Tag Archives: science

Keeping Track while Making Tracks!

Umm Sprout and I have been discussing ways to keep track of Young Sprout’s homeschooling activities.

As yet it’s not of critical importance because kindergarten officially starts in British Columbia the year a child turns five, but keeping some account might bolster family confidence that we are presenting opportunities and making progress.

Once they reaches the “official” age, homeschooled children in BC have to be either registered as homeschooled or enrolled in a distributed/distance education program such as SIDES.  That final choice is still a ways away for Umm and Abu Sprout.  Plenty of time to research and make an informed decision.  Keeping records is a topic that comes up quite often in homeschooling blogs and FAQs.

I suggested perhaps keeping notes, however basic and short, in Googledocs, so they would always be accessible no matter which computer was used.  At times in the past I kept a two-side daily to do list, one side with things to do and the other side with things done.  In a stressful work environment where it was impossible to keep up with the things to do, this was a sanity saver!  This year I’m keeping a brief daily narrative in my sketchbook of creative things done, and most days I find I’m able to note something, perhaps a blog post, knitting or a sketch, even if I haven’t set hand to needle or foot to sewing machine pedal.

While researching something completely unrelated to homeschooling or fibre arts, I stumbled across this, California Content Standards for High School Earth Science.  Hey, wake up, yes, you!

  • Questions at the end of standards-based textbook readings and/or activities cited in the right-hand column after each standard/benchmark can be considered as potential standards based assessment questions for quarter “mid-terms” or semester “end-of-term” finals.·
  • YELLOW is used to draw attention to core instructional vocabulary.
  • BLUE is used to draw attention to instructional “experiences” that students should have.
  • GREEN is used to draw attention to expected student opportunities (some requiring the application student initiated metacognitive1 skills) based on state framework suggestions.
  • RED is used to draw attention to issues that might affect the scope and sequence of how the standard based material is presented.
  • PINK is used to draw attentions to items that can be used for “cross-curricular” integration of “Language Arts” standard-based items.
  • GRAY is used to draw attentions to items that can be used for “cross-curricular” integration of “Mathematics” standard-based items.
  • Notations like “Q 2” beside a standard or benchmark mean that the standard or benchmark in question will be covered during the 2nd Quarter. L means late in the quarter and E means early in the quarter.
  • The “Content Standard SummarySummary” and annotations after each standard and benchmark are from the California Science Framework (scroll through this document to the Middle School Physical Science Standards)
  • NE or *- Considered a Non-Essential Standard/Benchmark (Standards considered “essential” are those that are included in the state CST blueprint for a given subject area test)
  • “(13% – 8 items)” means that 13% or 8 questions on the HS Earth Sciences CSS CRT have been written using framework descriptions for this standard and its benchmarks (ES CST Blueprint, 2002).

The colours on the website are better, copying them made them into plain black text and my editor doesn’t allow highlighting, so that’s why yellow isn’t yellow.  I did my best!

Although reading this just makes me glad I’m not a high school earth science teacher, I have to admit I’m a sucker for any type of colour coding.  And it did just occur to me that this could have some possibilities for homeschooling.  Say you’re baking cookies, that could be PINK for reading the recipe and GRAY for the math of measuring and timing and BLUE for science if you add on an experiment to show how baking soda works with acid to make bubbles.  Leaving aside student initiated metacognitive1 skills, you get the picture, hopefully.

I’d love to hear from other homeschoolers — how have you tackled record keeping, and has your approach changed over time?

How much of that was due to state or provincial requirements, and how much was your own initiative?

If you believe in providing the minimum required to officials, do you keep more detailed records for your own information?

Do you track time spent on school activities, or just the areas covered?



Filed under organization, Portfolio

Real Arabic numbers

Although our Western system of numbers is sometimes called “Arabic numbers” to distinguish from Roman numerals, in the Arabic language the numbers are written like this.  In the picture the numbers from 1 through 6 are on top from right to left (the way Arabic is written) and 7 through 10 are on the bottom.  This is actually a repurposed ice cube tray and will be used for number games.

This idea was adapted from A Muslim Child is Born, whose thoughtful and informative posts have terrific ideas for everyone.


The Arabs brought the numbers from India and introduced the zero symbol, which was a huge advance in thinking, simplifying math and making arithmetic possible for everyone.  With Roman numerals anything more sophisticated than using them for counting or labeling must have been the province of the super smart.  Quick, what’s XX minus VII?  Why XIII of course!  Dr. Jim Al-Khalili explains it all much better than I can in Science & Islam, which you can watch here:

Currently I’m working on matching as pre-counting, particularly five because it’s useful to understand that everyone has the same number of fingers.  So whenever we read Curious George and the Dump Truck, we put a finger on each of the five ducklings.

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Filed under Math