If you have not read Opting In and Opting Out (Part One and Two), you may want to start there. Otherwise, read on! :-)
Now that the icky part of the process is over, it is time to refocus my energy on the positives that have come about from this "opting out" situation. Having the opportunity to plan out sixteen hours of tailor made, independent learning time for my daughter has actually been such a gift! Creating powerful learning experiences for kids is one of my favorite parts about teaching, and it is a rare circumstance to be able to step away from the curriculum and customize something so special and meaningful for a student. I really, really, really wish that all of my students had this opportunity. They certainly all deserve it!
So, as promised, here are the activities that my daughter will be working on during the test over the course of the next two weeks. They are all highly engaging and geared towards her personal interests. We are really excited about how she will be spending her time. ;-)
Are you familiar with this book?
This is one of my all-time favorite books to use with kids. It has forty short stories about common inventions that came about because of a mistake. The stories are so appealing to kids, especially because the inventions are things that they are familiar with such as potato chips, Velcro, Post-it notes, and doughnut holes! Charlotte Jones did a fantastic job with this book. As a teacher, I really appreciate the chance to teach my students about good things that can happen as a result of making a mistake. It is also the perfect book to use for teaching about cause-effect relationships.
During the test, my daughter will be selecting five of her favorite short stories to read from this book. She will make a cause and effect flip book about each of the situations, using her own illustrations and retellings. Here is the flip book that she will be making. I can't wait to see what she decides to read and write about! I also found plenty of used Mistakes That Worked books by Charlotte Jones on Amazon for $4.00 (including shipping) in case you want to grab one for your own classroom!
My daughter is an animal lover and she wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up. She has dreams of living on a farm with her own veterinarian office right there on the property. :-) Lofty dreams (I know), but she is very serious about it and truthfully, I can imagine her doing this.
I thought that this would be a fun opportunity for her to read about and explore the career some more. So, during the test, she will be doing some research in the library about being a veterinarian. Of course, since I had something to do with it, she will be putting together a lapbook about her findings! It will be such a fun keepsake! Here is the career exploration lapbook that we will be using in case you are interested. It works well with any type of career and could be used by a variety of age levels (right on up through high school).
Have you ever read a book and thought to yourself, "Oh my gosh, so and so just NEEDS to read this?" That moment happened to me when I reread a classic a few years ago. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett is an English children's novel that was first published in 1911. While thick with old fashioned language and mature themes, the novel unfolds into a beautiful story about hardship, friendship, nature, and compassion. With the exception of the sour disposition, the main character Mary Lennox reminds me of my own daughter. From the garden full of secrets to the friendly robin redbreast, I know that this book will be right up her alley and I think the timing is just right for her.
Since the independent reading level of this book is a bit advanced, my daughter will be listening to the story by method of Playaway. Lucky for us, our school library has a nice collection of these awesome audio tools. Playaways are so easy to use. She will just attach her own headphones and press play! The volume and chapter controls are also extremely easy for children to manage independently.
I found this terrific Secret Garden novel unit on TPT by Pam Olivieri of Rockin Resources. I really love the variety of skills and activities that are included in this unit. My daughter will work her way through a couple of chapters per day while the other kids are testing.
I also wanted to tell you that the other children (and parents) do not yet know that my daughter has been opted out of the test that begins tomorrow. We have been very careful not to bad-mouth the test in front of our daughter because the last thing we want is for her to make the other kids feel bad about taking it. We have just explained to her that every family is different and that we feel it is not the best option for her. We have also coached her on what to say when other kids begin to question her about leaving. We helped her to understand the importance of not making a big deal about it. If they ask, she is just planning to tell them that she is going to the library. Most likely, they will ask more questions when she returns, and her plan is to simply say, "My mom and dad decided that I am not going to take the test." At that point, we are hoping that she can just casually change the conversation. She is usually really good at being positive and steering a conversation (apple. . .tree), so hopefully our plan will operate without a hitch. ;-)
Have a nice week everyone! The weather here in Pennsylvania is finally starting to feel like spring. May will be here before we know it and I can't wait to tell you about the Mother's Day gifts I will be making with my students! Stay tuned for a unique and beautiful gift idea!