Sunday, January 10, 2010

New Favorite Book

For home schooling: Hot Fudge Monday:Tasty Ways to Teach Parts of Speech to Students Who Have a Hard Time Swallowing Anything to Do with Grammar.

By the way, I never get paid to recommend anything, and I had to buy the book myself (alas)!

I got this one from the Emperor. I have actually graded assignments from this book for quite a few years (from his high school classes), and I always find myself slowing down to read them because they are so fun!

Teaching writing has always been interesting with us. Both the Emperor and I are (or, in my case, have been) professional writers. We both love to write. We also can see that a lot of the early writing in classrooms is forced misery. Misery because kids have to write a great deal before they naturally develop fine motor skills. Forced because there really doesn't seem to be a way to get evidence of learning from 25 or 30 kids unless they can write stuff.

At home, you have luxury of using other assessment tools. I can have a kid read a book and give an oral report. I can do a unit on Egyptian history and have the kids create and explain a diorama which will tell me how much they learned. I can have kids create and put on a skit that explains the parts and functioning of cells (they used a sheet as the membrane and had themselves pop out as different organelles ready to explain their role in the cell).

This means I can teach them letter formation and basic writing at the usual time, but I can wait until they have the physical dexterity before asking them to write lengthy passages. So far, I only have two kids who can easily write more than a page, but they write amazingly well! By that I mean their writing is interesting, their mechanics (grammar, punctuation, and spelling) are remarkable for their age (OK, our spelling varies by child, but Bookworm Adventures has helped a lot!), and, best of all, they are developing a sense of style.

So, how do you transition from "not writing a lot" to "loves writing pages and pages?" My answer has been "motivation." Hot Fudge Monday has this in spades! Personally, I find the assignments hilarious. Use pirate talk to teach interjections! Rewrite caveman dialogue to show the use of prepositions! Best of all, many of them are invitations to write stories. You are the chicken about to cross the road: describe your run to glory! Don't forget to explain why you did it!

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