Monday, June 24, 2013

Learning Not Measured by Paper

"What if there is no paper trail to our learning? What do I write on my log? How do I show progress?" This is a great, three-prong question, one I have been asked for years.

According to statute in our state (in regards to our portfolio of records- click on link for more details regarding other portions of the statute):

(b) The parent shall maintain a portfolio of records and materials. The portfolio shall consist of the following:
1. A log of educational activities that is made contemporaneously with the instruction and that designates by title any reading materials used.
2. Samples of any writings, worksheets, workbooks, or creative materials used or developed by the student.

This parent understood what records she was required to keep according to statute and she knew educational progress was being made. As she and her children played Pizza Fraction Fun, one child figured out two halves made a whole pizza. Another discovered two quarters was equal to one half. But how would she log the learning?

The activity was the playing of the game and the game was the "material used". The mom could simply write "Pizza Fraction Fun game" (in the math column if her log is broken down as such) or just write "Pizza Fraction Fun game" under the date of the week it occurred. Her children could draw picture representations of the fractions they learned or which fraction combinations could be created (adding fractions) to make a whole pizza (drawing a visual representation is an essential part of expressing math).  Photographs could be taken as the "samples" or "creative materials" if the mom wanted to include so in her portfolio of work samples. These are only suggestions of ways the learning could be noted. There are others, I am sure.

Another parent, a parent of a high schooler, inquired:

"We spent two hours researching bank accounts for high schoolers. We compared what banks offered, discussed minimum balance, ATM draws, debit cards, and interest. I know we learned valuable information, but how do I log what we learned."

Parents have many options. There are no specific ways regarded to log. A simple sentence could be written. If notes are kept during the research, those could be added to the portfolio. The major points of discussion (bank account discussion- minimum balance, ATM draws, debit cards, and interest) could be noted under an appropriate course- life skills, personal finance. A photo of the teen holding her first deposit slip. Something that denotes the discussion taking place. Remember, if the high schooler had to explain what they learned, they would be able (due to the intrinsic nature of the lesson) to recount what was discussed and subsequent actions taken, if there were any.

Logs and samples, and how those items contribute to progress, will vary from family to family. Embrace what you are learning alongside your children. When learning cannot be measured in paper, be creative (but honest!) Tape the parts you dissected from a flower to construction paper. Photocopy a handwritten letter to grandma to show composition, grammar, spelling, and handwriting abilities. Take a picture of the geography puzzle siblings worked together to solve. Ask your children how they could document what they learned. They sometimes have amazing ideas, perhaps recounting something you did not realize they learned. Do not limit learning to only those activities which can be measured in paper. So much more learning potential awaits our children.

*This blog post is not intended to be legal counsel. As home educators, parents hold the responsibility as to the education of their children.

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