The New Hampshire Homeschooling Coalition News May/June 2014 Volume XXV Number 5
New Hampshire Homeschooling Coalition Spring Workshop April 5
News from the NHHC Board
We held a successful spring workshop on April 5. The highest attendance was at the morning Homeschool Sampler session and the workshop on teaching students with special needs. The Board is always interested to hear what you would like to see covered at the workshop and suggestions you have. In the summer and fall, we have had college application workshops, hired speakers, and curriculum open houses. What events would be a help to you?
Annual elections for district representatives are coming up. Representatives help homeschoolers get connected with other homeschoolers and activities in their area and help people understand the New Hampshire homeschooling regulations. Any member is eligible to run. We have representatives serving in most districts, but especially need someone to help out in the Portsmouth area (district 1) and the Keene area (district 2). The Manchester and the Nashua district representatives are stepping down, and even though we have heard from some homeschoolers interested in filling those spots, we are happy to have more candidates. Districts are listed here: http://nhhomeschooling.org/reps. If you are interested in running or learning more about being a representative, please contact Amy Gall, email@example.com, 603-838-5081, Stef Marsh, firstname.lastname@example.org, 603-569-6382, or any Board member.
The next meeting of the Board of Representatives will be Saturday, May 24, 9:00-12:00 at the Elkins Library in Canterbury. All members are welcome to attend.
Special Performance of Love’s Labour’s Lost
Perform It! Young People’s Stage Company presents Shakespeare’s comedy Love’s Labour’s Lost in a special morning performance Thursday, May 8 at 10:00 at the Village Players theater in Wolfeboro. Tickets are $7 each. Please call, 323-8991, or email email@example.com to reserve your tickets (or to have them sent to you). You don't have to be a homeschooler or part of a school group to attend.
One of Shakespeare’s most frivolous plays, Love’s Labour’s Lost is full of lively dialog, beautiful costumes, music and dance. As the play opens, the King of Navarre and his three lords agree to have no contact with women for three years while they devote themselves to study, but when the Princess of France and three lovely ladies arrive at the court, the men must resort to desperate measures, and antics!
This year is the 450th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s birth and the perfect time to celebrate Shakespeare in your homeschool. Even the youngest students will enjoy the mixed-up love letters and silly situations. If you go over a summary of the play with your children (try http://www.shmoop.com/loves-labours-lost/summary.html or http://www.sparknotes.com/shakespeare/labours/summary.html ) before going to see the show, you and your family will enjoy it that much more. Saucy narrators appear between the scenes to explain what’s going on. The actors use Shakespeare’s words, but some lines are shortened.
Perform It! is celebrating its twentieth anniversary bringing Shakespeare to Lakes Region audiences. Among the many awards this unique theater company has received are the 2009 Moss Hart Memorial Award for Best Theater Production in New England from the New England Theater Conference and the Best Youth Theater Company in 2006 from the New Hampshire Theater Awards. There are thirty-six student actors in the company and all are homeschooled.
Of course, if you’d like to attend our glamorous evening performances or the Sunday matinee, shows are Friday, May 9 and Saturday, May 10 at 7:30; and Sunday, May 11 at 2:00 at The Village Players Theater, 51 Glendon St., Wolfeboro. Tickets are available at The Country Bookseller in Wolfeboro, or can be purchased by calling 323-8991, or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Adult tickets are $12; tickets for children 12 and under are $7. Learn more at http://performitstagecompany.org/ and on Facebook as Perform It! Stage Company.
Home Education Advisory Council Report
Prepared for New Hampshire Homeschooling Coalition
April 30, 2014
Over the past three months the Home Education Advisory Council (HEAC) has met to discuss the following issues of concern to home educators in New Hampshire:
The Home Education Rules (Ed 315) were adopted by the State Board of Education on March 26, are in effect as of that date, and will be officially published within the next two weeks. Please note that these administrative rules have the force of law and define the details of a home education program.
The Council has also been working toward eliminating the form superintendents must use to certify the numbers of home educated students in each school district as it no longer reflects the way data is collected.
Finally, we have been working on a statement for the Department of Education website about homeschool graduation credentials to clarify this procedure for admissions and financial aid officers of higher education institutions.
HEAC meets on the second Tuesday of each month at 3:30 p.m. at the DOE, from September through June. The next scheduled meeting will take place on May 13 in Room 12. This is a public meeting, and all are welcome to attend, although only Council members and invited guests participate in the discussions. If you have any comments, questions, or concerns you would like to see addressed, please feel free to contact me.
Beech Hill School Spring Seminar Series
Homeschoolers are welcome to attend afternoon seminars at the Beech Hill School in Hopkinton. The classes are geared to students completing grades 4 -7 or children who are 9 to 12 years old. Seminars run from from 2:30 – 4:00. May 7, Latin American Culture, History and Language; May 14, Coordinate Graphing: A Treasure Hunt; May 21, Economics, Capitalism, and Ethics. For more information, go to https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B_kMlw8EujJ7cUhQUDB6d1dNUlk/edit, and to register, please email email@example.com
Project SMART Summer Science and Math Program at UNH
The project SMART program challenges, educates, and motivates talented high school students in science and mathematics, particularly biotechnology and nanotechnology, marine and environmental science, and space science. The program is open to high school students who are currently enrolled (or home schooled) as sophomores (10th grade) and juniors (11th grade). The participants study advanced topics in science, mathematics and computers through lectures, discussions, hands-on laboratory experience, and field trips; and learn to do research with UNH faculty. The Summer Institute is an excellent opportunity to learn the interdisciplinary nature of the various scientific fields and the applications and implications (economic, social, environmental, legal, ethical and moral) of recent scientific advancements to society. In addition to learning/doing science, the students gain a greater appreciation for careers associated with the various sciences and establish friendships with their peers, and mentoring relationships with the UNH faculty.
The 23-year old well recognized (but small in size) program attracts highly talented students from all across the US to learn the recent advances in these areas of science and their economic, social, environmental, legal and moral/ethical implications through lectures, discussions and hands on lab/field experiences. The 2014 program runs from July 1 to 25. For more details, see www.smart.unh.edu.
Robotics in the Peterborough Area
The Monadnock 4H Robotics Team invites homeschoolers in and around the Peterborough area to participate. The team consists of middle school students working on a SEAPERCH Underwater R.O.V., which will be entered into competition at UNH. Next year they hope to field a high school team that will enter the FRC Competition. For more information contact Steve Lechner, (978) 456-6887, or visit www.thescienceworks.com.
STEM Fair May 22
Pioneer Junior Academy STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Fair will be held Thursday, May 22, 2014 in Westmoreland, New Hampshire. Open to all K-12 homeschooled students; details regarding the requirements can be found at http://pioneerjr22.adventistschoolconnect.org/article/7/stem-fair-2013. For additional information, contact Kenneth Brummel, Principal/Teacher, Pioneer Junior Academy at 603-399-4803.
NH Homeschoolers Qualify for AP/IB Testing Discount
Beginning in the 2014-2015 school year, income eligible NH homeschool students can obtain a fee reduction waiver for Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate & Cambridge (IB&C) testing. Income requirements for this grant program are in line with those for Free and Reduced Lunch programs. In order to qualify for the full discount, home educators must inform the testing-school’s guidance counselor that they will be applying for a fee reduction waiver upon registration. There are then two ways to obtain the fee reduction:
The homeschooler pays only the co-pay to the school providing the testing which then processes the reimbursement and retains records of the student’s eligibility.
The homeschooler pays the full fee to the school providing the testing and then submits eligibility documents to the NH Department of Education along with an invoice for reimbursement. Qualifying eligibility documents include a federal income tax return or proof of Medicaid enrollment.
For the 2013-14 school year home educators can receive a partial reimbursement of $37 by using option #2.
Summer Marching Band
The Spartans are a summer time marching band, with dance, color guard, percussion and brass instruments. Members are supplied with a uniform, an instrument, and instruction. The competitive season runs from June until mid-August. Traveling on coach buses across the country, the Spartans compete and perform with other drum corps from all over the nation, ending with Drum Corps International (www.DCI.org) World Championships at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. For more information visit www.SpartansDBC.org.
We Asked Homeschoolers
Can you offer some tips on how to put together a portfolio for an end-of-year evaluation? (We thought it would be helpful to rerun this article from 2011)
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? (note: with the recent law change, parents do not need to submit the report to a participating agency, just keep it on file.)
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.
Abbey Lawrence, Editor, PO Box 97, Center Tuftonboro, NH 03816
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