Week in Review: May 11-15

http://gracefilledhomeschooling.blogspot.com/2015/05/lightening-bug-lullabies-review-and.html
Not many have entered yet, which increases your chances to be blessed with this incredible CD! 
Now onto our week…

So this was the start of our week. Standardized testing!

Yeah, I know, not super exciting, but it isn’t too bad. The girls don’t mind and it is a nice deviation from our normal routine. Grace isn’t quite old enough, much to her disappointment. The funny thing is that for all the stress so many of my friend’s kids are under with testing in traditional school, my girls really do find it kind of fun. I make sure they know it doesn’t really count for anything, it is just a way for me to see what they have learned and what we may need to work on some more. Rose has finally moved past her struggle with timed tests where she isn’t so stressed out about how much time she has left. I found out Beth is doing all of the math in her head and getting it right, which is just incredibly exciting for me!

We test because I do like to know where they stand academically, but also because it is required in our state. In the past I’ve used Seton Testing Services which I still highly recommend. This year we opted to use the older CAT Test provided by Christian Liberty Press. I liked it much better and it is a bit more academically expectant than the newer tests. I’m very interested to see how my girls score on this.

Since the first two days were testing  I opted to work on the basics for the rest of the week and finish up a few things we didn’t get to last week, but no new unit in our Heart of Dakota Guides. Here is a mish-mash of the learning we accomplished this week!

Little Miss Grace was over-the-moon to start using the All About Spelling tiles this week!
She also had a lot of fun using the abacus to work on some math facts. This is such a great tool and the girls love when they can use it for their math work!
Fundanoodle handwriting just keeps getting better!
Beth did a lot of her work in other areas of the house this week. Reading outside, handwriting in the kitchen, and sometimes in her bedroom. I forgot to get pictures of her doing all of those things! She did math in our school room so that’s what I have recorded. 
Beth is very mathematically minded and does well, but gets distracted sometimes, maybe because she feel sit is too easy, but she almost never makes a mistake except for not writing down the “what” for word problems. By that I mean if her answer is dollars or cats or chips, she usually forgets to include that. We’re working on it though!
Rose had some notebooking to finish up from her last unit. She really likes the notebooking which I require to be completely in cursive. 
We had a lot of bumps along the way with math over the last couple of years, but Rose is doing great now. Her confidence in math builds every day and she doesn’t dread it nearly as much. Not to mention the tears have finally subsided when it comes to math! 
I hope you all had a good week! I’d love to hear about your standardized testing. Leave a comment if you test telling me what you use and when you test. 


Week in Review: May 26-30

This week was our week for standardized testing which is required by our state. I wouldn’t say this is our favorite part of the year, but it isn’t too bad. I do like knowing where the girls are academically and since I know testing is just going to be part of getting them ready for college I look at it as preparation. I encourage them to do their best, but try to downplay the importance.

We tried a new test this year which included a full battery. I’m not certain I will do more than the required math and language arts next year. The extra tests did not seem to be extremely useful in my opinion. I did like the layout of this one better than what we have used previously.

If you are looking for a company to order tests from I highly recommend Seton Testing Services. They are an excellent company with excellent service. We receive our tests promptly and the results quite quickly. I plan on using them for the foreseeable future.

So here is a little of what our week look liked with testing. Grace spent a few days with Daddy at the church office while Beth and Rose took turns taking their tests.

Beth took one day to finish her test. She did great and didn’t seem to mind the testing at all. She takes most things in stride anyway and did great! We took several breaks to stretch and swing in the backyard and just take a break.

Rose did really well this year taking her test although being in 3rd grade meant for a longer test that we took over the course of 2 days. She has struggled in the past with anxiety over timing so I kept that part to myself. She did wonderful and didn’t seem nearly as anxious our previous two years. I’m glad I did tak the time to explain before the test about the “None of these” answers as she has not seen that before.

When we weren’t testing….

We played a little ping-pong in the kitchen…

Hung out at our neighborhood pool…

And got a couple of new pets! Meet our apple snails, Shy Guy and Merida. Our fish tank has Glofish which are really cool and now we have a couple of neat snails!


  

Here’s another picture of our cute little apple snails!

So there’s our week. Nothing too exciting, but a good week nonetheless, not to mention how exciting it is to be done with testing! Next week we’ll start back with school following a lighter summer schedule. See you then!

My Least Favorite Part of Schooling: AKA Standardized Testing

Raise your hand if when you were in school you did a little dance when you heard the words Standardized Test Week? Yeah, I didn’t think so! I’m going to tell you a little secret that will probably get me booed in most homeschooling circles: As a kid, I loved test week. I genuinely enjoyed it. Why? Probably because I usually did well, I didn’t typically stress out over them, and the teachers usually felt bad for us and gave us and easy week. Oh, and my secret favorite reason? I would bring a good book with me to read since I was usually one of the first done. 

I know I’m not the norm here and as a former full-time teacher as well as a homeschooling mama, I’m not so in love with them. If I had to take them, no biggie. My girls don’t seem to mind much and usually just say something like, “This is boring,” which I completely agree with!

A few questions always pop up this time of year which I think are valid and useful to discuss so this post will be written as more of a question and answer session.

1. Why do people dislike standardized testing? We all have to do it, so what’s the big deal?
I’m not sure about most people, but my issue with the test has to do with my understanding that no individual should be valued or devalued based solely on the score of a single test. There are so many outside factors which goes into making a good score way beyond mastery and understanding of the content.

The one thing I reiterate over and over to my children is no test score will change their value and worth in God’s eyes or my own.

2. If you dislike this idea so much, why do you to it?

There are two reasons I participate in standardized testing. The first, and most important, is that my state requires it. It is vital that you know your state laws regarding this issue when you begin homeschooling. The last thing you want to have happened is your right to homeschool taken away simply because you didn’t do the research! A great place to start with this is Homeschool Legal Defense Association. This organization defends homeschooling freedoms and gives very sound advice. This page will get you started in finding out what your individual state’s laws are.

My second reason is to cover my bases. I don’t actually have to officially test my children until the school-year they turn eight. For all three of my kids this will be third grade. Before that time I want this to just be a normal part of their year so it isn’t such a big deal. I also am very aware that the current climate of our nation and schools makes me feel very strongly that I do not want to be forced to place my children into the public system. The tests are a tool in my kit to make sure I can confidently and calmly answer any questions which may arise at any point they do.

3. What test do you use?
For K-2nd grade I use the CAT (California Achievement Test). This is the same test I took growing up and I feel it is adequate to show where my kids stand within their grade-level. Next year my oldest daughter will be officially required to have a test administered and I’m considering a different test administered by someone else. I’ll be researching this a lot throughout the year and hope to find something I am happy with.

4. Where do you order the test from? 
I purchase my test from Seton Testing Services. I am in no way affiliated with this company, but have found them to be quick to ship, inexpensive, and quick to return scores. They offer a wide range of tests and state clearly on their website the requirements for administration.

5. How do you administer the tests? 
I test one daughter at a time and it is just she and I together. Either my husband takes my other girls to the church office with him (benefits of being a pastor!) or they get to have movie time in my room snuggled in my bed. Either situation works out fine and I’m able to keep the daughter completing the test focused and on task.

Just like with school I give breaks based on their individual needs. Sometimes the break involves a little snack or water, sometimes stretching, and sometimes a bounce around the house on an exercise ball. One daughter may get 4 breaks and another 2. Since each child is unique and I have the freedom to administer at home I give a little more freedom with this.

The two rules I make them follow are:
1. No eating or drinking during the test
2. No getting up until they reach a stop

6. How long does it take?
No more than 1 hour for each test including the breaks. The tests are timed, but this year my girls finished with ample time to spare.

7. How do your children do during the test?
Very well! They are fairly calm, ask questions when they need to, and don’t get upset when I say, “I’m sorry. I can’t answer that one.” I pray with them prior to the test and remind them that no matter how they do I’m pleased with their diligent effort.

8. Would you test if you weren’t required to?
Probably, yes. I can’t say for sure since I’m not in that situation, but I believe I would to adequately prepare them for inevitable testing for college and to be fully prepared to answer any questions anyone may ask me about my daughters’ education and success.

Here are some other articles you may find interesting.
http://www.hslda.org/docs/nche/000010/200410250.asp

http://www.hslda.org/earlyyears/Testing.asp

I’d love to hear about if you test in your homeschool or why you don’t and how it looks for you. We are all unique and I love hearing how other families walk through testing! Oh, and do your pets participate like our’s do?