The New Hampshire Homeschooling Coalition News May/June 2011 Volume XXII Number 5

Coordinator’s Report, May 2011

At the March 19 meeting, the Coalition board voted to send complimentary copies of our newsletter to all members of the Home Education Advisory Council. The board members hope that the newsletter will be another source of helpful homeschooling information for council members. The board also nominated Dennis Wyman for another term on the council. Dennis has been serving on the council since September 1990. Dennis, many thanks to you and your family for the time and energy you have invested in helping New Hampshire homeschoolers. Last, but not least, the board voted to conduct our annual balloting online as a cost-cutting measure. I hope each of you will take the time to vote in the upcoming election.
Approximately ninety-five people attended our annual spring workshop held on April 9 at the Nackey Loeb School of Communications in Manchester. Our experienced panelists did a wonderful job of sharing their homeschooling experiences and insights. Every year I leave our spring workshop feeling refreshed and energized from the things I’ve learned from fellow homeschoolers.
This is my last report as the Coalition coordinator. It’s been my privilege to work with some exceptionally talented people on the Coalition board and I treasure the things they have taught me. Thank you to each of you for your willingness to serve others in your own communities and beyond.
The next Coalition board meeting will be on Saturday, June 11, at 9:00 a.m. in the Elkins Library in Canterbury. All of our meetings are open to the public and visitors are always welcome.
Respectfully submitted, Jane Grady

We Asked Homeschoolers

Can you offer some tips on how to put together a portfolio for an end-of-year evaluation?

The following four people, in addition to being homeschoolers, have been doing portfolio evaluations for many years, and generously responded when I asked for their suggestions. I edited their answers slightly, but deliberately left in many of the reiterated points.

from Cindy Truman
Before contacting an evaluator, each parent should be aware of the requirements of the law and also those things that are not required. According to N.H. law Ed 315.07, the written evaluation shall include the following:
1. The name and address of the teacher, including state recognized documentation of certification or the name and address of the nonpublic school in which the teacher is currently teaching;
2. The date(s) on which the evaluation(s) took place;
3. A description of the work reviewed including quantitative data if available;
4. A summary of the child's educational progress in the home education program as presented in the notification, concluding with a statement that the child has or has not made educational progress; and
5. The signatures of the teacher and the parent.

A large three-ring binder can hold all the progress for a year of homeschooling that an evaluator needs to see. It’s helpful to have dividers for each subject and include your letter of notification and a list of resources you used all year - books, workbooks, videos. You may want to write a summary of the year with specific information about each child and the the highs and lows you encountered along the way. I appreciate it when parents have a copy of this for me - it saves me from having to write down quite so many notes during the interview as much of the information I need is there.

You can get very creative and include photographs, newspaper clippings, certificates, and brochures from field trips and other highlights of the year. Some families just slip samples of work in file folders or layered in a box along with their workbooks.

All work should be dated and generally in chronological order. The evaluator has to see evidence of growth and can only see this by comparing work from earlier in the year to present. Be sure to have rough drafts of writing along with final copies. Include things that were difficult and problematic along with the successes. This then becomes a truer record and shows real growth.

Younger students often don’t have as much of a paper trail as older children. Parents can talk about their program and the learning that has taken place but should still have things in writing to share - lists of family read-aloud books and independent reading, subjects studied, and materials used.

Parents can sometimes feel discouraged about how much learning has taken place during the year. Putting together a portfolio can help - it is good to start writing down some of the things you did - often the act of writing them down helps us think of more of them. And it usually becomes apparent that we did more than we at first thought. A good evaluator can encourage a hesitant and discouraged parent to find the pearls in perhaps a challenging year, but you may be able to encourage yourself through the putting together of this end-of-year record.

Take the time to put together a portfolio and be diligent in your search for an evaluator who shares a philosophy with you. This can be a very satisfying end to a year of homeschooling and help you feel ready to enjoy a sumer break before you do it all again!

from Wendy Bisbee
It is easier to keep things for a portfolio as you go throughout the year rather than trying to pull things together at the end. Have a box set aside to collect things like ticket stubs, pictures of projects, awards, book lists, brochures or flyers from places you visited, and assignments. Have a plan for a portfolio that is simple enough that the students themselves can keep it updated and add to it throughout the year. Older students, especially, can take on the responsibility of keeping their portfolio throughout the year.

One assignment per subject per month is usually adequate documentation; date each assignment. Often it is helpful to include any tables of contents of books you may have used to show the topics covered throughout the year. Pictures are a great way to document field trips, student activities, science experiments, art projects completed, etc. that otherwise may be difficult to document in a portfolio.

If you prefer more eclectic studies, unit studies, or an unschooling approach, consider including a summary of topics that were studied as part of your student’s work. The student himself can write this as part of any project or unit he completes, summarizing what he has accomplished and learned. This has two benefits: it helps to show progress in learning and also demonstrates the student’s growth in writing throughout the year. This writing assignment can take a variety of forms, from a newspaper article format, a power point presentation, or a simple paragraph or two.

In order to document learning from websites, computer software programs, and games, consider saving or printing the screen that shows the score of the game or activity and the screen that shows what skills the student is practicing. Some software allows a parent to print a report showing a student’s progress, and this can be included in a portfolio also.

Assignments that a student may have struggled with should not automatically be excluded from the portfolio. An assignment early in the year that a student struggled with and a similar one later in the year that was successful shows the progress a student made. A binder made up of work that is all perfectly done may not show progress as clearly as a variety of assignments that show student improvement over the course of the year.

Many people are now keeping digital portfolios, especially since students are doing so many more assignments on the computer. Assignments, digital pictures, scans of student work and awards, reading lists, student websites or blogs, and video recordings of dramatic presentations, musical performances, or speeches can all be saved on the computer and downloaded to a USB drive and shown to an evaluator. This greatly cuts down on the materials that you need to bring to an evaluator, but please be sure to keep hard copies of all portfolio items in case of computer issues. Some families and students keep a blog about their homeschool activities as well, but families should be cautious about privacy issues with personal websites or blogs.

There is no “right” way to present a portfolio. Anything that keeps the paperwork organized and is easy to keep up with during the year will work. One family I know comes each year for their evaluation carrying five large pizza boxes, which always raises my hopes until I remember this is how they store their student’s work! They begin their year by asking for five clean pizza boxes from their favorite pizzeria, and use the boxes to store work throughout the year in the four main subject areas plus ‘extras’. Other options for keeping paperwork organized include three-ring binders, hanging file folders, scrapbooks, plastic totes, or cardboard boxes.

from Carol Carey
What to bring to a portfolio evaluation
Samples of your child’s work in each subject from the beginning, middle, and end. High school samples are more thorough, and may include chapter questions, tests, papers, labs. Writing samples – bring in rough drafts too.
For subjects that don’t have “paper,” list activities, field trips, special projects, photos, etc.
Reading List – books student has read; for younger kids, include books parents read to them

Some people make portfolios that are beautiful and well-organized keepsakes. Others use them for college application, so they include textbooks, course description, grades. Some simply want to use them for the end-of-the-year progress report.

Questions to ask evaluators
Are they open-minded to my philosophy and methods of homeschooling?
What do they expect to see in my portfolio? What do they charge?
Do they give me ideas about how to tweak any areas I’m struggling with?
Are they knowledgeable about different types of curriculum to suggest and pros/cons of each?
Are they OK if my son/daughter is “below” grade level in certain subjects?
Are they willing to consult about my questions with the following year?
What specifically do they include in the report to participating agencies?

from Sue Zelie
When I review portfolios, I find my job is eased when parents arrange papers, work, writing, projects, etc. by subject and by date. Seeing dates on the work itself is extremely helpful. Though it is not always possible, as in the case of a parent who wishes to save a consumable math workbook intact, portfolios which do not include every single piece of work completed in a subject are also easier to look through. The evaluator is both looking for overall progress through a subject area, as well as dipping into the specifics on the page every now and then to see that the daily work itself is accurate and demonstrates comprehension. We don't have to see every single paper the student touched.

I like to see rough drafts, if possible, as well as final copies of writing assignments.

Lists of books read by or to the child are also helpful, especially if your curriculum is more homegrown and hand-picked, not following a pre-set curriculum.

Many moms seem to stress over the covers of portfolios or the manner in which they're presented. I think that most evaluators agree that the notebook presentation is not the important thing. Having a coherent, organized work-trail is the important part of a successful portfolio whether the work is organized in separate file folders, in one big 3-ring binder or by some other method.

For our next issue, we want to ask homeschoolers…

Have some of you used “option d” for your end-of-year evaluation? This is another option we have in addition to portfolio evaluation and achievement testing. Section (d) of the RSA 193-A:6 reads: “The child shall be evaluated using any other valid measurement tool mutually agreed upon by the parent and the commissioner of education, resident district superintendent, or nonpublic school principal.” Please send your responses to Abbey Lawrence, abbeyl53@gmail.com

Report of the Home Education Advisory Council

Angie Lebel has worked at the Department of Education for 28 years, and for much of that time she has been directly involved with homeschooling, answering phone calls, providing information, overseeing the programs of homeschoolers who used the Department as participating agency. For years she attended HEAC meetings and took the minutes. Whenever I called her--no doubt interrupting her busy day--she was unfailingly helpful. A couple of months ago, for instance, I called her, hoping to obtain a copy of a 1992 memo from the bureau of Special Education Services; she said she'd see what she could do, as if requests for 20-year old documents were just part of her job. The next day, at the Council meeting, she walked in and handed me a copy.

Since the passage of 193-A over 20 years ago, Commissioners and administrators have come and gone, but Angie has always remained, a model not only of efficiency but of friendly interest in New Hampshire's homeschoolers. I learned last week, however, that due to budget cuts, her position has been eliminated, and she will retire from state service at the end of June.

Many, many heartfelt thanks and best wishes, Angie.

Abbey Lawrence
abbeyl53@gmail.com
539-7233

A Magazine All About Ancient Greece and Rome

Iota is a new magazine for elementary school students which aims to introduce Classics and Latin in an engaging way; its content is designed to fit in with curricula on the ancient Greeks and Romans. Each full-color issue is approximately 25 pages and explores a god, a monster, a historical person, an object from the ancient Greco-Roman world, and Latin words. Students will enjoy the exciting stories, multitude of pictures, interactive games, and varied activities. The price of one magazine, shipping included, is $7. To order Iota Magazine, visit http://www.ascaniusyci.org/store/iota.htm

Seacoast School of Technology Courses

The Business and Training Center in collaboration with Seacoast School of Technology offers three courses:

Small Engine Repair 5/24-7/12 T 9:00am-12:00pm
Tuition $299 + $49.50 Textbook and Study Guide OPE Certification exam: $47

OPE Electrical Cert 5/26-6/16 R 9:00am-12:00pm
Tuition $149 + $56 Textbook OPE Certification exam: $47

OPE Mobil Generator Cert 6/23-7/14 R 9:00am-12:00pm
Tuition $149 + $45 Textbook OPE Certification exam: $47

These courses are all offered at the Seacoast School of Technology in Exeter. Visit the College website at www.greatbay.edu under the Business Training Center tab for more information.

The Lamplighter Guild--an educational opportunity for study in the dramatic and visual arts

July 17-22, 2011, The Mohonk Mountain House in the Catskill Mountains.
Glean from the creative minds behind the acclaimed radio theatre productions: Adventures in Odyssey, Bonhoeffer, Chronicles of Narnia, Les Miserables, Left Behind, and now, Lamplighter Theatre with instruction in script writing, music composition & engineering, voice acting, sound design & engineering, directing, and producing. Paint scenes from Mohonk’s spectacular mountaintop during an unforgettable week of visual exploration and creative expression through plein air oil painting. This week will offer biblical insights on God’s call to reflect His image in every area of life. For more information, visit www.lamplighterguild.com or call 1-570-585-1314.

Field Trip Idea--Visit a Dental Office

Perry, Weigand and Gurwell Family Dental Care is available to host field trips for homeschool groups to visit our dental office in Antrim, N.H. Please contact Lorie at 603-588-6362 or financial@antrimsmiles.com to schedule a field trip tour to learn about dental health.

Teen Reading Group in Chichester

The Chichester Town Library just started a teen reading group, meeting the first Friday of every month. Teens from other towns are welcome, but they should get the book from their own town libraries. Homeschoolers are especially welcome. Please call Lisa Prizio, town librarian, 708-5613, for more information or if you plan to attend.

Ocean Awareness Essay Contest

The From the Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Essay Contest has officially launched. You can get full details about the essay contest and the film at www.fromthebowseat.org. From the Bow Seat is a documentary film exploring three environmental issues affecting the Gulf of Maine: depletion of cod stocks, puffin seabird restoration, and sustainable lobstering. The film chronicles the journey of Linda Cabot and her family as they researched and met with Colin Woodard (author of The Lobster Coast), Stephen Kress, (founder of Project Puffin) and many others.

High school students are invited to write an original essay based on the film.
Submissions will be accepted from April 15 until September 15. First prize is $2500, second prize is $1500 and third prize is $500. An additional $2500 award will be made directly to the high school science department of the winning essayist or, in the case of a home schooler, to any 5013c organization that deals with education for homeschoolers and can be earmarked for home schooling programming.

Curriculum Sale

The annual Used Curriculum and Home School Materials Sale is scheduled for Friday, June 3 from 10:30 - 12:30 at Valley Bible Church, 851 Fairview Terrace, White River Jct., VT. Contact Eva at 802-674-6475 for information on selling used curriculum. Small bills and quarters are necessary.

Disc Golf

Disc Golf Course and camping in Chichester--a good place for field trips, company outings, or family reunions. The facilities easily accommodate groups as large as fifty. Visit http://www.woodsatbeautyhill.com/ for more information.

Remember, check our website www.nhhomeschooling.org for more activities and announcements!