From Our House to Yours
Checking Middle School Work in a Quick, Efficient Way
Emmett, my 12-year-old seventh grader, is using Heart of Dakota‘s Revival to Revolution curriculum this school year. He is in Unit 18 now, which is halfway through the guide. By now, we have really hit our stride in checking his work in a quick and efficient way. As more boxes of plans become “I” independent, we as homeschool moms still need to check to make sure the work is complete. However, checking work need not take forever! A homeschool mom I helped on the phone asked this very question. After I’d shared some ways I correct Emmett’s “I” independent work, she told me this would be a great blog post for me to write. What a good idea! Here goes!
First Teaching Block: Efficiently Checking Bible Quiet Time and State Study/Research
I find I can check work quickly and efficiently during my teaching blocks of time. By my first teaching time, Emmett has completed his independent Bible Quiet Time and State Study boxes. To check Bible Quiet Time I correct his Hidden Treasures, circling incorrect answers, underlining any misspelled words, and writing their correct spelling in the margin. I do the same with his Common Place Book, when it is assigned. He makes any needed changes, and I make sure they are fixed. Next, I ask him if he prayed using his Prayer Starters and if he practiced his Scripture verses. (Simply asking makes him accountable.) On Day 4, he says his verses for me with the Bible open between us (so I can see it and he can refer to it if he gets stuck).
Next, I check his State Study, which is super easy. Using the answer key, I circle any incorrect answers. I don’t write the correct answers in the margin for him. Instead, he uses his State Study resource to fix them. One day a week he does Research instead of State Study. To check his Research, I have him read aloud his bulleted notes on the back of his signer cards. (I find he writes more neatly knowing he will be reading aloud his answers to me.) I then underline any misspelled words or misinformation; he can usually fix them on his own. (If he can’t, I have him look at The Signers book for help or jot the correct spelling on a sticky note or markerboard for him.) And just that quick, two “I” boxes are corrected efficiently already!
Second Teaching Block: Efficiently Checking Reading About History and Independent History Study
By my second teaching block, Emmett has completed Reading About History and Independent History Study. For Reading About History, assignments rotate. To efficiently check his written narration, I have him read it aloud to me. I either use the sticky note method or the markerboard method to edit it. He makes any corrections right away. If it is an oral narration day, I listen to his narration using Appendix guidelines. On the period artwork day, I underline any capitalization/spelling mistakes in his caption in his notebook. As the caption is copywork from his guide, I have him use his guide to fix any errors. Then, I ask him the questions from the guide. For the U.S History Atlas/globe assignment, I ask him the questions in the guide. Or, if we are short on time, I might just ask him if he did it. (Simply asking makes him accountable.)
For the Independent History Study box, assignments rotate. For copywork, I underline misspelled words and have him look up the spelling in the resource he copied from to fix it. Or, if it is a drawing/coloring day, I make sure he did what was assigned. (Note: This is not an art assignment. It is a response to history. So, if you have a less than perfect artist, as long as he/she did the work as neatly as possible and it is complete, that is ‘good enough!’) If it is an audio day or a ‘read the timeline’ day, I ask him to share a few of his favorite or most interesting things he heard or read. Or, if we are short on time, I might just ask him if he listened to his audio or read his timeline. (Simply asking makes him accountable.)
Third Teaching Block: Efficiently Checking Rotating History and Storytime
The rotating history box includes four different assignments. To efficiently check the Timeline, I make sure he drew and colored each entry. I also underline misspelled words and mark missing capitalization or punctuation. Emmett uses his guide to fix any errors. For Poetry, I ask if he read his poem. Then, I check his copywork of the poem. I underline/mark any spelling or capitalization/punctuation errors. Emmett uses the poem in his guide to fix any errors. For Geography, I use the teacher’s answer map to correct his student map. I ask any questions in the guide about the map or the atlas. For Worthy Words, I ask if Emmett read it. Then, I ask the follow-up questions in the guide. For Storytime, I still enjoy reading aloud to Emmett. So, after reading it, I ask the questions or listen to the narration. Two more boxes quickly and efficiently checked!
Fourth Teaching Block: Efficiently Checking Science Exploration and Inventor Study
Science Exploration Education has an answer key, so I just use the key to correct the Logbook. I circle any wrong answers, and Emmett fixes them. If I am not there to see the experiment, Emmett takes a few pictures of it and texts them to me. To check the Inventor Study, I ask if he read the assigned book. Then, I check his Inventor Student Notebook. I underline any misspelled words and mark any capitalization/punctuation errors. He uses his book/guide to fix them. If it is an oral narration day, I either listen to his oral narration or have him record it and text it to me. If it is a ‘review the timeline’ day, I ask him to share a few interesting things he remembers. And just that easy, voila! The last two “I” boxes are quickly and efficiently checked!
In closing, I find it important I check each “I” independent box somehow. If I don’t, their work suffers. Either they start omitting things, or they don’t do their work as well. I find simply asking if they read the assigned pages helps with accountability. When asked, it is difficult for students to say they read the pages when they didn’t. They would actually then be lying, and they don’t want to do that. Likewise, checking the written “I” independent work for errors helps students learn to write more carefully. Fixing marked errors in copywork by using the book/guide helps them learn to to be more accurate. Students realize they might as well take care to copy things right the first time this way, rather than copy them wrong and have to redo it. I hope these few simple tips can help with checking independent work quickly and efficiently!