Why You Should Continue With Copywork Once Dictation and Written Narrations Have Begun

Dear Carrie

What benefits do you see for children to continue copywork once dictation and written narrations are well underway?

Dear Carrie,

The reasons for continuing dictation, oral narration, and written narration through the middle and upper years make sense to me. I myself have seen fruit from these methods! I’ve been grateful for how much they have helped my children in the process of learning to write. Copywork also makes sense to me in the elementary years, and it helped my 3 oldest when they were learning to write. One thing I don’t understood though is the continuation of copywork beyond 5th grade. I have noticed copywork continues through high school. What benefits do you see for children to continue copywork once dictation and written narrations are well underway?

Sincerely,
“Please Help Me See the Benefits of Copywork for Olders”

Dear “Please Help Me See the Benefits of Copywork for Olders,”

This is an excellent question! Heading into upper levels of education, copywork begins taking on a new focus. As students copy from increasingly difficult narrative history books and classic literature, more in-depth elements are present. An author’s style, voice, word choice, descriptive language, use of humor, foreshadowing, mood, and important dialogue can be perceived. In essence, students are copying from great writers and beginning to internalize the author’s use of language.

Many of our founding fathers used this strategy.

This strategy was used by many of our founding fathers as part of their education and all through their lives. Benjamin Franklin was known for copying lengthy passages from the Bible and from Pilgrim’s Progress. He then later tried to write these verbatim, without looking at the model. Thomas Jefferson was also known to copy extensively from various works to internalize the material and note important phrasing.

Charlotte Mason advocated the practice of keeping a Common Place Book through high school.

High school students continue keeping a Common Place Book, selecting meaningful quotes or passages from classic literature for their book. Charlotte Mason advocated this practice throughout high school, and we feel it is an excellent use of students’ time. As students read, they watch for notable quotes or passages and select their favorites from among them. Finally, they copy them into their book for later reference, creating a ‘Common Place’ for their special quotes or passages.

Copywork of Scripture and poetry is especially beneficial.

Continuing copywork of Scripture is another area that is well worth the time spent copying. Within Heart of Dakota, students typically copy verses and passages that they have been asked to memorize. This makes the Scripture within their Common Place Books especially meaningful. Poetry is another area worthy of copywork. Poetry copywork reflects the structure of poems, the flow of words, the sentiments evoked, and the style of the poet.

Continuing copywork ensures students take note of excellent writing.

Copywork is such an overlooked skill especially as students begin doing more of their own writing. However, the inclusion of copywork in Heart of Dakota ensures students are continuing to take note of excellent writing. It keeps students watching how strong writers express themselves and thinking of ways they can imitate great writing. When students read and then copy from what they read, they remember better what was read. The quotes help the student recall the book to mind. So, there are many benefits to copywork all throughout life, no matter what age you are!

Blessings,
Carrie

Personal Style Within the Structure of the Plans, Part 3

From Our House to Yours

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

Without a doubt! As I shared last week, the opportunity to include creative personal style is already part of Heart of Dakota’s plans. So, how are both included then you may wonder? Well, the daily plans provide specific guidelines for each school subject, which gives structure for each assignment. Structure might include questions that must be answered, topics that must be addressed, key words that must be included, etc. So, specific parameters are given, but they need not take away the creativity of personal style!

How can students get creative with their personal style then?

Glad you asked! Personal style is included in a living books approach to homeschooling, and Heart of Dakota uses a living books approach. Narrations have structure, like which book to read, which pages to narrate upon, and which kind of narration to give. However, they still encourage personal style. Students can choose what to retell, how to retell it, and when to connect it to an author’s style. In contrast to Heart of Dakota’s living books approach, a textbook and workbook approach includes a more robotic response. Likewise, assessments in textbook and workbook approaches include one right answer only questions – not much personal style allowed there! Instead of this dry approach to learning, Heart of Dakota includes varied assessments within the daily structure of the plans.

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

Absolutely! This week, let’s chat about my son, Wyatt, who is using Heart of Dakota’s U.S. History II. I’ll start with the ‘Key Word’ Written Narration assignment. Wyatt is my ‘big picture’ narrator, so including key words in his oral narrations is something he does quite naturally. Writing 4-5 paragraphs in response to his America: The Last Best Hope II reading is something he does well now. But at the start, we worked together to learn the ins and outs of the structure of the plans. Underlining each required element of structure helped nothing to get missed.

Initially, I assigned points for each structure noted in the plans. For example, 10 points for choosing key words, 10 points for including key words in the writing, etc. I didn’t assign a grade for this as he was still learning how to follow the structure of the plans. But, if he received 40 out of 50 points, he could see where corrections needed to be made. A few months into the guide, this point system was no longer necessary. Spending time helping him learn the structure of each assessment set him free to add his own personal style! Once all the structured elements are included, personal style can then be added, and that’s when the fun begins!

Key Word Written Narration Assignment
US II: Key Word Written Narration Assignment
US II: Key Word Written Narration Assignment

Structure in the Plans:

•certain pages must be read
•a key word list must be made
•key words must be included in written narration
•written narration must be 4-5 paragraphs long
•key words used must be highlighted
•written narration must be read aloud
•narration must be edited using Written Narration Skills checklist

 

Personal Style:

•decide which key words to use
•chose own topics to narrate upon
•determin how to include key words such as names, dates, places, actions, and/or quotes
•pick to write in print or cursive
•chose to read aloud written narration to me

A Few Things to Remember:

Key words are to be chosen by the student. If the key words aren’t the words you’d have chosen – for personal style – let it be! However, structure demands key words are pertinent to the reading and included in the narration. Likewise, students need not be made to write in cursive. But, if the writing isn’t legible enough for the student to read it aloud, it must be fixed.

Living Library ‘Triple-Entry Journal’ Assignment
US II: Key Word Written Narration Assignment
US II: Living Library “Triple-Entry Journal” Assignment

Structure in the Plans:

•certain pages must be read
•meaningful passages or quotes should be flagged
•triple column entry format must be used
•1st column must include quote
•2nd column must include the context
•3rd column must include personal commentary

Personal Style:

•determine to use own quotes or passages
•pick own personal reaction to share in commentary
•decide to write quotes in cursive and context and commentary in print
•chose to read aloud triple-entry journal assignment to me

A Few Things to Remember:

This is an extra credit option in the plans. So, if the quotes chosen aren’t your favorite – in the name of personal style – let it be! However, structure demands the triple-entry journal format is followed. So if any portion of the assignment is missing, it must be completed to be called ‘done.’

Key Decisions in U.S. History II History Activities Assignment
USII: Key Decisions History Activities Assignment
USII: Key Decisions History Activities Assignment

Structure in the Plans:

•certain pages must be read
•specific question must be answered
•a decision from provided options must be chosen
•chosen decision must be supported and explained
•Key decision actually made in history must be read at end

Personal Style:

•determine which decision he would have made
•chose to support his chosen decision by explaining why he would have not chosen the other decisions
•decide the length of his explanation
•chose to read his decision aloud to me

A Few Things to Remember:

One of the decisions listed was actually the decision made in history. However, in the name of personal style, if the student chose a different decision, that’s absolutely fine! That’s the goal of this assignment, to show how decisions made in history are not always easy. Nor are the decisions made always right. However, structure demands one of the given decisions is chosen, explained, and supported.

British Literature Journal Assignment
USII: British Literature Journal Assignment
USII: British Literature Journal Assignment

Structure in the Plans:

•ponder the questions in the Introduction
•read and annotate given pages
•include given annotation
•must reflect in writing upon given questions in British literature journal
•need to  view Pride and Prejudice DVD

Personal Style:

•determine his own annotations to make
•chose how much detail to include in his answers in his journal
•decide whether to write in print or in cursive
•pick to read aloud his British literature journal assignment to me

A Few Things to Remember:

This isn’t a quiz! So, if your student didn’t make the annotations you would have – for personal style – let it be! However, structure demands annotations are made and questions are answered. If all of the questions are not answered in writing, the assignment isn’t ‘good enough’ until they are.

The past few weeks, I’ve shared assignments from Creation to Christ, World Geography, and U.S. History II. Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed seeing how the structure of Heart of Dakota’s plans still encourages personal style! I hope you can embrace not only the solid academics structure provides, but also the joy personal style can bring. Have a wonderful week, ladies!!!

If you would like to read the previous 2 posts in this series, here they are:

Personal Style Within the Structure of the Plans, Part 1

Personal Style Within the Structure of the Plans, Part 2

In Christ,
Julie

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Heart of Dakota

Are you encouraging your children to do the independent boxes of plans on their own?

Teaching Tip

This is the next post in our series of things to check if your school day seems too long. I know this can happen to any of us, and hopefully these tips may help!

Are you reading aloud material meant for the children to read on their own?

Are you taking over assignments from the Independent (I) boxes, reading aloud material meant for the child to read? If so, this will definitely add time to your day. It is no surprise that parents often want to keep reading aloud long past the point at which children can read well on their own. This can be because the material is so interesting that the parent doesn’t want to miss out! Other times the parent doesn’t want to lose special time spent reading with the child. Or, perhaps the child doesn’t want the added responsibility of reading his own material. Eventually, a point arrives at which your child will actually prefer reading his own material. Sometimes this is a natural progression, and sometimes children need nudging in this direction. But the progression toward children reading their own material is an important one.

There are many benefits to children reading their own school assignments.

Typically, kiddos can read to themselves much more quickly than you can read aloud to them. Also, students usually retain better when reading to themselves. Even if students’ first independent reading efforts are less than stellar, there is much to be gained from developing this important skill. Training children to read their own material is critical preparation for higher levels of reading, analysis, and application.

Learning to read purposefully is a skill that takes time to develop.

It can take time for children to learn to read purposefully. By high school, almost all students are asked to use this skill regularly. So, be sure to encourage your children to do any reading assigned in the ‘I’ boxes on their own. Then, don’t forget to check your children’s work in any ‘I’ boxes to be sure they have done it! At our house we trust, but verify!! Try training your children to read their own material and see what you think.

Here are some previous posts in this series that you may also want to consider:

Are you having your child work toward the suggested level of independence in Heart of Dakota?

Have a Written Routine and Provide it to Your Child

Are you training your older children to read from the guide?

Blessings,
Carrie

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Heart of Dakota

How to Teach Bigger Hearts for His Glory on a 4 Day Schedule

Dear Carrie

How would you suggest doing Bigger Hearts for His Glory on a 4 day schedule?

Dear Carrie,

I’m considering using Bigger Hearts for His Glory 4 days a week instead of 5 days a week. How would you suggest doing Bigger Hearts for His Glory on a 4 day schedule?

Sincerely,
“Four Days Only Please in Northwest MO”

Dear “Four Days Only Please in Northwest MO,”

As you ponder what will work best for your family, I want to share a few things for your consideration. Each guide is designed to have a daily workload that is appropriate for the skill level of your student. So, each day of plans is written with a careful balance in mind of visual, kinesthetic, and auditory assignments. Likewise, creative and more structured assignments are balanced within a school day. Also, activities on the left side intertwine together within a day of school to allow kiddos to make connections. Even some of the activities from the right side of the guide have planned connections such as this as well.

Shifting boxes around causes loss of intended balance and connections.

When you shift boxes around, you lose the carefully timed workload, balance of skills, and connections designed to happen effortlessly. To show you what I mean, I’ll share this example. Imagine that you are a classroom teacher in a Christian school. Each week you spend your entire weekend and many nights writing a week of plans for your class. You work to be sure that each activity has a special purpose in that particular day. Carefully you plan things from the history reading or the Bible or science that you desire your kiddos to connect. As you arrive on Monday, you learn of a two hour assembly being scheduled, taking place during your written plans. So, you begin shifting the plans, trying to keep what was really important together. You can do this fairly well because you wrote the plans. Now, later in the week there is a fire drill, and the plans shift again. Later in the week the guidance counselor stops in to talk about playground troubles, and more shifting occurs. By the week’s end, how well do you think those original lesson plans are functioning? How cohesive are they at this point? You sigh, and hope the next week will be better.

Shifting boxes around causes loss of the cohesiveness of following the 2-page spread of plans.

However, if you do this shifting every week with Heart of Dakota, you can quickly see what is lost! No longer can your kiddos just follow the two-page spread and know when the boxes are checked they are done. No longer do you view your school day that way either, as you are constantly squeezing more into less time. At that point, you are pretty much rewriting the plans in a way they were not designed to be taught. Moms who have shifted too many things in the plans are often on different days of plans in many areas. They share their days feel disjointed instead of cohesive, and their kiddos are completely confused as to where they are.

Homeschooling is a journey of many years rather than a race to the finish line.

I share this not to discourage you, but rather to encourage you with some wisdom I’ve gained through the years. As we homeschool our kiddos, we have to ask what it is we are racing to do? Why must we approach schooling in a way that has us cramming more into fewer days? Homeschooling is a journey that goes on for many years. It is not a race to the finish line, but rather it requires steady progress forward.

Give your family every chance to succeed with Bigger Hearts… by using it the way it was written.

So, you have a child in Bigger…, and you need a 4 day schedule? Why not just teach a day within in a day? On your day off, simply set the guide aside. Then, when you return to your school, pick the guide up where you left off and go forward. Once you get to Preparing Hearts… on up, you will switch to a 4 day plan anyway. So, why not give your family every chance to succeed with Bigger Hearts… by using it the way it was written? You always want to leave your kiddos begging for more in the early years, rather than leaving them (and you) barely getting done. Enjoy the younger years, when the school day isn’t so long, because it will get longer soon enough!

Blessings to you as you ponder,
Carrie

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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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