Thursday, July 19, 2012

Rubrics and Rough Drafts Help Young Writers

There are two things of great importance to learning to write well that many home-school parents may not have considered. Those two things are Rubrics and Rough Drafts. No paper is written at one go. Effective papers require a minimum of three completely separate drafts, tackled with time in-between each. Each of those drafts is written against a clearly laid-out plan, called a rubric.

In my college classroom, I mark and grade all drafts according to a rubric. A rubric is a chart with 10 grading areas worth 10 percent of the grade each. Each draft has a different rubric. For each draft completed, the student receives back from me a blank rubric with scores and comments filled in.

Your teenager at home should begin writing each draft knowing what it must contain in order to do well. However, the rubric is used strictly. If something is not listed on the rubric, then it is not considered as part of the grade. For instance, spelling is not listed in any draft 2 rubric, therefore spelling is not considered in the grade. On the other hand, if the rubric calls for dialogue and your child's paper has no dialogue, then 0 points will be awarded for that category.

One of my students, Jackie, made this comment: "I learned from Mr. Yordy's writing class to follow the rubric. The rubric is the instructions on how to write the essay he wants to read. If you don't follow the rubric, you will have problems! In a similar way, building a bike is harder if you don't follow the instructions."

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Why More and More Families Are Choosing Home Education

Just a decade ago home educating was still considered a rogue alternative but today it is almost mainstream. How their children will be educated is a very personal choice for every family. However, some of the reasons families are choosing home education are:

The Educational Choices in Your City are Less Than Ideal

All public schools are not created equal. First and foremost, each family needs to evaluate if the public school in their area is meeting the needs of their child.

If your child is falling behind academically, being bullied at school or generally not thriving in the public school environment it may be time to closely evaluate what is going on at school.

Many teachers have a large number of students in their classroom and are not able to meet the needs of each child. In some cases, the classroom atmosphere itself may be hard for very kinesthetic children to adjust to. In the traditional public school setting, young boys are 2.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD.

Parents Want to Customize the Learning Environment for Their Child

Children almost always benefit from having one on one instruction. Daily interaction with your child will uncover his strengths and weaknesses and can greatly encourage him over a learning hurdle.

Many home educating families also realize that certain curriculum choices can have a huge impact in how well your child processes the information. We observed this first hand with all of our children. What curriculum worked for one may not necessarily work for the others.

In a traditional school setting the teacher must find the best teaching approach to reach the greatest number of children. However, if your student is not able to respond well to that teaching approach, your child may end up falling behind.

Academic Performance

Scoring 15 to 30 percentile points higher on standardized achievement test than their public school counterparts, homeschooled students typically do better academically.

This also holds true on the ACT and SAT tests used by college admissions. Homeschool students score above average.

An interesting fact from the National Home Education Research Institute ( NHERI ) states, "Homeschool students score above average on achievement tests regardless of their parents' level of formal education or their family's household income."

Social and Emotional Health

Home educating children also do above average when being measured for emotional, social and psychological development. Leadership skills, peer interaction, self-esteem, family unity and community service were among the research measures evaluated.

This research also shows that homeschool students are regularly participating in educational and social activities outside of their homes. Scouting, 4-H, sports teams, church programs and volunteering in the community expose children to many people outside of their immediate families.