Monday, July 1, 2013

First Grade Year End Evaluation

First grade officially ended Friday. Yay!

Last year I posted an evaluation of our kindergarten year, and I wanted to do the same for our first grade year. Like last year we followed the curriculum recommendations in The Well Trained Mind, and overall they worked out well.

Some first grade books and some second grade books

Math: Just like last year, we ended up switching curriculum part way through. I liked RightStart Math (though each lesson was a bit long), but again, it just wasn't working for LMS. I decided to back off and give Life of Fred a chance- instead of books, manipulatives, and other stuff, I just bought one book. There's four in the first set, but they can each be repeated several times to make sure all the concepts are solid. I bought the first one to see if it was a good fit, then bought the next few books in the series.

Each chapter is part of a story that involves math concepts and using them in real life, and at the end of each short chapter there's a few questions for the child to answer. It's so different from the other books we've tried that I was afraid it would be too light-weight and not cover enough or give LMS enough practice with each concept. It's working for now, though, so I'm not going to change things up just yet.

LMS went from dreading math to saying it was one of her favorite subjects, along with history. Both of these subjects are essentially stories that I read to her, and then she answers questions that I ask her. Hmmm, perhaps she's an auditory learner? She loves listening to books on cd too...

Even though she knew how to read at the end of last year, after using Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, we used Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading this year so LMS could learn the rules and exceptions for pronunciation of words. Her ability to sound out words and read stories has grown so much from using OPG. We haven't actually finished it, so will continue using it in second grade. In addition, I read various books to her and she read various books to me. Listening to so many audio books has helped her in her oral reading skills. She pays attention to punctuation and uses the appropriate inflections. She even tries to change up the voices a little :)

We used Writing with Ease 1 to work on dictation and reading comprehension. I thought it worked well and it was easy to tell when LMS had been listening and when she'd been zoning out. For handwriting we used Zaner-Bloser 1 and then started 2C. 1 covers printing and 2C reviews printing then starts cursive. We didn't quite get to the cursive section before the end of the school year, but we'll just continue with it in second grade.

We used First Language Lessons 1 for grammar. I liked the memorization activities (several poems throughout the year) and it reinforced concepts that were also discussed in Writing with Ease (abbreviations, punctuation, etc).

We used Spelling Workout A then moved on to Spelling Workout B.

We used Story of the World: Volume 1 Ancient Times for history. We both enjoyed this book even though we didn't do most of the extra activities (crafts and such). It would have been nice to do them, but I just was not that on top of things. We used the worksheets that go along with it and LMS liked those- especially the maps. We didn't do any of the tests, but we will in second grade. One of the moms in our park group organized a history club using SotW that the kids all enjoyed.

As recommended in The Well Trained Mind, we used the First Animal Encyclopedia for the first part of the year. When we finished it we switched to Great Science Adventures: Discovering the Human Body & Senses. I really like the idea of GSA, but the directions aren't quite as clear as I'd like (there's lots of folding and cutting of papers to make lap book-type folders). It is quite flexible though- it's very easily marked so you can go more in-depth for older students and less in-depth for younger students. LMS also had a blast at her Nature Class.

I had a hard time finding a curriculum for teaching elementary kids Japanese, so I made up my own. It wasn't as effective as I'd like, but it was a good learning experience. LMS worked on the hiragana chart (for longer than she needed to, probably. oops) which she didn't really enjoy. Then we started watching dvds and she liked that a lot better.

LMS listened to and read aloud scripture stories. I'd like to add some scripture memorization, but we haven't quite gotten to that point.

LMS continued her violin lessons, where she's made great progress.  She also attended Irish class (a continuation of the day camp she attended in the summer) and among other things, did some singing and tin whistle.

LMS participated in fall and spring soccerski class, swimming lessons, a 5k and two fun runs (Disney and the one at the beginning of this month).

The Well Trained Mind recommended a couple books that we tried out, but I wasn't too impressed with them. Maybe in a year or two. So we didn't do anything formal, but I have a plan for second grade that will involve weekly projects. I do feel like I've dropped the ball on this one, but at the same time it's been fun to see what LMS comes up with on her own.

Proof of Progress
In our state we don't have to provide proof of progress in kindergarten, but from first grade on, we do. This can be through standardized test scores, a written evaluation, or a portfolio. I fully intended to have LMS take a standardized test this year since I feel it's very important to know how to take them and be familiar with the process. However, with our ongoing food issues and switching math curriculum again,  I thought that might not be the best option this year. Hopefully next year we'll have those issues worked out and it won't be a problem.

Our local school districts don't tend to like receiving portfolios (it's more work for them), and honestly I think portfolios could give the schools a lot more information than they need, which would set a bad precedent (they start thinking they need certain things/information, even though they don't).

While discussing proof of progress at one of our weekly park play groups, the subject of evaluations came up and one the other moms mentioned that if you had a masters degree or higher you could do the evaluation (though not on your own child). A friend in our park play group has a phD and offered to do  the evaluation for us. This turned out to be a great way to go. LMS already knows her and we just talked about the different subjects we covered this year and how things went. Later she wrote the evaluation and I'll send it to the school district in a couple weeks.

The biggest triumph of the year, in my opinion
You know the saying "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink"? The same applies to schoolwork. You can teach a child the skills, but you can't make them learn them and/or use them, like reading. LMS reads quite well, but it took her awhile to discover the joy of reading. She just wasn't quite ready to make the jump from picture books to chapter books. My overachieving, ocd side really wanted to push her into it, but my practical, more in-tune side recognized that that was not a good idea. So I sat back and let her progress at her pace, not the pace I dictated.

In the last month or so she's really grown confident in her reading skills. One day she decided to read Little House in the Big Woods during quiet time. A few days later she had finished it and moved on to the next one. She's now halfway through the series and I have to remind her to not stay up late reading. This actually makes me very happy, since I remember being about her age and reading books under the covers by the light of a flashlight :)

It's so gratifying to see her developing a love for books and reading. If I had pushed it on her, she would not be reading for pleasure. But since I let her go at her own pace she's discovered it for herself.

No comments:

Post a Comment