Personal Style Within the Structure of the Plans, Part 2

From Our House to Yours

Can you encourage personal style within the provided structure of Heart of Dakota’s plans?

You certainly can! In fact, as I shared last week, the opportunity for personal style is already part of Heart of Dakota’s plans. You may be wondering, then how are both included? Well, the daily plans provide specific guidelines for each school subject, which gives structure for each assignment. Structure might include which kind of oral narration to give, how many sentences to write, what headings to use, etc. So, needed parameters are given, but they need not squelch the creativity of personal style!

If you would like to see last week’s post (Part 1), click below:
Personal Style Within the Structure of the Plans, Part 1

How can students get creative with their personal style then?

Excellent question! Well, blessedly personal style is a natural part of a living books approach to homeschooling. Better yet, a living books approach to learning is already included in every Heart of Dakota guide! Narrations have structure, like which book to read, which pages to narrate upon, and which kind of narration to give. But, they also encourage personal style. Students can choose which parts to retell, what manner to retell them, and what connections they’ve made. This is the opposite of a textbook and workbook approach, which includes a more encyclopedia-like ‘facts only’ response. Similarly, the different assessments included in the structure of the plans are the opposite of ‘test and forget it’ assessments.

Do you have some examples of personal style being encouraged within the structure of the plans?

I sure do! I’m so glad you asked because this is what I wanted to share with you in my weekly check-in. Let’s chat about my son, Riley, this week, who is using World Geography this year. I’ll start with the Living Library one-sentence summary assignment. This assignment is harder than it seems! In fact, as Riley is my detailed narrator, trying to respond to his reading with a one-sentence summary is difficult. At the start of the guide, he chose the option to write 3 sentences on scratch paper first. Then, he took each of the most important parts from the 3 sentences and consolidated them into one sentence. Twenty-three units into the year, he no longer chooses to start with 3 sentences. In fact, he has become adept at writing a one-sentence summary with every part the guide asks him to include.

This assignment is the perfect follow-up to his Living Library reading. It does not ‘get between the child and the book,’ as Charlotte Mason would applaud. Keep in mind, this isn’t a required part of earning credit, but rather a way to earn extra credit. So, as a follow-up to the already extra reading of the Living Library, the assignment is kept appropriately short.

Living Library One-Sentence Summary Assignment
Heart of Dakota World Geography Living Library
World Geography Living Library One-Sentence Summary Assignment

Structure in the Plans:

•certain pages must be read
•a one sentence summary must be written
•the main character(s), the main action taken, any important conflict, the goal, and the setting must be included

Personal Style:

•option to write 3 sentences on scratch paper first
•chose what to include in summary
•chose to read aloud summary to me

A Few Things to Remember:

This is an extra credit option in the plans, so if the summary isn’t the exact sentence you would have written – in the name of personal style – let it be! However, structure demands the summary is limited to one sentence and includes the main character, a main action taken, a conflict, a goal and a setting.

World Geography Written Narration Assignment
World Geography Heart of Dakota Written Narration
World Geography Written Narration Assignment

Structure in the Plans:

•read assigned Mapping the World with Art pages
•needs to be 3-4 paragraphs long
•must be read aloud to try to catch any mistakes
•need to stick to the topic, support it with details, write in the author’s style, include a strong opening and closing
•must use the Written Narration Skills in the Appendix to edit

 

Personal Style:

•pick his own details to retell
•decide whether to write 3 or 4 paragraphs
•chose whether to write in print or in cursive
•pick his own way to open and close his narration

A Few Things to Remember:

This isn’t a quiz! So, if your student didn’t write what you’d have written – for the sake of personal style – let it be! However, structure demands reading, writing at least 3 paragraphs, reading it aloud, including noted parameters, and editing. If it’s not legible enough for the student to read aloud, that’s not ok either. This is just one more reason not to skip this step!

Geography Activities Assignment:
World Geography Heart of Dakota Activities
World Geography Activities Assignment

Structure in the Plans:

•need to watch DVD Scenic Cruises of the World
•must make bulleted list of important things to experience or see
•need to make lists for 3 provided topics

Personal Style:

•decide his own details to include in his bulleted lists
•pick whether to write list in phrases or in sentences
•decide whether to write in print or cursive
•chose to read his notes aloud to me

A Few Things to Remember:

This isn’t a composition assignment for English credit. It’s a response to a DVD viewing of geographical places being studied. So, if your student didn’t write complete sentences or certain facts – for personal style – let it be! However, structure demands the DVD is viewed and bulleted notes are written pertinent to each provided topic.

World Religion and Culture’s Assignment:
World Religion and Culture - Heart of Dakota
World Religion and Culture’s Assignment

Structure in the Plans:

•must read the assigned pages of the book
•need to answer each of the provided questions
•must answer the questions over multiple days as assigned

 

Personal Style:

•chose how much detail to include in his answers
•decide whether to write in phrases or in sentences
•chose whether to write in print or cursive
•pick to read his answers aloud to me (he orally shared his page numbers/quotes for #2)

A Few Things to Remember:

This isn’t a composition assignment for English credit. It’s a response to a DVD viewing of geographical places being studied. So, if your student didn’t write complete sentences or certain facts – for personal style – let it be! However, structure demands the DVD is viewed and bulleted notes are written pertinent to each provided topic.

Next week, I’ll share Part 3 of this series on personal style within the structure of the plans. That final post will be in regard to my son, Wyatt, who is completing U.S. History II this year. Hope you had a good week, ladies!

In Christ,
Julie

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Heart of Dakota

Personal Style Within the Structure of the Plans, Part 1

From Our House to Yours

Can you encourage personal style within the provided structure of Heart of Dakota’s plans?

Absolutely! In fact, the opportunity for personal style is naturally part of the plans already. How are both included, you may ask? Well, the daily plans provide specific guidelines for each school subject, which gives structure for each assignment. This type of structure might include how many sentences a written narration should be, what topics need to be narrated upon, which timeline entries need to be made, etc. Structure gives needed parameters, but it need not squelch the creativity of personal style!

How can students get creative with their personal style then?

Good question! Well, the good news is personal style is completely a natural part of a living books approach to learning, and a living books approach to learning is part of every Heart of Dakota guide. Narrations include structure in the plans, such as which books to narrate upon, which pages within that book to narrate upon, and which kind of narration to give. But, they also encourage personal style by letting each student choose what to retell, which parts to give more attention, and what connections are made. This is the opposite of a textbook/workbook approach, which include “just the facts ma’am.” Likewise, the varied assessments included in the structure of Heart of Dakota’s plans are the opposite of a worksheet, quizzes, and tests only plan for assessments, which include just one right answer.

Do you have some examples of personal style being encouraged within the structure of the plans?

Well, yes I do! Glad you asked because this is what I wanted to share with you this week in my weekly check-in! Let’s start with my son, Emmett, in Creation to Christ.

Timeline Entry Assignment
Creation to Christ Timeline Entry Assignment - Unit 23
Creation to Christ Timeline Entry Assignment – Unit 23

Structure in the Plans:

  • 3 timeline entries must be made
  • specific pictures must be drawn
  • captions must be written

Personal Style:

  • drew his own pictures
  • colored the pictures how he wanted
  • chose to write his labels in either cursive or print

 

 

A Few Things to Remember:

This isn’t a drawing assignment, so if the timeline pictures are not of art quality – in the name of personal style – let it be! However, structure demands the right 3 things are drawn labeled with the proper captions.

Geography Travel Log Assignment
Creation to Christ Geography Travel Log
Creation to Christ Geography Travel Log

Structure in the Plans:

Personal Style:

  • chose his own Travel Log template
  • decided on his own 3 topics to write about
  • chose his own picture to draw

A Few Things to Remember:

This isn’t a quiz, so if your student didn’t write a summary of what was learned – in the name of personal style – let it be! However, structure demands the 3 written topics and the 1 drawing must be pertinent to the geography reading.

Poetry Appreciation Assignment:
Creation to Christ Poetry Appreciation
Creation to Christ Poetry Appreciation

Structure in the Plans:

  • required to read the poem pausing at punctuation marks
  • write the given stanza
  • must follow the steps to watercolor paint

Personal Style:

  • chose his own way of doing the painting
  • decided on his own small picture to draw
  • chose where to place his index card

A Few Things to Remember:

This isn’t an art appreciation assignment (it’s a poetry appreciation assignment), so if your student didn’t paint a jaw-dropping picture – in the name of personal style – let it be! However, structure demands the steps for creating the painting and the steps for creating the card be followed. A ‘perfect’ model was not given for him to look at. This encourages the personal style as opposed to exactly duplicating someone else’s painting.

Part 2 – World Geography Next Week!

Next weekly check-in, I’ll share Part 2 of this series on personal style within the structure of the plans in regard to my son Riley, who is completing World Geography this year. Then, the following weekly check-in, I’ll share Part 3 of this series in regard to my son Wyatt, who is completing U.S. History II this year. For now, I’ll just sign off saying… Happy Homeschooling to all you lovely ladies!

In Christ,
Julie

PS – For those of you who like to use the app Bloglovin, we wanted to let you know that we have added our blog to this site.

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Heart of Dakota

Living Books Bring History to Life

From Our House to Yours

The “Living Library” set of books in USII brings history to life.

In USII, Wyatt has been reading I’ll Watch the Moon for his living library selection. This book is a page-turner that just cannot be put down! The characters have so much depth to them, and his favorite is a holocaust survivor who brings hope and peace to all who know him. There are some hard things to read in this book! But then life is hard sometimes, especially in the aftermath of the holocaust. He worked ahead and did multiple journal entries each day at the end of the book because he just had to know how it ended. I’ll Watch the Moon is a gem of a book that is a rare find – thank you Carrie for choosing so carefully! To read more  about the “Living Library” books in this guide click here.

US II - Detailed Highlighted Written Narration
US II – Detailed Highlighted Written Narration

In USII History, Wyatt has been learning about “I Like Ike,” the end of the Korean War, Billy Graham, and McCarthyism. He did a detailed high-lighted written narration about his reading from America: The Last Best Hope. Answering some wonderful critical thinking questions really got him thinking deeply about what he read. The critical thinking question “State Department Worker: What should you tell the Senate Foreign Relations Committee?” put him in the role of decision maker. Reading the actual outcome is always interesting as well!!!

Writing a good research paper in World Geography takes . . . research!

In World Geography, Riley wrote a persuasive essay for Essentials in Writing Grade 10. He researched and wrote about the dangers of chewing tobacco. We know some young adult men not much older than Riley that chew tobacco, and it really worries Riley. It would be wonderful for them to stop! His essay explains the dangers of chewing tobacco, and he did an excellent job researching it. I like that he can choose his own topics within the realm of the requirements of the assignment. This allows him to be personally invested in his essay right from the start!

World Geography - Notebooking
WG – Labeled picture of Davis’ invention of the backstaff

World Geography History has had Riley learning about Davis’ polar journeys, Hudson’s and Baffin’s Bay, and Raleigh’s Ed Dorado. He drew and labeled a picture of Davis’ invention of the backstaff, which allowed navigators to have more accurate latitude readings. An important quote from Davis was also copied in the notebook. Earlier he wrote a written narration about Martin Frobisher as well. He is truly loving learning about all of these brave explorers!

Watercolor paintings in Creation to Christ are a great connection to the poetry of Robert Frost.

In Creation to Christ, Emmett first learned about Alexander the Great conquering Persia and then moved on to learn about Alexander’s entire empire. He used strips of paper to make his own ancient map of the places he has been reading about. He also drew the famous horse Bucephalus. Timeline entries on the Peloponnesian War, Philip of Macedonia gaining control of Greece, and the Reign of Alexander the Great were added to his notebook as well. He researched Olympia, which was so fitting as the winter olympics are soon beginning here! Don’t you just love it when the Lord makes neat connections between HOD history and real life like this?!? Finally, he drew the famous Lighthouse of Alexandria.

Creation to Christ Watercolor Robert Frost
Watercolor of a sunset to go with Robert Frost poem “Acceptance”

One of his favorite activities this week was painting a lovely sunset to go with his Robert Frost poem “Acceptance.” He also enjoyed adding to his plant notebooking booklet. Researching and drawing the dead nettle plant, as well as copying a Bible verse beneath it, added another lovely entry to his growing plant book. Finally, we all enjoyed getting together at our house to watch the Superbowl!

What a terrific week! Hope you had a good homeschooling week too!!!

In Christ,
Julie

Valentine’s Day Fun – Why Do You “Heart” Heart of Dakota?

More Than a Charlotte Mason Moment

Valentine’s Day Fun – Why do you “heart” Heart of Dakota?

Happy Valentine’s Day to our fellow Heart of Dakota moms! We thought this would be fun to do, a kind of “count our blessings” for Valentine’s Day if you will. And who better to do this with than all of you?!? So here goes…

Why I “heart” Heart of Dakota…

1. I love Heart of Dakota because it helps me keep my priorities straight. A quality education is highly valued by our family, and to us that includes educating the heart as well as the mind. Heart of Dakota does both!

2. Our children use excellent living books every single day, but they use their Bibles every single day too. Providing a rich diet of literature that makes learning come alive is important in our homeschool. Heart of Dakota has chosen outstanding living books for virtually every area of learning. From history to science, from reading to devotions, our day is filled with books we love.

3. We have three sons, so another goal of ours is for our sons to be able to provide well for their own families someday, which means they need to be competitive when it comes to earning a salary. Heart of Dakota is giving our children an incredibly strong education that is preparing them well for their future.

4. Finally, we want to have a happy homeschooling environment, which means I need to be able to school in a timely fashion, in an enjoyable way, and in a manner that doesn’t require me to leave the home. Heart of Dakota’s guides are a treasure to me. They are truly open and go, and they help me organize my day in a balanced way that allows us to get the maximum benefit out of our homeschooling time together.

I still love what I do!

I’ve been teaching Heart of Dakota for 16 years, and I still love what I do. Charlotte Mason said education should be three things…

“Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.”

With Heart of Dakota, I have all three! What can be better that that?!? I can’t wait to read why you “heart” Heart of Dakota!

Love in Christ to all our favorite Heart of Dakota ladies this 2018 Valentine’s Day!!!

Julie

PS – If you wanted to stroll down memory lane, you may also want to check out this link to our Heart of Dakota message board where I posted this same question back in 2011.

 

Welcome to Our Blog!

Welcome to Our Blog!

In the past 20 years, we’ve had the pleasure of visiting with thousands of families at homeschool conventions, on the phone, on our message board, and through emails and Facebook. The question we are most often asked is, “What are you going to write next?” For years, the answer was “the next guide,” but now that Carrie has written guides that span PreK through 12th grade, the answer to that question is “this blog!”

So what is “this blog” you ask?

Well, it is an inspirational collection of stories, personal experiences, life lessons, and tips to help moms look at their homeschooling work and lives in a new light. These lessons come from our experience as teachers for 25 years each; from our journey as moms who have homeschooled with Heart of Dakota from preschool to high school; from our own struggles with health, budgets, laundry, cooking, and cleaning; and from the lives of women we’ve met in the past 20+ years of helping others.

Sunday’s Encouraging Word sets your heart upon the Lord with Scripture to refresh you as you prepare for your upcoming week of homeschooling.

Monday’s Charlotte Mason Moment introduces you to this great lady with her own words in quotes that are as significant today as they were 100 years ago.

Tuesday’s Dear Carrie letter shares real questions women have asked Carrie and her practical yet heartfelt answers.

Rotating Wednesday’s week one’s Library Builder spotlights our favorite Heart of Dakota living books and brings you monthly coupons to build your library with our Book Set of the Month. Week two’s More Than a Charlotte Mason Moment delves deeper into successfully implementing Charlotte Mason ideals in your Heart of Dakota day. Week three’s Pondering Placement showcases Heart of Dakota placement advice given to families just like you. Week four’s A Heart of Dakota Life gives inspiration for making the most of your homeschool journey with Heart of Dakota.

Thursday’s Teaching Tips gives practical ways to help your homeschool teaching be successful and your homeschooling days with Heart of Dakota be the best they can be.

Friday’s From Our House to Yours rewinds time and shares a blast from the past and tips from the present “from our house to yours.”

Saturday’s Heart of Dakota’s Tidbits introduces you to our family and shares some of the little known quirks and facts of our lives.

So, who is this blog for, you ask?

It’s for women who love their homeschooling but want to find more joy in it.
It’s for women who no longer love homeschooling but want to reclaim that joy.
It’s for women who are brand new to homeschooling and want to begin their journey well.
It’s for women who have been homeschooling for what feels like forever and want to end their journey well.
It’s for women who are overtired, overstressed, overworked, and underpaid.
It’s for women who love homeschooling so much, they want to inspire others to find their passion for it too.

And it’s for women like us, who once felt unsure about homeschooling, who made some missteps along the way, but who found a path that leads to a meaningful homeschool life filled with joy!

We believe there is a content, happy homeschool mom in us all!

Our job is to find her. We are writing this blog to help you find a Heart of Dakota homeschool life you love. Regardless of where you live, what size your house is, how many children you have, or what ‘crazy’ is happening in your life, you have the power to strengthen, impact, and change your own life, and the lives of your children.

Our hope is that each blog will help put a smile on your face in the morning, perk you up at lunch, settle you in at night, or just give your life a needed boost or a dash of glitter to make your homeschooling life shine.