Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Language Arts Plan for This Year

I had a request for my language arts lesson plans, so I am putting my ideas out for whoever wants them. At best, this post is a rough idea of what we will do this year, as I am still trying to figure out some things for the older two kids. These ideas are based on where the kids are at the moment and my intuition as far as what they need for the future. I suspect these plans will alter somewhat as the year progresses. I tend to follow the AO Language Arts Scope and Sequence.

3rd Grade Language Arts for Cornflower

Grammar: Grammar Songs from Audio Memory. I used these songs with each of my older kids, and they both have a strong foundation in parts of speech. (The kids also love to play Mad Libs, which must have had a role in their grammar learning.) There is a workbook that goes along with the songs and I may or may not get one for Cornflower. I haven't decided yet. I probably will, because she is always looking for something else to do while I finish school with her sisters. My goal with these songs is memorization, so as she memorizes a song, I will let her move on to the next one, reviewing the songs she has already memorized. We find these songs really easy to memorizes, although the recording is somewhat annoying to listen to. (You'd think that would bother me, as I was a music major in college, but I guess I am pragmatic when music can help learning.)

Composition/Reading: I have her tell back her school books every day. We generally read two to three selections each day, and the combination of reading and narration takes approximately twenty to thirty minutes per selection. She began reading Holling's Seabird independently and writing narrations at the end of last school year, so I will have her continue writing narrations for one of the simpler reading selections, and possibly expand to two or three books by the end of the year. She does a lot of reading on her own too, at around a 4th-6th grade level, and I will have her continue that. (Cornflower regularly asks me to pull new books from the shelves for her free reading enjoyment. Each time I pull another book for her, I think, "This is the last time one of my kids will read this book for the first time." :sigh: Silly, I know.)

She is also doing a project for the science fair this year, which will be her first experience in writing a report and giving an oral presentation. This is the website we use for science fair projects, and here is a rundown on the final report. I will use the Bravewriter method of freewriting to help her collect her thoughts and generate a rough draft.

Copywork: Every day. She writes around three to five words *perfectly* per session at this point. I only allow her to do as much as she can do with excellence. This makes for slow going, but her George Washington's Rules of Civility are looking pretty good, and she is learning to slow down and do the job well. We take turns selecting things, and right now she is committed to copying a good portion of the Rules of Civility (her choice-- I introduced it, but she wanted to keep going). Here is a discussion on copywork that has influenced my thoughts on the subject.

Penmanship: Last year I had her doing copywork twice per week and a penmanship workbook twice per week, but this year she will do at least a term of just copywork and then start a cursive penmanship workbook. We use Getty Dubay Italic. She knows how to form all of her letters in printing, but hasn't done anything with cursive yet, and the workbook will help me introduce the cursive forms later on this year. Next year (fourth grade), if all goes well, she will do her copywork in cursive. (Gee, I wish I had been this deliberate with my older two. I'm finally figuring out penmanship with my third one. Makes me wish I had a couple more kids around to benefit from my growth of knowledge, lol.)

Poetry/Recitation: We will read three poets together this year-- I want to read them aloud to her so she can catch intonation, etc. I will also have her memorize some poetry and scriptures, but I haven't figured out which ones yet. (We also do memory work for history and science facts, but that isn't exactly CM recitation.)

6th grade Language Arts for Mariel

Grammar: Finish Winston Basic Grammar this year and start on Winston Advanced Grammar. She does one worksheet per week-- I have her analyze around three sentences per day rather than doing the whole worksheet at once, and I correct her previous sentences before she starts the next three. That way if she is having trouble with a concept, I can catch and correct it before she runs out of worksheet. Winston Grammar does not go over the four basic types of sentences, so I need to explain those to her as well.

Composition/Reading: She reads most of her schoolbooks on her own now. I am planning to read her science selections and literature selections with her, and she will read and discuss Shakespeare and Plutarch with the family. If I read the selection aloud to her, she tells back orally. If she reads the selection on her own, she either writes a narration or records an oral retelling. She is required to write one narration per day, and these are generally between three and six sentences long. Rather than requiring her to write more initially, I am going to let her select narrations and have her do a freewrite in addition, then write a rough draft based on the reading, initial narration and freewrite. My focus will be on the process. I hope she will have six to twelve papers written by the end of the school year, but I am really feeling my way through on this, and that may even be too many. I want her to have a well-written end product without too much frustration, not necessarily lots of finished papers. I expect the process on each paper to take several weeks, and we may start and not finish some of them. My goal is to encourage her to write more, and more completely, without frustrating her.

She will also be doing a science fair project this year (her fourth), which at the sixth grade level requires a written report, display board, and seven-minute oral presentation. We will be using the "dreaded elementary school report" suggestions from The Writer's Jungle for this process. (I will also use The Writer's Jungle to help me keep things in perspective as we work through the composition/written narration goals above.)

I will continue to monitor her independent reading, but she reads so much on her own that I am really not worried. For free reading, I take the AO additional reading lists (found at the bottom of each year's book list) from each year the child has finished and mark off the books the child has read. The resulting list is what we refer to when she needs free reading suggestions, along with anything else I find that I think would be good for her.

Dictation/Copywork: Mariel is moving into Spelling Wisdom Book 2 this year, which is a book of selections from great literature to transcribe. She will do two dictation assignments per week. I have the child study the selection, taking note of difficult spellings and punctuations. Mariel is far enough along in dictation that I don't have her do the selection for copywork first, but when they are beginning I have them do it for copywork the first day, and then I dictate it to them the second day. If there are mistakes, they do it again the next day until it is correct.

In addition, I will have her copy, in her best penmanship, selections from her reading that she wants to save, or that I want her to save (ie., a Commonplace Book). I expect two to three copywork entries per week.

Typing: I need to give her a typing test and see where she is. She has done a program, but I wonder if she is as efficient with typing as she could be.

Poetry/Recitation: See Cornflower's poetry/recitation entry above. The only difference for Mariel is that I allow her to read most of her poetry on her own.

9th Grade Language Arts for Triss

Grammar: She is in the middle of Our Mother Tongue, and I plan to have her finish in the next year or so. I have to sit down and look at her workload and see how much we can fit in this year.

Composition/Reading: She reads the bulk of her material on her own, although we still read history together (she takes notes and then tells back what we have read and then we discuss). We are working slowly through How to Read a Book by Mortimer J. Adler, which comprises most of her critical reading skill development at this point. (This is such a great book. I highly recommend a very slow reading and application of it for jr high/high school students.) My goal for her reading skills this year is for her to recognize the form and structure of the books she reads. She is just beginning to develop this skill where her schoolbooks are concerned, but then, she reads really hard books for school!

She writes a lot on her own in her free time, all fiction and mostly fantasy, and has begun seeking insight on what makes a good fiction writer. (Yes, it was an exciting day for me when she came and asked me to be on the lookout for good books on improving fiction writing skills. I gave her everything I have on the subject, and she has already read them and wants more, so I am on the look out. Suggestions welcome.) She has currently decided that rewriting is most important, and is engaged in rewriting (and rewriting) her stories. (I'm pretty happy about this development-- she used to deplore rewriting. O. Henry was her hero. But no more.)

My goal for her writing skills this year is for her to practice nonfiction writing. She does written summaries or outlines on most of her schoolbooks, and I am having her use those to write more formal papers. So far it has been slow going-- I suspect this is because the fiction writing has taken most of her focus for the past couple of years. She completed three compositions based on schoolbooks last year. This year I want her to take her summaries and notes and write a finished composition every two weeks. I plan to use a combination of The Writer's Jungle and Jensen's Format Writing to accomplish this. (Ideally, I would purchase Bravewriter's Help for High School, but it would be the straw that broke the budget camel's back, and I *have* Jensen's already.) I just don't know how this is going to work. I have been playing around with the writer's workshop idea this summer, and we are probably going to sit down for an hour every day in the new school year and do "writer's workshop". (I have read portions of a book on developing student writer's workshops at Mardel, but I can't for the life of me remember what the book is called.) I have discovered this summer that it takes a long time to get from rough draft to final draft, and patience is vital, so I am carving out that hour for slow, patient work each day if I can. (I am not a patient person, and neither are my children. It's so funny that we use CM method, which is slow, but probably the reason it works so well for us is because we need to be reminded to go slow in order to do our work well.) If this doesn't get us from Point A to Point B, then next year I will seek a format writing class outside of the home.

She will also do a science fair project this year-- her first year in the 9th-12th grade category. She will be required to have a written report, display board and ten-minute oral presentation.

Dictation/Copywork: She will be using the Essays of Francis Bacon for dictation this year. I think. She read and summarized these last year, so she is already familiar with them. Either that will be a good thing or a bad thing. If it turns out to be a bad thing, I will have her use these essays instead. I plan to have her study an essay every week, using the following process-- 1) Read essay and take notes, 2) Put essay into outline form, 3) Rewrite essay using just your outline and notes, the goal being to get it back to its original form as best you can, 4) Compare the original essay and rewritten essay. This seems pretty daunting to me, so we will start slowly and work together. But I think this exercise will be key to learning what makes a great essay. (Like I said earlier, I am still feeling my way through on this-- suggestions are most welcome.)

Poetry/Recitation: Same as Mariel, but she also started The Roar on the Other Side last year and wants to continue it if there is room in the schedule. We'll see. I think maybe she should hold off on finishing it until after she finishes Our Mother Tongue. I plan to have her memorize Romans 8 this year, and some other things too, but we haven't planned the other things yet.

So that is what I have at the moment. Your mileage may vary. Keep in mind that these plans are customized to my children, and that we have a peculiar language arts history that may or may not line up with your family's. I hope this helps someone. :O)


Javamom said...

"9th grade for Triss"

Wow, right? Isn't it just shocking sometimes how quickly they grow up??

I only have high schoolers, now.


Katie said...

Wow, indeed. I have an elementary, a middle schooler and a high schooler.

I feel old. ;o)

Mrs. H said...

Thank you for your thoughts and time!