Saturday, July 25, 2009

Producers or Consumers? part one

These terms have been on my mind a lot this past year as I contemplate how we spend our time learning here in our home and how we live our lives on a daily basis. With the economy as it is and our future path somewhat uncertain I have been trying to teach my children to be producers and not consumers.

What does that mean in our learning? On the consumer side, we do purchase MANY good books each year to add to our home library. We love reading and all of us spend many hours involved with a good book. Most of our learning in science and history comes from reading “living books”, books that are not textbooks and that can maintain our interest while teaching us about God’s world or about His story. We use very few textbooks in our home. The few we have are for math and a handful of science and history texts used as references.

So how do my children learn anything about science and history if we don’t use a textbook? We read, dramatize, look up vocabulary, write stories and reports about the topic which we include in notebooks, take field trips, draw maps or diagrams, draw pictures, watch movies and documentaries, do experiments, make a timeline, learn to cook dishes from different cultures and time periods and have many opportunities to dialogue along the way. Instead of consuming pre-digested textbooks and workbooks we are DOING and CREATING and making memories along the way.

How does this relate to language arts? If we are studying the mid-1800s the children may write a first person story about a young man who is a rider for The Pony Express and describe a day or a week as he rides along from one station to the next. They may spend a week writing the story, but they have lots of knowledge to pull from because they have been reading books about the topic and I have, most likely, been reading aloud to them as well. When they have finished their stories I will type them up on the computer leaving out all punctuation and paragraph spacing and will include any misspelled words and incorrect grammar.

The next week the misspelled words become their spelling words for the week and we will correct all punctuation and grammar as well. We look at using more descriptive language to make our stories more colorful. This occurs over several days. When we are all satisfied with the results I type the papers up again with all corrections and they are included in the children’s notebooks.

This is a little more time and teacher intensive, but the rewards are reflected in the smiles on the children’ faces when others enjoy the finished product. They have become producers and learn to enjoy the work involved!


Laura at By the Bushel said...

Thank you for taking the time to blog. Really. This is why I read, to see how someone does something. Something you can't learn in a book, I really, really appreciate this. The concept of producing not consuming is great- Thanks for taking the time- I'll be thinking about this post for a while- have a blessed Sunday-

Angie @ Many Little Blessings said...

Fabulous post! I really like the way that you reflected on your learning process in the terms of producers/consumers.

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