Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Assigned Reading How To

Last year I assigned Makenna several books to read that went along with our History curriculum. 

Well, maybe I should explain that a little bit (even though Steve tells me I tell too much background, I  know that's not true, nope).  I'm a fan of making our way through history chronologically (crazy, I know).  Over the course of four years we cover many major events throughout the course of history starting with the nomads and continuing through today.

To go along with the curriculum, I assign books to deepen understanding and bring the time of life more, well, to life.  I assign books written by authors who lived during the time period (if there were any), biographies of important people (rulers, scientists, artists...), and historical fiction about important events. 

Okay, background over (for the moment, no promises), last year I assigned Makenna books to read and then she didn't read them all.


We also didn't talk about them.  Not really. 

I wasn't sure what to do and I didn't really look into it.

I'm trying to remedy that this year and I thought I'd tell you what I've figured out.

First, I made a schedule that divides all the books up into one week assignments over the entire year.  All they have to do is stay on track and they'll be able to get them finished throughout the year.

Makenna's list is much shorter partly because a few of hers are much bigger and partly because she also has books assigned through her history curriculum.

And, just in case you took a minute to look very closely at Makenna's page numbers I just wanted to reassure you that her books aren't actually that long.  Those are not page numbers (yes, it does say page numbers), they are position numbers for our Kindle.  

The biggest reason Makenna didn't finish her books last year was because there wasn't a "due date" or assigned finish time for any of the books and, well, she didn't finish them all.  Hopefully, the lists will fix that this year.

The second part to our book assignments that didn't work out quite so well was the discussing or reviewing of the books after they were read.  I wasn't quite sure what to do and I instituted one of my tried and tested methods to deal with it.

I procrastinated.  A lot.

I didn't say it was a good method, just that it was one.

After thinking about the things I'd want them to tell me about, I decided that as they finish their books I want them to do a semi-summary.  I also wanted it to be a form where they can fill in the blanks so I can have them printed and waiting for when any books are finished.

This is what I ended up with.  I might adjust, switch out or change some of the questions as the year progresses, but I'm happy with how it is to start out with.

I've always had a desire to read outside my comfort zone and to become more familiar with some of the classics (or familiar at all), so during the summer I read through parts of The Well Educated Mind by Susan Wise Bauer.  I was very impressed with some of her guidelines for not just reading, but for studying and understanding what you're reading.

As I was making Makenna's reading list out before the school year got under way, I knew I wanted to encorporate some of Susan's ideas into Makenna's reading experience. 

I'm not going to have her go through this for every book she reads, just a few of them.  Keep in mind, this list of instructions and questions are untried in real life.  We'll go through her first book, see how it works and probably adjust parts of it.  Most likely.

But, we now have a starting point.  Which I'm really excited about.

If you'd like a copy of my Book Summary or Reading Instructions, click on the links in this sentence.

How do you study and review the books you read?

Happy Reading,

1 comment:

  1. I have been trying to figure out the best way to get history into my day and this post helped me figure it out!! My currently homeschooled kids are all good readers now and I have still been reading our history lessons to them (!). Having them read the books on their own and then do a short "report" on the books is a TERRIFIC idea! I would have to give them a due date, otherwise I probably wouldn't hold them accountable, but other than that, the work on my end is minimal. You are a genius! :) I downloaded your documents and like you said for yourself, I'll tweak them if I need to, but I think you've got a great starting point here! Thank you for sharing and simplifying history for me.


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