February 15, 2007

* FREE Language, Grammar & Writing Curriculum... and Standardized Tests *

Someone tipped me off to the Scott Foresman Online Grammar and Writing Handbook (a FREE curriculum) this week. We started using it yesterday and I really like it! My 8 year old wrote a report yesterday on her own after our first lesson (pages 7-11)... and typed it up in MS Word! She spent half a day on the project, never loosing interest or steam. I really love the writing instruction in the beginning of the third grade curriculum (the one with the otter on the cover). The worksheets are quality PDF files and you can print them by section from a neatly organized table of contents.

Yesterday we also took the 2006 Texas TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge & Skills) online for FREE. My son took the writing and math portion yesterday, and my daughter took only the math. Today, they are both taking the reading portion. Here where we live in Arkansas, we will have to test with the state in March. Since we don't "teach-to-the-test" or even go by the same scope or sequence as the curriculum at public schools, I like to get an idea of what we need to work on before standardized test time by doing these practice tests. Last year we didn't do this; but my son (then in 3rd) did great anyway.

Taking the TAKS helped us to get brushed up on our Math terms: perpendicular, parallel, acute, congruent, product, sum, difference, quotient. I'm thinking of doing some flash cards for them and helping them memorize the terms. I also discovered that Morgan has a tendency to swap her numbers (she missed one problem using 58 rather than 85 - something her mom does quite often in my checkbook!).

I like the way that the Texas site has added clickable online multiple choice items and an automatic scorer. I go ahead and give them a percentage grade (such as 93% or 85%) for my records, but it is nice to be able to see where they stand on a chart provided by the Texas school district. What a great free resource!

If you happen to be in Arkansas and need to get registered to take the IOWA Basic Skills in just a few weeks, check out the Arkansas Homeschool Testing Website. You need to pick out a test site and get your kids registered to test within the next 10 days or so! They also have an online parent handbook in PDF form that will give you helpful information about what has changed this year.

We were busy all day yesterday with testing, writing, and reading. Mommy had a lot of time to get caught up on grading. I'm looking forward to even more time for catching up today while the kids take their reading tests online.

We're moving on to a new KONOS unit next week - TRUST: Ships and Floating. We're a bit behind our schedule, but looking forward to catching up. Maybe if I get all my grading and recording caught up, I can start on that 2005-6 spreadsheet and finally get my Homeschool Series updated for you guys in cyberland?! That would be nice.

Have a super Thursday!

Buzz Words: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the Grammer site. It looks great! I am going to be starting Trust by March (hopefully). Any advice you can give would be great! I'm just starting your KONOS for Dummies binder. Not sure exactly how to use the unit planner though. Not a lot of space for writing. Can you give me an example?

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for sharing about the FREE Grammar & Writing curriculum. I have been searching and praying for something new! I think I may ditch the remainder of this year's Language Arts and try Scott Foresmans for my 1st and 5th grader.

Thanks again!
Amy (who is buried in snow in NY!)

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this blog. It has really helped me make the decision to use Konos and I can't wait. I think my kids will love it!

Anonymous said...

Sent a donation, so please watch for it. You have a great blog.

Sprittibee said...

Shelly, You are most welcome. I'm starting Trust as soon as possible (next week if I can). Wade Hulcy really stepped on my toes today when he talked about moms who like to "chase rabbit trails" on the e-loop. I tend to be one of those types of homeschoolers... we chase a LOT of bunnies. I need to work on letting go of some things I plan that I know we can't accomplish. Perfectionism is a real drag when it comes to schedules... it tends to slow us considerably that I feel the need to do EVERY activity in the book. Take my ADVICE and do not DO THIS to yourself!!!!

The unit planner is really just a guide. Before I use it, I use a blank sheet of paper to jot down the activities, books, people, verses, etc. of interest that I know we WANT to cover. Then, I look at my unit planner and pencil them lightly in the calendar boxes. Once I get them in, I can see how much I can TRULY expect to cover and I can start to cross items off or erase the ones I know we won't be able to get to. If the item is something I love, but know I can't do right now... I have a running list that I keep of EXTRA things that I want to someday do if we have time. One of those items for this past unit we did (Indians) was to spend the night in a rented Teepee at the Arkansas State Park of Petit Jean. Realistically speaking, I KNEW it wasn't going to happen... but instead of forgetting about it entirely, I just moved it to my "LATER LIST" and took the pressure off so I would have one less thing on my schedule to cross off.

As we go each day, if we don't get to something, I can either move it to the next day or erase it and let it go. My problem has been with letting things go. That is why I tend to drag a unit out until we are sick of it. DON'T DO THIS! ;)

Morgan told me yesterday that she was ready to move on from Indians, but the unit has really been "interesting". She said she thinks Oceans, Ships, Sailing, Floating, Boats and Pirates will be much "more interesting", however. ;) That is our next unit! I tend to ADD a little extra to the requirements... such as Pirates!!! We have been looking forward to learning about Pirates since we all love Jack Sparrow. ;) aRRRRRrrrrrr! So we are adding a little to the KONOS Trust: Floating and Ships for good measure! Bunny trails again! Oops.

Amy - You are sooooo welcome! I think the PDF worksheets by Scott Foresman are great. I have not done many of them, but I looked through the book and it looks neat. I think we'll do that instead of buying A Beka for the rest of this year... and maybe into next year if it goes well.

Enjoy your snow! We enjoyed what little we got of it a few weeks ago.

Mousetower - You are so sweet. I hope you will also join the KONOS mom's e-loop. It is an invaluable resource for Konos-using homeschool moms! If you like this blog, you will REALLY love that e-list. I share many of my links and ideas from that group.

Sonya - *THANK YOU* There's no way I can express how much it is appreciated when someone drops a tip in the box. I had a little bit of money in the tip jar last week (because of selling some used curriculum) and it actually kept our bank account afloat so we didn't go negative between paydays. You just never know how you are blessing someone. From my family to yours; thanks so much!

Anonymous said...

I love KONOS. Arkansas homeschoolers should know that which years they are required to test changes surprisingly often -- it seems like it changes with almost every legislative session. We missed our local test date one year because we didn't realize we needed to test that year. That meant we had to make a long drive to another test site.

Lightning Ashe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jccross316 said...

Thank you,You are a inspiration to my family. I just recently started Homeschooling my Son I wouldin't have it any other way, btw your doing a wonderful Job with your children, your website is a Joy to come to each day./smile

thezfam said...

Thank you so much for sharing the free curriculum! its great!! God bless you!

jennt said...

Thanks so much for the tip on the grammar and writing handbook.
This is exactly what i have been looking for and it is FREE. 5 years later and i am so glad i found your post!!!



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