have a discussion about a topic you wish to write about
4) Ask questions to incite thought
5) Watch a video about your topic

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Flip the Switch…

We have been back to school for a few months now… how is it going? Are you doing well with the methods and curriculum options you chose? Now is the perfect time to take inventory of your homeschool to see if you are meeting your goals and if you are doing it with style! :) Enjoying homeschooling is a key part of it. You shouldn’t use a curriculum that makes your crazy or that you hate. Find something that you enjoy… and if you aren’t enjoying it… well then, it’s time to flip the switch!

Sit down and make a list of the the things that each of you would like in a curriculum, how you would like to learn, and the style that you like to learn in. Use these to find a curriculum that meets your family’s individual needs!

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Strength Education

Education is usually based on what a child is lacking in knowledge. We find out where their weaknesses are and then we work and work and focus on those weaknesses. What if we changed that around? What if we focused instead on a child’s strengths? What they did well…

I know for a fact that this type of education works very well. You don’t ignore the weaknesses, but you accept them as weakness and move on to building up those things that you are strong in then you can develop and focus on making your child a master of those things he can do well on. I think we would have more “well developed” artisans and professionals if we approached education in this manner.

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Self Sufficient Middle Schoolers

It is amazing how many parents have a hard time letting go. Even when their child is in middle school. Teaching our children how to be independent or self sufficient is part of teaching them life skills that will help them and serve them throughout their days.

Teaching them self sufficiency in the area of education is also part of the life lessons we must teach our children. If you can teach your child how to study, how to write, how to take notes, and how to find answers to the questions they ask… you are preparing them to be independent learners apart from you or other teachers. This type of preparation will make the student a life long learner!

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Out with the Old, in with the New

Ok, so the school year has started… how is it going? Are you enjoying your time homeschooling your eighth grader? I hope so… I thought that I would just share a few things I do each school year to help us get the most out of our education.
1) Go through all your school supplies and curriculum and get rid of what you won’t use!
2) Review what you did last year – write notes on what to do and what not to do this year.
3) Reorganize your schoolroom
4) Write a list of goals and objectives that you plan for this school year. Keep this list before you so that you have a goal to aim for all year long!

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Homeschool Science Top 5

Teaching science is a challenging task… teaching science to eighth graders is even more challenging. Eighth graders are teetering on the verge of adult hood, yet they still want to have fun. If you can bring these two world together in your science lessons… you’ll have it! Here are a few simple methods that I try when teaching eighth grade science.

1) Make sure science is fun!
2) Watch fun and interesting science videos
3) Make sure you do lots of cool science projects
4) Go and see some of the science stuff that you have studied about
5) Keep a science journal

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Learning Tools Online

Have you ever just felt like you were faced with a dead end in your homeschool? I have… I have felt like we were going nowhere with certain curriculum and methods… but when I sat down and reviewed what each of my children needed out of their curriculum, I realized I was the one headed in the wrong direction. I had chosen a curriculum that didn’t meet the needs of my children.

Even when they are in eighth grade kids need to be motivated, and encouraged to have fun while they are learning. That is really the key. Learning becomes easy and effortless when you combine it with a good time! Using online education and various online curricula can make this possible.

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Homeschool Wanna Be?

Have you been thinking about homeschooling for awhile… yet just don’t have the oomph to jump in? Do you realize how easy homeschooling has become over the past decade? There are multitudes of resources, online curriculum, DVD programs, etc. that make the parent simply an record keeper… or the main teacher. Whatever your preference, there is a way! There is an estimated 2 million plus homeschoolers in the U.S. today. This outstanding growth has been spurred by a dissatisfaction with the government system of education. Parents are seeing that they can easily educated their children better without the politically correct indoctrination. So, if you are wanting to homeschool, figure out what type of family your are, how you would want to school, and then find a curriculum that matches those goals.

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