Book Recomendations, Homeschooling

One-Word Summaries

I wish I had read Summarization in Any Subject: 50 Techniques to Improve Student Learning by Rick Wormeli before I homeschooled. (See my favorite technique Here)

My second favorite technique is One-Word Summaries, which is not easy as many writers have noted.

I have made this (letter) longer because I have not had time to make it shorter.*

Pascal Translated from French

A One-Word Summary is simply choosing one word to summarize the lesson’s topic and explaining the choice. This method also works with favorite books, Scripture passages, best friends, trips.

Choosing requires processing an experience.  Eliminating excess words gets to the heart of a matter.

My husband chose “honor” to describe last year’s trip to Oklahoma.We traveled to honor an inheritance and the man who left it to me.

Explaining solidifies the understanding. We treated my uncle’s possessions and wishes with respect. We did our best to make sure his desires were satisfied.

Which one word summarizes your childhood? Your parenting? Your homeschooling experience?

*Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain—among others—have used variations of Pascal’s statement.

Book Recomendations, Homeschooling, Memories, Parenting

Memory: Prime 1 and Prime 2

When I play a concentration game, why I do I remember the first card I turn over? Always.

Why does the first day of vacation stand out from the rest? Why do I remember my first child’s milestones better than his siblings? Or my first vegetable garden when I was newly married?

I learned the answer after my boys were in college. I discovered Summarization in Any Subject: 50 Techniques to Improve Student Learning by Rick Wormeli. 

Research proves that we remember best what we experience first, and we remember second best what we experience last—also known as Prime 1 and Prime 2. That is why pastors, teachers, and motivational speakers begin and end with memorable scripture passages or examples.

Along the way, I should have started and ended lessons with my major points. Even more, now I should begin and end my day with what is most important.

What is your Prime 1 and Prime 2?

Decisions, Homeschooling, Parenting

Finding The Answers

I was a young teaching assistant standing in front of twenty college students when one raised her hand and asked the answer to an economic problem. I had recently passed my doctoral exams in economics, but I did not know the answer.

After a fleeting moment of panic, I said, “Let’s work the problem together.” Step by step, I led the class until we had a solution. More importantly, I had an epiphany.

I had not been trained to know all the answers. I had been trained to find the answers.

That was the difference between me and my students. My job was not to give them answers but to show them how to find their own answers. Along the way, I watched many students hunt and find the correct answers

Corrie ten Boom is one of my heroines. Her parents did not give her the answers for surviving the Holocaust. However, they trained her to find the answers she needed. (See In My Father’s House by ten Boom for more.)

Even today, it helps me to know my adult sons know where and how to find correct answers.

Training anyone?

Homeschooling, Parenting

Start One Step Down (Or Two)

The tide by the pier was lower than it had been on our previous visit. We didn’t need our memory.  Abundant remnants of exposed oysters—in the most interesting formations—confirmed it. They were latched onto a discarded whelk shell, wedged between rocks, partially buried in sand, covered in algae

How did oysters choose their mooring? Become anchored? Who were their predators?  

Where did I turn for answers? Picture books.

While homeschooling, an experienced teacher told me to introduce new information by having my sons read a book at least one level below their abilities. Not only would they have a quick overview, but the most important facts would be emphasized. Understanding and retention would be increased.

My friend’s advice was confirmed by my neighbor who taught middle school biology. Magic School Bus episodes succinctly covered information on her classes’ standardized testing.

I ordered several picture books from my library before I turned to the internet. My internet hits were oyster recipes, restaurant recommendations, mineral and vitamin content, and scientific classifications.

My friend’s advice was confirmed again. Begin with picture books for a good overview.

Where do you start?


Grade Like A Professional

I “liked” a boy when we were in the 8th grade. We became better friends in high school, and he wrote the sweetest words in my yearbook our senior year.

How did we meet? Kevin sat behind me in pre-algebra and graded my homework. Mrs. Parker began most classes by saying, “Pass your homework to the person behind you.”

Even though homeschoolers do not have thirty papers to grade each class period as Mrs. Parker did, we can learn from traditional teachers. (See Think Like a Professional Here)

Allowing siblings to grade each other’s papers can save time.  It is also a chance for the grader to practice humility and grace and learn themselves as they see their sibling’s work. Kevin was so nice that I never minded him seeing my mistakes.  I also thought he was a bit more lenient than Mrs. Parker.

How are you thinking like a professional?