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Saturday, May 31, 2008

k12's Top 10 , Part 5

Will someone please get out the camera? We have a Kodak moment here. If you use high enough resolution, you can get a really good shot of the steam coming from the ears today.

I had to really stop and think about this series today. I never really intended to run a ten part series on using k12. Originally, this was meant to be only one post with a list of nine, then the number one post would take the bulk of the entry. I found, as I was writing, I had more to say about each section than I planned.

Each post in the series has been pretty easy so far. "This is why I like using k12." I've tried giving consideration to each reason and where I place it in my top 10. I know most of these haven't really been funny at all. They've been more of a soapbox for right now. That's okay in this case. I'm saving the fun part for last.

So, here it is. My #6 reason for using k12 is...


Basic concepts get taught everywhere and at all reasonable levels. Sentence structure, essay structure, SPELLING (now that's one we don't see too much of anymore), vocabulary, reading skills, and math computation all get taught as essential learning needs over teaching "skills we'll need as adults."

Teaching of basic concepts that develop and strengthen basic skills is a realm of success for the k12 corporation. If a child doesn't have a clue how to write a sentence, what good does it do to expect an essay? These people understand this. K12 teaches grammar, parts of speech, and sentence development before they put any focus on analyzing how well a student has developed communication skills.

Writing education actually goes into detailed lessons. When working the program, kids develop skills in writing quality introductions, essay bodies, and conclusions. At the end of a unit, each kid has a final piece of work to be proud of. In the process of getting to the final production, a student learns about the value of grammar and sentence structure in writing while learning to develop thoughts into written word.

Spelling is taught from lists that cover the rules of English. There is actually a reason "i" comes before "e" except after "c." There is a time and place for "ph" and a different time and place for "f" to be used. K12 takes the time to help kids understand the difference. There aren't too many programs out there in schools that make the effort to help kids understand the background of how to spell. It takes more than practice to win the spelling bee. It takes understanding.

Communication skills are even more well developed when a child understands the words he's reading, and knows how to use them. This is why k12 teaches vocabulary. Teaching vocabulary may be dabbling into more in-depth and advanced skills. A strong vocabulary may just make a person a better communicator. In the process of learning the usage of our own English language, we are developing dedicated work habits.

The program developers at k12 are not worried about weather or not a child reads for a variety of purposes. They just go ahead and let the kid do it. They care that a child enjoys reading. When a kid loves reading, there's no need to worry about why he reads. Its far easier to teach a child to understand reading material when the child is willing to read.

Right along with the ability to communicate comes the ability to compute the numerical side of life. K12 doesn't use calculators. I respect this decision with high regard. I just don't comprehend how someone can even learn math processes if he doesn't know how to add or subtract without a machine doing it for him. Besides, learning math is kind of one of those "practice makes perfect" fields. Just keep working at it, add some encouragement, and you get more than just really good math skills. You may just find the development of delayed gratification, a stronger work ethic, and a self-developed sense of accomplishment.

Oh my, it looks like the teaching of skills doesn't really need to be "taught" after all. looks more to me like we need to just teach basic content with a little bit of practice. The "skills" come with the flow of learning.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Part 4, Why I Love Using k12

7. Material is selected and written with homeschoolers in mind. Instructions speak to kids as well as adults. Looking back at some of the other programs I've used, I wonder how we ever did anything without the kids already having a college degree.

This brings me back to rambling on about Everyday Math and the two years I struggled using it. I don't recommend Everyday Math as a homeschooling program. The teacher's guides don't speak well to parents. I found myself spending more time on Google learning about the topics Bigfoot was covering than he spent in actual learning time.

Please understand there are some things about Everyday Math that are quite good. The connective development between language and math skills excels beyond most math programs. Developing the connection between concrete and abstract thoughts creates a well understanding person. This is all about The ability of a person to connect and communicate with a variety of people in the world holds the key to making proficiency in a field matter.

Application of math in the real world has always been an issue with public schools. Everyday Math does a very good job in this category. Everything taught in Everyday Math has a practical application to it. There isn't much of a point in teaching anything if it can't be used.

Now come the issues I have with Everyday Math. Why teach a pre-calculus concept if a child doesn't even understand how to do the work? Everyday Math has very little focus on basic skills. Parents are realizing this more and more as our public schools carry lower and lower math scores in Washington State. Homeschoolers for years have sworn by programs that teach basic computation skills over advanced applications. I didn't like the idea of not having a clue of what was going on in Bigfoot's math program just because I don't have a college degree. I became uncomfortable real quick with spending half my time on Google learning about what he was supposed to be learning.

Which brings me back to why I like k12. The program developers speak to kids. Kids should be able to read instructions and be able to follow them without translations into plain English. Material is explained in a way parents can help kids understand. A great weight has been taken off my shoulders this year. I don't feel uneducated in our learning process.

If the purpose of education is to develop the future of America, are we doing any good in writing directions our kids can't follow?

I don't think so.