Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Some Thoughts on Writing (an update on the Great Depression project-as promised)

Have you ever noticed how different each of your children can be in talent, personality, likes and dislikes? I think it is amazing to watch the differences (and similarities) in our children. Homeschooling is cool because you can really capitalize on what your children are good at to help enhance any weak areas you see. Take R8 for example. She loves to talk! I have NO idea where she gets this from though I do recall getting a bus referral in the first grade for talking too loudly and numerous comments to this effect on report cards throughout my school career and somehow it wasn't spun in such a positive light as she loves to talk!

She loves to do creative writing. You can find R8 writing silly stories and eloquent poems all the time. However, this lovely young girl really hates to write facts of any kind. Give her the assignment to research and write about it and well it just isn't going to turn out like you'd expect.

Research isn't the issue. When she did her oral report and salt dough map on Hawaii, it was superb. She read as much as she could find about the island and proceeded to give an outstanding oral presentation about it. She was able to field questions and tell us all that we wanted to know with confidence. I also noted that she barely wrote out any of it. Seriously.

Getting her to sit and write down all the things she has read and committed to memory is near impossible sometimes it seems. Yet clearly it is something she needs to work on. It is a skill she needs to tackle.

That's when I began to think back on a book I've been reading all summer. The Charlotte Mason Companion is a thoughtful review and handbook on the writings of Victorian era educator Charlotte Mason. This book comes highly recommended by many in the homeschool community and I am a voracious reader of information (not so much of fiction...) and I find it to be a rather tough read. But I keep at it (mostly at the myriad of drs appts I've had over the last four months) and was delighted to recall some chapters on oral narration from children. Charlotte believed that reading aloud to children and having them read on their own and narrate the contents of a chapter or so to the teacher was a very valuable tool for both student and teacher.

That's when it hit me. R8 is an excellent narrator for information she hears or reads. Why not take it a step further and allow her to improve her writing using this method. I had R8 narrate to me all the facts she'd learned about The Great Depression and I wrote them down. She dictated to me what she wanted and I wrote down all those facts. To take it one step further, she will copy what I have written (which is nothing more than her own words to me). After doing this for some time, I hope it will begin to draw out her own talent to write what she has in her head. Until then, we can use her own words to improve spelling and build her confidence. Charlotte Mason believed it worked. Let's see if she's right!

There's barely any room left on this paper. It's full of facts about The Depression that she narrated to me after doing her research.

Somehow R8 was going to use this library pocket poster for her display about The Depression. In the end, she chose the poster format and just yesterday she dictated to me many facts about Louis Braille (the other topic she chose to work on for her last Helen Keller assignment). Today she will finish writing down each fact on to index cards to put in the pockets. Again, doing copywork from her own oral narration to me.

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Anonymous said...

Hey Heather, I saw on FIAR where you are wanting to do a Native American unit...we are in the middle of one and are really enjoying "If You Lived with the Iroquois" they have several other tribes in this series too. They are rather lengthy, so you might could do 1 per week, not sure you'd have to look and see. Here are a few other things we've been doing. :)


Oh - and if you google it (I left this link off my blog for some reason) there are Native American paper dolls that you can print off!


Anonymous said...

Luv it!

mbarton said...

Love the pocket poster idea! I will use it!