I have a special guest for Day 7 of Rule Your Curriculum. Jeannie Fulbright is going to shine the light on how she has utilized notebooking in her homeschool…with any curriculum!
Soon after I began homeschooling, I was convinced of the merits of notebooking as I witnessed how much more my daughter remembered when we notebooked a subject we studied. In fact, the difference in her retention was so obvious that all throughout elementary school I chose notebooking as our methodology whether it was part of the program or not. If the course included a worksheet to fill out, I tossed it, and we notebooked instead. If the program included a test, we discarded it and notebooked in its place. If my daughter was asked to fill out a sheet of discussion questions – again, we opted to notebook.
When my daughter hit junior high, most of her courses required end-of-chapter tests. Feeling overruled and brainwashed by the “you gotta learn to test” crowd, we spent the year taking these tests. She made an A on every one! Read the chapter. Fill in the blank. Easy. At the end of the year, I decided to do a little “pop” oral exam, so I asked her questions from her previous tests. The most common answer I got was, “I don’t remember.” Oh! Well, that sort of explains why, between 8th and 12th grade, American school children are scoring near the bottom on international assessments. (http://nces.ed.gov/timss/)
After that revelatory moment in my homeschooling adventure, I made the decision to use notebooking as often as possible throughout our entire education – not just in elementary school. I will not be ruled by the curriculum. Those thick, intimidating, high school textbooks will not dictate my child’s education.
So what is notebooking? Well, notebooking is really about recording what one has learned. Essentially, it’s essay writing. And honestly, a well-written essay is far more valuable to me than a fill in the blank test. An essay calls for genuine thought. It requires the students to mull over what they’ve learned, to organize the information. It challenges them to use their intellect and communication skills to convey their knowledge in a relevant and comprehensible way. Now that’s an authentic way to assess the students’ knowledge and increase their likelihood for retention! A student that has taken the time to notebook their learning will soon forget what they’ve written or drawn (and it does take more time than filling in the blanks). A child who’s recorded his knowledge in this way has essentially written a book on the subject. If he’s written a book on it, he knows it well. I mean, if you’ve written a book on a topic, you’re pretty much an expert!
You can transform any course into a first class educational experience by incorporating notebooking assignments into the curriculum. After studying the material, simply have your child draw a picture then write a sentence or paragraph about what he’s learned. Have him make a comic strip or newsletter. Encourage him to create an advertisement or record a journal entry. Choose whichever activity will best encourage your child to creatively express all he’s learned. At the end of the year, he’ll have a beautiful book of knowledge that will become a keepsake he (and you!) will treasure forever.
Jeannie Fulbright is a Homeschool Mom with many talents! She is an amazing speaker and Author of Exploring Creation for Apologia. You can find Jeannie on her blog Jeannies Journal.
- Day 1: Rule Your Curriculum With a Plan
- Day 2: Keeping Curriculum As Servant
- Day 3: Individualize Your Curriculum
- Day 4: Who’s In Charge
- Day 5: Now, I’m In Charge! (Ruling Curriculum for children with Learning/Health Issues)
- Day 6: Rule Curriculum For Your Advanced Learner
- Day 7: Use Notebooking to Rule Your Curriculum
- Day 8: Rule Your Curriculum With Wise Counsel
- Day 9: How to Put a Bad Curriculum In Its Place
- Day 10: Let God Rule Your Curriculum