How to Choose the Best Homeschooling Curriculum

Choosing the Best Homeschool Curriculum.jpg

SPOILER ALERT:  I’m going to get personal and invite you to ask yourself some tough questions. Stay with me. I promise you'll be glad you did!

At a recent educator’s convention, I interacted with a parent and teacher who was searching for a Grammar and Writing curriculum.  I gently offered her some verbal information, a flyer about Shurley English, and gave her some space.  I observed her leaf through the pages of an older, black and white version of the curriculum with convincing focus.  Then, a confused look on her face invited me to initiate further conversation, so I asked her if she was looking for anything specific… “Grammar and Writing” was her response.  I assured her she was in the right place and began sharing with her the big picture of how Shurley English makes the Grammar-Writing Connection.  I let her know that our latest edition was in a digital format, she immediately said, “This isn’t for my son; I don’t want him on the computer because he gets too distracted,” and she bolted out of the booth.  A surge of questions rushed through my head as I was choking on the dust her trail left behind.  The question that lingered in my mind most was, “Is this curriculum not a good fit for YOU or YOUR CHILD?"

Learning styles are groups of common ways people learn.  We all have a mix of learning styles that may suit us, and some learners have a dominant style.  We utilize different styles based on the situation we are in, too.  We are able to develop our less dominant learning styles and further develop our preferred style.  This experience really nagged at me because the next question that popped up in my mind was, “I wonder if she even knows what type of learner her son is, and does she know what type of a learner she is?”  Whether you’re teaching one child or 30 children, knowing students’ preferred learning style is vital to being an effective teacher!  As a side-note, as an adult and life-long learner, life can be much simpler if you understand YOUR preferred style of learning.

Get familiar with these different styles of learning:

  1. Verbal
  2. Visual
  3. Auditory
  4. Kinesthetic
  5. Logical
  6. Social
  7. Solitary
Source Credit: https://bonniegillespie.com/is-your-learning-style-the-problem/

Source Credit: https://bonniegillespie.com/is-your-learning-style-the-problem/

Sadly, many schools and teachers still use more traditional teaching methods which equates to a limited range of teaching and learning techniques.  Sitting in individual desks (cubicles) and book-based teaching with lectures, reviews, and exams work for some learners, but not all, and many that don’t fit into that box have been labeled with behavior issues, learning disabilities, and even less intelligent.  Hmmm?  That would explain why I struggled in certain subject areas growing up, and why the field of Teaching was so appealing to me; I knew there were multiple ways to learn.  We are all different, so why would anyone think that there is just ONE way to learn? 

If you’re teaching Shurley English, I don’t have to tell you that our method of teaching and the strategies used are for ALL STUDENTS…Shurley students SEE IT, HEAR IT, SAY IT, & DO IT!  As for my convention experience, I respect the parent-teacher’s opinion and decision, but I can’t help but wonder, “What if her child doesn’t learn in the exact same way she does?  What if the child could be engaged in learning and not distracted while on the computer?”  Did this teacher fail to consider the topic of learning style and just miss a huge opportunity for her son/student to become a competent, confident communicator…for life? Being an effective educator is not just about reading from the teacher’s manual in each subject, it’s all about getting below the surface-know your child, know your students, and know the curriculum you teach!

Comment /Source

Kimberly Crady

Kimberly Crady is an adventurous woman with an immense love for life, learning, and teaching. After teaching in upper elementary classrooms for nearly 10 years, she joined the Shurley Team in 2005.  Kimberly has had the unique experience of teaching Shurley English lessons in all levels, Kindergarten-8th grade and training teachers across the United States.  Kimberly is a National Consultant and SEDA Teacher for Shurley Instructional Materials.

 

Kimberly’s passion for helping people and living a healthy lifestyle has led her to continue her education in the area of Health and Wellness.  She enjoys numerous outdoor activities from hiking and snowboarding in the Rocky Mountains to paddle boarding in the ocean; although, these days you can find her practicing hot yoga in a Bikram Yoga studio. She also enjoys traveling abroad, live music, reading, and spending time with her favorite mutt, Lu.  Kimberly’s experience as a Certified Health & Wellness Coach and Teen Life Coach helps support her firm belief in teaching the whole person, especially in the classroom.

 

What’s Your Teaching Style?

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I believe your STYLE matters when you teach Shurley English.  I’m not referring to fashion, but I am speaking of classroom management style. 

SPOILER ALERT:  I’m going to get personal and invite you to reflect on YOU and your style for a moment.

What type of environment have you created in your classroom this year? 

Imagine a classroom where students ask what time they will be working on Jingles; a boy with ADHD raising his hand to lead the Question & Answer Flow; 26 smelly pre-teens, above to below average, crowded around their teacher fully engaged in learning about compound and complex sentences; and a female on the Spectrum writing her VIP letter to a classmate.

Now envision a classroom full of children sitting quietly like robots in perfectly set rows reciting Jingles led by their monotone teacher; active in verbally analyzing the role of each word in a sentence; and quietly working on a pre-writing map and rough draft for a writing assignment.

Which scenario is more like YOU?

Are YOU and YOUR STUDENTS willing to take risks, make mistakes, and ask questions or are you more rigid and business-like?  I’m not saying that either one is the best way, but I have experienced both in teaching Shurley English and both can be effective. 

In my own teaching, I found these pieces to work best for me and my students when trying to successfully manage the Shurley puzzle.   

  • Energy/Enthusiasm                                                
  • Pacing                                   
  • Non-verbal cues
  • Immediate Positive Feedback
  • Being Human

My 5th graders loved our Shurley block and they worked hard at it, I believe, because of the way I chose to manage our classroom; WE CHOSE TO HAVE FUN LEARNING!

 

I invite you to pay close attention to YOUR…

Energy/Enthusiasm-Does your attitude toward the curriculum or even life come across as positive or negative?  Either way, your students sense it, feel it, and see it in your instructional delivery. I’m not saying you have to put on a performance, just a lift of the eyebrows and a smile. Your students will model you!

Pacing - There is a sweet-spot in pacing your instruction. If you teach too fast, you’ll lose your average to below average learners; if you teach too slowly, you’ll lose your above average learners. Remember, the repetition of the curriculum will lead to mastery! 

Non-verbal cues- There are ways to use appropriate non-verbal cues to ask a specific person to adjust their volume during the Q&A Flow without stopping your instruction. The disruptive student knows you are speaking to him/her when your laser beam eyes are fixed in his/her direction.  It IS possible to continue teaching the Q&A Flow and deal with minor disruptions. 

Feedback-There’s ALWAYS time to give immediate, positive feedback, “Good Job!” or “Nicely Done!” during your instruction-even during the Q&A Flow.  Make this a habit, and don’t forget to celebrate everyone’s “Wins,” including YOURS!

Being Human-Our bodies were not meant to sit still all of the time; kids and adults fidget, so get your students up and allow them to move.  Get your kiddos moving during Jingle Time by adding hand and body motions to the jingles; invite your students to stand or sit on the floor during the Q&A Flow as long they’re focused; encourage group work and discussion around content topics and writing.  Remind them it’s ok to make mistakes; let them see you make a mistake every once in a while.

 

I’m not asking you to put yourself in a “box,” I’m encouraging you to add Shurley English to your five star teaching style, so whatever style you choose, with solid classroom management, anything is possible!

Comment /Source

Kimberly Crady

Kimberly Crady is an adventurous woman with an immense love for life, learning, and teaching. After teaching in upper elementary classrooms for nearly 10 years, she joined the Shurley Team in 2005.  Kimberly has had the unique experience of teaching Shurley English lessons in all levels, Kindergarten-8th grade and training teachers across the United States.  Kimberly is a National Consultant and SEDA Teacher for Shurley Instructional Materials.

 

Kimberly’s passion for helping people and living a healthy lifestyle has led her to continue her education in the area of Health and Wellness.  She enjoys numerous outdoor activities from hiking and snowboarding in the Rocky Mountains to paddle boarding in the ocean; although, these days you can find her practicing hot yoga in a Bikram Yoga studio. She also enjoys traveling abroad, live music, reading, and spending time with her favorite mutt, Lu.  Kimberly’s experience as a Certified Health & Wellness Coach and Teen Life Coach helps support her firm belief in teaching the whole person, especially in the classroom.

 

Resolutions vs. Goals: Let's discuss!

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During the first few days of January, many people across the globe participate in the age-old tradition of writing a New Year’s Resolution.  The custom of making a promise to do something differently to improve one’s life (mind, body, & soul) in the coming year has been going on since ancient times. 

Writing a New Year’s Resolution is not the same thing as coming up with a goal for the New Year. Goals require hope and futuristic thinking, while resolutions require reflection, awareness, and a call for change to achieve a more positive future.

The reflection process involves serious thought or consideration to what has gone well during the previous year versus what hasn’t gone so well.  The opportunity generates awareness of both positive and negative behaviors.  Since behavior modification for self-improvement is the goal, a New Year’s Resolution usually centers on the negative behavior in order to launch a call for change

Negative behaviors stand in the way of personal excellence.  Making a New Year’s Resolution can be a positive way to ditch bad behaviors and replace them with good ones. The idea is that by looking at the past, we can better understand the present and make a future plan for a better life.

Research indicates that people who make a New Year’s Resolution are 10 times more likely to change their behavior than those who never commit.  That’s a good reason to participate in writing a New Year’s Resolution this year.  So, I’ll leave you with this question:  What’s your New Year’s Resolution?

Comment /Source

Jamie Geneva

Jamie Geneva is the Senior National Consultant at Shurley Instructional Materials and is a seasoned subject matter expert in the realm of English Language Arts.  Her career with the company began during the days of the Shurley Method binder, which was pre-1st Edition, and has spanned across three decades.  Over the years, her various roles have included teacher, presenter, state representative, consultant, manager, and most recently, a Shurley English Digital Assistant.  You might not recognize her face, but her voice could certainly sound familar.  That’s because she’s recorded Jingles, Q&A Flow Sentences, and other Shurley English content for many, many years. 

Jamie and her husband, Garret, live in the foothills of eastern Oklahoma. She loves spending quality time with her family, traveling, reading, cooking, and staying connected on social media.

Ms. Geneva received her B.S. degree in Elementary Education and her M.Ed in Public School Administration from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, OK.