Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Fifth Grade Benchmarks, part 2

Benchmarks, part 2

Have you looked at the bench marks for 5th grade? They are filled with statements that seem broad and generalized. Here is an example: Your fifth grader should be generally truthful and dependable.

Which part of that are you to focus on? Generally truthful? What does that mean? Or are you supposed to concentrate on the “dependable” part? And wouldn’t those two things be relative, depending on how truthful and dependable your child was as a fourth grader? Are we measuring improvement? This one seems all touchy-feely to me. Here is another one, “Enjoys classifying and organizing objects and ideas.”

What?! Does this mean my fifth grader should enjoy organizing her toys? My child is what some might consider a chaotic child. She doesn’t like anything to be organized. She equates organized with structured. Structured makes her dig in her heels and balk like a stubborn mule. Apparently, we will not be fulfilling that benchmark in fifth grade, or maybe ever.

I am not new to homeschooling , as I have been providing home education to my children since the middle of first grade, we are now in fifth grade. I look at the bench marks for each year, and find that they are just inadequate to tell me what my child needs to know, or how much my child needs to know. I understand that there are many ways to measure whether my child is being successfully home educated, and that those ways include standardized testing. I am unwilling to use standardized testing as a sole means of knowing whether my child knows “enough”. There are so many things that my fifth grader needs to know that can’t be measured on a bubble test. Over the next weeks and months, I hope to give you a picture of what those benchmarks mean to us, and how we use them and other measures to try to ensure that my fifth grader is up to par. I don’t claim to be the authority on this, but I hope that by sharing what we do and comparing to others, we can figure out if we are having a successful fifth grade year. I hope to be sharing other things that relate to our curriculum in general, and to the scope and sequence listed for fifth grade. So far this year has been different than the previous years. Won’t you join me on this journey?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Fifth Grade Benchmarks, part 1

Benchmarks, part 1

Ok, so you child is going to be or already is a fifth grader. Congratulations! If you have your child in public or private school, this year may not seem much different than any other. Part of the reason for that is that the curriculum is already dictated for you child. And that’s a good thing. However, if you are homeschooling, then the fifth grade year takes on added importance. Why is that you ask? Well, fifth grade is one of those years. It is a year of transition. Your child is hitting those tween years, becoming more independent, and education is becoming more in depth. Because of these changes you might find that the homeschool curriculum that has worked for you up to this point is no longer as effective as it was, or is not fulfilling the needs of your child. This year is one where there are new concepts being learned, but also concepts that are being covered again, in new and more concentrated forms. You may have breathed a sigh of relief when your child learned to divide. By the end of fifth grade she will be expected to use long division, using larger numbers and dividing by larger numbers and applying this to real world math problems. See, it is still division, but it is not really a review.

If you look at the benchmarks for 5th grade as a measure of whether your child is getting what he or she needs in terms of education, you might find that you are left bewildered. Have you ever looked at the bench marks for 5th grade?