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Washington's Dream
published on 7/15/2024 by Keith A. Howe

If you are using the Moving Beyond the Page math program this next year, you will encounter the challenge of teaching two different systems of measurement - customary and metric. It can be a bit frustrating and confusing, to say the least. If you are wondering how we got here, this Saturday Night Live sketch should clear up the history on America's quirky approach to weights and measures. So grab your ruler (in inches or centimeters, your choice!) and enjoy this comedic take at the history behind our measurement madness.

 

You can view and purchase any of our math curricula to teach your children both custom and metric measurement at the following link.

https://www.movingbeyondthepage.com/purchase/math.aspx

The Anxious Generation
published on 5/14/2024 by Keith A. Howe

One evening, our fourteen-year-old daughter was looking through the social media app BeReal, and she came across a sweet picture of two of her friends...

     together...
               at one of their homes...
                         having a sleepover...
                                   without her.

She felt hurt.

In hindsight, this should not be a big deal. Each of those girls had been to sleepovers at our house without the other. But, as I mentioned, my daughter was fourteen. She did not analyze the situation logically, and she felt it deeply.

This is a minor incident from our family's experience, but I had time to reflect on it while reading Jonathan Haidt's new book, The Anxious Generation: How the Great Rewiring of Childhood Is Causing an Epidemic of Mental Illness. This minor incident and others like it can happen many times a day, every day, during the most important developmental years of our children's lives. Haidt makes the argument that these harms add up, and the effect on our children is worse than we had previously realized. One thing that I love about the book is that Haidt does not just paint a gloomy picture; he also provides concrete solutions to address the problem.

Overview

The book is broken into four parts. Haidt starts by making the case that there is indeed a crisis of anxiety and depression in young people today. Importantly, he shows that smart phones and social media are not just correlated with this rise; instead, they are the cause. The next two sections lay out the culprits behind this crisis. Section Two is a deep dive into modern children's lack of open-ended unsupervised play, a phenomenon that began in the 90s. This lays the foundation for Section Three. A generation of kids not allowed to go outside and play devoured smart phones and social media when they became available. He calls this "The Great Rewiring: The Rise of the Phone-Based Childhood." While we protect our children from the perceived harms from an outside world that has continued to get safer, they are free to participate in an online world that is actually harming them. The book ends with tangible advice to governments, tech companies, schools, and families about how to grow healthy and happy children.

Beyond the Page

Haidt's book lines up nicely with our approach to curriculum development. Our curriculum is intentionally light in online content, especially in the younger levels. You will take your children to websites on occasion to view pictures, read content, or watch videos, but the vast majority of the work consists of offline real-world activities. As children get older, we do include more online content, but the vast majority of the work is done offline, with plenty of time to think, create, and discuss.

Our curriculum name was inspired by our belief that children should learn information and then move beyond the page to use that learning to create and develop real-world products and applications. Learning does not end with the book. Students must do something with their knowledge in the real world. This seems to align neatly with the subtext of Haidt's book.

Conclusion

My daughter is now 16, and she thinks our twenty-minute daily limit on social media use is draconian and out of touch. She might be right, but after reading The Anxious Generation, I think I am going to stick with it. His book confirms everything you already suspect about what social media is doing to our daughters and what online gaming and adult websites are doing to our sons. The smart phone promises connection yet breeds isolation and anxiety. Haidt confirms that these harms are measurable and real for young children, and it is not too late to do something about it.

Read Aloud or Read Independently
published on 2/14/2024 by Keith A. Howe

Beginning around the 3rd grade, students in our language arts program will read between 12 and 20 novels, biographies, poetry, and other books each year. We recommend that students read these books independently. Many parents are surprised at this recommendation because other literature-based programs recommend exactly the opposite -- that parents read books aloud to students.

This difference points to a divergence in educational philosophy and a fundamental difference in what it means to be a literature-based curriculum. We want children to read books themselves because we want them to

  • develop their reading fluency and comprehension,
  • participate actively in the learning process,
  • engage in emotionally resonant activities, and
  • become independent readers.

Reading Books Out Loud Is Wonderful 

Please don't misunderstand. We love reading aloud to our kids. Until late middle school, most students' listening comprehension is greater than their reading comprehension. Parents can read books out loud at a much higher reading level than children could read by themselves. Children can be introduced to more complicated vocabulary and ideas when they are being read to by a parent.

We love read-alouds for all of the reasons mentioned above, and we do in fact recommend that students read with their parents for 30 minutes each day in addition to the reading that is done in the curriculum. This can be bedtime reading, and it can alternate between read-aloud and independent reading. The books can be on the topic of the curriculum or they can be just for fun. 

Fluency and Comprehension Requires Practice

In our curriculum, however, we have other goals for our literature beyond transmitting ideas, content, and vocabulary.  We want students to

  • improve reading fluency and comprehension,
  • participate actively in the learning and reading process,
  • learn how to write by evaluating good writers,
  • develop into independent learners, and
  • engage in activities that are emotionally resonant.

Reading books independently is an essential part of the learning process with Moving Beyond the Page. 

Literature Is a Great Tool for Teaching

Not all literature-based curriculum is the same, and it is important to understand the differences among them. With Moving Beyond the Page, students begin most language arts lessons with an independent reading. This is followed by questions to ensure that students engage with the reading on a deep level. But our use of the literature does not stop there -- we continue to use the literature in a variety of ways.

For example, when students receive a writing prompt, it may be built around the plot, characters, or conflict from the book. This has a number of benefits:

  • Good writing involves communicating about something that students care about with passion and clarity.
  • Writing about the motivations of a character that students are emotionally invested in is much more compelling than writing about something bland like their favorite ice cream flavor.
  • When students care about a topic, even reluctant writers will be more invested in producing quality work. 

Learn to Write by Reading Good Writing

To become a great writer, a student must evaluate good writing.  We choose books for our program because they exemplify story elements such as

  • character development,
  • setting,
  • plot,
  • conflict, and
  • point of view.

In most of our novel units, we ask students to track and evaluate the author's use of one or more story elements throughout the book. For example, if an author uses setting or point of view in a unique way, that is the aspect students will evaluate. If the plot is exquisitely crafted, we show students how it was put together, and through the use of well-crafted rubrics, we encourage them to write the same way. 

Wrapping Up

We recommend that students read the books in our language arts curriculum independently. By doing so, children will develop their reading fluency, participate actively in the learning process, and are better able to engage in emotionally resonant activities based on the reading. 

 

Creativity Every Day
published on 7/31/2023 by Keith A. Howe

Creativity is a way of thinking that gets better with practice.

With Moving Beyond the Page, your child will practice the elements of creativity every day. These elements include originality, flexibility, fluency, risk taking, and persistence. Today I am going to show you that creativity is more than a buzzword we use to make our curriculum sound more appealing. Creativity is a thread woven through the very fabric of our curriculum.

My Side of the Mountain

To do this, we will look at the literature unit for the book My Side of the Mountain in the Age 9-11 level. The story of friendship and survival is universally loved. I finished this book with my ten year-old daughter, Piper, just a few months ago. She loved the book so much that she asked me to read the sequel with her just for fun.

What I want to do is go through each day and point out the elements of that day that reinforce creativity. I won't be touching on every activity in the curriculum but will instead be focusing on the ones that do the most to reinforce creativity.

Lesson 1: Preparing for Adventure
  • Before reading a book about survival, students create a plot diagram for their own survival story. The diagram includes the setting, list of characters, and the story's problem, events, climax, and resolution.
  • Students learn about the flora and fauna of the Catskill Mountains before choosing to either draw a picture that depicts the Catskills in each of the four seasons or describing events that a tourist might participate in during each season.
Lesson 2: Learning to Survive
  • After reading about the importance of fire safety in the book, students must summarize a list of campfire rules into an attractive and effective poster, using color and graphics to highlight the important points.
  • Students create a leaf-art project that can be hung in the window.
Lesson 3: Making a Home
  • Questions about the reading develop fluency by asking students to brainstorm reasons that Sam ran away from home.
  • Students create five forced analogies between nouns related to the deciduous forest biome and surviving in the wilderness.
Lesson 4: A Baby Falcon
  • In the story, Sam is making friends with forest animals. Students select any ecosystem and imagine making friends with an animal there. After selecting an animal, students describe the animal's personality as well as the relationship the students would have with the animal.
  • Students create a natural birdfeeder.
Lesson 5: A Stranger
  • Students and parents discuss the importance of Henry David Thoreau and how his work is still relevant today.
Lesson 6: Autumn
  • Students complete a creative thinking activity called a RAFT. At the conclusion of the activity, they make a presentation or speech for their family.
Lesson 7: Newspaper Reporter
  • Students spend two days writing and revising a three-paragraph newspaper article and picture about a boy living on his own in the woods. Students focus on the using effective descriptions and transitional words as well as varying sentence length. 
Final Project: Think-Tac-Toe
  •  A Think-Tac-Toe exercise is one in which students choose three projects to finish based on their interest and learning style. Five of the nine options include some sort of creative exercise like creating a game, writing a journal entry, creating a cover for a new book, or drawing a picture to represent a friendship.

Practice Creativity, Every Day

Enhancing creativity is a core principle that we incorporate into our curriculum. We want kids to learn to think creatively, and we have designed our curriculum to do just that. The lessons outlined above represent 3 weeks of language arts from a 36-week school year. With Moving Beyond the Page, your child will experience 36 weeks of creative language arts in addition to hands-on and creative science, social studies, and math curricula. 

Creativity is a way of thinking that gets better with practice.

Age 6-8 Reading Is Available!
published on 7/24/2023 by Keith A. Howe

Age 6-8 Reading is the second and final installment in our reading program. It is a year-long course that picks up where Age 5-7 Reading leaves off. Over the course of two years, our reading program will help you teach your young children to read. They will progress from knowing their letters and sounds to reading simple chapter books at a late 2nd grade reading level. 

For two years, your children will be learning to read. After that, they will be reading to learn.

You and your child will both enjoy our reading program. Our curriculum includes engaging activities, posters, word cards and other materials, and a pile of readers. 

Elements You Will Love

  • Engaging Readers
    Many gifted children struggle to learn to read due primarily to a lack of motivation. Books for beginning readers are often boring, uninspired, and offer little in the way of plot or conflict. Reading these Early Readers can be drudgery for a bright mind.

    To be fair, writing Early Readers is difficult. Authors start with a set of words they need to cover, and then they are told to write a story using just these words -- not an easy task.

    But we took this challenge on. We introduce likeable characters, interesting plot twists, personal challenges, engaging graphics, and occasionally a laugh-out-loud suprise.

  • Shared Reading
    Each lesson begins with a Shared Reading that you and your child will read together.  These messages will model reading to your child, expose your child to high-frequency words, and introduce new vocabulary.

  • Card Decks
    This level includes card decks for sight words that build fluency, letter cards for practicing blends and learning sounds, theme word cards to reinforce contextual learning and vocabulary building, and word building cards to facilitate word building.

  • Miscellanous Materials
    As you have come to expect from Moving Beyond the Page, our reading program also includes many of the little things you will need as you go through the year. These include posters, memory cards, a blank booklet, notecards, a laminated writing sheet, two dry-erase markers, paper plates, sidewalk chalk, wrist bands, and more. 

Prerequisites

Students who have successfully completed the Age 5-7 level should be ready to begin the Age 6-8 level. Before beginning the Age 6-8 Reading program, students should be able to:

  • Read short and long vowel spellings
  • Recognize common blends and digraphs
  • Read R-controlled vowels
  • Read and comprehend simple early readers
  • Write simple sentences independently

Table of Contents

Semester 1

  • Lesson 1: Word Families and Long Vowel Review
  • Lesson 2: Vowel Teams Review
  • Lesson 3: Complex Consonants Review
  • Lesson 4: R-Controlled Vowels Review
  • Lesson 5: More R-Controlled Vowels
  • Lesson 6: Other Vowel Sounds
  • Lesson 7: More Long Vowel Spellings
  • Lesson 8: Vowel Sounds Review
  • Lesson 9: Complex Consonants: dge vs. ge
  • Lesson 10: Complex Consonants: tch vs. ch, ck vs. k
  • Lesson 11: Final e: ce, ve, ze, se
  • Lesson 12: Homophones
  • Lesson 13: Making Plurals
  • Lesson 14: Uncommon Plurals
  • Lesson 15: Words Ending with ed and ing
  • Lesson 16: Words Ending with er and est
  • Lesson 17: Semester Review

Semester 2

  • Lesson 1: Compound Words
  • Lesson 2: Syllable Division
  • Lesson 3: Words Ending in y
  • Lesson 4: Syllables with R-Controlled Vowels
  • Lesson 5: Closed and Open Syllable Practice
  • Lesson 6: Possessives
  • Lesson 7: Contractions
  • Lesson 8: Syllables Ending in e
  • Lesson 9: Vowel Sounds
  • Lesson 10: Review of Lessons 1-9
  • Lesson 11: Three-Syllable Words
  • Lesson 12: Suffixes
  • Lesson 13: Prefixes
  • Lesson 14: Words Starting with q or a
  • Lesson 15: Semester Review
  • Final Project: Write Your Own Story
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