Planning Eighth Grade

So I started planning  Third Grade first, since it will be my third time teaching third grade and therefore has a sense of familiarity. I wrote several posts about the planning process for third grade here.  Now I am looking at planning eighth grade next, since it will be my second time teaching eighth grade.

I really like eighth grade and am looking forward to it. This particular student has very strong opinions about what she will or won’t participate in, and she won’t really try to do anything with a block she doesn’t want to do. So I have had to think long and hard about what I really think is essential in eighth grade for soul development and what blocks will be well-received as well.

It doesn’t help that I think eighth grade seems to me one of the years with the least amount of “must do” soul material.  Yes, there is a Revolutions block, but some schools put that in ninth.  There is an idea of “modern” and getting children up to present-day, but again, many schools also spread that into ninth grade if they have a high school program.   The AWNSA chart for the Waldorf School curriculum includes The Industrial Revolution to the Modern Day; American History; Shakespeare and poetry; stories about different people of the world and their folklore and poetry; reviewing all grammar; writing including newspaper reporting, business writing, writing a short play and spelling; Latin and Greek and vocabulary building exercises; World Geography and geography of Asia, Australia and Antarctica; Chemistry, Physiology, Physics  including aerodynamics and meteorology; Three Dimensional Geometry.  “Making Math Meaningful” by Jamie York for Grade 8 includes geometry and platonic solids as a block (which I did the first time around in eighth grade but I will not do this time);  and number bases and loci as another block.

You can see some of the ideas I planned the the first time around in eighth grade  for our oldest child.  You can see how I planned high school American History between eighth and ninth grade in order to earn a high school credit in American History (this is something that would happen in homeschooling, not a Waldorf School setting). You can see my post about Eighth Grade Chemistry here, and  I went through each week of eighth grade beginning here, with weeks one and two.

So, my tentative –  totally subject to change-  plans right now include:

August and September – Physics and Meteorology

October – Oceanography

November – Short Stories

December – Short Stories

January – Revolutions

February – Two weeks of aerodynamics;  American History

March – American History

April/ May -Energy,  Carbon, Climate, and the Environment (my own invented block)

Each of these blocks will work closely on academic skills.  I am not doing the typical eighth grade Chemistry block which focuses on the human body or cooking and fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, we are not doing the typical Physiology block either, and we  will do Shakespeare in High School.  We will be doing World Geography one day a week and go through all regions of the world, including the typical eighth grade geography block countries.

My main idea for the week’s rhythm is to bring four days of being together as this student will have an outside academic math class one day a week.  Three days will be main lesson work, and one day will be geography.  We will do math daily together and a lot of math investigation as a family.

I would love to hear what you are planning! Have you started planning your block rotations yet?

Blessings,

Carrie

 

 

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planning + Waldorf + simple

 

So, I have homeschooled quite a long time – from Kindy second year to tenth grade this year that is 11 years.  And in doing this, I have found that some years were just simpler than others. We aren’t a Waldorf School at home, we don’t have a staff, and we have real life things to attend to – meals, housework, perhaps outside activities with older children.  And in a year of overwhelm, we also have divided energies.  The very real and hard thing about Waldorf homeschooling is it often isn’t possible for a student to progress super independently in main lesson book work.  Students need, and deserve input of their homeschooling teachers, just like all students do.  This isn’t like passing off a textbook and workbook and assigning problems.

So, in an great effort to keep thing as simple as possible, let me share with you some ways Waldorf veteran homeschoolers plan.  It IS different than a Waldorf School, and that is okay.

  1.  Health and family relationships take priority.  So this might mean we get to one less block a year than a school setting.  It may mean our school year looks longer, or shorter.  So long as we are in compliance with the homeschool laws of our state or province, we are doing okay.  But homeschooling first and foremost is about sustainability.
  2. We combine ages for main lessons.  I don’t advise anyone to teach more than three main lesson periods a day.  It is exhausting!   If you have six or more children, you might have four main lesson periods, but I would look for ways to combine, rotate days for some children, and school mostly year-round to fit in blocks for everyone.
  3. We put most everything in the main lesson period we are having with a child or children.  Some people do put handwork separate, and some families have only one to two children and they can do a lot of “separate” periods for painting or handwork or cooking or whathave you.  Most of us who have older children and multiple children must economize and make these things part of the artistic or practical response to a main lesson.
  4. We find many resources at the library.  Yes, there will often be need for some specific Waldorf resources, but I find the longer people Waldorf homeschool, the more they are not afraid to take resources from any stream and they can make it Waldorf.  Waldorf Education is a living and breathing entity specific to the child in front of us and to the specific geographic place where we live.  We follow the curriculum of the school setting, and honor the major impulses of experience before head thinking, sleep as an educational aid and more, but again, we are not and cannot be a school at home.
  5. Rhythm is key.  It takes a lot of energy to hold Waldorf main lessons; holding that space takes a lot, and we need to make sure as homeschooling parents we have time for OURSELVES.  This is also a key to sustainability over the years.
  6. We are committed to this.  The Waldorf homeschooling market is TINY.  You won’t find Waldorf materials at state homeschooling conferences.  You won’t find a lot of us around even to have community.  Many Waldorf homeschoolers have never seen a Waldorf School in real life.  We need to be patient with ourselves as we learn.

When I think about simple, I also try to think beyond the big picture and see how this will in reality, flow every day.  I wrote a post a little while back that had a little planning form for homeschooling parents to use.  It had two main lesson periods on it and more.  Here are some more ideas for putting together rhythms.

Ideas for rhythm #1:  (Two  Main lessons)

  • Family Breakfast/Chores
  • Circle Time for those under 9 or Warm Up time for the entire family
  • Math warm up for the whole family or divided by level (Personally, I think grades 1-5 could go together and grades 6-9 could go together).
  • Main Lesson Period #1 (what will other children be doing?)
  • Walk, play or tea break or Lunch if you start later in the day.
  • Main Lesson Period #2 (what will the other children be doing?)
  • Walk, play, or tea break or Lunch
  • Practical Activities ( could include music as a family, handwork, crafts, baking, gardening)
  • Free Reading or Reading Aloud
  • End of School Day

Ideas for Rhythm #2: (Two Main Lessons)

  • Family Breakfast/Chores
  • Music Practice or Movement
  • Main Lesson #1
  • Practice Period for handwriting, math, or individual music practice
  • Tea or Lunch
  • Main Lesson #2
  • Handwork

Ideas for Rhythm #3: (Kindy plus 3 Main Lessons)

  • Family Breakfast/Chores
  • Circle Time with littles/Kindergarten story
  • Main Lesson #1 (includes movement and art)
  • Main Lesson #2 (includes movement and art)
  • Lunch
  • Main Lesson #3 (rotate so not every day has three main lessons, on the off day put in kindergarten practical work)

Ideas for Rhythm #4:  (Three  Main Lessons, Grades)

  • Family Breakfast/Chores
  • Main Lesson #1
  • Tea
  • Main Lesson #2
  • Movement, Cooking, Practical Arts
  • Lunch
  • Main Lesson #3 – some days have this be an extra practice period for math or language arts

The ideas are infinite!  Please share with me your favorite rhythm for the grades that has worked well and is relatively simple!

Many blessings,
Carrie

 

Homeschooling Third Grade Math- Part One

This will be my third and last time going through third grade with one of my children. I am starting to prepare, and in this post I talked about my steps to Third Grade planning.  Part of this planning for me after laying out the blocks of study for each month is to get a good sense of the progression of math and language arts through the year.

So first I think of progression and goals.  Over the years, I have found the main objectives for third grade math to be:

  • To use a variety of strategies to make sense of number and number combinations, including counting and regrouping and estimating
  • Vertical addition and subtraction
  • Working with mulitplication and division; Long multiplication.  Long division, division with remainders might be third or fourth grade depending upon the child.
  • Estimating answers the the nearest hundred or thousands.
  • Written and oral practice in arthimetic so things become automatic. Yes, trying to start learning the math facts.  If my child has a learning disability, I don’t expect memorization of times tables until after the twelve year change.  Just my experience.
  • Number patterns in the rectangular array of 144 that covers the times tables 1-12
  • Telling time on all clocks
  • Measures of time, capacity, length, mass, money.
  • Written word problems
  • Freehand geometric drawings and geometric explorations

I start thinking a little about how I want to approach the blocks. I decided my math blocks would be in November( Farmer Boy Math with time, four processes, moving from horizontal to vertical), February ( measurement, mainly length, mass,  time) and April ( multiplication and division mainly but all four processes, working with money) but that my August block would include a good dose of  math review within the main lesson, the September block would include liquid measurement with our preserving/farming/gardening block, and our May block will also include measurement with practical projects.  These would all be worked into the main lesson period.  The two books I like for looking at the big picture and what blocks might contain includes the books, “Making Math Meaningful:  A Source Book for Teaching Math in Grades One Through Five,” by Jamie York, Nettie Fabrie, Wim Gottenboos and the book, “Teaching Mathematics in Rudolf Steiner Schools for Classes I-VIII” by Ron Jarman.

However, I also do have a complete outline of the “practice math” we will do each day and sometimes I do use the “practice time” to introduce a math concept we will deepen in a block or use a game to go deeper into practice on a math concept we have previously covered.  For this, I usually assign a topic a month that I really want to bring, and just a smattering of the other math skills. One book I like for this is a non-Waldorf book called “Third Grade Math:  A Month To Month Guide” by Suzy Ronfeldt.  I don’t use it to the letter, (some of the focus for each month I don’t find matches up with Waldorf mathematics so I discard those), but I look to see ideas by topic.

Once I have the focus for the blocks and the practice math areas for each month, I just start filling things in with ideas for cooking, games, practical experiences, movement experiences, and mathematical problems and puzzles to solve. For some specific ideas for grades 1-3, I like the following books:

  • “Waldorf Education in Practice:  Exploring How Children Learn in the Lower Grades” by Else Gottgens
  • “Third Grade Math:  A Month to Month Guide” by Suzy Ronfeldt
  • “Games for Math” by Peggy Kaye
  • “Things That Come in Groups: Multiplication and Division” by Tierney, Berle-Carman, and Akers.
  • “Math By Hand” which is math kits and Waldorf
  • “The Dyscalculia Toolkit” by Ronit Bird, which just has fun games for everyone
  • “Math Games and Activities From Around the World” by Zaslavsky

I also try to find literature that reinforces the mathematical concepts we are learning.  This probably is not common in a Waldorf School setting, but I find it to be very common in the homeschooling setting.  Some of my favorite books for third grade math for a student include:

  • “Alexander, Who Use to Be Rich Last Sunday” by Viorst (money)
  • “Fattest, Tallest, Biggest Snowman Ever” by Ling (measurement)
  • “A Quarter for the Tooth Fairy” by Holzman (money; not sure if I will use this one yet as I haven’t seen it)
  • “Just Add Fun” by Rocklin (multiplication arrays)
  • Division books suggested but I haven’t looked at them yet:  “The Doorbell Rang” by Pat Hutchins; “One Hungry Cat” by Rocklin
  • For geometry:  “Grandfather Tang’s Story”, which many Waldorf homeschoolers use in second grade; “The Greedy Triangle” by Marilyn Burns; “The Josefina Quilt” by Eleanor Coerr; “The Keeping Quilt” by Patricia Polacco.
  • “13 Moons on a Turtle’s Back”; “The Twelve Months” picture book  by Krykorka; “An Amish Year” by Ammon: “Alice Yazzie’s Year” by Maher; “The Time Garden” by Edward Eager -Chapter book.
  • Measurement:  All the books by Robert Wells – “What’s Older Than A Giant Tortoise?”  “Is A Blue Whale the Biggest Thing There Is?” etc.
  • Large Numbers: “Can You Count To A Googol?” by Robert Wells

I also start looking for games to have on hand too – that could be another post!

Hopefully that gives you some idea of how to start with third grade math.  I would love to post some block examples and examples of practice by week in the future if that would be helpful to those of you planning.

Many blessings,
Carrie

 

 

 

The Cardinal Rules of Waldorf Homeschooling

I was thinking recently about what  would MOST help people new to Waldorf homeschooling or those struggling with burnout who need to re-center.  Sometimes we need this re-centering in February!

My personal “cardinal rules” of Waldorf homeschooling:

  1. Make LOVE the core of your homeschool.  This is always more important than any academic progress or Main Lesson or artistic focus.  This is the foundation of becoming and being human.
  2. Always work with not only your WHOLE child (physical body, life forces through rhythm, the feeling life and the spiritual life) but with the WHOLE family.  Homeschooling is about family.
  3. The homeschooling parent needs to feel stable in order to have successful lessons.  It is may be necessary to unschool, use a workbook, or do something else to get through a truly difficult or horrific season.  If you homeschool  long enough, I think it it will come out in the wash.  The homeschooling parent may need to work on his or her own baggage in order to bring this type of homeschooling successfully and it  may take time.
  4. Do what you can.  You cannot have a Waldorf School in your home.  Waldorf homeschooling follows in the traditions of the Waldorf School, but is not Waldorf School at home. It is Waldorf homeschooling; it is holistic homeschooling for all the human beings in the house!
  5. Celebrate the rhythm of the day, week, and year and hold on to it in a simple and sustainable way.  Celebrate the festivals, even with teens.  They will thank you later.
  6. Work from the local and innocent child in front of you to your home to your local area to your local state or province to your country to your region of the world to the world.  It will all come in time.  If you get nervous, look ahead to the later middle grades and the high school grades.  It is ALL there.
  7. Get a spiritual path for your family and KEEP it. Draw strength from it!
  8. Get out in nature every day and take time to camp, hike, swim, pick fruit, farm, be with animals, look at the woods or beach and wonder in awe together.
  9.  Remember goodness of the world –> beauty of the world –> truth in the world; gratitude  —> love —> duty (a love of the whole world with a desire to help humanity) as the most important things in the  basic seven year cycles of the child.
  10.  Keep striving to improve yourself and your interest in the world.  As your children grow,  you may feel more able to expand or practice art or develop other skills that will be used in your homeschooling adventures.

Many blessings and love tonight,
Carrie

Planning Waldorf Homeschooling Third Grade

On The Parenting Passageway Facebook page, I have posted a few microblogging type posts about planning third grade.  I am starting withplanning  third grade now as I will have two other (older) grades to plan, and third grade is not completely foreign to me as this will be my third time through it.

I started with planning our tentative start and stop dates and vacation dates, and then mapped each week out on a piece of paper so I know how many weeks we will have in August, and how many in September, etc. and noted where days off or festivals will be occurring.

Then, I pulled out my FREE resources and started looking through them to help me remember third grade.  Any free resources will do, and you don’t need a lot to plan!  I pulled out some free blocks from Marsha Johnson’s files (which are still accessible if you join waldorfhomeeducators@yahoogroups.com) and the East Africa training manual PDF on teaching third grade.

Next, I mapped out my blocks and jotted down any extra things that came to mind for each block.  This is like the brainstorming stage.  Here is what I have so far:

August- Practical Work/Occupations of Our Area (also, Math Review, Form Drawing, Poetry)

September  Farming and Gardening , Preserving (thinking about mass and volume) (cursive)

October- Housebuilding and Shelters (Native American stories, nature studies) (cursive)

November- Farmer Boy Math (time, four processes)  (cooking) ( cursive)

December-  Old Testament Creation (painting, grammar) (speech, acting, poetry) (cursive)

January- Language Arts Old Testament(Abram, Jospeh, possibly Moses) (modeling, drama, cooking)

February-  Linear Measurement, Mass (Noah’s Ark, animals)

March-  The Story of Joshua (or Moses or Elijah), writing

April-  Math/Money, Four Processes

May-   Textiles/Practical Projects in Garden

Now I am at the point where I want to see what I want to put in each block.  This is the part, of course, that takes the longest!  Sometimes what helps me is to figure out what will flow through each day of each block?  So I am thinking right now about a flow to our Warm-Up time and to our Math Review time.   Right now I am thinking our flow will be

  • Opening Verse
  • Song or Poetry or Speech Exercise
  • Jumping Rope Rhymes or Zoo Exercises
  • Rod Exercises or Beanbags
  • Rhythmical Walking to Verse
  • Hand-clapping or String Games
  • Math Review – (maybe work in with weather) (Still thinking)
  • Number of the Day
  • Addition and Subtraction Games and/or Multiplication/Division Games
  • Memorizing Math Facts
  • Mental Math
  • Opening Main Lesson Verse

Once you have a little template, it just becomes sort of filling things in with a progression.

As I am planning this little flow, I am thinking about progression of academic capacities and practice.  For example, once I have looked at a progression of math, I will also look at Language Arts skills that I know we will need to practice in blocks and in between blocks.  This is things like phonics, sight words, spelling words, readers and read-alouds.  The vocabulary words will come from the blocks.  I know some teachers are totally awesome and pull their spelling words from the block itself, but I have found it better for myself and my children if I use something a little more structured according to spelling words and let the vocabulary words be the organic language part from a block. That’s just me. I was an organic speller, but I have found two out of my three children needed much, much more instruction and progression than pulling out random words.

When this is done, I will plan the nitty gritty of each block by day – the review activities, the story and how I will present  it (I actually love using puppets in third grade!), the  artistic activities and yes, make sure that we are covering the academic capacities.   The blocks sort of balance each other, so I don’t make each block heavy with writing, for example.  That is why we have to look at the whole year.

Many folks get bogged down with Third Grade Old Testament stories; I don’t feel the need to tell every story in the Old Testament!  Some teachers use the Old Testament; some use Hebrew Legends.  I pick which stories I feel are most meaningful; for my son it will be a little about creation and going out into the world but more about the Patriarchs.  More on that later.

I will post more as I go; I think it will come together quite well and then I will get moving on Grade 8!

Blessings and love,
Carrie

The Art of Waldorf Homeschooling

No matter how many curriculums and resources you buy, at the end of the day, Waldorf homeschool teaching is an art.  There may be times when things will be more rote due to life – long-term illness, stress or other things may take over – but the best lessons for our children grow out of a centered, artistic space and reflect not only the journey of the archtypal human being, but the immediate geography  of our area and  the beautiful child in front of us.

If you are new to Waldorf, this seems incredibly daunting.  I have talked a lot with mothers who have never even seen Waldorf Education in person; only images from the web.  How does one bring this to life?

I think there are four  loose guidelines for the art of Waldorf homeschooling:

Know yourself.  Where is your spiritual work?  This is important in Waldorf Education because the teacher is the vehicle in which the curriculum lives, and the curriculum flows through the child in front of you.

Know your children.  What needs balancing?  What is unfolding?  What is interesting to them?

Know your place in the world.  Where are those tiny seasonal changes, what is the geography of your state, your province, your part of the world?

Know the curriculum of the Waldorf School.  No, you may not follow it exactly, and I often wonder if Steiner’s indications for homeschooling would look different than the school curriculum,  but I think the big iconic blocks that really reflect the archtypal development of the human being should not be missed. You may add things dependent upon where you are in the world, but I wouldn’t ever miss the great stories that make up the curriculum

Find your space in whatever way works for you in order to create.  In order to create off the curriculum, you have to actually read things ahead of time and digest them.  This can be daunting in the upper grades, but it is still a necessity.  Eighth grade is revolutions and modern history, for example.  That can be a lot to create off of!  But if you break it down into a reasonable flow, and even if you have to look at images around these events to get your creative juices going, the easier it is to get going. When my children were very small, I would set up an ironing board in our room with all the things to wet on wet watercolor paint so when I got out of bed, I could spend ten minutes painting with no set up time.  There are a million different ways to get this time in, and if you can start with small increments, even ten mintues a day  or half an hour a week and work up from there, you can do it.

Waldorf homeschooling is not for everyone due to this artistic creation and finding the time to do this.  It is hard to draw from an empty well, and some people stay centered better than others during time of stress.  Some people are dreamers, but never get around to the execution part.  Whatever is holding you back, I would urge you to tackle it.  I think not only do children deserve this beautiful education, but also we as adult human beings deserve to rememeber and find our own creativity for our own healthy becoming.

Many blessings and much love,
Carrie

Suggestions for Teaching Fourth Grade Norse Myths

Norse mythology was actually new to me when I came to homeschooling; I just didn’t remember there being as big a focus on those stories in school as the Greek Myths.  So, I felt a little behind the eight ball when I came into teaching fourth grade.  I also wondered about the connection between Norse mythology and the Waldorf School Curriculum because I never remembered reading about Norse myths in any of Steiner’s educational lectures, of which I had read the majority.  Yes, there is good mention in Mission for Folk Souls (Lecture 9) about the generalities, but not related to fourth grade.  I think my opinion is rather well-summed up in agreement with Waldorf Educator Stephen Sagarin and his blog post about Norse Myths here.

So, all that to say, Steiner talked about “ancient scenes” for fourth grade- which could include stories of Norse Mythology or something else entirely!   We usually cover stories and mythology of Ancient India, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, etc in fifth grade, but there are other types of ancient stories one could use in fourth grade!  In the Americas, one might consider the Popul Vuh, for example, or stories from the San, one of the most ancient groups still living today, or Japanese mythology or Celtic tales.  I also considered Icelandic tales and  such.  I think you have to really take the time to read the stories and see if they resonate with you and the child standing in front of you.

So, the first time I went through our Norse Mythology block I think it was a little more rote.  I hadn’t really penetrated the myths  well, other than they were interesting stories and people, and of course, many references to these stories in literature and movies in our North American culture.  The quick differences in personalities, the grey that lives in the black and white, the outrageousness of Loki, and yes, even the darkness of Ragnorakk seems to really fit with ten year olds and their development. However, if I lived in a different part of the world, quite frankly,  I don’t know as I would have picked Norse mythology.  Our family has Danish and Norweigian blood, so it also made sense for us to an extent as part of our own family culture.  It may not for other families, and I think that is okay!  Freedom in Waldorf Education is essential in bringing what is right for you and your family, so long as it is done in a developmental light.

The second time I went through Norse Mythology, I had a much better  grasp on it. I used D’Aulaire’s Book of Norse Myths just like the first time, but I didn’t try to bring all of the stories to life and instead picked the tales that I thought would really speak to my child.

For our main lesson books,  we ended up with the first time through main lesson book with the following in it: Copywork of a poem, a watercolor painting of Jutenheim, a watercolor painting of Muspelheim, The Nine Norse Worlds drawing, The Creation of the New world and man summary, Knot Drawing #1, drawing of the Three Norns, Knot Drawing #2, Picture and Summary of Odin, Summary of Loki and some of the other gods, Drawing and summary of Freya, watercolor painting of a jotun, drawing and summary of Odin and Sleipner, picture and story of Freya’s wonderful necklace, Summary and Painting of the Theft of Thor’s Hammer, copywork of poem about Thor, Summary of Thor and the Giant, Drawing and Summary The Death of Balder, Knot Drawing #3, Ragnorokk summary with knot border, A New World painting and drawing and a painting of Scandinavia.

The second time through  fourth grade main lesson from this block, (not as much writing):   Drawn Title Page with knot drawings, Drawing of Odin and poetry copywork, the three Norns and relation to grammar, four kinds of sentences, Drawing and Summary of Balder, Drawng and Summary of Sif, Drawng and Summary of Freya’s Wonderful Necklace, Drawing and Summary of the Death of Balder,  Drawing of Ragnarokk, 8 watercolor paintings.

Hope that helps some of you planning Norse Myths not to feel overwhelmed.  It can be a fun block, working in any amount of grammar and writing that your student needs.

Blessings and love,

Carrie