Sunday, November 7, 2010

Tweaking Again...

Why do I do this?

Things are going well.  Really, really well.

And yet...I keep tweaking things.  Buying more curriculum.  Why?

In some cases, it was necessary.  Our spelling curriculum seemed too confining, so we decided to keep a list of misspelled words as the first page of each girls' binder (love the binders!!).  Then we heard about Sequential Spelling, you can try it for free on-line and we loved it!  The girls really were able to spell by association.  They knew the rules from spelling in school, so I figured giving them a way to use building through word association would enhance their spelling skills.  I DO see their spelling improving with Sequential Spelling, as they are using the association they learn to figure out how to spell what they want to spell in their writing.

We tried a Math program early on that didn't work for us.  Mostly because I wasn't comfortable teaching it and also because I had hoped it would work in conjunction WITH Life of Fred, but it didn't and ended up confusing the girls.  Then I realized that Life of Fred was over P's head, and she wanted Teaching Textbooks, so we got it for her.  A just finished Life of Fred (and adored it!) but wants to do Teaching Textbooks like her sister.

All of that is well and good.  But our Writing program was going great.  Writing is an area that I am very comfortable with teaching.  We were using - and loving - Writing Strands 2.  It was going fabulously.  I love the writer of the book and how he emphasizes finding something good about each piece of writing and tackling one thing - punctuation, capitalization, strong word choices - at a time.  After a few weeks, I remembered how my fourth grade teacher had taught me to write: write, edit with her and then re-write.  I think that is a very effective way to help IMPROVE writing, so we started writing, editing one on one and then re-writing.  The girls were happy with their work and their writing was improving.  They loved the freedom of creativity.  They were voluntarily typing their work up on the computer.  They were doing the whole lesson all over again with different subjects just because they thought it was fun.  It was going better than awesome!

I had also purchased another writing program that we had tried earlier on, and found confining.  The other program is meant more for a classroom, and starts with writing sentences and making each one great and then works its way into paragraphs.  I decided to cover the lessons on similes and metaphors this week...and that went now I am abandoning our great, loose, freeform writing program to work through the chapters on paragraphs.  This program uses diagrams and outlines to write paragraphs, where Writing Strands is more freeform.  I want to expose them to both.  My plan is to do the introductory paragraphs before we begin our Christmas break in two weeks.  Then, to use the section on diagrams in conjunction with an exercise in Writing Strands, so they get the fun of the Writing Strands, while brainstorming for organization.  We will also use the chapter on Outlines the same way.  Don't tell the girls, but I am a complete pantster (I write by the seat of my pants) when it comes to writing, I've always found outlines and diagrams confuse my writing rather than enhance it.  But I want to make sure I expose them to that.  

Also, I had created lessons plans over the summer, but after a few weeks, I discovered that there were days where we did much more than I had planned and days where we really got into something and did much less than planned. I realized that the whole planning thing was just not necessary, we would just keep moving.  Well, now I am determined to work through this other writing program, determined to get back to Writing Strands, using what we learned in this program and then incorporating Writer's Workshop.  I also love the idea of Writer's Notebook, of getting their stories published, of writing about our family history, of doing a big unit on poetry.

I think the thing is, I LOVE writing.  I always have, I always will.  Every writing curriculum I see looks so fun and exciting that I just want to try THEM ALL!!!!