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  1. #1

    Question 6th grader history/social studies & science

    I'm in the process of selecting various curriculum for my 6th grader. I can locate lots of sources of history and science information but I am unsure of how important having assesments/tests/etc. are. He and I already share lots of interesting information in these subjects, usually on Youtube (crash course, horrible histories). Not saying these are the only programs I want to use but most of the things I think my son will respond to don't seem to have assesments/quizzes/etc. as a part of it. Lots of science experimentation which I think I'll be able to monitor with brief write ups. But with the history I'm not sure how to assess learning in this area without quizzes/tests/etc. But how important is having these type of assesments? We are new to this and working our way from a public school mindset. I know the learning is the most important part but I also want to make sure we both have necessary accountability.

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    Think of it this way... when youre curious about something then research it (google, youtube, etc), do you take a test?
    In public schools, tests and quizzes are because teachers dont have any other way of knowing whether each kid has learned the key points to the lesson. One on one with your kid, you know how attentive they have been.
    If you want to know how well hes learning, you could have “review” discussions at the start or end of each lesson. In a class of 30 itd be unmanageable, but just you and him it should be okay .
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.

    Atheist.

    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  4. #3

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    As far as “necessary accountability”, how much and what sort do you need? Im required to produce work samples for each subject area every other month or so, which is a lot more than pretty much everyone else has to do! I typically provide workbook pages, writing samples, and photographs of projects or field trips (for example, of DS reading an interpretive sign at a park or museum).
    The charter my boys are enrolled does an annual state-wide test, (whixh we can avoid if we need) that doesnt affect his “grades”, and theyve given him a couple placement tests to help sort him out for entering high school formality next year.... but tests arent really a part of accountability even for us.
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.

    Atheist.

    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by alexsmom View Post
    Think of it this way... when youre curious about something then research it (google, youtube, etc), do you take a test?
    In public schools, tests and quizzes are because teachers dont have any other way of knowing whether each kid has learned the key points to the lesson. One on one with your kid, you know how attentive they have been.
    If you want to know how well hes learning, you could have “review” discussions at the start or end of each lesson. In a class of 30 itd be unmanageable, but just you and him it should be okay .
    ^^^^^This, exactly!!!!

    I also want to add this. Don't assume your child will remember everything he learns now either. At this age, I think the experience of learning history is more important than the facts--the cool documentaries, reading first-hand accounts, projects, and especially field trips.
    Carol

    Homeschooled two kids for 11 years, now trying to pay it forward


    Daughter -- a University of Iowa graduate: BA in English with Creative Writing, BA in Journalism, and a minor in Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies

    Son -- a Purdue University senior majoring in Computer Science, minoring in math, geology, anthropology, and history

  6. #5

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    I definitely know the things you have said to be true and I'm not sure exactly what I'm looking for. It doesn't seem as though there is much I have to provide "officially" in regards to what we do and I think that is scaring me a bit. Everything feels so open ended, which I know ultimately is a good thing, but I'm a bit overwhelmed with exactly how to plan. For instance, I was checking out the kids discover site and I love the idea of exploring all those topics and all that info in our own way. BUT then my list making, checkmark loving, brain started spinning over making sure I cover everything for the right amount of time at the right time. Ugh! I've got to learn to let things go a bit but I'm terrified of shortchanging my kid by not knowing what I'm doing. I'm worried about finding a balance and not simply doing the same rote work he hates just in a new location.

  7. #6

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    The open ended, no accountability is a little intimidating. How do you know when youre doing it right, when youre doing enough?
    Generally, if you find a curriculum that is working for you, and you do a section or so most days, by the end of the school year, you are done with it, Thats one of the ways I figure that Im doing about the right amount of work.

    It may help you (not him) to record what you do in each subject each day, and to try thinking of things as discrete subjects (even though “language arts” doubles up so easily with both “science” and “social studies”). It may help you see what youre accomplishing. Watch a science or social studies documentary, then use writing skills to provide an essay (language arts) about the video.
    It also takes some time to tune yourself to “how much is enough” schoolwork for a day. Accept that youre learning how to do this, model owning up to your mistakes and being wrong, then try to tweak what wasnt working. (The “Ready, Fire, Aim” approach.) Its not going to start out (or ever really be) utoptian, instagram ready unicorns, but it can be enjoyable for both of you most of the time.
    Enjoy it. And dont panic about wasting time, you can justify to yourself that you will make up the time in the summer. Wasting time and being miserable is where he is coming from... this is going to be an improvement on that.

    Figuring out what to start with is tricky, we can help if you let us know what sorts of topics interest him, what sort of things hold his attention.
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.

    Atheist.

    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

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    Agree with what the others said.

    I also live in a low accountability state. You will know your kiddo is learning through the conversations you have with him. And, like AM said, you can always keep a record for yourself, it can be a nice way to remind yourself how much you are doing when you hit phases where you feel like you are not doing enough (which can be common when you start out).

    My advice on accountability would be - if you feel the need to produce a product, make sure it is in service to a larger goal. Don't do something just because you need proof you did it (unless you are required to do so). For example around 7th grade we started working on answering short answer questions, not because I care so much that my kid knows xyz, but because he needs to know how to thoughtfully answer short answer questions. Organizing thoughts and ideas and putting them on paper is the beginning of essay writing - a skill he will need eventually.

    Good luck - it can be information overload when you start out!
    Rebecca
    DS 14, DD 12
    Year 8

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamie5 View Post
    .... brain started spinning over making sure I cover everything for the right amount of time at the right time. Ugh! I've got to learn to let things go a bit but I'm terrified of shortchanging my kid by not knowing what I'm doing. I'm worried about finding a balance and not simply doing the same rote work he hates just in a new location.
    Unless you are required to in your state, there is no covering the right stuff at the right time. What is "right" is what your son wants to learn. Think of it this way. Do the 6th graders at your local public school learn the same thing at the same time in the same way as the 6th graders in the public schools in neighboring counties, or neighboring states? Of course not. Your son will learn what his 6th grade self will learn, in his way, at his rate.
    Carol

    Homeschooled two kids for 11 years, now trying to pay it forward


    Daughter -- a University of Iowa graduate: BA in English with Creative Writing, BA in Journalism, and a minor in Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies

    Son -- a Purdue University senior majoring in Computer Science, minoring in math, geology, anthropology, and history

  10. #9

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    Sorry for the delayed reply but thanks again.
    "if you feel the need to produce a product, make sure it is in service to a larger goal" This is so good! And so important to keep in mind.
    "Unless you are required to in your state, there is no covering the right stuff at the right time" This is also so very true. It's hard to get out of the mindset I've had. My degree in educational research required me to do some classes on curriculum planning and whatnot. Obviously this was under different circumstances but the timing was always important due to testing, etc. So I'm working on switching my mindset to a different type of more personalized planning. It is kind of funny that it's stressing me out because I wrote many papers where I referenced the idea of an educational utopia where education planning would be done exactly the way I have the freedom to do it now. Thank you all for helping me get that perspective back.

  11. #10

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    Not sure if I should make a new post but for now I'm just going to add it here. I would like any suggestions on social studies and science curriculum for a middle schooler (halfway through 6th grade). He likes technology based learning more than book based. I'm also looking at options for science experimenting as I think hands on is great for all. He really likes learning from a "different" perspective (think horrible histories). But I'm looking more for something that will help me with an outline to get started so I have at least a bit of a starting place and general idea of where to go. I think once we get rolling it will all start falling into place I'm just working about where to start the ball.

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6th grader history/social studies & science