Child, wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend

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I love the Lord as much as a broken person can; love and loved by my husband; blessed by 5 amazing little people who have helped me to learn much about me; grateful to serve even more as God gives them to me; blessed every day to be a home school teacher; college student; I hope to change the world by loving as many people as possible, because there is nothing greater than loving another.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Block Scheduling

There comes a point when there seems to be too many of them and only one little you. This is when you have to make every second count! So far as home schooling, I do this via block scheduling. That means I do all of my teaching for one level at one time, without a break for them to finish the practice work.

Now, let me say, you can't really do this until the kiddos are independently working. In other words, you can't teach letters to a Ker then dismiss them to read their book. You really need to be side by side with a student in K-2. They simply need the constant reinforcement; however, once you get to a strong third grader, or a solid 4th grader, you should be able to teach them something and then let them finish their assignment independently, at a later time.  This won't work if Johnny can't do his math problems without your hand holding or sitting by his side. Don't be mad about that! They truly need you there initially. In our school, however, 4th grade is a serious cord cutting year, so I work toward independence heavily in 3rd.

In the morning, I sit with the K/3rd/4th group (The Little League) and we do our Science or History together as a group. These topics are mostly group activities. If there is an independent assignment (like summary writing or diagraming), they will finish that portion of their work later. I make sure they completely understand their lesson and their assignment first. Teaching to lesson mastery makes this work. You have to teach, folks. You have to teach. At the end of history/science, they take out their planning pages and write their homework down: finish diagram; summarize the layers of the earth (as an example). They'll come back to their page and work when they're finished with me, having a TO DO List.  We started using checklists instead of chore cards last year, midway. They have the skill of list checking now!

I pull out math and teach them math. Although they are in different levels, I have them work on something independent while I teach one or the other -- something like their monthly book report book (easy to pull out and put away). Since math is a "do the next lesson" or they have a required amount of pages, they know what to do there, although they will more than likely write down the assignment number for their benefit.
Immediately following math instruction, we pull out grammar/literature/spelling and we do all the instruction for those topics. Some days we have to work through something together, others, it's review, exemplify, instruct on assignment, cut loose. They will then write in their planners their assignment (grammar: FC2B --- that makes sense to Phonics Road users)

Electives come together as a group class, so we work that out. Last week, for example, we went through our entire art lesson together, then I said, "During independent time, copy this chart into your notebook." We moved on in our day and they came back for their copywork.

When they've gone through everything with me, they are off to independent time. They'll come back and ask a question or two, but for the most part, they are finished with me and I with them. Then I move on to the next person: Darling yet Diva.

Diva and I come together for math and language arts. Same deal: I teach, she shows me she gets it, I move on. I go through all of her work with her. She pulls out completed work (she usually checks it), I follow through with her, ask a few questions, have her show me a problem, something as necessary to keep up with her work, encourage her, and let her know I'm watching!

I call Lil' Mother to join Darling and I. We go over our anatomy for the day (mini-discussion and follow up to make sure their on schedule).

Diva leaves; Lil' M and I go over anything we need to (maybe a ? about history or a math problem,). I make sure she is on track for the day and remind her of projects. I check off her planner. Bard and RoGD join us. We go over the day's writing assignment (they all use the same program). We go over Latin (they all use the same program, although Lil' M is ahead of the boys). She leaves.

I go over Rhetoric History with the Elder boys. We go over Rhetoric Science. They pull out any other work they need some help with, if any. One leaves (whomever is less ready) so I can follow up with the other, then they switch.  I go down their planner list to make sure they are on target. I note "homework" in my planner.

During the day, I may have long breaks for myself, which I fill with toddler time, teacher time, or Tina time. Depends on the day at hand.

Around 2:00 I call over the Little League and we sit at their desk and go over all the independent work to make sure it got finished and finished correctly. I prefer to do this one on one. I like daily meetings this way for little guys. They get embarrassed by mistakes still. If you don't follow up, block scheduling will not work.

That's block teaching. Finish my teacher time with one, so I can move on to the next with little interruption. It has worked best so far, at least since I had the chance to allow some independence in our home. This year will be WONDERFUL if I can keep the Little League in a nice, independent place!

Remember, the key to successful block scheduling is appropriate teaching before release. YOU have to TEACH so they have the skills to work independently. Skills before content!

We put a lot of hard work into writing last year so I can reap the benefits of a nicely written paragraph this year. I couldn't assign so much independence until this task was complete. Thank you Phonics Road for helping me have a more independent classroom this year!

If teaching is the key, then meetings are the keyhole. You have to follow through. This is where you find mistakes and sluggards :) It's also where you get to talk, discuss, and enjoy your teens (when they finish they're work)! 

Finally, I have my own "meeting" in the early morning. I work better at 4am than 11pm. So, when I get up in the morning, I pull out my schedule and make sure I'm ready to go. *I* have to be prepared to teach well. This is my J-O-B! The real preparations have been in place for some time, though...summer planning gets me ready for all the school year has to offer.

3 comments:

HeatherLee said...

Thank you. I am pretty sure I was the one who asked for further explanation. This is pretty much we do.

Jesse, said...

This looks really good, mama. Taking notes as I try to figure out our schedule for the year. Also - how are you planning on fitting in your own education with the kiddo's? DH and I are both going back to school full time!! Eeek....

Tina said...

Jesse,
I read in the early hours when all are asleep and I take tests and finish assignments in the evenings. My Dh is not in school, so we have an arrangement. He is doing dinner and evening chores so I can get my school work finished. Fingers crossed for good measure :)

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