Thursday, December 28, 2006

Academic Progress? Real-world Assessment

It's N.'s 13th birthday today!
N. is now starting his 14th trip around the sun and he is now responsible for his own sins--I am off the hook except as an advisor and Jewish Mother.
I, his mother, feel a lot better today than I did 13 years ago! It was a complicated pregnancy and they induced labor so it was a fast and hard ride! But I still remember the joy of greeting my newborn son.

I have been thinking that we have been so caught up in the Bar Mitzvah that we have not done "school" much lately. I was actually getting myself all worried that we are getting "behind." In this our first year of homeschooling, I am still learning to let go of the kind of school organization that one does teaching in an actual school. I think that transfering from the school world view to the homeschool world view may be harder on those of us who have formally taught in school.

So I sat down to write a list of what we have accomplished in the past three weeks:
  • checked off the response cards for the Kiddush Luncheon against our guest list
  • made hotel reservations for out-of-town guests
  • made a list and script for N. to call people whom we want to honor with Aliyah (being called to bless Torah) and other honors.
  • made arrangements to host a Shabbat dinner for our out-of-town guests at the hotel (picked menu, added prices, etc.)
  • perfected the chanting of N.'s Torah portion from the scroll (no vowels or cantillation marks are in the scroll)
  • read N.'s Torah portion for content and meaning
  • discussed N.'s portion with the rabbi in order to develop an outline for N.'s D'var Torah (THE SPEECH)
  • developed and fleshed out the outline for the D'var Torah (used the computer)
  • Used the outline to write the speech (used the computer)
  • edited for grammar, spelling, mechanics and content (used the computer)
  • began practicing making a speech--gestures, cadence, tone, transitions, etc.
  • began practicing chanting N.'s Haftarah
  • read N.'s Haftarah for content and meaning
  • researched current needs at the animal shelter (internet)
  • planned a charity drive to make "take-home" baskets for 12 people who adopt animals at the animal shelter

These activities meet standards in Reading and Language Arts, Foreign Language, Music, Art, Public Performance, Math,Social Studies, Organizational Skills, Computers and Technology, and Community Service Learning. Even better, they meet the criteria for bringing the world into N.'s studies--because all the preparation is for a real event in which N. has to lead a service, give a D'var Torah, do a community service project and plan. Yes, he is being assisted in all of these areas--we call this teaching! According to all the evidence from Gifted Education--the real-world component is the most important for actual learning of skills. The social component is also involved. N. has had to interact with people of all ages by phone and in person. He is practicing social skills important to collaboration with others to accomplish a goal, and social skills that involve anticipating the needs and comfort of guests, as well as appropriate manners for greeting his well-wishers. He is also learning to use formal language and how to conduct himself in a formal setting.

And I will not need any tests to measure N.'s progress. The successful completion of the Bar Mitzvah Ceremony, the Kiddush Luncheon, and the family Shabbat Dinner on Friday and the family Havdalah and Seudah Shlishi (3rd meal) on Saturday evening will demonstrate N.'s progress without any doubts. This is alternative assessment that schools can only dream about!

I worry too much!

By the way, N. had graciously granted me permission to post his speech--after the Bar Mitzvah. He does not want me to steal his thunder.

Nine days until the Bar Mitzvah! (Breath, Elie, breath)!

It's snowing--again!

1 comment:

Amie said...

Happy Birthday N! What a huge year. I can't wait to read his speech.