Friday, January 22, 2016

Research Papers and the Homework Question

My 6th grader, Leah, absolutely LOVES being homeschooled and is immensely curious about everything. She is the kind of child who routinely assigns herself new projects, or takes what we are doing to the next level. Becca is doing a research paper in school and as soon as Leah saw the criteria for the assignment posted on the fridge she literally begged to be allowed to do a research paper as part of homeschool. I can't say NO to that kind of enthusiasm! I also am having Natalie do one, since she's doing more traditional work to transition to high school. Here is what Becca's teacher provided:

    February 16 - Research topic due, start research

    February 23 - Last day to change topic

    All of March - Research and writing

    April 5 - First draft of paper due

    April 25 - Second draft of paper due

    May 9 - Final draft of paper due

    May 16 - Display board due

    May 19 - Open House and presentation of research to the public

All papers are to be typed and double spaced and in MLA format. The length requirements are as follows: two pages for grade 4, four pages for grade 5, six pages for grade 6, ten pages for grade 7, and fifteen pages for grade 8. These are minimums. There is no maximum. The number of pages is also the minimum number of sources required in the Works Cited.

Leah quickly assigned herself the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election as her topic. She's already keeping an envelope of newspaper clippings from the Wall Street Journal about the election candidates. Natalie is doing our family's Genealogy and famous people to whom she is related. I was already doing to have her research this topic as part of Human Physiology / Genetics and the Reproductive System. Becca picked the Native Peoples of Southern Illinois. Becca has to do an electronic presentation as well as her backboard but I'm not having the homeschooled girls do that. I think adding a Powerpoint presentation to play in front of your backboard during the Open House is just redundant.

Differentiating Instruction in the Regular Classroom: How to Reach and Teach All Learners(one of the BEST books on multiple intelligences as well as concrete help for thorough planning and assessment) has a list of the traits which separate an high-performing child from a gifted child. When I find it I will post it here; it's very thought-provoking. Leah, by assigning herself independent work, is falling more in the gifted category.

Natalie, on the other hand, is high performing but she only performs when there's a reward. She does best with grades. :-(

I can't stress enough how hard this has been for me to adapt to... but I finally decided that she needed some accountability for her homework. She wouldn't get her schoolwork done in a timely fashion so I'd move it to homework and then she still wouldn't get it done and I just didn't know what to do. But I found on TpT this homework self-assessment sheet for kids to do: Homework Scorecards. Natalie doesn't grade her work, just scores herself on if she does it and how much work she completes. Last night she did nothing so that's a D. She just didn't do her work at all. Each night the child scores themselves and then at the end of the week they circle the letter that summarizes the week. Homework in middle school is not incompatible with Waldorf at all... especially math practice.

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