Tuesday, December 2, 2014

#1 One Room School House in 10 TRICKS OF THE TRADE when Teaching School with a crap ton of kids everywhere- lol:

   This is the first in a series about teaching school with lots kids, multiple ages and grades and little ones about. These 10 things would have revolutionized my life had I done all of them from the beginning.  Enjoy and hopefully they help you a bit too!

One room school house... what?

gathered in the living room for school
  My dear friend Laura and I (HI LAURA!!!!) were just discussing this topic the other day.  Both she and I have large families, with children the same ages.  We started off having babies together, schooling together and large families together.  We were discussing things we wish we had known "way back when" and "schooling multiple grades at one time" came up.

  In my home, we call that "One Room School House" teaching; from this point on ORSH.  This is much like it was back in the beginning days of public schools where a teacher would have 10-20 students of varying grades and had to teach them.  There was no way this teacher could teach all the grades separately and so there was much combining.  Its the same today in many a homeschool household.

  ORSH teaching is very simple and basic.  You teach the same material across the board but the application of what is being taught is different depending on ability (notice how I did not say "grade").  For instance:
science drawings
  Lets say, for the sake of conversation, you have 4 children in grades 8th, 6th, 4th and 2nd.  Your history lesson today is on the Painter, Michelangelo.  You present the content of the lesson.  Who he was, what time period, look at some paintings on line, etc.  Then during the application portion the 8th grader is too do further research and write a 2 page essay on who he was, his influence on the world and most famous works.  The 4th and 6th graders perhaps are working together.  They are going to also do some research and create an advertisement for  a showing of his art.  On their advertisement they need to include key information that states who he was and some of his paintings.  The second grader is going to do a coloring page of one of his works and dictate to you at least 3 things he remembers about the Artist and you will write them on the back of his paper.


learning about Pompeii
and building a volcano 

There are lots of  subjects that you can easily combine:

  • history
  • science
  • geography
  • bible study
  • health
  • PE
  In my home we combine History and Science into ORSH and then LA and Math are separate. There have been a few times where the youngest ones were just too squirrely to sit and so I let them go play.  Out of 180 days of school, if the k-2nd crowd misses say 7 days, I really do not think they will be educationally defunct for the rest of their lives.   

Sounds simple but, how do you actually make it work?
    Well, one thing that is key in making it work is choosing curriculum that it works with.  I have found that Queens Curriculum, Mystery of History, Story of the World, Apologia, Answers in Genesis, and Trail Guide to Learning to all be great ORSH applicable curriculum.  Some, like MOH and AIG, are written in ORSH style.  It has the story and then 3 different applications based on younger/middle/older students.  This makes it easy for me because I am not trying to figure stuff out.  My options are all laid out for me and I can pick!

making nosegays
    Another way it to pick curriculum that hits the medium grade you are teaching.  So like with Queens, if I was teaching science to the same above grades, 2nd/4th/6th/8th; I would pick a science book that hit about 5th-6th grade and all of them would do that booklet.  It does mean that sometimes I might be telling the 8th grader to do additional work to "beef up" her end or I might be telling the younger kids to skip an application or just color me a picture on the subject; "dumb down" for lack of a better phrase, applications for them.  This way might seem more complicated but it really is not, you just need to give yourself the freedom to add to or take away from the lesson plan without feeling like by doing so you will screw your kid up for life.
more volcano buddies
  Winging it with a mid range curric or even with something written as ORSH is actually very easy.  I have had no problems easily making things work with my favorite curriculum.  Often I will even wing the pre made lesson plans and do something totally different just because... well.... I can!

  Besides picking great curric,  combining several subjects together to teach across the board will greatly streamline your school day. We do about 2 hours of ORSH schooling a day and then there is another hour for me to teach one on one stuff with the k-3rd/4th crowd.  The older kids have anywhere from 2-4 hours of additional schooling each day depending on their grade and work load.  1 hour of that is math (which they do before breakfast between 7 and 8 in the morning) and the other hour is LA.  The additional time would be used doing science or history assignments that requires more work, or additional topics being covered that year.... in general, its kinda like homework time ;)

How does this work if you have much older kids and much younger kids?

  This is a wonderful good question!  I finally faced this problem last year when my oldest 3 homeschoolers were in 5th/7th/9th and my younger 4 were prek/prek/1st/3rd.  It was a pretty big gap between the youngers and the olders.
F15g is in the back ground doing her
 own science while
H13g is working on a
 group project (last year)
reading lesson ;)
  I still approached it from the perspective on what could I combine and then had to ask with whom.  This year and last year have both looked a little different.  Last year I combined everyone for history AND my oldest had an additional history book to read on her own (but not do assignments for).  We combined sci except for my oldest, she had her own.  This year I do one science with the the 4 youngest.  The middle kid has her own and the 2 older ones are doing one together.  The only one I teach is the younger group.  History is ORSH except the oldest, she has her own.  So on science days I gather my ORSH in the living room, the lone wolf goes to the dining room and the older girls gather their ORSH in the kitchen.  On history days it looks much the same.  Those who are ORSH'ing with me meet in the living room and those that are not do their history elsewhere.

You named many ORSH doable subjects, 
but you only do 2, why?

making posters
  Another good observation!  Some of bible is ORSH (for the younger kids) where as the older ones have their own.  PE is something that naturally happens in our house and my kids all swim throughout the week.  Geography I do not stress out about.  They get a generalization through history and then I assign geography work as additional work for older grades (more or less 8th +) using Queens geography books.  A good overview, done as an upper level students, as a one time thing, is more worth it to me than trying to fit in another subject with lower grades.  It just does not need to be that complicated.

 That concludes this blog post.   I hope you have enjoyed this overview on ORSH teaching!  Other topics to come in this series, in no particular order, are:

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