Thursday, October 4, 2012

Academic Honesty

Most schools have a policy on academic honesty.  I applaud this because it does teach and enforce a great principle.  I know that the biggest portion of these policies are about plagiarism and while we are in the beginning phases of creative writing, plagiarism is not a big problem here at our little school.
We've had an incident where my son drew clock faces for my daughter on her math work and she turned it in.  It was hilarious because he drew 2 of them incorrectly and she did poorly on that assignment.  That is how we found out about the cheating.  We made him research plagiarism, she didn't get credit for the work and he had to write a report about cheating and plagiarism so that he knew what it meant.  So far I haven't caught them trying to pull that one again.
Calculators have been an issue for us recently.  I bought the neat little $1 calculators for the kids before school because sometimes the math book asks them to pull one out and I don't always like them using the one on my phone.  Well, now that we all have our own calculator, we think it's important to be able to use them.  No, I'm sorry, but you need to know what 11-7 equals.  Not gonna happen!!!
So I didn't really plan to write a blog about my kids' errors, but about the temptations for me.  I think as a Homeschool Mom it is really hard to see my kids do poorly on an assignment.  Sometimes, if one of my children miss a whole section, I feel like they must not understand it and I give them a new teaching and have them redo the section.  I think other teachers do the same thing.
At first, if one of the kids skipped a problem, I would give it back to them and point it out, but lately it's occurring more because they are trying to get done quicker so they can have a longer recess.  I'm gritting my teeth as I grade the paper and just mark it wrong because life doesn't always let us get by with sloppy work. My kids are getting mostly A's in their classes and so I have to double check myself and make sure that I'm being honest in their grades and not being a doting mother, but a honest teacher.  So far this school year I've done well.  I'm giving examples that are not answers to the questions in their books.  I'm not giving lenience for things that are obviously wrong.  It's tougher than it seems.
Yesterday, though, my son had a math test and was instructed in writing to order the group of numbers from greatest to least.  He came and asked me if he was to do the whole group or one line at a time.  I looked at it and told him it was line by line and he needed to put the smallest number first and then the next and the next until each number on the line was written out.  Well that is not what the instructions said and he obeyed me.  I gave him credit for the whole section because he correctly did as I told him even though by the test book, he was completely backward.  On the same test, he skipped 4 problems randomly and I did count them wrong.  It was so hard to put in the grade book that he made an 83% on his test when he usually scores 90 or above.  He is still getting an A in the class and yes, even good students sometimes get a bad score now and again.
I think my worst temptation to be dishonest was on my daughter's science daily work.  She is supposed to read a section the book and answer a few simple questions.  I don't mind helping her find answers if she's struggling because this is a new concept for her in second grade.  She didn't have to do this independently last year.  Well, there were only 3 questions and my grade book is an Excel spreadsheet that keeps grades by percentage rather than points.  She missed 2 out of 3 giving her a 33% on that assignment.  Yikes!  I don't want my baby girl to have bad grades!  It was an actual score and it was accurate.  I think she was more interested in the kitty that day than her assignments and she deserved the grade.  Her grade book does have that score.  Really in the long run she's still getting an A in science and it didn't bother her nearly as much as it bothered me.
My goal is to have my children succeed in life and not just have a piece of paper saying that they passed each grade.  I don't want to give them undeserved scores.  I don't want to pass over things that they don't understand either.  A bad grade just means we need to revisit that topic and that is the beauty of homeschooling.  We CAN!  Both of my children have an education plan that will allow them to master each concept that they encounter at their expected level of understanding and I get to be a part of it.  I love it!  Though it's hard to type in a grade that is really bad, I do know that my honesty is really for their good.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

We Are Still Here

Well, as much as I planned and planned for this school year, I could never plan for our life events.  I knew the start day of school and curriculum and students, though.  Yes, we did start on time, but family events have taken all of my extra time.  I'm just popping in to try to get back to normal again.  As time goes by and the intensity of the situation is much less, I may elaborate some day.  For now, I can say there's been a shift and our family unit of 4 is still in tact and growing stronger daily.  We have seen God at work all around us and He is mighty and amazing!!!
We are in the middle of week 5 of school.  There is so much to say about this school year already and little time to do so.  I am loving our curriculum choices that I mentioned in our last post.  I am going to order the newer versions of Learning Language Arts through Literature for next year, though.  I am ending up making my own workbook type pages almost every night and that is getting tiring.  That is kind of the price I paid for "free" books.  The cost will be less than $50 per kid and I will reuse the teacher book for my youngest in a few years.
We forgot to take first day of school pictures.  We forgot to mark our height on our measuring stick.  We haven't gotten a chance to go on a field trip yet or family vacation, but we are learning and loving!  The beauty of home school is that we can be flexible and missed opportunities can turn in to lessons.  I like to have things a particular way and not getting my way all the time is valuable for me as well to know Who is really in control.  Can chaos be an answer to prayer?  YES!  The best part about it is, that we get to see God at work as He brings chaos into order.  That's been His gig from the beginning of the world.
Today's family lesson was unplanned, but very valuable for us.  In health we've been talking about feelings and being a friend.  We had a fun class to learn how to actively listen.  We mirrored each other and I role-played a bad listener and a good listener.  We were all enjoying that part, but when we sat down to discuss why we did the role plays, my kids laid on the floor, started kicking each other and it was as if I hadn't been teaching them how to listen.  I tried to gather their attention and then dropped the books on the floor to get a bang sound.  It was intense for a few minutes.  I left the room for a few minutes and prayed.  I came back with the solution which escalated the tension too.  I made the kids take out their journals and write a page with complete sentences on what it means to listen and how we can become better listeners.  My kids both hate writing in their journals and doing creative writing.  Well, after another 30 minute or so meltdown and calls to Daddy, they successfully wrote in their journals in their own style and we could move on with the day.  This has turned into a great day for our other lessons and now I have a new and creative way of discipline for during the school day.
Now if my kids start to enjoy writing in their journals I won't be able to use it as punishment, but I will be happy because it will be another obstacle that is overcome.   By the end of the page, both of my kids were proud of how much they wrote and said that it was pretty easy so maybe this detest for writing will soon be over.  Obviously I am not lacking for words.
Hello 2012-2013 school year!  We are going to get through this with great results!